Santander Bank Review (UK) | Pros and Cons | Bobatoo

Santander UK Bank Review

Wide range of current accounts

Good range of savings accounts and ISAs

Great reward schemes available

Santander Bank logo
Santander Bank logo

Who is Santander?

Santander is a UK-based financial services provider and bank owned by Spanish multinational commercial bank, Santander Group.

Authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Santander have over 14 million customers in the UK making use of their range of current and savings accounts, as well as insurance offerings, loans and mortgages. It has more than 800 branches located across the country.

The range of products on offer from Santander make it an option worth considering for anybody over the age of 13.

Current accounts

A current account is an account commonly used on a daily basis, allowing you to store and withdraw your money whenever you like.

Santander offer various different current accounts, all with their own perks. They can be found under the following categories:

  • Current accounts for cashback & interest
  • Current accounts with monthly fee
  • Premium current accounts
  • Youth & student current accounts

Current accounts for cashback & interest

These are the best current accounts for anybody over the age of 18 wanting to earn interest and cashback on their balance and purchases.

Both of the accounts come with debit cards, with which you can withdraw up to £300 in cash a day and use e-wallet services like Apple Pay.

123 Current Account

  • £5 monthly fee
  • £300 daily withdrawal limit
  • A minimum of £500 must be paid in monthly
  • 1.50% interest paid on up to £20,000
  • Up to 3.0% cashback on household bills
  • Overdraft available (subject to status)
  • Access to 123 World offer
  • Access to Santander support

123 Lite Current Account

  • £1 monthly fee
  • £300 daily withdrawal limit
  • A minimum of £500 must be paid in monthly
  • No interest
  • Up to 3.0% cashback on household bills
  • Overdraft available (subject to status)
  • Access to 123 World offer
  • Access to Santander support

123 Current Account

A Santander 123 Current Account is available to anybody over the age of 18 who:

  • Is a permanent UK resident
  • Pays a minimum of £500 into their account every month
  • Has at least 2 active direct debits

For a £5 monthly fee, you are able to earn 1.50% monthly interest on your money (up to £20,000), as well as earn cashback on selected household bills paid via Direct Debit and purchases from selected retailers.

You are able to apply for an arranged overdraft – charged at either £1, £2 or £3 a day depending on the amount that you borrow – and will not be charged any fees for an unarranged overdraft.

Holding a 123 account with Santander entitles you to entry into the exclusive ’123 World’, where you’ll find a range of offers on insurance, savings, ISAs and more.

123 Lite Current Account

A Santander 123 Lite Current Account is available to you if you are over the age of 18 and:

  • Pay at least £500 into your account every month
  • Have 2 active Direct Debits
  • Log onto Mobile or Online Banking at least once every 3 months
  • Are a permanent resident of the UK

It is a paper-free account, meaning that you will not receive any documentation from Santander through the post – instead, it will all be uploaded to a portal accessible via online or mobile banking.

For a monthly fee of £1, you can earn up to 3% on household bills when paid as a Direct Debit as well as up to 15% off purchases from selected retailers. You will also have access to 123 World offers.

Holding a 123 Lite Current Account allows you to apply for an overdraft with fees of up to £3 a day, depending on how much you are looking to borrow. You will not be charged a fee on an unarranged overdraft.

You do not earn any interest on money placed in a 123 Lite Current Account.

Current accounts with no monthly fee

There are 2 Santander current accounts available with no monthly fee attached. They are not as rich in features as the 123 accounts, but are more than adequate for your everyday banking needs.

You are limited to £300 in withdrawals from cash machines every day and have access to a wide range of Santander support staff online, over the phone and in branch.

Everyday Current Account

  • No monthly fee
  • £300 daily withdrawal limit
  • Overdraft available (subject to status)
  • Contactless debit card
  • Access to Santander support
  • Up to 15% cashback from selected retailers

Basic Current Account

  • No monthly fee
  • £300 daily withdrawal limit
  • No overdraft available
  • Debit card and cash card (neither contactless)
  • Access to Santander support
  • Up to 15% cashback from selected retailers

Everyday Current Account

A Santander Everyday Current Account is available to anybody who is:

  • Over the age of 18
  • A permanent resident of the UK

You can open an Everyday Current Account with no initial funding and are not required to pay a monthly fee.

You are able to apply for an arranged overdraft with fees up to £3 a day, and will be charged £6 a day on an unarranged overdraft. You will also be charged an additional £10 per transaction every time Santander has to allow or refuse payment when your account lacks sufficient funds.

The account comes with your own contactless debit card, which can be subsequently connected to your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch to be used on e-wallet services.

Basic Current Account

A Santander Basic Current Account is the perfect choice for somebody looking to build – or rebuild – their credit score.

In order to apply for a Santander Basic Current Account, you must:

  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Have a permanent address in the UK or EU
  • Not already have a basic current account, or more than one other account with Santander

Your basic current account comes with 2 separate bank cards: a top-up debit card and a cash card.

You can use your top-up debit card to make payments online and on the high street. To help you manage your finances, you must transfer money onto your top-up debit card before use. You can transfer money to and from your top-up debit card online, on mobile, over the phone or in branch.

You will not be able to use the card for certain things, such as contactless payments, parking or vending machines, pay-at-pump refuelling or any recurring transactions such as monthly subscriptions. This is to help prevent you from going overdrawn.

Your cash card can be used to withdraw money directly from your current account. You can therefore use this card to set up things such as Direct Debits, benefit payments and standing orders.

You can also get up to 15% cashback from selected retailers, from cinemas to coffee shops.

Premium current accounts

Santander Select Current Account

  • £5 monthly fee
  • Minimum earnings of £5,000 per month or £75,000 in savings
  • £1,000 daily withdrawal limit
  • Overdraft available (subject to status)
  • Exclusive contactless debit card
  • 1.50% interest on money up to £20,000
  • Up to 15% cashback from selected retailers
  • 24 hour dedicated call centre support
  • Personal banking support
  • Fee-free withdrawals at Santander ATMs and banks abroad
  • Exclusive savings rates

Santander Select Current Account

Santander’s Select Current Account is their one ‘premium’ account, with a £5 monthly fee.

To qualify for a select current account, you must:

  • Be over 18
  • Be a permanent resident of the UK
  • Have a main income of at least £5000 per month paid into your account or have a minimum of £75,000 in savings with Santander

With a select current account, you are able to earn 1.50% interest on your money up to £20,000 as well as up to 15% in cashback from selected retailers.

To earn interest or cashback, you must have at least 2 active direct debits.

You also benefit from having access to personalised banking support from a relationship manager and a 24 hour call centre from both within the UK and Europe.

Your daily withdrawal limited is upped to £1,000 a day, with no extra fees charged on withdrawals from Santander cash machines abroad. For extra peace of mind on your holidays, you can also request emergency funds in the form of cash or a card replacement should you lose your debit card while on your travels.

A select current account also gives you premium rates on savings and an exclusive Santander Select contactless debit card.

Youth & student current accounts

Santander’s Youth & Student Current Accounts begin for those aged 13 and over, but is also offer alternatives with great incentives for students.

Essentials Current Account

  • For those who have recently moved to the UK
  • Contactless debit card
  • Helps to build UK credit history
  • No overdraft
  • Up to 15% cashback from selected retailers

123 Student Current Account

  • For students aged 18 or over
  • Contactless debit card
  • Must pay at least £500 into the account every academic term
  • Fee-free overdraft up to £2,000
  • Access to 123 World offers

123 Mini Current Account

  • For children aged between 13 and 18
  • A contactless debit card or cash card
  • Under 13's accounts must be managed by an adult
  • No overdraft
  • 3% interest on balance between £300 and £2000
  • Access to 123 World offers

Essentials Current Account

For a monthly fee of £1, a Santander Essentials Current Account is geared towards students who have recently moved to the UK to work or study.

In order to apply for a Santander Essentials Current Account, you must:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have a UK address
  • Have lived in the UK for no more than 12 months
  • Be able to provide proof of employment or study

An essentials current account is a great opportunity to build your credit history within the UK.

As well as receiving a contactless debit card to make online and in-store payments, you can also set up Direct Debits and standing orders to pay for things like utility bills and subscriptions.

There is no overdraft available on the account, however you will not pay a fee on any payments made that take your account below £0. If Santander have to refuse a payment due to lack of funds, you will be charged £10.

Like with any other Santander current account, you will gain access to up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when you use your debit card.

123 Student Current Account

A Santander 123 Student Current Account is designed with students in mind, generally considered as one of the best student bank accounts in the UK.

To qualify for a 123 student current account, you must:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Have a permanent UK address
  • Be studying – or about to start studying – an undergraduate course lasting at least 2 years
  • Pay at least £500 into your account every academic term
  • Not have another Santander account – you can transfer it if you do

One of the most appealing features of a 123 student current account is that you get a free 16-25 railcard for 4 years, saving you 1/3 on all of your rail travel within the UK.

You also get a fee-free arranged overdraft of up to £1,500, rising to £2,000 if you progress onto further study after your undergraduate degree.

You will get up to 3% interest paid on your balance up to a maximum of £2,000 and access to exclusive Santander 123 World offers.

Your contactless debit card can be used both online and on the high street, as well as with e-wallet services like Apple and Google Pay.

123 Mini Current Account

A Santander 123 Mini Current Account is perfect for children as young as 13 who are looking for the freedom of a contactless debit card or cash card.

To apply for a 123 Mini Current Account, you have to be either:

  • Between the age of 13 and 18 with a permanent UK address, or
  • Under 13, with the account held in trust by an adult.

Accounts held in trust do not come with the use of debit or cash cards.

The account gives you access to monthly interest rates of 3% on your balance between £300 and £2000, as well as access to offers from Santander 123 World.

Switching to Santander - The Current Account Switch Service

If you’re looking to switch bank accounts and any of the aforementioned Santander current accounts catch your eye, it is easy to switch from your current bank by using The Current Account Switch Service.

Santander will close your old account for you, moving any funds into your new account. They will also move over your Direct Debits and send future payments into your new account.

Santander savings accounts*

Regular eSaver

  • Interest (per year gross): 2.50% for 12 months
  • 0.40% - 0.50%
  • Instant access
  • Save up to a maximum of £200 a month

eSaver

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.40% - 0.50%
  • Instant access

Everyday Saver

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.35%
  • Instant access
  • Cash card available on request

Fixed Term Bonds

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.40% - 0.90%
  • Access to savings after fixed term

Santander offer 4 different savings accounts, each with their own benefits and limitations.

The Regular eSaver Savings Account is, in terms of interest, Santander’s best savings account – but it is only available for a 12 month period and to those who have access to 123 World through their current account. You are limited to payments of up to £200 every month, with your money being transferred to a standard savings account after the 12 month period.

A Santander eSaver Savings Account offers either 0.40% or 0.50% interest, depending on whether you have access to 123 World through your current account. You can place up to £2m in the account and access the money whenever you need to.

An Everyday Saver Savings Account works in a similar fashion to the eSaver, but you also have access to a cash card on request.

Finally, Santander’s Fixed Term Bonds offer interest rates varying from 0.40% to 0.90%, depending on the length of time that you lock your money away and your access to 123 World or a Santander Select Current Account.

*Correct as of Dec 2020.

Santander ISAs*

eISA

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.35% - 0.65%
  • Instant withdrawals

Easy ISA

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.20% - 0.60%
  • Instant withdrawals

2-Year Fixed Rate ISA

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.45% - 0.70%
  • Instant withdrawals
  • Withdraw on account closure - charges apply

Junior ISA

  • Interest (per year gross): 2.75% - 3.25%
  • No withdrawals until account holder's 18th birthday

Inheritance ISA

  • Interest (per year gross): 0.35% - 0.60%
  • No withdrawals until account holder's 18th birthday
  • Instant withdrawals in branch

Santander offer a range of ISAs, all of which vary in interest rates and other benefits.

A Santander eISA offers between 0.35% and 0.65% interest on your balance, with a minimum initial deposit of £500. Your money can be accessed instantly, while you can also add to the ISA at any time you like.

An Easy ISA also offers instant access to your savings but with a significantly lower interest rate at 0.20%. The interest rate rises to 0.60% with a balance of £40,000 or more.

A 2 Year Fixed Rate ISA is fairly self-explanatory, offering you a fixed rate of either 0.45% or 0.70% for 2 years, depending on your access to 123 World. Money cannot be withdrawn from the account before the end of the 2 year period unless it is closed, in which case you will be charged the equivalent of 120 days’ interest.

A Junior ISA is designed for young savers, with the account switching to an adult’s ISA when the account holder turns 18 – money cannot be withdrawn before this point. The account can be set up by a child aged 16 or 17, or a parent of a child aged under 18.

Finally, Santander’s Inheritance ISA allows the spouse of an ISA holder access to an additional ISA allowance that is the same value of their partner’s ISA when they died. For example, if your partner has an ISA worth more than the 2019/20 tax year limit of £20,000, your partner’s ISA will not count towards this limit.

Santander also offer a Stocks and Shares ISA, allowing Santander to invest your money in the hope of earning you a more significant return than could be offered by a standard ISA or savings account.

*Correct at time of writing: Dec 2019

Santander online banking – customer experience

Pros

  • Dedicated support page
  • Easy to navigate

Cons

  • No live chat
  • Lengthy complaints process
  • Tedious verification process

The Santander website is used regularly by customers looking to view previous statements and transactions, transfer money and pay bills.

As well as being the central hub for their 123 World offers, it also allows you to create new accounts, report lost or stolen debit cards and manage your account details and preferences.

They have a dedicated support page with FAQs on a wide range of topics, however unlike other banks, they do not offer a live chat feature to help resolve problems.

Some customers have left reviews on Tripadvisor raising concerns about inaccurate contact information on the Santander website, while others have also complained about their lengthy complaints procedure.

Customers appear satisfied that they are able to make payments and transfer money on the website with relative ease, however there are some comments on how difficult and tedious the logging in process can be.

Santander mobile banking app

Pros

  • Positive customer reviews
  • Face/Touch ID compatible
  • Regular updates and bug fixes

Cons

  • No live chat
  • Can't see pending transactions
  • Can't scan cheques
  • No categorisation of spending

The Santander Mobile Banking App has over 350,000 combined reviews over Apple and Android devices, averaging at around 4.5/5 in ratings.

You are able to log-in to the app by using touch or face ID on compatible devices, with the home page of the app showing a brief summary of all of your Santander accounts.

Tapping on one of these accounts will open up a more detailed overview, showing you all of your recent transactions.

You can use the app to easily transfer money between your accounts and to other people, with the added option of sending your payee official confirmation of your payment over text, email or private message.

For an even quicker glance at your current account balance, you can set up ‘quick balance’ to view your balance without logging into the app.

One gripe that customers seem to have with the app is that you cannot view pending transactions from current accounts, while you also cannot cash in cheques by scanning them – something that is being rolled out with banks such as Barclays.

The app also lacks useful features such as the categorisation of spending, which can be seen with digital banks such as Monzo and Starling, as well as other traditional banks.

Santander rewards

123 World

Santander’s 123 World is available to anybody with a:

  • Santander 123 Current Account
  • Santander 123 Lite Current Account
  • Santander 123 Student Current Account
  • Santander 123 Mini Current Account
  • Santander Select Current Account

Access to 123 World provides you with exclusive rates on savings and ISAs, as well as other Santander products such as travel insurance, home insurance, life insurance and car insurance.

123 World also offers preferential rates on new cars from Mazda and Volvo, as well as for personal loans of up to £25,000.

Cashback Offers

Those who hold a 123 Current or 123 Lite Current account are entitled to up to 3% cashback on selected utility bills.

All Santander current accounts also offer up to 15% cashback when shopping with selected retailers.

Santander customer reviews

A good way to distinguish the quality of service offered by a bank account is by checking online review sites like Trustpilot.

From over 1,900 reviews, 83% of customers rated Santander UK as ‘bad’, with a further 4% rating them ‘poor’. This leaves them with a star rating of 1/5 – the lowest possible.

Some disgruntled customers have complained after having their accounts suspended or blocked due to the overcomplicated security measures in place when logging into online banking. Some also raised concerns over the customer service they received, both in-branch and on the phone.

There were also some positive reviews of Santander UK, however, with long-term customers quick to acknowledge the fact that they have had no issues with the bank as of yet, praising the level of service they have received as a Santander customer.

Reviews will vary given that banks offer such a wide range of services, branching across the entire country. While there are over 1,500 reviews on Trustpilot, there are a further 14 million Santander customers in the UK.

Ratings (out of 5):

Trustpilot: 1

Reviews.co.uk: 2

SmartMoneyPeople: 4

Reviewcentre: 1.5

Average: 2.4/5

Pros and cons of Santander

Pros

  • Wide range of current accounts
  • Good choice for children's bank account
  • Good range of savings accounts/ISAs
  • Easy to switch
  • Good reward schemes

Cons

  • Many accounts charge monthly fees
  • Poor customer service
  • Poor reviews on trusted websites
  • Complicated security measures

Santander offers a wide range of current accounts, all of which have varying benefits – however, some of these come at an annual price of as much as £60.

All of their current accounts come with the incentive of cashback from partnered retailers, while a select few also offer it on household bills.

There is a wide range of ISAs and savings accounts available both for children, students and adults while the Current Account Switch Service makes it easy to make Santander your go-to bank.

However, many customers have left complaints online about the level of customer service that they have received both in-branch and over the phone, with overly complicated security measures leaving some locked out of their accounts for days.

Take into consideration some of the undoubtedly beneficial incentives that Santander have to offer and weigh them up with the negative reviews online before deciding to change bank accounts.

Santander UK contact information

If you need to contact Santander, you can do so by:

  • Phone: 0800 912 3123 (UK) or +44 1908 216 674 (Abroad)
  • Twitter: @SantanderUKHelp
  • Facebook Messenger: Santander UK

If you’d like to read more like this Santander review, you can see our range of reviews from the best bank accounts in the UK by tapping the links below.

*Correct as of January 2020