Review of: BBVA Compass
Reviewed by: Kara Perez
Last modified: October 3, 2018
BBVA Compass started out as a regional bank with locations in seven U.S. states. However, thanks to the prevalence of online banking, it's now available to customers across the country. Customers love the bank's easy-to-use interfaces and mobile apps, as well as its stellar customer service track record. However, you might be able to find higher interest rates and lower fees with online-only banks.
Thanks to the popularity of online banking, banks that were once localized have been able to push past geographic limitations and acquire clients across the U.S. Among these new “national” banks is BBVA Compass, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.
BBVA Compass offers no-frills banking and savings accounts and rates high for its customer experience. We took a closer look at its online banking operations, and this is what we found.
BBVA Compass Features
|Access||Website, iOS App, Android App|
|Amount of Branches||700|
|Customer Service||Phone: M-F: 7A-10P CT, SAT: 8A-4P CT; Email|
|Promotions||1.50% APY Money Market Account|
What Is BBVA Compass?
BBVA Compass is a trade name of Compass Bank. It’s a member of the BBVA Group, which was founded in 1857. The BBVA group has an international reach, but BBVA Compass itself first opened its doors in 1964 in Alabama. BBVA Compass was the first bank to offer banking on Saturdays (in 1970) and by 1975 had reached $1 billion in assets.
BBVA Compass brick-and-mortar banks can be found in Texas, Alabama, California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and New Mexico. But customers all over the U.S. can open and maintain accounts with the bank’s easy-to-use website and convenient mobile apps.
BBVA Compass is an FDIC-insured bank, meaning every deposit is protected by up to $250,000 per depositor.
BBVA Compass Alternatives
How BBVA Compass Works
Signing up for a BBVA Compass account online is easy. In fact, the website and apps are where this bank really shines.
Since BBVA Compass has such a limited number of branches in the U.S., it has focused a lot of energy on its website and customer service. A particularly useful feature is that you can request a call from BBVA rather than hanging around on hold.
We found BBVA Compass’ online platforms easy to navigate and use. Fees were clearly listed, meaning there are no guessing games and you know exactly what to expect.
Unfortunately, what you can expect when it comes to fees is a bit of a mixed bag. We like the fee-free checking accounts, but out-of-network ATM fees are steep, at $2.50. However, BBVA Compass is part of the AllPoint network, so you can use more than 55,000 ATMs worldwide without racking up any surcharges or fees if you have one of the specially designated checking accounts (see below).
Savings accounts charge a $15 quarterly maintenance fee unless you keep a minimum daily balance of $500 or transfer $25 automatically from a BBVA checking account to the savings account on a monthly basis. There are other online banks that don’t charge this fee, but it’s easy enough to avoid with BBVA too.
On the downside, we think BBVA Compass’ overdraft fees are excessive. The bank will charge $38 ($32 if you’re a California resident) up to six times a day. And if you keep your account in the red for 10 consecutive days, you’ll be charges an extra $25. So if you open an account, make sure that you keep enough money in the account or you’ll have to pay these steep penalties.
Let’s take a look at the different types of accounts BBVA Compass offers.
BBVA Compass offers three kinds of checking accounts, one of which pays interest.
ClearChoice Free Checking
There are no monthly maintenance fees for this account, though you do need a minimum of $25 to open the account.
Among other perks, you’ll receive one debit card per account holder (which you can personalize), free unlimited check writing, and bill pay options. You’ll also have access to mobile banking.
You can also purchase a few account add-ons, including an unlimited supply of standard checks for $2 per month. For a monthly fee of $5, you can also purchase the ability to use out-of-network ATMs without incurring fees from BBVA Compass, as well as receiving up to four rebates per statement cycle for other banks’ surcharges. Unless you opt for this add-on, you won’t be able to use AllPoint network ATMs for free.
If you want to use the AllPoint network of fee-free ATMs, you can apply for a ClearConnect Checking account. This also requires a minimum deposit of $25 to open and gives you all of the perks you’ll find with the free checking account. This level of account also gives you overdraft protection options so you can avoid those pesky fees.
Unless you turn off paper statements, you’ll be charged a monthly fee of $3 with this checking account.
We don’t see any reason why you would choose the ClearChoice Free Checking account over this one.
ClearChoice Interest Checking
If you’d like to earn a little something back on your checking account, check out this option, which pays an APY of 0.50%. This is lower than the 0.60% that Ally Bank currently offers, but there’s no required minimum daily balance to earn. (For this APY, Ally requires at least $15,000.)
This level of checking account does come with a monthly service charge of $25. But you can avoid this fee if you meet one of these requirements:
- Maintain an average daily balance of at least $5,000 in you account.
- Maintain a combined average daily balance of at least $25,000 in both a BBVA ClearChoice Interest Checking and ClearChoice Money Market account.
- Enroll in the BBVA Compass Premier Personal Banking program. (This requires a balance of at least $100,000.)
- Become a BBVA Compass Global Wealth Client.
BBVA Compass Savings Account
For a minimum deposit of only $25, BBVA Compass offers ClearChoice Savings. You'll earn interest on your entire balance and be able to access your money whenever you need it.
There's a quarterly service charge of $15, but you can waive it by either having an automatic recurring monthly transfer of at least $25 from your BBVA ClearChoice Checking account or maintaining a minimum daily balance of $500 or more.
Note that there is a fee of $3 or $5 for a paper or image statement, respectively, per statement cycle.
|Account Fees||$15 Quarterly, plus $3 for a paper statement or $5 for an image statement per cycle|
Like the ClearChoice Savings account, the ClearConnect Savings account requires a minimum opening balance of only $25. There are no quarterly service charges; however, you will still be charged $3 or $5 for a paper or image statement, respectively, per statement cycle.
|Account Fees||$0; $3 for a paper statement or $5 for an image statement per cycle|
BBVA Compass Money Market Account
ClearChoice Money Market Account
With a money market account, there's a monthly service charge of $15, but you can have that waived by either maintaining a minimum daily balance of $10,000 or having an automatic monthly transfer of at least $25 from a BBVA Compass checking account.
BBVA Compass CD Rates
BBVA Compass offers several CDs with fixed terms and rates. There are no maintenance fees required.
All CDs require a minimum deposit of $500.
|Term||Minimum Deposit||APY||More Info|
|1 years||$500||1.85%||Open An Account|
|15 months||$500||0.10%||Open An Account|
|18 months||$500||0.25%||Open An Account|
|3 years||$500||0.40%||Open An Account|
Pros and Cons
- Easily Waived Maintenance Fees — Monthly checking account fees are notorious for making banks a lot of money and draining money from customers. Both the quarterly fee on BBVA Compass checking accounts and the monthly fee on savings accounts are easily waived.
- Strong Customer Service — BBVA has a clean and in-depth website which is easy to navigate. You can find customer service telephone numbers easily, and phone operators are available Monday–Friday: 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM CT and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM CT.
- High Overdraft Fees — BBVA charges very high overdraft fees, and they can be charged to your account up to six times a day.
- Low Interest Rates — You can find higher interest rates at other banks, such as Ally.
- No Branches Outside the South and Southwest — If you live outside of the seven states that BBVA operates in, you can’t ever go into a branch in person.
Although it’s a much smaller and less recognizable bank than some others, BBVA Compass excels in customer service and places a high value on community involvement.
If you live in one of the seven states where the bank has branches, it could be a very convenient choice. However, while BBVA Compass is transparent about its fees, those charges are higher than is common. If you consistently overdraft your account or can’t keep the minimum required deposits in your account, you’ll get slammed.
We’ve seen lower fees and higher interest rates at online-only banks such as Ally and CIT Bank.
But overall, BBVA is a solid choice among banks that are both brick-and-mortar and online.