Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card review
A no-annual-fee card with solid 1.5% cash back and very few fees.
- Get this card if you want flat rewards and few fees.
- Pick something else if you want tiered rewards or a market-leading intro APR.
- Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Cash back as welcome offer
Intro purchase APR
for the first 12 billing cycles (then 15.71% to 24.83% variable)
Intro balance transfer
for the first 12 billing cycles (then 15.71% to 24.83% variable)
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card offers what really counts: a solid 1.5% cash back on all purchases. On top of that, it charges no fees except late fees. That means you won’t pay foreign transaction, cash advance or balance transfer fees.
No balance transfer fees is great news, except the card doesn’t offer a 0% intro APR on transfers. Instead, it offers a 3% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR between 15.71% and 24.83% applies. Though not optimal, it’s still decent — especially when paired with good cashback rewards.
How to apply for the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card
- Go to the Santander website and click Apply Now.
- Select your state from the dropdown menu and enter your ZIP code.
- Complete the application with details like your name, address, annual income and Social Security number.
- Review and submit your application.
How long will it take to get my Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card?
Typically, a credit card provider will make a decision on your application within 10 days. In some cases, your application may be approved immediately. If there are issues with your application, you may need to wait up to a few weeks to hear back.
Once you’ve been approved, you should receive your credit card within five to seven business days.
- Annual fee: None. A $0 annual fee makes it easy to keep the card long term. It also means you get full value out of the rewards you earn.
- Rewards: A flat rate on all purchases. Earn 1.5% cash back on all retail purchases, with no cap. This is a solid rate that’s especially useful if you don’t want to keep track of tiered rewards. It’s also comparable to the rewards rate of key competitors.
- Very few fees. You’ll pay no balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees. In addition, you’ll never pay fees for returned payments or overlimit transactions.
You’ll only pay late-payment fees, which are up to $35 per infraction.
- Signup bonus: $100 cash back. When you spend $500 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening, you’ll earn $100 cash back. This bonus is distributed as statement credit.
While $100 isn’t the highest signup bonus you’ll find — other cards offer bonuses of $150 — it’s relatively easy to obtain.
- Intro APR: 3% on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, your balance transfer APR will be variable. The intro rate applies only to transfers you make within the first 90 days of opening your account.
You’ll wish Santander took the intro APR down to 0%, as many other cards do. But a 3% APR is still a very low rate.
How much cashback rewards can I earn with the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card?
If you like simple rewards, the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card could be a great choice. You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Here’s how much cash back you might earn for these different budgets:
- Spend $500 a month x 1.5% cash back = $90 cash back a year
- Spend $1,000 a month x 1.5% cash back = $180 cash back a year
- Spend $1,500 a month x 1.5% cash back = $270 cash back a year
You’ll also like…
- Santander Instant Card Hold. If your card is lost or stolen, you can freeze it on the spot with Santander Instant Card Hold. This ensures your card won’t be used for unauthorized purchases while you locate it or call Santander to cancel it.
What to watch out for
- Potentially high APR. If you have a weak credit history, you may be given an interest rate up to 24.83% variable. That’s high, considering the average APR is around 16%.
- Penalty APR. Santander may apply a penalty APR of to your account if you:
- Miss a payment.
- Pay late.
- Make a payment that is returned.
The penalty APR will apply until you make six consecutive on-time payments.
A penalty APR is never fun, and it increases the consequences of slipping up on payments. Compare other credit cards, as there are plenty of banks that don’t charge penalty APRs.
How does a balance transfer work with this card?
1. Apply for the card.
You can make a balance transfer when you open your credit card. If you don’t want to, you can request one later.
To make a balance transfer, you’ll need the account number of your existing balance. You’ll also need personal information like your income, employment details and Social Security number.
You’ll pay a $10 fee for your balance transfer.
2. Keep track of balance transfer time limits.
Santander Bank offers a 3% intro APR for 12 billing cycles, but only on transfers you make within the first 90 days of opening your card. Balance transfers you make after that time will be subject to an APR between 15.71% to 24.83% variable.
If you’re unsure whether your balance transfer will qualify for the introductory APR, contact Santander support.
3. Keep track of your balance transfer details.
If your balance transfer qualifies, you’ll enjoy a 3% intro APR on the balance for 12 billing cycles.
If you still have a balance after that time, however, it’ll accrue interest at an APR between 15.71% to 24.83% variable.
What should I know before I apply?
To apply for the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card, you must be at least 18 years old. The card is available only to customers in these states:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Information you’ll need
- Your full name and contact information.
- Your residential status.
- Your annual income, source of income and employment information.
- Your Social Security number.
What credit score do I need?
You’ll have a better chance of being approved for this card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 to 850.
Here are a few other factors that might affect your odds of approval:
- Hard pulls on your credit report. If you have several hard inquiries — or hard pulls — on your report, it could imply you’re having trouble managing your debt. Santander might think you’re desperate for credit and may be less likely to take you on as a customer.
- Factors that tie into your credit score. Your credit utilization is a major factor Santander considers. The bank prefers a customer with low balances relative to their credit limit. Having many new card accounts may be a red flag too, as it could indicate you’re desperate for credit. It may also give the impression that you’re a flighty customer who’s just hunting for signup bonuses.
Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card reviews and complaints
Customers generally like the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card‘s rewards, saying 1.5% cash back is a good rate. They also like how few fees the card has.
Santander Bank is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but it earns an A rating from the agency as of October 2020. Currently, 88% of its reviews are negative and it has over 200 customer complaints. Santander customers report difficulty opening accounts, signup bonuses that aren’t honored and unresponsive customer support.
The company earns a Trustpilot score of 1.6 out of 5 as of October 2020. Many negative reviews cite extremely slow customer service, difficulty getting fees reversed and inflexible company policies.
I got the card. Now what?
- Make payments on time. Register an account on the Santander website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
- Avoid the penalty APR. If you make a late or returned payment, Santander may assess a penalty APR of variable to all of your balances.
- Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of at least 21 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
- Avoid fees. For each late payment, you’ll incur a fee of up to $35.
- Contact customer service. If you have questions about your account, call the number on the back of your card. Alternatively, call 877-768-2265 to speak with a representative.
How do I redeem rewards from the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card?
Log in to your Santander online account to redeem your cash back for rewards such as:
- Gift cards
- Electronic certificates
- Statement credit
Compare similar cashback credit cards
You might wish for a 0% intro APR on balance transfers. The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card has attractive benefits, including very few fees and solid cash back. It’s a good choice if you want simple, consistent rewards.
But if you’re looking for a 0% APR on balance transfers, you won’t find it here. If you’re not sure the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back® Credit Card is right for you, compare other credit cards.
Frequently asked questions
- How do I qualify for a low APR?
You’re more likely to qualify for a low APR if you have a good credit score of 670 or higher.
- Why should I get a balance transfer card?
A balance transfer card can be useful if you’re paying heavy interest on your current credit card. You can move your existing balance to another card that offers low or no interest for a period of time. This can help you pay off your debt faster and more cheaply.
How do balance transfers work?
- Is cash back capped, and does it expire?
You can earn unlimited cash back, and it doesn’t expire as long as your account is in good standing.