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The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back Credit Card: Should You Get It?

Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card

The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back Credit Card: Should You Get It?

A decent 1.5% cash back credit card, though consumers can get better deals from other banks
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card is a pretty good cash back credit card, though it’s not as “ultimate” as its name suggests. There are credit cards from other banks that can give you significantly better rewards and better promotional APR rates. Still, if you really want a credit card from Santander Bank, this is certainly not a bad way to go. The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card is one of the best credit cards offered by this bank, and it's also head and shoulders above many other cards on the market.

Note: You don't have to be a current Santander customer to get this card. However, at this time the card is only available to residents of the following regions -- Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Review: Is The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card Any Good?

The newly released Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card is a decent credit card, though consumers shouldn’t get too excited about its ‘no fee’ promises. What we like most about this credit card is its 1.5% cash back rate. This is the new standard rate we’ve come to expect from any new credit card launching in today’s competitive rewards market. It’s also a nice plus for the card to do away with foreign transaction fees. That can make it a useful travel companion, should you travel abroad. Most other credit cards will typically charge you a 3% fee whenever you use them outside of the United States.

Good For…

Bad For…
Individuals looking for a solid everyday use cash back cardOptimizers looking for the best deal possible
People who want a credit card specifically from Santander BankBonus hunters who want a good sign-up bonus

Now onto the things we didn't like as much about the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card. The card’s advertised features of no cash advance fees, no returned payment fees and no balance transfer fees should be taken with a huge grain of salt. First of all, while there is no extra fee for performing a cash advance, the card still has an extremely high cash advance APR, 25.74%. Therefore, while the initial charge is waived, you will still come out losing a lot of money if you choose to take out a cash advance using this card. Also, the fact that this card has no balance transfer fees is undermined by the fact that its promo APR is 3%. Most other credit cards with balance transfer capabilities give you 0% APR, thus saving you much more than you’d stand to gain from waiving a transfer fee. Finally, having no returned payment fees will only save money in very specific scenarios that most people won’t find themselves in, such us having a check bounce.

A graph showing the estimated rewards the average consumer can get through the Santander Ultimate Cash Back Credit Card

Bottom Line: This is by no means a bad card. If you enjoy banking with Santander, this is a solid cash back credit card to have. However, the other big advertising point of this card, having no transaction fees, shouldn’t be taken as a huge benefit. In context, the fees this card waives aren't that helpful to most consumers.

Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card Benefits & Features

The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card provides an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, anywhere you shop. This cash back rate does not apply to other types of transactions on the card. That means balance transfers and cash advances will not get you any rewards.

Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card
Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Purchase APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit Needed Good
Details
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • $100 cash back via statement credit when you spend $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash advance fees
  • No returned payment fees
  • 3% introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for transactions made within 90 days of opening your account

The card provides a $100 cash back statement credit to cardholders who spend at least $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. This is a middling card bonus among cards with no annual fee. If you fancy yourself a “bonus hunter”, know that you can get as much as $150 to $200 for the same qualifications on other no-fee cards.

The biggest feature advertised around the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card is that it waives all transaction fees. However, there are a few problems we'd like to point out with this. The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card doesn’t charge any annual, balance transfer, foreign transaction, cash advance or returned payment fees. Out of all those benefits, only having no foreign transaction or annual fees is truly useful. Despite having no cash advance fees, it’s still ill advised for consumers to take out cash advances using this card. There’s still a higher-than-average, 25.74%, APR on cash advances and it starts accruing immediately. The only way you’d end up not paying for the cash advance is if you immediately paid off your balance after taking out the advance. Returned payment fees are rare, and very few consumers will actually have to deal with these. Finally, having no balance transfer fees, while good, is undermined by the fact that this card doesn't come with a 0% promo APR on balance transfers, like many cards do.

The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card comes with a 3% intro APR on balance transfers made within 90 days of account opening. Given there are also no balance transfer fees on the card, this can lead to decent savings for consumers currently struggling with debt. However, there are other credit cards that can offer 0% APR for significantly longer periods of time. Therefore, if this is the only feature of the card you’re interested in, we recommend looking elsewhere.

How Does The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card Compare to Other Credit Cards

The only way to know if a credit card is good is to know how it compares to other options. We took a look at how the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card stacks up against a couple other leading credit cards on the market.

Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card vs Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, like the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card, offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. However, there are a few things that make the Chase card an infinitely more appealing offer for most consumers. First, the card has a bigger sign-up bonus. Chase Freedom Unlimited® users get $150 cash back after spending at least $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. That is 50% more than what you’d get through the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card. Secondly, if you want to get rid of old debt, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® gives you more breathing room to do it. Cardholders get 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. While there is a fee for each balance transfer, cardholders who will take the full 15 months or longer to pay off their debt will undoubtedly come out ahead financially.

One last feature worth pointing out is that the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can provide a rewards rate that is much higher than 1.5%. Whenever you use the card, you’re earning Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points, instead of actual cash back. If you were to exchange the points for cash back, your rewards rate comes out to the advertised 1.5%. However, if you ever combine this card with another UR credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you may have the ability to transfer your points to airline miles or hotel points, getting much more value out of them. This sort of reward potential is absent from the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Highlights

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Part of the Ultimate Rewards family of cards
  • $150 cash back bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Read full review

Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card vs Citi Simplicity® Card

If the ‘no-fees’ aspect of the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card appeals to you, you should check out the Citi Simplicity® Card. As its name suggests, the card gets rid of one of the most pesky card fees -- late fees. While most cards, including the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card, charge between $25 and $35 each time you’re late with a payment, the Citi Simplicity® Card erases that charge. You’re still expected to pay back all your debts, however, the due date on this card is more fluid. This can save a decent amount of money for anyone who tends to be a little bit more forgetful. We particularly recommend this kind of card and feature for anyone who is forgetful.

Citi Simplicity® Card Highlights

  • No rewards program
  • 21 months of 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases, after which it will be 15.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)
  • No late fees
  • Read full review

Compare The Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card Based On How You Spend

Another good way to compare the Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card to other credit cards is based on how you spend. We built a calculator that allows you to compare the estimated rewards from multiple credit cards at once. Simply punch in your estimated monthly spending by category by clicking the gear icon below, and our tool will do all the math for you, accounting for any annual fees and bonuses. We threw in a few extra credit cards in this list for greater context.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Citi® Double Cash Card
$0* 2.00%
$0
$686
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 686 x $1 = $686
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 686

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0*
APR 15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card
Image of Santander® Ultimate Cash Back credit card No Annual Fee 1.79%
$100
$100 cash back via statement credit when you spend $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
$615
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 515 x $1 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $0
0 x $1 = $100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 615

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 15.24% - 24.24% Variable

Card Details

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • $100 cash back via statement credit when you spend $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash advance fees
  • No returned payment fees
  • 3% introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for transactions made within 90 days of opening your account
Discover it® Cash Back
$0 1.50%
$171
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 13.99% - 24.99% Variable

Card Details

    • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
    • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
    • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
    • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
    • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • No annual fee.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$0 2.04%
$150
Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
$700
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 550 x $1 = $550
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 700

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.99%-25.99% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Chase Freedom®
$0 1.44%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
$493
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 493

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 16.99% - 25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$95 2.46%
$200
Get $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
$845
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Spent Cash Back Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 835 x $1 = $835
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $200
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 845

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $95
APR 14.99%-25.99% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations. 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and Amazon Business American Express Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.