Online bank, comparative of ING Direct, BBVA, Caixabank and Banco Santander

Online bank, comparative of ING Direct, BBVA, La Caixa and Banco Santander

Giving trust to an online bank is still difficult for many. But the time to go with the notebook to queue at the branch has passed. Or so it should be, if what we want is to streamline our banking procedures and more daily inquiries . If you do not have to go to negotiate a mortgage, or hire a risk product, going to the bank branch in your neighborhood is already a thing of another century.

Currently, most banks have their own online office . While you may have to do some important steps at the office to properly identify yourself, our most daily activities can be carried out without problems from home. Or from the street: because yes, most banks also have their own mobile or tablet application.

If you are thinking of changing banks or want to open a new account, today you should take a look at this comparison. We have examined the figure of the online bank and made a comparison between four of the most important financial entities operating in our country: ING Direct, BBVA, Caixabank and Banco Santander . Which of them would you choose?

ing direct

ING Direct

Despite the fact that in recent times the banking sector has become one of the most criticized (the bad practices of the last decade have not helped), there are still banks that are well valued. In a survey carried out by the OCU in December 2016, ING Direct was one of the best marks .

It was, in fact, in an advantageous second position, just behind Triodos Bank. Consumers gave ING Direct a score of 83 out of 100 . The entity also headed the list of the most valued online banks .

ing direct

Our experience with the Dutch has been fully satisfactory. First of all, because it allows us to hire one hundred percent online. One of its most outstanding products is the Orange Deposit (at 0.1% APR), the Payroll Account and the Account Without Payroll. There is a two-month Deposit that offers a 1% APR, but as we say, it is a temporary product.  And the truth is that they are very easy to contract, by phone or, once you have one of these accounts open, through the Internet . The same with the rest of the steps.

To start the machinery with ING Direct, just make a call. From this service we would undoubtedly highlight the clarity and immediacy of the customer service  that we have not found in other banks with online branches. Also, if at any time you cannot make a decision and you prefer to think about it, you can ask them to call at another time. And they call you (at the agreed time and date).

ing online bank

Security is a key point when talking about online banking. To identify yourself, you will have to enter several information : your DNI number, the date of birth and the security code. But be careful, you will not have to indicate it in full, but do it in six different random positions.

This security system is identical when it comes to carrying out transactions by phone . Because you will also have to indicate random positions to the machine (not the operator).

There are no commissions. All services are free, but you must be well informed about what to do so that they remain free. For example, the payroll account forces us to enter a payroll. The Account Without Payroll requires us to have a fixed balance of 2,000 euros in the account or to pay at least 600 euros per month.

Finally, it should be noted that ING Direct has an application for mobile or tablet . It is available for iOS and Android. Its operation is just as practical, so it will come in handy to make any query if you are on the street or cannot get on the computer.

Be that as it may, and as it always happens in these cases, it will always be more comfortable for you to operate from a large screen . Much more when what we are managing is money.

As a disadvantage, we must indicate the fact that all communications (or almost all) are via mail. At a time when phishing scams are the order of the day, we recommend that you be very careful with what you receive.

Also, transfers tend to be less agile. They usually take at least one business day, so if you need the money right away, you won't be able to access it. If it is over the weekend, you will have to wait until Monday or the next business day.



It is one of the greats, but in the surveys carried out by the OCU itself it does not stand out. Nor do any of the main banks in Spain: Santander, Caixabank, Bankia or Sabadell. However, BBVA has its online bank for clients who want to operate over the Internet .


One of its most attractive offers is the BBVA Online Account. It offers multiple advantages that customers will value positively: there is no direct debit of the payroll, it has no commissions and free transfers can be made (also to other banks).  Customers will have an associated free debit card and will be able to use the BBVA Wallet app and the BBVA Contigo Manager. For free.

bbvaThe procedures by phone are not so operational, because the agents summon you to carry them out through the online bank. Luckily, they send you notices about the most important issues via SMS . For example, if you have been exposed, you will receive an alert, but in order to correct it you will have to make a transfer by accessing your online account. Or a physical income, of course.

Transfers are not agile either . They usually take at least two days and the entire weekend if the movement takes place on Friday or on the eve of a holiday. This can be a clear disadvantage if what we are looking for is fast money management.

It should be noted, of course, that BBVA online banking offers interesting facilities for younger people . And the one that is not so. Because they allow you to direct debit receipts with a simple photo or carry out some procedures in a few steps. Those who are used to managing products online will appreciate it.

Another of BBVA's most notable points has to do with granting loans. And it is that at the moment, for example, they can offer a credit of 20,000 euros to clients , without previous studies. This does not happen with other banks, such as ING Direct.

The application, which has already become a basic tool for managing our online banking, is quite good. However, and as with all of them, it presents some other inconvenience.

In this case, we would like a tool to be included to more agilely manage the contacts and accounts to which we usually make frequent transfers (or other operations). The management of cards and other services is quite correct.



It is one of the great giants of Spanish banking and as such, it has its own online office . We have been using this tool for years to access our accounts and carry out online transactions. And although the truth is that it is quite operational, there are few options that have changed over time.

Caixabank offers a wide variety of products, but few are adjusted to the agility that it can offer us, for example, ING Direct. In the sense that we will not be able to contract an account without confirming it in a physical branch, unless we opt for options such as imaginBank.


If what you want is a 100% online bank, then you do have options. With imaginBank online banking, you can manage an account over the Internet without commissions. You can also pay with your mobile and get free money from the bank's ATMs. It is a simple formula for young people or people who just need a simple account. However, the tool falls short if we need to have access to other complementary products.

The application also includes a very accessible tool to keep track of expenses. View charts and reports. Not so with the traditional Caixabank app . Its operation is a little more orthopedic. In the sense that it is difficult to access the options that interest you.

Regardless, the app has improved over time. At this point, it's pretty easy to check accounts or make simple transfers. Which are the main operations that we usually carry out urgently. You can block the cards in case of theft or loss, check the limits and make payments.

caixabankIt should also be noted that transfers tend to be very agile. They are available (usually), from one day to the next, so you will not have major problems in this regard. If you need to have the money fast to move it at will, Caixabank is one of the best options that exist. 

But what drives us back? Well, clearly, that they charge us so many commissions. Depending on the type of client you are (if you are self-employed or a company you will not have major problems), they may charge you up to 12 euros per quarter for a normal account .

Another major downside. Some functions of online banking are not entirely clear. Sometimes it is difficult to find certain options.  But this is clearly due to a lack of organization and the complexity of the nomenclature of some products or functions.

Also, there are some features that are difficult to operate on. For example, when setting limits or making payments with credit cards . The tool fails and you tend to consider it impossible.

They have a very interesting online tool called Receox.  It allows you to control all receipts in a very visual way. However, navigation is somewhat cumbersome. And the access is quite hidden.


Santander Bank

Despite being one of the most important banks in our country, in the ranking prepared by the OCU it has a score of 55 out of 100. It is a fairly fair note. Especially if we take into account the size of the bank. But what is Banco Santander's online banking like? What advantages and disadvantages does it have?

One of the most remarkable points of Banco Santander is, without a doubt, the application. It is fast and does not block at all, so that the user can carry out procedures, transfers and inquiries in a very agile way . This comes in handy when you are away from home, for example, and need to look or do something quickly.

The issue of transfers is another matter. This section is too rigid and the most common destinations cannot be edited . Which is undoubtedly a huge disadvantage if one tries to operate quickly from mobile.

The web is much more complete, with respect to functions. And logically, working on a bigger screen is always much more practical . However, there are users who prefer to always do it from the web. Which gives us clues that the app is really good.

In addition, in case of loss or theft of the card, you can block it from the app itself . Although this, if you have tried applications from different banks, you will know that it can practically be done with all of them.

Santander Bank

When it comes to hiring products, you won't have it so easy. Because it will always be necessary for you to ratify your agreement by  going physically to a branch. Unless you opt for OpenBank, which also belongs to Banco Santander, but which allows you to do almost all the transactions 100% online.

While it is true that when hiring an account you will receive papers at home to sign and you will have to return them, the rest of the procedures can be done through the Internet. The Open Bank checking account has no fees and allows you to make free transfers. Also, if you need to operate at any ATM, you can do so at any of the Banco Santander network.

Another facility to highlight and that we also find in ING Direct, is the possibility of making arrangements by phone. This is a great option for customers who can't get around often, and even seniors, who don't have access to the Internet, or don't really know how it works. However, it may still be difficult for people who are part of another generation to take the step and lose the fear of managing their money from a distance.


In conclusion, which of these options is the best?

As you can see, the four banks that we have examined here have a similar modus operandi, saving some details. Which are the ones that, indeed, make the difference.

Traditional banks (Caixabank, BBVA and Banco Santander) continue to offer the usual products. And in that case you have to operate as usual. Although part of the hiring or arrangements can be made online, there will always confirm our compliance in a physical branch . And this is what can hinder our experience: queues, trips and waiting.

However, banks are getting young and opening new banks one hundred percent online (or almost) . So that we can operate directly from the Internet and without commissions. Alternatives like ING Direct, ImaginBank or OpenBank can be definitive for users looking for a simple account. With which to operate online and without commissions (neither for the account, nor for making transfers).

Thus, if you are one of those who cannot go to the bank often and prefer to do everything online, you may be more interested in one of those options. However, you should be clear that as the products get complicated (investments, mortgages, pension plans ...) it is always more convenient to go to the bank and get the information first hand.