Ubank review from a long term customer, experienced investor and property owner. This UBank review is based off my personal experience as a UBank customer for over the past five years.
UBank is an online bank which provides transaction and savings accounts as well as loans, term deposits and superannuation. They are backed by NAB (so could be thought of as ‘NAB lite’), and with over 600,000 customers and AUD $16 Billion under management, they have been a popular choice for Aussies looking for a no frills bank since they started in 2008.
- No overseas ATM Fees
- No international transaction fees
- No ongoing fees
- No minimum balance
- Competitive interest on savings
- No interest penalty for withdrawing savings
- Offer great home loan packages
- Must satisfy age requirement conditions
- Must link to transaction account
- No branch access
- Must deposit into savings to get bonus interest
- Limited Customer support
- Difficult to get approved for home loan
UBank do not charge ongoing fees and provide competitive interest rates, however they do not have physical branch access, the website and mobile app are dated and painful to use, and their customer support can be frustrating at times. All things considered, I think it is a good no frills banking product and have used them to stash my Emergency Fund for the past 5 years.
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Introduction to UBank
Ubank is the budget or ‘no frills’ arm of NAB – you can think of it as ‘NAB Lite’, which is kind of analogous to what Jetstar is to Qantas. UBank has over 600,000 Australian customers Manages over AUD $16 Billion in deposits making it a pretty big bank.
There is a number of benefits to using Ubank including zero sign up costs or ongoing monthly fees, a competitive rate of return, and in general customer support is great once you are connected with one. However with a limited number of support staff, a web client and app that is dated and frequently ‘down for maintenance’, over 5 years of experience I can say at times it can be frustrating to use. Still overall, I think UBank is a great place to stash away your Emergency Fund or Mojo Account
Interestingly, in January 2021, NAB announced its acquisition of 86400 Bank which will be merged into UBank. I am actually really excited for this, because I think the tech behind 86400 Bank will really be able to take UBank to the next level.
UBank online transaction account – Uspend (ultra account)
The Uspend is Ubanks basic transactional account. When I signed up I received a standard VISA debit card, and this transaction account can be linked to all your smart devices such as Apple pay etc. At the time of writing the Ubank Uspend account is fee free with;
- Zero account keeping fees
- Zero overdrawn fees
- Zero ATM withdrawal fees
- Zero foreign transaction fees.
As always though, keep up to date with the latest Product Disclosure Statement before signing up.
I haven’t had any major issues with my Uspend account, except when overseas trying to make transactions over the daily transaction limit (which was difficult due to 2FA not working at the time).
UBank online savings account – USave
The UBank USave has no withdrawal restrictions and there is no monthly spending conditions to meet either. All you have to do is deposit at least $200 per month into your accounts, so it’s fairly easy to earn the bonus interest (as a little hack, you can just set up an automated transfer into and then out of your USave account each month so you technically don’t even need to be saving $200 per month).
Whilst it isn’t exactly a fantastic rate across the board for any savings rates with current interest rates, the USave with bonus interest applied is competitive with other banks and ultimately, better than nothing. The interest is capped at $250,000 (which is coincidentally the Australian government guarantee limit), but if you have this much in Cash your doing Financial Independence wrong.
UBank mobile application
Ubanks mobile app is fine, albeit a little dated. Available for both android and iOS devices, you can do pretty much everything you need to from the app and I think it is fairly intuitive and easy enough to use. It provides a neat dashboard and summary of all of your accounts, however you can’t access all of your financial reports and records (you will need to go online via the web client to access those).
Customer Support and Dealing with UBank
Ubank is the budget arm of NAB – so you can think of it as ‘NAB Lite’. Think of it as being to NAB what Jetstar is to Qantas, and what Tiger airways was to Virgin. So, with this in mind – customer support is always going to be a point of friction.
I found both the web and mobile app interface to be a bit clumsy, and in general the accounts have certain restrictions and archaic security protocols.
I actually found myself over in Dubai for a longer period than expected, and trying to shift money around from my Ubank account was such a pain due to the 2FA codes – which I could only receive at the time through my Australian phone number via SMS. Just when I thought I had to give up, customer support totally pulled through and conducted a transfer for me via phone, giving me access the cash I desperately needed. To be honest, if they hadn’t pulled through with that – I would have totally ditched them when I got back to Australia. Instead, I am still a happy Ubank customer.
Just manage your expectations and expect not to really get instant answers to emails.
Features I like about UBank
There are two nifty little features I like about Ubank the most, and these are
- Sweep, and;
Sweep is great because if you are like me you love the idea of having your money earning interest in a savings account, but irrationally fear your card being declined at the checkout (despite knowing full well you have plenty of cash in the transaction account!). You set a predetermined figure or ‘float’ for your Uspend transaction account (eg $100) and then it will automatically sweep any excess across into your USave savings account. When you spend out of the transaction account, it will then replenish it back up to your preset figure. It might not sound ground-breaking, but I have found it actually quite handy when I was using UBank as a transactional bank (these days I just stash my emergency fund there).
Free2Spend is like a rough budgeting calculator in built to the app, which takes your spending information from your transaction account history. I think its cool, but have never really used Ubank long enough as a transaction account for it to work properly. If you have any feedback on using Free2Spend, let me know in the comments I would be interested to hear from you.
Home loans from UBank
UBank offer home loans with a pretty incredibly low rate. So low in fact that I am constantly harassing my mortgage broker about why my investment properly loan interest rate isn’t that good! The only problem with UBank loans is that it is actually pretty difficult to apply for them without proper guidance, they don’t tend to work with brokers (so your broker wont suggest using them) and a lot of people won’t meet their strict lending eligibility criteria.
After listening to people gripe about UBank applications, the key is to submit all of your paperwork at the same time (making sure it is up to date). Documents over 6 weeks old are sure to get your application rejected, and they won’t progress your application until they have every last form they request.
They offer really good rates by only taking on extremely low risk clients, which means UBank loans are best suited to those with a sizeable deposit, or already have significant equity in their property (20% or more) if refinancing to a better rate with UBank.
UBank review, can it compete with digital banks?
I have found that UBanks web and mobile banking seems to be down a lot. Much more than any of the other DOZEN banks that I have accounts with. This is super frustrating when I want to move money around and find out that the entire online bank is literally “Down for maintenance”. This is probably due to hangups with the ‘Big four banks’ legacy ICT systems, which just cant compete with the newer NEO or digital online banks like Up Bank and 86400 Bank.
Interestingly, Ubank, or more to the point NAB, decided they couldn’t compete with 86400 Bank, so instead bought them out for AUD $220 Million. That is pretty insane eh? NAB is apparently looking to merge Ubank with 86400, so I am really excited to see the results and I am expecting Ubank to get a whole lot better in terms of their web client, mobile application and back of house ICT systems.
UBank provides transaction and savings accounts as well as loans, term deposits and superannuation. They are backed by NAB and with over 600,000 customers and AUD $16 Billion under management, they have been a popular choice for Aussies looking for a no frills bank since they started up in 2008.
They do not charge ongoing fees and provide competitive interest rates which is a massive plus, however they do not have physical branch access, the website and mobile app are dated and painful to use, and their customer support can be frustrating at times. All things considered, I think it is a good no frills banking product and have used them to stash my Emergency Fund for the past 5 years.
I think it is important to stash your Emergency Fund or Mojo Account in a different bank than you use for every day transactions – just making it that one bit more out of reach, but obviously easy to get to in an actual emergency.