UFB Direct is a commercial lending institution that is based in San Diego, California. Gregory Garrabrants is the CEO. It opened in 2000 as a component of Bofi Holding, Inc. UFB offers a variety of savings, checking and mortgage loans. This is an online bank with no branch offices. UFB is FDIC insured and is an equal housing lender. They specialize in personal banking and mortgages. UFB Direct is also in partnership with American Airlines. Their mobile apps can be downloaded for free, whether the user chooses to use Google or Apple. UFB has been in business for 15 years. Here is a detailed account of the advantages of their products and services:

 

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The Good

  • Features and benefits
  • Personal checking
  • Services

Features and Benefits

UFB Direct has several products for the personal banker. The personal savings accounts comes with free online and mobile banking, UFB transfers, check deposits, ATM cards, and even postage-paid envelopes. There is no monthly fee, regardless of the account balance.

UFB's money market allows the holder to save and write checks. For a minimum deposit of $5000, account holders can write checks, transfer funds (internal), deposit checks, pay bills (depending on type of account), and utilize postage-paid envelopes for free. UFB account holders can mobile bank. That includes transferring funds, paying bills, or merely check account summaries with 24/7 access.

Personal Checking

The UFB checking account is one of its best products. Commonly referred to as Airline Rewards Checking, the account holder earns airplane miles each time they use their debit card. For approximately every $3 purchase, they receive 1 airplane mile, up to 120,000 miles a year. Once enough miles have been accumulated for the desired trip, redeem them by contacting that department at American Airlines.

Order the first set of UFB checks for free. UFB checking accounts also has free online and mobile banking, and free unlimited ATM access anywhere in the world. As if that is not enough, earn cash when using the debit card.   And regardless of the account balance, there is no monthly maintenance fees.

Using ATMs is very convenient at UFB. Customers can use any ATM machine at any bank or business location in the USA, as many times as they need or want to. In replace of a convenient ATM, the customer can receive cash back at participating stores and gas stations for free.

Services

Popmoney is a service that UFB offers clients as an alternative to Western Union or Money Gram. To send money, complete an external transfer to a bank account using the receiver's bank account number, cell phone number or email address. To receive money, respond to an email or text message alert and decide on which chosen account, or a Popmoney account, the money will be received.

It is nothing extra, but UFB has good mobile banking service. Of course, the ability to deposit checks from your phone is always a plus. Download the mobile app for free.

The Bad

  • Only online
  • Poor business practices
  • Issues with services

Only Online

Any online bank that has no option for customers to receive person-to-person service is at an automatic disadvantage. There are those specific cases when navigating on a website or talking on the telephone is not sufficient.

Poor Business Practices

Customers accuse UFB of poor business practices. The interest rate is unstable and can drop from 1.25% to as low as .9%. This usually happens after the account has opened and a substantial amount of money gets deposited. When dissatisfied customers decide to move their money to another bank, UFB's low withdrawal amounts make this process lengthy and risky.

Issues with Services

  • Transfers:

Speaking of transferring or withdrawing money, there is a step by step process, to insure account holder keeps the interest. So, if an account holder is faced with making a sudden decision to transfer or withdraw more than $2000, all of that interest is lost unless the account holder has another bank they can quickly transfer the money to; there is a fee associated to external transfers.

  • Savings Accounts:

The savings account AYP is only 0.20% up to $24,999 and 0.40% at $25,000+. This is a far lower rate, compared to other online banks. The interest rates for personal and business checking accounts are not stated. Also, the more activity a business checking account holder has, the higher the monthly maintenance fee, a counterproductive feature that benefits UFB, not the account holder.

  • Loans:

Another product of concern is the reverse mortgage loan. It sounds good for the moment to receive a payment every month instead of making one, and still keep the property to boot, but there is more to this arrangement than that.

First of all, the applicant must be at least 62 years old, live in the home, and own it outright (or have a very small balance), to be eligible for the loan. Also, the home must meet the federal guidelines. When payments are received, the equity decreases while the amount of debt increases. The homeowner is still responsible for paying the taxes and insurance, and maintaining the home. If the homeowner sells the home, moves, or passes away, UFB sells the home to be paid back for the loan.

For homeowners who outlive the loan, payments stop when the price of the home is reached. If there is any equity left at the end of the loan, it is paid to the homeowner or heir(s). If taxes and insurance are not kept current, and the home maintained, the reverse mortgage will fail.

The Bottom Line

UFB savings account holders have a lot of perks. They have free banking and no monthly maintenance fee, regardless of the balance. However, a comparative interest rate is not on the list of benefits.   UFB is famous for their partnership with American Airlines. Use their checking account debit card and accumulate airplane miles, but the only way to find out how much interest accumulates is to call the office and pray for an honest response.

The only interest rates listed is for a savings account. This is not a bad idea, since they are subject to change at any given moment. Of course that is well documented in the fine print. UFB has mortgage loans for everyone eligible, however the reverse mortgage is no guarantee to home ownership for the borrower or his heirs. Those that use UFB can expect the following from their online banking:

  1. Quality personal checking
  2. Popmoney feature
  3. Air travel discounts
  4. Low savings account interest rates

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