Union Bank Review: Can It Keep Up With Online Competitors?

See if this bank's broad account lineup suits your needs.

Union Bank is part of the massive Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which has 2,700 offices and over 180,000 employees. The bank offers a traditional lineup of deposit accounts and investments through its branch-based network. Although accounts are accessible online, the bank is centered on its branches and the development of in-person banking relationships. Here’s a rundown of the type of accounts you can open at Union Bank, how you can open them and what their notable features and drawbacks are.

To jump ahead to any particular area of this Union Bank review, click one of the following headers:

Who Is Union Bank Best For?

Union Bank is best for customers looking for all-in-one banking, as the bank offers deposit, investment and loan accounts. Here’s an overview of the bank’s noteworthy features, along with its drawbacks.

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Pros:

  • Broad range of account types
  • No in-network ATM fees
  • Priority Banking checking offers global unlimited ATM fee rebates.
  • Decent annual percentage yield on the 18-month certificate of deposit

Cons:

  • Most deposit accounts have fees that require minimum balances to avoid.
  • High overdraft fees
  • Overall, annual percentage yields are very low.
  • Some accounts cannot be opened online.

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Who Might Want To Choose Union Bank?

Customers who prefer a more traditional banking relationship might want to choose Union Bank. The wide array of accounts are designed to be used in concert with one another, and the  Priority Banking checking account provides rate enhancements that can be used on complementary accounts. Some accounts must be opened at a branch, so it’s a better option for those living near a Union Bank location.

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Who Might Want To Skip Union Bank?

Union Bank is not the choice for technologically savvy customers looking for cutting-edge accounts. Not only do many of the accounts come with fees — although they are waivable — but many of the accounts must be opened at a branch location. The APYs on the bank’s deposit accounts can’t keep up with the latest wave of no-fee, online checking, savings and CD accounts. 

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Types of Accounts Available

Union Bank offers a diversified account roster, with everything from checking and savings accounts to CDs, individual retirement accounts, investment options, money markets and loans. Here’s an overview of the fees and rates attached to these accounts:

Union Bank Account Types
Account Type Rates Fees
Checking 0%-0.05% APY $0-$25
Savings 0.01% APY $0-$4
Money Market 0.01%-0.08% APY $0-$10
CDs 0.20%-1.01% APY $0
IRAs Variable $0 maintenance fees, possible brokerage commissions
Investments Variable Variable; commissions or annual fees
Loans Home equity loan as low as 4.49% APR Mortgage application fee: $550

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Checking Accounts

Union Bank changes up its checking account lineup from time to time, but it currently only offers two checking accounts: Bank Freely checking and Priority Banking checking. As the names imply, Bank Freely checking is the basic, no-fee account offered by Union Bank, whereas Priority Banking checking is the premier account that requires a $25,000 combined Union Bank balance to avoid a steep $25 monthly fee. 

Both Union Bank checking accounts can be opened with any amount above $0 and offer these basic services: 

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  • Online banking
  • Bill pay
  • Mobile banking
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Debit card
  • Digital wallet

The Bank Freely checking account provides customers with two rebates for non-Union Bank ATMs per statement period. It also waives the overdraft fee for overdrawn balances of less than $5. 

Priority Banking checking offers unlimited fee-free global ATM withdrawals, including unlimited rebates for non-network ATM fees. The account also pays interest and unlocks special relationship rates on other banking products. Currently, this account pays an APY of 0.01% to 0.05%, with the top rates kicking in at $2,500 or more. 

Pros:

  • Bare-bones and premier accounts available
  • No fee on the Bank Freely account
  • Out-of-network ATM fee waivers available
  • Special relationship rates at Union Bank when opening Priority Banking checking

Cons:

  • Steep $25 monthly fee on the Priority Banking checking without a $25,000 banking relationship
  • Rates are low on the Priority Banking checking account and nonexistent for the Bank Freely account.

See: Best Checking Accounts of 2020

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Savings Accounts

Union Bank has a single savings account, dubbed Regular Savings. You can open a Regular Savings account with $50, but you’ll need to deposit $25 per month or have a minimum balance of $300 to avoid the $4 monthly service fee. The account comes with ATM access, which is free at all Union Bank ATMs. Out-of-network transactions incur a $2 fee, and international ATM usage triggers a $5 fee. This account currently pays a 0.01% APY on all balances. 

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Certain transactions — including online and mobile transfers, overdraft transfers and ATM card purchases or payments — in excess of six per calendar month trigger a $15 fee. This fee can be charged up to five times per month. Overdraft fees are $33, although this can be reduced to $10 with overdraft protection.

Pros:

  • ATM card access

Cons:

  • $4 monthly fee, albeit waivable
  • High $33 overdraft fee; $10 with overdraft protection
  • High $5 international ATM fee
  • Low 0.01% APY

Compare: Best Savings Accounts of 2020

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Money Market Accounts

Union Bank has one money market account, called MoneyMarket. The monthly fee is $9 if you elect online statements and $10 if you choose paper statements. A minimum daily balance of $2,500 is required to waive those fees. The required opening balance is also $2,500. 

You can request an ATM or debit card with this account, and you can write up to six checks per month before getting hit with a $15 excess activity fee. Interest on the account ranges from a 0.01% APY to a 0.08% APY, which you can earn on balances of at least $25,000. 

Pros:

  • ATM/debit card available
  • Check writing

Cons:

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  • Requires a $2,500 balance to avoid $9 or $10 monthly fee
  • High $15 excess activity fee
  • Low APY

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CDs

Union Bank offers fixed-term CDs with maturities from seven days to 60 months. Minimums for seven-day to 31-day CDs are $2,500, but the minimum for all other CDs is just $350. Although each maturity bracket has interest tiers, all CDs currently pay a 0.20% APY, with the exception of 180- to 364-day CDs, which pay a 1.01% APY. 

When you withdraw funds before your CD matures, you’ll face an early withdrawal penalty. Union Bank’s early withdrawal penalty calculation is complicated, as outlined in the bank’s disclosure statements. But you should expect to pay at least this much on an early withdrawal penalty: 

  • For terms of seven to 31 days, all interest earned on the amount withdrawn
  • For maturity terms of 32 to 91 days, 31 days’ simple interest at the rate being paid on the amount withdrawn
  • For maturity terms of 92 days to one year, 91 days’ simple interest
  • For maturity terms of more than one year, 181 days’ simple interest

All CDs auto-renew, with the exception of balances of at least $10 million. There is a three-day grace period for maturities of 31 days or less and a 10-day grace period for all other maturities. 

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Pros:

  • Wide range of maturities
  • Low $350 minimum on most CDs

Cons:

  • Low 0.20% APY on most CDs
  • Complicated early-withdrawal penalty calculation

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IRAs

Union Bank offers both traditional and Roth IRAs. You can further choose whether you want a savings IRA or a brokerage IRA. Savings IRAs carry a wide variety of deposit products, including the following: 

  • MoneyMarket savings, with tiered interest rates
  • Fixed-rate IRA term deposits, with maturities from 90 days to 60 months
  • Variable-rate retirement IRA time deposits, with a single 12-month maturity and a $25,000 minimum
  • Variable-rate retirement deposits, with an 18-month term and an interest rate that adjusts monthly
  • Bonus rate rollover time deposits, which require a $25,000 minimum deposit but earn an extra 0.25% on qualifying IRA deposits

With a brokerage IRA, you can work with a financial advisor and choose from stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments.

Pros:

  • Savings and investment IRAs
  • Wide range of investable products

Cons:

  • No option to open IRA online

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Investment Options

In addition to the aforementioned brokerage IRA, Union Bank offers managed accounts and regular brokerage accounts. With managed accounts, your Union Bank financial advisor will, for a fee, implement an investment strategy based on your goals. Managed accounts have a $50,000 minimum, with some types requiring $250,000 or more. With a regular brokerage account, you can pick out your own investments with the help of an advisor, paying a commission for each transaction. 

Pros:

  • Professionally managed accounts available
  • Traditional commission-based brokerage accounts also available

Cons:

  • High minimums for managed accounts

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Loans

On the loan front, Union Bank offers home equity loans and lines of credit. 

Home equity loans have a variable rate as low as 4.49%, which includes the 0.25% rate discount if you have a Priority Banking checking account. HELOCs can also be fixed for the first seven years at a rate as low as 5.74%, with a variable rate starting at a 4.24% annual percentage rate thereafter. Home equity loans at Union Bank have no application or monthly fees and allow for easy transfers online or via a check. 

Home mortgage options at Union Bank come in six categories: 

  • Adjustible-rate mortgage loans
  • Low down payment loans
  • Fixed-rate loans
  • Federal Housing Administration loans
  • Veterans Affairs loans
  • Jumbo loans

For home mortgages, a $550 nonrefundable application fee is required. You can call the bank at 888-774-7298 for further assistance, or find a mortgage consultant or branch via the bank’s website. 

Pros:

  • Good selection of home mortgage types
  • Low rates available on HELOCs

Cons:

  • $550 application fee for mortgages
  • Loans cannot be initiated online

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Union Bank
How To Bank With Union Bank

Union Bank is a mixed bag when it comes to opening accounts online. For example, you can open a Priority Banking checking account online, but you’ll need to visit a branch to open a Bank Freely checking account. Similarly, you can open a money market account online, but for CDs, you’ll have to find a branch. 

For those accounts that you can open online, the process takes about 10 minutes and involves these five steps: 

  • Provide personal details, including your Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID and basic employer information.
  • Verify your identity through responses to questions.
  • Fund the account via direct deposit, external bank account or personal check.
  • Set up online banking, including selection of a username and password.
  • Sign and mail the signature card, which is required for check writing or branch transactions.

Most of these are standard steps. The exception is the signature card, which is a relative rarity in this era of online banking.

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Online & Mobile Banking

You can access all of your Union Bank accounts 24/7 via the bank’s website and mobile app. Desktop features include access to online statements. Mobile features include remote check deposit. Features common to both include: 

  • Bill pay
  • Account access
  • Money transfers
  • Union Bank card management
  • Card enrollment in Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay
  • Branch and ATM locator
  • Account updates
  • Account alerts

The Union Bank mobile banking app is available for both iPhone and Android. 

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Fees

Union Bank is far from a fee-free institution. Most of the bank’s checking, savings and money market accounts come with monthly fees that require minimum balances to avoid, although there is a basic, fee-free checking account.

One of the most notable fees at Union Bank is the $33 overdraft fee, which can only be dropped to $10 even with overdraft protection. There are also hefty ATM fees for out-of-network transactions, including $2 in the U.S. and $5 overseas. 

Other, less common charges on the bank’s fee schedule include the following: 

  • Stop payment: $15-$30
  • Incoming wire transfer fee: $15
  • Outgoing wire transfer fee: $20-$65, depending on method
  • Research service fee: $30 per hour
  • Cashier’s checks: $10 for customers
  • Money orders: $5 for customers

Services initiated via online banking have the cheapest fees, whereas the most expensive fees are charged at banking offices. 

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Availability of Funds

Funds from check and cash deposits are generally available the business day after they are received. Electronic direct deposits are available the day they arrive. Some deposits might not be available until the second business day after deposit, but $200 will always be available on the first business day after deposit.

In some cases, including the following scenarios, funds might be delayed further: 

  • Union Bank believes your check or deposit will not be paid.
  • You deposit checks exceeding $5,000 on any one day.
  • You re-deposit a check that was previously returned unpaid.
  • You have overdrawn your account repeatedly over the last six months.
  • There is some type of emergency circumstance, such as the failure of computer equipment.

For the first 30 days after opening an account, special rules might apply. For example, deposits of more than $5,000 can be held for as many as seven business days. 

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Union Bank: Traditional Banking for Traditional Customers

Union Bank is best for those who prefer a more old-fashioned way of banking, based around branches and in-person contact. The bank is structured to develop customer relationships and to be a one-stop shop for all of a customer’s traditional banking needs. The bank will likely fall short in the eyes of a more modern banking audience who prefers online banking with high yields, low fees and little human interaction. Which type of customer you are will likely determine whether or not Union Bank is of interest to you. 

Up Next: Best Union Bank Promotions

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Rates and fees are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of May 7, 2020. 

This content is not provided by Union Bank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Union Bank.

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About the Author

John Csiszar

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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