As the clock ticks and the dust settles around Citibank’s Tuesday bombshell with the announcement of its Online Saver account, Friday looms as a landmark day in the escalating ‘Savings Account Price War’. Earlier last month, UBank issued a press release announcing a ‘rate assurance’ on its flagship USaver product, declaring that if the USaver base rate is lower than that of any of its competitors’ base or introductory rates, UBank will raise the USaver rate to match it. The assurance only lasts till the end of the year and is limited to the following products:
- ING Direct Savings Maximiser
- Bankwest TeleNet Saver
- Commonwealth Bank NetBank Saver
- Westpac eSaver
- ANZ Online Saver
Every Friday, UBank reviews the competition and makes changes as they see fit. The question is: will UBank take the bait and add the Citibank Online Saver to its list? If it does, it will be forced to match Citibank’s introductory rate of 5.5%. If it doesn’t, would UBank’s customers feel it is shirking its promise to lead the field? With the fickle high-interest savings account market largely driven by interest rates, can UBank afford to concede defeat over Citibank’s introductory period?
If Ubank fails to match the Citibank rate we could well see a raft of increasingly technologically and fiscally savvy consumers opening a Citibank Online Saver account for six months to take advantage of the higher rate and then transferring it back across to their USaver when the promotional period ends. With the ease of online money transferring and account application, this could pose a real and direct threat to the USaver.
As the adage goes, ‘you can’t win a war on a peacetime budget’, and the longer UBank fails to acknowledge the threat posed by Citibank, the greater chance it has of losing what market advantage it currently has.
So will battle lines be drawn? Keep your eye on the fireworks right here, as we bring you UBank’s response from the front lines tomorrow.
Compare savings accounts at mozo.com.au