This week in banking - AI assistants, deluxe rewards cards and top-notch home loans

With all that goes on in the banking world each day, it’s easy to feel a bit in over your head. That’s why we compile all the major changes of the past week in one handy spot for you to peruse at your leisure. Read on for all the latest news on home loans, term deposits and more.

UBank introduces new AI assistant

The past few years have seen new technologies shaking up entire industries, and the banking sector is no exception. This week, UBank announced it will be introducing a new AI-powered assistant, Mia, to help out Australians as they apply for a home loan.

Mia comes as a result of a partnership between UBank and FaceMe, a company which specialises in creating digital humans. She’ll be able to field a wide range of customer inquiries, while also injecting some light-hearted humour into the mix.

Deluxe new card released by Qantas

Qantas has launched a lavish new credit card which, according to the provider, will offer “unparalleled benefits.” Spenders using the Qantas Premier Titanium will earn 1.25 points per dollar spent (up to $12,500 per month), plus 2 points for every AUD $1 equivalent spent overseas.

But the card isn’t for your average Australian — you’ll need an annual income of at least $200,000 to apply. Plus your monthly spending will have to be pretty high if you want the benefits to outweigh that hefty $1,200 annual fee.

Bank of Sydney offers new low rate home loan

The other big product news this week is a new offering by Bank of Sydney. The BOSBasic Home Loan offers a variable rate of 3.55% (3.62% comparison rate*) for owner occupiers, with an LVR of up to 80%. This puts it in the top 5 lowest rates in our database, so if you were looking for a home loan and Bank of Sydney wasn’t on your radar, it might be time to reconsider.

Elsewhere, variable home loan rates continue to climb. Defence Bank increased rates across the board by up to 0.15%, with Macquarie following suit, raising rates for its Basic Home Loan and its Offset Home Loan Package by 0.06% to 0.16%. Liberty also made some pretty big changes to its selection of home loans, with some offerings increased by as much as 0.35%.

More cuts for fixed home loans

Meanwhile, fixed home loan rates continue to trend downwards. Here’s a look at the latest cuts across the market:

  • AMP’s 2 and 3 year fixed loans for investors were cut by 0.58% and 0.75%, respectively.
  • BankSA decreased its 2 year fixed rate for owner occupiers by 0.11%.
  • Macquarie decreased rates for its 5 year Basic Home Loan and Offset Home Loan Package by 0.30%. They now both sit at 4.29% (with comparison rates* of 4.04% and 4.29%, respectively).
  • RAMS dropped 2 and 3 year fixed rates for owner occupiers by 0.10%.
  • St. George also made cuts of up to 0.10% to its 2 year fixed rates.
  • Resimac decreased the 2 and 3 year rates on its MoniPower Fixed by as much as 0.24%.
  • Mortgage House has cut 2 and 3 year fixed rates for its Advantage Home Loan for investors.

Term Deposits

If you’ve been following term deposit news lately, you’ll probably know that banks have been in the habit of slashing rates. This week was a bit erratic, but overall that trend continued.

Newcastle Permanent, Westpac and MyState Bank made some slight decreases. Newcastle Permanent’s 9 month term deposit now offers 2.50% while Westpac’s 3 month term deposit offers 2.48%. 6 month rates for MyState Bank’s Term Deposit now sit at 2.76%.

Maitland Mutual Building Society, on the other hand, increased its rates. The 7 month term was an obvious standout, jumping from 2.00% to an fairly impressive 2.45%.

Greater Bank term deposits see-sawed a bit, with 2 and 6 month terms decreasing quite a bit, while rates for 3, 4, 5 and 7 month terms all increased.

So if you’re thinking about stashing your money away in a term deposit, make sure you check out our term deposit comparison page to make sure you’re getting the best rate.

*WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

^The Comparison Rate combines the lender's interest rate, fees and charges into a single rate to show the true cost of a personal loan. The comparison rates displayed are calculated based on a loan of $30,000 for a term of 5 years or a loan of $10,000 for a term of 3 years as indicated, based on monthly principal and interest repayments, on a secured basis for secured loans and an unsecured basis for unsecured loans.