Up is one of the new breed of digital banks to hit Australian shores (and app stores), and the first to really open its doors as a fully functioning neobank. Founded in 2017 and based in Melbourne, Up is bursting with a range of handy features and functions that will appeal to any digital-savvy, tech-loving Australians looking for a banking alternative.
As a neobank, Up really focus on technology. This is really driven home in Up’s case by the fact that it is completely hosted in the cloud and operates solely on a mobile app which means no branches, no phone banking - not even a browser-based banking platform.
What that means is an app from which users can do everything - from signing up for an Up Bank transaction or savings account, to making mobile payments through the likes of Google and Apple Pay and viewing a range of comprehensive spending insights.
But while Up certainly sets itself apart with its technology-led approach to banking, it’s still a bank after all. Despite having been created by technology developer Ferocia, the financial services side of the bank is supplied by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, as is the Australian banking licence.
Despite being less than two years old, Up has already made a seriously good impression, taking out numerous Mozo Experts Choice Awards for its bank account, savings account and app, as well as the major title of 2020 Everyday & Savings Bank of the Year.
Up currently offers both a transaction account (complete with a nifty looking debit card) and a savings account - both of which are fully accessible through the Up app. But Up isn’t about to stop there. Aside from these two fundamental pillars, Up has released a scaffold of their proposed future developments which include offering credit products.
Up Bank Everyday Account
|Australian ATM fee||Major banks free|
|Foreign transaction fee||0%|
|Overseas ATM fee||$0|
Despite having only launched in 2018, Up Bank’s Everyday Account has already picked up 2019 and 2020 Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Exceptional Everyday Account and with no monthly fees and no foreign transaction fees, that’s hardly a surprise. Plus when you sign up for a new account using the special code MOZO5 you'll automatically receive $5 into the account. Check out our Everyday Account review for a complete overview.
Up Saver Account
|Interest rate||0.10% ($0 and over)|
|Maximum interest rate||1.60% (for $0 to $50,000)|
Up’s Saver Account comes with a 1.60% maximum interest rate for users who make five Up card purchases a month, plus a handy round up tool to boost your savings. Those features were impressive enough to land it both a 2019 and 2020 Mozo Experts Choice Award. For even more details check out our Saver Account review.
International money transfers
As of August 2020, Up users can also send money overseas following the launch of a partnership between the neobank and online money transfer provider TransferWise. Users can transfer money in 48 different currencies, all without leaving the Up app. According to Up, TransferWise charges the real exchange rate plus a single transfer fee, making them a more competitive option than the big four banks.
There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to standout features with the Up app, but here are a few that we thought were pretty neat.
One area in which Up has really put a lot of time into is providing customers with much richer, more useful insights to help better understand where their money is going and where they can save. Some of Up's insight features include:
Up is not alone among Australian banks in providing alternative mobile payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, but these are useful options which an increasing number of Aussies appear to be using. Up Bank also allows its users to sign up for PayID and use Osko to make near instant transfers to other participating banks.
Banking technology and spending insights are one thing, but Up are also serious about helping Aussies save. And if anything shows that intent, it’s the seriously competitive 1.60% maximum interest rate (when 5 card purchases are made each month) that Up are currently offering on their Saver Account.
Aside from that rate, Up have also developed their very own optional round up tool which takes every transaction made through the Up Everyday Account, rounds it up to the nearest $1 and deposits it into an Up Saver Account of your choice. For example, 50c from that $3.50 flat white you buy every morning at the cafe would be instantly transferred to your savings account.
Did we mention that Up lets users open multiple savers which they can name and use for different savings goals? Better still, and unlike the majority of banks, the maximum interest rate will apply to all Saver Accounts - not just a single account.
Up haven’t forgotten that Australians love to travel, which is why they’ve made sure that the Up Debit Mastercard can be taken overseas as a low cost companion thanks to the 0% foreign transaction fee. And travellers who need to take out cash from an ATM will be happy to know that they won't be charged any overseas ATM fees, at least not from Up.
They also make the spending that you do overseas really clear, with transactions in the Up app displayed both in Australian dollars and the foreign currency you made the purchase in.
From spending insights, the latest payment options, international money transfers, and bank and savings accounts which already rank among the best in Australia, there’s no doubt that Up has a heap of great features and products that will make it an appealing option for many Aussies - particularly those who rank banking technology highly.
But while it is a genuine, functioning banking option, Up doesn't yet offer the complete range of products (think credit cards, home loans, term deposits) that some Australians may want from a bank. Nor does it provide those traditional banking services, like branch access and phone banking, which some Aussies still love to use.
As you’d expect, signing up for Up is a piece of cake - in fact, Up state that it will take just three minutes. All you’ll need to do to get started is to download the Up app.
Once it’s installed, you’ll be able to open an account inside the app. You will need some form of ID in order to open an account though (a driver's license, Australian passport or a Medicare card will do), but once Up have validated it you’ll be ready to start banking.