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Union Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

March 16, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
Many Banks Boost Overdrafts by Counting Big Debits First, Report Says
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Union Bank
NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0

Union Bank

at Union Bank,

Member, FDIC

Union Bank, which has a strong presence on the West Coast, offers basic accounts with premium features. Its customizable checking accounts let customers pick and choose their own perks. But these optional features come with monthly fees.

The bottom line

  • Union Bank has checking accounts with optional premium features, such as ATM fee reimbursements and unlimited money orders
  • Savings accounts and CDs earn below average rates, compared with competitors
  • Bank branches are primarily in California and Washington, with a few more in Oregon

» Want to compare with other banks? Check out NerdWallet’s best banks and credit unions

Read on for details about Union Bank’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, bank experience and fees.


3.5 / 5.0

Union Bank has four checking accounts designed for a range of customers, including teens just starting their banking journey as well as those who maintain a balance of $50,000 or more and want to earn interest. Banking by Design, the most basic account for adults, is available in California, Oregon and Washington, where Union Bank has branches.

Customizable options: Banking by Design is one of two Union Bank accounts — the other is Ready to Go Checking — that let customers add optional features for a fee. For example, you can sign up for two non-Union Bank ATM transactions a month with no Union Bank surcharge; the fee is usually $2 each. But the benefit itself costs $3 a month, and that’s on top of any monthly fees. Other customizable features cost about $1 per month. They include:

  • Unlimited cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Unlimited incoming wire transfers
  • Unlimited premium checks
  • Expedited card delivery for $1 per month

It’s good to have choices, but once you sign up for an extra, the charge is assessed regardless of whether you use it. So it may be cheaper to skip the add-ons if you don’t plan on using them often.

  • Monthly service fee is waived if you meet at least one of the following requirements during each statement period: at least $500 in direct deposits, mobile check deposits of at least $500, average monthly balance of at least $1,500, or monthly combined balance of at least $5,000 across linked deposit accounts
  • Monthly fee of $10 in California and $8 in Washington, if you don't meet a requirement to waive it

  • No interest
Account reviewed for rating: Ready to Go Checking

» Want to explore more options? Explore NerdWallet’s best checking accounts


2.5 / 5.0

With just a $50 minimum deposit, It’s easy to open a Union Bank regular savings account. But watch out for the $4 monthly fee. If you don’t want to lose money in your savings account, there are two ways to avoid the monthly charge: Keep a balance of at least $300, or make a savings deposit of at least $25 each month.

  • Reasonable $50 minimum deposit
  • Only 0.01%
    annual percentage yield, no matter the balance. Other banks offer more.
Account reviewed for rating: Regular Savings

» Want higher rates and lower fees? Browse NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Certificates of deposit

1.5 / 5.0

Union Bank has CDs with terms from seven days to five years, though the yields are nothing to get excited about. The highest for a five-year CD is 0.50% APY. It’s easy to find other CDs with higher APYs.

  • Reasonable minimum deposit of $350 for most CDs. Use our CD tool to compare minimum balances at other institutions.
  • Interest rates are low at 0.05%
    to 0.50% APY

» Looking for the best yields? Read our list of this month’s top CD rates.

Bank experience

3.5 / 5.0

Union Bank offers its customers 365 branches across the West Coast. In addition, customer service representatives are available by phone 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays (Pacific time). It’s not a 24/7 operation, but the extended hours are convenient.

The bank also has online and mobile banking, so you can pay bills, check your account balance and transfer money without visiting a branch. The mobile app earns a solid four stars out of five in the Android store, but only 2 stars out of 5 for iOS devices.

Overdraft fees

2.0 / 5.0

Overdrafts cost a hefty $33 each. If you’re not careful, you can rack up as many as five per day, for a total of $165 in penalties. In addition, Union Bank charges a continued overdraft fee for accounts that remain negative for six days in a row. On Day 7, the account is charged $6 a day for up to five business days.

You can guard against overdrafts by linking to a separate checking or savings account, credit card or cash reserve line of credit. Even then, you’ll pay a $10 fee for each day you make an overdraft transfer.

Union Bank is a West Coast option

Union Bank

at Union Bank,

Member, FDIC

Union Bank is a traditional institution with a full lineup of products, including checking, savings and CDs. But the accounts don’t earn much interest and tend to have fees. If you live on the West Coast and want the convenience of banking at a traditional branch, Union Bank is an option.

There are, however, other affordable banks and credit unions along the Pacific coast that might be a good fit.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @margarette.

Updated Aug. 28, 2017.

Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, customer experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.