UFB Direct Review: Checking and Savings

UFB Direct's online savings and money market accounts have competitive rates, but its free checking account doesn’t earn interest.
Written by Spencer Tierney
Senior writer
Profile photo of Sara Clarke
Edited by Sara Clarke
Assistant Assigning Editor
Fact Checked

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UFB Direct
Learn more

at UFB Direct, Member FDIC

  • Savings
  • Money market
  • Checking
  • Customer experience
  • Overdraft fees

Overall institution rating

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

UFB Direct, a division of online institution Axos Bank, offers checking and savings accounts with no opening minimums and no monthly fee. The savings account has a high interest rate. The bank also has a high-yield money market account with a strong rate, but it requires a minimum of $5,000 to avoid a monthly fee. The checking account has a steep overdraft fee, but there are free overdraft transfers. Only customers with a savings or money market account can open the UFB checking account.

From late October 2022 through 2023, NerdWallet has received reader complaints, particularly about customers not being notified of how to benefit from ongoing interest rate changes. Scroll down to the customer experience section for more details.

Best for: Digital banking customers who want a savings account or money market account with strong APYs.

Pros

  • No monthly fees on checking accounts and some savings accounts.
  • Competitive rate on savings accounts.
  • 24/7 customer service by phone.
  • Highly rated mobile apps.
  • Large, free, nationwide ATM network.

Cons

  • Expensive overdraft fee.
  • Monthly fee on money market account, which can be waived.
  • Excess withdrawal fee.

Full review

Savings

UFB Secure Savings

Savings

Member FDIC

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
5.25%
With $0 min. balance for APY
Bonus
N/A
Learn more

at UFB Direct

High rate and no monthly fee. UFB's savings account has a strong rate of 5.25% APY for any balance. This online account also has no minimum deposit requirement and no monthly fees. This account is the one we considered in the bank’s overall rating. We consider it the bank's best offering to earn a strong rate and avoid fees.

UFB offers a higher APY of up to 5.45% on this savings account for customers who open a UFB checking account and can meet some requirements. The extra is added incrementally and to earn the first 0.05% APY boost, you have to set up direct deposits that total at least $5,000 monthly. After that, you can earn another 0.10% APY by keeping a minimum daily balance of $10,000 in your savings account. And you can earn a final 0.05% APY by making a minimum of 10 debit card transactions in each statement cycle (these debit card transactions have to be for more than $3).

Excessive withdrawal fee. Making more than six transactions per month to withdraw money from a savings account can result in a $10 fee per additional transaction.

» COMPARE: Best savings rates

Money market

UFB Secure Money Market
UFB Secure Money Market

Money market

Member FDIC

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
5.25%
With $0 min. balance for APY
Bonus
N/A

High rate. UFB's money market account is one of UFB Direct's savings accounts, though we did not consider this one as part of the bank’s overall rating. The account offers 5.25% APY for any balance.

Monthly fee unless you meet a steep minimum daily balance. Unlike UFB's savings account, this account has a $10 monthly fee, though you can waive it if your average daily balance is at least $5,000. If you plan to keep at least that much in your savings account and want the ability to write up to six checks a month, this account might be a good choice for you.

» Learn more about money market savings accounts

Checking

UFB Freedom Checking

Checking

Member FDIC

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$0
Bonus
N/A
Learn more

at UFB Direct

The UFB Freedom Checking account is only available to new or existing customers who have a UFB savings or money market account.

No monthly fees and free ATM access. UFB’s checking account has no monthly fee or minimum requirements to open or maintain the account. Customers have free access to about 91,000 ATMs nationwide plus up to $10 in U.S. ATM fee refunds each month. There’s an ATM locator for logged-in customers in the app or on desktop.

No interest. The checking account doesn’t earn any interest, but having the account can boost the rate on a savings account or money market account at UFB up to 5.45% APY. To earn the rate boost, one or more requirements must be met, such as direct deposits, a minimum balance, and a certain number of debit card purchases per month.

Outbound transfers aren’t fast. Neither UFB Direct nor its parent bank belong to the Zelle network for same-day transfers, and online transfers can take three to five business days to complete. See banks that use Zelle.

Customer experience

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Highly rated apps and 24/7 support. UFB Direct has above-average mobile app ratings on Android and iOS devices as well as 24/7 customer support by phone. There is also chat support for logged-in customers. The website is relatively easy to navigate to find rates, fees and support information.

History of reader complaints about rate updates. From late October 2022 through 2023, NerdWallet readers have described confusion and a lack of information about how to benefit from ongoing interest rate increases. (These complaints and issues don’t factor into UFB Direct’s star ratings given the variability associated with customer experiences; see our methodology.)

» Experienced an issue? Here’s how to file a complaint

UFB Direct relaunched its savings and money market accounts nine times from August 2022 to November 2023, and customers of existing accounts must request to upgrade to the latest account to benefit from ongoing interest rate changes, such as by messaging or calling customer support. If you’re unsure what account you have, log into UFB’s site or app and compare it with the current account name. Here’s a rough timeline of accounts:

  • Aug. 9 - Sept. 20, 2022: UFB Rewards Savings and UFB Rewards Money Market.

  • Sept. 21 - Nov. 7, 2022: UFB Elite Savings and UFB Elite Money Market.

  • Nov. 8 - Dec. 13, 2022: UFB High Rate Savings and UFB High Rate Money Market.

  • Dec. 14, 2022 - Feb. 21, 2023: UFB Best Savings and UFB Best Money Market.

  • Feb. 22 - April 12, 2023: UFB Preferred Savings and UFB Preferred Money Market.

  • April 13 - July 18, 2023: UFB Premier Savings and UFB Premier Money Market.

  • July 19 - Aug. 10, 2023: UFB Priority Savings and UFB Priority Money Market.

  • Aug. 11 - Nov. 15, 2023: UFB High Yield Savings and UFB High Yield Money Market.

  • Nov. 16, 2023: UFB Secure Savings and UFB Secure Money Market.

Overdraft fees

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

Expensive fee with daily limits. UFB Direct charges $25 per transaction when there are insufficient funds, whether the bank covers or declines the transaction. If multiple transactions occur in a day, there’s a daily maximum of $75, or three fees. Some banks charge higher overdraft fees – such as $35 – while others don’t charge overdraft fees.

Free alternatives. The bank has free overdraft protection transfers, or transfers linked to a savings account, as well as no fee charged for transactions that make a balance go negative by less than $25.

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, banking 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.