Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

Review of OneUnited Bank's Unity Gold E-Savings Account

POSTED ON BY

OneUnited Bank
Update 6/13/09: Unity Gold E-Savings rate has fallen from 1.75% to 1.51% APY.

Update 3/16/09: The yield has fallen to 2.25% APY. Note, OneUnited Bank's website only clearly shows the rate for their new E-CD (2.50% APY). I can only find the savings account rate in the Truth and Savings Disclosure. See bottom of post for the rate history.

Update 11/29/08: OneUnited received a Cease and Desist Order from FDIC (see post).

OneUnited Bank is one of the very few banks that have yet to cut the yield on their online savings account since the Fed started cutting rates in September. The yield remains at 5.30% APY. My last report on this account was December 2006 when they changed the minimum of the account from $10 to $1,000. So it's time for another review of this account. I hope I don't jinx the rate.

Account Features

Below is a summary of the features based on their FAQ page, their Savings Disclosure, their learn more page, and from my Monday conservation with their customer service rep (CSR). Note, there are a few things mentioned in the disclosure (like a $1 fee for ACH withdrawal) that the CSR said did not apply to this account. I've noted in bold those features that may be an issue with some.
  • $1,000 minimum to open and earn interest (FAQ)
  • No monthly maintenance fees (FAQ)
  • Must be a US citizen (learn more)
  • Can be funded by ACH transfer or by mailing in a check (learn more)
  • 9 day hold before your initial deposited funds are available (learn more)
  • Online application with nothing to mail in for most cases (CSR)
  • After the application, an email will be sent with instructions allowing you to register for Online Banking (CSR)
  • No hard credit inquiry - just a soft pull (CSR)
  • ATM card - Maximum withdrawal is $300/day (CSR)
  • Typical limit of 6 electronic withdrawals per month - no limits on deposit (CSR)
  • ACH capability for electronically transfering funds to and from your other banks (FAQ)
  • Unlimited ACH links to other bank accounts can be set up (CSR)
  • ACH links don't require voided checks. Trial deposits used to verify accounts. (CSR)
  • Standard ACH transfers are free and take 3 business days (CSR)
  • Standard ACH transfer limits: outbound: $20k/day, $40k/month, inbound: $20k/day, $100k/month (CSR)
  • Premium ACH transfers take one day and cost $10 - dollar limits are lower (CSR)
  • Interest is credited and compounded quarterly (Disclosure)
  • Accrued interest will not be paid if you close an account before the accrued interest has been credited (Disclosure)

I haven't opened this account, so I don't have first hand experience with this bank. In previous posts, many readers complained of a slow account opening process, a poor ACH transfer system, and bad customer service. However, it seems they made a major improvement in the ACH system late last year. So this may no longer be an issue. If you're a customer, a comment about your experience would be much appreciated.

Rate History

The rates have remained very competitive since OneUnited launched this savings account in April of 2006. Here's a summary of the rate changes:

APY Date
4.50% 4/2006
5.00% 6/2006
5.25% 7/2006
5.30% 12/2006
5.15% 2/4/2008
4.60% 2/22/2008
4.00% 3/07/2008
3.60% 4/07/2008
3.26% 7/14/2008
3.75% 10/03/2008
3.35% 12/13/2008
3.00% 12/23/2008
2.75% 2/14/2009
2.25% 3/16/2009

During 2006 and the first half of 2007, their rates were good but nothing great compared to other online savings accounts. But now with them continuing to hold the rate steady since the Fed rate cuts, they're way above most other savings accounts. From my weekly rate summary, the only competitors are accounts with intro rates or accounts with $5K or $10K minimums. UFB Direct is the only one with a comparable rate and with no minimum, but it has other issues to consider (see post).

This online savings account account was originally called the UNITY Internet Savings Account and only required a minimum balance of $10 to open and earn interest. Late in 2006, they created the UNITY Gold E-Savings Account with the $1,000 minimum. According to some readers who had the old account, they were able to keep that account with the old minimums. But new customers can only open the UNITY Gold with the $1,000 minimum.

Bank Overview

OneUnited Bank has been FDIC insured since 1982 (Certificate # 23966). The bank has $632 million in assets and $358 million in deposits. Bankrate gives the bank 3 out of 5 stars (performing) based on 6/30/07 data. This is down from 4 stars when I reported on this bank in June 2006.

Rate History:
Update 03/16/09: Yield has fallen to 2.25% APY
Update 02/14/09: Yield has fallen to 2.75% APY
Update 12/23/08: The yield fell to 3.00% APY.
Update 12/13/08: The yield fell to 3.35% APY.
Update 10/3/08: The yield has gone up to 3.75% APY.
Update 7/14/08: The yield fell to 3.26% APY.
Update 4/07/08: The yield fell to 3.60% APY.
Update 3/07/08: The yield fell to 4.00% APY.
Update 2/22/08: The yield fell to 4.60% APY.
Update 2/4/08: The yield fell to 5.15% APY.
Top yield had been 5.30% APY.
  Tags: OneUnited Bank, savings account

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Comments
38 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The quartely interest always kept me away from this one.

2
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The quarterly interest keeps me away as well. Plus, I don't like the fact that you lose interest if the account is closed before the quarterly interest accrues.

Two more problems I see are: 1) three days seems like a long time for an ACH transfer. And 2) why the limits on the amount that can be transferred?

1
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have this account, however rarely use it because of many issues like:

1-If error occurs you need written letter to dispute charges or error

2-Secure e-mail is not answered until
4th or 5th day and then if there is follow up on same e-mail you may be asked to send a letter.

3-ACH is suppose to be 3 business days, but it takes a week sometimes.

4-There is long wait for the funds to become available for withdrawals
and hold place on it is a turn off.

5-Sending out money via ACH puts the money in limbo for at least 3 days and you don't earn interest for that period. Money are debited the moment you initiate ACH.

6-Pulling money in will take up to 10 business day in order for you to use it using ACH.

Now you know why I don't use this account, it is opened and just waiting to be closed.

1
Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have this account, however rarely use it because of many issues like:

1-If error occurs you need written letter to dispute charges or error

2-Secure e-mail is not answered until
4th or 5th day and then if there is follow up on same e-mail you may be asked to send a letter.

3-ACH is suppose to be 3 business days, but it takes a week sometimes.

4-There is long wait for the funds to become available for withdrawals
and hold place on it is a turn off.

5-Sending out money via ACH puts the money in limbo for at least 3 days and you don't earn interest for that period. Money are debited the moment you initiate ACH.

6-Pulling money in will take up to 10 business day in order for you to use it using ACH.

Now you know why I don't use this account, it is opened and just waiting to be closed.

1
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It is hustle to even close the account. I was asked to mail or fax
current driver license copies from front and back and reason for closing
it. It is not automatic closing even if the balance in the account is $0.
They may refuse to close the account
for what ever reason they can think off as per CSR.

I'm out of this bank.

1
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
"The 9 day hold before your initial deposited funds are available" as you said in your report, it actually means 2 and a half weeks no access to any of your money and that is just start for
the frustrations that will
follow up as long you have this account.

I closed it few weeks ago and never plan to open another account with
this Bank even if the interest paid is 7%.
I had to mail a copy of my DR license too and beg to be closed.

1
Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have issue with their ACH.
For example, I initiate ACH on Monday to send money, Monday does not counts as business day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the three days as per CSR, but is not guaranteed that the money will be available on Friday because the 4th business day is transaction day.
The money will arrive next Monday
at the other bank for sure.

But money are withdrawn on previous Monday and no interest is paid for the 3-4 business days (which in reality is one week) while in transit. It gets worse if there is Bank holiday in that week.
And there is one of the problems
with this Bank.

I will skip it without being sorry.

1
Comment #8 by mlm_330 (anonymous) posted on
mlm_330
A few notes:

Nov 7 - opened account with trial deposit method using my AmTrust acct

Nov 8 - received email of Trial deposit failure (not sure if this was an AmTrust or BankUnitedOne problem)

Nov 14 - received a welcome letter

Nov 15 - sent check for initial deposit from MN (since the trial deposit method failed)

Nov 21 - received another welcome letter

Nov 27 - the check was finally credited to my account

Nov 28 - the check cleared my KeyDirect account

WOW! - keep the initial deposit small and write the check from a high interest bearing account (if you have one), as with their "hold" time you will lose interest with the money in a non bearing interest account.

Nov 21-Dec 4 Went back and forth between the CSR and their online banking dept as to why their system kept saying my account had missing information which kept my account from showing. While I did actually receive a return phone call, a second call was not returned. For some reason they assigned me one account number and then changed it, not sure why. Beware of their ACH system, the basic is free and as mentioned above is slow, the premium is next day but you pay $10 per transaction.

You're much better off with a bank like KeyDirect or AmTrust. I have had an AmTrust account for over a year and just opened my KeyDirect acct. The downfall of AmTrust is that you can only access your money online and they did the new account switcharoo thing.

http://bankdeals.blogspot.com/2007/10/amtrustdirect-introduces-e-savings.html

KeyDirect provides you with free checks. I will say though with KeyDirect that you should allow a month from the time you initially open the account until the time they do their trial deposit thing (they not only make them but will withdrawal them - about a week plus process). Yes it's a hassle but their customer service is much more user friendly than of BankOneUnited.

A side note - as long as you make your online transfer from AmTrust or KeyDirect by the cut-off times, transactions from those accounts have shown up in my transferred account the next business day. At least these banks have a decent ACH system.

BankOneUnited's ACH system is a step below that of Emigrant's and ING's. I used to have account at both of those banks when they were at the top of the rate game but closed them for the ACH reason.

The only reason I have to keep my BankOneUnited accout open is because of the rate comparing to that of a CD. With the hassles of transfering money I am going to use this account for my CD money (since I don't have to lock it away). Should the rate fall below that of AmTrust or KeyDirect, my money will be out of there.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have had an account at this bank since July or Aug of this year. It's the Unity Gold E Savings and it was paying 5.30 then and is still paying 5.30. During that time I have seen the other banks I use GMAC-AMTRUST-EVERBANK-E-LOAN-Key-HSBC- drop their rates from a average of 5.30 down to an average of 4.80. This account was a little slow in getting started but not as bad as some. Took me just short of 2 monrhs to get an account up and running at Key Direct and they dropped their rates 2 times during that time. I have never tried to transfer any money out of this account and based on what I read above I may not like this bank so well after I do. However, I just made a transfer in on Dec 3 rd and the money was pulled out of the funding account on the 4th and was available in my ONEUNITED account today the 6th. I'm sure that is not a speed record but is good enough for this old man. My only problem is the quartly interest but I can live with it since I rarely transfer money around for a few extra points. Two things make me move money. One is when rate drops below 5%. The other is when a bank cuts my rate while at the same time offering a new customer the same rate I had been getting or higher. Thats a move I won"t tolerate and I move out as soon as possible. Since I can't find rates better than 5.30 unless it is a promo rate I'll just stay at this bank with some money.
Happy banking to everbody.

1
Comment #10 by zjts (anonymous) posted on
zjts
Can Countrywide link to OneUnited's Unity Gold E-Savings account? My trial deposits are not showing up and Countrywide'strial deposits are usually very fast (next day)

1
Comment #11 by george (anonymous) posted on
george
I applied for UNITY Gold E-Savings account on Jan 8 2008, but based on the information posted here, decided to cancel the application next day.

I called their customer service, expressed my concerns and asked to cancel the application. In fairness to the bank, the bank representative was very kind. She immediately canceled my application and in a few minutes after the call I received an email message confirming the withdrawal of the application at my request.

1
Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Big hassle to open an account with these folks. They wanted drivers license & bank statements mailed in - how secure is THAT? Operator would not put a supervisor on the line or give me a direct phone number to call someone in authority. Have not had this problem with other on-line banks.

1
Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
wow...thanks to everyone for leaving their feedback. i was just about to open an account here because my ING rate dropped again but looks like it's more of a pain than anything. thanks all...good looking out.

1
Comment #14 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was attracted by the 5.3 but have not been able to talk with them for six days. Have spent hours on hold. Go to leave a voice mail message and the box is full. They don't respond to E-mail inquires. Their terms are onerous. Now that they have dropped the rate to 5.15 it is not worth it. What a bunch of clowns. They almost had my $50,000 a few days ago. I think I am glad I did not fall for their scam.

1
Comment #15 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I opned an account with them 1 month ago. They took my money from the bank but i'm not able to get to my funds yet. Customer service sucks and it is handled by third party.

No one responds to emails and no one picks up the phone. Folks..Is my money gone? After reading the comments here, i think i have made a huge mistake. Should i report to authorties....?

Any suggestion would be helpful!

1
Comment #16 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Based on what other readers have experienced, it's most likely that OneUnited is just way behind. I can understand your frustration after one month of not being able to access your account.

For filing complaints with the government, please see this post. Since it's not a National Bank or a member of the Federal Reserve, I believe this FDIC page is where you would file a complaint. I hope this helps.

1
Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It seems that all the complaints are a little exaggerated.
I opened my account on line
on 2/4 and trial deposits were posted on the same day and I was able to verify my account next day but did not get any other feedback. I called the CSR this morning and after a few hours I got an email that my application was approved and $1000 will be deposited tomorrow. I was also able to register for online banking but I have to wait for snail mail.
I will post further experience later.

1
Comment #18 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. Glad to see some favorable reports on OneUnited.

1
Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Follow up on my 2/11/08 post. $1000 was taken from my linked account on 2/12/08 but it still does not show up on One-United site but setting up online banking was breeze.
When I registered for online banking it told me how to setup my id/pw. As a Result I now know my full account # so that I can link other banks to take advantage of $59 bonus too.
Overall I found it better than HSBC.

1
Comment #20 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Sorry for the misprint. The bonus is $50 and not $59. You only need 3 DD to qualify.

1
Comment #21 by JRH (anonymous) posted on
JRH
I started this process February 1, and have pulled my hair out every step of the way. With an initial deposit there and waiting over a week for "approval" of my online access, I'm done. This is a joke of an operation and a colossal waste of time.

1
Comment #22 by Dae (anonymous) posted on
Dae
I would NOT RECOMMEND ONEUNITED BANK even though they advertise 5.00%APY. They DO NOT respond to emails. GOOD LUCK TRYING TO call customer support. Plan on spending a LONG time waiting. You are better off going somewhere else. I hear it takes FOREVER To close accounts there. Again, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS ACCOUNT. BEWARE!!!!!

1
Comment #23 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just opened an account and had no issues at all. Trial deposits were fast and ACH transfer was timely. I also called to confirm my account and the call was answered within 1 minute and the girl was very polite. I'm hoping that when I go to withdraw money it goes as smoothly. But no complaints for now.

1
Comment #24 by McDoogle (anonymous) posted on
McDoogle
Down to 4.60% APY.

1
Comment #25 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
THREE WEEKS TO SET UP AN ACCOUNT! Along the way, the lack of online feedback, the long, long waits for support by phone and the sheer incompetence I encountered left me so frustrated that I have no confidence in OneUnited Bank's operations and have closed the account.

1
Comment #26 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have comented before I would stick with these people as long as they were 5% or higher. Well, they are not there now so it is time to move on. I have heard it is difficult to get money out of this bank so I made a small transfer out today as a test case. Will move nearly all of my account out on Mar 31 [end of quarter] probally leaving enough there to keep account open. Nothing lasts for ever.

1
Comment #27 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just to provide some positive feedback about this bank. Opened the account online on 2/8. Trial deposits received on 2/11. $1000 initial deposit deducted from my local bank (Citibank) on 2/15. Got an email on 2/15 that says my OneUnited account was ready to open in 3 business days. Wasn't able to log in to OneUnited's account online until 2/21 (which is 3 business days after 2/15 considering 2/18 is a bank holiday). Add another local bank account (WaMu) for transfer on OneUnited's website on 2/21. Received the trial deposits in WaMu on 2/22. Schedule fund transfer (WaMu --> OneUnited) on 2/25. Fund deducted from WaMu on 2/26 and deposited in OneUnited account on 2/28. Not super fast but the process moves along smoothly.

Be sure to transfer your fund on Monday or Tuesday so that the fund will be in OneUnited on Thursday or Friday (to prevent loosing interest during weekend).

1
Comment #28 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for providing all of these details. Glad to read the sign-up process has been going smoothly for you.

1
Comment #29 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
My mother and I opened up Unity Gold accounts with this bank after finding them to be the highest rate as per Bankrate.com which I have used in the past compare rates. Many problems:

1) As others have noted, they don't reply to e-mails.

2) We have made no fewer than 30 phone calls to their Linkline system and at this point, the voice mail box is so full, you can't leave a message.

3) We have waited on hold so long that the line has gone dead on their end and disconnected us. BTW: They don't reply to faxes either.

4) I cannot see how to transfer money from our other bank's linked accounts into these new accounts, but after reading all of your complaints here, it looks like the next battle will be to close the accounts.

5) The one time we got a human being, it was at the online banking helpdesk. Of course, they could not help us and answer our questions, and gave us the customer service phone #. That of course, leads us right back to square 1.

6) I know they are based in California, so I looked up the California's equivalent of the Banking Commission (we are in NY) and through that website, it seems that One United should have complaints files with the state of MA.

7) I have filed complaints thus far with both the FDIC and the MA Business Commission today. If anyone reading can share any additional information or where to file complaints, please e-mail me at ponchoguy@gmail.com.

8) Does anyone have a number where you can actually get a person? I wouldn't mind having to call during the day at normal business hours, but you can never get a person on the phone!

I have done online banking with several banks over the years, and this bank is the WORST thus far.

I would appreciate hearing from other folks with problems with One United or other resolutions you may have.

Thanks.

1
Comment #30 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Great Feedback. Was about to pull the trigger on transfering money to complete my application and something told me to research feedback on this bank. Was that an eye opener. Cancelling this endeavor. Now I need to know how to cancel my application. Website not as friendly to closing accounts.. Anyone? thanks!

1
Comment #31 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was very impressed with the initial process of opening my account with OneUnited. It took all of seven working days to complete, including access to online banking. I have not had any problems with transferring money or withdrawing money either. And the interest started accumulating the same day my money was transferred into my account. OneUnited is doing what no other bank is doing..paying the highest interest on YOUR money. Isn't that the bottom line?

1
Comment #32 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad to read of some positive experiences with this bank, and I'm glad the rate is still one of the best.

1
Comment #33 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Wow! Down to 3.60%.

I posted a while ago that my friend was related to someone who worked at OneUnited, and that she was told they would be lowering their rate big time.

Well, they finally did it.

So, with the fact that they post their interest quarterly, would anyone still keep their money in this bank?

1
Comment #34 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Great Rate!!! I live in Los Angeles so there are like 4 branches I can visit to make deposits into the Unity Online Savings account with immediate posting. I've transferred funds from CitiBank as well just to see how long it took, and was surprised that it was only a few days. Customer service ALWAYS picks up within 3 minutes and i've not had a single problem with them ever. This account is to store 1 years' worth of living expenses for my emergency fund, never to be touched and ONLY to be tapped into after I exhaust the couple thousand I keep on hand in my regular day to day Money Market account anyways. I could certainly wait a week or so for a transfer back into CitiBank anytime. The people at the branches are kind and answer all questions professionally. I'd recommend this institution to long term savers who primarily want to do just what you're supposed to do with an account of this sort...SAVE!!!!

1
Comment #35 by Angelique (anonymous) posted on
Angelique
A close friend recommended this bank to me for its high interest rates. I opened an account on 9/17 and transferred a large part of my saving from my Wachovia account (which only has a pathetic 0.15 monthly interest rate)

Anyways, it has been one nightmare after another. First, I got an e-mail stating that my account was opened and my initial deposit was available. I went to log-in to the website I and I got error message stating I should call CS. Well, I did and apparently they had no record of my application for online banking. Okay whatever, I went online and filled out a new one. It's been over a week and I haven't heard back. Then today I get a letter in the mail stating that my account has been closed. WHAT!? Well at this point I'm livid, but it's Saturday so when I call I cannot reach anyone who can help me because they have no access to any information about my account. Apparently I have to call during business hours, which I will do on Monday.

My biggest question is: Where's my money? The letter never mentioned how the funds in my account would be returned. I got an e-mail saying they received the funds, but I was never able to access the account online to check & now my account is closed? - Well it can stay that way. I just want my money back.

I will not use them again & will make sure to pass on the word

1
Comment #36 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Rate is now 3.35%. With the FDIC action, I would hesitate to put my money with them.

1
Comment #37 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have used this bank for its high Savings rate, without the constraints of a CD account, since about 2005.

In any case, I do everything through their Internet Website and have had NO problems. It is true that they require a full quarter (3 months), in order to earn the high interest that they provide (which far exceeds other low interest bearing Savings accounts, which also have similar restrictions).

However, regarding the FDIC investigation, they are now in a better financial position, thanks to the FDIC, than prior to the investigation. In addition, I understand that they won significant funding from some other organization that rates banks. In short, Google “One United Bank” and read more about them and their financial status, before completely dismissing them.

By the way, as we enter these uncertain times, what with the $750 Billion dollar bailouts, many, if not most US banks, are now being investigated by the FDIC.

In any case, unless you have over $500,000 in a bank account, you're fully insured by the FDIC. Just keep a good account of your money!

1
Comment #38 by ichaelm (anonymous) posted on
ichaelm
rate drop here to 2.25

1