Deciding on a bank based on their mobile apps


Clara and I will be overseas again in a couple of weeks, so we decided to revisit our travel bank accounts. It’s critical to have a bank account without foreign ATM or transaction fees, while also having it separate from your primary account in case you’re skimmed or have your wallet nicked.

A few foreign banks in Australia now offer global accounts where you can hold multiple currencies. You can hedge forex with them, which is nice if you know a central bank rate cut is about to hit before you leave. But they’re the most useful for letting you spend in the local currency of the country you’re visiting. That way you save on fees, you can use a debit card in stores, and it’s easier to track expenses.

Or at least, I thought it would be. I signed up to a household-name bank earlier this week to get one of these global accounts, and while their desktop internet banking is passable, their mobile application is, without any peer or contest, the absolute worst one I’ve ever used. My local credit union-esque bank has but a tiny fraction of their holdings and profits, and theirs is so much better it isn’t even a contest.

Banks like to think they’re competing on features, interest rates, and brand awareness. But I wonder if they realise how much money they’re leaving on the table if they have horrible applications? I’d go as far as to say I’d sacrifice interest and perks to go to another bank with decent software. Maybe that shows I’m a fiscal sucker, but life’s too short to deal with bad stuff when so many other banks do a great job.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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