Unizest review: An app-based e-current account

Find out whether e-current account Unizest could be right for you.

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Unizest

Unizest was created by Neofin Ventures Ltd, and it claims to make life a little easier for those new to the UK. Here’s how the account works, and the fees and charges it’s important to be aware of.

What is Unizest?

Unizest is an app-based account designed to help newcomers to the UK get a banking account, whether they’re here to work or study. The account is free to apply for but there’s a £4.99 monthly management fee and certain transactions will also come at a cost.

For example, UK cash withdrawals cost 99p per transaction (more if you’re abroad) and sending money via Faster Payments or direct debit will cost 99p per payment. You can view the full list of fees on the company’s site.

How does Unizest work?

The Unizest e-money account can be used in the same way as an online bank account, with an app for managing money and a debit Mastercard that can be used for purchases, cash withdrawals and contactless payments.

With your account, you will be able to:

  • Pay bills
  • View and print statements
  • Transfer money to other accounts (international transfers are coming soon)
  • Group your spending into different categories
  • Access discounts for shopping and courses
  • Access help and advice on living and working in the UK
  • Report your card as lost or stolen

Unizest says it will also be possible to set up direct debits in the near future. No interest is paid on the account and there is also no overdraft facility.

Who is it for?

Unizest is designed for workers and students who are new to the UK and who may struggle to get a bank account through traditional high street banks and building societies. Applicants do not need a good credit score to apply, nor do they need a UK residence to open an account. However, they will need to confirm their UK address before a debit Mastercard can be issued.

Is it safe?

Unizest is not a bank so your money will not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, your funds will be held in a segregated account which is protected by safeguarding requirements under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011. This means that should PayrNet Limited (which issues the Unizest account and card) become insolvent, your funds will be protected against claims made by creditors.

PayrNet Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

How to apply

To apply, you’ll need to download the Unizest app from the App Store or Google Play.

You’ll need to have your photographic ID to hand, such as a driving licence, passport or national ID card, and this will be scanned by the app to confirm your identity. If you need a visa to come to the UK, you’ll need to enter your Home Office Share Code.

Pros and cons of Unizest

Pros

  • You don’t need a good credit score to apply
  • Alternative for those new to the UK who may not qualify for a traditional bank account
  • Option to access discounts for everyday spending
Cons

  • Monthly fee applies
  • Fees apply to certain transactions
  • No overdraft facility
  • Not a bank so no FSCS protection

Customer service information for Unizest

Email support
Telephone support
In-app or live chat
Contact form
Branch support

Our verdict

Unizest offers a basic e-money current account for anyone who has recently arrived in the UK to work or study and who may find it hard to open a traditional UK bank account. Unizest offers a competitive alternative, allowing applicants to receive their wages and start their financial life in the UK, but the charges mean many will look to switch to free alternatives when they can.

Frequently asked questions

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Written by

Rachel Wait

Rachel Wait is a freelance journalist and has been writing about personal finance for more than a decade, covering everything from insurance to mortgages. She has written for a range of personal finance websites and national newspapers, including The Observer, The Mail on Sunday, The Sun and the Evening Standard. Rachel is a keen baker in her spare time. See full profile

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