QUEENSLAND Country Bank was the only regional provider to be awarded a Canstar Innovation Excellence Award this year, and have retained their 5-Star rating for a deposit account offering outstanding value for seniors.
Canstar's group manager for research and Ratings, Mitch Watson said Queensland Country Bank's SmartBudget savings account stood out to the judges, feeling it would have a positive impact on customers and their lifestyles.
"SmartBudget... is a unique product that helps customers manage their bills and expenses and avoid bill shock by making regular deposits based on the estimated cost of their bills and smooth out the costs over the year," said Mr Watson.
"Bill smoothing isn't universally available so that's what makes this product stand out, and at a monthly cost of $5, SmartBudget doesn't come with the financial sting of using a credit card to manage bills.
"The judges were also particularly impressed by the fact that customers are not charged interest when their SmartBudget account is overdrawn due to the payment of their bills."
Beaudesert resident Melba Gray said she had been a customer of the local branch for about 50 years after she and her husband signed up on the spot when the credit union staff visited their workplace at Tancred Brothers Meatworks in Bromelton.
"I've always just paid my own bills in person, I don't do internet banking," Mrs Gray said.
"When you get up in age you don't like change, so I had to be talked into the SmartBudget account.
"It got to the stage where I didn't want to walk all over town paying bills.
"Angela was really good. This way all my bills are paid on time and I have more money left over from my pension for me."
Beaudesert personal banking consultant and SmartBudget specialist Angela Wilson said the SmartBudget account could be set up in the branch following a checklist of details required for the process.
"After that it looks after itself, some people manage payments online and others are happy for us to do it for them.
"Melba drops in her bills, rates notices etc and we take care of them."
Ms Wilson said the bills were paid by their due dates, ensuring the pay-on-time discounts were accrued. She said the account fees were only $5 per month, which compared favourably to similar products such as My Budget, which cost up to $2000 a year.
Mr Watson also praised Queensland Country Bank for retaining their 5-Star rating for the Pension Plus Senior Saver and Senior Transactor accounts.
"Pension Plus has been recognised by Canstar as providing outstanding value for seniors whether they are seeking an account for their savings or their daily transactions," he said.
"The combination of a healthy interest rate of up to 1.25 per cent along with no account keeping or transaction fees, gives customers the ability to manage their savings and transactions through the one account."
Queensland Country Bank Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Newman, said that as a member-owned bank they prided themselves on providing flexible financial solutions with features that matter, and were delighted to be recognised by an impartial source for the value they were offering to members.
"Canstar is a trusted source that people look to for advice, so their independent review gives us important feedback on how favourably our products compare in the market place," Mr Newman said.
"Member feedback indicates that SmartBudget is a helpful tool for them to manage their budget and savings, with many members crediting it with helping them through challenging times.