Published on 18 Sep 2020 by John T. Saxon.
I’m writing this as I’m masked up on a flight between Turkey and the UK; I have to pass the time somehow, right? In a warm flying tube with some idiots not believing in COVID19 and/or the efficacy of masks, children screaming, some barely palatable coffee, and some chocolate fingers: I felt I’d get this blog thing started with Monzo Plus as my subject.
This subject made me do something thinking and I wanted to share.
I’ve used Monzo for barely a year and I really like what they’ve done: no people, no branches, no cash, no cheques and a full view on what goes in and out of my accounts, and their feature set keeps getting better. They started from the ground up, which is difficult for some of the older major banks with their hold music that hasn’t changed in decades.
So imagine my surprise when a couple of days ago I saw a notification about Monzo’s latest attempt of a premium banking solution: Monzo Plus.
Their first incarnation didn’t work well and was packaged in the same manner as you’d buy a Sky bundle. You travel a lot? Have some more free allowance on cash withdrawals abroad for ~£6 per month. Pfft, cash, who needs it? Well, unless you’re in Berlin (seriously take money there).
Full financial visibility, with your other bank accounts and credit cards all in one place. Get interest on your money, personalised budgeting and so much more.
It sounds interesting from the onset and they do show some interesting features, but are they worth the £5 a month they’re requesting or worth it at all?
So, the things, the things that intrigued me at least.
With Plus you to get 1.0% AER/gross on balances up to £2000. This, on average, equates to £1.66pm. So basically you get Plus for £3.34, if you’re fortunate enough to be in that position. This was actually the reason I went for it, it is basically a discount. I’ve never paid for an account before so I needed a reason to. I know they already use my money to keep their wheels turning!
This is a nice to have, with interest rates being negligible on a lot of accounts, including savings accounts, 1% is big. If you ignore that you’re paying more for it anyway.
Small Tangent Warning I recall using Yolt as a budgeting app a year or so ago, it brought all of my banks together and allowed me to categorise all of my spending so I knew, exactly, how much I spent on coffee. It required some blind faith in ING to accept that they needed my passwords but I did it and it was good. Then Open Banking started and became a thing, I lost access to most of my accounts. Making it useless. Yes, it made it safer, but mostly because the banks didn’t supply the information after you logged in to anyone using the API. HSBC was particularly slow in moving.
Would it be any better this time around? I was looking forward to this one. Being able to see all of my savings accounts, current accounts, and credit cards under one roof! That is the dream, right? Could it be better after a year?
Halifax provided one of my three accounts, the one I don’t use. HSBC, surprisingly, supplied them all this time (not sure about my regular saver as I only opened it yesterday and you know, Aeroplane mode). However, even with those HSBC accounts there was an emptiness and not just because of their balances. There was no interaction, no connection, no categorisation possible, a harsh red card with a list of transactions. Yes, there was the possibility to get money out of them but I refer you to my comment on their balances.
It was that interaction I wanted, not just being able to see them so it hasn’t added anything. The Yolt experience was a good one but again one I don’t need anymore.
This was cool and, for me, the only reason for Monzo Plus. Being able to have a virtual card for subscriptions and purchases online. Allowing you to lose your physical card at your heart’s content and not worry about the consequences (well, in terms of online transactions).
The other things to add to my disappointment:
Not for me. Not worth the £5pm. Not worth having to change all of my accounts to use the new card and then again in three months to use a new coral card, which virtual cards would have helped with.
Monzo itself however: spot on, keep it up!