After a failed attempt to offer a premium account last year, Monzo has brought back a new look Plus version of the smartphone bank account.
I really like Monzo, especially the way it can help you budget and track your spending. If I used a bank account in that way then I would probably use Monzo.
It’s done really well too. From the early days with evangelical and mainly millennial customers, there are now more than 4million users. However, they’re not all using it as their main account – which means Monzo doesn’t make much money (if any).
So to get some cash through the doors, it’s offering a premium Monzo Plus account. This is the second try after users rejected a version in 2019, which was axed after five months.
This version of Monzo Plus comes from a different approach. Instead of free insurances, there are improved versions of the already popular features. Here’s what you’ll get and what I think of it.
Rather watch than read? Here’s my review from my YouTube channel.
How much is Monzo Plus
You’ll pay £5 a month for Monzo Plus, so £60 a year. You can change your mind in the first 14-days, but after that there’s a three-month minimum before you can trade back to the standard account.
The standard Monzo remains free to use (here’s my review).
What you get with Monzo Plus
Here’s what your extra payment will get you and my thoughts on each one.
1% Interest on savings
This is a variable rate on your saving so it could drop at any time. It’s also only on the first £2,000 you have in your account, though it will count across your pots and main balance.
This isn’t great. While you can beat this rate elsewhere you may as well put your money in one of those accounts.
Virtual debit cards
You can have up to five virtual cards on top of your physical debit card. These will have unique details to use online.
This is a great idea in terms of helping stay safe online. If your details are hacked you can quickly close down that card, and not have to change details at every site you use.
Similarly if you lose your physical card you won’t have to amend payments for subscriptions. It’d handy too if you’re paying for something on a site which you’re not 100% sure about.
Of course, you can just get a separate card to use online if you want. And Monese will give free customers one additional virtual card. But it’s a nice idea.
Improved budgeting features
You can already track spending in the standard Monzo account, but with Plus you have the ability to create custom categories and split single transactions into more than one group.
This is a nice to have feature, as is the ability to export all your transactions to Google Sheets. Though I’m not sure many will actually do this!
You’ll also be able to increase how much spare change goes into your savings pot with the roundup feature. So if you spent £2.80 with a normal Monzo account you could activate a feature where 20p was automatically saved. With Plus you can increase that by a multiple of two, five or ten. So more money is saved.
But there are other smart fintech apps out there which help you automate your savings more aggressively – and importantly they’ll do that when you aren’t spending too.
View non-Monzo banks
As you can with a number of banks now, Monzo Plus customers will be able to add other current accounts and credit cards to their Monzo dashboard.
The difference is some banks will let you move money between accounts within the Monzo app.
This feature will be common in Fintech thanks to Open Banking, so again, I don’t think it’s worth paying £5 a month for. And it’s not that hard to do it yourself between different banking apps either.
Increased overseas cash withdrawals
The normal Monzo account lets you take £200 out of cash machines abroad with no fees. With Plus you can take out £400.
That’s probably more than enough than you need, but it’s not a reason to get Monzo Plus. You can get unlimited withdrawals with Starling and Virgin Money for a start.
Track your credit report
You’ll be able to see your TransUnion/Credit Kharma report within the app. Which is nice.
But you can see this for free already, and it’s important to check your Experian and Equifax reports too (which you can also do for free).
A holographic card
As with other fintech brands, premium users will get a fancy card. For Monzo it’s “Holographic”. Personally I prefer the free “hot coral pink” that’s synonymous with Monzo.
I really think anyone willing to pay £60 or more just to get a metal or different coloured card while also advocating a bank because it helps them budget is missing the point.
Pay cash in for free
You might think this is a weird one, but you actually have to pay a fee to deposit cash into a Monzo account. Well with Monzo Plus you can make one free deposit each month.
Of course, you can do that at most high street banks – and I think it’s always worth having one of these even if it’s not your main account.
The special offers listed at launch are all ones you’ll get elsewhere, such as money off Hello Fresh or Naked Wines when you first sign up. A really pointless thing to promote.
Is Monzo Plus worth it?
No. It’s really not. Even if you already love Monzo, you won’t get anything here that’s worth the £60 annual fee.
Though everything is a nice extra, I wouldn’t pay for any of them. Especially when you can get most of these perks and features elsewhere for free.
Nothing stands out as that special.
But if you do want to get one you can upgrade in your app or via the Monzo website.
Alternatives to Monzo Plus
Here’s a quick list of guides and apps where I’d go to beat some of the Monzo Plus features
- The best interest rates for your savings – eg 2.02% at Virgin Money
- The best fee-free spending overseas – eg unlimited withdrawals from Starling or Virgin Money
- More ways to automate your savings – eg smarter savings via Chip
- See all your credit reports for free – eg MSE’s Credit Club
- Virtual cards – you can get one virtual card with a free Monese account
Monzo vs Starling vs Revolut
The free version of Monzo is great – but it might not be the best option for you from the different digital banks.
Here’s my comparison of the leaders in the online bank world – Monzo, Starling, Revolut and Monese.