You’ll get free bottles of wine worth £138, a £50 charity donation and 2.02% interest on savings.
Virgin Money launched its new current account in late 2019, based on the B account from Clydesdale Bank. It has some attractive features such as high interest and fee-free spending overseas, but they’ve not been enough to get me to open an account.
But now it could be more tempting. A year on, it’s offering freebies and discounts to entice customers.
Here’s how the account and offers work and my thoughts on whether it’s worth it. Plus my video takes you through some of the features on the app.
Virgin Bank M Plus switching offer
What you’ll get for switching:
- 12 free bottles of wine worth £138
- £50 donation to a charity of your choice
What you get with the account:
- 2.02% interest on savings
- Fee free spending abroad
- Discounts at Virgin Media, Virgin Gyms, Virgin Holidays and more worth up to £225
How to get the free wine
To qualify for the free wine & charity donation incentive you need to :
- Apply online for a Virgin Money M Plus Current Account for the first time
- Not have an existing Virgin Money, B, Clydesdale or Yorkshire Bank account or closed one since 30th September 2020
Then within 31 days you also need to:
- Download the register for the Virgin Money app
- Complete a full switch using the Current Account Switch Service
- Transfer or set up two Direct Debits and keep them active until you receive the wine offer code
- Pay in £1,000 to the linked Instant Access savings account, and keep it there until you receive the wine offer code
You’ll then be sent a voucher to claim your case of wine after you’ve done this. At the moment the code will be valid until the 31st December 2021.
I’ve written more about how to switch bank accounts here.
Is the Virgin Money M Plus current account any good?
The free wine for switching
The first offer which gave 15 bottles of wine worth £180 ended on the 14th February 2021 to be replaced with fewer bottles but an additional £50 charity donation. The section has been updated to reflect this.
Virgin Money claims the 12 free bottles are worth £138. That’s an average of £11.50 per bottle. You have a choice of a red and white selection, or if you don’t drink or a non-alcoholic bundle on 12 bottles worth £75.
Here’s what you’ll get with the red and white selection:
|Torre Aguila Gran Reserva||Red||Spain||1|
|Kirriemuir Semillon Chardonnay||White||Australia||1|
|Conte di Campiano Sangiovese Rubicone IGT||Red||Italy||1|
|Brio Pinot Grigio||White||Italy||2|
|Warrior Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc||White||New Zealand||1|
|Finca Manzanos Seleccion de la Familia Rioja||Red||Spain||2|
|Domaine Andre Brunel Vin de Pays de Vaucluse||Red||France||1|
|Finca Manzanos Seleccion de la Familia Rioja Blanco||White||Spain||1|
|The Black Pig Viognier||White||Australia||1|
|Three Gables Reserve Shiraz||Red||South Africa||1|
The non-alcoholic option is valued at £75.
I’ve had a look at for the wines elsewhere for comparison, but they are only on the Virgin Wine website. So it’s hard to say if their selling price is a fair price. But you can compare them to other mixed cases they do sell.
The total value of £138 is based on the single bottle price sold by Virgin Wines. But if you buy other mixed cases from Virgin Wine you’d get a discount of between 6% and 21%.
Though this bundle is exclusive to switchers, let’s assume you’d get 13% off if it was sold to other customers. Then it’d be £120. So not as much as stated, but that’s still a decent “freebie”.
But of course, if you were buying 12 bottles of wine yourself, would you usually get them from Virgin? Possibly not.
You could easily get 12 decent bottles of wine from the supermarket or somewhere like Majestic at £9 each, totalling £108. And if you timed it for when these wines were on offer (let’s assume an average of 25%), you’d pay closer to £81 in total, or £6.75 a bottle.
So personally I’d value the free wine at around the £80 mark. Though it’s some £60 less than the promised value, it’s still comparable with the cash bonuses offered by other banks.
But factor in the £50 charity donation and it means the switching value is around £130.
How it compares to other switching incentives
Offering free wine is different from the switching incentives we see from other banks. Most go with hard cash, usually around the £100 to £150 mark.
First Direct did offer a freebie for a while but moved back to cash bonuses – potentially a sign people would rather get cash than something like a speaker or voucher.
That’s certainly how I feel about the offers, and I’d prioritise the free cash deals before this one. But if you’re a serial switcher then it’s on a par in relative value.
The interest on savings
At 2.02% this is the highest paying easy access account for savings at the moment (by a smidge) so it’s certainly worth considering.
There are a few restrictions. The largest is you will only earn interest on balances up to £1,000. Anything over this will get 0%. That works out as £20.20 in interest a year. Not a huge amount but better than what you’ll get elsewhere.
But the rate is variable, which means it could drop at any time. A better alternative is the Nationwide FlexDirect which gives a fixed 2% on balances up to £1,500 for the first year.
The linked savings account where you can put further money pays 0.5% (this drops to 0.35% from 27th April 2021). This is variable and can be beaten elsewhere. You have the option in this account to set up any number of savings pots within this account, all earning interest. This helps you split your savings out for different goals, such as an emergency fund or holiday.
The Virgin discounts
Virgin Money is calling this new part of the offer “Brighter Money Bundles” – and it is available to all Virgin Money Current Account customers – not just new switchers.
The main offer right now seems to be up to £225 off a Virgin Media package. It’s only for new Virgin Media customers and you have to commit to an 18 month contract and pay a £35 set up fee.
The Virgin Media offers listed at launch can be seen here.
I’ve clicked through to see the offers and prices and it does look like prices are slightly lower than going direct to Virgin Media each month, plus there’s between £50 and £100 bill credit on top. It’s worth checking what you can get via a cashback site though for a proper comparison.
There aren’t any other offers listed right now, but it seems they’ll favour Virgin brands such as the gyms, airline and wine.
Fee free spending abroad
Though we can’t really travel right now, this is a really good feature you only see on Starling or Monzo and some credit cards (though Monzo and some credit cards have restrictions on cash withdrawals).
As I don’t have the account myself yet I’ve not been able to try out the app.
It promises to be along the lines of the other challenger bank offerings, with savings pots, budgeting features and the ability to tag and track transactions.
You can also deposit a cheque with your phone and it’s compatible with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
But reading up about the features it doesn’t have some of the extras you’ll get with Starling and Monzo such as round-ups, PIN reveal or the ability to freeze your card.
Access to branches
Though Virgin Money has it’s own branches, and as part of a recent merger all Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank branches are part of the same group, you can’t use all of them with this current account.
This will change once all the “stores” (that’s what they call branches) have been rebranded under the Virgin Money banner early next year.
Until then you’ll need to all Virgin Money to check what you can do in your area. Plus in the meantime you can use Post Offices to pay in money.
But essentially this is designed as a digital bank first, so it’s worth considering this if you need regular access to a branch.
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.
Should you switch?
Let’s start with the good things.
The 2.02% interest is decent, especially if you’ve already had the Nationwide FlexDirect account for more than a year. You can’t beat it in an easy access account right now.
If you don’t have a Starling or Monzo account then it will also be useful for overseas spending.
Both of these make it a decent option. And the free wine for switching is a nice little extra, though it’s a shame non-drinkers are left with a much cheaper selection.
The extra discounts are hard to properly review right now, but they’re worth looking at it you join, rather than a reason to sign up.
However, if you are going to switch bank I think there are other options you should consider first.
In terms of bonuses, I’d go for one which pays cash. You can see the list of the latest ones here.
And if you’re after savings I’d go for the Nationwide Flex first of all as it’s fixed for a year.
If you’ve already got all of these or taken advantage of all the other switching bonuses, then yes, go for Virgin Money! I’ll be signing up once my TSB Classic account becomes worthless at the start of December.
How to switch to Virgin Money
As with other bank switches you’ll need to open a new account with Virgin Money and then use its website to detail which bank account from a different bank you are switching over. Virgin Money will carry out a credit check.
You will have to close this old account completely as part of the switch, but all your money and future payments in and out will be transferred over. This is guaranteed as part of the Current Account Switching Service. You can read more about how bank switching works here.