Monzo Plus Review: Is it really worth it?

via AltFi

Woke 👌 Still as easy-to-use as before and the new subscription comes with a great interest rate and a shiny new card. 

Broke 🙁 Nearly everything offered with Monzo Plus can be accessed *for free* with other digital banking services. The ‘holographic’ card scratches very easily and isn’t actually holographic, the open banking feature is downright disappointing, the advanced roundup feature can be accessed for free with other digital banks and there simply aren’t enough perks to justify the £5/month price tag. 

Snapshot verdict: 

Nearly as soon as Monzo re-released its premium service, I’d signed up to it and began compiling a review on this newest challenger banking service—you might’ve spotted my early preview last month

I’ve spent the last few weeks testing out as many features as I could but, in my opinion, the £5/month fee is just not worth it. If I can get everything that Monzo Plus offers me for free elsewhere, why would I pay for it?  

That being said, the new subscription does have some nice perks, like a favourable interest rate, but outside of that, it’s not that different to Monzo’s free account—or other digital bank accounts for that matter.  

Full Review 

Signing up 5/5  

The whole signing up process was as easy and straightforward as one would expect—I’m pretty sure it took me all of two minutes to complete the process and become a fully-fledged premium member of Monzo.   

To start, a button appeared in the app with the signature Monzo Plus blue/green colour, urging me to ‘Get Monzo Plus.’  

Once signed up, a fluttering of confetti appeared on my screen to welcome me into the paid service. 

Now, having been a Monzo customer for coming up two years now, I can’t quite remember if this occurs when you sign up for a regular account, but it’s a nice gimmick nevertheless.  

All-in-all, it was an incredibly easy process that can’t be faulted.   

The app 3.5/5  

Monzo’s app has always been right at the top for me when it comes to challenger banks.  

I’ve always liked the simple and easy-to-navigate app, with one of my favourite features being able to see both my card and savings pot balances with just a quick swipe. 

Despite this, I had hoped that with Monzo Plus the app would be given a whole new look, unfortunately, I was wrong.  

As soon as you sign up for the subscription service, the card in the app changes to the new ‘holographic’ blue, as does Apple Pay, and the new features appear in the app, but that’s it. 

I had hoped that, with the premium service, the app might get a shiny new look to match the shiny new card, but no the app itself remains largely the same as before. 

The physical card 3.5/5  

Just like I said in the preview of Monzo Plus, the new Monzo card isn’t holographic—at best it’s iridescent, but really, it’s just metallic.  

The only part of the card that is holographic is the word ‘Monzo’ in the top right-hand corner and even then, you can only see it at certain angles.  

And, as I mentioned previously, it feels strange not having the iconic hot coral card in my wallet and the shiny new card just seems to blend in with the other cards in my purse, that being said, the colour of the card is pretty, feels nice and is still a talking point. 

The main reason that I have docked points for the card, however, is that it is very easily scratched.  

Not even an hour after getting it and only using it once, scratches began to appear from general wear and tear that you wouldn’t notice on a normal card.  

Also, strangely enough, my card was delivered partially opened (just like many other users its seems), although I can’t exactly blame Monzo for that one as it could have happened during delivery. 

Virtual Card 4/5  

Now as someone who initially turned their nose up at the thought of using a virtual card because I’d never personally had a card cloned, I’ve slightly changed my tune.  

Being able to have a separate card for online shopping, particularly for someone like me who is a self-confessed online shopaholic, can be useful.  

If I don’t happen to have my card on me at the exact moment I’m trying to buy something and can’t remember my details, I can simply log into the Monzo app and see all the details I need to make my purchase. 

Also, unlike physical cards, Monzo’s virtual cards last for five years, instead of the normal three. 

My only gripe with the virtual card function is that you can’t see exactly how much you’ve spent on each virtual card; I’m guessing this is because it just comes out of the main account.  

Any purchase made on a virtual card does have a little icon on the transaction to show that it was made using the virtual card.  

Advanced roundups 3/5  

Now for someone who already uses the double round-up function for both their Starling account and Moneybox ISA, the idea of being able to use the feature was attractive to me.  

But I again ask the question of why would I pay for something that I get for free with my Starling account already? The answer is clear, if I wasn’t doing a review I probably wouldn’t.  

I’m sure that lots of die-hard Monzo fans will have been eagerly anticipating the launch of this function, but for someone who can do it for free elsewhere, I wasn’t so keen.  

Despite this, I like being able to see how close to my target I am as a percentage, although one could argue that’s more of an app feature as compared to a roundup-specific feature and also something that regular users of Monzo can see too…  

Open banking 1/5  

When relaunching Monzo Plus, Monzo pushed the open banking integration feature to the forefront, however, only 13 banks are currently included on the list of supported institutions.   

A spokesperson for the bank told AltFi that this is down to which banks support the Open Banking Standard.  

As someone who’s an avid user of a bank not included in the lucky 13 (*cough* Starling), it makes the £5/month fee considerably less worth it. 

Also, even a connected bank’s feed (in my case HSBC), doesn’t look like the Monzo account’s feed, which is a big thumbs down from me. 

There are no logos next to each transaction, the names aren’t always displayed properly and you can’t expand for more details like you can with a purchase made on a Monzo card.  

Connecting my other bank account didn’t go too smoothly either, as neither the balance of my account nor any transactions appeared in my Monzo app for a long while.  

After several hours, (and many refreshes), the transactions showed up, but overall I was unimpressed with Monzo’s open banking offering. 

Interest 5/5  

With Monzo Plus came the promise of a much higher interest rate on balances, including regular savings pots.  

Monzo Plus subscribers now receive one per cent AER on their account balance up to £2,000, an interest rate considerably higher than most savings accounts on the market at the moment.  

For someone that doesn’t hold much money in their Monzo account, I earned a £0.09 in the past month—which is miles ahead of my HSBC savings account that currently only gives me 0.01 per cent AER.  

For the simple fact that Monzo Plus’s attractive interest rate is making me consider moving more money into my account, I can’t fault it. After all, that surely is the reason for the attractive rate.  

Customisable categories 4.5/5  

I must admit I really like the ability to create my own spending categories with Monzo Plus.   

As soon as my new account was ready, I created a category for coffee and set about going through my past transactions and sorting them into the new category.  

Custom categories are easy to create with the only downside being able to see just how much money I spend on coffee…  

Everything Else 2/5  

There are several Monzo Plus features that I know I won’t use. 

For instance, premium users get a monthly credit check, but, as someone who is not too focused on their credit score and gets theirs elsewhere (like most people I imagine) I don’t see the point. 

Monzo Plus subscribers also can withdraw up to £400 fee-free abroad, but (unsurprisingly) I haven’t left the country recently and don’t exactly plan to any time soon.   

And, again, fee-free withdrawals up to £400 just isn’t as good as the limitless withdrawals I get with Starling, and I can even open a Euro account to make my life even easier when travelling to the continent.   

With Monzo Plus, users can also make one free cash deposit a month, a perk that really isn’t designed for someone like me who is still yet to hold a new £20 note. Oh, and I can do it for free with Starling.  

Conclusion  

It very much feels like Monzo Plus wasn’t built for the everyday Monzo user, rather it’s for diehard Monzo fans who are willing to pay the £5/month fee now in the hopes that the digital bank will expand the subscription in the future. 

Don’t get me wrong, Monzo Plus isn’t terrible, I’m just not sure how long someone like me will pay for a service and features that other digital banks already offer me without a £5/month price tag. 

I can see why Monzo’s biggest fans will love Monzo Plus, I imagine many will wear the new ‘holographic’ card as a badge of honour, but for someone that can access most of the features for free elsewhere, it doesn’t appeal to me. 

Monzo Plus is for the kind of customer that either uses Monzo as their main bank, or is planning to make the switch in the very near future, and is willing to pay a small fee for what is essentially a software-as-a-service subscription.

However, there are whisperings that any future product launches could be Monzo Plus-exclusives, which could make the new service more attractive—for Monzo’s sake, let’s hope so.   

Scores: 

Signing up 5/5  

The app 3.5/5 

The actual card 3.5/5 

Virtual Card 4/5  

Advanced roundups 3/5 

Open banking 1/5  

Interest 5/5  

Customisable categories 4.5/5  

Everything Else 2/5  

Overall Score: a generous 3.5/5