Review

Is Monzo plus worth it?

Nikos Melachrinos
July 29, 2020
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Hey! I’m Nikos, co-founder of Quirk and as a true Optimizer I’ve probably tried out every digital bank and money app out there so I want to share my personal take on the new Monzo plus account after using it for 2 weeks. I’ve been an early Monzo user and crowdfunding investor so I’ve been following them closely. When they first launched their premium paid subscription last year I stayed away - the features at the time were super unclear so it makes sense why they ended up scrapping the whole thing. Take #2 of their "plus" account feels a lot more polished, thought-through and with user feedback taken into account. 5 quid a month though? Is it worth it? 


My TL;DR is it feels like a luxury more than a must have. I’ve currently bought into it, but I’m going to  reassess at the end of the 3 months minimum term. 


Let’s break it down by feature from my least to most favourite: 


Monzo plus features

The meh

Holographic card? I’d say it's not that sexy and I’ve already stopped using cards since Apple/Google pay so I don’t care much about it. 


Rounding up payments is a nice gimmick but i don't actually use it. I go by ‘paying myself first” so putting money aside at the start of the month.  Pennie round ups don't help me save, but I use it  to put money in a “guilty pleasures” pot. Get me some boba tea every so often!

Auto export transactions - I'm using technology to avoid having a spreadsheet so I feel like this is targeting a very small number of users.


The offers? A nice to have, but I’m not considering using any of them. Would be nice if it recommended deals based on things I buy already. 


The good

Custom categories - it's a must for any budgeting app but you don't have to look far to find it for free. In  practice, I find Monzo’s existing categories are pretty great to begin with so I’ve actually barely used custom categories so far. The design interaction to create a custom category is pretty slick, gotta give it to them. 


Credit tracker - I already use Clearscore to track my credit score for free, but it's quite nice having it within my Monzo.  It's one less app I need to check for my finances, but again it was free to begin with.


Other accounts in Monzo - I was the most excited about this. The promise of 1 place for your finances is something we’re also doing here at Quirk and I believe is a great value-add. Monzo has done a good job with building APIs to other banks, however, it doesn't support Amex  so i can't  see my full spending. That kind of killed this feature for me. But even when I connected my Lloyds account, it just shows  my balance and the information is disconnected from the current Monzo experience. I’m sure they will improve it over time, however again, you don't need to look far to find this type of feature for free.

1 free cash deposit and £400 fee-free withdrawals abroad - I already avoid cash as much as possible so personally don't have much use for these. I can see for someone who makes some  income in cash that it comes in handy, however.


The great

1.00% interest rate  - the  clear  eye catcher was the 1% rate on money in your current account and Monzo pots. I immediately closed all the savings pots with external providers and moved everything to regular Monzo pots. The caveat is that it's only up to £2,000 which depending you circumstances can be enough. I had all my savings in a Marcus account which is at an eye watering 1.05%... What's nice with this feature is that I can keep my rent, utilities, student loan repayment in my Monzo and earn interest on them  until I have to actually send those payments off. Assuming you always kept £2,000 in your Monzo, after a year that will return you £20. The plus subscription for a year will cost you £60. That math isn’t great. 


Virtual  cards - my unexpectedly favourite feature has been the ability to create virtual cards  - I set it up for trials, a one time online payment I made, my uber and ola accounts. It makes me feel secure given how many online payments I make, and being able to deactivate them after completing some trial for a product is wonderful. Their color selection  makes it fun too. I was  bummed to find it capped the cards you can create to 5. I was  ready to have a new card for every online vendor I use!


In summary

All  in all where does that  leave us? There’s nothing Monzo plus gave me that I couldn't find elsewhere  for  free, other than the virtual cards, which ultimately I can live without. Overall it makes me feel that i don't  really want to be spending £5 per month for this. The convenience of  having something like the credit score within my Monzo is nice, but feels like a luxury more than anything. The £2,000 cap on the 1% interest rate makes it financially a loss. Ultimately, it's more a question of whether some of these new behaviours such as virtual cards or custom categories will become indispensable for me over the next 3 months.  I already use Quirk for my budgeting and categorizing so nothing of Monzo plus felt essential to me.

It then becomes a question of can I afford 5 quid for the convenience Monzo plus offers. Probably, but it feels a bit excessive to me. On the other hand, would I want to keep paying a fiver a month to support a business I enjoy and want to see grow? I normally do and that's what pushed me over the edge with a subscription like Duolingo plus, but I just don't feel  that same sense of altruism for my bank. They’re in the business of making  money out of me and for me, so I don't really want to give away my money to them if  they’re not helping me grow it. Monzo plus is probably the best it could be for now, and its definitely not a waste of money but its also not for everyone. Whether  it is for me remains to be decided. What are your thoughts on Monzo plus? Send me a note at nikos@quirk.money and let me know!


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