Another day, another paid-for Monzo account. Whilst the Monzo standard account might be one of the best out there its paid accounts have so far been underwhelming.
With auditors Ernst & Young voicing their doubts about the bank as a going concern, it’s clear that Monzo is keen to generate additional revenue streams to offset its huge losses. The Monzo Premium account appears to be a response to that. At £15 a month it’s packed with features, and in true Monzo style, there’s a fancy new card to go with it; but is it any good?
The ill-fated ‘Plus’ account costs £5 a month, Premium raises this to £15 a month, and includes a six month minimum term. That’s £180 a year, or £90 if you only keep the account the minimum term.
Whilst that might seem pretty steep, Monzo claims that the account benefits are worth up to £256 a year. Is it good value? That remains to be seen.
Who can open a Monzo Premium account?
Before discussing the Premium account benefits in detail, it is first worth addressing the eligibility criteria for the account. As it comes bundled with insurance this imposes an 18-69 year old age limit on the account. It’s only available as a sole/single account, so not possible to upgrade a joint or business account to Premium
What do you get?
The Premium account includes all of the Plus benefits i.e. Virtual cards, increased forgien ATM withdrawal limits, interest on savings, and advanced round-ups.
In addition, it also includes:
Metal cards are vogue at the moment. First Revolut, then Apple, now Monzo. The Monzo Premium metal card is a 16g sheet of white steel with engraved logo. The card costs £50 to make, hence the six-month minimum term on the account to recoup some of the cost.
The card looks fantastic, and carries the holders name and account details on the back, allowing it to be shown off without fear. Given Monzo’s current crisis, one has to wonder why the bank has opted for such an extravagant card, the cost of which while past on to the customer will still eat into the company’s profits.
Mobile phone insurance
Monzo claims its bundled mobile phone insurance is worth £97 a year. That’s moot as far was we are concerned. It seems that price can be beaten if you are prepared to shop around.
It offers £2000 cover against theft, loss and accidental damage including cracked screens, but crucially, only covers the account holder’s phone. The underwriters will repair or replaced lost, damaged or stolen phones, but these will be from refurbished stock, and the colour isn’t guaranteed.
Mobile accessories, including chargers, headphones, cases etc… are also covered if they are lost/damaged with the phone.
Unauthorised use is covered up to £1000, so there is some piece of mind should your phone be lost/stolen and large bills run up.
It worth noting that the excess it £75 for each claim, and only two claims are permitted in a 12 month period.
Worldwide travel insurance
It’s a strange to time to be promoting travel insurance given the restrictions around travel as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
The policy is estimated to be worth £159 a year, and covers the holder and family including children up to 19 years old, or 21 years old if in full-time education.
There is a maximum trip duration of 45 days, and £50 excess per claim.
This is one where you would really comb through the policy in its entirety to ensure it covers everything you need, especially when it comes to sports and activities.
As ever it’s worth comparing this against stand alone and annual cover from the usual sources and comparison sites, as insurance is rarely a one size fits all affair. Especially as some important items such as valuables are excluded.
Increased interest on savings
Monzo Plus offers 1% on up to £2000 of savings (£20), Premium raises this to 1.5% (£30). Savings interest is paid on the accounts main balance and pots, but not on ‘savings’ pots. Bear in mind that this is below the rate of inflation so you are actually losing money in real terms. Nationwide offers 2% interest on it’s Flexdirect account for 12 months, and there are better deals to be had elsewhere.
Higher overseas withdrawal limits
Regular Monzo account holders can withdraw a maximum of £200 a month from foreign ATMs before Monzo charges a fee. The Plus account bumps this up to £400. The new Premium account increases this again to £600.
Unfortunately these limits aren’t even remotely competitive when one considers that Starling offers practically unlimited fee free foreign withdrawals (capped at £300 per day, mean you could withdraw £9k over the course of a month). Monzo itself started as prepay travel card offering the same, but over time has slowly grown worse a travel companion. For this reason it is doesn’t make it near the top of our list of the ‘best cards for foreign spending’
Free cash deposits
Another perk of the Premium account is the ability to make five cash deposits a month completely free. The free Monzo account charges £1 per deposit.
Again Monzo loses out here as cash deposits are free with Starling, and have always been free with the traditional branch based banks.
Discounted airport lounge access
Pretty much every bonus and incentive scheme throws airport lounges access out there as a benefit. If it was free perhaps it would be. Unfortunately that is seldom the case, and access is instead offered at a ‘discount’. Monzo Premium is no exception. Your £15 a month subscription gets you access to the LoungeKey programme for £24 per person per visit.
Is it worth it?
There is a lot to like about Premium, it’s value however really depends on whether or not you are able to make use of its benefits. At £15 a month it’s not cheap, and spending that when the so much of the Monzo account is about saving, is something of an oxymoron. Added to that, there are potentially better solutions out there. Nationwide’s FlexPlus for example offers similar insurance coverage for £13 a month, and includes UK and European breakdown cover.
Additionally, with travel currently restricted, and no end of the pandemic in sight it would be difficult to take advantage of many of the Monzo Premium account benefits. And with that in mind, our verdict is that the Premium account swings big, but misses on more occasions than it wins.