Monzo launches a premium account – but is it any good?
App-only bank Monzo has launched a premium service, with the option to pay more for features such as travel insurance and extra fee-free cash withdrawals while abroad – but is it any good?
Monzo customers can now join the waiting list for Monzo Plus, which lets you customise a packaged bank account by only selecting the add-ons you want. The bank says signing up to its waiting list doesn't commit you to paying for Monzo Plus, but once the contract itself starts you'll be locked in for 12 months.
It's now rolling out the service to the first few hundred customers on the list, and it expects there to be more availability over the next couple of months - although it's not yet available for joint account holders.
What is Monzo Plus?
The core Monzo Plus bundle currently costs £3/month, but this will rise to £6/month later this year. If you get the £3/month rate, this will be locked in for a year after you sign up. Here's what the Plus bundle includes:
- A new Monzo Plus card, in extra colours. You can choose from 'midnight sky' or 'blue lagoon' as well as its distinctive 'hot coral' design.
- A customised link for Monzo payments. Monzo customers already have a monzo.me link, which lets them send or request money through their account. Monzo Plus customers will be able to choose their own username for their monzo.me links.
- Invites to Monzo events and 'swag'. Monzo says the 'swag' includes items such as T-shirts, hoodies and stickers.
These features won't save you cash – although you could get some freebies – and will cost a hefty £36/year.
But Monzo says it's still early days for the Plus service, meaning its offering could look different in a few months' time.
What about the travel insurance and cash add-ons?
Those paying for the core Monzo Plus service can also choose to add extra features. At the moment, these are:
- Travel insurance for an extra £4/mth. This will provide worldwide cover for the account holder, for an equivalent of £48/yr.
To give some context, in our Cheap Travel Insurance guide, the cheapest worldwide annual policy that meets our minimum cover criteria for an 18-35 year-old costs £19.20/yr, while the cheapest high-end cover is £115.15/yr.
Monzo's insurance is provided by Pluto and offers a good level of cover, but there are exclusions – it doesn't cover those over the age of 46, for example, and pre-existing conditions aren't included, so check the terms and conditions to make sure it's right for you.
And remember you can only add travel insurance if you're already paying for the core Monzo Plus package, costing £3 or £6/mth, so factor this in when working out the cost.
- Increased fee-free ATM withdrawal limits while abroad and emergency cash for an extra £3/mth. Those paying for this feature will be able to withdraw £400 from ATMs each month while abroad, double Monzo's standard allowance of £200/mth.
You'll also be able to get £1,000 in emergency travel money if your card is lost or stolen, but there is currently a 5% charge to access this cash.
Again, Monzo has said it plans to add more features as it develops its premium service.
Is it worth it?
On the face of it, it's hard to see why you would pay £36/yr (or £72/yr when the fee rises) for the core Monzo Plus, as at the moment it only allows you to choose a different colour bank card, personalise an existing link and bag some Monzo-themed freebies.
And while the travel insurance does offer decent cover, you're going to have to factor in the core Monzo Plus fees, meaning you'd be paying between £84 and £120/yr in total. So it's worth checking if you can get a cheaper separate travel insurance policy elsewhere, especially if you're only looking for minimum cover. See our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.
In terms of travel cash, our top-pick overseas debit card from Starling offers fee-free spending and unlimited withdrawals worldwide, as part of its free account.
Plus, it's also worth comparing Monzo's offering to traditional packaged bank accounts. Our top-pick account, from Nationwide, costs £13/mth. It includes worldwide family travel insurance (including winter sports) up to your 70th birthday, family smartphone insurance and UK and Europe breakdown cover for the account holder.