Last week, an email popped up in my inbox: “Virgin Money launches the ‘Manchester United Champions Bond’ for savers”. It offers fixed 1.25% interest for a year, but comes with a twist – the rate is doubled to 2.5% if Man Utd win the Premier League in 2016/17.
So I immediately forwarded it to Martin and new editor-in-chief Jason… “Look – it’s a practically guaranteed 2.5% for a one-year savings bond. We have to cover this in the top savings guide – you just can’t get those rates anywhere else!”
(I should probably declare at this point, in case you haven’t guessed, that I’m a lifelong United fan – and I’m even from Manchester too!)
Oddly enough, they cast doubt on how good this account was. Maybe it’s because they think their team (Manchester City, ugh) has a chance of winning the league this year? Maybe it’s envy because their small team doesn’t have the large fanbase across the UK that makes offering such an account worthwhile? It’s a mystery!
But, undeterred by their strange refusal to let me put the account in the savings guides, I was determined to let you know how good this account is. So here’s the lowdown:
- It pays 2.5% AER fixed for one year (when Manchester United win the 2016/17 Premier League title).
- Or it pays 1.25% AER fixed for one year (if, through some unlikely turn of events, Man Utd don’t win the league).
- You can save from £1 to £1,000,000.
- No withdrawals are allowed until the account matures.
- You’ll also be entered into prize draws to win United memorabilia, tickets & more – the more you save in the account, the more entries into the draws.
Sounds good? Here’s my analysis…
What are my chances of getting 2.5%?
Well, it depends who you’re asking. If you’re asking me, pretty much 100%. But for some reason the bookies don’t share my certainty. Sky Bet, William Hill and Paddy Power are offering 3/1 for United to win the league – Bet365, Ladbrokes and Coral 7/2. So, around a one in four chance.
Is this account going to make me rich?
No, it’s just a doubling of what is, to be fair, a rather low interest rate (as most interest rates are these days).
If you put £10,000 in the account for the year and Man Utd won, it’d mean the interest you get would double from £125 to £250 – this isn’t a Leicester-City-winning-the-league 5,000-1 punt where you can turn a cheeky £5 bet into £25,000.
Is there a precedent for these type of accounts?
Well, Santander offered a saving bonus on one of its fixed-rate ISAs if Rory McIlroy won a major during the time the account was open (he did), though that bonus was just a 0.1% boost.
So, does the fact Virgin Money has offered to double the rate mean it thinks United won’t do it?
Well, until recently, Virgin Money sponsored Newcastle United, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.
In the ridiculously unlikely event that Man Utd don’t win the league, how good is this account?
The top one-year fixed-rate bond at the moment pays 1.66% AER, which is quite a way above Virgin Money’s 1.25% standard savings rate on this account. Even the worst top-pick one-year account we have in our savings guide has an interest rate of 1.5%.
So, putting £10,000 in, you’d get £41 less interest in this account than in the 1.66% AER best buy.
And finally, am I going to put money into this account?
Possibly. I might put a small, non-significant amount of money in there, to put my money where my mouth is. Or I might just stick a tenner on at the bookies. Both’d net me about the same amount of cash when Man Utd do win… but then again, it’s not really about money, is it? As a football fan, can an extra bit of cash really compare with watching your team overcoming last year’s struggle of finishing fifth in the league? Can it compare to De Gea making save after save, or Zlatan scoring goal after goal? To me, it’s a nice bonus, but it’s not going to be why I’m watching this year…
PS: Martin and Jason wanted me to put in a disclaimer that this article in no way reflects site line, or the views of the Chairman or Editor-in-Chief of MoneySavingExpert.com. I think this is prominent enough…