A couple of mobile banking apps I have used in recent months
* Please note that this article should not be construed as financial advice and is simply a commentary of my personal experience using these apps*
I will readily admit to the fact I am slow on the uptake when it comes to technology. I often feel like I’m letting down my generation with my fairly limited IT knowledge. But in recent months I have tried a couple of new apps and have enjoyed them, so thought I would write about my experiences.
I’ve always been a little dubious of automated saving apps. Not because I don’t think they’re a good idea, but because I don’t fully understand the data sharing/security issues around them. I felt wholly uncomfortable with the idea of an app having access to my bank account data and money.
That said, after doing some reading, I took the plunge a few months ago and have given the Plum app a go. And I have to say, I think it’s great.
Plum links to a bank account of your choice, and ‘rounds up’ your spending. So for example if you buy something for £1.70, it’ll round your spending up to £2, with the extra 30p being transferred to your Plum account. Then, you can choose whether to hold that money in cash, or they offer an investment option for longer term growth.
What I also like is that you can set your own rules for how much, and how often, the app saves for you. There are six levels to choose from in terms of how much is set aside, ranging from ‘beast’ mode to ‘shy’. You can also choose whether to include your overdraft and round figure purchases.
You can also withdraw from your account at any time. I’ve done this a couple of times and usually the money is in my account within a couple of days.
And the best bit? I genuinely don’t miss the money leaving my account. But when I check my Plum balance, it feels like a little lottery win to have saved that money! For me, I use my Plum account to save for a little treat for myself. I use it towards a massage or some new make up, things I would usually feel guilty about spending. But I also think it would be great as a small part of a debt repayment strategy or to help save towards a larger goal like a holiday or wedding.
A friend recommended Revolut to us before we went to New York last year (back when travel and holidays was a thing, REMEMBER THAT?) Every time we go abroad, we do the ‘should we take cash out or spend on our cards’ talk. We don’t often venture out of Europe so using a combination of cash and our Metro Bank accounts usually works fine, but travelling to the US meant we didn’t have any way to withdraw cash without charges.
Revolut is principally a pre-paid card and linked app, which allows travellers to switch cheaply between currencies. Prior to our holiday, we had our pre-paid contactless Mastercard delivered (fairly promptly) and pre-loaded our spending money. We then just used it the same way we would a usual debit card while we were away and it went very smoothly. Everywhere we went accepted the card, and it offered fee free spending. The app was great as it notified us of spending (and the currency conversion), and we could easily check our balance at any time.
It also offers some other quirky features- spending analytics, a virtual card option, and you can choose to ‘lock in’ an exchange rate and convert your currency at any time. We didn’t personally use these features, but we would possibly explore them in future. And when we were home, we just withdrew our remaining balance and it went straight back into our current accounts without a hitch.
There are a couple of things to be aware of though. Revolut uses the interbank exchange rate during the week, but on the weekend does apply a mark up of 0.5%-1%. Also cash withdrawals are limited to £200per month before fees are applied. Lastly, but importantly, they are still waiting for their UK bank license therefore are not currently covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
It’s definitely the best banking solution for travel I have personally used so far and would use it again in future.
Charlotte Wood APFS