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Monzo Premium costs £15 but offers 1.5% interest and a metal card

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monzo premium costs 15 but offers 1 5 interest and a metal card

Monzo has embraced the industrial revolution in banking by following Apple and Revolut in launching a debit card made of white steel.

Its new Premium account costs £15 a month and comes with features including phone and travel insurance, making it more like a packaged bank account than Monzo Plus, its previous attempt at a subscription service.

It also pays 1.5 per cent interest on balances of up to £2,000, but the maximum over a year would be £30, which would be eaten up by two months of account fees. 

In fact, the account will cost a hefty £180-a-year in total and fans should weigh up not just how much they really want a metal card, but also whether they can get cheaper and better insurance elsewhere.

Monzo has become the latest to embrace the trend of metal debit cards, following Apple, N26 and Revolut

Monzo has become the latest to embrace the trend of metal debit cards, following Apple, N26 and Revolut

The account’s forerunner Monzo Plus launched in July this year and signed up 65,000 customers within eight weeks, but was designed more as a money management service, allowing customers to view accounts from 14 different banks in one place and share transactions into multiple spending categories.

While Monzo’s new metal offer includes these features, it is more like the original Monzo Plus which was launched in April 2019 but scrapped just five months later, as it emulates packaged accounts like Nationwide FlexPlus and NatWest’s reward accounts.

As well as the insurance, it offers 1.5 per cent interest on balances of up to £2,000, compared to the 1 per cent paid by Monzo Plus, and lets customers withdraw up to £600 each month from overseas ATMs with no fee, compared to £200 usually and £400 for Plus customers. 

But the most visually  eye-catching element is undoubtedly the card itself, made from 16g of white steel.

Metal debit cards have become increasingly popular since the start of last year, with Google Trends data reported on by This is Money finding there had been a big increase in the number of people searching for ‘metal bank card’ in Britain in 2019.

Monzo was rumoured to be planning a metal offering last year with a £7.50 monthly price tag, half what it will charge customers now, but a substantive product failed to arrive before this deal.

The trendy card follows in the footsteps of fellow digital banks N26 – the German challenger that closed the accounts of its 200,000 UK customers in April – and Revolut, which both already offer customers premium accounts with metal cards.

Apple partnered with Goldman Sachs to launch an app-based credit card with a white metal card like Monzo’s, although this is only available in the US and there are no suggestions it plans to introduce it here anytime soon.

Monzo’s chief product officer, Mike Hudack, said: ‘In building Monzo Premium we sought to provide great value for money and build on the success of Monzo Plus by adding our most requested features like phone and travel insurance and a beautiful metal card.’

How does the account stack up?

Monzo claims its Premium packaged account could save customers ‘almost £80 a year on insurance alone’.

The metal card invites an obvious comparison with Revolut, but as a packaged account it can be compared to existing offerings from established high street banks.

Monzo’s phone insurance covers accidental damage, loss and theft worth up to £2,000 a year, plus damage to accessories of up to £300. It comes with a £75 excess and is provided by Assurant.

Experts recommend comparing this carefully against cover you may already have on your home contents insurance and standalone mobile phone policies. 

Monzo's new metal Premium account is structured more like a packaged bank account. It offers worldwide travel insurance through Axa with an excess of £50

Monzo’s new metal Premium account is structured more like a packaged bank account. It offers worldwide travel insurance through Axa with an excess of £50

The travel insurance is valid in the UK and abroad and is provided by Axa. It covers medical bills of up to £10million, lost valuables of up to £750, and cancellation costs of up to £5,000 as well as delays of more than four hours. It also includes winter sports cover and the excess is £50.

When it comes to coronavirus-related cover, Monzo covers cancellations if the account holder or a relative falls ill with coronavirus before they are due to travel, they are ordered to self-isolate by the Government or their trip is cut short is due to the coronavirus.

It also covers emergency accommodation, medical treatment, quarantine abroad if a customer falls ill with coronavirus while they’re away.

Importantly however, the insurance does not cover situations where a customer is forced to cancel a trip because the Foreign Office imposes travel restrictions on their destination due to the coronavirus, even if those restrictions were not in place when they booked their holiday.

Fittingly for a smartphone bank it offers phone insurance covering damage, loss and theft of up to £2,000. However phone insurance did not make it into its first attempt at a packaged account last year

Fittingly for a smartphone bank it offers phone insurance covering damage, loss and theft of up to £2,000. However phone insurance did not make it into its first attempt at a packaged account last year

Brian Brown, from the ratings firm Defaqto, said the account ‘offers wider cover than many others in the market’ when it came to coronavirus, but said consumers needed to check if the self-isolation cover ‘is dependent on having had a positive test’.

However, the absence of cover against changing Foreign Office guidance does make the account different to something like NatWest Reward Silver, which does cover cancellation due to a change in Foreign Office advice after they have booked.

That account is £10 a month and includes European travel insurance for trips of up to 22 days, underwritten by UK Insurance Ltd, fee-free purchases abroad like Monzo and mobile phone insurance covering one repair a year.

Phone a friend: 

Although Defaqto’s Brian Brown said Monzo Premium’s insurance offering seemed to represent good value, he did offer a few words of caution when it came to looking at the phone insurance policy.

He said: ‘For the mobile policy check the replacement device terms – do you get a new handset or a refurbished model?

‘Almost all mobile policies provide refurbished handsets rather than a new one. 

‘It should also be pointed out that many people may already have cover for their mobile phones under a home insurance policy in the “contents away from the home” section, which will often cover all phones owned by the family.’

It is only available to existing customers currently, but NatWest is paying newcomers £125 to switch to either its Select or Reward accounts, from which they can upgrade to the account.

Revolut’s metal offering, which comes with a black, rather than white, card, costs slightly less at £12.99-a-month. 

It offers £800 worth of fee-free ATM withdrawals abroad each month, airport lounge access at £25 per person, although the first one is free, and a personal ‘concierge’ service.

It also offers up to 0.1 per cent cashback on debit card spending in Europe and 1 per cent outside of it worth up to £12.99 a month.

When it comes to its insurance offering, it covers emergency medical treatment of up to £15million and dental treatment of up to £300 through White Horse. 

It includes cover for delayed flights of up to £320 after a four-hour delay, and trip cancellation cover of up to £5,000.

The policy also includes cover for winter sports and comes with a £75 excess.

It offers phone insurance as an add-on, the costs of which vary, with an iPhone X able to be covered for around £5.75 a month against damage with a £75 excess, although it does not cover loss or theft.

Brown added of Monzo Plus’ offering: ‘Without seeing the actual policy wordings it’s difficult to be certain, but on the face of it these products would appear to represent good value compared to the account price of £180 a year, provided a customer actually needs and uses them.’

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CURRENT ACCOUNTS

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Bitcoin price: Why has it fallen 12.5% in a day?

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bitcoin price why has it fallen 12 5 in a day

Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable surge towards an all-time high and a $20,000 price tag went into reverse as holders tried to cash in their gains for a profit.

The price of the cryptocurrency plummeted more than 12 per cent over the last 24 hours from a peak of $19,374 a coin on Wednesday to $16,858, according to figures from Coindesk.

Fellow cryptocurrencies like ethereum and ripple have also plunged in price over the last 24 hours, while bitcoin’s fall was its sharpest since the start of September.

Bitcoin plunged by more than 12% in the last 24 hours just as it looked set to hit an all-time high

Bitcoin plunged by more than 12% in the last 24 hours just as it looked set to hit an all-time high

Bitcoin plunged by more than 12% in the last 24 hours just as it looked set to hit an all-time high

It had looked set to break its all-time high of around $19,500, set in December 2017, driven by a series of good news stories, endorsements from institutional investors and continued money printing by central banks. 

The fact the price of the cryptocurrency had risen from just under $8,000 in January to the verge of $20,000 a coin without serious interest from casual investors had led some to argue the boom this time around was here to stay for a while yet.

This is Money has previously reported on the factors driving the cryptocurrency’s rise, including endorsements by the likes of PayPal and JP Morgan, which said it could possibly compete with gold as an alternative store of value. 

However, this positivity has been somewhat dented by the sudden plunge in the bitcoin price, which appeared to be the result of a massive sell-off by high net worth holders of the cryptocurrency.

The sharp drop is yet more proof of the cryptocurrency’s volatility and why This is Money warns casual investors looking to buy into it that they need to do their research and be careful beforehand.

According to bitcoin analysts Glassnode, the number of investors holding at least 1,000 bitcoin reached an all-time high this week, with the concentration of large sums of the cryptocurrency in the hands of a small number of investors giving them a significant influence on the market.

Another analyst, Ki Young Ju, wrote on the social media platform Twitter that these holders of large sums of bitcoin had sold off their holdings, causing the price to fall.

Bitcoin has been on a tear since the end of the summer and is still massively up on where it was at the start of this year

Bitcoin has been on a tear since the end of the summer and is still massively up on where it was at the start of this year

Bitcoin has been on a tear since the end of the summer and is still massively up on where it was at the start of this year 

And one of the most well-known cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase, said traders were being hit by connectivity issues as they tried to make purchases or sell-off their holdings. The San Francisco-based exchange said it had found and fixed the problem.

Responding to the sudden drop, Glen Goodman, the author of the book The Crypto Trader, said: ‘When Bitcoin approached $20,000 in 2017, more people were queueing up to buy it than ever before.

‘Many of those buyers have been holding their investment – in varying degrees of misery – ever since.

‘The pressure now, not least from their long-suffering partners, is to sell and finally break even on their investments.

‘With their fingers hovering over the “sell” button, when the price started retreating slowly down to $19,000 and then $18,500, it led to a flurry of panic sellers grabbing their chance to break even, and those sellers caused the price to crash fast.’

However, he still said the long-term picture for the cryptocurrency was ‘very positive’, despite the possibility of ‘a lot more price volatility in the near future’.

He added: ‘This appears so far to be a healthy correction in a big bull market. In my opinion, only a fall to $10,000 would put that bullish narrative in question.’

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Just FOUR councils applied to use a new hedgehog warning road sign

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just four councils applied to use a new hedgehog warning road sign

A new traffic sign launched by the Department for Transport for councils to display on roads with high populations of hedgehogs, badgers, otters and other small animals has received a prickly response with just one per cent of authorities applying to use it.

The sign, unveiled last year, displays one of the spiky creatures in a red warning triangle and was designed to help preserve dwindling hedgehog numbers and reduce the number of people injured in collisions involving animals.

However, This is Money can exclusively reveal that all four councils who did apply to erect the signs were denied permission because they did not provide enough evidence to the DfT that they have a high concentration of the animals in their areas.

Prickly reaction: Just four councils have applied to the Department for Transport to use a hedgehog warning sign on roads that put the animals and drivers and riders at risk

Prickly reaction: Just four councils have applied to the Department for Transport to use a hedgehog warning sign on roads that put the animals and drivers and riders at risk

Prickly reaction: Just four councils have applied to the Department for Transport to use a hedgehog warning sign on roads that put the animals and drivers and riders at risk

Of the 343 councils that could have requested to display the signs on their roads, only Newcastle City Council, Middlesbrough Council, Surrey County Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council applied, according to an Freedom of Information request by the AA.

All four subsequently had their applications denied, the DfT confirmed.

The department clarified that all four had ‘failed to evidence any concentrations of small animals habitually in the road, or provide any accident data’.

Councils and animal conservationists will query how they can feasibly provide evidence of hedgehogs being at risk on their roads. 

‘Rejection of the applications based on failing to provide adequate evidence conjures up all sorts of weird scenarios: council officers counting the bodies or sending off the evidence in jiffy bags,’ said an AA spokesman. 

He added: ‘Common sense suggests that, if cash-strapped councils are prepared to fork out the money for the signs and the manpower to erect them, there is probably the local need for them.’

The signs are to warn of small animals, including hedgehogs, badgers, otters and squirrels. Hedgehogs in particular are now on the Red List of endangered UK species

The signs are to warn of small animals, including hedgehogs, badgers, otters and squirrels. Hedgehogs in particular are now on the Red List of endangered UK species

The signs are to warn of small animals, including hedgehogs, badgers, otters and squirrels. Hedgehogs in particular are now on the Red List of endangered UK species

The decision to deny these authorities will has left the British Hedgehog Preservation Society bristling in frustration.

Hedgehog numbers have plummeted in recent years, halving in volume since 2000.

The animals now find themselves on the Red List of endangered UK species.  

Fay Vass, chief executive at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, told This is Money: ‘We are disappointed that more authorities aren’t applying for the small mammal signs that feature a hedgehog and that the DfT are rejecting those that do. 

‘We know from interaction with the public that these signs would be very welcome in many areas where hedgehog road casualty counts are high. 

‘In the meantime, we produce a sign that can be purchased for display on private property, but we very much hope that the official signs will soon begin to be erected in the spirit they were intended. 

‘They are important to warn people that small animals might be on the road in that area, not only for the sake of the animal, but to help reduce risk for drivers too.’

The AA asked how councils could feasibly provide evidence that they have roads with high concentrations of small animals

The AA asked how councils could feasibly provide evidence that they have roads with high concentrations of small animals

The AA asked how councils could feasibly provide evidence that they have roads with high concentrations of small animals

The new traffic warning sign was launched in 2019 by former transport secretary Chris Grayling, including a bespoke announcement and plenty of fanfare around the sign. 

It was unveiled as the DfT said hundreds of people are injured every year in collisions involving animals in the road, claiming that 629 people were injured in accidents involving an animal in the road (excluding horses) and 4 people were killed in 2017 alone. 

Mr Grayling called on local authorities and animal welfare groups to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign should be located.  

He said: ‘The new small mammal warning sign should help to reduce the number of people killed and injured, as well as helping our precious small wild mammal population to flourish.’ 

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Marcus Bank easy-access savings rate to fall to 0.5%

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marcus bank easy access savings rate to fall to 0 5

Marcus is making another cut to its easy-access account as savings providers continue to slash rates on the back of brutal cuts by National Savings & Investments.

The UK savings arm of Goldman Sachs will cut its easy-access rate from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent in just over a fortnight on 11 December, just two months after it cut the rate from 1.05 per cent.

It made that September cut, its deepest ever, just days after NS&I announced it was reducing rates on its easy-access accounts to as low as 0.01 per cent, and news of the latest rate reduction comes in the same week as those cuts were introduced.

Marcus has made the second cut to its easy-access account in the last 2 months. It will pay savers just 0.5% interest from 11 December

Marcus has made the second cut to its easy-access account in the last 2 months. It will pay savers just 0.5% interest from 11 December

Marcus has made the second cut to its easy-access account in the last 2 months. It will pay savers just 0.5% interest from 11 December

First Direct and HSBC also handed savers a cut of 1.75 percentage points on its regular saver earlier this week

It means Marcus’ account, which paid as much as 1.5 per cent for a year after it was launched in September 2018, now fails to beat inflation, which rose to 0.7 per cent last month.

The bank, which took in roughly £1billion a month from savers when it launched its then market-leading account two years’ ago, previously reduced its rates to 1.45 per cent and then 1.3 and 1.2 per cent in recent months, while it also removed the account from sale to new customers in June this year.

Rate cuts elsewhere saw savers pile into the account, but those lucky who were lucky to get in have now faced a succession of cuts themselves.

The quick-fire cut in just over two weeks’ time comes after it changed its terms and conditions last October to allow it to give customers just 14 days’ notice ahead of any rate cut, where before it let them know two months’ beforehand.

It hoovered in so much cash from UK savers that it had to close its doors in June to new customers – it had raked in £21billion, making it close to breaching banking rules. 

And Marcus, whose parent bank was bailed out by the US taxpayer during the last financial crisis in 2008, is not the only provider to hand savers a succession of bad news in the last few months.

When it announced its cut from 1.05 per cent to 0.7 per cent at the end of September, the best buy easy-access stood at 1.1 per cent and five highest-paying accounts paid an average of 1 per cent, according to Savings Champion.

Today, the best buy rate has dropped to 0.7 per cent and the top five average to 0.6 per cent, while easy-access rates overall pay as little as 0.21 per cent on average, according to separate analysis from Moneyfacts.

How savings rates have slumped since Marcus’ last cut
Date  Best buy easy-access rate  Top 5 easy-access average rate 
25 September 1.1% 1% 
26 November  0.7%  0.6% 
Source: Savings Champion 

Savings banks have been inundated with money since NS&I’s announcement of its rate reductions two months’ ago, filling up their books and requiring them to slash rates as a result.

Challenger bank Paragon, which removed its 0.65 per cent paying easy-access account from sale this week, said September was its busiest ever month as deposits flooded out of NS&I ‘at an unprecedented rate’.

This was even despite the fact that many people who tried to withdraw money from NS&I had, and continue to have, problems doing so.

Paragon Bank’s savings direct, Derek Sprawling, said he anticipated billions more pounds would continue to inundate the market as savers looked for the best rates, even if those rates were much lower than they had been previously.

Saga, which has its easy-access account provided by Marcus, has also cut its rate from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent, although that comes with a 0.1 percentage point bonus which expires after a year.

James Blower, an advisor to savings banks and founder of The Savings Guru, said savings rates were ‘collapsing generally as the NS&I cuts take effect.’

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