The best UK packaged bank accounts

Monzo is the latest bank trying to tempt people with a packaged bank account, boasting colourful cards, exclusive events and ‘swag’.

Packaged current accounts have – rightly – been slated by personal finance sites like ourselves over the years.

There's the massive mis-selling scandal for a start (more on that later), not to mention the hefty monthly fees.

Yet, as our own editor-in-chief found out, he was up hundreds of pounds thanks to one account in particular. 

Plus, several new mobile-only banks have launched packaged bank accounts with very different perks, ranging from metal debit cards to concierges and more.

Other banks offer cash bonuses - essentially a huge discount on fees - for switching your bank account to them.

Are packaged accounts worth it? Read on, do the sums and don’t forget the small print.

What is a packaged bank account?

A packaged bank account is essentially a current account which has bolt-ons like insurance and better overdraft and loan rates.

They come with a monthly fee, so you need to check whether the perks on offer outweigh this cost as you can get many of the same benefits with fee-free accounts (we’ve noted these below).

It’s also crucial that you read the small print before you sign up as there are a load of exclusions that can catch you out, such as age limits on insurance.

Also, check that you’re not doubling up with another policy you've already bought elsewhere, or receive through your company.

We’d recommend checking the price of insurance now to see if you’d be better off getting a free bank account and buying the insurance separately.

We’ve noted some good free equivalents, or you can compare bank accounts here.

New packaged accounts

If you’re confident banking on your mobile, these relatively new banks could be worth considering:

Monzo

Monzo is offering its first packaged account, Monzo Plus, allowing customers to pick and choose which perks they want.

If you sign up now you’ll pay just £3 a month for the first 12 months. However, the standard price is £6, which will be rolled out later this year.

Customers can currently join the waiting list to be first in line when Monzo Plus becomes available, and potentially access additional features in the future.

Benefits of the Monzo Plus core bundle include a new card in the colour of your choice (‘hot coral’, ‘lagoon blue’ or ‘midnight sky’ if bright colours are not your thing).

Customers will also get access to exclusive events, a custom Monzo.me link, allowing you to easily send money to other people and ‘swag’ – Monzo says this will include things like clothing and stickers.

Unlike most other packaged accounts, you will have to pay for additional features such as travel insurance for an extra £4 a month.

Like most insurance policies tacked onto a package account, there are exclusions to watch out for – most notably the fact that anyone aged over 46 is excluded.

This is, after all, a bank aimed at attracting millennial money.

You can also increase your free cash withdrawal limit to £400 per month overseas and access emergency cash if you lose your card for an additional £3 a month.

If you opt for all the extras, Monzo Plus will cost £10 a month, increasing to £13 when the discounted price expires.

Even at the discounted rate of £3 per month, it is arguably a hefty price to pay given the lack of meaningful perks.

Is a brightly-coloured card or unique url really worth paying for?

As we said earlier, Monzo is planning to bring add new perks and services in time, but right now there’s not a lot to shout about – especially when its free card has most of the best bits anyway.

Free equivalent: Monzo’s free current account also offers fee-free foreign spending and free withdrawals overseas of up to £200 every 30 days.

N26 Metal

A new arrival from Germany, N26, is a mobile-only bank similar to Monzo or Starling.

In addition to the metal debit card (pictured below - other colours available), this account has other benefits to justify its £14.90 cost.

These include fee-free spending and cash withdrawals in any currency, travel insurance and discounted access to airport lounges through Lounge Key.

For a similar price you can get better perks from more traditional packaged accounts, so you are mainly paying for the card itself.

Be warned that N26 isn’t yet covered by the FSCS. Deposits are covered by the FSCS' German equivalent, up to €100,000, although it's not yet clear if this will still apply after Brexit.

Free equivalent: Starling’s free current account has fee-free foreign spending and withdrawals, in-credit interest and FSCS protection.

N26's metal debit card (image: N26)

Revolut Metal

Beyond the attraction of the brushed steel card, this £12.99/month current account from mobile-only provider Revolut has a several benefits for travellers.

That includes medical, delayed baggage and flight insurance and ‘an exclusive concierge service’.

You also get fee-free foreign spending and withdrawals (the latter up to £600/month) at the Interbank Exchange Rate, a European IBAN account and cashback on spending.

If you don’t need the fancy card, Revolut’s Premium Account is just £6.99 and also includes insurance.

Note that the insurances in these accounts aren’t that extensive and your balances aren’t protected under the FSCS.

Free equivalent: Again, Starling’s account sets the standard for traveller-friendly accounts. Revolut’s free Standard Account is also worth considering.

The best fee-free credit cards to use abroad

Best traditional packaged accounts

Just because these accounts have been around for a while, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them:

NatWest Reward Platinum Account

This is a pricier option at £20, and the benefits – family travel insurance, breakdown cover and mobile phone insurance – aren’t that different to other accounts. Plus, if you’re over 70 you’ll have to pay a £75 annual premium.

However, NatWest is currently offering £150 if you switch your banking to them. That equates to the Platinum account's annual fee being reduced from £240 to £90, or you could get the Silver account entirely free. Read more about the offer here.

There are other benefits such as discount cinema and restaurant bills, but they’re not deal breakers.

Some of the cost can be offset by NatWest’s rewards scheme for bill payments, which will earn around £83 for the average household.

Cheaper equivalent: for half the price (£10) NatWest’s Reward Silver Account gives you pretty much the same insurances and rewards, except that they’re just for account holders.

Nationwide FlexPlus Current Account

Nationwide still offers one of the lowest monthly fees around on its FlexPlus packaged account (£13).

It includes excess-free travel insurance and mobile phone insurance for the family (children under 19 or students under the age of 22) as well as UK and European breakdown and recovery assistance. Winter sports, weddings and airline failure due to natural disasters are covered.

You also get a £250 fee-free arranged overdraft and 3% in-credit interest up to £2,500, which is much higher then you’ll get in most savings accounts. Cash withdrawals abroad are also fee-free.

If you’re aged over 70 you’ll need to pay £50 extra a year.

Free equivalent: Nationwide’s fee-free FlexDirect Account has a higher interest rate – 5% AER – and a fee-free arranged overdraft for the first 12 months.

Nationwide's packaged account leads the pack (image: Shutterstock)

Halifax Ultimate Reward Account

For £17 a month – or £15 if you pay out two direct debits - you’ll get worldwide family travel insurance (albeit with a £50 excess), mobile phone insurance and limited home emergency cover.

The account also offers a £300 fee-free arranged overdraft, but there aren’t any savings account benefits.

However, you can get £135 in cash if you switch and stay with the account for six months.

Bear in mind that all insurance ends on your 71st birthday.

Free equivalent: Get that £135 joining bonus without paying a penny by switching to Halifax’s Reward Account.

Top bank accounts for switching services: get free cash, gadgets or holiday vouchers

Co-op Everyday Extra Account

The Co-op is great for older travellers, offering worldwide family travel insurance up until your 80th birthday. 

You also get UK and European breakdown cover from the RAC and mobile insurance for the individual account holder.

Although the fee is £15 a month, this can be offset by the Everyday Rewards scheme which offers up to £5.50 a month for your normal banking, making it the cheapest packaged account.

Free equivalent: You can also get the £5.50 monthly Everyday Rewards with Co-op’s basic no-fee current account.

Co-op's Everyday Extra account pays you £5.50 a month (image: Yui Mok PA Images)

Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank Signature Account

Good value at £13.50, this account includes family travel insurance and, for the account holder, mobile phone insurance, breakdown cover and gadget cover.

The age limit for the insurance is slightly lower than Co-op’s, at 75.

Be warned that Clydesdale Bank ranked joint last (with RBS) in the Government’s banking customer service survey.

Free equivalent: Nationwide’s FlexDirect account is free, has excellent benefits and a much better customer service score.

Comparison of packaged accounts

This table is ranked by price, not quality – you should decide which features are most important to you:

Bank Account

Monthly Cost

Insurance

Perks

Other benefits

Monzo Plus £3.00* Travel insurance (£4 extra per month) Custom Monzo.me link, access to exclusive events and 'swag' New Monzo Plus card (choice of three colours)

Revolut Premium

£6.99

Travel

Fee-free spending/withdrawals abroad

 

NatWest Reward Silver

£10.00

Travel / mobile

Cashback on bills

£150 switching bonus + discount cinema and dining

Revolut Metal

£12.99

Travel

Fee-free spending/withdrawals abroad / cashback

Metal card

Nationwide FlexPlus

£13.00

Family travel / family mobile / breakdown

Fee-free overdraft / in-credit interest / fee-free foreign withdrawals

 

Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank Signature

£13.50

Family travel / mobile / breakdown / gadget

   

N26 Metal

£14.90

Travel

Fee-free spending/withdrawals abroad

Lounge access / metal card

Co-op Everyday Extra

£15.00

Family travel / mobile / breakdown

 

Potential £5.50/ month rewards

Halifax Ultimate Reward

£17.00**

Family travel / mobile / home emergency

Fee-free overdraft

£135 switching bonus

NatWest Reward Platinum

£20.00

Family travel /  mobile / breakdown

Cashback on bills

£150 switching bonus + discount cinema and dining

* Will increase to £6 per month later this year

** Can be reduced to £15

Mis-selling scandals

If you're offered a packaged account that doesn't fit your needs, be vigilant.

Part of the reason we’ve been so scathing in the past is that packaged bank accounts have been wrapped up in a number of mis-selling scandals.

Salespeople have been pressured into selling products which are unsuitable for customers, leaving them with an account that includes benefits they can't use.

In many cases, a 'free' standard account would have been much better for their needs.

If you’re mis-sold a packaged account

You’re not alone if you’ve been mis-sold a packaged account.

The first step is to establish whether or not you were actually mis-sold.

Look out for these signs:

  • You were signed up without being told;
  • You weren’t told you could have a free bank account;
  • You were told that having one would improve your credit score;
  • You were told you could get a market-leading deal on other financial products or services with this account but found you could actually get them cheaper as a new customer;
  • You needed the account to access a loan or mortgage;
  • Your bank knew you wouldn’t be eligible for one or more of the benefits; 
  • It failed to tell you that you’re no longer eligible for one of the benefit

Try complaining to your provider first. Tell them how you’d like the problem to be resolved – perhaps you’d like your fees refunded or to be switched back to a standard current account.

Pop in-branch or ring up first, but failing that you should write them a letter with bank statements detailing how much you’ve paid.

However, if you don’t get anywhere then it’s time to get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

You can read about how to complain in more detail here: How to claim compensation for mis-sold packaged bank accounts.

Packaged accounts not for you? Compare standard and basic current accounts with loveMONEY instead.

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