Plum aims to help you set aside money and grow it easily
Saving money is an important part of being financially stable. Putting money aside for a rainy day, to invest, or to make a dream purchase can help you manage your finances in the long run. But it’s not always easy. Plum helps you with your financial goals, allowing you to put cash aside, save on bills, and manage your money better. We take a look at whether or not it delivers on its promises, as well as everything else you need to know about the service.
At a Glance
There are many things to like about Plum. But is it the right choice for you? If you’re looking for a top-line summary of the benefits and drawbacks of Plum, this is the section for you.
- Allows you to easily and automatically set aside money
- Free to get set up and start using
- Intuitive app makes it easy to use
- Investment and interest options, helping you make your money work
- Budgeting features to stop you overspending
- You can’t access your money instantaneously – it can take up to 24 hours
- Customer service hours are limited
As you can see, there are many positives here, although certainly a few negatives too. In the rest of our Plum review, we take a deeper dive into many of these.
What is Plum?
Plum launched back in 2016 as a money management app. The aim of the service is to help people put money aside without a lot of hassle and planning. It’s essentially a money management ‘robot’ that you can install on your phone. It automatically looks at your spending habits to make smart decisions that are tailored to you.
Victor and Alex, Plum’s founders, started off by challenging each other to save. Soon, they realised that by analysing their financial history with a spending algorithm, they could maximise the money they set aside each month. From this idea, the Plum app was born. It’s available on both iOS and Android.
Who is Plum for?
Plum is a tool that just about anyone can use. If you’re relatively new to the concept of setting aside money, it’s the ideal jumping-off point. With minimal fuss, you can start seeing your piggy bank grow, and in a way that’s not going to stretch you.
For those who want to start investing but aren’t sure where to start, Plum also has you covered. You can choose from a variety of investment funds for some or all of the money you have set aside. Similarly, if you already invest but want to take some of the hassle out of it, then this app gives you plenty of options. Remember that when you invest your capital is at risk and past performance of a fund provides no guarantee for the future performance.
Much of what Plum offers is an automated way of managing your money. So, if you don’t have time or prefer to take the hassle out of it, this is an app worth considering. However, if you prefer a more hands-on approach to your savings and investments, it may not be the right choice for you.
How does Plum work?
Plum is pretty straightforward to get to grips with, making it easy to start putting money away and investing. There are a few steps you need to take to get started with the app:
- First, you’ll need to sign up for an account. You’ll need to be a UK resident over the age of 18 and have a UK current account to do so.
- Once signed up, you’ll need to give the app permission to access your bank account. It has a read-only view, making sure your security is always a top priority.
- As you spend money and make purchases, Plum analyses patterns in your habits. From there, the Plum algorithm recognises where you can save money on bills or set money aside.
- Once the calculations are complete, Plum will set aside the suitable amount. It does this by setting up a direct debit into your Plum account. The money can then be saved into an Interest Pocket that pays up to 0.6% AER, or held in an e-wallet until you withdraw it.
As you can see, it’s a fairly intuitive process that requires minimal user input. Once you’re set up, you’ll soon be setting aside money with Plum.
What options do Plum offer?
There are three options available for using Plum, each offering a slightly different service. Depending on your financial situation and needs, you may want to choose one or another:
- Plum Free. With this version of the app, you can automatically set aside money and reduce your bills. You can also get insights into where you’re spending your money. However, there are no investment options available with this option.
- Plum Plus (£1 per month). With this tier, you gain access to all of the above, plus many of the investment options. You can choose to invest in a variety of companies. However, many of the ‘luxury’ features aren’t included with this tier.
- Plum Pro (£2,99 per month). This premium membership gives you access to all of the above, as well as plenty of extras. There is a ‘rainy day’ feature, which sets aside money when rain is forecast, as well as access to separate ‘Pockets’ or pots to split your account into and gain interest. You’ll get cashback on some purchases, as well as a detailed monthly report.
What are the charges for using Plum?
There are a few charges associated with using Plum, although many of these depend on the type of account you have, as well as what you do with your money. Here is all the essential information:
- Plum Free is, as you might expect, free to use. The downside is that you don’t get access to many of the best features.
- Plum Plus costs £1 per month after the first free month. You’ll also have to pay a small fund management fee of around 0.51% if you choose to invest.
- Plum Pro costs £2.99 after your first free month. You’ll also have to pay the fund management fee, as mentioned above, for any investments that you choose.
All in all, this isn’t a bad fee structure, particularly when you account for the potential to earn money through interest and investments.
What features do you get with Plum?
There are quite a few unique and interesting features that come with a Plum account. Many of these are designed to help you with saving and investing:
● Automated deposits. Plum’s innovative AI technology automatically analyses and optimises your spending, helping you set more aside and achieve your goals quicker.
● Options to save or invest. The money that you set aside each month can either be saved in an Easy Access Interest Pocket with the Plum Pro or Plus subscriptions, kept in a non-interest earning Primary Pocket, or used to invest in a stocks and shares ISA. You can earn up to 0.6% interest (AER) on your savings with the paid versions of the Plum App. Interest is calculated daily but is applied to your account monthly. The provider of the interest accounts (Investec Bank) has the right to change the rate at any time.
● Spending notifications. If you’re being overcharged on a particular bill, Plum will notify you and help you switch suppliers automatically in the ‘Lost Money’ section of the app.
● Protection and regulation. Your money in the Easy Access Interest Pockets is protected by the FSCS scheme, and Plum is regulated by the FCA.
How safe is Plum?
Overall, Plum is a fairly safe app to use. The company is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning it can carry out payment service activities. They’re also appointed as a distributor of electronic money on behalf of PayrNet Limited, which is also FCA registered.
As for FSCS protection, things are slightly less clear. Any money held outside of an Interest Pocket isn’t FSCS protected, but that’s because it doesn’t need to be. If Plum goes under, you can apply to have the money you have set aside returned to you. For your investments, they are guarded by a regulated custodian. If they fail, the FSCS scheme kicks in for amounts up to up to £85,000. The same applies to Plum Interest Pockets.
As for the app, there are some pretty strict safety precautions in place, meaning that your account details and money are safe.
What about customer service?
There are mixed reviews about Plum’s customer service. They have a Trustpilot score of 4.3, which is generally very good. However, there are some complaints about the amount of time it takes for money to transfer out of your Plum account. Many users have claimed it’s taken over 7 working days to access their funds when withdrawing from investments, which isn’t ideal, but it is on par with Plum’s main competitors.
What’s more, the customer service times are limited. Although they have support team hours from 0900–1700 on weekdays, and 1000–1600 on Saturdays and Sundays, people have reported struggles speaking to someone on the phone.
What else makes Plum stand out?
There aren’t many services like Plum out there. That in itself is enough to make this app stand out. What’s more, there are several neat features and quality of life improvements that have been introduced to the service. Clearly, the team at Plum has plenty of vision when it comes to improving the service.
Plum: The Verdict
Ultimately, if you’re someone who struggles setting money aside each month, Plum can be an incredibly useful little app. Whether you use the free version to stick to your financial goals or the paid versions to invest and earn interest on your money, there is plenty to like about Plum.
The fees for using the service are relatively low, while the app itself is easy and intuitive to navigate. You can also rest assured that your money is safe when using the service. However, sometimes it can take a while to access your funds, which might be an issue for some. Additionally, the customer service has been a bit hit and miss outside of business hours. However, overall, it’s an impressive service that Plum offers.
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