Tandem Bank review
With so many app-only banks trying to crack the UK market it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you; if any?
The thought of trusting a new challenger bank with your money can be daunting and so we have taken a look at Tandem to see how it works.
In this Tandem Bank review, we look at Tandem's features vs competitors such as Monzo, Starling and Curve. We also look at Tandem's fixed savings accounts and credit cards. You can skip to key sections of this review by using the links below, however, I suggest that you read the review in full.
- What is Tandem and how does it work?
- Saving with Tandem Bank
- Tandem Credit cards
- Using Tandem abroad
- Tandem vs Monzo vs Starling vs Curve
- Is Tandem safe to use?
- Pros and Cons of Tandem bank
What is Tandem and how does it work?
Launched in 2015 by founders Matt Cooper, Michael Kent and Ricky Knox, Tandem was created to 'get you and your money moving in the right direction'. Tandem is a fully-fledged bank account which means that up to £85,000 of your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Tandem became a fully-fledged bank account in 2017 after it acquired Harrods bank, allowing it to operate from the previous licence that Harrods Bank held. Prior to this Tandem was in the process of applying for its UK banking licence but it had to voluntarily return it after funding was revoked by Chinese company The Sanpower Group (former owners of the department store House of Fraser).
Tandem offers a fixed savings account and a credit card boasting fee-free spending abroad and other similar features to rival challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling Bank.
To join Tandem you just need to download the app from the App Store for iPhone, or Google Play Store for Android and register for an account. You are required to enter your Title, First and Last name as well as an email address and finally a secure password.
The next step is to enter your mobile number, this is required so that Tandem can send you a unique 6-digit code. Tandem then asks for further personal details including your date of birth, nationality and address. Finally, you'll need to enter in your current account details so it can connect to your account. Tandem advises it does not support prepaid cards, cash cards or money transfer accounts.
Saving with Tandem Bank
- Roundups - Save your spare change by rounding your spending to the nearest pound
- Safe to save - Tandem analyses your spending to suggest an amount to save and move into your Tandem account
- Regular deposit - Easily save a weekly/monthly amount in just a couple of clicks
Tandem 'fixed savers' savings account
Tandem offers the choice of three fixed-savings accounts with very competitive interest rates. For the best fixed-savings rates in the UK, and to see how Tandem compares, see our Best Buy tables.
|Fixed Account Term||Minimum deposit||Maximum deposit||Interest rate (AER*)|
Tandem savings accounts features:
- Your money is protected up to £85,000 with FSCS
- Fixed interest rates in accounts for 1, 2 and 3 years
- No withdrawals for the fixed term
- Only one deposit allowed (you have 14 days to make the deposit)
- Interest paid annually
Tandem eligibility to apply:
- A UK resident with 3 years address history (in the UK)
- Have a UK current account
Tandem Credit cards
UPDATE: January 2020
Tandem announced that it has closed applications to its popular cashback credit card and that the product will no longer be available to new applicants. Tandem is instead working on a new product titled 'Tandem Membership' which is said to provide even more value. Tandem said 'As we grow as a bank, we feel it's important to continue to build products that help solve your money needs. That's why we're working on something new to bring you more helpful features and more value than ever before'.
Applications for its other credit card, the 'Tandem journey credit card' remain open and the details are below.
- Fee-free spending abroad - No transaction fees or fees on top of your Mastercard exchange rate. Withdraw cash for free abroad (you will be charged interest from the day you withdraw the cash).
- Build credit history - Pay on time and don't exceed your credit limit to increase your score. (Tandem will review your limit after a few months and may offer an increase).
|Fee free spending abroad||Cash withdrawals||Cashback||Interest rate (APR*)||
Late payment fees
|Tandem Journey Credit Card||24.9% APR||
£12 for late payment/failure to pay
* For more information on the difference between AER and APR watch our video
Tandem Journey credit card benefits
- Build your credit history
- Spending notifications
- Fee-free spending abroad (interest charged as normal)
- 24.9% APR (this could be higher based on your personal circumstances)
- Free cash withdrawals abroad, 2.5% withdrawal fee in the UK (£2.50 minimum charge) and you will be charged interest from the day you withdraw cash both in the UK and abroad
- No over-limit fees
- £12 fee for late payment/direct debit failure
- Paperless statements
Tandem Journey credit card eligibility
- UK resident with 3 years address history (in the UK)
- Minimum annual income (before tax) of £15,000
- You have not been declared bankrupt or had an account closed due to missed payments
- Haven't had any county court judgements in the past 12 months
Can I use Tandem abroad?
WIth its fee-free spending abroad and an exchange rate to rival that of Revolut's, Tandem is a good credit card to use when travelling abroad. Make sure however that you pay your balance on time and in full each month as interest is charged daily. It may also be worth looking into the Curve card, which allows you to spend abroad using one card to combine all of your current bank accounts and credit cards fee-free.
For more information on taking money abroad see our article: The best way to take money on holiday.
Alternatives to Tandem
Tandem vs Monzo vs Starling vs Curve
|Provider||Current Account||Savings Account||Credit card||Loans||Overdraft||Fee free spending abroad|
*These providers offer similarities to the services mentioned above, for further info please see below.
Monzo and Starling Bank do offer the ability to save money but not with their own savings accounts. Monzo allows you to open easy access or fixed cash ISAs but they are underwritten by other providers such as Investec or OakNorth. Starling Bank offers the ability to earn interest on current accounts. Tandem bank, however, just offer fixed savings accounts (along with credit cards) with competitive interest rates up to 2.00% AER.
Curve isn't a bank account but it allows you to connect all of your bank accounts in one place and spend on one card only. Although it does not offer its own credit card, it allows you to spend money on your current credit card abroad with no overseas spending fees. For more information take a look at our Curve Review.
Alternative cashback credit cards
Amex Platinum Everyday card - cashback and 22.9% APR
There are other cashback credit cards available such as the Amex Platinum Everyday card. This has an introductory offer of 5% cashback on the first 3 months of spending (as long as you spend £2,000). After this, the Amex rate reduces to 0.5% up to £5,000 per year and 1% afterwards compared to Tandems 0.5% cashback rate.
Tandem's credit card is accepted worldwide as it is a Mastercard compared to Amex which is limited to certain retailers.
Aqua Reward card - cashback and 34.9% APR
The Aqua Reward card is aimed at helping those with a poor or barely-there credit history but also offers 0.5% cashback on purchases up to a maximum of £100 per year. Compared to Tandem's 0.5% cashback promise on purchases over £1 worldwide.
Is Tandem safe to use?
Tandem is a registered bank which means that your money is protected up to £85,000 with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This limit applies to all money you may have with Tandem across different accounts, therefore if your savings exceed the value of £85,000, anything over the threshold will not be protected.
Tandem also advises that your bank details are safe with them as they use encryption software to keep your personal information safe.
How does Tandem make money?
Tandem makes money just like any other bank, making money from the interest it charges on its products. Put simply, the interest it charges credit card customers is far higher than the interest it pays to customers who save with them.
Tandem Bank customer reviews
Tandem Bank has a score of 3.8 out of 5.0 stars on Trustpilot from 538 reviews (as of October 2019). 51% of users rate the bank as excellent citing 'great service' and a 'simple process' but a lot of comments are centred around customer service and problems being resolved, rather than Tandem Bank itself.
25% of users rate Tandem as bad with users claiming 'bad support' as well as problems applying for a card. Users have said that the sign-up process can take weeks in some cases with as well as a lack of support from customer service agents.
Pros of Tandem Bank
- Fee-free spending abroad
- Has a credit card to help build a credit score
- Easy to set up
- Keeps track of spending
- FSCS protected
- Chat to customer service 8am-10pm 7 days a week (can call 24/7 if card lost or stolen)
Cons of Tandem Bank
- Only way to access it is via an app on your mobile
- Hard to navigate website
- Unable to increase credit limit (despite claiming the journey credit card limit is reviewed)
- Only offer credit cards and fixed savings accounts
- Cash withdrawal limit of 30% of your total credit limit on credit cards (Tandem Bank treats gambling transactions as cash withdrawals, meaning they are subject to a 2.5% fee (minimum of £2.50) and the withdrawal limit above applies to gambling transactions.)
Overall, Tandem's appeal has diminished since it no longer offers cashback to new customers for credit card spending however you can still use the Tandem journey credit card if you are intending to spend money abroad. Those looking for a competitive credit card may be better off taking out a credit card with an alternative company with an introductory 0% offer and perhaps using the Curve card to spend abroad in order to avoid fees and interest.
The Tandem savings accounts offer competitive rates (although not market-leading) and your money is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Tandem will no-doubt be a good fit for some but I found the lack of clarity on their website frustrating and the recent run of poor reviews gave me cause for concern. For now, there is a little way to go to rival other app-only banks such as Starling Bank and Monzo.
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