Yolt was launched in the UK in June 2017 and reached over 500,000 users within 18 months of launch. Since then it has expanded from 5 employees to over 100 and has also launched in France and Italy. Yolt gives consumers the 'power to be smart with their money' and it believes that its insights 'yolt' consumers into action.
What is Yolt?
Yolt is an app with a prepaid debit Mastercard that allows you to track all of your bank accounts (current, savings and credit cards) in one place using open banking. Yolt works in a similar way to Starling Bank and Monzo in that it tracks your spending. You can spend with Yolt, however it uses a prepaid card meaning you will need to top-up your Yolt card in order to use it for spending. Yolt is not a regulated bank and you cannot currently set up direct debits or regular payments and it doesn't offer any additional banking services such as overdrafts or loans. Despite not being a bank Yolt has the 'strength and stability of a bank' and it is registered with the FCA.
- Pre-paid card - use your Yolt prepaid debit Mastercard for everyday transactions
- Instant spending notifications - get notified each time you make a transaction on your Yolt card
- Round up spending - round up your spare change to the nearest £ and save it in the Money Jar
- Track spending - use categories to track your spending and categorise your transactions.
- Set saving goals - set goals and see how your saving has improved over time
- Budget - set budgets to help you to achieve savings goals
- Multiple accounts in one place - use Yolt to see transactions across all of your current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards
- Total Balance - view your total balance across all of your accounts connected to Yolt. You can also choose which accounts to see in your total balance
- Yolt Pay - transfer money between friends, split bills and view multiple payees across all of your accounts (Yolt Pay is still currently in beta)
- Stealth mode - show your friends and family how Yolt works without sharing all of your account info. Stealth mode turns your money into a different currency and amount so the person you are showing cannot see your personal information
- Monthly payday tracker - track your spending based on your payday (best suited to users who get paid monthly or in 4 weekly cycles)
- Subscription tracker - keep track of regular payments with Yolt's subscription tracker. Yolt will also predict future payments based on recurring transactions
- Apple pay/Google pay - spend on your Yolt card using Apple/Google pay
- Cashback - get cashback on your spending with certain retailers
How does Yolt work?
Yolt is a banking app with a prepaid debit card that tracks your account and spending using open banking, a practice that allows you to share your financial information with third-parties. Open banking was introduced in the UK in January 2018 in order to give consumers control over their financial information. It allows third-party apps such as Yolt to synchronise your financial information, allowing you to manage your accounts safely and securely from one central location. Yolt is now using Open banking and PDS2 (Payment Services Directive 2) and has stopped working with accounts that do not have APIs ready. This means that you may experience difficulty connecting all of your accounts to Yolt.
Is open banking safe?
Open banking uses third-party access which means that your financial login details are not shared, you simply give authority for third-parties to see your financial information. Third-party access is 'read-only' which means that those who you grant access are only authorised to view your information and your login details are never shared with them. Open banking is more secure than a process known as screen-scraping, which allows third-parties to pose as you and 'screen-scrape' your data. With screen-scraping, you are handing over your login details to a third-party which has the potential to expose you to fraud. Due to the potential for fraud, screen scraping is no longer allowed.
How does Yolt use open banking?
Open banking only allows Yolt to access the data you allow it to. In order for Yolt to access all of your financial information such as savings or credit card accounts, you will need to log in to each one separately and grant access. Most companies that use open banking are regulated and so should appear on The Financial Services Register.
How to set up a Yolt account
To set up a Yolt account you will need to download the Yolt app to your smartphone and create an account by providing your full name, email address and mobile number. Yolt will then send you an authorisation code and require you to set up a password and passcode. Next Yolt will ask you to confirm your identity with a selfie as well as requesting a photo of an official form of identification such as a passport. Once you have confirmed your identity you will need to connect a bank account to Yolt and request a prepaid debit card.
The Yolt card
Yolt has introduced a contactless prepaid debit card to allow users to spend money using Yolt. The Yolt debit card is a prepaid card which means you will have to top up the card in order to use it to spend. Once you have created a Yolt account you can expect to receive your Yolt card within 7 working days and can activate it in the app by going to the 'Wallet' tab, clicking 'activate card' and entering the last 4 digits of your card number. If your card is lost or stolen you can freeze it within the app to stop anyone from spending on your card until you can get a new one. In the meantime, you could still use your card by spending with Apple Pay/Google Pay or by using a virtual card.
Spending with Yolt
Yolt has introduced a prepaid Mastercard debit card designed to be used for your everyday spending. Previously Yolt only allowed you to track and budget your spending but now you can manage your money in one place with the addition of the prepaid Mastercard. Yolt's card can be topped up by transferring money from one of your connected bank accounts and you can top up your Yolt card with up to £20,000 via bank transfer or up to £250 via debit card. With Yolt there are no daily or monthly spending limits but you can only make a maximum single transaction of £5,000. You can withdraw a maximum of £100 a day and a maximum of £1,000 in a month.
Yolt also allows you to:
- Transfer money between accounts - transfer money amongst all connected bank accounts with Yolt and bank transfer sums of money onto your card for spending
- Split the bill - easily split the bill with friends when going out the eat
- Request money - request money you are owed by sending a link to your friends and family
- Set budgets - stay on top of your money by setting budgets and track your progress within the app with detailed graphs and spending insights
Saving with Yolt
Yolt has the following savings features:
- The Money Jar - a savings space within the Yolt app where your round-ups and savings are saved. This is separate to your Yolt account so you cannot spend the money accidentally. Money can easily be transferred in and out of your Money Jar as and when you need it
- Saving streak - Yolt will motivate you to save when you create a saving streak by letting you know how close you are to achieving your savings goal
- Roundups - save your spare change with automatic round-ups. Your money is rounded up to the nearest £ when spending and the change is automatically saved in your Money Jar each week. There is also the opportunity to 'boost' your round up savings within the app
- Set regular saving amounts - choose and set up regular payments to save into your Money Jar
- Payday saver - Yolt will prompt you each payday to save some money
Is Yolt safe to use?
Yolt expresses that 'safeguarding your data is one of our core values' and has the following security measures in place:
- Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- Licensed Open Banking third-party provider
- Supervised by the European Central Bank
- As a venture of ING bank, it must meet the same privacy and security standards as a bank
- Yolt does not sell data to third-parties
- Yolt runs the most up-to-date encryption and regularly runs security tests
Yolt requires you to enter your bank account details when you connect your bank account in the app, however, you are re-directed to your bank's login page via open banking. This means that your sensitive data isn't stored on its servers.
Yolt uses your mobile phone number to verify your identity and encourages the use of face and fingerprint recognition when you log in. Yolt allows you to easily delete your account if you find the app is not for you. Yolt deletes your data in accordance with GDPR.
Is my money protected by the FSCS?
Your money is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme however it is held as e-money with PrePay Solutions Limited (PPS). The money is ring-fenced in an account with Barclays bank and according to the Yolt website your money is safe 'should PPS become insolvent or go into liquidation. PPS is a registered E-Money provider licensed and regulated by the FCA in the UK'.
How much does Yolt cost?
Yolt is totally free to download and use. On its website, Yolt states that it plans to keep it this way.
There are, however, the following charges that apply when using the Yolt prepaid debit card:
- £0.95 charge for ATM withdrawals
- 0.5% conversion fee on transactions abroad
- £5.50 charge for replacement cards (if it's the second card you have damaged, lost or had stolen in 12 months)
How does Yolt make money?
Within the app, users can choose to take advantage of various offers from selected partners such as energy suppliers or investment platforms. Yolt earns money by receiving commission from those selected partners.
Pros and Cons of Yolt
The Pros of using Yolt
- Integrate all accounts with one app
- Set budgets
- Categorise your spending
- Safe and secure
- Free to use
- Spend using prepaid debit card
The Cons of using Yolt
- Cannot enter a payday if you don't get paid monthly
- No web app
- Only shows immediate 'real-time' transactions on money spent using its prepaid card
- No FSCS protection
- 0.5% conversion fee if spending abroad
Yolt customer reviews
Yolt has achieved a rating of 'Great' on Trustpilot with a score of 3.7 out of 5.0 from over 200 reviews. Around 58% of customers rated the app as excellent with comments such as 'works flawlessly' and 'one of the best finance apps available'. Only 9% of the users rated Yolt as bad, citing blocked accounts and difficulty logging in. Some users have commented that they do not like the updated version of Yolt which now means you have to have a card to be able to use it. Other users commented that Yolt was a good concept but is 'not quite there yet' in comparison to other apps.
Alternative banking apps
Yolt vs Emma
Emma was launched in 2018 and offers similar features to Yolt with little difference between the two. From using both, Emma feels slightly more user-friendly and personally, I prefer the overall design. Emma also notifies you if you are about to go overdrawn enabling you to quickly move money between accounts to prevent this from happening. The main difference between Yolt and Emma is that Yolt has now introduced a prepaid debit card.
Yolt vs Money Dashboard
Money Dashboard was voted the best personal finance app in 2017, 2018 & 2020 and can be used on both web and via a smartphone app. Yolt is only available as a mobile app. The dashboard clearly lets you analyse the categories and breakdown of your spending via a series of graphs.
Within Money Dashboard you are able to see what you have spent so far in the month and compare it to the same time the previous month. Users also have the ability to keep track of their budgets using the active trackers.
Money Dashboard also allows you to set saving goals within the app such as budgeting to buy a house or to go on holiday.
Yolt does a good job of combining the features that you would expect of a free budgeting app, and since introducing its prepaid debit card it may be more appealing to others now you can also use Yolt for your everyday spending. Those wanting to do a little more than simply budgeting and saving may want to look at the likes of Monzo and Starling Bank who combine both budgeting and banking in one place.
Overall, Yolt does a good job of simplifying the budgeting process and the fact that it is free (and plans to remain so) is a good thing. If you want to find out more about finance apps for your smartphone, these articles may be useful: