25 min Read
18 Nov 2019

Written by Marc

Marc Shoffman is a leading finance journalist who specialises in personal finance, property and small business.

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Moneybox Review – Is it the best investment app?

moneybox review

What is Moneybox?

Have you ever wondered what to do with that spare change rattling around your wallet? What if you could save or invest it? Moneybox has come up with a digital solution. Its app will round up purchases you make on your card to the nearest pound and put the spare change in a savings or investment product. For example, each time you buy your morning coffee for £2.50, Moneybox will round that purchase up to £3 and put away the 50p in your selected product. The idea is that these small bits of change eventually combine to turn into pounds and earn interest, generating savings while you spend.

How does Moneybox work?

You must be at least 18 years old to open an account with Moneybox. You will also need a national insurance number if you want to open a stocks and shares ISA, 95-day notice account or Lifetime ISA.

                 opening a moneybox account                                        invest your spare change with moneybox

There is a separate app if you wanted to open a Junior ISA on behalf of a child or a relative who is under 18.

You can read about plenty of the Moneybox features on its website but you will need a smartphone to actually use the service. This is because you have to download an app that then links to your bank accounts that you will be spending the money with.

Once downloaded, you need to signup with your name, email, set a password and enter your phone number and date of birth. Moneybox will then get you to verify your email and create a five-digit PIN for extra security. The first task is to decide the type of account you want your spare change to go to. You can click on handy question marks to read articles addressing issues such as which account is best and there is also a live chat function Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm that can help with any queries.

Once you decide on the type of account, you can select how to add money, such as through a deposit, roundups or a combination of both. You can start from as little as £1. Users are presented with a list of banks they can link with the app. Most are included and you will need to authorise Moneybox to access your account. If you already have your chosen bank’s app on your phone you will be redirected to automatically establish the connection. Otherwise you will need to enter the account details manually. Once connected, you will need to set up a direct debit so your money can be sent from your bank to the chosen Moneybox product.

                  how to save money with moneybox                                            easily see how much money you have saved with the moneybox round up feature

Users can view their spending and what their transaction can be rounded to within the app, where you will also be able to make deposits. Roundups and deposits are combined into a weekly savings total that is collected from your linked account each Wednesday at midday and debited into the Moneybox product on the following Monday. Transactions will be rounded up automatically after two days but you can change the settings to do this manually and choose which transactions to roundup anytime during the week.

You can setup several Moneybox products under one account so you could have your spending and roundups spread across a savings product as well as an ISA and pension.

Moneybox features

Saving with Moneybox

Product 95-day notice account Cash Lifetime ISA
Rate 1.65% 1.40%
Charges None
None but there is a 25% government charge on any withdrawals if not using the account to buy your first home or for your retirement
Features Interest calculated daily and paid each month. Notice of 95 days is required for withdrawals.
The LISA is only available to those aged 18-39 and those who are using it to buy their first home or save for retirement. You can use the Lifetime ISA to buy a house up to the value of £450,000 anywhere in the UK but must have had the account open for at least one year. You can save up to £4,000 each tax year and get the 25% government bonus.

Moneybox offers two savings accounts but does promise more are on their way.

Moneybox savings account

Savers could put their spare change into a 95-day notice account offering an annual equivalent rate (AER) of 1.65%. Interest is calculated daily and paid into your account each month. This is a competitive rate compared with other notice accounts on the market but it is not the best and remember it is also variable so could change at any point. Check out our article on the best notice accounts for the very best rates right now. The product is provided by Investec, so benefits from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection if the provider goes bust, keeping your money safe.

You will have to wait 95 days if you want to make a withdrawal on the Moneybox savings account, which can be a long time if you need cash immediately.

Moneybox Lifetime ISA

Alternatively, Moneybox offers its own Lifetime ISA for those saving to get on the property ladder or for those saving for their pension. The Moneybox Lifetime ISA lets you save your spare change while you benefit from tax-free returns as well as the government’s Lifetime ISA bonus of 25%, paid monthly. Moneybox’s Lifetime ISA offers a rate of 1.4% AER and is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can save up to £4,000 each tax year and get the 25% government bonus, totalling an additional £1,000.

There are some limits with the LISA compared with just using the notice account. The LISA is only available to those aged 18-39 and those who are using it to buy their first home or save for retirement. You can use the Lifetime ISA to buy a house up to the value of £450,000 anywhere in the UK but must have had the account open for at least one year. If you need to withdraw money for any reason other than your first home or retirement, you’ll pay a government charge of 25% on any sum you withdraw. The account is provided through Oaknorth, which is protected by the FSCS. For more information on Lifetime ISAs, check out our article 'Lifetime ISAs explained'.

Investing with Moneybox

Moneybox has a number of investment options. You can invest your roundups or one-off amounts in a stocks and shares ISA or Lifetime ISA, a general investment account and a pension.

You need to be 18 to open any of the accounts and all have different features but invest in a range of tracker funds.

What are the fees for investing with Moneybox?

Stocks & shares ISA/general investment account/Investment Lifetime ISA/Junior ISA Pension

£1 monthly subscription fee.

0.45% annual platform fee.

Fund costs range from 0.12 % to 0.30%.

Ongoing fees for the socially responsible fund are higher than the standard global shares fund (0.18% compared with 0.12% per year).

No monthly subscription fee.

Annual platform fee of 0.45% up to £100,000 and 0.15% over £100,000

Fund costs range from 0.12 % to 0.30%.

Fee is waived for first three months.

ISA is limited to annual contribution allowance, currently £20,000.

Investors can put maximum of £20,000 per week into the general investment account

Pension is subject to annual and lifetime contribution limits.

Stocks and Shares ISA

You can invest your full ISA allowance, currently up to £20,000, in a Moneybox stocks and shares ISA. Your roundups can be invested and grow tax-free in a cautious, balanced or adventurous portfolio, depending on the level of risk you are prepared to take. Moneybox doesn’t provide advice so you will need to read the descriptions of each portfolio and the key investor information documents to understand what you are investing in and how risky it may be. For more information on stocks and shares ISAs, check out our article 'Are stocks and shares ISAs really worth it?'. There is even a Junior ISA version so you can build up a tax-free pot from your change that your child can access at age 18. For more information on Junior ISAs, check out our article 'Best junior stocks and shares ISAs'.

Lifetime ISA

This works similar to a stocks and shares ISA as your roundups go into one of the chosen portfolios. However, only those under 40 can open an account, although you can continue contributing until you are 50. You can also only invest up to £4,000 a year and will receive a 25% bonus from the government (up to £1,000). You are limited to using the product to purchase your first home or when you retire.

General investment account

You can invest in one of the portfolios through a general investment account. Unlike the ISA, the returns aren’t tax-free but you can put more away subject to a £20,000 weekly limit.

Pension

Moneybox users can put their roundups towards their retirement and combine their old pensions into one pot. This is subject to the annual £40,000 allowance and lifetime allowance of £1,055,000 for contributions.

How does Moneybox manage its portfolios?

ISA, Lifetime ISA and general investment account investors are offered a choice of three portfolios from Moneybox, made up from a mix of low-cost tracker funds.

There is a cautious, balanced and adventurous portfolio that you can choose based on your attitude to risk and return. The portfolios use five tracker funds, the Fidelity Index World Fund, iShares Global Property Equity, iShares Overseas Corporate Bond, iShares Overseas Government Bond and Legal and General Cash Trust. The allocation to each of these funds is set depending on whether you choose the cautious, balanced or adventurous portfolio and you can also alter it yourself.

Investors can choose to have their roundups invested in a socially responsible option as well through the Old Mutual World ESG Index fund, exclusively available in the UK for Moneybox users. The fund tracks the MSCI World ESG Leaders Index and holds shares in global companies which are selected based on MSCI’s environmental, social and governance approach.

The Moneybox pension invests roundups slightly differently. It has three options for you to invest in. These are the Fidelity World Index Fund, Old Mutual World ESG Index fund or the BlackRock LifePath fund, which changes the balance of investments as you get closer to your retirement date.

Funds are selected on the basis of cost, how well the fund tracks its index, and the reputation of the fund provider. This is reviewed annually, and, if necessary, adjusted at the end of each calendar year.

Moneybox’s portfolio performance

How does Moneybox perform?

Moneybox launched in 2016 so it hasn’t built a long-term track record yet. It is usually best to judge performance after three years or even five for those with a more long-term investment horizon. But the app has tracked how £1,000 invested in 2010 followed by contributions of £50 a month would have performed in its portfolios up to 2018.

  • Your roundups in the cautious portfolio would be worth £7,836, with a strong 16.2% return in 2016 and growth of 1.1% in 2017 and 0.6% in 2018.
  • Money in the balanced portfolios would be worth £10,012, despite a 2.5% drop last year. The portfolio increased 27.2% in 2016 and by 7.3% in 2017.
  • Adventurous investors would have done better, with their portfolios worth £10,430 at the end of 2018. The portfolio increased 27.6% in 2016, 9.1% in 2017 but fell 3.5% last year.

You can read more about how Moneybox has performed on their website.

Moneybox alternatives

Moneybox vs Nutmeg

Robo wealth manager Nutmeg is more geared toward investors than savers. You can open a general investment account, stocks and shares or Lifetime ISA or a self-invested personal pension. It uses exchange-traded funds and offers a range of portfolios linked to your attitude to risk. Nutmeg goes slightly further than Moneybox as users must complete a questionnaire that determines their risk level rather than having to decide for themselves. You can also set a goal and time horizon with the investment accounts on Nutmeg and track how well you are following it.

Nutmeg’s minimum investment is higher than Moneybox. You will need £500 to open an ISA, general investment and pension pot or £100 for the Lifetime ISA. Nutmeg also offers a wider range of risk ratings and more choice of portfolios but you could end up paying higher fees depending on how much you are investing. Fees for Nutmeg’s fixed allocation account are 0.45% up to 100k and 0.25% beyond that, with an average investment fund cost of 0.17%. Its fully managed offering charges 0.75% up to £100,000 and 0.35% beyond that with an average fund cost of 0.19%.

Read our Nutmeg review to find out more about what Nutmeg has to offer.

Moneybox vs Moneyfarm

Moneyfarm operates in a similar way to Nutmeg and again is more geared towards investors rather than savers. It is a robo-adviser and will suggest a range of portfolios of exchange-traded funds based on your answers to a questionnaire that assesses your attitude to risk. It offers a pension, ISA and general investment account but there is no Lifetime ISA option.

Starting a Moneyfarm account is more expensive than the £1 minimum on Moneybox. You will need £500 as a minimum to start a Moneyfarm ISA, investment account or pension. Moneyfarm has a clearer one-size fits all fund structure. Investors in any account pay 0.7% up to £20,000, 0.6% on any amount from £20,000 to £100,000, 0.5% on anything from £100,000 to £500,000 and 0.4% on any amount over £500,000.

Read our Moneyfarm review to find out more.

Moneybox vs Plum

Plum is more similar to Moneybox as it is geared towards savings. You can download an app or set it up through Facebook Messenger and Plum will regularly analyse your transactions and identity your regular income and expenditure before calculating an affordable amount to save for you automatically. This is transferred into a protected virtual bank account so unlike Moneybox, your money won’t actually earn any interest but it is a way to build savings autonomously.

Saving with Plum is free but there is also an option to invest in an ISA for a £1 monthly fee and a 0.15% charge on the value of your fund investments. Plum offers six portfolios in total. You can either invest in one of three portfolios that invests solely in technology, ethical or emerging market shares or you can choose to invest in one of three portfolios of shares and bonds, with a choice of investing styles; conservative, balanced or growth. These are managed by Gaudi Regulated Services, which is an FCA-regulated firm.

Read our Plum review to find out more.

Is Moneybox safe?

Moneybox is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority so must follow rules on transparency and treating customers fairly. Customer details are kept secure and banking logins are not stored by Moneybox. Instead it uses banking technology provider Yodlee to protect and store accounts.

If you choose to invest then your money is of course at risk, as with any investment, from stock market fluctuations. But there is still Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection of up to £85,000 if a fund or savings account provider goes bust.

If you are unhappy there is also the option of complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service once you have been through Moneybox’s complaints procedure.

Moneybox customer reviews 

Moneybox has more than 250,000 customers so there is plenty of scope for reviews and good and bad experiences. Moneybox is rated 4.3 out of 5.0 from over 150 reviews on Trustpilot, the majority, 67% rank the app as excellent. Users cited how easy it was to setup and use and how it has been a great introduction to saving and investing.

The app has received some negative reviews, with 14% rating it as bad and 5% as poor. Most gripes appear to be over how long it takes for money to be invested and some individual issues over the timing and value of withdrawals.

Conclusion

Pros of Moneybox

  • Great for beginners
  • Save as you spend
  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Opportunity to earn rewards

Moneybox is a great way to start saving or investing. The idea of saving as you spend is innovative and the app lets you easily setup regular transfers and roundups. It is easier and quicker than sitting down with a financial adviser or scouring the market yourself for the best savings rates or ISA as everything can be done by the touch of a few buttons on the app. There is also very little saving or investing experience required as there are simple explanations of each product at every stage of the process. You can even get rewards such as interest or cashback if you spend with certain retailers, restaurants and websites.

Cons of Moneybox

  • Investing change can take a long time to see any benefit
  • Can be expensive
  • Unable to move money between accounts
  • Limited choice of investment products

It may often be said that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves but only investing a few pennies or even just pounds each month will not be a silver bullet when it comes to saving. You typically need a lot more to build up a comfortable ISA or retirement pot as well as to spread your risk, which is why many of Moneybox’s rivals have minimum investments starting from £500 upwards. Additionally, investing small amounts means it will take a long time to see a decent return and the fund charges will be pretty hefty until you are putting away a more significant sum. Wealthsimple is a worthy alternative if investing in an ISA as it does not have a minimum investment and does nopt charge a monthly fee.

The Moneybox app is user-friendly but there is little help when it comes to your actual reasons for investing, which would usually help dictate how much you need to save and the way to do it, another reason to consider a robo-adviser such as Wealthsimple or Nutmeg. There is also an annoying restriction that doesn’t let you move money between accounts and you need a separate app for a Junior ISA.

Another drawback is its limited choice of savings products and small range of investment portfolios compared with other robo-platforms.

Moneybox is a great introduction to saving and investing. It is easy to setup and use and will get you used to different financial products as well as the useful habit of putting money away regularly. However, this shouldn’t be relied on as your sole or long-term saving or investment source, especially if you are only putting away small amounts. If you are new to investing then you should check out our article 'The best stocks and shares ISA (& the cheapest fund platform)'

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