Do you find it a struggle to put money away every month? What if there was a way to save money automatically in such small amounts that you would hardly notice? Take a look at this Plum app review to see how it uses artificial intelligence to make saving easier and it could even open the doors to investing.
10-second Plum review
An app with lots of options to help you start putting some extra money away. You can also make your money work harder with investments, or there’s a savings account on offer. The cutting bills section isn’t much help, but I can overlook that.
The Plum app
Let’s be honest, for the majority of us, saving money can be tough. We often start with good intentions, but by the end of the month, your account is hovering around the 0 mark. You think that you’ll give it a try the following month only for the same thing to happen.
It’s quite scary when you think that over 25% of UK adults have no savings at all. What do you do if you have an unexpected bill? Or the worst-case scenario… how long could you stay in your house if you were to lose your job?
This is why it’s so important to have some money saved away. Retirement might be 30 or 40 years away, but you never know what’s around the corner.
Don’t think that you suddenly have to put £100’s into an account straight away and give-up eating for several months. One great trick to start your saving is by doing it in small amounts.
A couple of pounds here and there every week is something you will probably not notice. And within a couple of months, you’ll soon have a nice little sum growing. This is what Plum is all about. But how does it compare to some of the other best personal finance and savings apps?
What is Plum?
Plum is run by a Plum Fintech Limited and is based in London and has been operating since 2016.
Taken from their website:
Our mission is to help people save money without even lifting a finger.
We’ve always hated saving money, but we wanted to change that. We decided to make Plum so that there would be an easier way to save money to spend on things we want, rather than the things we need.
How does the app work?
Plum is a free app available from the App Store and Google Play. Or, you can just visit the Plum website and follow the link from there.
You will then need to fill out some personal details and then connect your bank account through something called open banking. This is an officially recognised way to connect accounts and allows Plum to see how much money you have.
It’s a simple process and if you already have your bank’s app downloaded to your phone, it will take less than a minute.
Once connected, Plum analyses the money going in and out of your account and uses artificial intelligence to determine how much you can afford to save.
Then, once a week, Plum will take money from your current account by direct debit and pay it into your Plum account. And don’t worry, it guarantees that you will never go into your overdraft when the money is transferred. However, if that did happen, they promise to refund any fees.
But, you may find that it’s taking too much or you might want Plum to take a bit more.
With a click of a button (or a push of a finger) you can tell Plum whether you want to increase or decrease the amount you’re willing to save. You have a choice of modes:
- Beast Mode – 75% more savings
- Ambitious – 50% more savings
- Eager – around 25% more
- Chilled – around 25% less
- Shy – 50% less in savings
And if you want to take a break completely, you can turn off autosaves for a set period.
Another option to help you save is by turning on Round-ups. With this activated, it means that every time you make a purchase from your current account, the app will round this amount up to the nearest pound which is then transferred to your Plum account.
For example, spend £2.40 on a coffee and 60 pence will be sent to Plum.
Or, you can arrange for money to be transferred on payday. Just let Plum know when that is, how much you get paid and Plum can calculate how much you can afford to transfer over.
Plum also provides some handy insights about your current account. You can get summaries of how much you have spent over the last week, month or by category.
There are two further options available with Plum Plus and Plum Ultra – Rainy Days and the 52-Week Challenge.
Your Plum account
Once the money reaches your Plum account, it goes into the Primary Pocket. This is just a holding account and you don’t really want to keep your money there too long because it pays you nothing in interest.
You can move your money over to a savings pocket or place it into an investment. You can do this manually or by choosing the splitter option. By telling the app how you want your savings to be split when it enters Plum, it’s all done automatically. For example, if Plum takes £15 one week, £7.50 can be placed into your investment and the other £7.50 straight into your savings account.
How much does it cost?
Using the basic savings functions with Plum is absolutely free.
But there are 3 chargeable options – Plum Pro, Plum Plus and Plum Ultra. More on these below.
Is the Plum app safe?
Plum uses quite a few features to make sure that your data is safe.
- They never store (or have access to) your bank login details
- They only have read-only access to transaction data so in the unlikely event of a breach no money can be transferred out of your bank account
- They use symmetric cryptography (AES) to store any sensitive data
- They use state-of-the-art password algorithms
- They use 256-bit TLS encryption to communicate between the browser and their servers
- We are a registered data controller and always act in compliance with the Data Protection Act
- Their servers run on Amazon’s cloud, trusted by some of the biggest financial institutions in the world
But how about your money?
Money moved into your Plum account is held as e-Money with Barclays bank. The money is safeguarded and cannot be lent out (which is why it doesn’t earn interest). However, because this money is ring-fenced, if Plum or Barclays should go bankrupt, their creditors cannot claim your money.
Plum and PayrNet are both regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
If your money is moved into the Plum Easy Access account, it is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). That means that if anything should happen to the account, your money is covered by up to £85,000 from the UK government.
If you opt for an investment, your money buys a share of a fund, which is safeguarded by a regulated custodian whose job it is to keep your shares safe. These custodians are also covered by the FSCS.
Which banks does Plum work with?
Unfortunately, Plum won’t work with every bank, but most of the big players are available. However, this is for personal bank accounts only and doesn’t cover joint accounts and business accounts.
Supported accounts are:
- First Direct
- Bank of Scotland
- Ulster Bank
- Post Office Bank
- Danske Bank
You can also link credit cards and other accounts to Plum:
- Bank of Scotland
- Capital One
- Tesco Bank
- Ulster Bank
- Virgin Money
Plum investment and savings review
If you don’t just want to just use Plum for autosaves and you would like to see a return for your money, then you can put your money into a savings account, a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) or invest it.
Plum Easy Access Account
If you’re not feeling adventurous with your savings, then you can put your money into an easy access interest pocket. This will earn you 0.50% APR for your cash. But If you opt for one of the paid versions of Plum, it will increase to 1.01%, which is quite competitive compared to major banks.
This is a tax-efficient way of putting your money away for the future. For example, a basic rate taxpayer can reclaim 20% in income tax when they place money into a pension. So £80 invested in a SIPP could actually mean £100.
Your pension savings can be invested into a fund that is risk-managed, which is based on your current age and target retirement date, or you can choose from a range of diversified global funds.
But if you want your money to work a little harder for you, Plum offers you the chance to invest in stocks and bonds through Plum Pro, Plus and Ultra. You can either invest in individual stocks and shares or choose an investment fund, which could see returns in the region of 1-30%. This is pretty impressive when you think of the interest you would get if you placed the money into a cash ISA.
Plum doesn’t invest the money themselves but uses Vanguard investment funds which is an investment manager with more than $5.1 trillion worth of funds.
With an investment fund, the money you invest doesn’t just go into one company and instead, the money goes into multiple companies and assets in an attempt to spread this risk.
However, as with any kind of investment of this type, these returns aren’t guaranteed and there is a chance you could lose your investment. Generally, the bigger the return, the higher the risk.
GIA or ISA?
When you invest, you can use either a General Investment Account (GIA) or a stocks and shares ISA. Although the money is invested in the same funds, an ISA means that you do not have to pay any tax on your earnings. However, you can only invest a maximum of £20,000 per year.
Investment funds on offer
|Fund name||Average annual return||Risk level|
|Clean & Green||3.07%||5/7|
|Best of British||2.98%||5/7|
|Slow & Steady||5.69%||3/7|
As you can see, there is quite a range of returns across the different investment opportunities. But even investing in the poorest performing fund (Rising Stars), will still earn you more compared to almost all high-street savings accounts.
Or, invest in individual stocks
If you don’t fancy putting your money into a fund, you can now invest in individual stocks through Plum.
Is it worth investing with Plum?
I am not a Financial Advisor, so I can’t give you any advice. However, I have invested and seen better returns than I would from an ISA. My dad always told me not to invest more than I can afford to lose, so this is the mentality I have adopted with Plum.
I have managed to save over £1400 without noticing the money missing from my current account and made returns of £591.92
In % terms, that’s just over 40% return on my investment. But don’t expect returns to regularly be that good. This has been the top-performing fund by far and has performed well because of Covid. You can take a look in greater detail at my Plum investment.
The drawback to investing with Plum is that it’s not free. There is a charge of £1 per month for investing, a 0.15% fee on the value of your fund investments and a fund-specific management charge of up to 0.9%.
You see, Plum passes on the fees to you that the fund provider charges for managing your money, plus they add their own. You will get better value for your money if you invested directly with a fund provider.
Because of the money Plum charges, you don’t want to just put £10 in and leave it, as the fees will always outweigh the possible gains. Because of this, you need to make sure you’re investing a decent amount each month.
The investing process is a little slow too. It usually takes around 4-5 days for your money to leave your current account and reach Plum. And if you decide to invest, it usually takes another 4 days for the money to leave Plum savings and enter your investment account.
Plum has promised to speed this process up, so fingers crossed they won’t take too long.
What other features are available?
If you fancy getting a bit more from the app, there are various extras available. Some are automatically included, whilst others only come if you upgrade to a paid version.
Lost Money – This section suggests ideas on how you can save money by changing suppliers or finding new financial providers. This includes:
- Energy supply
- Personal loans
- Travel insurance
- Car insurance
- Credit cards
But after looking through this section, there is nothing here that a price comparison site can’t tell you. In fact, I would recommend going through several comparison sites as it’s not clear whether Plum solely links to companies that give them a referral… meaning you might not be getting the best deal.
Pockets – separate money into different savings pots.
Rainy Days savings – Plum is probably the first company to take this saying literally. Every time it rains, Plum will set money aside for you.
52-Week Challenge – the first week, you will save £1 with Plum and this will increase by a further £1 every following week. Keep this up and in one year, you could save £1,378.
True Balance – giving you spending limits so you don’t overspend before pay day.
Goals – set yourself a target amount.
Diagnostic reports – allows you to compare yourself with other Plum users in a similar position.
Exclusive deposit rules – allows you to create different saving rules.
Plum Cashback – A feature of Plum Plus and Ultra is ‘Rewards’. Here, you can earn cashback, simply by clicking on a link before you shop at your favourite store. After a couple of weeks, the cashback is paid straight into your account. Some of the stores included are:
- Argos 3%
- ASOS 1.20% – 4.80%
- Dominos 1%
- eBay 1.00%
- Groupon 8.25%
- Nike 4%
- Wickes 1.50%
You will find most of these stores on other cashback sites. But Plum offers competitive rates and Argos isn’t listed on some of the top sites like TopCashback and Quidco.
Money Maximiser – get a real-time view of your money and make it go further.
Plum features at a glance
|Plum Basic||Plum Pro||Plum Plus||Plum Ultra|
|Cost (per month)||Free||£1.99||£2.99||£4.99|
|52 Week Challenges||No||No||Yes||Yes|
Is it worth paying for Plum’s features?
Of course, this is a personal choice. Pro is good value as it increases your interest rate in the savings pocket and allows you to invest. The big benefit to Plus and Ultra is the cashback, but you need to be a regular shopper to make this worthwhile.
What other people say
Plum has over 8000 reviews on Trustpilot and scores 4.3 stars out of 5 and is rated as ‘excellent’. Some of the positive reviews state:
Saving without even noticing
Brilliant app for saving money
A real gamachanger in saving
Whereas, some of the negative reviewers say:
Longest reply time’s ever!!!!!
Very poor service, not transparent
Inefficient process/functionality behind fancy App
My Plum app review conclusion
Plum really is an excellent method to use if you struggle to save and is very easy to use. It’s also a great way for novice investors to get started… even though you can find better value elsewhere.
And it’s certainly worth signing up for, even if you don’t want to invest.
Click the sign-up button below to find out more. It’s free to join, so you have nothing to lose!
Alternatives to Plum
There are plenty of finance and budgeting apps currently available on the market. But the app most similar to plum is Chip. This also offers autosaves, investments and instant access savings. You can find out how these apps compare and which one you should choose in my Chip vs Plum review.
If you’re more interested in the investment part of Plum, then Moneybox is another app worth checking out. You can see how they compare in my Plum vs Moneybox post.
How do I cancel my Plum account?
Simply open the app and click the icon in the top left corner. Scroll down and select ‘close account’.
How do I change my auto save level?
In the app, click the plum icon (found close to the top right). Then select ‘brain’ and choose your new savings level, listed underneath ‘Rules’.
Why has my bank lost connection to my bank?
Don’t worry, this can happen. Click the Plum icon in the app and select ‘Help’. Then choose the Chat to a Human option and they will give you some advice.
Can I close an investment fund?
If you decide that one of the investment funds isn’t for you, you can withdraw the balance to 0. However, the fund will still appear in your Plum account.
Why won’t Plum let me withdraw my money?
This occurs if you haven’t completed the Know Your Customer (KYC) process. These are guidelines that all financial institutions need to follow to ensure against money laundering. To comply with the policy, you will need to send in an official photo ID.