If you feel like saving any money at all at the moment is nigh on impossible, an auto-savings app could help you build up a nest egg – without you even noticing.
These apps use clever technology to work out how much you can afford to save and then automatically move money from your bank account into a separate savings pot. They can also ’round up’ your purchases to the nearest pound and save the change for you. The idea is that by squirrelling small amounts of cash away regularly, you can build up a healthy pot without thinking about it.
If you’re feeling the pinch one month, you can always tell the app to save less, or withdraw the money back into your current account if you need it.
Just bear in mind that while these apps can help you save more, most interest rates can be beaten elsewhere – so to maximise returns (in a way that’s kind to the planet too), see our top-paying sustainable savings accounts.
Here are our top three auto-savings accounts for 2024 (that are as ethical as it gets in this market):
Moneybox is just that – a money box. Once you connect a bank account, the app will round up your transactions to the nearest pound and set aside your spare change for you to save or invest.
For example, if you buy a coffee for £2.60, it will round the transaction up to £3 and then put the spare 40p in your “digital moneybox”. You can set your round-ups to be moved automatically, or choose to do it manually for each transaction.
If you want to have quick access to your savings, Moneybox offers a ‘Simple Saver’ account, with a healthy four per cent (AER variable) interest rate and no account fees or charges. Withdrawals are limited to one per month.
If you’re happy for your money to be locked away for a while in return for a higher interest rate, Moneybox offers four notice accounts – from 32 days’ notice at 4.66 per cent (AER variable) to 120 days’ notice at 4.60 per cent (AER variable).
Moneybox recently launched a Cash ISA offering 5.09 per cent interest (AER variable), which enables three withdrawals per year.
The app also gives you the option of investing your money in a Stocks and Shares ISA, Junior ISA, Lifetime ISA, General Investment Account or Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). Just remember that with investing your capital is at risk.
With Moneybox, your savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000.
The Good Stuff
The Moneybox app is clear and easy to use, and it scores highly on customer service (with a 4.5 out of 5 score on Trustpilot). It also offers “socially responsible” options for your investments.
What’s the cost?
There are no fees for Moneybox’s savings accounts. You can find out about fees for investing, here.
Plum is a smart money ‘robot’ that helps you budget, save and invest all through automation. The app links to your bank account and uses artificial intelligence to analyse your income and spending habits.
It calculates an amount it thinks you can afford to save each week, and automatically transfers this to your Plum account. If you turn on ‘Round-Ups,’ Plum will round up your transactions to the nearest pound and save your spare change.
You can transfer this money into “Interest Pockets” that are assigned to different goals. Plum’s free plan gives you one ‘Easy Access Interest Pocket’ with an interest rate of 4.21 per cent for Plum Premium subscribers, 3.72 per cent for Plum Pro and Ultra, and 3.51 per cent for Plum Basic (all AER/variable) – see below for costs of Plum’s paid-for plans.
Plum has also just launched Plum Interest, offering a variable 5.15 per cent interest rate on your easy access cash. This is NOT a savings account. Your money will be invested with the BlackRock ICS Sterling Government Liquidity Fund, which holds low risk government-backed assets.
You can withdraw your money for free at any time. Another option is to invest your savings in a Plum Stocks and Shares ISA or SIPP. As always with investing, remember your capital is at risk.
Note: To qualify for FSCS protection with Plum, your savings must be kept in one of its ‘interest savings pockets’ – this includes the free pocket.
The Good stuff
We like that Plum makes saving money super easy. It offers some cool optional features like setting aside money every time you shop at a “naughty” retailer, the ‘£1 challenge’ where your deposits increase by £1 until you reach £52 in the final week – so you save £1,378 in a year, and ‘Rainy Days’ where it makes a deposit every day it rains where you live.
Plum also offers a range of sustainable and ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds for its ISAs and SIPPs, including the “Balanced ESG” and “Socially Conscious.”
What’s the cost?
Plum is free at the basic level (including automated savings transfers, round-ups and one Interest Pocket). If you want to benefit from its more advanced budgeting features and investment options, you can upgrade to Plum Pro for £2.99 per month (first month free), Ultra at £4.99 or Premium at £9.99. You will need to work out how this stacks up against how much you are saving.
Chip is an auto-savings and investments app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate how much you can afford to set aside each month without affecting your normal day-to-day spending habits.
Chip currently offers an Instant Access account at 4.84 per cent, a Prize Savings account where you can win a share of £75,000 each month, a 90-day Notice Account at 4.10 per cent and an Easy Access account at 1.10 per cent.
The good stuff
We like that Chip makes it easy to save and invest all in one place. But, and it’s a big one, its charges (see below) can add up. Also its investments are held primarily with fund giant BlackRock, which has a shady record for greenwashing on sustainability.
What’s the cost?
You can use Chip for free, but if you want to set up recurring saves (a set amount paid regularly into savings), you’ll pay 25 pence a time. To benefit from its AI to calculate this amount for you, however, it’s 45 pence per time. There is a premium ChipX plan for £5.99 per month, which gives you unlimited recurring and auto saves.