The Two Minute Review
Virgin has a lot going for it. No fees are charged on foreign transactions and the 2.02% interest rate is quite attractive. The app isn’t bad either. However, there are a lot of user complaints about customer service.
- 📈 2.02% interest is strong for a current account (though you can get better rates from an easy access account).
- ✈️ No foreign transaction fees.
- ↔️ Switching offers are sometimes available.
- ☹️ Lots of complaints about customer service.
Ranked #17 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK.
What The Experts Say
On the M Plus account: “if you’re looking for an account that offers a little more, such as cashback on purchases or an interest-free overdraft, this account falls a little short.”
On the M Plus account: “The 2.02% interest is decent”
What Users Say
Each year the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) commissions an independent report that asks a thousand customers of each of the major banks in the UK how they feel about various aspects of the service they are getting. The results put Virgin in joint 14th position.
Click to see the full picture.
Virgin Money has a Trustpilot rating of 1.2 but here at The Grade we like to dig a bit further.
When you exclude reviews the company has itself invited and look just at organic reviews, the average score is actually 1.18. In terms of organic Trustpilot rating this means Virgin Money is number 24 out of the 25 personal banks/current accounts we review.
At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 1,274 reviews which gave Virgin an average score of 4.1 out of 5.
Virgin Money in a Nutshell
The Virgin Money brand was founded in 1995 by Richard Branson as a disruptive startup in the banking sector. Over the last 22 years, a number of mergers and acquisitions have led to it becoming a banking heavyweight in the UK. In 2012 it bought the “good portion” of Black Rock – a bank most famous for going under in the 2008 financial crash. In 2018 Virgin Money itself was acquired by CYBG which already owned Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank. In 2019 the whole entity was renamed Virgin Money UK plc. Over time it is planned that the Virgin Money brand will replace both the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank brands.
CYBG has 131 branches across the country and employs 7,500 people. It also has 6.5 million customers in the UK.
Opening a Virgin Money Account
The quickest way to apply for a Virgin Money account is online. You’ll need to be over 18, live in the UK and have a “good credit history” – but there are no specifics given on what level of credit score they find acceptable. You will also need a form of ID such as a driving licence or passport.
What Accounts Do They Offer?
Virgin offers two main accounts, the M Plus and the Club M account. Here are the key features of each:
|M Plus||Club M|
|Interest on balances up to £1k||2.02%||2.02%|
|Worldwide foreign transaction fees||None||None|
|Apple and Google Pay||Yes||Yes|
|Worldwide family travel insurance||No||Yes|
|UK breakdown cover||No||Yes|
|Mobile and gadget insurance||No||Yes|
|Cashback at participating retailers||Yes||Yes|
So essentially with Club M you are paying £14.50 a month to get mobile, gadget, breakdown and travel cover – and whether you go for this or the M Plus account really depends on whether you are paying for these elsewhere at a higher rate. However, both accounts have some really nice features that make them both stand out.
The first is the interest. 2.02% (on balances up to £1000) is a great rate for a current account. However, you can easily beat this if you take an account that has an “easy-access” saver linked to it. For example, Chase Bank offers a linked easy-access savings account that offers 3% interest.
Note: Easy access means you can move your money between your current and savings accounts at any time without losing your interest rate.
Virgin Money does have its own easy-access account – the M Saver account. This is an easy-access savings account which also offers 2.52% interest but allows you to put in up to £25,000 at this rate.
The second is fee-free spending abroad. If you don’t have a card that offers similar (e.g. Monzo, Starling or Revolut) then this can be a real bonus.
The accounts also provide the option to get cashback on selected retailers by opting in via the app. A typical example would be 10% off at Sweaty Betty.
Additionally, all Virgin M accounts are FSCS registered – meaning deposits will be protected up to £85,000.
How Good Is The App & Digital Banking?
Overall, it’s pretty good. Virgin is clearly trying to make up ground on the challenger banks by adding in some budgeting features, savings pots and the ability to tag transactions. However, it doesn’t have a round-up feature, which would be a nice feature for an account so focused towards interest.
We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:
Great app, great benefits
I’ve only been with Virgin Money for a few months but so far I’m impressed. The initial application was simple and the app is great for getting everything done. The benefits on offer are highly competitive too.
Reliable, consistent service
Always good service, reliable portal, secure and prompt replies to any query.
Good app but tricky to set up
I just moved my current account to M-Plus. I was unable to configure my account using my iPhone 8, since the customer number field is in the bottom half of the screen and was obscured by the keypad. As someone who wears reading glasses, my default font is usually set to large. By setting the font temporarily to small, I was able to enter the customer number, but then had the same problem entering three characters from the password, even though the font was still small. This is a design flaw: if the data entry fields were anchored into the top half of the screen it would enable data entry irrespective of the font size. Once through this hurdle, I was able to configure the app to accept thumb print access, so this issue is restricted to first-time users.
Virgin money have had a terrible experience so far due to change over waiting 2 months for my card and then constantly having loading issues with the app taking 5/10 minutes to get in to view my balance, Virgin just seem terribly slow and behind compared to speed to other banks and how a simple think like sending me a new card can get messed up so badly I got sent a wrong card then for some reason my card was sent to the branch when I specified I needed it home delivered like my previous bank had always done, you want everything working best for yourselves and not your customers, virgin does not rate highly in my book never mind the fact they bought Yorkshire bank and now the customer service quality has dropped dramatically even the speed of your app is slower😂🤦♂️ you’re suppose to be bigger and better but you just seem fat and slow
Possibly the worst company I have ever dealt with. The level of incompetence is unbelievable. Phone wait times are hours long. No responses to secure messages. Contacted the CEO David Duffy who requested his staff to respond (which they did promptly in the first instance), since then there has been no correspondence and my issues not sorted or responded to as requested. They have lost my personal information which is an extreme worry given that they are responsible for safeguarding my money! If I could score zero I would. Do not use. Entrust your money to another more reliable bank.
Is Virgin Money A Good Bank?
Virgin Money is ranked #22 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK (click to see full list).
Are there better current accounts on the market? We’re calling out the following accounts as excellent:
Chase has brought to the UK the kind of rewarding banking you normally only see in the states. We're hoping it starts a revolution on this side of the Atlantic. The digital experience is also first class and there is 24/7 customer support.
Remember to check out the Chase website for all the terms and conditions.
Currently if you switch to Natwest they will give you £200. You need to open an account online or using their app, pay in at least £1,250 and use their mobile banking service within 60 days. One these criteria are met, the £200 is paid within 7 days.
If you are looking for a first class app experience then our scoring puts Starling ahead of rival Monzo.