What tier of debit card?

Interestingly HSBC UK’s Premier debit card is just a bog standard Visa debit (I believe), and you have to get one of their Premier Mastercard credit cards to receive a ‘World’ card with perks.

Is the freemium pricing model popular with US online challengers? (I.e. a limited free account with a subscription service to access more features - like Monzo Plus)

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I’m actually kind of surprised by this. I thought they had a global agreement with MasterCard in regards to card issuance, but when I looked into it further, it seems it’s Visa in a lot of countries.

Not by any means. The only challenger banks operating on a freemium basis in the US are Aspiration, where paying the $7/month fee gets you one ATM operator fee refunded every month, additional cashback rewards at certain “environmentally and socially responsible” merchants, and carbon offsets for every gas (petrol) purchase, Revolut, whose premium benefits are much the same as they are in the UK, and soon, Onjuno, whose premium benefits look to be additional interest on savings, additional cashback rewards on purchases, and extra free out-of-network ATM withdrawals. That aside, there’s an investment firm called Acorns whose banking services are all on a subscription basis. For $3/month, you get a current account with metal debit card with cashback rewards, a round-up investment system, as well as a tax-sheltered investment account for those investments.

Basically, aside from Acorns and their entirely subscription-based banking services (which is more of an investment/banking bundle so isn’t quite on the same level as the rest), freemium is mostly untested as a business model for challenger banks in the US. Aspiration only unveiled their premium product two or three months ago, Revolut hasn’t been live in the US for much longer than that, and Onjuno has still yet to launch. N26 still hasn’t said anything about bringing a premium product to the US, and if Monzo is wise they’ll sit back and see how Revolut and Aspiration do before they consider bringing Plus here.

Oh, and Curve is coming to the US as well and seems to want to bring their freemium model across the pond. We’ll see how they fare, and given how long they’re taking to roll out in the US, they’ll have the advantage of being able to see how those that have come before them are doing.

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