This post includes a Sprive referral code. If you choose to use it, you get a bonus when you sign up to Sprive, and I also receive a commission. This hasn’t impacted my post, which covers both the pros and cons of the app, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to download it. This post is not sponsored by Sprive.
Up until a couple of years ago there wasn’t much out there that could help you to overpay your mortgage in an innovative way.
If you search for content related to overpaying your mortgage, most of the advice on how to do it is very simple: make an arrangement with your bank that you will pay extra towards the capital, and make sure that you don’t go over your overpayment limit for the year.
For someone who looks for inspiration to make habits a bit more attractive, there’s not much technology out there that helps with this. Some banks don’t even let you see your mortgage balance go down on their app. So much so, that people swoon when they see the Money Saving Expert’s overpayment calculator, or they envy people with a Santander mortgage, purely because of the app.
Sprive seem to be adding something new to the mix, in that they apply the type of auto-save technology that you see with savings and investing apps, like Chip, but they cater to people who have a mortgage overpayment goal.
How does Sprive work?
Sprive connects to a bank account of your choosing and uses AI technology to figure out how much “spare money” you have each month to use as a mortgage overpayment. It then deducts that amount and holds it in your Sprive account. You can then review the amount and choose how much to pay to your lender, or to withdraw back into your account.
Spruce will connect to a number of the larger banks (for current accounts) and lenders (for mortgages). The banks are currently:
Barclays, Danske Bank, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, M&S, Monzo, Nationwide, Natwest, Revolut, RBS, Santander, Bank of Scotland, Starling, Tesco, TSB, Ulster Bank
If you have a current account with one of these, this means you can link up your account and use all of the app’s functionality to analyse your spending and transfer spare money.
The lenders they support are:
Accord, Nationwide, HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays, Santander, RBS, Virgin Money, Halifax, Natwest, Yorkshire Building Society, and TSB Bank.
So, if you have a mortgage with one of these, then you can make overpayments through the app.
So, what’s good about Sprive?
- Easy sign up and connection process: Signing up, and adding your bank and mortgage accounts is a ridiculously quick and easy process. Just by putting in my address and one of my mortgage providers, Sprive instantly found both of my mortgage details. Without needing to contact my mortgage provider, or wait, they also had records of the mortgage reference that my provider has told me before that I need to put on payments for them to process it correctly. You also don’t need to scan in any ID documents to get set up – it really is easy.
- Innovative technology to identify how much you can save: As it uses AI to figure out how much you can put aside, it saves you the work of figuring out your budget in advance or reconciling it if you’ve had unforeseen expenses. You also still have the control of being able to set a range for the overpayments AND checking the amount before it actually goes to the lender. You can also easily turn off this auto-save feature and just manually top up.
- House valuation features: When you sign up and visit the section “Your Home Ownership Journey” on the dashboard you will see an estimated home value pre-populated. The figure was uncannily similar to the figure that my bank seem to have on file. Sprive say they get their estimates from “lender-grade data”, including Right Move. The other feature I like in this section is the fact that you can edit your house value, meaning that you can track either:
- the percentage of your original loan that you’ve paid off;
- the percentage you’ve paid off against the original house price (including the original deposit); or
- the percentage of equity you own compared to the current value. This last option is useful as it shows you what type of mortgages you are now eligible for (in terms of loan-to-value ratio). I chose to track how much I’ve paid off based on the original cost of the house, as I can see progress more quickly that way.
- Cashback at retailers: A newer feature of Sprive, added in late 2022, is that you can get cashback at certain retailers by topping up your Sprive balance and using the code at the retailer’s checkout. For example, you can get 5.4% cashback at Marks and Spencers, which is more than the standard amount available through some other sites such as Top Cashback.
And what’s not so good about Sprive?
- Time lag on actual balances: The balance Sprive was showing for my mortgage was about a month out of date. This was due to the fact that the app takes the balance from Equifax credit report, which can take up to 6 weeks to update. For me this slightly defeats the point of having a separate app to track your balance and the percentage you own, particularly if you already have online access to your mortgage balance.
- Lack of clarity on process for existing overpayers: The process for people who are already overpaying their mortgage could be slightly clearer. Sprive do make it clear that you need to contact the provider yourself to ensure that any overpayments go towards shortening the loan (as opposed to reducing the monthly payment). They also say that you only need to do this once, which I assumed means that if you’ve already done this before, you shouldn’t need to do this again when signing up to Sprive, but it wasn’t clear in the app.
- Minimum limits on how much you can transfer at a time: The minimum limit for a transfer is £25. While this is a relatively small amount compared to most monthly mortgage bills, in the “mortgage free wannabe” and “debt-free” community there are many people who enjoy making frequent ad-hoc “snowflake” overpayments whenever they have a bit of spare money. I’m not sure these people would enjoy using the app so much, as they’d need to wait a bit longer before sending money to the mortgage.
- The list of banks and lenders they support: I realise that most people would find their bank and lender on the list that are supported, so for them this would be a positive point. Unfortunately, the bank I use for my current account, Triodos, are not on the list, so I can’t really use the app as intended. So, as I’m writing this post, I’m counting this as a negative! They do however connect with the bank that I have my mortgage with, so I can still manually overpay through them, or overpay using the proceeds from their cash back function.
On balance, would I recommend downloading and signing up to Sprive?
I would definitely recommend downloading and signing up to Sprive IF:
- You are motivated by overpaying your mortgage and are keen to use the auto-save technology to maximise how much you are putting towards this goal
- You want to be able to easily track things like: the amount of overpayments you are making; your loan to value ratio; how much time and interest you have saved from overpaying.
- You are happy to spend a few minutes signing up to an app to have a snoop around and get £5 back for the privilege.
- You want to access a lender-grade estimate for your house value.
I would not recommend Sprive if the fact that there is a (potentially long) time lag to seeing your current mortgage balance really bothers you, or if your bank and/or lender are not supported.
- You want to use the cashback function at a retailer which offers a better cashback rate at Sprive than other through other cashback services.
Overall I’m impressed with Sprive and think it’s a handy addition to the personal finance scene. For me personally, they would need to support my bank for me to start using it as my main way of overpaying my mortgage.
Sign up bonus
If, after reading this, you are interested in signing up to Sprive, you can get a £5 sign up bonus if you enter a referral code from somebody who already has an account.
My referral code is: CD3IT2IH so if you have found this post helpful I’d appreciate it if you entered this code. I’ll definitely use any proceeds towards overpaying my mortgage! I should receive £25 for every 3 people who sign up, but I hope it’s clear from the post that I am transparent about the drawbacks of Sprive and the fact that I don’t think it’s for everybody (although I would say it’s worth joining to find that out for yourself, given that there is a bonus).
The bonus is paid as soon as your account is topped up by a minimum of £25, after which you can either withdraw all of the money, or send it to your mortgage provider as an overpayment.