PensionBee wins this hands down. It’s much easier to get started and open a pension. It’s all on your phone too. They’ll handle everything for you, it’s cheaper and the customer service is much better. PensionBee is our winner.
Looking to save for retirement? Great decision! Let’s take a look at PensionBee vs Aviva and see which is the best option for you.
Just to be clear, we’re comparing their personal pension (also called a Self-Invested Personal Pension, or SIPP). That’s one you open yourself, rather than your employer, which is called a workplace pension.
It’s a great idea to open a personal pension even if you have a workplace pension as you’ll benefit from a massive 25% bonus on everything you put in (it’s free money), and everything you save is tax-free!
We’ll run through more details of personal pensions later, but first let’s compare PensionBee and Aviva. If you're keen to learn more about personal pensions and find the best for you, here’s the best personal pension providers.
PensionBee wins hands down
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When it comes to ease of use, there’s a very clear winner! PensionBee.
PensionBee is all handled on your phone, on both Apple and Android phones. Rated 4.7 out of 5 on Apple and 5 stars on Google Play store!
It's super easy to get started, and only takes a few minutes, you pick which option you’d like, and they’ll handle everything for you. You can then view your pension portfolio whenever you like (how much you have in your pension).
Their experts can also track down any old pensions you might have and transfer them over. Plus with the app it will show you much you’ll have when you retire, and if you want to, it’s super easy to add one-off payments or set up a monthly payment.
With Aviva, it’s a lot more complicated. It’s a big old-fashioned company after all. You’ll need to head to their website and navigate a lot of financial jargon to get started. In fact, if you’re trying to transfer a pension you might as well forget it!
If you succeed in doing this, you will then need to try and navigate through which ‘ready-made portfolio’ you want (that’s where your money is invested), or the thousands of funds to choose from, and the risk levels (how much of your money you want to risk for potentially more money in the future). It’s all pretty complicated. We’ll cover these options below under investment options.
To summarise quickly, Aviva is a provider more suited to workplace pensions rather than setting up your own personal pension – where your employer handles everything directly with Aviva.
PensionBee is designed for everyday people to easily and quickly set up a pension yourself, and their experts do everything for you behind the scenes.
PensionBee vs Aviva: costs
Costs are always interesting when it comes to pensions, they’re super important as your pension is growing for many years, so the fees can have a big impact. However, they are normally pretty hidden, and if you have a pension through work I bet you have no idea how much it costs you.
PensionBee is low cost. It starts at 0.50% of your pension balance per year, and that’s the total cost, so all you’ll pay. They make pricing simple and it’s just one easy to understand fee.
Some of the popular investment choices, such as ethical investments, are 0.75% (which is still low cost and helps save the planet!).
And if you’re lucky enough to have a pension over £100,000, the fee halves for anything over that. So the more you save, the cheaper the fees get. For example, if you had a pension of £250,000 you might only pay 0.35% per year in total.
With Aviva, you’ll pay a management fee per year, which starts at 0.40% and then reduces to 0.35% on anything you have saved over £50,000. You’ll then pay a fee for the investments within your pension, which are called fund fees.
The ‘ready-made’ portfolios, which are the closest comparison to PensionBee, have fund fees of 0.35% and 0.37% depending on which risk level you choose. And you would add this to the annual management fee. Which gives a total of 0.75% or 0.77%.
So, starting a pension with PensionBee you could pay 0.50% per year, however starting a pension with Aviva, you’re looking at 0.75%. It does all depend on exactly which investments you choose, but overall PensionBee is cheaper.
PensionBee vs Aviva: investment options
PensionBee is designed to be super simple, so they only offer a few options for you to choose from (chosen by their experts). There’s 7 in fact, but 95% of their customers choose one of just 3, which are:
Tracker - investments that just follow the economy (lower cost)
Tailored - experts manage the investments
Fossil Fuel Free - expert managed, and no businesses that harm the environment
With Aviva, it’s designed to give you a lot more options, and is more suited to people who are happy to make their own investment decisions, so if you are a pro at investing, this might be for you.
You can choose from ‘ready-made funds’ which are similar to PensionBee, you just pick one, and you’re good to go. Or, you can pick from thousands of funds that exist in the market. You should only do this if you are confident with your choices.
Giving people the power to choose their own investments without any expertise can be a bad idea, but overall it is a good thing for those more confident and knowledgeable. Their experts have also put together a shortlist to make things a bit easier.
PensionBee vs Aviva: customer reviews
To get a good indication of the customer service, and if customers are happy, it's sensible to look at the customer reviews. To do this we’ll use the popular reviews website Trustpilot.
PensionBee has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 from over 8,000 reviews. That’s excellent! Most of the reviews talk about how easy and simple it is to use, along with great customer service – your very own expert will manage your account and they will reply to any questions you have quickly.
Aviva, also has a great rating of 4.5 out of 5, and from over 25,000 reviews. However, lots of these reviews are about insurance rather than pensions. When we looked at saving and investments reviews specifically, they complained about the customer service and being on hold for hours (we've all been there right? Not great!).
We’re going to give this one to PensionBee. They’ve got a better score overall, and they provide a dedicated account manager to help you with everything you need, plus you can chat to them whenever you like (during working hours), or you can simply send an email in. The customer service is great. Some of us here at Nuts About Money are also customers so can vouch for this!
Aviva only offers a call centre, where you can be on hold for hours, and there’s no easy way to get a quick response.
PensionBee vs Aviva: the winner
We’re giving this to PensionBee. It’s far better for many reasons.
It’s much easier to get started and use, it's all on your phone. There's just a few simple options to choose and you're good to go. With a few clicks, they'll also track down any old pensions you have and move them across too if you want.
It’s also cheaper overall (if you compare PensionBee pension options to Aviva’s ready-made portfolios). And it gets even cheaper the more money you save.
If you’re looking to manage your own investments, Aviva has lots more options. However, this might not be wise unless you know what you are doing.
But if you want the choice and flexibility there's lots of better pension providers out there than Aviva who offer a huge range of investment options. Check out our best personal pension providers to learn more and find the best for you.
And when it comes to customer service, you can’t really beat PensionBee, you have a dedicated account manager who will sort any problems you have and their response time is fast. With Aviva, you’re stuck on hold for ages to a call centre – pretty old fashioned these days!
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