Founded in 2015, Monzo has established itself as a leading challenger bank, attracting many customers looking for simplicity in their day-to-day banking.
This UK-based, digital-only, fully regulated bank focuses on a user-centric approach, promoting ease of use, useful money management features, and low fees.
In this comprehensive review, I detail Monzo’s personal banking offering, examining its unique features, benefits, and how it compares to conventional banking options.
Monzo Current Account Review – My Verdict
When digital banking started challenging traditional banks, Monzo helped pave the way. The bank has since become one of the most user-friendly banking solutions on the market.
In my experience, Monzo remains one of the simplest and most user-focussed challengers, factors which are often overlooked in the traditional banking sector.
I also like Monzo’s emphasis on transparency. Unlike some traditional banks, where fees and terms can be opaque, Monzo makes a concerted effort to outline its practices clearly. This helps to foster a sense of trust, as users are not left guessing about potential hidden charges or complex terms and conditions.
Monzo has a relatively narrow range of credit card options. However, their Flex Card is worth considering for a simple, effective credit option. While it may not offer the diversity of rewards found with other banks, its simplicity and transparency make it a worthwhile option for many users, especially for punctual credits (unexpected expenses for example).
What really makes Monzo stand out is its low fees, even for overseas transactions. This makes it an excellent choice for frequent travellers or those dealing with international transactions. Where other banks may impose exorbitant charges for foreign transactions, Monzo keeps fees minimal.
Monzo’s Plus and Premium plans are affordable, bringing some attractive perks. From increased withdrawal limits to phone and travel insurance, these added benefits make the small monthly investment worthwhile.
However, there is still room for improvement. While not egregiously poor, their customer support interactions raise criticism. Waiting times can sometimes be longer than expected, and although the support staff are generally knowledgeable and eager to help, the overall experience could be more seamless and responsive.
Pros & Cons of the Monzo Personal Account
- Simplicity – Monzo’s user-friendly app is intuitive to navigate, enabling account holders to easily check balances, make payments, or set up savings pots.
- Real-time Notifications – This real-time feedback is valuable for tracking spending and promptly identifying unauthorised transactions.
- Spending Analysis – Monzo categorises your spending automatically, letting you keep tabs on where your money goes each month.
- Fee-free Spending Abroad – Monzo doesn’t charge fees for overseas card transactions or ATM withdrawals (although a limit applies to withdrawals).
- Innovative Features: – Examples include salary sorter and bill splitting, which help users manage their income and shared expenses more effectively.
- Limited Physical Presence: – Being a digital-first bank, Monzo lacks physical branches.
- Customer Service Concerns – Some users have reported long wait times to speak with a customer service representative.
- Depositing Cash and Cheques – Cash deposits are limited to £1.000 every six months. As for cheques, they need to be sent by post.
A Brief History of Monzo
Monzo, established in 2015 in London, is a digital bank known for its mobile banking application. It was co-founded by Tom Blomfield, Jonas Huckestein, Jason Bates, Paul Rippon, and Gary Dolman.
2017 Monzo secured a full UK banking license, marking a significant transition in its operations. The platform is recognised for features such as instant spending notifications and card freeze capabilities.
By 2019, Monzo announced a user base of 2 million. With a focus on digital technology, Monzo remains an active player in the evolving banking sector.
Monzo is one of the fastest-growing challenger banks, with more than 7 million current active users.
Key Features of the Monzo Current Account
- Award-Winning Service – Voted Best British Bank in 2022 at the British Bank Awards.
- Rapid Account Opening – You can open a new account in 15 minutes.
- Unlimited Money Pots – Organise your money and savings and transfer directly from the app
- Other Accounts – Monzo Plus lets you link your other bank accounts to your Monzo and have a look at your entire finances.
- No Monthly Fees – Monzo’s account has no monthly fees plan, and the upgrades stay really affordable.
- Fully Digital Experience – The user-friendly Monzo app lets you access banking services anywhere, anytime.
- Instant Notifications – You will receive alerts whenever payments leave or enter your account, letting you keep track of your transactions in real-time.
- Money Management Tools – The app provides smart tools such as automatic payments, budgeting charts and instant saving pots with automatic transfer set-up.
- 24/7 Customer Support – The UK-based customer support team is accessible 24/7 directly via the app.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees – When you travel abroad, you can use your card and ATMs without incurring extra charges.
- Competitive Interest Rate: Earn up to 4.55% AER (Variable) on saving pots balances up to £100.000.
Who is Eligible for a Monzo Bank Account?
- Age Requirement: Applicants must be over 16 years of age.
- Residency Requirement: Applicants must reside at a UK address. It is important to note that you don’t necessarily have to be a UK tax resident to be eligible.
- Nationality: Monzo welcomes applications from all nationalities.
- Application Platform: You must download the Monzo app from the iOS app store, Google Play Store, or Huawei AppGallery to apply for an account.
- Credit Checks: Monzo will check quickly at a UK Credit Reference Agency when you apply for a current account. These initial checks leave a soft footprint on your credit file, which won’t be visible to other financial services companies or affect your credit score.
What Monzo Bank Accounts are Available?
Monzo Personal Account
The Personal Account is the standard account type offered by Monzo. It’s intended for individual use and aims to simplify everyday banking. With the Personal Account, you can send and receive money instantly, set budgets for various spending categories, and receive real-time notifications for your transactions.
International money transfers are possible through a partnership with TransferWise. An overdraft facility is also available, subject to approval.
Three plans are available for this personal account: Monzo Free, Monzo Plus (£5 p/m), and Monzo Premium (£15 p/m), each including additional features such as credit checkers, virtual cards, interest on savings or travel insurance.
Monzo Savings Accounts
Instant Access – This account provided directly by Monzo grants you access to a 3.40% AER (Variable) and lets you access your savings anytime. The interest is paid monthly, and there is no minimum deposit.
Easy Access – Provided by OakNorth, this account is targeted at short-term savings. With a minimum deposit of £10, you’ll receive a monthly 3.40% AER (Variable)
Fixed – Fixed Term Savings require you to lock your money away for a specified period, often yielding higher interest rates. Several Accounts are available, ranging from 2.75% AER (3-month term) to 4.55% AER (12-month term). The interest is paid at the end of the term, and the minimum deposit is £500.
Easy Access ISA – ISAs offer tax-free interest up to a certain limit set by the UK government. Monzo is partnered with Investec to provide a 3.05% AER account, paying monthly interest with a minimum deposit of £10.
Monzo Joint Account
This type of account is typically used by partners, housemates, or family members who wish to share the payment of regular bills, groceries, rent, or any other mutual costs. It’s a convenient solution for managing shared expenses and ensures transparency between the parties involved.
To open a joint account, both parties must have individual Monzo accounts. You then apply for a joint account through the Monzo app. Both parties must confirm the joint account creation to be successfully opened.
Once the joint account is set up, you can see all transactions in real-time, meaning both parties have an overview of what’s happening with the account at any given moment. Each purchase made with the joint account debit card is instantly visible to both account holders in the app.
Like the personal Monzo account, the joint account also offers access to Monzo’s suite of budgeting tools. This includes features like “Spending Breakdown”, where you can see where your money is going each month, or “Pots”, which allow you to set money aside for specific purposes.
Monzo also offers a bill-splitting feature, which is incredibly handy for those unexpected expenses you must divide between the two of you.
If you’re moving from a different bank, Monzo offers a switching service that makes it easy to move all your payments and direct debits to your new joint account.
If you wish to close the joint account, both parties must agree and confirm the closure in the app.
Monzo for 16-17 Years Old
Monzo offers an account option for teenagers aged 16 or 17, allowing them to gain first-hand experience managing their finances in a safe and controlled manner. This account is similar to a standard Monzo account but with some age-appropriate restrictions in place.
Monzo makes it simple to open an account for a teenager. All they need is a valid proof of age and address. This can be done entirely through the Monzo app, without visiting a physical bank branch.
Teens receive their own Monzo debit card and have full access to the Monzo mobile app. They can set up direct debits, make bank transfers, and manage their money through the app.
The Monzo account for teens provides access to Monzo’s range of budgeting tools. This includes features like ‘Spending Breakdown’ and ‘Pots’ to help teens learn how to manage their finances effectively.
To safeguard young account holders, Monzo imposes certain payment and withdrawal limits on these accounts.
Considering the age group, Monzo does not offer these account holders the option of an overdraft or loans. This prevents them from getting into debt.
Monzo also provides a feature called Monzo. me, which allows friends and family to send money to the teen’s account easily. For instance, this can be especially useful for receiving pocket money or birthday gifts.
An aspect I find interesting is that Monzo doesn’t give parents or guardians any control over the teen’s account. The account is solely in the teenager’s name, which in my opinion, helps promote financial education and responsibility.
How to Open a Current, Joint, or Savings Account With Monzo?
Personal and 16-17 years old Accounts
- Download the Monzo app from the iOS App Store, Google Play Store, or Huawei AppGallery.
- You’ll need a valid photo ID (passport or driving license).
- Set aside approximately 15 minutes of your time to complete the application process.
- Once your application is complete, Monzo will send your debit card by post.
- Both parties need to have a Monzo personal account
- Open the joint account directly from the Monzo App (both parties need to agree to the opening)
- You need to have a Monzo personal account
- Go to the app and open a savings pot
- Choose the kind of pot you want to open, and it’ll be set up in a few seconds
Monzo Personal Account Fees and Charges
Here are the current fees for the Monzo personal and joint accounts.
|Account Maintenance||£0, £5 per month (Plus), £15 per month (Premium)|
|Direct Debit Payment (UK)||£0|
|Direct Debit Payment (Outside UK)||£0|
|Sending Money in the UK||£0|
|Sending Money Abroad||Provided by Wise (Depends on the Currency)|
|Receiving Money From Abroad||1% Currency Conversion Fee (capped at £1.000)|
|Issuing a Debit Card||£0|
|Cash Deposits||First Free, then £1 per Deposit|
|Cash Withdrawals (UK & EEA)||£0|
|Cash Withdrawals (Outside UK & EEA)||3% After the first £200 (Free), £400 (Plus), £600 (Premium)|
|Debit Card Payments||£0|
|Unarranged Overdraft||33.4% per annum (Capped at £15.50 per month)|
|Replacement Debit cards (UK)||First 2 Free, then £5 per card|
|Replacement Debit Cards||£30 fee plus £5 per card|
Is Monzo Safe to Use?
Fully Regulated – Monzo, like any legitimate bank, is regulated by the relevant financial authorities. In the case of Monzo, it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which provides a significant level of safety and security for its users.
FSCS Protected – Monzo is also covered by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), meaning customers’ money is protected up to £85,000 per person per institution if the bank fails. This is an essential safety net for users and offers a significant level of protection.
Identity Verification – To prevent identity fraud, the account application process requires you to share a government-issued identity document, such as a passport or a UK driving license. In addition, a short video of yourself is required to ensure the right person is setting the account up.
Mandatory Passcode and Password Protection – The bank mandates a per-device PIN code to secure your app. Biometric features such as fingerprints or facial recognition are also utilised where supported. A personal password is required to set up payees, authorise payments, and edit personal information in the app.
Real-Time Notifications and Card Controls – Monzo provides real-time notifications to keep you informed about transactions in your account. It also lets you control your card by enabling or disabling contactless and chip & pin payments, ATM withdrawals, online payments, and your mobile wallet. If you suspect your card might be lost or stolen, you can freeze or cancel it instantly.
Security Measures – On a technical level, Monzo uses various security measures to protect its users, including data encryption, secure customer authentication, biometric data (fingerprint or facial recognition) for app access, and real-time fraud detection.
Is Monzo’s Personal Account Good for Travelling and International Payments?
Monzo is one of the best choices available if you travel frequently.
No Transaction Fees – Monzo doesn’t charge you any fees when using your card to make payments abroad.
Cheap Withdrawals In the EEA – If you use Monzo as your main bank account or have Monzo Plus or Monzo Premium, withdrawals within the EEA come with no fee.
Affordable Withdrawals in the Rest of the World – Outside the UK and EEA, you have access to free monthly withdrawals of £200 (Monzo Free), £400 (Plus) or £600 (Premium).
Card Controls – If you lose your card, you can easily lock it within the app or order a new one to be sent to you, wherever you are.
Travel insurance – Monzo premium grants you access to WorldWide travel insurance for £15 a month. I believe this feature alone can justify subscribing to the service.
Does Monzo offer a Personal Overdraft?
The Monzo personal overdraft, available within seconds via the app, offers a real-time, comprehensive view of your finances at your fingertips. You will be able to adjust your limit, track usage, accrue interest, monitor real-time balance, and receive instant notifications and alerts.
Interest Rate – The rates offered are 19%, 29%, and 39% EAR (Equivalent Annual Rate) for arranged overdrafts, depending on various factors, including credit reference agency data.
Overdraft Limit – If you meet the requirements, you may be granted an overdraft limit of up to £2,000. However, I must insist not everyone will be eligible for this, as Monzo tends to provide individuals with a borrowing capacity that they are confident they can responsibly handle.
Control – At any time, you can modify your limit or terminate your overdraft through your app. If you decide to proceed, you must ensure that you repay the borrowed amount along with any accrued interest.
Additional Fees – Monzo does not charge additional fees on top of the interest paid for the overdraft.
Monzo provides an overdraft calculator on their website to plan your borrowing.
Does Monzo Give Credit Cards?
Monzo does not offer credit cards in the traditional sense, but recently released Monzo Flex, a virtual Mastercard allowing you to make purchases over 3 instalments interest-free or over 6 or 12 instalments at 24% APR Representative (Variable).
You can use this card online and in stores via ApplePay or GooglePay, without any contactless limit.
You can decide to flex payments up to 2 weeks prior, which adds a nice flexibility to your payments.
Monzo Flex is fee-free abroad, which is a nice addition.
What is the Monzo App Like?
When you open the Monzo app, you’re greeted with a colourful, intuitive interface that makes your daily banking operations easy. The home screen displays a summary of your account, pots’ balance, recent transactions, and monthly spending graph. It’s a clear, concise presentation that immediately displays the necessary information.
Every time you make a purchase, you receive an instant notification, which is automatically categorised, such as groceries, transportation, eating out, bills, and entertainment, allowing you to see where your money is going. If you wish to assign a different category or add notes to any transaction, it’s as simple as a few taps.
Another significant feature of the Monzo app is the “Pots” feature. Pots are essentially sub-accounts where you can allocate funds for specific purposes, like saving for a holiday, budgeting for monthly bills, or setting aside emergency funds.
You can even set up an automatic pot that will round up every transaction you make and set aside the difference. If you make frequent payments, this is an excellent way of saving money painlessly.
Monzo lets you create as many Pots as you like and move money between your main account and Pots instantly and without a fee.
The app’s budgeting tool sets spending limits for each category. If you’re approaching or exceeding your limit, the app will send you an alert, helping you stay on top of your spending habits.
The “Trends” feature provides a snapshot of your spending patterns, recurring bills, and predicted balance for the end of the month, making planning easier.
Monzo’s budgeting and analysis features are limited and made for day-to-day use. It is useful to track your small expenses but not so much to plan your budget over the years or to include a complex family budgeting for example.
Monzo Customer Reviews
According to Trustpilot, Monzo has a very positive reputation, with 26.884 reviews attesting to an overall excellent rating of 4.3 out of 5.
79% of reviewers gave Monzo 5 stars, with 12% giving a one-star rating. Positive reviews speak of ‘Great App’, ‘Easy and Straight Forward’ and ‘Easy to manage.’
Some of the one-star reviewers mention customer support issues on fraudulent transactions.
What are the Alternatives to Monzo?
|Monthly Cost (standard account)||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE|
|UK registered bank account||✅||✅||❌||❌||✅|
|Direct debits/Standing orders||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Fee-free spending abroad||✅||✅||✅||✅*||❌|
|Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad||✅*||✅||✅*||✅*||❌|
|Current account interest||❌||✅||❌||❌||❌|
Is Monzo Ethical?
As a digital bank, Monzo operates with a focus on transparency and customer service. They have adopted numerous practices that can be considered ethical, such as fair and transparent fee structures, quick responses to customer issues, and strong protection against fraud.
Can Monzo be Used Abroad?
Yes, Monzo can be used abroad. You can spend anywhere in the world that accepts Mastercard. Monzo also offers fee-free overseas spending and ATM withdrawals up to certain limits. You should check the latest terms and conditions for potential charges or limitations.
Is Monzo Only for UK Residents?
Monzo is primarily a UK-based bank, and you must be a UK resident to open a Monzo account. However, Monzo has expressed plans for expanding to other countries, so it’s worth checking their official website for the most recent information.
Does Monzo Charge for Cash Withdrawals?
Monzo allows free cash withdrawals from ATMs in the UK. However, for international withdrawals, there is a fee-free allowance (£200 per 30 days for the free plan), after which a 3% charge applies.
Can you Deposit Cash at Monzo?
Yes, you can deposit cash into your Monzo account. Monzo partners with PayPoint for cash deposits. There is a small £1 fee for this service, and you can deposit between £5 and £300 in one go and up to £1,000 every six months. For larger amounts, Monzo recommends getting in touch with their support team.