Monzo Bank Review
What is Monzo?
Monzo, the self-proclaimed ‘bank of the future’, is part of a new, progressive alternative to traditional financial management – it is one of the best bank accounts for digital-only banking in the UK today.
They were founded in 2015 and have been offering current accounts to the British public since attaining a UK banking license in 2017. Based in London, Monzo pride themselves on their customer service and were crowned ‘Best Bank for Customer Service’ by Which? In 2018, and recognised for having the ‘Best Banking App’ in 2019.
Products – What they have to offer
At the time of writing (November 2019), Monzo is only available for personal banking, with individual and joint accounts both available.
Monzo current account
Setting up a current account with Monzo is incredibly straight forward and can offer you access to a range of features.
To set up a Monzo current account, you will need to:
- Download the Monzo app
- Upload a picture of valid ID (Passport, Driving Licence etc.) when prompted
- Record a video of yourself, stating your name and that you’d like a Monzo account.
After completing these steps, you will be ready to start banking with Monzo.
When setting up a Monzo current account:
- 3% of customers gain access to mobile banking on the same day, meaning you can use e-wallet services and shop online before your debit card arrives.
- Customers receive their debit card, on average, within 7 days.
- All customers can apply for an overdraft immediately after opening an account.
The benefits of holding a Monzo bank account include, but are not limited to:
- Access to helpful budgeting tools
- An overview of your account, stating where and when you are spending the most money
- Instant access to bank statements
- Instant notifications when money leaves, or comes into, your account
Monzo accounts can also be set up for those aged between 16 and 17, but spending on services such as gambling, massage parlours and dating services are blocked. There is no block on age-restricted items such as alcohol, as this would require a total ban on establishments such as supermarkets and restaurants.
Monzo joint account
Setting up a Monzo joint account is just as easy as setting up your own current account. To start with, make sure that:
- The person you are joining with also has a Monzo current account
- You have ‘Payments with Friends’ switched on – this can be found in the apps’ settings
- You know the other person really well – their actions could have a negative effect on your credit score and any money in the account is legally split 50/50, no matter who contributes more
After setting up a joint account, the other person will be sent an invitation to accept on the app. If they accept, you will be ready to start making payments both to and from your new joint account. You will also get access to:
- A new Monzo joint account debit card each, which will be easily distinguishable from your current account card
- Access to your transaction feed, where it will be clearly stated who has made each transaction
The balance and transaction history of both your Monzo personal and joint accounts can be viewed online, but anything more than that must be done through the Monzo smartphone app:
Check your balance/transaction history:
Send money (within or outside the UK):
Set up a standing order:
Pay in a cheque:
Pay in cash:
Monzo cheques – How to cash in a cheque with Monzo
To cash in a cheque, you will have to:
- Write your account number in the top-left corner
- Post it in an envelope addressed to ‘FREEPOST MONZO’ – You will not need a stamp
For extra security, you can also send cheques via trackable post to the same address. You should take a picture of the front and back of the cheque as backup.
Monzo cash – How to pay cash into your Monzo account
To deposit cash into your Monzo account, you will have to:
- Visit any store that displays the ‘PayPoint’ logo – A lot of people use PayPoint to pay their TV licence or electricity bills, so most corner and convenience stores in the UK have this.
- Hand over your cash and Monzo card.
- Reclaim your card, with a receipt, and you’ll be sent a notification to your smartphone confirming the deposit.
- Allow for up to 10 minutes for the cash to be paid into your account.
Note: All cash deposits will be charged at the rate of £1 - this covers the fees charged to Monzo by PayPoint.
Monzo International Payments
Monzo work with TransferWise to manage their international payments, offering lower fees than most traditional banks.
At the time of writing, you can safely transfer money out of your Monzo account to most popular foreign countries, but receiving payments from abroad isn’t as secure as of yet.
To receive funds from abroad, you will need to generate an IBAN by using an IBAN generator. This will provide you with a unique identifier, which you then share with whoever is sending you money from abroad.
This is the only way to make payments internationally with Monzo at the moment, but it is not very reliable. Some payments have taken days to go through, while some have never reached their intended destination at all.
Switching to Monzo
If you’re looking to switch bank accounts, switching to Monzo is easy thanks to The Current Account Switch Service. Just enter the details of your old account and a date that you’d like to switch and the rest will be done for you.
The Current Account Switch Service is used by most reputable banks in the UK and will transfer all of your money, Direct Debits, and future payments to your Monzo account, closing your old account in the process.
As you’d expect with Monzo, they do not offer savings accounts in the same way as more traditional banks do.
Monzo Pots is a way to set money aside from your main account and can be set up in a matter of seconds, with an infinite amount of saving opportunities.
You can customise your pots to set goals or add a picture or note to discourage you from dipping into your savings now and again.
Monzo interest rates
Monzo works with other UK banks like Shawbrook, OakNorth and Investec to offer interest rates on their savings ‘pots’. Their best savings accounts for earning interest are their Flexible Savings Pot, Flexible ISA and Fixed Savings Pot, while their Regular Pot savings account doesn’t earn any interest.
Easy Access Pot
- This type of pot is ideal for people who want to save for short-term goals like a weekend trip away or a new coat.
- Requires a minimum deposit of £500.
- Withdraw the next working day (£10 minimum).
- Interest (AER): Shawbrook (1.15%), Paragon (1.10%), OakNorth (1.00%).
Easy Access ISA
- Tax-free interest
- Withdraw funds the next working day.
- You need £500 to open one.
- Tax-free interest (AER): 1.10% (OakNorth), 1.15% with Shawbrook
Fixed Savings Pot
- This pot helps you save for more long-term goals, such as a wedding or buying a home.
- Withdraw funds in 6 or 12 months.
- Can't add or withdraw funds until your selected term is completed
- You need a minimum of £500 to open this pot.
- Interest (AER): Investec (1.34%), Charter Savings Bank 6 (1.30%), OakNorth 12 (1.16%), OakNorth 6 (1.05%).
Regular Savings Pot
- Add and withdraw funds instantly
- Any amount of money
- No interest available
One of Monzo’s main downfalls is that it does not have a wide range of savings accounts and ISAs. For example, popular options such as the Help to Buy ISA and children’s savings accounts are not available.
Monzo Coin Jar
One of the more popular ways of saving with Monzo is by setting up a ‘coin jar’. This takes every purchase you make over £1 and rounds it up to the nearest pound, putting the extra into your savings pot.
IFTTT – If This Then That
IFTTT (an acronym for If This Then That) is an app which allows users to create and use chains of simple commands (known as applets) within supporting applications.
Monzo is one of those supporting applications, and can be used alongside IFTTT to create some seriously wacky savings pots.
- Use IFTTT to tell Monzo to move £5 into your savings pot whenever it rains, or
- Use IFTTT to tell Monzo to move £1 into your savings pot for every mile you cycle
You can create these rules yourself on IFTTT or simply use the ones that others have created. You can even use it to send yourself a reminder to drink water a couple of hours after buying a coffee, or to impose a fast-food tax on yourself – with the extra money going into your holiday fund.
Monzo savings: Pros and cons
- Customisable savings pots
- Round up your transactions with coin jar
- Quirky savings opportunities with IFTTT
- Need a minimum of £500 to start earning interest
- No option for children savings
- Limited variety of savings and ISAs
Every Monzo customer is entitled to an overdraft of up to £1,000 from the minute their account is set up.
There are no fees on overdrafts below £20, with charges of 50p/day for anything above that.
As with any other bank, overdraft availability is subject to acceptance.
- It is FREE to have an overdraft of between £0.01 and £20
- An overdraft of between £20.01 and £1,000 has a 50p fee per day
Spending abroad with Monzo
Monzo is one of the best debit cards to use abroad.
You can use your Monzo card abroad for free, with the Monzo exchange rate matching the one offered by Mastercard.
Your card will work in any establishment that accepts Mastercard – as well as any ATM – and all of your spending will be translated back to pounds on the app.
When getting cash out at an ATM, be sure to select the local currency and not pounds, as some will charge their own exchange rate.
You are entitled to up to £200 in cash from an ATM, free of charge, every 30 days. You will be charged at a rate of 3% on anything over £200 – your withdrawal limits can be checked on the Monzo app.
You do not need to inform Monzo that you plan on taking your card abroad in advance and the app will send you a notification informing you of the exchange rate in your destination country when you arrive – it will also tell you how much you spent, in pounds, when you arrive home.
To check the Mastercard exchange rate, use Mastercard’s currency converter.
Online banking - customer experience
- View the balance of your accounts
- Useful blog posts/forum
- Can't be used to manage your finances
Most of Monzo’s banking features cannot be accessed by using their website and are exclusive only to their smartphone app. You are limited to viewing your balance and transaction history for any current or joint account.
This has come as a source of frustration for some customers, who have been unable to transfer money to other accounts when left without their smartphone.
Their website does, however, contain a lot of useful information on how Monzo works, which is handy for such a revolutionary style of banking.
They also have a forum which is used consistently by other Monzo customers and is a great source of information on just about everything, both financial and non-financial. Posts made to the forum by Monzo employees are clearly distinguishable from those made by customers, so it is easy to see whether the information that you’re reading is reliable or not.
Overall, the Monzo website is quite poor and lacks several important features – the main one being the capability to make payments and set up standing orders.
Monzo smartphone app
- Clean design
- Summarise your finances
- Set budgets
- Instantly freeze your card if it's missing
- Split bills with others
- Chat with Monzo advisors
- At the time of writing (Nov 2019), we couldn't find any cons with Monzo's smartphone app!
The Monzo smartphone app won the award for ‘Best Banking App’ in 2019, which is a good job seeing as it is your only way of managing your finances!
The Monzo app’s home screen offers you a brief overview of your recent transaction history. It’ll show you your account balance, how much you have spent today, and all your recent transactions. It also offers a ‘search’ function so you can search for specific transactions.
The Monzo app also has a ‘summary’ page, which uses your payment history to calculate how you’re faring financially this month.
For example, it’ll take a look at when and how much you get paid, how many recurring bills you have and how much you tend to spend on groceries and other essentials (and non-essentials!), so you can put the calculator away.
You can set budgets for particular categories, too, meaning you can give yourself a monthly budget on how much you want to spend on eating out, transport or entertainment. You can go over these budgets if you need to, but Monzo will let you know if you’re coming close to over-spending.
You can also view all of your committed spending – such as subscriptions and Direct Debits – in one place.
The ‘accounts’ tab at the bottom of the page will take you to all your accounts. It’s on this page that you can view your account number and sort code, report a missing card with the touch of a button and safely access your pin and card number using your phone’s face or touch ID recognition.
You can also view your savings pots – which you can customise with names, images and emojis – to see how close you are to affording that next trip away.
Under 'payments', you can make and request bank transfers as you would with a traditional bank, as well as see your most recent and frequent payees. There is also a handy option to split bills with others, allowing you to split payments or set up a shared tab with friends and family whether they hold a Monzo account or not.
Finally, the ‘help’ tab gives you access to a range of FAQs as well as direct access to a Monzo advisor on a chat service.
Check your credit score with Monzo
On February 24th 2020, Monzo announced that it would be adding a feature to its mobile app which would allow account holders to check their credit score.
In-line with its intention to make money management easier for everybody, the Monzo app will allow customers to view their up-to-date TransUnion credit score with just a few taps and no lengthy sign-up process.
At the time of writing, this feature has been announced for late March 2020, but will be rolled out slowly across the UK in the following months.
Monzo rewards – Extra benefits
Monzo offers a few extra benefits to their account holders, some of which come at an extra cost.
With Monzo, you are able to get £5 paid into your account – as well as your friend’s account – if you refer them to join the bank.
Monzo are also in the process of rolling out their premium membership, Monzo Plus.
This will allow you to:
- Purchase additional extras such as travel insurance or breakdown cover
- Access exclusive debit card colours: Midnight Sky and Lagoon Blue (standard is Hot Coral)
- Gain access to exclusive Monzo events
- Earn interest on your account balance
- Access alternative card materials – Monzo are looking to introduce metal cards in 2019
- Discounts and offers from selected retailers
- More features in the future
Monzo is currently charging £3 a month for 12 months for those who sign up to the Monzo Plus waiting list, but will be charging £6 a month in the future. Any extras – travel insurance etc. – will come at an extra cost.
Pros and cons of Monzo
- Excellent smartphone app
- No fees for spending abroad
- Easy to switch
- Award-winning customer service
- Fun ways to save
- Easy sign-up process
- Instant access to e-wallet services
- £400 daily withdrawal limit
- Limited options for savings accounts/ISAs
- No branches to visit
- Lack of features on website
- Smartphone is essential
- Can't reliably receive international payments
- £1 charge to pay cash into your account
If you’re tech-savvy and are looking for something a little bit different from your bank account, Monzo’s digital banking might be right up your street.
Its smartphone app is flawless and offers a huge range of features – particularly if you’re looking to incorporate IFTTT into your saving habits.
The customer service provided seems to be very good indeed and, for what it counts, there is a real ‘community feel’ among users on their website and forum.
If you’re looking for a decent long-term savings account then Monzo might not be your best choice given that options are scarce, but for short-term savings, their options are okay.
The Monzo website is a bit of a let down given its lack of features, but this is more than made up for by their smartphone app.
Authorised customer review websites such as Trustpilot are a good way of understanding the level of service you can come to expect from your bank.
From over 2,500 reviews, 80% of users told Trustpilot that they thought Monzo was ‘excellent’, giving them an average of 4 stars out of 5.
Nearly all of the positive reviews on Monzo mention their ‘responsive and helpful’ customer service, while many also give praise as to how easy the smartphone app is to use. Customers also seem pleased with how frequently new features are introduced and how quickly they were able to set up their account.
On the other hand, 13% of customers rated Monzo as ‘bad’, with many suggesting that their customer service is not so great when encountering issues with your account. One customer discusses how they were not taken seriously when reporting a fraudulent transaction, while some claim that their accounts were frozen without warning or reason.
It is important to remember that all financial service providers are likely to encounter issues from time to time, so it is better to look at average ratings than individual ones.
Ratings (out of 5):
Look at various review sites and sum up people’s experiences, both good and bad, for a fair (as possible) summary.
Monzo contact information
There are a number of ways to get in touch with a Monzo advisor. These include:
- Phone: 0800 802 1281 or +44 20 3872 0620 from abroad.
- Twitter: @Monzo
- Facebook Messenger: MonzoBank
- Smartphone App
- Email: [email protected]
If you’ve found this Monzo review helpful, or you’d like to compare bank accounts like Monzo with some of the other best UK banks, we have a range of other reviews similar to this Barclays bank review. Just visit our Bank reviews page to see more.
*Rates correct as of January 2020