The Ultimate Monzo Review: Fees, International Transfers, and Monito's Verdict
Writing for Monito, Olivia is here to help users navigate the world of money transfer fees, exchange rates, and tips and tricks that help you make your best decisions.
Monito's Managing Editor, Byron has spent several years writing extensively about financial- and migration-related topics.
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Monzo is an excellent mobile bank (9/10) firmly recommended by Monito to UK customers looking for a very low-cost (9.8/10) alternative to traditional high-street banks. Not only is Monzo a fully licensed bank in the UK and offers credible service (8.3/10), but it also earns excellent feedback all-round from its customers (9.3/10), many of whom praise Monzo for its easy-to-use mobile app and flexible debit card (8.4/10).
What Monito Likes About Monzo
- Easy to set up and free to use;
- Handy in-app bill splitting feature that works instantly;
- Joint accounts can manage rent and bills;
- Smart features to manage your budget, instant mobile notifications, and a well-designed app.
What Monito Dislikes About Monzo
- Free withdrawals abroad are limited to £200 per 30 days;
- Only available in the UK and the US;
- Debit and credit card top-ups not supported.
One of the best-priced UK banks, we recommend Monzo if you're looking for an (almost) fee-free alternative to high-street banks and impressive offers for interest on savings, no foreign transaction fees, and overdraft facilities.
If you're looking for a Monzo alternative, we recommend Starling Bank, which also offers the best free account in the UK according to our rankings.
Watch Monito's Review Video About Monzo:
Coral red debit Mastercard
Bank transfer, cash
Best Banking App 2020 (British Bank Awards)
✅ Fun Fact
When Monzo was getting started in 2016, the company set the record for the fasted crowd-funding campaign in history after it raised £1 million in 96 seconds via Crowdcube.
Key Questions About Monzo Answered
Is Monzo Available in the United States?
In addition to its availability for residents of the United Kingdom, Monzo is now available to residents and citizens in the United States. The company announced in February of 2022 its full public launch of sign-ups in the United States.
Monzo powers its U.S. banking services in partnership with FDIC-insured Sutton Bank. However, Monzo does not yet have a full banking license in the United States. This means that its services will be limited compared to those offered in the United Kingdom. Monzo does not yet provide international transfers with Wise, savings on interest, overdrafts, or joint accounts to U.S. customers.
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How Monito Reviewed Monzo's Services
As with all services reviewed by Monito, Monzo underwent a rigorous evaluation to assess the quality of its service. To begin with, our experts analysed several key criteria, including customer reviews, the percentage cost of various transaction types, top-up options, access to customer service, as well as business and legal metrics such as revenue, appropriate authorisation, and company size. As with all Monito Scores, Monzo's score was peer-reviewed by at least one Monito expert.
Trust & Credibility
Licensed as a bank by the PRA and FCA in the UK, and deposits are FDIC protected.
Security & reliability
Accounts are fully secured using segregated user accounts and HTTPS and cards are 3-D Secure.
Over 5.5 million customers and nearly $150 million in annual revenue.
A full overview of pricing is relatively accessible and provides every fee as per the regulator-standard fee schedule.
Is Monzo Safe?
Yes, Monzo accounts are safe. Up to £85,000 of your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the bank were to close, you would automatically get compensated. Learn more about what the FSCS covers here.
Monzo has been reviewed and recommended as the best bank by Which.co.uk, and it also has an excellent rating (4.5/5 stars over 18,000 reviews) on Trustpilot. Monzo will require you to use your PIN each time that you move money and a 3D secure passcode text verification mechanism for online payments.
Monzo Eligibility and Required Documents
Monzo is available to residents and citizens of the UK. To sign up you will need at least one of the following:
- UK Passport;
- Driving licence (provisional is okay);
- National ID card;
- Biometric residency permit.
If you are looking for a UK bank account for non-residents, read our article on how to open a UK bank account for non-residents.
Service & Quality
Using the mobile app
Well-rated and slick user interface with many interesting features, including instant spending notifications and easy budgeting.
Managing the account
Overdraft, interest, and multiple top-up methods are supported, but only one currency is available (GBP).
FAQ and live chat are available on the standard plan, but phone support isn't available to all users.
Making card payments
Contactless, online payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and social payments are all supported.
Monzo's Product & Service Quality
Britain has one of the most competitive banking markets globally, with dozens of established and new banks vying for attention. Amongst the so-called "challenger banks," Monzo, with its distinctive coral pink cards, is hard to miss.
Monzo was founded in 2015 and has pinched more than one million customers from traditional players like Barclays and HSBC. What’s its secret? Simply put, Monzo offers an innovative and intuitive way to manage your money through its app while also having the guarantee of an FCA regulated bank.
As well as making payments, the Monzo App lets you choose and change your PIN and freeze your card if you lose it. But most valuable of all, you can manage your money with more precision, setting up saving and spending targets.
It also doesn’t hurt that it’s free.
Monzo is particularly attractive to newcomers to the UK as the bank does not require proof of address to open an account. Plus, Monzo now offers international transfers thanks to its partnership with Wise.
Monzo Current Accounts
Monzo is similar to a conventional bank, only for the fact that it's 100% online. This means that its current account is the same as the one you could find in a more conventional bank. As an account holder, you have an account number and a sort code.
Monzo also allows you to open a joint account. The latter has the same benefits as a current account, but you receive two debit cards for it, one for you, the other for your partner. You can switch from your account to the joint account within the app.
Note that every Monzo customer gets a free overdraft of up to £20. After that, it cost 50p per day overdrawn (fees capped at £15.50 per month) if you pass the credit check. You can check out the app if you're eligible for an overdraft.
Monzo App — Key Features
Monzo has a very user-friendly app, great to manage everyday spending. There are five tabs in the app: Home, Summary, Account, Payments and Help.
- “Home” displays the account balance and the amount of money spent on that day. All the expenses are listed chronologically, and you can tap on them to get more details such as the shop's address, payment history, receipt, and notes.
- “Summary” gives an overview of your monthly budget. The spendings are organised into twelve categories: General, Transport, Groceries, Eating Out, Personal Care, Bills, Finances, Entertainment, Expenses, Family, and Holidays.
- Every payment made with a Monzo account is automatically registered in one of these categories. It’s a great tool that makes budgeting easier. At the end of each month, you can see how much you spend on a single category or even in a single shop.
- The “Account” tab gives access to the bank account information (BIC, Sort Code, Account Number) and to the Monzo card features (pin, freeze, report stolen…). You can pair your card with a Google Pay account from here.
- The “Payments” tab is where you will find all the options to send or request money in the UK and internationally.
- Finally, the tab “Help” gives you access to the FAQ and customer service.
Monzo Interest and Savings Pots
Monzo has also implemented a Savings Marketplace, where you may save money with select UK banks that offer exceptionally high interest rates on savings deposits. While you may have to follow deposit minimums and withdrawal limits, you can earn over 1% interest.
Monzo's Savings Pots are equally impressive. You can set up to 10 savings pots, which help you budget for personal goals like a vacation or a new computer. With Monzo's Round-Up feature, you can round up each purchase you make to the nearest pound and deposit the difference into your savings. This allows you to passively save money even while you spend.
The Monzo Card
Thanks to its bright coral colour, the Monzo card has a very distinctive look.
The Monzo card is a free debit card that has all the advantages of a regular Mastercard. You can use it online, and it is widely accepted worldwide.
Because it is linked to the Monzo app, the card offers some extra perks. You can pick your PIN through the app, and you can even change it whenever you want – where a traditional high street bank would need you to go into a branch or spend ages on calling a hotline.
If you fear you’ve lost your card, you can freeze it and unfreeze it with a single tap. If your card has been stolen, you can also freeze it and order a new one in one instant.
Note that Monzo also offers free Mastercards for joint accounts.
Monzo International Transfers with Wise
Monzo has partnered with Wise to provide its users with affordable international money transfers. Its rates are the same as Wise’s, which you can compare to others by using Monito.
To send money abroad with Monzo, you need to select “International” in the Bank transfer section of the app (the route is Payments -> Pay -> Pay by bank transfer -> International).
If you have a Wise account, you can sign in; if you don’t, you can create one in a couple of minutes. Once the account is set up, making an international transfer is relatively easy.
First, you enter the name of the recipient and select the currency you want to use. Then, you put in the amount you wish to send, and the app instantaneously displays the exchange rate and the fees associated with the transfer. Finally, if you’re happy with it, you register the recipient's banking details and confirm the payment.
How Do I Open a Monzo Account?
To open an account with Monzo, you need a smartphone with an internet connection and proof of ID (passport, driving licence, National ID card or other government-issued photo ID). That’s it.
Download the Monzo app and then fill out the form straight from your phone. After a couple of days, you'll receive the distinctive coral pink MasterCard in the mail, free of charge.
Many people use Monzo as a secondary account alongside a current account. However, if you want to make Monzo your primary account, you can use their Switch service to transfer all your direct debits and bills from your old account straight to your Monzo.
Fees & Exchange Rates
Zero everyday costs such as monthly fees, transfer fees, and local ATM withdrawal fees.
Withdrawals are free but are only available up to a daily limit of £400 and a monthly limit of £5,500.
Ordinary online spending comes at no cost, neither in the default currency nor in a foreign currency.
No fees for spending abroad, although Mastercard's exchange rate can apply to foreign currency transactions.
Monzo's Fees & Exchange Rates
Like almost all high street banks, Monzo accounts and debit cards are mostly free to use in the UK. As of October 30, 2020, Monzo is introducing a 3% fee on UK ATM withdrawals that exceed £250 over a 30 days period. When abroad, you are allowed to withdraw up to £200 cash for free every 30 days. After that, there is a 3% fee on each withdrawal. Also, if you are in an overdraft, you will be charged 50p per day (and never exceeding £15.50 a month).
As of October 30, 2020, Monzo is also introducing a £5 fee to replace a lost Monzo card.
When travelling, you can use your Monzo card in any establishment that accepts Mastercard. Unlike many high street banks, Monzo does not charge you when you use its card to pay abroad, and there is no mark-up exchange rate.
Free cash withdrawals are limited to £200 per 30 days when using an ATM. After that, a 3% charge will be added to every withdrawal.
Monzo Transfer Fees
Monzo allows customers to use the app to send money domestically for free. For international transfers, Monzo has integrated with Wise, and uses their cost structure. The exchange rate applied on your transfer will always be the real mid-market exchange rate. This means that you will never lose money to sneaky exchange rate margins. Instead, Wise charges a low fixed fee per transfer, which you will always be able to see before sending any money abroad.
Monzo Premium Accounts
Like its competitors, Monzo has rolled out two premium accounts since 2019: Monzo Plus and Monzo Premium. Both of these are paying accounts that come with a set of exclusive features.
Monzo Plus came first onto the scene, rolling out in 2019, and costs £5 a month — with a minimum contract of three months. Aside from an exclusive holographic card design, it offers a set of features catering mainly to Monzo power users who want to make the most of the app to manage their money.
For example, subscribers can create custom categories for transactions and split a transaction between two categories. Monzo Plus also allows the use of virtual credit cards to make online spending easier and safer and an advanced rounding-up system to set some money aside with each transaction automatically. Subscribers are also able to see their credit scores in the app. They can also automatically export their financial data to Google Sheets, a boon to power users who like to budget with a spreadsheet.
On top of these features, Monzo Plus allows one free cash top-up per month within the UK through PayPoint's and free withdrawals abroad up to £400 a month. Monzo Plus also offers interest at 1.00% AER/Gross on up to £2,000 of your balance and saving pots, as well as several special offers with selected partners, like a 15% discount with online florist Patch or 20% with telemedicine specialist Babylon Health, all of which might somewhat offset the cost of its subscription.
Offered since 2020, Monzo Premium comprises all of Monzo Plus's features and adds even more for a hefty premium: it costs £15 a month, with a minimum contract duration of 6 months. Like Monzo Plus, it comes with an exclusive card design, this time an all-metal white card with an embossed logo.
Besides its headlining phone insurance plan — which includes accidental damages, loss and theft —, most of its exclusive features will appeal to frequent travellers: Monzo Premium comes with travel insurance, including health coverage abroad, as well as discounted airport lounge access and up to £600 in fee-free withdrawals abroad. Compared to Monzo Plus, it also offers a slightly higher 1.5% AER/Gross interest rate — though still limited to £2,000 — as well as up to five free cash deposits.
For a more in-depth look at Monzo Premium and how its features stack up to competitors, check out our review of Monzo Premium.
Customer review score
Average Trustpilot rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Number of positive reviews
Over 15,000 four- and five-star reviews.
Monzo Customer Satisfaction
Monzo has scored excellent reviews from customers overall, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars on the review platform Trustpilot. From about 18,100 reviews in total, over 15,000 gave Monzo four- or five-star ratings, indicating overall satisfaction with the product and service among users.