We’re comparing two very popular digital banks that operate in the UK market. Monese vs Monzo is a battle of similar proportions, to be honest as they both offer free, middle and premium personal account, business accounts, and joint accounts. Before we dive in, here’s our short verdict:

From these two strong contenders, Monzo takes the cake. It offers a more mature financial product as it’s a fully-fledged bank. For the same reason, Monese is missing some banking features like overdraft and deposit insurance because it’s not a bank. Its issues with blocking users’ accounts and worse customer support don’t help its case as well. 

monese vs monzo infographic

monese
  • Apply online in minutes
  • Available in the EEA countries
  • Monese Simple, Monese Classic, Monese Premium
  • Faster Payments network
  • Saving pots
  • Business account
  • Joint account
  • No need for an address to open an account
  • Read our full Monese review.
monzo
  • Apply online in minutes
  • Available only in the UK (and soon USA)
  • Monzo Free, Monzo Plus, Monzo Premium
  • Business account
  • Joint account
  • 16-17 account
  • Overdrafts and loans
  • Energy switching
  • Bill splitting
  • Metal card
  • Read our full Monzo review. 

Monese is well-known for having an account that is easy to open as you don’t need any proof of address. Estonian founder Norris Koppel had difficulties opening a bank account in the UK and that is what led the Estonian to launch the product in 2015. 

It must have resonated with a lot of people as the company has well over 2 million users across Europe. Users can get three currency accounts – main GBP and additional acounts in EUR and RON at no extra cost.

Monzo was also founded in 2015 after the founders left Starling Bank to develop a new and competing digital bank. It was a success as they now how more than 4 million customers and are expanding to the United States. They offer a cool metal card, overdrafts and loans, travel insurance and other things. 

Fees

Monese Premium (£14.95/m)

  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals and cash top-ups
  • Fee-free foreign currency card spending
  • Free foreign currency transfers

Monzo Premium (£15/m)

  • No ATM fees at home
  • No-fee ATM withdrawals abroad up to £600/m, then 3%
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange
  • 39% EAR (variable) interest rate on overdrafts
  • International transfers handled through Wise

We compared their premium accounts here and both offer a mostly fee-free service apart from the monthly subscription that is similarly priced. 

Security

Both Monese and Monzo have top-notch security features that make your banking transactions and payments safe and secure, no matter if you do them online or in-store.

Fingerprint and facial recognition are staples by now and both companies offer them as ways to log in to your account. I have to say that it’s shocking that my high street bank still doesn’t offer this for their banking app even after it got a facelift. 

3D Secure makes your payments safer while instant freezing of your card, as well as real-time spending notifications that notify you whenever there’s something happening on your account make it easy to stay safe.

For folks that are still wary of paying online, virtual cards that enable you to pay without using your physical card are a godsend. 

Let’s talk about how secure your deposit is with digital banks as they can be differently regulated.

With Monzo, your deposits are insured and protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). That means that if Monzo went bust, you’d get all your money up to £85,000 back. If deposits or savings are in a joint account the total of FSCS protection doubles to £170,000. This protection is automatic and free.

Monzo has their deposits insured because they’re a fully-fledged bank, although without physical branches. Monese on the other hand is an e-money institution and their (your) deposits aren’t insured by a government scheme such as FSCS. 

They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and they have to follow Electronic Money Regulations that entail that they have to keep your deposits in a separate bank account, often in a reputable high street bank. That ensures that you get paid back if Monese goes under. 

Travelling

Monese Premium

  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals and cash top-ups
  • Fee-free foreign currency card spending
  • Free foreign currency transfers
  • Collect Avios points

Monzo Premium

  • No-fee currency exchange
  • No-fee ATM withdrawal up to £600/m
  • Free international spending
  • Worldwide travel insurance
  • Discounted airport lounge access

Many people get a mobile bank account exclusively for travelling but then they start using it at home as well. I was one of those people. 

Both Monese and Monzo offer a lot for travellers, especially in their premium versions. 

Nearly no fees and free international spending do sound great. Monzo even went a step further and is offering travel insurance for you and your family and a discounted airport lounge access. If you’re a frequent traveller, £15 per month doesn’t sound like much in this case. 

Monese went the other route and is offering its users to collect Avios points when they shop at certain stores. You can spend your Avios points on flights, hotel bookings, and travel experiences. To track your Avios, connect your British Airways Executive Club or Vueling Club account.

There’s also nothing worse than being afraid while on holidays of dreaded fees that we’ll see on the bank statement when we come home. For this reason, both companies are offering fee-free ATM withdrawals (Monzo up to £600), and free spending with your card while abroad.

Saving

Let’s start with Monese. Their only option for saving money is saving pots. They’re dedicated spaces to put money aside in one of the three currencies – GBP, EUR, or RON. Monese’s saving pots do not get you any interest on your savings so that’s a drawback. 

You can create up to 10 pots and set up recurring payments, round up change (and multiply it), or do one-off payments into the pot. 

They are partnering with Raisin through their Marketplace partnership to give people of the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Spain or the Netherlands the chance to open a savings account. 

Monzo on the other hand is offering regular pots and savings pots. Both can be topped up by one-off transfers, recurring transfers, or by rounding up change. They even have automatic savings triggers like a Rainy Day Pot that will get a fiver every time it gets hotter than 20 degrees. 

So what’s the difference between the two Monzo pots? Your deposits and regular pots earn interest of up to 1% AER up to £2,000 in the Monzo Plus account and 1.5% AER in the Monzo Premium account. 

Saving pots can earn you up to 0.35% (AER, fixed) interest but you’ll have to go through one of Monzo’s partners in the Marketplace. You can choose from easy access, easy access ISA, and fixed accounts. 

Business account

Monese

  • £9.95 per month
  • Free Personal Classic Account (worth £4.95/m)
  • Business Mastercard
  • Business pots
  • Free incoming international bank transfers
  • 0.5% foreign currency card spending
  • Generate invoices from the app

Monzo

  • Free or £5/m
  • Business Mastercard
  • Invoicing
  • Tax pots
  • Multi-user access
  • Mobile and web access
  • Digital receipts
  • Fee-free spending abroad

Although Monese personal accounts are available all over Europe, their business account is only for UK-registered businesses. Sole traders and freelancers aren’t eligible as well.

Monzo welcomes both sole traders and businesses that are based in the UK. There are some limitations though, so make sure to check out the eligibility page

Both companies require you to have an existing personal account with them. But in the case of Monese, their Classic account should be free thereafter. 

Monzo is offering a slew of features with their business account, especially their Pro account that is only £5 per month. It includes invoicing and accounting features as well as 6 months of Xero for free. To make it easier for business owners or managers, there is mobile and desktop access.

Savings pots and tax pots make it easy to segregate money for various reasons, while digital receipts and budgeting and categorised spending will make your accountant happy.

There’s, unfortunately, no cheque scanning but you can send it to them for free. To top up your account with cash costs £1 up to £1,000 every 6 months. £1,000 figure is really low in our opinion.

Monese business account is hassle-free and easy to open. Both Monese and Monzo offer a desktop platform and not just the app, which can be awkward when you’re running a business. Although, the Monese desktop is a bit rudimentary allowing you to check balances, browse transactions, and download statements. 

Monese will net you a free Mastercard and a free first time replacement. You also get 6 free ATM withdrawals per month and the ability to top up your business account at Post Offices and PayPoints for £1 and 2.5% respectively. 

All in all, both business accounts are capable and offer a lot to a modern business. 

Joint account

Monese

  • Up to €/£ 200 per month free global ATM withdrawals
  • Up to €/£ 2,000 per month foreign currency card spending
  • Free and instant transfers to other Monese accounts

Monzo

  • Fee-free UK bank transfers
  • No ATM fees at home
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange

You can open a Monese joint account with someone as long as each of you has a GBP or EUR currency Monese account. As for Monzo, you’ll have to make sure you have your account co-owner’s details saved in your contacts, and that you have Payments with Friends switched on in your app settings.

Both Monzo and Monese joint accounts act almost identical to your regular account. Most fees stay the same and some limits are higher for joint accounts. 

All the other features transfer to joint accounts as well. So, you’ll be able to see instant notifications when someone makes a transaction, you’ll also see the transaction feed and will be able to transfer money into saving pots to save faster together. 

The good news is that both partners in a joint account will get new joint account cards that you can use just like your regular card.

Who can benefit from making a joint account? It’s great for anyone that wants to share money and/or expenses with a friend, spouse, parent, or housemate. The free account lets you spend, save and manage your money, all in one place. Setting up takes place in the app and demands mere minutes of your time.

Customer service

Let’s start with Monese as they’re in a pickle at the moment. Last year, the company had a rating of 4.3 on Trustpilot from 15,000 reviews. This year, at the time of writing this, they have only a 3.6-star rating from nearly 19,000 reviews! What a drop. A whopping 15% of users rate their service as bad.

Most of the bad reviews seem to mention getting their accounts blocked and not getting access to their money. This is coupled with unresponsive customer service, unfortunately. 

Monzo had similar issues with blocking their customers’ accounts but they seem to maintain their 4.5-star rating from 15.000 reviews with 11% of reviewers rating their service as bad.

The Verdict

It all came down to the last comparison where Monese doesn’t shine lately. Blocking so many customer accounts isn’t nice although it might be warranted, we simply don’t know. Maybe if they communicated it better, they wouldn’t be in this situation now.

Monzo on the other side has a well-rounded product that more than 4 million customers have chosen already. They were, and perhaps still are in a bad financial situation during the pandemic and they have their own difficulties blocking user accounts. In this comparison though, they are the winner and a better digital bank.