We reviewed Monese a couple of years ago, and now it is my turn to see what has changed (if anything) and to see whether Monese is still a viable option in regards to Revoult, N26, Bunq, Monzo, and Starling.
For that reason, I’ve been using the Monese app and card for half a year, and some of my colleagues have used it for the last three years. Here’s our experience.
Monese was launched in 2015 by founder Norris Koppel. He got the idea for a new type of bank due to the frustrations of opening a traditional bank account without having any UK credit history or proof of address.
It’s still a valid point for many traditional banks all around Europe and the world.
People without credit, those who’ve moved to a new location, folks without traditional jobs, or those that aren’t permanent residents can benefit from Monese’s more relaxed sign-up requirements.
Monese became one of the UK’s first all-digital challenger currency institutions in 2016.
And now, over two million people across 31 countries rely on Monese for their banking needs, with billions in transactions completed each year.
Who Can Open a Monese Account?
Anyone over 18 who lives in any of the 31 countries that comprise the European Economic Area and the UK.
You won’t need to provide a utility bill or physical address for verification purposes, but you will need to supply a mailing address to receive your MasterCard.
In the app, you can allow Monese to access your geolocation rather than inputting an address.
How to Open a Monese Account?
To complete the sign-up in the app, you’ll need to give your email address and phone number and have your ID document handy.
After that, simply record a quick video selfie in the app to verify your identity (it’s a legal requirement and a part of KYC).
The whole process took less than 10 minutes.
Monese Pros and Cons
|Has a free account||Unresponsive customer service to some|
|Sign up in minutes with no proof of address||No credit cards|
|Personal, business & joint accounts|
|Account in GBP, EUR, and RON|
|PayPal account integration|
- Monthly maintenance fees (except Simple)
- Card delivery (except Premium)
- 2% fee for ATM withdrawals after exceeding the monthly limit
- 3.5% fee for monthly cash top-ups at payment point locations (Simple)
- 2.5% fee (additional 1% fee on weekends) for international transfers (Simple)
- 0.3% for debit card top-ups (Simple)
|Account in GBP, EUR and/or RON||Account in GBP, EUR and/or RON||Account in GBP, EUR and/or RON|
|Multilingual customer support||Multilingual customer support||Multilingual customer support|
|Joint accounts||Joint accounts||Joint accounts|
|Money pots with round-up feature||Money pots with round-up feature||Money pots with round-up feature|
|€100 free monthly ATM withdrawals||€900/£500 free monthly ATM withdrawals||€2,500/£1,500 free monthly ATM withdrawals|
|All cash top-ups with a 3.5% fee||€400 free cash top-ups/m||€1,000 free cash top-ups/m|
|Standard card||Holographic card||Premium card|
|€/£4.95 first card delivery||€4.95/£0 first card delivery||Free first card delivery|
|Personal loans||Personal loans||Personal loans|
|Credit builder (UK)||Credit builder (UK)||Credit builder (UK)|
|International transfers: from 2% fee||International transfers: from 0.5% fee||International transfers: free|
|Priority customer support access|
As you can see, the three personal accounts have the same features, but the paid plans have lower fees, higher allowances, and better customer support (Premium plan).
Simple Plan (free)
You know how some digital banks offer free accounts, but they don’t have any features at all and don’t even come with a physical debit card (I’m looking at you bunq)?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that’s not the case with Monese.
You get a fully functioning spending account that has some limitations in terms of how many free ATM withdrawals you get per month (€/£100), how much international transfers cost (2%), how much card delivery costs (€/£4.95), how much cash top-ups cost (3.5%), and how much debit card top-ups cost (0.3%).
Apart from these, free and paid accounts have no other differences basically.
I think this is a much better commercial strategy for customers than pay walling most features. Then again, others might disagree with me.
Classic Plan (€/£5.95)
The Classic Plan is what I presume most people will choose.
It has generous limits for the above-mentioned actions.
For example, you get free card delivery, free debit card top-ups, €900/£500 free ATM withdrawals per month, €/£400/m cash top-up allowance, how much international transfers cost (from 0.5%), and free debit card top-ups.
In the UK, you also get purchase protection for up to £1,000 per claim, £2,500 per year, £40 per day for up to 30 days for hospital stay, and accident, sickness, and involuntary unemployment protection of up to £1,500.
To save money on this plan, I recommend getting billed €/£49.95 annually. This knocks down the monthly rate to only €/£4.16.
Premium Plan (€/£14.95)
The Premium Plan costs €/£9 more than Classic.
You must be getting some banger features and benefits for that, right? Well, as I already mentioned, the plans are pretty much the same. You only get higher limits and allowances.
I recommend this plan only if you’re a heavy user and need free international transfers, €2,500 (£1,500) free ATM withdrawals per month, up to €/£1,000 free cash top-ups, free debit card top-ups, and higher insurance payouts (in the UK only).
However, one thing that might tip the scale in favour of this plan is the priority customer support access.
If it’s anything like Revolut, this will completely change the attitude and speed of customer support representatives.
Monese offers joint accounts that are almost identical to regular accounts.
Most fees stay the same, and some limits are higher for joint accounts. You can share an account with a housemate, partner, or friend, but you can only have one joint account.
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.
If you have a single account already, simply invite someone to open a joint mobile money account with you.
Monese also offers business accounts, but only for UK-registered businesses. However, there was one major issue with them. Namely, new business account registrations are closed for the time being.
So, what do these business accounts have to offer? First of all, you must have a personal account to open a business one. You can use the same app, though. You simply switch between the accounts.
The company promises that the only two requirements are that you have a UK-registered business and an ID. No complex documentation, signing endless papers, or lengthy phone calls.
When you sign up for a business account, you also get a personal Classic account. Both for £9.95 per month. If you want to upgrade to a Premium personal account, you’ll have to pay an additional £9.95/month.
Some business account features include the ability to create invoices right in the app, cash top-ups at 40,000+ PayPoint or Post Office locations, international business debit card, free incoming international transfers, 10 pots for all your business’ saving goals, direct debits and free UK Faster Payments, free worldwide ATM withdrawals, and more.
Monese Mobile App
The Monese mobile app is fast and easy to use. You get the hang of it very quickly and you can set up your fingerprint to open it so you don’t have to remember the passcode.
I love that you can shake the phone to trigger privacy mode and keep your balance and transactions out of sight.
I could order the card in a few taps, and the same goes for adding a new account (joint, GBP, EUR, RON, business, and Avios).
The Avios integration lets you collect and track your Avios points and even shows you how to get more of them, if you need that feature.
You can also set a budget and spending goals and track your spending using additional Monese tools like the expense tracker and budgeting tools, and even get a PDF statement for a single transaction straight from the app.
Monese offers virtual cards and prepaid debit cards. You can also go cardless if you pay with Google or Apple Pay. This is actually my preferred way of paying for things – online and in-store.
Back to cards. Monese prepaid debit card is essentially a normal debit card. You can only spend the funds you have in your Monese balance.
If you suspect you lost your card or that it got stolen, you can easily lock it in the app, and unlock it if and when you find it again.
Additionally, you can add it to digital wallets, as well as PayPal. And lastly, you get free ATM withdrawals each month. The amount depends on your plan. Any withdrawals above the monthly allowance will cost you 2% of the withdrawal.
Although the free Simple plan might be a little skittish with only €/£100 free ATM withdrawals per month, Classic (€900/£500) and Premium (€2,500/£1,500), plans are much more generous.
How to top-up
You’d top-up your balance and card just like any other bank account – by getting a salary, moving funds from another bank account, getting transfers from other people, etc. Here’s a quick overview:
- Using other debit cards, you can send instant transfers straight to your debit card
- Request money from contacts or friends
- Receive money from bank transfers without fees
- Move money between Monese accounts for free
- Set up direct deposits with employers, so your salary goes directly into your Monese account balance
- Top-up your account with cash in any UK post office or one of over 40,000 PayPoint offices
It may take up to a day (not including weekends) before you see the funds in your account, and you will have to pay a fee for top-ups with cash.
Savings Pots are a common occurrence among digital banking accounts. In many ways, they are better than classic savings accounts. First of all, you can set aside as much money or as little as you want. You can also withdraw it whenever you wish (for better or worse).
Think of them as envelopes with each one, and you can have up to ten, holding funds for a different cause. Think, emergency fund, new phone, holiday, new shoes, etc.
And lastly, Monese has partnered with Raisin to bring you an interest-bearing savings account that’s available in the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.
I recommend putting savings on autopilot by setting up recurring payments to your pots and setting up any spare change to go into pots, too. You can multiply round-ups by ten to save money even faster.
Credit Builder (UK only)
A good credit score is vital if you want to borrow any larger sum from the bank. Any bank. For that reason, building up and keeping your credit score healthy is a way to futureproof yourself.
Young people don’t think about this stuff, and most of them don’t have credit cards, to begin with.
However, there is an easy, almost effortless way of building a healthy credit score. It’s called Credit Builder, and is available from Monese for their UK customers.
The Credit Builder program itself is basically a 12-month loan that you have to repay regularly. Each month you pay the loan on time, Monese will report it to credit agencies that keep track of the score.
The loan has 0% interest, but the CB program has a fee of £2.50 per month. This translates to a 9.10% APR based on a loan amount of £600. And, the best thing about it is you get to keep these repayments. So, it’s a win-win situation.
Is Monese Safe?
Monese is an e-money institution, and the deposits you keep with them aren’t insured by a government scheme such as FSCS or the European deposit insurance scheme.
The Financial Conduct Authority regulates them, 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.
For EEA customers, Monese is an electronic money institution authorised by the National Bank of Belgium. And you get a Belgian IBAN number.
Monese Customer Reviews
Monese has a 4.1 score out of 5 from 33,600 reviews on Trustpilot, with 66% of reviewers giving it a 5-star rating and 19% a 1-star.
So, what do people dislike? What are the most common issues? Blocked accounts, unresponsive customer service, and taking their time with returning funds after account closures.
On Google Play Store, the app has a 4.6/5 star rating from almost 100,000 reviews. On the App Store, the score is even better – 4.8, from more than 60k reviews.
I wrote a more detailed article highlighting viable Monese alternatives. These are most certainly Revolut and Wise that are present in Europe, the UK, and beyond. Then there are N26 and Bunq in continental Europe and Starling and Monzo in the UK exclusively.
You can’t really go wrong with any of them. However, they cater to somewhat different audiences.
Who is Monese Best Suited for?
Now that we’ve covered Monese’s most important and most used features, do you feel like this is the banking account for you? Most websites recommend this app to people that “just landed” in a country.
I just hope that if you get some issues with the app, you get a capable customer service representative that will escalate your issue and deal with it promptly.