Monese is a regulated payment institution in the United Kingdom in operation since 2013 when it was one of the first app-only digital banks.
In this Monese review, we’re going to do a deep dive into all the relevant facts to help you decide if Monese is the right digital banking solution for your needs. We’ll look at the company’s basics, what makes it different from other institutions, the pros and cons, features, and different circumstances that might affect whether this money firm would be a good fit for your situation.
Monese is not a bank, although they do have most of the same features as a traditional banking facility. This e-money firm is a 100% digital financial alternative to regular brick-and-mortar banks.
Monese Review Verdict
Opening a bank account in the UK can be challenging for people who have little to no credit history, a lack of bills, or other proof of residency. If you’re a frequent traveler or have no permanent physical address, you may have limited banking options.
The good news is that Monese allows users the option to open a currency account without having to provide proof of address and submit to a credit check. Although many people refer to Monese as a banking solution, it is not a bank in terms of federal regulations.
Therefore, any money you put into your Monese account will not have the protection of insurance in cases of foul play or hacking. However, Monese stores all client funds separately, making your deposit 100% protected.
Despite this drawback, many people feel the lure of using a 100% digital financing institution that doesn’t require the standard identification hoops of traditional banks. People who frequently travel or live digital nomad lifestyles find Monese useful.
You can use the Monese app on any Android or iOS device for convenient banking, no matter where you go. With the app, you can link multiple accounts, including PayPal, track your budget and spending, see your balances, set up multiple savings accounts, and manage your business account. Best of all, you can do everything for free – or pay for an upgraded version.
The brand Monese was started in 2013 by founder Norris Koppel. He got the idea for a new type of banking due to the frustrations of opening a traditional bank account without having any UK credit history or proof of address.
People without credit, who have moved to a new location, or do not have traditional jobs or permanent residents can benefit from Monese’s more relaxed sign-up requirements.
Monese became one of the first all-digital challenger currency institutions in the UK in 2016. Over one million customers within the EEA (European Economic Area) rely on Monese for their banking needs, with over three billion transactions completed each year.
Monese received the award for the best challenger bank at the European Fintech Awards and received €1.1 million for funding innovation and research by The European Commission.
What’s Special about Monese
- Monese is 100% digital, from signing up to managing your account
- Users do not need proof of a physical address, utility bills, or credit history to open an account
- Never any need to visit a physical location or deal with long waiting lines
- The Monese banking app and website platform are easy to use
- Complete electronic transactions or use the linked MasterCard debit card for in-person purchases
- Fully functional banking needs, including ATM access, in-store purchases, contactless payments, and online shopping
- Multi-currency options (€ or £)
- Free cash withdrawals
- Track spending
- Upload money at PayPoint or post offices
- Compatible with Google or Apple pay
- Eight currency conversions to transfer money abroad
- Ideal for travel
Pros & Cons
There are some pros and cons to using Monese as your source of a banking establishment. Advantages of Monese include the ease of setting up and managing an account, credit checks and proof of residency are not required, and 100% digital format means no hassles from brick and mortar banks.
You can even sign up for premium subscriptions that give you additional privileges that you won’t get with a basic account. However, you do not pay a fee for opening a basic account or monthly service fees, or charges for ATM withdrawals (within the allowance). A 2% will occur for ATM withdrawals over your allotted monthly allowance. The allotment amount varies by plan.
The downsides of Monese are that they do not have a banking license, so there’s no deposit guarantee, there are monthly limits on how much you can spend, top-up, or withdraw from an ATM, and crummy customer service.
There is a chatbot you can use for assistance, but it can be challenging and slow to get support from a live person. In terms of customer support, Monese lacks compared to regular banks.
If you lose your debit card or it’s stolen, you can use the app to lock your card and request a new one or unlock your MasterCard if you happen to find it later.
How Monese is Regulated
Monese is not an official bank (it’s an e-money firm), so it does not receive protection from the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). The FSCS secures deposits up to £85,000 in cases of loss.
Monese does fall under the jurisdiction of PrePay Technologies Limited (PPS UK) as a registered agent. The PPS UK is an electronic money institution that operates under the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s monitoring and rules.
Since Monese does not reinvest money from the customers’ deposits like traditional banks, 100% of your funds are safe, even if the company goes out of business.
How to Open Monese Account
Opening an account with Monese is more accessible than trying to open an account at a traditional banking institution. Anyone within the European Economic Area can open an account in a matter of minutes.
- Start by downloading the Monese app on your Android or iOS device. You’ll also need a phone number and email address.
- Once you open the app, follow the simple instructions. After entering all of your information, you have to provide identification to prevent money laundering. You will need a photo ID (a passport from any country suffices) and record a selfie video so the company can verify your identity compared to the id you provide.
- Monese will use these items to verify your identity. Once everything is verified, Monese assigns you an account number and sort code. This step usually only takes a few minutes.
- After your account is active, you can start receiving and sending payments. However, if you want to make purchases in-store or get money from an ATM, you’ll need a Monese MasterCard debit card.
- Delivery of your MasterCard takes three to five business days (or up to 14 days if shipping internationally). Users on a free account will owe a £4.95 delivery fee.
Who is Eligible to Open a Monese Account
Monese is open to anyone over 18 that lives in any of the 31 countries that make up the European Economic Area.
You won’t need to provide a utility bill or physical address for verification purposes, but you will need to supply a UK mailing address to receive your MasterCard. In the app, you can allow Monese to access your geolocation rather than inputting an address.
Monese offers multiple types of accounts, allowing you to choose the option that provides you with the desired services.
With the instant account, you can have your mobile money account set up and ready to use in minutes, without the delay of scheduling an appointment to visit a physical bank to open an account.
During your account setup, you’ll have the option to choose a flexible pricing plan that gives you additional features. Here’s a chart illustrating the differences between the plan options.
|Contactless debit card||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cash Withdrawal Fee||2% over allowance||2% over allowance||Free|
|Cash top-ups||2%-3.5% fee||£900 free – 2% fee||Unlimited|
|Withdrawal Limits for Fee||£200||£900||None|
|Foreign currency transfer||Free/Instant*||Free/Instant*||Free/Instant*|
|Foreign currency spend||£2,000 free (2% fee)||9,000 free (2% fee)||Free|
Foreign currency transfers are only free between Monese accounts. For transferring funds to non-Monese accounts, you will owe a 2% fee using the Simple account or 0.5% with the Classic. It’s entirely free for Premium accounts.
When using Cash Top-up, the fee varies by location. Post offices charge a 2% fee based on what you are depositing, while you’ll owe a 3.5% fee when using PayPoint. At a minimum, you will pay a £2 to £3 fee.
The Simple Plan is the default option and is free with no monthly fee, but you will have to pay a £4.95 delivery fee to get your MasterCard mailed to you.
There’s also the option to sign up for a joint account. With the Monese app, you can jointly save, spend, or share expenses with anyone.
To open a Monese joint account, you start by creating separate Monese personal accounts. Then you can invite another user to join you in a joint money account. The process is as fast and straightforward as opening a regular solo account.
Once you have a joint account set up, you can create up to ten pots or savings accounts that both users contribute to jointly. There’s even the option to set up automatic roundups for easier savings.
With the joint account, you can also transfer money between accounts and send or receive transfers (local or international).
Both users receive instant notifications of account activity, allowing for easier budgeting and transaction management.
Monese also makes it easy to save up money for big expense items with dedicated savings pots. You can set up a savings account right from the app using a few taps and less than ten minutes of your time.
Like with the joint account, you have the option to set up ten separate pots, giving them unique goal labels. Add your monetary goal and choose whether you want to round up purchases to go into a specific account automatically.
You also have the option to set up recurring payments that pull money directly from your account to transfer into your savings. When you set up the opportunity to round your change, you can multiply the balance by up to ten times to save up for your goals faster.
Best of all, Monese also partners with Raisin to offer you various products and services to help you save money faster by earning interest.
Monese limits & account restrictions
While Monese helps UK residents, there are some restrictions to be aware of before creating an account. These limitations and conditions apply to all Monese GBP accounts with slight variations for RON and EUR accounts.
- Max amount limit of £40,000 per account
- Minimal £5 deposit, £500 max per day at post offices for manual top-ups
- No minimum limit but limited to £249 per transaction and £500 each day for PayPoint
- Limited to £2,500 each week, £5,000 over 30 days
- Debit card top-ups have a maximum limit of £500 a day (combined between two transactions) and £1,000 a month (ten top-ups).
- Minimum £10 top-up for debit cards
- £300 daily cash withdrawal limit
- Maximum purchase limit of £7,000 a day and £4,000 per transaction
- £40,000 limit on BACS incoming payments, UK Faster outgoing, or UK direct debit outgoing payments
Monese Business Account
If you need a money account for your UK-based business, sign up for Monese Business, which allows you to easily manage and track your company or personal finances in the same app.
You don’t need to provide any additional documentation to open up a business account: just your ID, phone number, and email address.
Once you’ve set up a business account, you’ll receive a contactless MasterCard business debit card that allows in-store and online shopping. Business accounts have generous allowances, free ATM withdrawals globally, and one-tap pay.
You have the option to set up UK Direct Debits and handle payments using the UK Faster Payments network for no charge. When sending, spending, or receiving local currency, there are no markup fees.
Sending money internationally is available to 30 countries. Receiving international transfers is free. There’s even the ability to create and send invoices for easy billing.
Adding funds to a business account can be done with cash at post offices or PayPoint’s, or for free using bank transfers or Monese accounts.
Monese Account with PayPal
Monese can even sync to your PayPal account so you can keep up with your balances and transactions using your Monese mobile app.
You can also sync your Monese debit card to your PayPal wallet as your preferred way to pay online to use safer and faster payments.
Monese with Avios
Similar to syncing with PayPal, Monese also gives you the option to sync your Avios points using the Monese app. You can easily track how many points you accrue from select stores by signing up for or logging into your Avios account in your banking app.
By linking your Monese card to an Avios account, you can collect points during shopping trips that you can trade in for discounts and other rewards. Avios Smart Tips will provide you with practical ways to collect points at specific stores.
You can also set a budget and spending goals and track your spending using additional Monese tools like the expense tracker and budgeting tools.
Set goals for weekly or monthly budgets, customized to your desired dates. View your previous transactions to get a clear understanding of what categories you’re spending your money and set up alerts for notifications when you complete transactions.
Monese Top-Up Options
There are different funding options to add money or top-up your Monese account. You can send instant transfers straight to your debit card using other debit cards.
There’s also the option to request money from contacts or friends, receive money from bank transfers without fees, or move money between Monese accounts for free.
You can also set up direct deposits with employers, so your salary goes directly into your Monese account balance.
Need to deposit cash? No problem. It’s easy to top-up your account using money by visiting 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.
The Bottom Line
Monese is a beneficial e-money firm for UK residents living in the European Economic Area over the age of 18. The great thing about Monese is that you do not have to prove a physical residence or submit to a credit check. All you need is a phone number, email address, and a form of ID issued by a governing country.