Monzo Bank Review 2021 (Digital-Only Full-Bank)

monzo bank
monzo card

The business of banking has been heavily reformed by technology. Giving customers instant access and more control over their finances via a mobile app is slowly becoming preferred over traditional banking. That said, Monzo has taken the world of digital banking by storm and has become quite popular in the UK. 

We’ve taken a look at this banking system’s special features and capabilities to let you know what to expect. Our Monzo review will include the app’s pros and cons, and we’ll give our informed opinion on if it’s worth trying out. 

About Monzo 

In an attempt to provide a better banking experience to customers, Monzo first launched in London in 2015. Their strategy of offering free bank accounts to young customers without the hassle of a credit check proved to be effective. These accounts come with a sort code, deposit security, and a banking licence. There are no long forms to fill out, nor are there any physical branches.

Banking with Monzo is conducted entirely through their mobile app. The app is visually appealing, has a lot of unique features, and offers real-time updates. This Monzo review will also include a detailed breakdown of how the company’s fees are cheaper than standard banks. 

Monzo currently serves more than 2 million customers, and around 40,000 accounts are opening from week to week. Monzo purports to be the fastest-growing bank in the United Kingdom and has plans to begin operating in the United States soon

Monzo Special Features

There are multiple features available that make Monzo stand out amongst challenger banks in the UK. Here are some of the top features of the Monzo bank and app:

  • You can get paid one day earlier than normal.
  • The app allows you to sort your salary into different categories like bills, savings, and spending. 
  • Customers can create spending budgets to stay on track (entertainment, transportation, dining out, etc.)
  • Account-holders receive instant notifications about spending as soon as it occurs. 
  • Free cash withdrawals are available online when travelling abroad.
  • Customers can open a joint account with other Monzo users.
  • Take advantage of “savings pots”, where you can split your money into more than one, and it’ll accrue interest.
  • You can have your bills set up to be paid from a “bill pot”.
  • There are no fees (transaction) for overseas spending, and the payments require no contact. 
  • Customers can receive cashback if they switch their energy providers through using the app. 
  • Monzo bank uses both Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • You can use the Monzo app to apply for overdraft protection of up to £3000.

Monzo Review: The Verdict 

After having done a thorough analysis of what Monzo bank has to offer, we feel confident in our opinion that it’s one of the top online banking companies to use. 

The British Bank Awards has also supported this notion by naming Monzo the “Best Banking App” in 2019.

It’s a digital bank that offers free accounts, versatility regarding those accounts, and they have a very user-friendly app. It has gained the popularity to be hugely successful both now and in the years to come. 

Our only glaring critique would be the 3% charge for overseas ATM withdrawals and the limit of £200. This is low if you compare them to other banks such as Starling. The fees may not be an issue for most people, but it can certainly present limitations for those who love to travel. 

Additionally, though the bank itself offers versatile features through the app, there are still features like insurance and credit cards that are not available with Monzo at the moment. 

Aside from these things, we do believe that Monzo is a good banking option for those who want to use it as a primary account or a secondary account. The ease of use and direct control and access to your account is hard to pass up. 

Pros & Cons 

Here’s a brief list of the overall pros and cons of having a Monzo account. 

Pros

  • Full-bank account: you can do everything that you can do with a normal bank account at a physical branch; plus some
  • Quick application process: no credit check (unless you choose to apply for overdraft protection
  • Visually appealing app: easy to use with a lot of cool features
  • No fees for spending money abroad: you also use the Mastercard exchange rate
  • Use the app to open a savings account: you’ll be connected with one of the providers that collaborate with Monzo bank
  • Instant transfer: you can transfer funds domestically or internationally
  • Cash deposits: can be done at any store that has the PayPointe logo.
  • Bank licencing: funds are FSCS – protected and Monzo is licenced through the FCA
  • In-app card control: you can freeze and unfreeze, and completely control your card activity via the mobile app

Cons

  • No physical branches: some customers don’t like that there aren’t any physical branches because they prefer face-to-face service
  • Charge for overseas withdrawals: there is a 3% charge for making a withdrawal of over £200 at the ATM; other challenger banks don’t necessarily have these charges.
  • UK-based: this digital bank is not available outside of the UK currently
  • Some features missing: some features that you’d get with a traditional bank (Credit cards and insurance)

How is Monzo Regulated? 

Monzo Bank Ltd received its banking licence in April of 2017. Monzo is a full bank that offers the same protection as normal banks concerning deposit protections. 

The Digital bank has been authorised in the United Kingdom by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and they are regulated by this entity as well as the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Eligible deposits will be covered in the event that the banking system fails to meet any payment standards or in the event of company failure. The standard in the UK for fund protection is £85,000, and with Monzo, the funds in your account up to this amount will be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

How to Open a Monzo Account

If you’ve decided to open a Monzo account, here are some quick and easy steps to guide you through the process. 

What you’ll need before you apply:

  • Your phone
  • Your ID

Valid forms of ID include:

  • National ID card
  • Passport
  • Biometric residence permit
  • Driving licence (provisional licence accepted)
  • Electoral identity card
  • Shotgun or firearm certificate

  • Step 1: You must download the Monzo app from the Google Play store or the Apple store.
  • Step 2: Follow the instructions to sign up through the app. You will have to provide information such as your home address, email address, and the telephone number you want to associate with your account.
  • Step 3: Help the bank to confirm your identity by taking a selfie video. This video is compared with your ID to verify your identity, as is required by regulated banks.
  • Step 4: Inform the bank of where to send your bright coral card. Your card should arrive in 2-5 days, once you’ve provided your home address. 
  • Step 5: Activate your card once you receive it by entering the card number inside the app, or you can take a photo instead. 

Who is Eligible to Open a Monzo Account? 

To be eligible for a Monzo account, you have to be 16 years old and have a UK address. You must reside in the UK full time, and have a residence permit if you are not a natural citizen. 

Types of Monzo Accounts 

Though Monzo only offers a current account at the moment, we’ve listed the accounts they hope to offer in the future as well. These basic descriptions will help you to see the benefits of each, so you can select a different option as they become available. 

Monzo Current Account 

  • Free to open and maintain
  • Your money will be fully protected by the FSCS, up to £85,000
  • UK bank transfers are free
  • Pots available for separating your money
  • Support is available via the app
  • Instant notifications and how, when and where you spend
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay are enabled
  • Savings account, borrowing options, and overdraft eligible
  • Spending categories show you where you spend money most often
  • Contactless card

Monzo Plus Account 

This account comes with all features of the previous account, plus:

  • View your other accounts if you have more than one through Monzo
  • Receive 1.00% AER interest on balances that are up to £2000
  • Receive an exclusive holographic Monzo Plus card
  • Create custom categories for separating your money 
  • Virtual cards available
  • Roundup transaction options (roundup your purchases and the spare change goes into a savings pot)
  • One cash deposit is free every month
  • No fees for international withdrawals, up to £400 per month
  • Minimum term of 3 months
  • £5 per month

Monzo Premium Account 

This one comes with all features of the previous two accounts, plus:

  • Receive a metal card
  • Receive phone insurance that protects against damage, theft, and loss
  • Global travel insurance 
  • An interest rate of 1.50% AER up to £2000
  • Receive discounted lounge access in the airport
  • Get up to five free cash deposits every month
  • No fees for international withdrawals, up to £600 per month
  • £15 per month

Monzo Business Account 

Monzo bank offers two types of business accounts, the Lite version, and the Pro version. Below are the distinctions between the two.

Business Lite

  • Free
  • Web and mobile access available
  • Business debit card
  • Customer support available 24/7 via email, chat, or phone
  • Instant and free UK bank transfers
  • Instant real-time notifications
  • Pots to separate your funds
  • FSCS protection up to £85,000
  • You can schedule payments
  • You can pay in both cheques and cash
  • No fees for spending abroad
  • Google Pay and Apple Pay capable
  • Security options that require payment approval. You also have face and fingerprint protection as well as a secure pin. 
  • Budgeting options
  • You can receive digital receipts
  • Open an account or switch banks for free
  • Full current account

Business Pro

All of the features of the lite account, plus:

  • £5 per month
  • Tax pots that allows you to select a set percentage to be used for taxes each time you get paid
  • Free invoicing services
  • Multiple users have access to the account to manage funds together (must be LTD)
  • Exclusive business offers
  • Integrated options for accounting via Xero, Quickbooks, and Free Agent
  • New account holders will receive 6 months of free cloud platform service, with £180 a year

Monzo Joint Account 

The Monzo joint account gives you the same access a personal current account would give you. You have the same options to use contactless pay, to make payments and transfers, track your spending, use Google or Apple Pay, and more. 

The only differences are that you’ll be sharing the account with another person, and you’ll each receive a separate debit card for transactions. 

Monzo 16-17 Account 

This version of a Monzo account is nearly the same as the adult version. There are only two differences that distinguish this account from the 18+ option. There is an age restriction on certain purchases that you can’t make under the age of 18, such as alcohol or gambling. 

Additionally, you can’t qualify for overdraft protection if you’re under 18, but you also won’t get charged if you do spend a little more than you have and accidentally overdraw your account. 

You’ll still receive the contactless debit card, Apple and Google Play functionality, and a full current UK account that comes with a sort code and account number. This allows you to receive and send money as well as establish direct debits. 

Savings With Monzo 

While Monzo doesn’t personally offer savings accounts, they have an attractive Marketplace that connects you with providers in their networks. Should you choose not to open a savings account, you can always just set your money aside in a “pot”. However, be advised that this Monzo account will not accrue interest. 

The Monzo pots are a good way to budget your money. Our review of Monzo takes note of the versatility when it comes to saving and managing your money through the app. 

Borrowing with Monzo

Consider Monzo’s overdraft protection and loan options to help you keep track of your finances without overspending while simultaneously boosting your credit. 

Overdrafts

With Monzo bank, you can apply for overdraft protection of up to £3000. They are careful to offer varying limits to customers depending on what they are confident they’ll be able to safely repay. 

Aside from this, Mondo now offers a 19%, 29%, and 39% EAR variable. EAR stands for Effective Annual Rate. This is the amount of interest charged for being overdrawn for a year. It’s safer for you to just pay any fees upfront, instead of waiting. This fee will be charged on top of any interest that you accrue from being overdrawn, to begin with. 

Loans 

Monzo has recently added the option to apply for personal loans via the app. You can borrow anywhere from £200 to £15,000; however, your approval will depend on factors such as your credit score and history. 

Monzo goes beyond other lenders by disclosing to you a personalised quote before you apply for the loan. This quote will inform you of how much you’ll pay for the loan from the very beginning. Nothing will be recorded on your credit record if you don’t decide to proceed with the loan application, as they will not initiate a hard credit check otherwise. 

Additional Features of Monzo

There are some additional features of Monzo bank that make them an excellent option to consider. These features are not available with traditional banks and add a byproduct of the technologically advanced shift mobile banking has taken.

Travelling with Monzo 

Travelling with Monzo is a good option if you don’t travel frequently and if you don’t plan to spend much when you’re abroad. The Monzo banking system only allows up to £200 per month on foreign ATM withdrawals. After this, you’ll be charged 3%. 

Additionally, there’s a fee of up to £3 for international transfers. There is no fee for using your card abroad for the purchase of goods and services. 

Energy Switching 

Monzo bank offers a new service, the energy switching feature is similar to the marketplace that Monzo offers. This particular service is not offered directly by Monzo, but instead, it partners with various trusted providers. If you’re interested in this program, you must access your profile through the Monzo app, fill out a brief form related to your home and energy use, and wait to be offered a quote from Monzo’s partners. 

Their current partners are Octopus Energy and OVO Energy. These companies are not necessarily the least expensive, but they do offer competitive rates to an extent. OVO has a minimum of 33% green tariffs, but you can choose to upgrade to 100% for a fee of £5 per month. Octopus, on the other hand, offers 100% green energy. They are also able to switch your providers on your behalf. 

Bill Splitting 

Monzo offers a unique bill splitting feature that allows users to divide payments between themselves and their friends. 

Follow these short steps to begin splitting/requesting payments for bills

Select the payment that you would like to split. Tap on the option to “Add someone” 

Find your contacts through Monzo, or you can use the “Nearby Friends” option in the instance that you don’t have their phone numbers.

You can opt to split the bill equally, or you can manually choose the amounts that you want to assign to each participant.

Once you’ve completed these steps, Monzo will initiate a request for the individuals to pay you. After they have made their payment, you’ll be alerted. 

The Bottom Line 

Overall, if you’re looking for a trusted bank that will do its job effectively, Monzo is an excellent choice, according to our analysis. It’s not as great with the charges if you’re spending money overseas. However, if you don’t travel often, it’s a lot more convenient than a traditional bank.

If you reside in the UK and are looking for a better banking experience, you should consider Monzo bank. You’ll get around the clock customer service, deposit protection, a cool app loaded with features, and a debit card available for use. 

Monzo is effective for the spending, saving, and budgeting of your funds. Hopefully, this Monzo review has helped you make an informed decision about which UK-based bank is the best for your lifestyle.

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