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Monzo review

Find out when Monzo will come to Canada and learn how this innovative digital banking service can benefit you. 

Enter your salary into Monzo and get a cash advance one day before your paycheque is due to arrive for no extra fee.

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Please note: All information about Monzo has been collected independently by Finder and this product is not available through this site.

Monzo is a UK-based digital bank that lets customers open a full bank account directly from their mobile phones. It has a number of innovative features that set it apart from other online banks. The only downside is that you need to be a UK resident to apply for an account.

Expert review

Monzo is a bank built for people looking to manage and control their money from anywhere. Because it’s fully app-based, there’s no waiting in lines or calling customer service when you lose your card, but there’s also no in-person help. The only issue for Canadians is that Monzo is a UK-based app, which means you can only sign up for it if you live in the UK.

When will Monzo come to Canada?

It’s not clear when Monzo will launch in Canada. As of May 2020 it’s in the process of moving its services over to the US, but hasn’t announced plans to move further than that just yet. That said, you can easily compare other reputable digital banks operating in Canada to find a good fit for your needs while you wait.

How does Monzo work?

Monzo operates like a regular chequing account that’s controlled by the Monzo mobile app instead of a physical branch. It lets you easily set budgets and see where you’re spending money each month. You’ll also get instant notifications when you go over your spending limits and you won’t pay anything extra when you spend money abroad.

What special features does Monzo offer?

  • Early pay. Enter your salary into Monzo and get a cash advance one day before your paycheque is due to arrive for no extra fee.
  • Money sorting. Sort the money that you make into savings, bills and daily spending so that it’s easier to stick to your budget.
  • Bill pots. Set money aside in a special “pot” that Monzo will draw from to pay your bills so that you can’t accidentally spend money reserved for rent or food.
  • Direct debits. Set up direct debits with Monzo and receive notifications if your bills go up in any given month.
  • Instant notifications. Get instant alerts when you spend money on your card and get warnings if you’re spending money too fast for the budget you’ve set.
  • Fee-free payments abroad. Save money on currency exchange and fees when you spend money overseas.

Using Monzo abroad

One of the crowning features of Monzo is that it doesn’t mark up the exchange rate or charge fees when you use your card abroad. This makes Monzo a suitable choice for customers who travel and spend money overseas regularly.

That said, you should make sure to keep an eye on your bank balance if you intend to withdraw cash from foreign ATMs. This is because you may be stuck paying a 3% fee on any amount you take out if your withdrawal exceeds $200.

Is Monzo safe?

If Monzo comes to Canada it will likely be regulated in the same way as any other bank. In the UK, it protects your money (up to £85,000) through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Monzo also claims to be four times better at stopping card fraud and three times better at stopping identity theft than other UK banks.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Easy application. Open an account in a matter of minutes using Monzo‘s online application.
  • No monthly fees. Pay less out of pocket on monthly account fees.
  • Decent interest rates. Lock your savings away for a 12-month period to earn an accelerated interest rate.
  • Budgeting tools. Put money into “pots” to pay your bills and carve out some savings with a number of handy budgeting tools.
  • No foreign exchange rates. Avoid paying fees and currency exchange rates when you spend money on your card overseas.

Cons

  • Not available in Canada. You won’t be able to access Monzo‘s services until it comes to Canada.
  • Fees at foreign ATMs. You’ll pay a 3% charge for overseas ATM withdrawals that exceed $200 a month.
  • No in-person support. There’s no in-person service for accounts since everything runs through the online app.
  • Tech-based. You’ll need to know how to navigate the mobile app to take full advantage of all of Monzo‘s features.

Bottom line

Monzo is a reputable UK-based digital bank that offers a number of enticing features. Unfortunately, as of May 2020 it doesn’t offer its services in Canada. That said, you can look into other digital banks in Canada to find a suitable alternative while you wait.

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