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Monzo review January 2020

Last updated:  

Meet the poster child of digital banking.

finder.com’s rating: 4.7 / 5.0

★★★★★

Monzo is a leading digital bank in the UK that boasts more than 2 million customers, with plans to launch in the US soon — a bold move, given a more competitive and heavily regulated fintech environment here in the States. Here’s what we may have to look forward to with this mobile-only app.

$0

Monthly fee

0%

APY

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

Monthly fee$0
Minimum deposit to open$0
Out-of-network ATM feeWhen you’re abroad, the first $200 every 30 days are free, with a 3% charge after that.
Overdraft fee$0

Expert review

Charlie Barton

Review by


Charlie Barton is a publisher at Finder. He specialises in banking and investments products, including banking apps, current accounts, share-dealing platforms and stocks and shares ISAs. Charlie has a first-class degree from the London School of Economics, and in his spare time enjoys long walks on the beach.

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. And we won’t know all the details of this service until it fully launches in the US.

What is Monzo?

Monzo is a well-loved digital bank launched in 2017 in the UK. Focused on young professionals, it advertises the ability to access your money through a smartly designed smartphone app without the need for physical branches⁠. Help is available through the app’s chat feature, by phone or by email.

How does Monzo work?

In the UK, Monzo works a lot like a regular checking account. Each account comes with a bright coral Monzo Mastercard. The card is controlled via the app, which allows for person-to-person payments and instant notifications after transactions.

To help you see where your money goes each month, transactions are broken down into 12 categories:

  • Transportation
  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Cash
  • Shopping
  • General
  • Entertainment
  • Bills
  • Holidays
  • Expenses
  • Personal care
  • Family

How do I apply for a Monzo account?

As of January 2020, Monzo is not yet available in the US. You can join a waitlist on the app’s site until it rolls out the details of its launch Stateside.

Using Monzo abroad

Monzo claims that it doesn’t mark up the exchange rate or charge fees to use your card abroad. But you’ll pay a fee equal to 3% of your withdrawal when you take out more than $200 each month from a foreign ATM.

If you lose your card while traveling, freeze its use through the app. Simply defrost your card if it turns up safe.

Monzo fees and limits

So far, Monzo‘s reported that it will forgo many fees associated with more traditional banks, including for overdrafts and ATM withdrawals in the US.

Withdrawals from ATMs outside of the US are free up to $200 a month, when you’ll start paying a fee equal to 3% of your transaction until the new month turns over.

If we hear of any additional fees as the service launches, we’ll update this review.

Is Monzo safe?

Monzo announced in June 2019 that it plans to partner with Sutton Bank to offer its services, forgoing lending until it’s approved for a US banking charter. That partnership will extend FDIC protections on your account for deposits of up to $250,000.

Expect technological safeguards like PINs, secure payments and fraud detection.

Pros and cons of Monzo

Pros

  • Fully digital bank backed by a solid reputation in the UK.
  • Divide your account into “pots” to more easily manage and save money.
  • Instantly move money between friends without a third-party app.
  • Competitive foreign exchange rates with no fees.

Cons

  • No in-person support or local branches.
  • 3% charge for overseas ATM withdrawals that exceed $200 a month.

Until then, look into other digital banking accounts to weigh benefits and drawbacks against your spending habits.

Compare Monzo against its competitors

Name Product APY ATMs Fee
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
1.25% on balances of $0+ with $1,000+ in direct deposits, 10 $3+ debit card transactions and 5 additional account transactions per month
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
Chime Spending account
0.01%
38,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$0
Linked checking and savings accounts from a mobile-first bank that’s light on fees.
Radius Bank Rewards Checking
1.20% on balances of $100,000+
1.00% on balances of $2,500 to $99,999.99
More than 20,000 ATMs + unlimited ATM surcharge rebates
$0
Earn cash back with this high-interest checking account, plus get free ATM access worldwide.
Zero Checking
No access to ATMs
$0
A mobile banking experience consisting of an app, a credit card called Zerocard, and a checking account called Zero Checking.
USAA Classic Checking
0.01% on balances of $1,000+
Free at 60,000 ATMs nationwide (USAA, Allpoint, MoneyPass, PNC)
$0
An online checking account means no driving around town, no waiting in line and no bankers' hours.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Image source: Supplied, photographer: Monzo

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