Alternatives to Monzo: A list of similar banks and apps
The digital banking revolution is in its golden years, so consumers have never had more banking options. We've rounded up the banks like Monzo in our guide below.
Top alternative banks and apps to Monzo
- Starling: A digital banking app with savings goals, marketplace and accessible via app and desktop.
- Revolut: A digital banking app with many features including buying crypto, fee free spending abroad and rounding up spare change.
- Cashplus: A bank account that is great for improving your credit score.
- Monese: A digital banking app that lets you open an account really easily.
- Yolt: A banking app that is great for budgeting.
- Curve: A banking app that helps you connect all your cards together under one card.
Popular banks, apps and other alternatives to Monzo
|Revolut||Another mobile-only bank account that offers great rates on overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals. You can receive and spend different currencies with the same account. The Revolut app has useful budgeting features and you can use it to invest your money too. Revolut has a free account, and a paid account that offers higher limits when it comes to free overseas transactions.||Read our review|
|Starling||Starling is another online-only bank account that offers fantastic rates on overseas purchases. It offers an impressive limit on ATM withdrawals of £300 per day with no fee, both in the UK and overseas. Starling also pays interest on in-credit balances. Just like Monzo, Starling Bank offers an overdraft and some useful budgeting features within the app.||Visit Starling|
|Monese||Monese offers three levels of online-only bank account. You can open a free account, or choose between two premium accounts with higher limits on fee-free overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals. The fees and limits are similar to what Monzo offers. There aren’t as many extras offered within the Monese app compared to the Monzo app though.||Visit Monese|
|Tandem||Tandem doesn’t offer a current account, but you can manage your existing current account using open banking through the Tandem app. Its unique budgeting features might encourage you to do that instead of using your bank’s app. Perhaps you’ll choose to open a Tandem savings account while you’re at it.||Read our review|
|Atom Bank||Atom Bank was the UK’s first mobile-only bank, but it still doesn’t offer a current account. You can apply for a mortgage with Atom Bank and the rates tend to be very competitive. Just like Monzo does, Atom Bank offers a range of savings accounts and loans.||Read our review|
|Cashplus||CashPlus offers a mobile-only current account. A key selling point is its ‘credit builder’ feature, which allows you to build your credit score. With this feature, CashPlus lends your monthly current account fee and treats your payments of these as loan repayments. Unlike Monzo, there is no option for a fee-free Cashplus account.||Visit Cashplus|
|Yolt||Yolt doesn’t offer a current account. It’s a mobile account aggregator that allows you to manage all of your existing accounts in one place. On top of that, Yolt will analyse your spending and offer tips to help you improve your budgeting. However, you can’t spend money or make any changes to your accounts through this app.||Read our review|
|Curve||Curve is another smartphone app that allows you to link all your cards together in one place. You can make purchases using Curve, because it’s linked with apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay. When you do that, you’ll receive a great exchange rate overseas, plus you could potentially earn cashback with Curve’s retail partners.||Visit Curve|
Main alternatives to Monzo
The two main rivals to Monzo are considered to be Starling and Revolut. These three banking brands all launched within a few years of one another in the UK, they all operate digital-only accounts, and their free accounts all have similar features.
Like Monzo, Starling’s personal current account is free, and you can open and manage it all through a mobile app. You’ll get notifications when payments leave or enter your account, and can analyse your spending, to assist with budgeting. You can also set “goals” to help you put money aside to save up for specific things, plus there is an overdraft facility available, if you qualify.
You’ll also get a physical card to make purchases in-store or online, and to withdraw money from ATMs. One of the big plus-points with Starling is that it’s completely fee-free to use your card in the UK and abroad, for both spending and cash withdrawals.
Although there are no Starling bank branches, you can deposit cash into your Starling account at a Post Office. You can also deposit cheques through your app via cheque imaging (although cheques worth more than £500 will need to be sent to Starling through the post, for free).
Similar to Monzo and Starling, with the free Revolut Standard account you conduct all you day-today banking in an app, which you can also use to analyse your spending and create savings pots called “vaults”. However, there is not currently an option to deposit cash or cheques.
The card use limits with Revolut are not quite as generous as Starling. Making purchases in the UK and abroad is free, but you will be charged to use an ATM if you withdraw more than £200 in a month, in either the UK or overseas.
Revolut does have some other attractive international options though – you can hold a balance in up to 30 currencies, and you get the interbank exchange rate when making money transfers abroad. Revolut is also the only one out of the three where you get the option to access a share dealing and cryptocurrency buying platform.
Revolut also operates several paid-for current accounts, which come with extra features and perks, in exchange for a monthly or annual fee. The three plans available are called Plus, Premium and Metal.
Cards like Monzo for day-to-day banking
If you’re looking for a challenger banking brand that can provide you with a main current account and cover as many basic financial needs as possible, you will have to think about what you normally use your mainstream bank account for, and what your priorities are.
Challengers are constantly widening their range of services, but there are a bunch of things that they still don’t do. Chances are that in return for low fees, better working apps and less bureaucracy, you’ll end up giving up on something you didn’t realise you liked about your traditional bank.
Here are some of the features you may be most interested in:
- ATM withdrawals. Starling is probably the top player here – UK and overseas ATM withdrawals are free.
- Cash loads. Starling allows you to deposit cash in your account at Post Offices for free, whereas with Monzo you can do it at PayPoints and it costs £1 a transaction. There’s also Monese, which allows you to do it in both places, and it’s free up to £200 a month (there’s a 2% fee after that). You can’t load cash into your account with Revolut.
- Direct debits. Most challenger banking brands support direct debits (which you can set up to pay your bills automatically), while Revolut allows direct debits from its accounts in euros as well as sterling.
- Overdrafts. Monzo and Starling both allow planned overdrafts, but Starling is cheaper.
Alternatives to Monzo for travelling
Overseas transactions and payments are usually challenger’s strongest points. Traditional banks often charge extra fees when it comes to using their cards abroad, and since the beginning the new players in the game have prided themselves in being different.
You can pay with your card abroad without any fee with Monzo, Starling, Revolut and Monese.
Starling also allows free ATM withdrawals abroad.
Revolut and Monese allow free ATM withdrawals abroad up to £200 a month (there’s a 2% fee after that). With Monzo, there’s also a £200 fee-free withdrawal limit for overseas ATMs (and a 3% fee beyond that).
Alternatives to Monzo for saving
Challengers aren’t big on savings accounts yet, and if that’s what you’re looking for you may be better off with a traditional bank. However, things are starting to move in this area too.
If you are considering a challenger for a savings account, then Atom is probably your best bet. It offers saving accounts and mortgages instead of regular current accounts – something its competitors haven’t quite started experimenting with yet.
Atom offers fixed-rate saving accounts that last up to five years and come with competitive interest rates that vary according to the number of years you keep your money in the account (and you cannot withdraw your money until the product term ends).
Are challengers safe?
Monzo operates a full UK bank account, so deposits of up to £85,000 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), as is standard for licensed UK banks.
Atom Bank and Starling also both have a UK banking licence, and therefore offer the same deposit protection as Monzo.
Revolut and Monese aren’t banks, but they are registered with the FCA as electronic money institutions. This means they have to keep all their customers’ money in segregated accounts at licensed UK banks, so the funds can’t be touched even if the companies were to go bankrupt.
So the short answer is yes – main challengers are all safely regulated and if anything were to happen to them your money is as protected as it can be.
The bottom line
Monzo was the original poster child for digital banking in the UK and its current accounts have many useful features, particularly when it comes to analysing your spending, setting budgets and putting money aside into a savings pot. But if you’ve decided that Monzo is not the right banking provider for you, then our guide and comparison table will help point you in the direction of several great alternatives out there in the UK market.
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