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Monzo vs Monese

Monzo and Monese are two of the big names in the growing challenger bank market. Here we take a side by side look at what they can offer you.

Promising free current accounts, no-fee card spending abroad, and slick apps packed with spending insights and budgeting tools, digital challengers like Monzo and Monese are changing the face of UK banking. In this guide you can see how the pair stack up against one another, helping you decide which of these two banking providers might be the best choice for you.

Monzo vs Monese: Vital statistics

Finder score4.9
Free spending abroad
Overdraft rate19%, 29% or 39% EARNo overdrafts
Interest when you're in credit0%0%
Branch access
FSCS protected
Sign-up bonus
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With the free Monzo current account you get its distinctive coral-coloured card, while Monese’s free current account comes with a white card featuring a blue logo.

Neither bank has branches, but you can deposit money into your Monzo account at any PayPoint, which will cost you £1 each time (and you can only pay in a maximum of £300 in one go, up to a limit of £1,000 every 180 days). You can deposit money into your Monese account at Post Office counters or PayPoints, although there is a 3.5% fee (with a minimum charge of £3) for doing this.

Neither provider pays interest when your account balance is in credit, and while you can apply for an overdraft with Monzo, overdrafts are not offered by Monese.

Monzo has a UK banking licence, which means individual customer funds up to the value of £85,000 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if the bank were to cease to operate. Monese is not a bank, so is not covered by the FSCS. It is however registered with the FCA as electronic money institution, which means customer funds must be kept in a separate account at a licensed UK bank, so the money is ring-fenced should the company go bust.

In Finder’s 2021 Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards, Monzo was crowned the winner. This was because it topped our customer satisfaction survey, where it scored 5 out of 5 stars, and 89% of its current account customers said they would recommend the brand to a friend. Monese scored 3.5 out of 5 stars in the same survey, with 73% of its customers saying they would recommend one of its current accounts.

Round 1: App features

Visual breakdown of spending
Spending categories1715
Set spending budgets
Set up direct debits in the app
Top up via bank transfer
Have salary paid in
Savings goals or pots
Customer service via the app
Customer service via a telephone line
Cheque scanning
Freeze/unfreeze card in app
Send money abroad
Fee for sending money abroadFee set by Wise
(Monzo's money transfer partner)
2% fee, additional 1% fee on weekends (Subject to currency exchange fee)
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There’s a comprehensive range of broadly similar features in the Monzo and Monese mobile banking apps. Both have spending categories, where your transactions are automatically placed into pre-set categories like transport or eating out (Monzo has 12 of these categories, while Monese has 15). This in turn generates weekly or monthly spending insights, which helps you set budgets, with the apps alerting you when payments leave your account.

Monzo and Monese both have “Pots” that let you squirrel money away for particular goals, like saving for a holiday or a new piece of tech you’ve got your eye on. Both also have a “round-ups” feature, where spare change from your transactions can be “rounded up” and put into your savings bucket.

You can pay your salary into either your Monzo or Monese account, manage direct debits and make international payments. You can freeze or unfreeze your card in the apps, as well as contact both customer service teams through the in-app chats. Monzo also has a telephone line that it can be reached on, although the same is not true for Monese. Neither Monzo or Monese has a cheque scanning feature in their app, but you can post cheques off to Monzo to add the funds to your account, while Monese doesn’t deal in cheques at all.

Winner: A tie. It’s too close to call here, as the apps offer a great range of very similar features. You can’t reach Monese on the phone or deposit cheques into its account, but it does have a few more spending categories than Monzo.

Round 2: Spending in the UK

Free card transactions in the UK
Contactless card limit£100£100
Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
Free ATM withdrawalsUp to £400 per month2% per withdrawal
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You can use either your Monzo or Monese card to spend for free in the UK, plus both cards are contactless for those smaller purchases.

Both cards are also compatible with Apple Pay and Google Pay, should you want to use either of those to make a payment with your mobile phone, but neither support the Samsung Pay mobile wallet.

There’s a limit to how much money you can withdraw for free at ATMs with these two banking providers. For a Monzo card that limit is £250 per month, then a fee of 3% applies, while for a Monese card the limit is £200 per month, before a 2% charge kicks in.

Winner: Monzo, for its slightly higher free ATM withdrawal limit – otherwise the two providers are identical when it comes to spending in the UK.

Round 3: using the card abroad

Free foreign transactionsUnlimited2% fee
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsUp to £250 in EEA and £200
elsewhere every 30 days
£1.50 fee
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Monzo and Monese both have a fairly competitive offering if you’re looking to use their cards on a trip abroad.

You get unlimited free spending on a Monzo card, while a Monese card still has a very respectable free spending limit of £2,000 a month (after which, a 2% fee applies).

With Monzo, there’s a £200 limit on free cash withdrawals overseas each month – then there’s a 3% charge (unless you’re in Europe, than the combined UK and EEA monthly free limit of £250 applies, before the 3% fee comes into effect).

Monese’s free ATM withdrawal allowance is £200 each month, after which a 2% fee applies. But worth noting here is that this £200 is a worldwide allowance, so includes any money you take out that month in the UK and overseas in total.

Winner: Monzo, for its unlimited free spending abroad (although Monese is still relatively competitive compared to many other banking providers).

Round 4: Account types

Free account
Premium account
Joint account
Teen account (for 16 and 17 year olds)
Kids' account or card
Business account
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While Monzo and Monese both operate free versions of their current account, these two challengers have also expanded the number of current account options they offer to include subscription plans.

Monzo’s free account is just called the Monzo account, and it has two paid-for accounts named Monzo Plus and Monzo Premium. Meanwhile, the free Monese account is called Simple, and it offers two paid-for tiers, in the form of Classic and Premium.

Monzo runs joint accounts, as well as teen accounts for 16 and 17 year olds. Monese also offers joint accounts, but it doesn’t operate teen or child accounts.

Neither banking brand has a child account or kids’ card on its roster, but they do both offer business accounts.

Winner: Monzo edges it here as it has a teen account available, but that’s only one more account option than Monese.

Round 5: Signing up

Apply through the app
Quick application
Credit check
Card delivery feeFree£4.95
Card delivery timescale2-7 working days3-5 business days
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You can apply for either a Monzo or a Monese account through their respective mobile apps in a matter of minutes. There are no credit checks, although a photo of your ID and a short selfie video is required. The accounts are then usually opened on the same day and both the cards are sent through the post, taking roughly the same time to arrive. The thing to point out here is that Monese charges £4.95 for card delivery, whereas the Monzo card comes for free.

Winner: Monzo, for its free card delivery. Otherwise, both accounts are similarly quick and easy to open.

Overall verdict: Is Monzo better than Monese?

Monzo and Monese are both decent choices when it comes to free digital current accounts. They’re both managed via an app, are easy to open, and come stacked with features to help you access your funds, make payments, track your spending, set budgets and put some money aside.

They are very similar offerings, but our analysis found that Monzo edged it in a larger number of comparison sections, which would make it our pick of the two. Having said that, the areas where Monese lost some ground are pretty minor – such as not accepting cheques, having slighter lower limits for spending abroad and for UK ATM withdrawals, plus not having a teen account and charging for card delivery. If none of those things are important to the way you plan to use your current account, then Monese would also be a solid choice.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

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