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Monzo is one of the biggest names among “challenger banks” in the UK. It’s a digital, mobile-only bank that started life as a prepaid card.
Now it offers current accounts, savings accounts and most recently loans, all within a brilliantly designed app and with an accompanying hot coral Mastercard. (It’s also just won Best Bank Overall in our 2019 customer awards! Woo!)
In this review, we take a look the features of the Monzo’s main offering: the current account. We also look at the Monzo app, from its spending visualisations to how you can apply for overdrafts.
Monzo is a challenger bank that operates without branches, offers a full current account, integrated savings accounts (offered by other banks but still managed from your app), and recently has started offering personal loans. All with its signature hot coral Mastercard that’s been blinding you at bars, tube stations and supermarkets.
Monzo works in a similar way to any normal current account. When you apply for an account, you’ll be issued with a bright coral contactless Mastercard.
However, the account is entirely managed through the Monzo app, which is jam-packed with cool features and much slicker than your average banking app. The card is even controlled via the app: you can freeze it if it gets lost or stolen (and unfreeze it if you find it again).
Here are some of Monzo’s main features:
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UK residents aged 16 or over can apply for a Monzo account through the app, available to download at both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. You’ll need to provide your personal details and verify your identity by taking a video of yourself and a picture of your ID, but no proof of address will be required.
You can now also open a joint account with Monzo, as long as you both have a regular Monzo account already. You will both receive a new separate joint account card.
If you are 16 or 17 and want to open a Monzo account, you can access all of the same benefits that full UK current account users receive. The only difference is that certain actions are blocked, such as spending on activities that are illegal to under 18 year olds, e.g. gambling.
Signing up for an account does not involve a full credit check and therefore won’t affect your credit score.
You can use a Monzo card abroad really easily. You don’t have to do anything! Just go abroad and there are no charges for card transactions and no charges for ATM withdrawals (up to £200 a month – then there’s a 3% fee). If this is what is most important to you, we recommend using a Starling Bank Starling’s very similar to Monzo, but with a £300 a day ATM withdrawal limit overseas.)
Also beware that individual ATMs may charge a fee too – that’s nothing to do with Monzo, though.
All transactions in a foreign currency are made at the current day’s Mastercard exchange rate, offering a competitive rate that responds to the live market.
Then, when you get back from your trip, Monzo will send you a little summary of how much you spent.
Monzo doesn’t offer savings accounts itself, but it’s got a shiny new savings marketplace, which means that you can open a savings account with another provider directly from the Monzo app (Monzo refers to those as “Saving Pots”). We’ve got a full review of Monzo’s savings feature if you want to read more.
Also, if you don’t want to open a separate savings account you can just set money aside in a Monzo “pot” – but this won’t pay interest.
As we mentioned above, you can also simply round up your savings (e.g. £2.57 at Sainsbury’s = 43p into a savings pot.) If you like the sound of this, maybe you should check out Moneybox. It’s the same principle but your spare change is invested to boost growth.
You can now apply for a personal loan from the Monzo app. You’ll be able to borrow between £200 and £15,000, but approval will depend on your credit history and score.
Unlike with many high street lenders, Monzo offers you a personalised quote before you actually apply. This way, you’ll know exactly how much the loan will cost you from the start. Monzo does check your credit score but won’t proceed with a “hard” credit check unless you decide to actually take out the loan. If you don’t, nothing will show on your credit record.
We also have a dedicated review of Monzo’s personal loans if you want to learn more.
Monzo now also offers an energy switching service. It’s similar to its savings marketplace – Monzo doesn’t offer the service in-house, but partners up with providers that do. If you want to give it a go, you can go on your Profile on the app and complete a short form about your house and energy use. Monzo will then offer you a quote from its partner providers.
These currently are OVO Energy and Octopus Energy. They’re not the very cheapest you can find, but they’re competitive. Octopus is a 100% green energy provider, while OVO’s tariffs are 33% green by default and you can upgrade to a 100% green option for £5 a month. If you do decide to go through with the switch, they’ll handle it for you.
Monzo is (almost completely!) free to use both in the UK and abroad:
Monzo has also launched a premium offering, called Monzo Plus, that offers extra features in return for a monthly fee.
Monzo offers an optional overdraft to its customers that you can activate in the app. Enter you address, previous addresses, salary, and Monzo will run a soft credit check on you (this won’t affect your credit score).
If you’re accepted, Monzo will instantly set up an overdraft for you. The limit will depend on your salary and credit history. You’ll then be presented with an agreement – unlike the initial soft credit check. Accepting the terms will leave a record on your credit history.
Monzo charges a daily fee of 50p whenever you’re overdrawn by more than £20. If you’re using less than £20, you won’t be charged at all. The maximum Monzo will ever charge you in a month is £15.50 (where the month has 31 days), which means that if you used the full amount of your overdraft for 90 days, the total amount to pay would be £45. There are no other fees.
Payments which exceed an arranged overdraft are simply rejected.
Yes! Monzo is a bank. “Monzo Bank Ltd” is authorised in the UK by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
It’s as safe as any bank. Your money in Monzo is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000. The FSCS is an independent statutory fund set up to safeguard consumer finances in the event of a bank being unable to meet its payment demands. Monzo has full FSCS protection, covering up to £85,000 of your money – as is the standard for UK bank accounts.
These days anyone can join Monzo in a matter of minutes. Monzo introduced Golden Tickets when it had a waiting list to join, so existing customers could help their friends jump the queue.
A ‘Golden Ticket’ is Monzo’s name for its “refer a friend” system. Basically, it’s a link an existing customer can send to a friend inviting them to join Monzo.
Existing users get the Golden Ticket in their app, then copy and send the link by email, text, or messaging services like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger.
Golden Tickets are supposed to make joining Monzo quick and easy. However, they’re not as essential as they used to be.
Looking for something similar to Monzo? Check out our guide on Monzo alternatives.
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★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
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