Using Monzo abroad: Is it the right app to use?

Take out a bank account with Monzo, and you could benefit from fee-free spending abroad.

In the excitement of booking a holiday, it’s all too easy to forget about your spending options while you’re away. But use the wrong type of plastic, and you could be hit by hefty foreign exchange fees, making your trip considerably more expensive.

Fortunately, a number of bank accounts and spending cards won’t charge you for foreign transactions, with one option being Monzo.

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Monzo
Spend abroad with no fees
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  • Pay anywhere, in any currency, fee-free
  • Make fee-free cash withdrawals
  • Get worldwide travel insurance and more with Monzo Premium

What is Monzo?

Digital challenger bank Monzo offers a current account with a range of pricing plans, plus a debit card that can be used abroad for spending purposes and ATM withdrawals. Your Monzo account can be managed via the app, making it ideal when you’re on the go, and you can track your spending with ease. Depending on the plan you choose, you might also benefit from additional travel benefits.

What features does Monzo offer for going abroad?

We’ve outlined the key travel features of the Monzo account below:

Low fees

When you open a Monzo bank account, you’ll also receive a debit card. Whenever you use this card to make purchases abroad, Monzo will use the Mastercard exchange rate to carry out the conversion and won’t add any fees.

Depending on your account plan and where you use your card, you might also be able to withdraw cash on your card abroad without being charged a fee.

If Monzo is your main bank account, you can make unlimited fee-free cash withdrawals in the EEA and up to £200 fee-free every 30 days outside the EEA. After that, a fee will apply. For Monzo to be your main bank account, you must meet certain conditions, such as having paid £500 into your account in the last 35 days and having at least one direct debit on the same account. If you don’t meet this criteria, you can:

  • Withdraw up to £250 fee-free in EEA countries every 30 days.
  • Withdraw up to £200 fee-free outside the EEA every 30 days.

Alternatively, Monzo Plus customers get unlimited fee-free cash withdrawals in the EEA and up to £400 fee-free elsewhere every 30 days. And Monzo Premium customers get unlimited fee-free cash withdrawals in the EEA and up to £600 fee-free elsewhere.

Monzo also offers a credit card, Monzo Flex, which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Budgeting with friends on holiday

All of Monzo’s bank accounts include a budgeting feature, which is ideal for anyone travelling with friends. It enables users to track how much everyone owes for restaurant bills, accommodation costs and any other holiday spending and settle up whenever they like using a Shared Tab. You can use this feature even if your friends don’t have Monzo.

Access to savings pots

You can also use one of Monzo’s Savings Pots to separate the money you’re saving for a holiday and earn a competitive rate of interest on that cash.

Travel insurance

If you’re a Monzo Premium customer, which means you must pay a monthly account fee, you can benefit from worldwide travel insurance for you and your family when you travel together. This includes cover for holiday cancellation, medical bills and winter sports.

Airport lounge access

Monzo’s Premium plan also includes discounted access to more than 1,100 airport lounges worldwide for you and your family or friends.

Phone insurance

Another perk of the Monzo Premium account is mobile phone insurance. This covers your phone for loss, theft, damage or breakdown wherever you are in the world.

Pros and cons of using Monzo abroad

Pros

  • Fee-free spending abroad at the Mastercard exchange rate
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad (if you meet certain conditions)
  • Budgeting and saving features to help you manage your holiday money
  • Additional travel perks for Monzo Premium customers, such as travel and phone insurance

Cons

  • You’ll need to pay a monthly fee to get access to additional perks
  • Fee applies to foreign transactions that exceed your monthly limit

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a debit card that won’t charge you hefty transaction fees when you’re abroad, Monzo is a competitive choice, particularly if it’s your main bank account.

What’s more, if you’re happy to pay for your account, you can benefit from additional perks such as travel insurance, phone insurance and discounted access to airport lounges. But you’ll need to weigh up whether you’ll make full use of these benefits to decide if the fee is worth paying. Plus, don’t forget that, as with any financial product, it’s worth comparing Monzo to competitors such as Revolut and Starling Bank before making a final decision.

Frequently asked questions

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