Monzo bank review

Everything you need to know about Monzo Bank

With 7.5 million customers and counting Monzo’s popularity has swept across the UK as customers flock to get their hands on its hot-coral card. 

The digital bank led the way with a variety of features to help customers manage their money from the comfort of their phones. 

From spending insights and overdrafts to opening a savings pot, you can handle most aspects of your finances from the Monzo app. 

This review focuses on Monzo’s standard free-to-use current account rather than the paid-for options.

Find out how Monzo works and whether it’s worth getting an account.

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monzo review

What is Monzo?

Monzo is a digital bank that is operated entirely through a smartphone app. 

Starting its days as a prepaid card back in 2016, Monzo is now a fully-fledged bank with millions of customers across the UK.

Today Monzo has upgraded its features, offering several types of current accounts (and other services like borrowing and savings products) to help you manage your money. 

Types of Monzo Account

Monzo currently offers the following types of current accounts: 

Monzo features

Monzo’s standard current account offers a variety of features that can help you manage your finances. 

Many of these were first seen on Monzo, though some have since become common across a number of other challenger and high-street banking apps.

We’ve broken down the features into the following categories – spending, budgeting, saving and borrowing.  

Spending with Monzo

  • Mastercard debit card: Monzo’s hot-coral debit card is Mastercard which is accepted by most merchants around the world. 
  • Customisable contactless limits: You can decide if you want a lower cap for contactless spending, set by default at £100 for single taps and £200 cumulative before you need to enter the PIN
  • Apple/Google Pay: You can add your Monzo card to an Apple or Google Pay wallet to make contactless payments from your phone or a compatible device (like a smartwatch). 
  • Instant updates: You can enable instant updates each time you spend which can help you track your payments quickly. 
  • Committed spending: This feature lists all of your regular outgoings each month including bills and subscriptions. 
  • Transaction tags: You can add tags and additional notes to your transactions to help sort your payments, though you’re limited to set categories with the free version of Monzo. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty then you might be better off with a third-party budgeting app
  • Spending abroad: Monzo offers fee-free spending abroad and up to £250 free cash withdrawals per month for EEA countries or £200 for non-EEA countries (after that a 3% fee applies).  
  • Cash withdrawals: Unlike most other banks, there’s a cap here. You can withdraw up to £250 every 30 days in the UK (after that a 3% fee applies).
  • Splitting the bill: Split bills and payments with other Monzo users easily in the app. 
  • Monzo Me: Request money from someone using a unique link generated in the app. (You can also use this feature to pay people too!)
  • Gambling block: You can block transactions to gambling websites and services through the app. 
  • Card details: Monzo allows you to check your PIN and debit card details (like the debit card number and CVC) in the app. 
  • Account sharing: You can easily share your account no. and sort code via messenger, email and other apps. 
  • Card freezing: If you think you’ve lost your card, you can freeze it in the app to stop payments from going through until you find it.

Our podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, our award-winning podcast, presented by Editor-in-chief Andy Webb.

Episodes every Tuesday.

Budgeting with Monzo

Monzo Trends gives you an overview of your finances in the app, both on the home screen and in a separate tab. There are several features in this tab:

  • Balances: You can view your individual and combined balances across your different Monzo accounts and any Pots you’ve set up.
  • Spending: You can also track your spending and see how much you’ve paid for different categories of expenses. For example, it’ll show how much you’ve spent on things like transport, entertainment or groceries to name a few. It also lets you compare your spending insights month on month to highlight any changes.
  • Target: Monzo Trends also lets you set targets for your spending each month which you can break down into specific categories as well.
  • Left to Spend: Over the course of the month you can check how much you have left to spend of your overall budget (and for each category if you’ve set specific targets for those).  

These aren’t the only budgeting options, you can also manage your money with:

  • Salary sorter: This feature splits your salary across different pots, such as money for spending, bills and savings. (It also works for splitting any deposit over £100 into your account.)
  • Early payday: If your salary is paid into Monzo they’ll pay the money into your account at 4 pm the day before. 
  • Monzo Pots: Create up to 20 Pots for different expenses e.g. bills, food, and nights out. (It’s very similar to the “jam jar” or envelope budgeting method).

More on Monzo Pots

  • These can be customised with pictures and bespoke titles.
  • These do not have their own sort codes and account numbers so you’ll mostly need to manually transfer cash into them, however, you can set Direct Debits to come out of specific pots – handy for allocating cash each month for things like bills.

Saving with Monzo

  • Round ups:  Monzo’s auto-savings feature allows you to round up your payments on the card to the nearest pound and it puts the extra money into a pot for you. (This can build up to a nice chunk of change over time!)
  • Savings pots: You can use the Monzo Pots to separate your cash from your main account, making it harder for you to use it for everyday spending. money. However, to earn interest on this money you’ll need to open a specific savings pot. Remember to check if the rates can be beaten by other easy-access savings accounts on the market right now. 
  • Automated savings: You can connect to a service called IFTTT (If This Then That) to trigger auto savings. This can be anything from the 1p savings challenge through to moving money when an event happens such as rain. It’s a unique feature which might make it easier to add to your savings without any effort.

Borrowing

  • Overdrafts: You might be eligible for an arranged overdraft. Depending on your credit score you’ll be charged 19%, 29% or 39% to use it. Though these lower rates are cheaper than most other banks, it’s still an expensive way to borrow.
  • Mortgage tracker: You can connect your mortgage to the Monzo app and track your payment progress, explore overpayments and get more insights. Though how useful this will be is questionable.

Using the Monzo App

It’s not just the features listed that made Monzo so popular – it’s also how easy the app is to use. Or at least that was the case. It’s been through a few iterations, with our Editor-in-chief Andy not a fan of the most recent iteration.

However, as of summer 2023, there’s a whole new look for the Monzo App (if it’s not been rolled out to you yet you can activate it via Monzo Labs in settings.

This is largely an update to its home screen design. A big part of this is customisation, so you can choose what you see and where. Straight away it makes it a lot easier to see your main Monzo account, and access key features such as your card and get statements, 

Above this you’ll see selected insights into your spending, while Pots can also be reordered and customised, giving you the choice between the classic look (with pictures) or a list.

You still have the Trends, Payments and Help tabs at the bottom of the screen to quickly jump between these sections. You’ll find more settings by hitting your initials (or a photo if you’ve set this up) in the top left corner.

It’s early days but it looks like this update is a big improvement and makes Monzo once again one of the easier apps to navigate.

How to add money to Monzo

It’s easy to make digital transactions to add money, but it’s a lot harder when it comes to cash and cheques are there are no branches. 

Here are the main options to add money to your Monzo account:

Make a bank transfer

You or another person can transfer money into your Monzo account using your sort code and account number. 

Bank transfers typically land in your account instantly, but sometimes it can take a little longer for the transaction to go through. 

Monzo Me

Money can be added to your account using the Monzo Me feature. It allows you to create unique QR codes or payment links to request money from others. You’ll find this in the Payments section by hitting the four boxes icon in the top right corner of the screen.

You don’t have to be a Monzo account holder to make a payment using this link. Which makes it really useful for requesting money from people who bank elsewhere. 

Cash deposits

Unlike Starling and many other banks you can’t use Post Offices to pay in cash. Instead, you can deposit cash into your Monzo account using PayPoint, which you’ll find in all sorts of shops, including some Asdas and Co-ops. There are around 28,000 locations across the UK (keep an eye out for the yellow logo in shops or search here.

Sadly PayPoint isn’t free. It costs £1 to make a deposit and you can deposit £5-£300 in one go. There’s a £1,000 deposit cap every six months too. (For the 16-17 account this limit drops to £500 every six months). 

Usually, it takes about 10 minutes for the money to show up in your account. 

Cheques

Monzo allows you to deposit money into your account using a cheque. To do this you’ll need to tap the home icon in the menu bar, select “add money” and then tap “cheques”. 

It’s worth noting that this is a pretty lengthy process. It takes around 5-7 working days for the cheque to get to Monzo HQ. And then another week for it to be processed.

So it may be better to make cash deposits into an account that has a quicker turnaround if you deal with them regularly. 

Another thing to bear in mind is that Monzo only accepts cheques in GBP. Other currencies won’t be accepted. 

You’re better off having an account at a different bank that lets you pay in cheques via their app and transfer the money over.

Monzo fees and allowances

Although Monzo’s standard account is free to use, the following fees may kick in for certain payments or services: 

  • Cash withdrawals in the UK:  Monzo charges 3% on cash withdrawals over £250 in a 30-day period in the UK. 
  • Cash withdrawals abroad: A 3% charge applies to withdrawals over £250 in EEA countries and £200 in countries outside of the EEA. 
  • Cash deposits: You’ll have to pay £1 per cash deposit into your Monzo account (which can be done via PayPoint) up to £300 per day. And up to £1,000 every 6 months. 
  • Card replacements: Monzo charges £5 for card replacements unless you meet the criteria for 2 free cards per year, your card expires, is stolen or you’re the victim of fraud. 

Monzo customer service

Monzo is a completely digital bank and doesn’t have any physical branches for you to visit. So, most of the customer service is managed within the app. 

You can get in touch with them 24/7 with urgent queries by tapping the “help” tab and starting a chat (at least you should be able to – check out the next box if it doesn’t appear for you).

Why isn’t the chat function showing in Monzo?

Though some Monzo customers will be able to easily click to chat to Monzo, some users won’t find this option (including our Editor Andy). Luckily we’ve uncovered a workaround. 

On the Help tab, type Contact Us in the search box, and it’ll pull up a page where you can open up a chat via a link called “Tap here to get started”. 

You’ll see some preset options, and even if these don’t relate to your query you can keep answering questions until you’re shown the option of “ I need to chat with someone”

Monzo also offers customer support via call between 7am and 8pm. You can call for free on 0800 802 1281 if you’re in the UK or +44 20 3872 0620 if you’re calling from abroad. 

There are some things Monzo can’t help with over the phone though. This includes sharing account information and updating your mobile number or email address registered to your account. (You can update these in the settings on your app).

Is Monzo safe?

Monzo is a fully-fledged bank and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). That means that it’s legally required to treat customers fairly and protect their funds. 

The money held in your Monzo account – up to £85,000 – is protected by something called the Financial Compensation Scheme (FSCS). 

This basically means that if something goes wrong with the digital bank, you’ll be able to get up to £85,000 money back. 

However, if you add money to some linked savings accounts (though not all) are actually held with other banks. It’ll be clear who this is (if it’s not Monzo) when you open that savings pot.

What is the FSCS scheme?

FSCS protects up to £85,000 of your money held in banks regulated by the FCA. It’s important to note that the protection applies to a banking licence and multiple banks can be held under each one licence. So, let’s say you have three current accounts with different banks under the same licence. That means the  £85,000 coverage would be split across all three, rather than applying to each account. Here’s more.

Will Monzo close my account?

There are often reports of Monzo closing or freezing bank accounts – there’s even a Facebook group devoted to impacted customers. And they’re not the only bank to come under fire for this, NatWest, Barclays, Monese and Revolut have also hit headlines for bank account closures too. 

Ultimately, as with all banks, Monzo has the power to freeze, block or close your account to protect other customers. 

Some of the reasons why they might close your account include: 

  • Unusual activity:  If they suspect your account is being used for criminal activity it may be blocked or closed. (This includes if their fraud systems pick up that someone else might have access to your account to protect your money from being stolen.)
  • Risky customers: Any account holders that are flagged as a risk to Monzo or other customers may have their accounts closed. 
  • Police instruction: Monzo will close your account if they’re asked to by the police as part of a financial crime investigation. 

But we don’t think it should be something to unnecessarily worry about over other banks. Monzo argues they might appear to close more accounts, but that’s because their technology means they’re better equipped to spot dodgy behaviour. 

However they won’t always get this right, so if you are affected, then contact the Financial Ombudsman.

Monzo customer reviews

Smart Money People rate Monzo 4.93 out of 5 stars at the time of writing (August 2023). And that’s based on 11,422 customer reviews. 

Positive reviews of Monzo’s standard current account highlighted the ease of use, app features and savings pots. 

Negative reviews of Monzo’s standard current account had issues contacting customer service and getting their queries resolved. 

Monzo Pros and Cons

The table below summarises the pros and cons to consider before opening a Monzo current account. 

Pros

  • Simple to set up and use
  • Lots of budgeting features and some spending insights
  • Fee-free spending abroad
  • Automated savings including round ups and your own scheduled savings pots
  • Ability to combine with IFTTT to boost savings
  • Potentially lower cost overdrafts
  • FCA-regulated and FSCS protection
  • No credit checks unless you apply for an overdraft

Cons

  • 3% charges on cash withdrawals over the free allowance in the UK and abroad
  • No bank branches or face-to-face customer support
  • £1 fee for each cash deposit you make (and you can only deposit £1,000 every 6 months) 
  • Doesn’t offer interest, cashback or rewards.
  • You have to pay for full functionality
  • No virtual cards on the free account
  • No bank switching offers 

Is Monzo any good? 

Beyond the fandom, Monzo’s standard current account is a decent all-rounder for spending and budgeting. 

The redesign is a return to a more intuitive experience, and it still offers lots of features that help you get to grips with managing your money, setting budgets and saving too.

Little things like being able to view your debit card number or PIN make paying so much simpler as well (though of course, many others offer this too).

Overall, if you’re looking for an easy way to budget and manage your everyday spending, it’s worth giving Monzo a look – as long as you’re comfortable with a fully digital banking experience.

However, we think there are better options, which we’ve listed in our alternatives to Monzo section below.

Alternatives to Monzo

For an everyday banking experience Starling still has the edge in our opinion. Plus there are no limits on cash withdrawals and the ability to use the Post Office for cash. LINK

Chase is also very easy to use but comes with the added bonus of 1% cashback at home and abroad. LINK

Or you could look at a reward based account from more established banks that have much-improved apps as well as access to high street branches (as long as they’ve not been shut down). Freebies include free Disney+ from Club Lloyds or £5 a month from Halifax Rewards

And, when it comes to saving though you’re probably better off automating the money you’d like to set aside to go to an account with another provider. As you’ll be able to take advantage of the best savings rates out there. 

How to apply for a Monzo account

You can apply for a Monzo account for free using the following five steps:

  1. Download the app:  Click this link or simply search ‘Monzo’ in the App Store or Google Play, then hit download. It’s worth seeing if any friends already use Monzo as you might be able to get a £5 referral link to use when joining.
  1. Personal details:  You’ll fill in the first section of the application with personal details such as your name, home address, employment status and phone number.
  1. ID checks: Monzo will then verify your ID by asking you to snap a picture of your ID. You can use your passport, driving licence, national ID card or biometric residency permit. Then record a selfie video. 
  1. Choose your account: Once your ID is confirmed you can choose your Monzo account and card. 
  1. Activate your card:  You’ll need to activate your card in the Monzo app to start using it. (It usually takes a couple of days for it to arrive at your home address). 

Monzo FAQs

Does Monzo offer Student Bank accounts?

Currently, Monzo doesn’t offer bank accounts for students specifically. If you are a student aged 18 or over, you can still use Monzo to manage your spending while also having a designated student bank account with another provider. 

Younger students aged 16-17 can apply for a Monzo account as well. The Monzo 16-17 account works in the same way as the standard one. The only difference is that there are spending blocks built into the account for age-restricted things like gambling.  

Can I use Monzo abroad?

Monzo offers fee-free spending when you go abroad. It used to be one of the biggest selling points of the account, but there were restrictions added a few years ago that you need to be aware of.

With a Monzo standard account, you can withdraw up to £250 in cash while travelling in EEA countries every 30 days. This falls to £200 if you’re taking out cash in countries outside of the EEA. 

Now, the cash withdrawal cap may be on the low side depending on how you travel and other providers offer more. 

For instance, Starling Bank offers unlimited spending and cash withdrawals abroad on their free standard account. And Chase isn’t just fee-free for spending but you’ll also earn 1% cashback. Check out our roundup of the best debit and credit cards to use abroad for more. 

What happens if I lose my phone?

If your phone is lost or stolen, you can freeze your account to prevent any payments or transactions from being made on your account.

You’ll just need to log into Monzo’s emergency webpage to activate the freeze. It’s a really basic version of Monzo that only allows you to see your accounts, check your balance, view recent payments from the last 90 days and freeze or unfreeze your card. 

Does Monzo offer switching deals?

Monzo doesn’t offer any switching deals currently, though you can still switch as you would to any other bank using the Current Account Switch Service (CASS).

Check out our round-up of the best bank switching deals to find out which providers are offering top-paying bonuses, cashback and rewards if you switch to them.  

19 thoughts on “Monzo bank review

  1. I’ve been using Monzo since 1st July 2017. (I love how quickly you can scroll down 5 years of transactions on the app!)
    It suits me perfectly because I am a resident in 2 countries and I have stopped worrying about transaction fees and awful exchange rates.
    However its still not my “main” current account where I receive my salary and pay my house bills from. Its more of a back up and for casual / play / risky online spending, so if the card does get copied/stolen then there is a cap on how much can be stolen.
    It will never be my main account, especially as I’ve heard so many people being locked out of their accounts after a review. Now I hear about the “material uncertainty” even more so..
    Its quite useful for the modern office whip-around, you can just share a link to collect funds and ring fence the amount in a pot.

  2. Hi i am soon to be a pensioner and my daughter has suggested getting this card to make it a bit easier to budget for bills.Would i be eligible?

  3. I have been a Monzo account holder for a couple of years and everything had been fine until june 22 when monzo decided they would review my account this took place through the night so you can imagine my surprise when i woke the following morning to find i could not use my account. i immeadiatly called customer services and was told it would 24 hours the following day i could still not access my account infact for the next five days no access to my account i work part time and in recept of a benefit which is payed into my account my wife is disabled and receives disability benefit also paid into the account i payed cheques into the account amounting to £850.00 no signs of them on my account only a continual block on my account after numerous calls to customer services i was told they can only esculate my complaint to the relevent department customer services is useless and you dont have control of your account i dont feel assured as i was with the bank very dissapointed.

  4. We have been using Monzo since 2018 we just love it we regularly use it abroad with no issues or charges and get the best conversion rates, splitting the bill is a favourite feature of ours and we use it slot when out and about with friends who are also big Monzo fans.
    If you haven’t got one your missing out.
    That’s are lots of other features we love too.

  5. I’d think carefully before joining Monzo. It’s become muddled with the different options available and the community website it prides itself on has become toxic. I was a customer for three and a half years before I decamped to Starling, as it became apparent that I wasn’t really its core customer (I’m 40), except I made the mistake of investing in them and have lost nearly £100 (thankfully not more). Starling might not be as flashy but has so far provided a much better customer experience overall so far.

  6. It’s been brilliant for me so far. I joined Monzo after doing some research to find the best way of spending money abroad. My old bank would charge me extra fees for using my card, using ATMs and then even give me their own exchange rate which was far poorer than the actual one from Visa/Mastercard. Monzo is a far better alternative as they don’t charge these fees and give you the actual exchange rate i.e. the one you find on Google.

  7. Main pros for me with Monzo are:

    Savings pots with interest over £1000,

    Pots which you can move money out of your main/ current account and set money aside, with savings goals too,

    real time spending which comes through as a notification as soon as the payment is processed,

    Set budgets where you can monitor commited spending (bills) and other budgets which fall into 12 other categories.

    Set your payday and it estimates out how much money you should have left based on scheduled payments and budgets set

    You earn £5 upon signing up if using the following code: https://join.monzo.com/r/td6rrhn

  8. I really recommend Monzo.

    I think it’s the best current account and use it for all my banking now.

  9. I’ve been using monzo for about a year and a half now and I can honestly say, I’ve loved using it.

    Initially, I liked the fact that you it could help you budget, as that is something I have struggled with in the past.

    The app itself is easy to use and navigate around and allows you to easily see where and what your spending your money on.

    Their customer service is also very good.

    Over the last few months I’ve also been using their current account. Essentially it’s the same, but you can get your salary paid into it and set up direct debits.
    I intended on using these features but unfortunately I was made redundant at the beginning of the month so I have nothing to get paid into my account.

    Overall tho, over the last 18 months I’ve seen a decline in how much I use my Barclays account (including my Bpay contactless wristband)

  10. Hi
    It took me 2 weeks to receive the card. They have full control over your money. They do whatever they want with the money you have on your account. They have closed and cancelled my account without any reason or even letting me know in advance. Their customer service is poor! I had money transfered to the account and they had transfered all the money back; that left me in massive trouble. And all these without warning or any information!
    Would not recomment monzo to anyone!!!!!!!

    1. Monzo has lost all my trust I’ve been waiting for 1 year, my card information has been stolen, I can’t access the application. Someone else is using it. Even though I reported that someone else is using it, the Monzo hotline asked for a photo with ID information, I took a video, I did everything, I couldn’t use my account. It saddens me to use such an irrelevant card to their customers. I have the card with me but I can’t use it, it’s ridiculous

  11. They ask for all you bank details before telling you that you need photo ID. It is hit and miss where you can use it and it will be accepted. It was quicker opening a Nationwide current account on line (10 mins) I am told they will be phasing these accounts by next year anyway!

  12. What, M, don’t state you’re quoting his article (assuming that’s what ‘qt’ means) and then write your own paraphrase of his words! That’s far more misleading than even you try to make the author out to be!

    In any case, in my opinion the article is written informatively and doesn’t just ‘make an impression’ of being balanced. But that’s just my opinion; you’re entitled to yours of course but don’t accuse someone of being incompetent and then be misleading yourself.

    🙂

  13. Hi how long does it take for the Monzo card to arrive in the post once you have topped the waiting que on the App.

    1. I got my card in about three working days I think, though I can’t guarantee it!

  14. We have been using mono for over a year now and absolutely love it! We have used it abroad several times and never had any issues and always got the best rates!

  15. I love the Monzo card. Global citizen here and I find myself ordering things online in different currencies wherever I go as well as purchasing services/essentials/gifts for my global family quite often. Monzo has saved me an enormous amount of money! I can’t believe it. I used to loose so much in transaction fees or physical currency exchange or have to keep up with all my bank accounts all over the world. Now I don’t bat an eyelid. Just used Monzo in UK, Bali, Marrakech, Bangladesh, Singapore and the USA and it was great! Can’t wait for the current account and a real card (not pre-paid) as I could not add Monzo to my paypal or hotels don’t accept it as a ‘deposit’ credit card when checking in. Cards like Monzo are the future. High street banks better pay attention… all those transaction fees are not going to help you one bit with the youth that now live and work all over the world. I think its only available in the UK since family and friends in the US could not sign up for it using a US address. I’ve recommended it to others who have signed up and are raving about how much we are now saving 🙂 Monzo is definitely for the global citizen!

    1. Yeah my colleague at work is often in France and Belgium visiting family so it makes his life so much easier! Interesting to hear about the hotels not accepting it. I had written a section about this (and car hire) but it seemed to work for some people so I removed it before publishing.

  16. Hi M, this review is for people who don’t have Monzo or even heard of it (which is a lot of people) so its focus is on the basic things. Really interested to hear about the other things you’ve picked up as a longer term user though. What’s not worked for you?

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