Monese, although relatively unknown in comparison to some of its competitors, arguably paved the way for the ‘modern-day’ bank.
Therefore, in my view, this Monese review is long overdue.
Does being the first online bank to open in the UK make it the best though?
All will be answered in this article.
- 1 What Is Monese?
- 2 How Does Monese Work?
- 3 Is Monese Safe?
- 4 Monese Reviews
- 5 Conclusion On This Monese Review
What Is Monese?
As I alluded to earlier, Monese was the first mobile-only bank account to launch in the Uk.
Monese would open it’s virtual doors to deposits as early as September 2015.
The whole concept of Monese was born when the founder, Norris Koppel moved to the Uk but found it hard to open a bank account.
This was due to the fact he had no prior Uk credit history or utility bill that could prove his address.
The philosophy of Monese, therefore, revolves around being inclusive, instant and on-demand.
Here’s a brief promotional video from Monese that highlights their values and also gives you a sneak peek into its features.
In 2016 the company would win ‘Best Challenger Bank’ at the European Fintech Awards.
They would then set about expanding and developing services through funding across Europe.
Fast forward to today and people from all around Europe can open up and account in minutes, without any hidden fees and restrictions.
An impressive story that led to the creation of a new sector within the financial industry known as ‘challenger banks’.
How Does Monese Work?
Like the majority of ‘new school’ banks, Monese has no psychical branches.
That means the majority of actions you want to make can be done at the touch of a button.
Monese is essentially a bank in your pocket that anyone can sign up to within a few minutes (more on this later).
Just like traditional banks, Monese offer a personal, joint and/or business account(s).
As soon as you get your card through the post you can also start to set up direct debits, standing orders etc via the app.
All Monese cards have contactless functionality and can be synced with Apple pay to allow you to shop even without the psychical card.
Besides filling the standard properties of a bank, Monese offer a whole host of money management features for you take advantage of.
We’ll touch upon that in more detail later on in this Monese review, but for now, I’ll take a quick look at the signup process.
Monese Sign Up Process
(Note: If you have already signed up, you can skip this part of the Monese review)
First off you are going to need to download the Monese app.
You can do so via the App or play store depending on your device type.
Head over to the Appstore and type in ‘Monese’.
Wait for it to download and press the icon.
Once it’s loaded you have the option straight away to create an account.
You’ll then be asked to provide your email address and to create a password.
Enter your phone number and select the currency you would like the account to be in.
Add your address and verify your identity via one of the methods noted in the photo below.
After you have sent the photos of your ID you’ll need to wait for them to be verified by Monese.
Monese insists this won’t take long.
My application was verified in just under 2 minutes.
(Note: This is the quickest verification time of all challenger banks I have tried so far)
Simply log back into the app when you get the notification and then you’ll be asked to provide a selfie video.
Once more, you’ll be asked to wait for validation.
Then you can choose which card you would like.
After you have chosen the best plan for you, you’ll have the option to create a virtual card so you can use Monese straight away.
You can also connect it to Apple or Google pay.
All you need to do is then order your psychical card and you’ll all set up and ready to explore Monese’s features.
(Note: All of these features come standard, not requiring upgraded plans to access them)
This section is likely to be the most interesting part of the Monese review.
Challengers to the traditional banks typically try to level the playing field by providing handy and useful tools.
Therefore you have more control over your finances in general, which will help to develop your management skills.
Let’s take a look at each one in more some more detail.
As you could see from the signup process when creating an account you have the option to choose what currency you would like.
You are allowed to have an account for each currency which is handy if you buy or sell abroad.
It can also serve as a good holiday account as you’ll money will already be in the correct currency without the need to change it in the post office.
You can get real-time information regarding your spending as soon as you make payments.
That means you’ll be notified instantly every time.
This can be handy for those who have a business and/or joint account.
Simple but handy.
Monese has a dedicated section on tracking your outgoings.
You’ll find a list of all your transactions across the month.
Not to mention, your spending habits for the prior months.
To access the reports simply head to ‘spending’ on the homepage.
From here you’ll have an overview of your spending data.
A trendy new feature that challenger banks are including in their apps is setting budgets.
Much like Monzo and Starling, Monese has a dedicated section to setting budgets.
This will serve as a friendly reminder to plan around the budget you choose.
All you need to do to set a budget is head over to ‘spending’ once more.
Press ‘budget’ and then ‘set a budget’.
You can then set a limit and you’re done.
From now on you can find your budget under that section.
Monese enables customers to convert money at an interbank rate so you’ll pay the same wholesale rate like banks.
You can also have your money converted into 19 different currencies at the time of writing.
To send money abroad, all you need to do is head over to ‘pay’ and press ‘send money globally’.
Then you need to fill out some information regarding the recipient’s bank details and you’re all done.
Lock Your Card
Locking your card, more commonly known as freezing your card, means you can stop transactions taking place, rendering it unusable.
This feature will potentially save you lengthy and boring phone calls with your provider because you can do it at the touch of a button.
To lock your card, all you need to do is head over to ‘card’.
Move along to the card you want to freeze and press ‘lock’.
You’ll know when your card is locked because it will have the animation above over the top of it.
To unlock, simply click the same button, it’s as simple as that.
So if you ever lose or misplace your card, this feature will come in handy.
You may have picked up earlier in this monese review that they offer 3 different account versions.
Here’s a look at what each one provides in a side by side comparison.
2% fee thereafter
2% fee thereafter
|Foreign Currency Transfers||Free to monese accounts|
2% for other accounts (£2 feeminimum)
|Free to monese accounts|
0.5% for other accounts (£2 fee minimum)
|Free for all accounts|
|Free Cash Top Up||N/A||£900 free|
2% fee thereafter
2% fee after
2% fee after
|Direct Debits & Recurring payments||Included||Included||Included|
As you can see, both paid packages offer an increase in perks quite substantially.
Having said that, it’s a reoccurring fee each month and the standard card fulfils MOST people’s needs from there card.
Ultimately, the decision is yours.
Hopefully, this side by side comparison has helped you come to a decision which version would better suit you.
(Note: Don’t hesitate to send me an email via email@example.com if you have any questions)
If you’re all up to date, we can move on.
Limits And Restrictions
Now you know what to expect from each account, it’s time to go over some restrictions and limits that apply.
Here’s a quick overview:
- Maximum account balance of £40,000
- Cash top-up via the post office £5 minimum – £500 maximum
- Cash top-up via PayPoint N/A minimum – £249 maximum
- Daily top-up via debit card £10 minimum – £500 maximum (up to 2 payments)
- Income faster & BACS payments (per transactions) N/A minimum – £40,000 maximum
- Card purchases (per transaction) minimum N/A – £4,000 maximum
- Daily cash withdrawals via ATM £300 maximum
- Outgoings faster & direct debit payments (per day) minimum N/A – £40,000 maximum
Is Monese Safe?
The case of Monese is very similar to that of Revolut in that they do not have a Uk banking license.
Technically Monese is more of a digital payment system than a bank but still share many of the same properties.
Here are the main differences as a result of not having a Uk banking license:
- Not protected by FSCS– If Monese was to go bankrupt, you would not be compensated for your account losses.
- Lending– Monese can not offer lending services such as an overdraft or loan.
What you will be glad to hear, however, is that Monese is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This means Monese has the same securities levels as banks, adhering to strict rules and regulations.
The goals of the FCA are:
- To safeguard customer
- Enhance the integrity of the Uk financial system
- To promote healthy competition to improve service to the public
To sum up this section of the Monese review, your money is safe with the company unless they were to go bankrupt for any reason.
I will be sure to update this portion of the review if any new developments occur (plans to apply for a license etc).
As with all my reviews, I like to include other opinions/experiences with the company to arrive at a more well-rounded conclusion.
This Monese review is no exception.
All review are courtesy of Trustpilot.
Here’s a quick overview from 15,000+ Monese reviews so we have a rough idea of what to expect.
As you can see the review are overwhelmingly positive.
However, I always like to take a look at a few in more detail because the overview doesn’t always tell the full story.
Let’s first take a look at some positive Monese reviews.
Short and sweet but highlights Monese’s philosophy.
Speedy and easy to use are common remarks when on the topic of what Monese does well.
My experience can attest to the speed and after of money transfers.
It’s also very useful to be able to have multiple accounts in different currencies, a feature that not many banks have.
Live support tends to be a subjective experience but the fact they haven’t had to contact them is a good sign.
From the walkthrough we did earlier of the signup process I’m sure we can both attest to the fact it’s easy to get started.
It’s also handy to be able to access all of Monese’s functions through the app and the same goes for the majority of ‘challenger banks’.
Let’s now move onto some of the reviews that are considered average.
This touches upon a major disadvantage that I noted earlier on in this Monese review.
As a result of not having a Uk bank license, Monese can not offer any lending services.
A credit card will fall into this category and therefore the company will not be eligible to offer one.
I have seen a few negative reviews that have mentioned Monese’s referral program.
I personally haven’t used it so I can’t comment, but due to the sheer number of complaints, it indicates that the process needs refining.
When it comes to charging for a card, it can catch a lot of people of guard (including me) because we are so used to them being free.
Having said that, I think this is slowly changing because Monese is not the only one (Revolut comes to mind).
If the level of features justifies the price to pay, I’m sure lots of customers will be happy to.
Unfortunately, it looks like this user doesn’t think it’s worth it.
Last up is some of the more critical Monese reviews.
Having read through a large quantity of the 1-star reviews, I can confirm that the majority have to do with the customer service.
This seems to be a common problem with Banks that are solely online because humans can be replaced with automated messages and FAQs.
It’s much the same story here, it’s a shame because much of this frustration can be rectified with an investment in human customer service.
Their process in general looks like it needs some adjustments.
According to this article by Fnlondon, Monese has been talking about laying off some staff as a result of the pandemic.
To sum up these Monese reviews, they are mostly positive focusing on their speed and ease of use.
However, it seems as though they need to work on their customer service and invest more in human service for help.
- Good reviews On The Whole
- Speedy Sign Up Process
- Regulated By The FCA
- Clean Interface
- Multi-Currency Accounts
- Great Features
- Virtual Card
- Customer Service
- £40,000 Account Limit
- Not Protected By FSCS
Conclusion On This Monese Review
Now that this Monese review is drawing to a close, we have a strong basis to make a decision on how good it is on the whole.
Monese’s humble origins came about as a result of technical and demanding criteria for bank applications.
The company has formulated a service that is quick, with an easy signup process for all members of the public across Europe.
Besides these qualities, Monese’s strengths seemed to lye in their multi-currency accounts and global transfer system.
By contrast, the main criticisms of the bank are to do with its customer service and problems regarding account suspension/freezing.
Although they may have paved the way for the ‘new school’ banks, I get the impression they have been left behind in many respects.
Competition in this space is fierce, with the likes of Revolut just providing better rates overall.
So it is my belief, at least for the time being, there are better options out there than Monese.
If you enjoyed this Monese review, consider checking out some of the software product review articles on challenger banks such as:
As always be sure to leave a comment if you enjoyed it or equally if you think I missed anything out from this Monese review.