Finance is forever changing and advancements in technology have led to a new wave of app-only banks being introduced into the market.
These snazzy, functional banks have had their work cut out tackling their more established, older brothers.
Perhaps none have been more successful in taking on the ‘big 4’ than Monzo.
But is it so good that it’s worth switching over to this company?
Or are you being sucked into getting a glorified, luminescent card?
All shall be answered in this full comprehensive Monzo review.
Before we get underway, here is the table of contents for this review of Monzo:
What Is Monzo?
How Does Monzo Work?
Monzo’s Sign Up Process
Is Monzo Safe?
Pros And Cons
My Final Thoughts
Now you have a rough idea of the contents, let’s not waste any more time and get straight into this Monzo review.
What Is Monzo?
When it comes to the finance industry, the origins of many companies are somewhat boring and uninspiring.
The same can’t be said for the new kid on the block, Monzo or as it was once known, Mondo.
It’s 4 founders were prior workers at Starling Bank, arguably Monzo’s biggest competitors today in the ‘app only’ sector.
Funding was secured through a crowdfunding session with the platform crowdcube, which would go on to break a few records.
At the time, Monzo would become the fastest crowd-funded project in history, raising no less than 1 million pounds in 96 seconds.
Monzo originally started as a prepaid debit card and a mobile app.
However, in April of 2017, Monzo’s banking licensing would be granted, this meant you could open a deposit account with them.
Over the course of 3 months, Monzo would report over 250 million pounds was spent through their prepaid cards.
Extremely impressive for a startup, so much so that it would win the ‘best start-up tech company to work for’ award from Linkedin Uk (2018).
Around the same time, Monzo would look to secure more funds from Crowdcube, the platform that had helped get them going.
Once again they would break another record for the largest ever crowdfunding round for a fintech company ever, raising 20 million.
From this point onward Monzo has been consistently evolving to stay ahead of its competitors.
Here’s a brief look at what they have to offer via one of their promotional videos.
(More on features later)
In terms of the companies structure, Monzo brands itself as a clear and transparent bank for everyone by everyone.
So far it’s proved effective, amassing a community of over 4 million people.
Monzo even encourages users to give suggestions for features and to conduct app testing for them.
It sounds like the ideal bank so far doesn’t it?
How Does Monzo Work?
Monzo has cut ties with the traditional banking system, in terms of possessing psychical branches.
What this means is it’s essentially an online bank but shares all the necessary qualities of the ‘big banks’.
Monzo currently offers business, joint and personal bank accounts.
Just like better-known banks, you can set up direct debits, do contactless payments, withdraw and transfer money.
As a result, this gives you more freedom and control over your finances.
Monzo’s Sign Up Process
Next up in this Monzo review, we are going to take a quick look at the signup process.
To be eligible for a Monzo card, you need to fulfil these two factors:
- Must be older than 16
- Need to live in the Uk
You’ll also need a form of identification at hand, Monzo excepts:
- Driving licence
- National ID card
- Firearm or shotgun certificate
- Biometric residency permit
- Electrical identity card
(This example will be done using the Appstore)
So firstly you’re going to need to head over to the Appstore or Playstore and download the Monzo app.
After it’s downloaded, click the icon and create an account.
Fill out your email address.
After the animation has finished, open up the mail app (Includes Gmail).
Once you open the email and click the link, you’ll be taken back to the Monzo app.
From here, you’ll be asked to fill out some personal details, including your phone number and postcode.
After you have completed this process, you’ll be notified that your card is being sent.
According to Monzo, 99% of users get their card within 4 days.
When you receive your card, you can activate it via the app.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this Monzo review is the features the company provides.
To set yourself apart from the competition in the financial industry you need to go above and beyond to attract users.
Monzo has certainly done that.
Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.
You can receive real-time information regarding your spending.
This is so you can see what’s leaving your account instantly.
A handy feature to say the least.
Freeze Your Card
If ever you lose your card or have misplaced it, you can simply log into the app and freeze your card.
All you need to do is press the freeze icon on the homepage.
As you can see below when pressed a frost animation will appear over your card which is pretty cool (pun not intended).
(Note: This will also deactivate your contactless card via your IWallet if you have an apple device)
This feature saves potentially lengthy and boring conversations with your provider to cancel or freeze your card.
Even if you don’t use Monzo as your primary current account, it could be worth having a card for this feature alone.
I personally use my Monzo card for my holidays, here’s why:
- Free overseas transaction fees.
- Free for your first withdrawal (refreshed every 30 days) within European Economic Area up to £200.
These are handy features to have, particularly if you travel fairly frequently.
As far as I’m aware no bank offers these sorts of overseas perks as standard.
Correct me if I’m wrong in the comments below.
Get Paid Early
To understand how this feature works, you need to understand what the bank automated clearing system (BACS) is.
In simple terms, BACS is an electronic system that makes payments directly from one bank account to another.
This system is frequently used by organisations/employers but takes up to 3 working days to clear (reach your account).
Monzo can advance your wage through this system as it’s almost certain that the money is going to arrive from your employer.
That means you don’t have to wait for the ‘clearing period’.
By doing this, Monzo says you have ‘more time with your money’, to do what you like with it.
To use this feature you need to fulfil these two elements:
- Be a Monzo customer
- Have your wage paid directly into your Monzo account via BACS
With salary sorter, you can switch your current bank account to make Monzo your primary.
By channelling your salary into your Monzo account, you can place specific amounts of money into spending, bills or savings.
To do this, just press the chart in the top right corner and scroll down to ‘add salary’.
Choose how you would like to add your salary to Monzo.
If you choose to switch your bank, there are a few things you need to know first:
- All your direct debits, standing orders and bills will be transferred to Monzo
- Your old account will be closed
- You’ll need your sort code, account number and bank card connected to that account at hand
- Joint accounts and savings accounts can’t be transferred
- Overdrafts aren’t transferred
- Transfers take around 7 days
If you’re satisfied with all of these points, you can switch other to Monzo.
This ties in partly with the salary sorter function.
Monzo’s pots allow you to separate your money further into one of the following:
- Savings pot– store money away for multiple things
- Bills pot- manage standing orders and your direct debits
- Spending pot- Categorise what you’re spending your money on
By having more control over the finer details, Monzo hopes you’ll be more attune with your finances.
Believe it or not, many traditional banks do not have such a feature.
To create a pot just click the chart in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to pots.
You’ll then be greeted with these slides.
You can then choose the pot you would and can start saving from there.
Just be aware that you can’t touch that money until the set limit is reached.
It will also not count to your overall balance so if you go over your current balance, your overdraft will be triggered.
Budgets are an essential part of everyone who has a sensible relationship with money.
Whether we like budgeting or not, it’s useful and Monzo thinks so too because they have a whole section dedicated to it.
This is just another step in having more control over your finances.
To use the budgets feature, you’d click the chart in the top right-hand corner.
You can then set a budget for each category listed below.
Once you’re happy with the budgets that you have set, you can press done.
They will then appear in the summary section.
Spending reports wraps up the what goes in, out and then the distribution of your money among pots for the month.
In a clean and clear interface, you can have a summary of what you’ve been up to with you Monzo account.
As you can imagine, this is very helpful in bringing more structure to your finances.
Simply click ‘spending reports’ located on the home page.
You’ll be taken to this screen.
From here you can see the summary in further details by clicking ‘see full summary’.
After analysing the figures you can act accordingly to your goals/targets.
Within the Monzo app, there is a whole dedicated section to finding help.
They have a list of scenarios for you to choose from.
Alternatively, if none of them fit your current situation you can type your problem in the search bar.
This is handy to have easy access to customer service if you encounter a problem and in most cases can be resolved quickly.
(Note: If your issue is not provided, you may have to leave the app and contact them via phone)
Although this has become an almost compulsory feature in today’s day and age, it’s still important to mention.
You can find a clear breakdown of your transaction history on the homepage, as shown below.
Further information on a transaction can be accessed by clicking it.
Is Monzo Safe?
Monzo is fully regulated by the FCA, meaning it has the same securities levels as most other banks.
The goals of the FCA are:
- To safeguard customers
- Enhance the integrity of the UK financial system
- Promote healthy competition to improve services for the public
If Monzo for some reason goes bankrupt, any money you have in your account (up to 85,000) is protected by the financial services compensation scheme.
Not only that, but joint accounts are protected up to 170,000 giving you security if you choose to open up an account.
It’s safe to say that Monzo is secure and protected.
So far in this Monzo review, I have only included my personal experience with the bank.
To provide a more well rounded and complete review, I like to include customers opinions/experiences.
The Monzo reviews will solely be from Trustpilot in this case as the platform has over 7,500 reviews of the company.
Here’s an overview of the reviews.
As you can see, the reviews are predominantly positive however 12% of the reviews are labelled as bad (more on this later).
First off, let’s take a look at what people think Monzo is doing well.
I very much agree with the ease of use, a clean and clear interface goes a long way.
In terms of customer service, the addition of the help section in the app will contribute to positive reviews such as this.
Here’s a prime example of the response to the wide array of features that Monzo provides to there users.
I feel inclined to agree, the platform was extremely fast and efficient overall.
My experience with customer service was also positive, however, it should be noted that I never had any major issues.
Let’s move onto reviews that class Monzo as an average company.
In terms of what the refund is for, it’s not specified however I have seen a few similar comments in regards to refunds being tricky at times.
It is nice to see Monzo actively replying to customers to try to help them as much as possible.
Having said that, some of the more recent reviews that we are going to get into in a short while haven’t had a response from Monzo as of yet.
This review is interesting because it’s clear that he enjoyed the bank as a whole.
However, he has encountered many reports of account closures.
This ties in with the majority of the bad reviews.
This woman’s review seems genuine and it’s obvious why she would be upset.
I want to come to Monzo’s aid slightly here because it’s unlikely that Monzo would prevent you from reopening account without sufficient belief.
Having said that, it seems to me in this case that they have got it wrong (as in the case of a few reviews to come).
In terms of not being able to switch from one account to another, Monzo should fix this whether it’s an isolated case or not.
It’s hard to comment on whether or not Monzo would accuse her of lying, but their actions seem to indicate they didn’t believe her.
Normally I would hesitate to put reviews of this nature in because they include phrases like ‘no reason’.
But due to the sheer number of the users saying similar things it seems unjust not to include them.
The point concerning the time frame in which he still hasn’t received his money seems poor on Monzo’s part.
In regards to little to no reasons for account closures, Monzo states this in a reply to a similar review.
In these cases, it’s more than likely that Monzo’s communication in regards to explaining reasons for account closures is at fault.
As opposed to closures for ‘no reason’.
It appears that this is something they need to work on.
This review further consolidates the common viewpoint in regards to accounts being closed and frozen.
Putting aside the strong terminology such as ‘robbing’ it seems that there is genuine concern about the safety of your money in some cases.
This helps explains why there is such a disparity between great reviews and bad reviews.
Overall it seems that the viewpoint is largely positive, however, it’s tainted by a sizeable amount of customers who are having very poor experiences.
Pros Of Monzo
- Customer support
- Clear interface
- Lots of great features
- Safe and secure
- Always evolving/innovating
- Strong branding/marketing
Cons Of Monzo
- Psychical branches would be useful for some customers
- Needs more refinements options when checking transaction history
- Account freezing and closures
- Users have had issues regarding fraudulent claims
Final Thoughts On This Monzo Review
Whether or not you open an account with Monzo seems to come down to this:
Are you happy to take a risk, albeit small, that you could encounter difficulties regarding account closure or freezing?
If you are, then 9/10 you are going to enjoy the features and overall style of the ‘new school’ bank that is Monzo.
However, a lot of people, particularly when it comes to finances (rightly so), are not happy to take this risk no matter how small.
It’s a shame to see that a great brand can be tarnished by what seems to be like a handful of issues.
That is, unfortunately, the nature of the market Monzo is in.
I hope you found this Monzo review useful, I always try to be as transparent and unbiased as possible to bring you the best reviews.
I have done many similar software review posts on Monzo’s competitors such as:
As always be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or if you think anything was missing from this Monzo review.
(Disclaimer: Sufficient time and effort goes into creating these posts but I should make it clear that I’m not a financial advisor)