Monese Review

monese bank review

The Two Minute Review

65% The Grade

Monese is fantastic for internationals who want a smooth way to open an account, value no/low-fee international spending and want a great digital experience. However, we have seen some customers complaining about account freezes.

PROS

  • 🙂 Easy account opening.
  • 📱 Great app with lots of cool features.
  • ✈️ Card is really geared towards travellers, particularly those within the UK and the Eurozone.

CONS

  • 🏦 No branches.
  • 😡 Some user complaints about account suspensions.
  • ☎️ Customer service can be slow.

Ranked #8 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK.

Expert Score
72%
User Score
57%

What The Experts Say

Broker chooser logo

3.7/5

The lack of a banking licence (meaning you have no deposit guarantee), monthly limits on cashpoint withdrawals and a lack of personal customer service led Broker Chooser to only award 3.7 stars. The ease of setup and premium account privildges were pros however.

Fintech compass logo

“In conclusion, we at Fintech Compass strongly recommend checking out Monese, especially if you are an expat in any country within the European Economic Area.”

Transumo logo

“Monese is a great way to have control over your money if you travel extensively or work in Europe…We also love their transparency of fees.”

What Users Say

Trustpilot logo

4/5

Monese has a Trustpilot rating of 4 but here at The Grade we like to dig a bit further.

When you exclude reviews the company has itself invited and look just at organic reviews, the average score is actually 1.29. In terms of organic Trustpilot rating this means Monese is number 21 out of the 25 personal banks/current accounts we review.

Smart Money People Logo

4.75/5

At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 5,370 reviews which gave Monese an average score of 4.75 out of 5.

See more customer reviews ->

The Deepdive

Monese in a Nutshell?

Monese is a British company, founded in 2015, that offers current accounts as an alternative to traditional banks.

In 2014 its founder, Norris Koppel, moved to the UK and found it really hard to open a bank account as he had no utility bills to prove his address history nor any UK credit history. With Monese he set out to change this. It aims to be a bank account you can open instantly with minimal checks.

It’s grown rapidly since its launch and now has over 2 million customers internationally.

Opening a Monese Account

You can get an account in pound sterling, euros or Romanian leu set up almost instantly.

The simplicity of this process lies at the heart of what Monese do. There won’t be any credit checks like with some other banks but you will still need:

  • Your email address and phone number.
  • An ID doc (e.g. passport).
  • To take a selfie as part of the signup process to verify you match the picture on your ID.

Approval usually takes less than 5 minutes. You can then start using “virtual cards” instantly – these are non-physical cards that still have long card numbers, expiry dates and CVC numbers. You can register them through Apple and Google pay so you can start making purchases right away.

Is Monese a bank? Is My Money Safe?

Monese isn’t a bank, so it isn’t part of the FSCS that protects consumer deposits up to £85,000.

However, it is classed as an “e-money institution” and therefore regulated by the Financial Service Authority and is subject to the UK safeguarding regulations. As such it is required to ring-fence deposits meaning that your money should be available if Monese were to go bust.

What Accounts Do They Offer?

There are three tiers of Monese account – Starter, Classic and Premium. Here’s an overview of their features:

Payments & transfersSTARTER (£0 a month)CLASSIC (£5.95 a month)PREMIUM (£14.95 a month)
International transfers2.5% fee, additional 1% fee on weekendsFrom 0.5% feeFree
Local transfers in and outFreeFreeFree
Recurring payments and Direct DebitsYesYesYes
Credit
Personal loansYesYesYes
Credit Builder (explained below)£7.95 monthly fee
(Rep. APR 28.2%)*
£7.95 monthly fee
(Rep. APR 28.2%)*
£7.95 monthly fee
(Rep. APR 28.2%)*
Insurance
Accident, sickness, involuntary unemployment protectionNoUp to £1,200Up to £1,800
Hospital stayNo£40 per day
up to 30 days
£60 per day
for 30 days
Purchase protectionNoUp to £1,000 per claim £2,500 per year
Purchase made in last 90 days
Up to £4,000 per claim £10,000 per year
Purchase made in last 180 days
Cards
Contactless debit cardStandard cardHolographic edgingPremium card
First card delivery£4.95FreeFree
Replacement cards£9.90£4.95Free
Card spending in foreign currencies2% feeFreeFree
GooglePay / Apple PayYesYesYes
Virtual debit cardYesYesYes
Cash
ATM withdrawals£1.5 fee£500 Free monthly£1,500 Free monthly
Cash top-ups3.5% fee£400 Free monthly£1,000 Free monthly
Accounts
Account in GBP, EUR and/or RONYesYesYes
PayPal account integrationYesYesYes
Avios account integrationYesYesYes
Joint Accounts with another Monese userFreeFreeFree
Money pots with round-up featureYesYesYes
Access to interest-bearing savings accountsYesYesYes
Access your account with the Monese mobile app and from a desktop computerYesYesYes
Support
Multilingual customer supportYesYesYes
Priority customer support accessNoNoYes

What Are The Standout Features:

Multi-currency accounts and free worldwide cash withdrawals.

Purchases Abroad – No fee and no markup on exchange rates when buying in Euros, Romanian Lei and Swedish krona (other banks often charge fees and give you a poor exchange rate which includes a markup). The free account charges a 2% fee for other currencies though the paid-for options do not. Remember to check fees here.

Account Opening – The lack of a credit check or proof of address makes this a good option for those new to the UK or with a poor credit history.

Credit Builder – This is a new tool that allows you to increase your credit score with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion which are the three most popular credit reference agencies. Essentially you nominally get a loan of £600 which is locked away in a Savings Vault. You then pay this off each month which is reported to the credit reference agencies. In this way, you start to rack up a credit history. Do be aware that it can take up to six months to start really seeing an impact on your credit score.

The various insurances – On the paid-for accounts you get a number of insurances (see table above). Bills Protection additionally covers you for monthly payments such as school fees and gym subscriptions in the event you get sick or have an accident and can’t pay. These are based on the average you paid over the last 6 months from your Monese account. Purchase Protection is another nice benefit that protects you from accidental damage for up to 180 days after purchase when you’re on the premium plan. It’s always a good idea to look at the terms and conditions of insurance closely so you can head over to the Monese here to see their insurance page.

Avios Points – You can connect your Avios account and see your points in the app. You can also earn points by using your Monese card at certain shops.

Friend referral scheme – You get £30 each time you refer a friend who orders a card and makes a purchase through Monese. You can do this a max of 15 times.

Cool App Based Experience – we review the app below.

Savings – Monese has a nice tie-up with Raisin which means you can get a good interest rate on your savings pots.

Features We Don’t Like

We have come across lots of instances of users complaining that their accounts were suspended – This may be due to correct and proper security concerns on the side of Monese but we haven’t as yet verified this. There are also lots of complaints about how this was handled.

There is a maximum balance of £40,000.

Customer service – In the first instance you are usually directed to a chatbot and if it can’t help you an in-person reply can take hours. Connecting to someone on the phone can take 15 minutes or longer.

Cash Deposits – These have to be done at the Post Office or a PayPoint. There will be a 3.50% (minimum £3) fee for doing this.

ATM Withdrawals – The £1.50 fee on the Starter account seems quite steep so you may want to ask yourself how often you plan to withdraw cash if you plan on having the free account. However, the worldwide free cash withdrawals on the premium accounts may be attractive for frequent travellers.

The fee on the credit builder is £7.95 a month – This means that while the loan is interest-free, you’ll actually pay £95.40 for the service across the year. This is equivalent to an interest rate of roughly 28%, which is not super competitive. What’s more, you don’t actually get access to your money.

Note: You can check out all fees here.

How good is the app and digital banking?

As you might expect from a challenger bank with no branches, the digital experience is pretty good.

We really like the budgeting features within the app and the ability to get detailed notifications about what you’re spending.

The whole app is well designed and user friendly but we love the layout of the monthly spending overview.

Savings pots are a nice feature too – allowing you to set aside money from your main account. These pots can be called what you want – e.g. “new car”, or “vets bills”, and due to a tie-up with a company called Raisin you will be able to attract interest on your balance.

The inclusion of a split-the-bill feature is a nice addition.

Importantly, your cards can also integrate with Apple and Google Pay.

User Comments

We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:

Positive

5/5

Amazing virtual bank

This bank saved my life when I moved to the UK because it gave me an instant account that I could use while I was setting up (UK banks are not the best when you need a new account quickly!). It’s worked well, and the virtual verification process they have created is pretty cool. Definitely recommend!

Critical

1/5

MONESE BLOCKED MY ACCOUNT WITHOUT ANY INFORMATION OR CONTACT DETAILS

Monese Bank just blocked my account with my money there and they didn’t give any explanation for it. I’m trying to get in touch with the bank, but they don’t seem to want to be contacted. No response to my emails and even on the phone they just say that I have to wait for an email that never arrives. In the meantime, they have my money and they really show that they don’t care if you need your money or not. Disgusting Monese Bank and attitude. They have a robot that answer the reviews but they do not have staff to answer the emails. No sense.

1/5

Would never recommend Monese to friends and family – brought so much stress to my life

Like many others have written, they’ve blocked my account after I received a refund. They failed to even inform me that my account was blocked until I had sent several emails and spent hours on the phone waiting to talk to someone.

My account has been blocked for a week now. I have not been able to go to my job today because I have no money to use. My life savings are in that account. I’m extremely fortunate to have been able to borrow money from friends but can not keep this up. I have rent to pay and will have to pay a late fee if it is missed and I WILL expect Monese to pay for this if this continuous. Completely ridiculous how they can think it’s okay to lock someone out of their account (without even notifying them until asked) and provide minimal communication. Can you imagine if ALL of your money was suddenly locked with no one to help you!? How would you pay for food? How would you pay for transit? How would you pay your bills, your rent, getting to work??? I would never wish this stress upon my family or friends, if you are even considering in the slightest Monese for a bank account, save yourself the headache NOW and use Revolut or Monzo instead.

How Does It Compare Against The Competition – Can I do Better?

Monese is ranked #11 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK (click to see full list)

Are there better current accounts on the market? We’re calling out the following accounts as excellent:

Best Current Account
Chase Bank
1% cashback on most purchases.

Chase has brought to the UK the kind of rewarding banking you normally only see in the states. We're hoping it starts a revolution on this side of the Atlantic. The digital experience is also first class and there is 24/7 customer support.

Remember to check out the Chase website for all the terms and conditions.

Visit Chase Bank Read Our Review
Best Switching Offer
Nationwide
£200 plus 5% interest for switching.

Currently if you switch to Nationwide they will give you £200, plus an interest free overdraft (credit check required). You can also get 5% interest on balances up to £1,500 for 12 months.

You need to set up 2 Direct Debits within 60 days. Check full conditions on the Nationwide site.

Visit Nationwide Read Our Review