Monzo Alternatives

In this guide, we review the best alternatives to Monzo Bank…

Updated: June 5, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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There's a lot of buzz around Monzo, and that's to be expected, but does it mean it's the best bank for you? 

To help you out, we've reviewed some of the most viable alternatives to Monzo. You'll be more equipped to decide which bank is best for you if you know what to expect from each option and how they stack up against the competition.

ProviderScoreDetails
1. Starling Bank★★★★★Learn more
2. Plum★★★★★Learn more
3. Revolut★★★★★Learn more
4. Monese★★★★Learn more
5. First Direct★★★★Learn more
6. Curve★★★★Learn more
7. Payoneer★★★★Learn more
8. Currensea★★★★★Learn more
9. ZEN.com★★★★★Learn more

At a Glance, Pros and Cons

Let’s look into the pros & cons of the UK’s top Monzo alternatives.

Pros

✅ Real-time updates on account balances.

✅ Budgeting jars.

✅ Various in-app savings options, including Individual Savings Accounts.

✅ Used for international transactions.

✅ Overdrafts can be requested.

✅ Security against fraud.

Cons

No Monzo Bank locations currently available.

No ability to send cheques.

It doesn’t work via web browser, you'll have to rely on your phone.

Top Monzo alternatives — Reviews

Despite the odd unavoidable scandal or two, since its inception a little under two years ago, the mobile banking software Monzo has amassed a dedicated following. 

It bills itself as “the bank of the future” and promises to make managing your money easier by allowing you to do everything from your smartphone. 

This includes keeping track of your spending by category, transferring funds instantly, and even temporarily freezing your card if you lose it. 

If you're the kind of person who travels a lot, there are no fees for purchases overseas, and the Monzo app immediately tells you how much you've spent.

We’ll look at other financial apps with mobile banking that compare. Find our favourites below:

1. Starling Bank — Best Monzo alternative for free personal accounts

Starling, like Monzo, offers a free personal checking account that can be opened and managed entirely using a mobile app.

You can monitor your spending by receiving alerts whenever money leaves or enters your account and by doing in-depth transactions analyses. You may use the overdraft facility if you qualify, and you can also create “goals” to help you save up for certain items.

You'll also be issued a physical card for use in making in-person and online transactions as well as cash withdrawals at ATMs. Starling's zero-fee policy for both UK and international usage, including purchases and ATM withdrawals, is a major selling factor.

Starling does not have physical locations where you may deposit funds, but you can use any Post Office across the UK to do so. If you want to deposit a check, you may do so using the Starling app by imaging the cheque (cheques above £1,000 must be sent to Starling for free).

Starling, like Monzo, is a PRA-authorised UK bank that offers FSCS protection and round-the-clock client service. Starling Bank, on the other hand, stands out because of its online marketplace, making it a perfect Monzo alternative. 

You'll also be issued a physical card for use in making in-person and online transactions as well as cash withdrawals at ATMs. Starling's zero-fee foreign transaction and ATM withdrawal policy is a major selling factor for the card.

You can join up for additional financial services from third parties via a personal finance marketplace accessible through your Starling account. Some examples include mortgage brokers, insurance companies, and the robo-investment software Wealthify. Now you may choose from a wider variety of financial services, unlike with Monzo.

2. Plum — Best Monzo alternative for beginners

If you're new to investing and don't know where to begin, Plum could be a good match since the company's stated aim is to make investing simpler for novices to get into.

However, Plum is among the costliest investing platforms we looked at, particularly for portfolios worth more than £10,000 total. Although Plum doesn't have its own checking account as Monzo does, it may nonetheless evaluate your expenditure and initiate automatic savings by linking to your existing checking account. 

The app automatically deposits a modest sum into your Plum savings account on a weekly basis, and you can withdraw the funds at any moment through a Facebook Messenger message. If you want to earn interest on your savings, you'll need to choose to invest them with RateSetter. 

However, investing with RateSetter comes with a few caveats, including the possibility that you won't be able to get to your money right away and the fact that your savings will be “at risk” without FSCS protection. The cash may be set aside in a separate Barclays account if you like to do so (without earning interest).

Plum abides by the rules set out by the Financial Conduct Authority and is protected by the FSCS.

Each investor on each platform is entitled to £85,000 in FSCS protection. There is no need to pay a claims management firm when you may file a claim online for free.

If your assets lose value or a firm in which you own shares goes bankrupt, you will not get compensation unless the decline was the consequence of improper advice from a defunct Independent Financial Advisor. There is also no way to earn rewards that we know of.

3. Revolut — Best Monzo alternative for foreign currency transfers

In our books, Revolut is the best money management software if you want to save money by eliminating fees across borders.

It's free to use in over 200 countries and there are no fees for international purchases or transfers. Similarly, Revolut is a great option if you want to acquire cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, or Litecoin.

You can also lock and unfreeze your card in case you lose it, get automated breakdowns of your spending, and request money from pals, all of which are helpful features that are similar to those found in the Monzo app. The lack of Direct Debit support and the £5 debit card fee are two notable negatives. 

Since Revolut is not a bank and hence not covered by FSCS insurance, customers' funds are not as secure as they would be with Monzo. If the business were to fail, however, your money would be protected in a separate Lloyds account.

Why choose Revolut?

Like Monzo and Starling, the free Revolut Standard account allows you to do all on an app, where you can also track your spending, divide your money into several “vaults” for savings, and more. However, you can't put in a cash or check deposit at the moment.

Revolut's card limitations aren't as liberal as Starling's. You won't be charged any fees for making purchases in the UK or abroad, but if you withdraw more than £200 from an ATM in the UK or abroad in a given month, you'll be hit with a fee.

However, Revolut does provide some appealing international alternatives for frequent travellers, such as the ability to retain a balance in 25+ different currencies and the use of the interbank exchange rate when sending money overseas. Of the three, only Revolut gives you access to a share trading and cryptocurrency purchasing platform.

For a monthly or yearly subscription, Revolut also offers a number of premium checking accounts with additional features and benefits. Plans range from “Plus” to “Premium” to “Metal” to “Ultra”, respectively.

4. Monese — Best Monzo alternative for low information requirements

This might be the closest thing to a Cashapp alternative, actually, while providing many of the same features as Monzo.

The UK version of Monese's mobile money accounts was released in 2015, making the company three years old. It's a rare opportunity to create a UK bank account without supplying any personal information or evidence of residency.

A selfie and a picture ID are required to open the account. In addition, if you are a resident of any of the 30 nations that make up the European Economic Area or the United Kingdom, you are welcome to join Monese.

Set up one of three distinct kinds of digital checking accounts with Monese. There are three different types of accounts available: a free basic account, a paid premium account, and a premium business account. 

Their cap levels and service charges are comparable to Monzo's. One drawback is that compared to Monzo, Monese does not provide nearly as many additional features and benefits. 

However, the Monese app may help you fulfil your financial obligations by allowing you to set up direct payments, monitor your purchase history, use your Mastercard internationally, and send and receive money with other Monese users. 

In addition to saving money on account maintenance, foreign exchange, and cash withdrawals, you'll have access to a wealth of money management tools. You may modify your subscription plan at any time from inside the mobile app. In general, Monese is a closely competitive choice to Monzo.

5. First Direct — Best Monzo alternative for customer service

It promotes itself as the “bank that never closes”, with real people available to take customer service calls around the clock, 7 days a week.

First Direct, founded in 1989, is another bank that operates only over the phone and online. A £100 signing bonus is offered, and the “1st Account” has a £250 interest-free overdraft with no fees (provided monthly deposits total at least £1,000), for potentially improving your credit score (be sure to do your research).

A Regular Saver Account from First Direct earns 5% AER (annual equivalent rate) and is set for 12 months, whereas Monzo “pots” earn 0% AER. Any Post Office or HSBC branch should be able to process your cash or check payments. 

Almost every smartphone or wristwatch on the market will work with the bank's support of Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

While both First Direct and Monzo provide for mobile banking, Monzo's automated spending breakdown and the monzo.me system's ease of asking funds from friends make it the clear winner. Foreign transactions cost an additional 2.75 percent of the amount converted from Sterling.

6. Curve — Best Monzo alternative for simplicity

We've all been overwhelmed by the number of cards we carry around, and Curve is designed to help without requiring you to cancel any of your existing accounts.

Carry only a single card that amalgamates all of your accounts. The corresponding app for the Curve card allows you to choose which bank account the purchase will be deducted from. If you forget your phone at home, the app will charge the last card you used, but the “Go back in time” function will allow you to amend this for up to 14 days after the transaction.

That said, in contrast to Monzo, which offers completely fee-free international transactions, Curve charges a minimal 1% and instantly updates you on your foreign exchange transactions. 

But the app provides the standard transaction history across all of your cards and further breaks down your spending by category to help you keep tabs on your finances. Curve also provides a 1% payback bonus for three months on purchases made at participating UK merchants.

7. Payoneer — Best Monzo alternative for B2B

Payoneer began operations in 2005. Use them for digital payments and online money transfers.

Throughout the world, Payoneer is a trusted MasterCard Service Provider. Payoneer's primary objective is to transfer funds between businesses. They serve enterprises both at home and abroad.

Payoneer's main value is in facilitating the transfer of funds between users. Over 150 different currencies can be used via Payoneer's services. Transferring money to another country is as easy as doing it inside your own. Its debit card lets you access your money via ATM withdrawals.

Meanwhile, a Payoneer Mastercard can also be used for purchases. As of this writing, prepaid Visa cards are not available. A debit card may be used for online and other transactions.

With Payoneer, you can get your money instantly. Your Payoneer debit card is usable at any ATM worldwide. You may only withdraw £2,500 each day. When appropriate, a foreign currency charge of around 1% will be imposed.

Payoneer's support portal includes a wiki, FAQs, and a knowledge base for quick answers to common questions. You may reach the helpful personnel at any of their many international locations by email, phone, or real-time chat.

Your Payoneer balance is always available for withdrawal to your bank account. Payoneer accounts may be used for both online and in-store purchases, as well as cash withdrawals at ATMs. For an additional £25.00 per year, you can get a prepaid debit MasterCard linked to your Payoneer account, which you may use to make purchases and withdrawals.

8. Currensea — The UK’s first direct debit travel card

Currensea is a novel concept in international finance.

It's the first direct debit travel card in the United Kingdom, so there's no need to open a new bank account or buy a prepaid card before leaving the country.

When you make a purchase with your Currensea card, the money is automatically deducted from your linked bank account.

In case you hadn't noticed, MasterCard is the most common brand of debit and credit card used for purchases made in other countries. MasterCard applies its own foreign exchange (FX) rates when changing currencies.

However, banks use a different exchange rate, known as the interbank rate, when dealing with foreign money. In essence, this is the current foreign exchange rate on the market. You will seldom obtain the interbank rate on your transactions without extra costs, since almost all high street banks that have access to this rate will impose fees on top.

Why am I mentioning this to you? Certain digital banking apps and card providers have negotiated preferential interbank exchange rates for international transactions. Currensea is one such service (Revolut also uses the interbank rate).

Still, those who make regular foreign exchange transactions may benefit from access to the interbank rate rather than the MasterCard rate, even after taking into account the latter's higher costs. This is perhaps more of a concern for companies than it is for people with personal accounts.

Since the interbank exchange rate is used for 16 main currencies (including the euro and the US dollar), Currensea believes it is superior to many other currency services. If you don't want to open a whole new bank account, this is still a novel option for making purchases overseas.

9. ZEN.com — Best Monzo alternative with MasterCard contactless

Thanks to their collaboration with MasterCard, they've created a number of innovative digital financial services.

Customers can make purchases both online and in-store using their contactless payment cards. Customers, clients, and independent workers alike may use their tools to better control their finances and cash flow.

ZEN issues both physical and digital MasterCards to its consumers.

Tokenization technology developed by MasterCard makes it possible to add these cards to the Google Pay and Apple Pay mobile wallets. This facilitates the safe, rapid, and secure purchase of products and services by consumers both in-store and online.

ZEN cardholders get access to special perks, such as an additional year of manufacturer's warranty and cash rebates. With a multi-currency account, they can make purchases in 30 different currencies without incurring any additional costs.

Most of us have run into issues with numerous electronic devices after the warranty period has ended. ZEN's ability to extend the warranties on electrical devices purchased with a MasterCard is a great perk.

Businesses and consumers using ZEN are protected against chargeback claims. By following the easy instructions, they may submit their claims. The ZEN care package is designed to handle all of those concerns.

Entrepreneurs have access to this immediate cash flow. Money transfers started using this straightforward ZEN service are guaranteed to be completed within hours.

All of their offerings are manageable via their convenient smartphone app. The software is intuitive and simple to use. ZEN's service and assistance for customers is available whenever they need it, day or night. Their services are available to anybody in the European Economic Area. 

Britain’s top Monzo alternatives — Buying Guide

Let’s explore these services further as a topic. 

What is Monzo?

If you didn’t know already, the United Kingdom is home to Monzo, a private startup that began operations in 2015. 

Customers can use Monzo to send money to their bank accounts or to other Monzo users. Although it offers a lot of customization, it may not be the ideal choice for every client. 

Customers can use the money in their Monzo accounts to make purchases using the Monzo MasterCard, which is backed by the company's banking licence. You can also use virtual cards and trade cryptocurrencies.

Monzo caters mostly to frequent fliers and businesspeople with foreign needs. The Monzo multi-currency card enables speedy, low-cost international money transfers in a variety of currencies. When making an online purchase or utilising an ATM withdrawal, you may convert funds via their app.

It just takes a few seconds to transfer money to another Monzo user's bank account, and the process is streamlined overall.

You may utilise a virtual card or a prepaid Visa or MasterCard debit card with your Monzo account. With a Monzo card, you may make purchases and withdrawals in 120 different currencies. Money may be transferred in 26 different currencies using the Monzo app.

What is the best for free international transfers? Monese

Are you looking for a way to send and receive money abroad without extortionate fees? 

With the use of your smartphone and the Monese app, you can streamline your digital banking. Travellers especially could consider choosing Monese. It improves the experience by allowing free international transactions and cash withdrawals from any ATM.

Debit cards issued in Monaco function similarly to other widely used debit cards. It may be used for contactless payments, in-store and internet shopping, and cash withdrawals. You may check your account balance, make changes to your profile, and add funds with this convenient app.

The software allows both Apple Pay and Google Pay to be used for contactless payments via the phone. Since Monese utilises the interbank rate, international money transfers and foreign exchanges are quite inexpensive.

You may fund an account in a number of different ways. In order to accept wire transfers in the United Kingdom, current Monese accounts are equipped with both a bank account number and sort code.

Overall, this is a capable provider, which has climbed the ropes to grow in competitiveness, partnering with PayPal back in 2019. Individuals or corporations may make transfers. Paying into your Monese account from outside the UK must utilise a European IBAN. Monese is a fantastic option in place of Monzo.

How to find a dependable substitute for Monzo…

It's important to think about how you'll primarily use a digital banking app like Monzo while making your decision. 

Are you interested in adding investment opportunities to your existing banking services? Or maybe you're just trying to find the most frugal option for sending money abroad?

Think about the level of oversight and security provided by each service provider as well. For instance, Starling Bank is the only comparable option that is also a fully licensed UK bank, unlike Monzo. 

All the aforementioned choices are FCA regulated and are obligated to keep your deposits secure, so you needn't worry about losing money to any of them. However, how much weight you give this consideration might be determined by how often or frequently you anticipate using the provider's services.

There's also no reason you can't have many accounts with various service providers. In reality, I spend my days in this way! For regular banking needs, I rely on Wise and Monzo Bank, with Starling as a backup; for investment and foreign payments, you might use Revolut and Wise, respectively.

Is it safe to trust these Monzo alternatives to store my money?

All of the solutions discussed here are governed by the FCA and subject to the same stringent protection regulations. 

If you have a disagreement with a service provider and are unable to settle it on your own, you may take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Like Monzo, Starling Bank protects your funds up to £85,000 in the event of collapse under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Like Monzo, Starling is a fully licensed UK bank supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Starling Bank is one of the few challenger banks that make a profit, in contrast to Monzo. In my Starling Bank analysis, I go into further detail on the company's finances and accounting practices.

If you're just going to use a service like Western Union or MoneyGram for making international money transfers, then maybe it doesn't matter that the others in this post don't provide FSCS protection on your deposits.

Even though it's not always accurate, I've included each Monzo alternative's Trustpilot safety rating. You may learn more about what people think about various service providers.

Leading Monzo Alternatives: The Verdict

So, what did we learn?

Monzo was the pioneer of UK digital banking, and its current accounts include a number of convenient tools for managing your finances, such as spending and income tracking, budgeting, and savings. 

There's a good reason why over 7 million people have joined up for Monzo, despite the fact that there are other wonderful choices. Monzo is a legitimate financial institution that provides FSCS insurance and has a round-the-clock help desk. 

Only Starling Bank can compete with Monzo on all fronts, and it is the preferable choice for making withdrawals in foreign currencies. A fantastic advantage of Starling is that it provides access to its personal financial marketplace. Starling's lack of monthly account maintenance fees, in contrast to Monzo's, is perhaps its most appealing feature.

The aforementioned alternatives to Monzo demonstrate that, depending on your needs, you may find more affordable and/or more cutting-edge alternatives.

Related Guides:

FAQs

Where did Monzo come from?

Is Monzo good for people without permanent UK residence?

Who uses Monzo?

What is the Monzo application process?

Are challenger banks regulated?

Monzo, Starling Bank vs. Revolut; who wins?

Is the Monzo Bank going out of business?

Why do people use Monzo?

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