Monese Mobile App Bank Account Review: The fastest and simplest way to set up a UK bank account?

Monese Mobile App Bank Account Review: The fastest and simplest way to set up a UK bank account?

Good for

  • Spending money & getting cash abroad
  • People without “traditional” documentation for opening a bank account (e.g. utility bills, council tax bill)
  • People with imperfect credit scores
  • EU citizens who want a UK bank account
  • Anyone who wants EUR and GBP bank accounts
  • Those who want a basic mobile app bank account with a debit card

Bad for

  • Those who want a full-featured banking service - there’s no overdraft facility, interest on balances, loans, mortgages or credit cards
  • Those looking for deposit protection
  • Those who want the current account switching system (CASS), since you’ll need to switch your direct debits manually.

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

Monese is a mobile app-based bank account for those living in the UK and EEA. In addition to being simple to set up and competitively priced, Monese is relatively inexpensive to use abroad (for both ATM withdrawals and card transactions), offers cheap international money transfers and has almost guaranteed approval—which means it's possible for those without a UK address, proof of address or a UK credit history to open a bank account.

If you need access to a basic bank account including a contactless debit card then Monese can be a great option. However Monese isn't right for everyone, as it lacks some features of a full bank account such as an overdraft option and paying interest on savings. You also can't use a Monese card to pay at the pump at self-service petrol pumps (but you can use it to pay for the petrol by taking it to the cashier).

Monese Review

Monese is a challenger bank that specialises in no or low-fee money transfers (including international) and foreign ATM withdrawals and card transactions. In addition Monese makes it possible for anyone across Europe to open a UK current account in a matter of minutes. Monese also avoids many of the restrictions (e.g., requiring proof of address or a UK credit history) and hidden fees common of traditional high street banks. In fact, Monese has received a lot of attention as a disruptive “Challenger Bank”, and in 2016 was named European Fintech Awards’ Best Challenger Bank.

The bank’s Estonian founder started the company due to his inability to open a bank account when he first arrived in the UK because he had no utility bills or credit history. He found that he wasn’t alone, and the following year the Monese Bank and App were born. Launched in September 2015, Monese became the UK’s first 100% mobile app-based bank account.

Monese now offers both GBP and EUR accounts, which is useful for keeping dual accounts if you travel a lot within Europe, for spending money abroad or hedging against the pound dropping.

Bottom Line: If you frequently travel abroad or transfer money internationally, Monese can be a low-cost way to access and use your money. In addition, those without a UK credit history or with a weak credit score can still open a Monese account easily and quickly. Those who need a credit card as opposed to a debit card or those who want to earn money on their balances should look elsewhere.

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Monese: An Easy and Accessible UK Bank Account

One of Monese’s biggest selling points is that it’s quick and simple to open a UK current account. It’s accessible for everyone, regardless of whether they have proof of address documentation (like a utility or council tax bill) or perfect credit scores. Monese approves almost every customer that applies for an account. There’s no need to have a regular salary or a credit history. In fact, you don’t even need to live in the UK to open an account. So long as you’re in one of the EEA countries, you’re fine.

How do you Open an Account with Monese?

To open an account with Monese, just download the mobile app then follow the on-screen instructions to open your account. You don’t need to provide any proof of address, visit a branch in person (there aren’t any) or have a good credit history. Instead, you’ll need to use your smartphone’s camera to take a photo and send an image of an ID document. This can be an ID card or passport, and it doesn’t matter which country issues it. You'll get account details in minutes, including the account number as well as sort code.

What's required to open a Monese account?
Proof of addressNOT REQUIRED
Visit to a branchNOT REQUIRED
Good credit historyNOT REQUIRED
Photo of an ID documentREQUIRED

To open a Monese account you must live within the European Economic Area (EEA)—that’s the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Is Monese Safe?

Monese is fully registered with the UK banking regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It's also a registered agent for PrePay Technologies Ltd, an electronic money institution that the FCA authorises via the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (900010) to 'issue electronic money and payment instruments.'

Multi-factor authentication required for new devices. For security, it's only possible to access Monese from a single mobile device. This means that it is impossible for anyone to get control of your account while in another location. If you wish to access your account with a new device, you’ll first need to authorise it via a multi-factor authentication process. If your phone gets stolen, any thief won’t be able to log into your Monese app since you must enter a secure 5-digit passcode that only you know.

Easy to lock/unlock your debit card via the app. If you ever suspect that your Monese debit card has been compromised or lost (or if you simply want to prevent yourself from spending any money), you can easily and instantly lock your card via the Monese app. You can also unlock it again easily via the application.

Pin not posted to you but available via the app. Monese also takes a secure approach to your PIN. There’s no need to write it down anywhere or wait to receive a written PIN in the post. Instead, you simply view your pin right in the Monese app by logging into the app and entering your card’s CVV number (the 3 digits on the back of the card). You’ll then be able to see your PIN.

How Do You Make Deposits to Your Monese Account?

Since your Monese account has a UK sort code and account number, it’s simple to receive UK bank transfers just like any other bank account. They can be from companies or individuals and include payments from your employer.

People outside the UK can make payments into a UK Monese account using European IBAN. To complete this type of deposit, they just need to make a bank transfer into Monese’s European IBAN account with the payment reference of your Monese ID. Monese will then use the real exchange rate for the currency conversion, in order to give the best exchange rate possible. From there, Monese will route the funds into your UK Monese account in GBP.

In addition to depositing funds into a Monese account via UK or European bank transfers, you can also top up with cash at one of more than 40,000 UK locations. Monese has partnered with PayPoint and the Post Office, so you can go anywhere with the PayPoint logo and instantly top up with cash into your Monese account.

How to Add Funds to Your Monese Account
Receive UK bank transfersUK sort code and account number
Receive International bank transfersEuropean IBAN
Top up with cashPayPoint or Post Office

ATM Withdrawal Fees with Monese

You can use the debit card at any ATM which accepts MasterCard. While most ATMs will be free to use unless explicitly stated otherwise, you may need to pay Monese for withdrawals depending on which account you have. Across all accounts, there's a £300 limit on ATM cash withdrawals per day.

Monese ATM Withdrawal Fees
Simple accountfree ATM withdrawals up to £200 per month, then with a 2% after that
Classic account£800 free ATM withdrawals before the 2% fee kicks in
Premium accountunlimited free withdrawals

If you're trying to choose which type of Monese account will be most economical for you and withdrawing money from the ATM will be one of the primary ways in which you use your account, it's helpful to look at a break even analysis for ATM fees across the different accounts.

In the table below you can see the total amount you'd pay in ATM fees + monthly account fees for each account. Find how much you expect to withdraw each month in the table, and look across for the cheapest total fees. For example, those withdrawing £500 a month pay the lowest total fees (£4.95) with the Classic plan; someone withdrawing £1,500 a month would be better off with the Premium (£14.95 in monthly fees).

Monthly ATM Withdrawal Fees + Account Fees
Amount of cash you withdraw each monthSimple (free)Classic (£4.95/month)Premium (£14.95/month)Cheapest Account
£0£0.00£4.95£14.95Simple
£250£1.00£4.95£14.95Simple
£500£6.00£4.95£14.95Classic
£750£11.00£4.95£14.95Classic
£1,000£16.00£8.95£14.95Classic
£1,250£21.00£13.95£14.95Classic
£1,500£26.00£18.95£14.95Premium
chart showing account fees and ATM withdrawal fees with Monese accounts

How Can You Make Payments with Monese?

You can use your Monese debit card to make payments just like you would with any other MasterCard. You can make payments via the mobile app, and you can also pay an individual or company via a bank transfer. Any payment between Monese accounts will be free and occur instantly, without any limit on the number of transfers you can make.

You can also make regular bank transfers to accounts from other banks. It is also possible to sign up for Direct Debits with Monese accounts, perfect for ensuring bills are accurate and then paying them. Finally, Monese is compatible with Apple Pay.

Using Monese Abroad

Monese can be a very cheap way to withdraw cash and make transactions abroad, depending on which account you have and how much you plan to spend/withdraw each month. As long as you stay under the limits for your type of account then transactions and ATM withdrawals are free—whether you're using the debit card at home or abroad. Remember Monese limits ATM cash withdrawals to £300 per day for all accounts.

Limits for use abroadSimpleClassicPremium
ATMs & cash top-ups£200 free monthly, 2% after£800 free monthly, 2% afterFree
Foreign currency card spending£2,000 free, 2% fee after£8,000 free, 2% fee afterFree

(That said, remember that some ATM machines charge an additional fee to use them, which you'd have to pay regardless of the credit or debit card you have. This fee is taken by the ATM owner, not your card provider.)

Monese Features: What You Get with a Monese Account

Monese Debit Card

The Monese debit card works exactly as you would expect. It is contactless, which means there’s no need to enter the PIN for transactions up to £30. The Monese debit card is accepted in more than 200 countries around the world, as well as by most mobile app services and online retailers.

Apple Pay

In February 2019, Monese added Apple Pay for personal UK and European Monese cards in the UK and France. Apple Pay is currently available in 27 countries, and this means you can make payments using your iPhone or for iOS apps and online wherever it is accepted.

International Money Transfers with Monese

For overseas transfers, you can transfer money with Monese in one of 15 currencies: EUR, USD, AUD, BRL, BGN, MXN, CZK, DKK, EUR, HUF, NOK, PLN, RON, SEK, or TRY.

And the fees are far lower than what a bank would charge. Monese helps account holders to convert funds using market rates for quick international money transfers at very low costs. This means that customers can make huge savings when sending money overseas. With Monese, you can send money to almost all European countries, as well as Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and the US.

What Types of Accounts Does Monese Offer?

With a Monese account, you can do unlimited transactions, receive pounds or euros via bank transfers, make and receive fast bank transfers, set up direct debits, get cash from ATMs around the world, and use a contactless debit card—but fees vary depending on the account you choose. Monese offers three account types: Simple, Classic and Premium. Here’s a summary of the key features:

SimpleClassicPremium
Minimum balanceNoneNoneNone
Maximum balance£40,000£40,000£40,000
Monthly fee£0/month£4.95/month£14.95/month
Contactless debit cardFreeFreeFree
ATMs & cash top-ups£200 free monthly, 2% after£800 free monthly, 2% afterFree
Card purchases£4,000 per transaction; £7,000 per day across all types of accounts
Foreign currency card spending£2,000 free, 2% fee after£8,000 free, 2% fee afterFree
Foreign currency transfersFree + instant to other Monese accounts; 2% fee to other accounts £2 min.Free + instant to other Monese accounts; 0.5% fee to other accounts, £2 min.Free + instant to other Monese accounts; Free to other accounts
Other hidden feesNoneNoneNone

Monese also offers a UK business account for a fee of £9.95 per month. It carries the same name as your registered business, and offers similar features to the personal accounts. It’s available in 10 languages and is a very good way to separate your personal from your business finances, all within the Monese platform.

Monese Customer Reviews

Reviews are very positive, with a Trustpilot rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on 12,420 reviews.

chart showing Monese customer reviews
Monese is rated highly by its customers

How Does Monese Compare Against Other Options?

In order to decide if Monese is the app-based bank account for you, it’s best to compare it against the closest competitors. Below we discuss the differences between Monese and some other popular options, so you can decide which is best for you.

Monese vs. Revolut

Revolut is another challenger bank, and there’s a lot of similarities with Monese. Monese has recently changed its terms to make ATM withdrawals the same as Revolut’s. In fact, there’s very little to choose between their free services.

Quick Takeaway: One key difference between the two is that Monese doesn’t require a UK address to sign up, so it may appeal more to people who live between countries, or recent migrants to the UK.

Monese vs. Monzo

Monzo is another challenger bank offering a very similar service to Monese. In terms of account features, fees and the debit card, again there’s little to choose between them.

Quick Takeaway: Where Monese distinguishes itself is that it’s available to people outside the UK, whereas Monzo is not.

Monese vs. TransferWise Borderless Account

TransferWise does not provide full bank account services such as direct debits. It was designed as an international money transfer service, and can give you account details in GBP, USD, EUR, AUD and NZD. With TransferWise, you can send money to 50+ countries from your account, both online and through the mobile app.

Quick Takeaway: If you’re looking for an account that offers banking services, Monese is probably the way to go. For international transfers, it’s worth checking out TransferWise, too.

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NimbleFins Editorial Team

Our team of writers has expertise in personal finance, travel, cars and pets.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.