Monzo Bank is a London-based online bank that was founded in 2015. The bank now boasts more than five million customers and is backed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which is the UK version of the FDIC.
From its humble beginnings issuing prepaid debit cards, Monzo began offering full-service bank accounts in 2017.
It was one of the first mobile-based banks in the UK, which are now known as “challenger banks.”
In 2019, they announced that it would be expanding its banking services to the US. Since then, it has been working through US financial regulations.
As of now, Monzo US is still in beta. This means that accounts are available for some new users while the bank gets up to speed, but not every feature is available yet.
In this post, we’ll cover what Monzo currently offers in the UK, what we know so far about the US expansion, and what you can expect to see when Monzo accounts are fully available.
Monzo Bank Products & Features
Current UK Products & Features
Banking regulations, in general, are pretty different in the UK and the US, so it’s unlikely that Monzo US will entirely mirror its counterpart across the pond. That said, there are certain things about it that will likely stay consistent.
Here is a brief overview of its current UK offerings to get an idea of what the bank is about.
Features like mobile banking, spending notifications, easy transfers with TransferWise, and savings buckets known as Pods come with all their accounts.
You can also set up direct debits for bill pay and make cash deposits with Paypoint. Monzo debit cards don’t have any foreign transaction fees and honor Mastercard exchange rates without any added fees.
Monzo accounts vary in their fee structures, with options for both free checking accounts and premium accounts, like Monzo Plus, that comes with a monthly fee. Typical perks for premium accounts include interest rates, travel insurance, and more.
Monzo loans allow for some flexibility on your repayment date and are often made available to borrowers at the end of the same business day that you apply.
Monzo offers significant overdraft limits for short-term expenses and personal loans for larger purchases.
So far, we don’t have a ton of information on what the final Monzo US platform will look like, but the bank has released some information about available products and features. Here’s what we know so far.
Monzo US is a fintech company that partners with Sutton Bank, an FDIC-insured financial institution out of Ohio. All of Monzo’s accounts will be online-based, and the bank won’t have any brick-and-mortar branches.
Monzo US is focusing entirely on individual personal accounts. So, for starters at least, their users won’t have the option for joint accounts or business accounts.
Monzo’s banking app is compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay and gives you access to your accounts, instant notifications, and customer support.
The app has fared extremely well in the UK on both iOS and Android, with a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) in both the App Store and the Google Play Store.
Free ATM Withdrawals
Monzo has partnered with MoneyPass for its US expansion so that customers will have no ATM fees for cash withdrawals at any of the 38,000 MoneyPass ATM locations.
One current feature that we know for sure will be included in the US version of Monzo is Pots, which are effectively budgeting tools that you can use to separate the money in your account for various expenses.
You can have up to 20 savings Pots associated with your account and set up recurring transfers to each to automate your savings.
Similar to Bank of America’s Keep the Change feature, Monzo allows you to use Round-Ups, which automatically rounds debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and drops the remainder into your savings.
Monzo Bank Fees
Monzo US will follow the same general trend as most digital banks in the US and won’t have many of the monthly fees associated with traditional banks.
It doesn’t charge monthly maintenance, transfers, or overdraft fees, and there are no minimum balance requirements. You also won’t run into any foreign transaction fees and will be able to use your Monzo card wherever Mastercard is accepted.
It’s unclear at this point if the US version of Monzo will offer premium options that come with additional fees as it does in the UK, but for now, it appears that it’ll be mostly fee-free.
Monzo is still in beta, so you can’t sign up for an account just yet.
If you’re interested in getting in early and providing feedback on the platform, you can join a waitlist.
It’s unclear how many users will get in while it’s still in beta, but according to its website, Monzo invites new users from the waitlist each week.
To be eligible for an account, you’ll need to be at least 18 and a current full-time US resident with a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer ID Number.
It remains to be seen if the US version of the bank will live up to the same standard, but Monzo customers, in general, seem quite happy with its customer service.
The bank currently holds an impressive rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5) on TrustPilot.
Alternatives to Monzo Bank
If you don’t want to check out the beta and need a new account right now, there are plenty of high-quality, fully operational online banks in the US. Take a look at:
…to get an idea of the features and services that come with online banking leaders.
Is Monzo good?
Along with other online banks like Starling and Revolut, Monzo is extremely popular in the UK, where it emerged as a challenger bank to the High Street banks and has grown its customer base to more than 5 million users in just six years.
Its mobile app and customer service are well regarded, but whether or not its success and functionality will translate to the US market remains to be seen.
One interesting thing to note is that many UK users don’t seem to be using Monzo as their main bank but as a supplementary online account.
Is Monzo safe?
We don’t know enough about Monzo US to make a call on its online security yet, but what we do know is that Monzo has partnered with Sutton Bank, an FDIC-backed bank that will provide its accounts.
This means that your funds are insured if Monzo fails in the US.
Does Monzo steal your money?
No, it does not. That rumor stems from a situation in 2020 when a group of users claimed that it was unnecessarily closing or freezing their accounts.
This led to the creation of a relatively small Facebook group called “Monzo stole our money” and opened up some questions about its viability as a trustworthy bank.
They deny that there was a problem at all and claims that account freezes were executed correctly at least 95% of the time, according to its data.
Overall, it seems like the issue was relatively minimal. Banks are very highly regulated in the US, so the likelihood of any bank stealing your money is extremely low.
Does Monzo offer credit cards?
The UK version of Monzo does not offer credit cards but does give users the option to earn cash back on qualifying purchases. It’s unclear what will be available in the US.
Is Monzo Bank Right For You?
Monzo’s venture into the United States is just starting out, so it’s too soon to know how it’ll stack up. That being said, it’s worth keeping an eye on them based on its success in the UK alone.
As is the trend with many successful online banks, Monzo seems to be following a similar path that includes low or nonexistent fees and ultra-convenient mobile banking.
Many features aren’t available yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if other popular services like high-yield accounts become available as well.
The bottom line is that they are entering into a relatively saturated and highly competitive online banking market in the US.
It will have to bring something new to the table to set itself apart and establish a formidable American customer base. What the future holds for Monzo US remains to be seen, but the bank’s existing reputation and financial backing make it an intriguing addition.