There are an increasing number of fintech accounts and cards to choose from. The likes of Curve, Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Finangel and Monese are changing, and simplifying, the way many of us bank. Assuming you’re not a person who often needs to pay in cheques or visit your branch, then many of them are way ahead of the traditional high street banks in terms of the technology, simplicity and the features they offer through their Apps. The latest account I’ve been trying is the free Monese account, so I thought I’d share my experience.
What is Monese?
Monese (info and referral link) is a free App based current account. Customers receive a Debit MasterCard and have a full account number and sort code. It’s possible to view direct debits, set up standing orders, create a savings pot and request money from others via the App.
That said, equally it can simply be used as a prepaid card, loading credit to it from your debit card to use in situations where there may be advantages over your standard cards (most notably foreign spending).
As is standard for this type of account nowadays, via the App (which is fingerprint or pin protected) you can see spending analysis, set budgets, freeze your card, view your card pin, link to Google or Apple Pay, PayPal, etc. I found that the App’s spending analysis appears to have additional AI which identifies further details about retailers you use based on details and location. This caused an odd quirk for me, as it appears to have re-labelled the transaction for a cafe I’d used with the name and location of another neighbouring cafe!
In my experience the account was very easy to set up and my card arrived in just 5 days. I quite like the format and design of the cards too.
On the free ‘Simple’ account you get an impressive £2,000 fee free foreign spending per month, plus £200 free cash withdrawals and free foreign currency transfers to other Monese customers (2% to non Monese accounts). If those limits aren’t sufficient, then for £4.95 the classic account increases these to £8,000 fee free foreign spend and £800 fee free cash withdrawals. The premium account at £14.95 removes the limits altogether.
How can you earn by switching?
Monese offer a decent £15 credit just for opening an account and making a single transaction. To benefit from this offer, and support the blog, use my referral link and code TIMOT018
There is no minimum spend for the qualifying transaction, so even spending £1 via the card will activate the £15 credit. However, the minimum you can load to the account from a debit card is £10. The £15 appears as soon as the transaction is complete (mine showed as pending for about 24 hours).
You can choose to earn 250 Avios rather than £15 for referrals. This is not a great option. At an general value of about 1p/point, you’re exchanging £15 cash for £2.50 of Avios points! You can also link your BA Executive Club account and see your latest Avios balance in the App, which might be handy for some people.
Why did I choose Monese?
For someone like me who is interested in racking up points, the Avios ‘trade up’ option on the NatWest Rewards Account, means that it would take some big enhancements to tempt me to switch my main current account to one of the app based accounts.
Currently I do hold a Curve card, which I have linked to a rewards visa. This allows me to avoid fees on the credit card, but still earn on cash withdrawals and up to £500 of foreign transactions per month. To learn more about Curve see my post here (and if you apply use code O2MEP for a £5 credit). I also tried the Finangel card, which at the time came with a good cashback incentive.
Until now I haven’t had a major use for any of the other competitors, but Monese is the first account to change this. The attractive thing about Monese is it’s very generous fee free foreign spend limit on the free – Monese Simple – account. My other favourite, Curve, gives you £500 fee free foreign spend per month, this excludes transactions on weekends, where a small fee applies. By comparison, Monese’s £2,000 per month is a very useful feature to have access to. Whilst there’s less potential for earning points on this than with Curve, if you have reason to spend more than £500 abroad, then having access to Monese is worthwhile. For comparison many cards and accounts charge 2-3% per transaction when you spend abroad.
We have an upcoming holiday in Majorca where we’ll obviously be spending in Euros whilst away, but also had to pay the balance of our accomodation in Euros 30 days before arrival. This meant that we knew we’d have well over £500 worth of foreign spend in a 30 day period. Having both Curve and Monese allows us to spend up to £500 on Curve, and everything thereafter on Monese. Both also offer £200 free cash withdrawals, which adds flexibility.
Disclaimer: This is an amateur, personal blog and this review is based on my experience of using the card. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances, and that you access the full and up to date information.