Should I use Monese for money transfers?
Services Offered by Monese
Monese Review: Executive SummaryMonese is a mobile banking service that allows users to open a bank account without a credit check. The service offers a prepaid Mastercard, which can be used to make purchases and withdrawals from ATMs, as well as to send and receive money. Monese also provides users with a mobile app, which allows them to track their spending, set up direct debits, and manage their account on the go. Similar to Revolut, it provides a great all around banking experience. But strictly for money transfers and currency exchanges, there are better alternatives on the market.
Our Top Rated Monese Alternatives
If you want to use Monese for international payments, then these following international money transfer providers can serve your needs and potentially be cheaper and friendlier:
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 100
- Currencies Supported: 39
- Offices : UK, EU, USA, India, South Africa.
- Our Rating : 97.8%
- Most Global Offices and Reach
No Fees from Anywhere and Competitive Rates
96% Client Satisfaction
- Min Transfer: £/€ 100
- Currencies Supported: 40
- Offices : UK, EU, Singapore, and Australia.
- Our Rating : 93.4%
- High Quality Bespoke Service
MoneyFact's Best Provider Award
Over 100 Years of FX Experience Across Its Trading Desk
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 50
- Currencies Supported: 120
- Offices : UK, EU, USA, HK, and UAE.
- Our Rating : 92.8%
- Business Oriented, Many High Profile Business Customers
Industry Veteran since 1979
Diverse Hedging Options and Excellent Guidance
Monese – the mobile digital account provider launched in 2015 – is one of the largest fintech unicorns in the UK. This Monese review will cover the company’s background and the services it offers, with a specific focus on Monese money transfers. We’ll see what clients have had to say about their experience with Monese and if they’ve had anything to say directly about international payments with Monese.
Is Monese Safe?
Monese was created in the UK by an Estonian entrepreneur, Norris Koppel, in 2015. Being Estonian, when Norris first moved to the UK he faced innumerable issues when trying to open a bank account. You’ll be familiar with what he encountered – to open a bank account, Norris required proof of his address, local credit history, utility bills and countless other documents – but, paradoxically, he couldn’t get any of these documents without having a bank account in the first place.
After being stuck in this frustrating loop, Norris vowed to fix this so that no one would ever have to go through the same painful experience again. And this is where Monese was founded: an account that’s not just for those with perfect credit scores or the right set of utility bills. An account you can open instantly and use on your mobile, so you don’t lose access to your money every time you cross a border on a map.
Monese grew exponentially from the very start. In 2016, one year in operation, they had already won the Best Challenger Bank award at the huge European Fintech Awards. With great functionality from the start, it was a matter of being able to cope with all the sign ups — the UK was desperate for an alternative to high street banks. In 2019, Monese roughly doubled its number of customers from an already staggering 1 million to over 2 million. And whilst Monese has kept more quiet on its existing user base today, the 2020 financial results reported in Spring 2022 directly accredited Monese’s growing customer base to an increase in revenue to £16.3m, up from £10.3m the year previous.
The last significant funding round for Monese was a $90 million series C funding round in September 2021 whichTech TechCrunch reports to have seen a significant increase in the value of the firm, though an actual valuation wasn’t made public. Since then, global giant HSBC has even provided a $35m investment with the hope to bring some innovative tech capabilities within a major bank. This builds on other investment in 2018 when they raised over $60m from companies including PayPal and the British Airways owner, IAG.
In October 2020, Monese and Mastercard, announced a new multi-year strategic partnership to further enhance local banking services for the underserved across Europe, with Monese becoming a principal Mastercard issuer.
Monese’s new partnership with Mastercard provides its customers access to Mastercard’s global acceptance network, allowing them to spend at the millions of locations worldwide at which Mastercard is accepted.
Currently, Monese has grown to almost 400 employees and has raised over $200 million to date. And whilst the current valuation is unknown, it’s somewhere in the billions.
- Winner of 2016 European Fintech Awards
- Winner of Horizon 2020 for research and innovation
- Recognised as one of the largest UK fintech unicorn at a £1 billion valuation (like TransferWise)
Monese has gone from a fintech startup to digital bank provider with over 2 million customers in the space of just five years. It would appear the firm is struggling to keep up with its insane growth as the majority of its poor reviews have come more recently. Monese provides a credible solution for EU resident account holders who are not residing in the country they were born in but fast growth is causing a number of issues for some select account holders. It’s possible that as the firm grows, so too does its understanding of compliance and Know Your Customer requirements. It would appear Monese is encountering issues with the very same aspects Monese wanted to solve when it first launched in 2015.
Monese Customer Reviews
30,000+ reviews on Trustpilot alone. Their rating on Trustpilot is 4.1 out of 5, which is pretty good for the industry. It’s not stand-out, because some competitors are closer to perfect scores (TorFX scores 4.9/5), but given the large sample of reviews it is still an indicator of a somewhat reliable business.
There are very few reviews which specifically reference international money transfers. In fact we have seen maybe one review relating specifically to their international money transfer offering, and this 1* review says they simply did not process an £85k transfer on their behalf and they had to ask their bank to cancel the transaction. There are other bad reviews which seem to be cricising EUR to EUR transfers. It’s been reported by some users that a simple SEPA transfer has been taking weeks to credit their account. We have to assume this is for compliance purposes, otherwise it’s a serious breach of the SEPA guidelines – a network which is supposed to guarantee next-day delivery by the latest under a Sepa Credit Transfer and same-day under an urgent SEPA Credit Transfer.
Few complaints relating to
- Accounts being locked too often, difficult to resolve
- High banking fees
- Very slow transfers
- Little to no customer support
Monese comes out of the client reviews looking pretty OK, although it’s worrying that most of the negative reviews have come over the last 2-3 years. It seems that with the firm doubling its client base, it has brought a stream of issues with it that it doesn’t seem to be resolving particularly fast.
They’ve got an extremely large amount of customer reviews, which is helpful to get a representative picture, and that picture is still just about positive for now. Monese continues to receive positive feedback for being such an accessible service that can have you set up with digital bank accounts in minutes. Some users still praise its customer support, whilst others are reporting it to be non-existent. There are a growing number of negative reviews, and they mostly center around accounts being blocked or being charged high fees. It’s possible that the heavily delayed transfers are as a result of accounts being blocked and poor communication from Monese too.
We can’t learn anything too much specifically related to their international money transfer offering, just that even the same currency transfers (in both GBP and EUR) seem to be causing users a lot of issues with their delay.
Monese Exchange Rates & Fees
The fees for Monese are clearly laid out, though there are three different plans to consider which are as follows:
Price: £/€ 0 per month (only available in some countries)
This plan has no monthly fee, but Monese charges for some services like standard card delivery, cash operations, international transfers and card spend in other currencies. Here are the all the fees for this Monese package:
- Standard delivery fee for a simple debit card: £4.95 or €4.95
- Monthly allowance for ATM withdrawals, Sofort top-up, Cashback: £200 or €200 with a 2% fee after this allowance has been used
- Post Office and Paypoint cash top-up: 2% fee (minimum £2) and 3.5% fee (minimum £3) respectively (cash top-ups are only available in the UK for GBP accounts)
- Foreign currency card spending charged with a 2% fee from the get go (basic users used to get a £2000 or €2000 fee-free limit)
- International foreign currency transfers fee, i.e. FX markup: 2.5% (£2 or €2 minimum)
Price: £/€ 5.95 per month
This package is best for those who plan to use Monese as their main account or use cash and international transfers frequently. Here are the fees for this package:
- Standard delivery fee for the Classic debit card: free for the first card, £4.95 or €4.95 for any additional cards
- Monthly allowance for ATM withdrawals, Sofort top-up, Cashback and cash top-up: £900 or €900 with a 2% fee after this allowance has been used (cash top-ups are only available in the UK for GBP accounts)
- Foreign currency card spending free with no limit
- International foreign currency transfers fee, i.e. FX markup: from 0.5% (£2 or €2 minimum)
Price: £/€ 14.95 per month
This package is best suited for customers who will often use cash top-ups or withdrawals, spend money in different currencies or frequently send international foreign currency transfers. These transactions are all free and included in the monthly fee:
- Standard delivery fee for the Premium debit card: free
- ATM withdrawals, Sofort top-up, Cashback and cash top-up: free (cash top-ups are only available in the UK for GBP accounts). Cash top ups do however have a €1000 limit before they’re charged and ATM withdrawals a €2500 limit.
- Foreign currency card spending free with no limit
International foreign currency transfers fee: free
Monese succeeds in having clear and transparent pricing. Moving up the monthly plans, you can see that you start to get a range of services for free. Pleasingly, the firm has kept its pricing consistent over recent years and the monthly plans remain the exact same price as they were a number of years ago. However, what has changed is some of the limits on cash top-ups and ATM withdrawals and the fees for exceeding these limits within each plan. The once endless premium plan now has some limits that could soon see you charged with excess fees that you may not have been aware of.
Instead of an FX spread, Monese charges a fixed percentage fee, relative to the size of your transfer and the payment plan you’re on (which works much like a spread).) However, it’s easier to understand and is a great way to see what you’ll be charged ahead of actually making an international payment. Compared to say, Revolut, it’s simple because it doesn’t charge you a lot more because it’s a weekend or an exotic currency. The FX fees for international currency transfers are simple to understand and vary per package:
Monese reportedly use the mid-market rate and add on a fee (instead of applying a spread) to their international currency transfers, so if indeed you can make fee-free international currency transfers with Monese on the premium plan, then this could easily be worth the 14.95 monthly fee if you plan on making regular foreign currency transfers. We would welcome feedback from existing premium plan users on Monese and whether they have actually been achieving the mid-market rate, or a rate very close to the mid-market, when they issue a foreign currency transfer. This premium feature seems a little too good to be true!
With that being said, a 2.5% foreign currency rate for basic users is outrageously high and we would recommend avoiding using Monese on the simple package if your only aim is to make foreign currency transfers (this is even up from the 2% it used to be). A 2.5% fee means this no better than even highly uncompetitive banks like Virgin Money who also apply a 2.5% spread on low-value transfers. Our thorough analysis on bank costs for international transfers would see Monese roughly in the middle of the outdated legacy banks that charge excessive FX markups. That being said, the Monese premium plan completely blows legacy banks out of the water. The more you get involved with Monese (using it as your main debit account for example) the more you will get out of having an advanced package.
Monese Global Reach & Service
- Dedicated Dealer: No
- Offices: London (UK – HQ), Berlin (Germany), Lisbon (Portugal), Tallinn (Estonia)
- Ways to Approach: Online
- Translations: English, Spanish, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Belgian
- Accepted Clients: European Union Member States
- Currencies Handled: 19
- Client reviews: 4.0 out of 5 on Trustpilot (1,000+ reviews)
Monese, being a British company, had to make the correct strategic moves in order to continue providing its services in the EU after brexit. In addition to its regulation by the FCA in the UK, Monese is also regulated by the National Bank of Belgium to offer its services throughout the EU.. As far as the service, you’re getting a very good automated mobile application. As great and accessible as this is, there’s no extra service — you’re not getting personalised currency strategies with an account manager that’s taken the time to understand your needs.
What you’re getting with Monese right away is a fantastic mobile app. Of course, some people may see this as limiting (being their only medium of access alongside a view-only online app that can be accessed by desktop), but it means they’ve spent a lot of time and money making it incredibly swift to use.
Because Monese is more of a digital bank than it is an FX specialist or a UK currency broker, you’re getting fantastic online functionality. There’s a budgeting feature that allows you to track and limit what you’re spending, as well as very easy ways to send money. Tracking your spending is visualised impeccably too, making it easier to understand your previous behaviour.
But, you’re still paying incredibly high currency exchange rates if you opt to use them for international money transfers on their entry-level simple plan. Users with frequent currency transfer requirements will massively appreciate the fact they are fee-free on the premium plan but they similarly won’t like the fact they can only initiate at-the-time spot transfers. The inability to set up repeat transfers, conduct batch payments or even set-up a forward contract will definitely put some regular FX users off.
In short, the number of additional features as a digital bank is impressive, but none of these functionalities relate to international currency transfers.
Monese International Money Transfers Review Summary
If we take a look at the overall service of Monese, then we can see it is certainly making banking tasks easier and more accessible for its customers. Providing you are based in one of the 20 countries it operates, you can open an account in minutes.
The issue is that we are reviewing specifically the foreign currency transfer offering from Monese. The transparency and simplicity of the pricing structure is great, and if users who have frequent currency transfer requirements opt for the premium plan, they can even benefit from free international money transfers. However, the overall foreign currency transfer service is lacking. It’s more limited in its offering than virtually all of the international money transfer providers we have reviewed – there’s no ability to hedge your exposure with products such as forward contracts or FX swaps. And being app-based, you don’t have a team of dedicated FX experts you can speak with either.
As such we do not recommend Monese in our Top Recommended Money Transfer Providers List. European users who are looking for a digital banking solution with a low-cost international currency card will enjoy Monese, but in terms of bank-to-bank currency transfers, the offering is far too limited. Especially if you compare it with high-value adding UK based currency brokers.
More Bank and Bank-like Services Reviews
Looking to find the best bank for international transfers? here is the list.
- Virgin Money International Payments Review (best for business customers)
- Natwest Bank’s International Payments Review
- Lloyds Bank International Money Transfers Review
- Starling Bank Money Transfer Review
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia International Money Transfers Review
- Monese Review (quasi-bank accounts, not an actual bank)
- Revolut Review (quasi-bank accounts, not an actual bank)