Monese International Money Transfer Review

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 transfer. We’ll see what clients have had to say about their experience with Monese’s international money transfer and if they’ve had anything to say directly about international transfers with Monese.  

📝 Monese is not a part of the best money transfer companies for August 2021, based on our editorial rankings  – have a look at better alternatives here.
🏛️ Established2015
🌎 International ClientsUK & EU
💱 Currencies Offered19
💷 Minimum Transfer£2 / €2
📲 Trading viaMobile App
🏢 Offices InLondon (Headquarters – UK)
Tallinn (Estonia)
Berlin (Germany)
Lisbon (Portugal)
⚖️ RegulationFCA (UK)
🤯 FeesSimple, Classic & Premium Accounts Available
Payment Fees vary per plan and the size of the payment. Spreads range from 0% – 2% depending on your plan too.
Promotional CodeN/A
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Client Reviews17,377 reviews on Trustpilot for Monese as a whole (not specific to international money transfer services)
⭐ Client Rating4.0/5 TrustScore on Trustpilot for Monese as a whole (not specific to international money transfer services)
Websitehttps://monese.com/
Awards2016 European Fintech Awards
Horizon 2020
👍 AdvantagesFree currency transfers on premium plan
Set up an account in minutes
Available in a number of languages
👎 DisadvantagesCustomer service non-existent at times
2% currency payment fee on the entry-level simple plan
Accounts blocked with no communication
Lots of negative feedback within last 12 months
Limited solution for international payments
Limited feedback mentioning currency transfers

View Recommended Alternatives:

Below you can find 3 prominent Monese international currency transfer competitors:

Currencies Direct
  • 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

    96% Client Satisfaction
TorFX
  • Min Transfer: £/€ 100
  • Currencies Supported: 40
  • Offices : UK, EU, Singapore, and Australia.
  • Our Rating : 93.4%
  • Extremely Tailored Service

    MoneyFact's Best Provider Award

    Diverse Hedging Options
moneycorp
  • Min Transfer: £/€/$ 50
  • Currencies Supported: 120
  • Offices : UK, EU, Australia, USA, HK, UAE, and South America.
  • Our Rating : 92.8%
  • Extremely Tailored Service

    Industry Veteran since 1979

    Diverse Hedging Options

Our Rating: N/A

View Rating Breakdown


Read More:

Company Information and Credibility


Company size:  

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 he couldn’t get any of these 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.

The last significant funding round for Monese came back in 2018 when they raised over $60m from companies including PayPal and the British Airways owner, IAG. Monese had planned to seek an additional $100m of funding in 2020 from new investors but with the COVID-19 pandemic staggering these plans, the firm sought roughly half that sum from existing investors – Kinnevik, PayPal and Augmentum Fintech.

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, with $81 million in funding and a valuation nearing £1 billion.


Regulated By: 

FCA

Awards:

  • 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)

 Conclusion:

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 within the last year. 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.  

 

 

Client Feedback


Research:

 17,000+ reviews on Trustpilot alone. Their rating on Trustpilot is 4.0 out of 5, which is OK for the industry. It’s not stand-out, because some competitors are closer to perfect scores, 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 haven’t seen any review relating specifically to their international money transfer offering, just 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.


Positive
  • Easy and fast to sign up
  • Easy to use with great functionality
  • All-in-one account
Negative

Few complaints relating to

  • Accounts being locked too often, difficult to resolve
  • High banking fees
  • Very slow transfers
  • Little to no customer support

Conclusion:

Monese comes out of the client reviews looking pretty OK, although it’s worrying that most of the negative reviews have come within the last 12 months. It seems that with the firm doubling its client base over this period, it has brought a stream of issues with it. 

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.

 

 

Exchange Rate & Fees


The fees for Monese are clearly laid out, though there are three different plans to consider which are as follows:

Simple 

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 allowance per month: £2000 or €2000 with a 2% fee after this allowance has been used
  • International foreign currency transfers fee: 2% (£2 or €2 minimum)

Classic 

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 allowance per month: £9000 or €9000 with a 2% fee after this allowance has been used
  • International foreign currency transfers fee: from 0.5% (£2 or €2 minimum)

Premium 

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)
  • Foreign currency card spending: free

International foreign currency transfers fee: free

Bottomline:

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. Focusing purely on international money transfers, there’s definitely enough incentive to opt for a premium plan if you’re sending money across borders frequently.

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:

Fee
Simple2%
Classic0.5% – 2%
PremiumFree

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% foreign currency rate is outrageously high and we would recommend avoiding using Monese on the simple package if your only aim is to make foreign currency transfers. 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.

 

 

Global Reach & Service


Research:

  • 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)

Conclusion:

Monese, being a British company, is currently intended for EU citizens. How Brexit will affect this is yet to be seen, but we can safely assume that they will be looking at the option of getting sufficient EU regulation post-Brexit. 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 trades with an account manager.

 

 

Additional Functionalities


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), 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 visualized impeccably too, to make 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

Bottom Line

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 Monest 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 international payments reviews: