Monese vs Starling – Which Is the Superior Digital Banking App?

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At Generation Money our purpose is to help you make better financial decisions. All of our articles are independently written and/or edited by finance professionals and adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This post may contain links which, if clicked, could result in a payment to the site. These links never impact our editorial policy and all rankings and product recommendations remain unbiased. For more details, read how this site is financed.

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Monese logo vs Starling Bank logo

This is our independent comparison of Monese vs Starling to find out which of these digital banking and finance apps is better.

Monese and Starling are two of the leading platforms in the digital banking market in the UK, along with Revolut and Monzo. In this article I’ll be putting Monese and Starling head-to-head on a range of metrics to see which comes out on top. 

You can see our other digital bank comparisons here:

I worked in banking for almost a decade so I know all about the threat that these digital challenger banks pose to the traditional players. I’ve also got both a Monese and Starling account which I’ve tested and used to go into detail for this comparison.

Read on for my full rundown of Monese vs Starling, or use the links below to skip ahead to the section you’re most interested in:

You can also read our in-depth reviews of each platform here:

Monese vs Starling – Which is better? At A Glance

Here are the key points you need to know from my Monese vs Starling comparison.

UK regulated bankcrosstick
FSCS protectioncrosstick
Basic free accountticktick
Subscription-based accountstick 2 optionsN/A – Free
Business accountsticktick
Joint accountsticktick
Under 18s accountscrosstick
Multi-currency accountsticktick EUR only
Cash depositsSimple account – 3.5% fee
Classic account – £400 per month free
Premium account – £1,000 per month free
Free up to £1k per year, then 0.7% fee
Cheque depositscrossFree up to £1k per year (combined with cash deposit limit), then 0.7% fee
Cheque imaging servicecrosstick
Fee-free spending abroadtick Up to £2k per month free with Simple, free for Classic and Premiumtick
Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad and in the UKSimple – £100 free per month
Classic – £500 free per month
Premium – £1,500 free per month
tickNo limits
International payments/ transfersticktick
Interest on current account balancecrosstick0.05%
Access to interest-earning savings accountstickvia Raisintick
Multi-currency savings accountscrosscross
Rewards & discountsAvios integrationtick via Marketplace
Money management featuresticktick
InsuranceMonese Classic & Premiumtick via Marketplace
Round-up spendingticktick
Bill splittingticktick
Personal loantickvia Monevocross
Buy Now, Pay Latercrosscross
Investingcrosstick via Marketplace (Wealthify)
24/7 customer supportcrosstick
Phone customer supportcrosstick
Apple/ Google Pay integrationsticktick
Samsung Pay integrationcrosstick
PayPal integrationtickcross
Avios integrationtickcross
Connect other bank accounts to the apptickcross
Current account switch servicecrosstick

Monese and Starling both offer a range of features that you’d expect from digital banking apps, but there are some fundamental differences between them. Starling is an authorised and regulated UK bank, unlike Monese, and offers more of the features you’d expect from a traditional bank. This includes FSCS protection, as well as being a part of the Current Account Switch Service.

FSCS protection means that your deposits up to £85k are protected in case Starling goes bust. You can easily switch your existing bank account over to Starling using the Current Account Switch Service. Monese offers neither of these. 

Starling also provides you with 24/7 customer support and the option to speak to a customer support agent over the phone. Monese only offers in-app chat and email support. So, if safety and support is a priority, you may prefer Starling with its FSCS protection and more comprehensive customer support.

You can also pay in cash and cheques with Starling, unlike with Monese, and you’ll be able to apply for an overdraft. Monese doesn’t offer an overdraft but it does allow you to apply for a personal loan through Monevo, a 3rd party broker. If you want the option of an overdraft facility, then you’ll prefer Starling. But if you want to be able to apply for a personal loan via your current account then you’ll prefer Monese. 

Monese, however, stands out for its account opening process. It’s much faster to open a Monese account and start using its features than it is with any of the other main digital banking apps. You can get started in a matter of a few minutes, which is much faster than Starling Bank.

Both Starling and Monese have integrated international payments capabilities from your account. You’re able to seamlessly send and receive money abroad with either app. But, Monese tends to be cheaper than Starling, so if you want to frequently send money abroad then you will likely prefer Monese’s lower fees. Particularly with a Monese Premium account.

Monese allows you to integrate your PayPal account within your Monese account. This is a unique feature as no other digital challenger bank offers this at the moment. So if you’re a regular PayPal user you may like the convenience of being able to see your PayPal account within the Monese app.

Another useful Monese feature is its Avios integration which is also unique in the digital finance app space. You can integrate your Avios account with your Monese account and earn Avios points through your spending with your Monese card.

Starling edges Monese when it comes to spending abroad. This is because Starling has no fees or limits on debit card spending abroad or on cash withdrawals. Monese’s Simple (free) account has a £2k monthly limit on debit card spending abroad, but its Classic and Premium accounts have no limits. There are also limits on cash withdrawals abroad, whereas Starling has none. See more below on spending abroad.

Neither app provides any investing or trading options directly, so if this is an important feature to you, then you’ll want to look at Revolut which has built-in investing capabilities. Read more about this in my Revolut review.

Starling Bank does, however, have an in-built personal finance marketplace where you can sign up to Wealthify, one of the leading robo-advisor investment apps in the UK.

Monese is best for:

  • Fast and easy account setup
  • Multi-currency accounts
  • Generally cheaper international payments
  • Avios and PayPal integrations

Starling is best for:

  • Safety, as Starling Bank has FSCS protection and is a regulated UK bank
  • Customer service
  • Overdrafts
  • Spending abroad

Monese vs Starling – Accounts

Monese offers three account types, including its free Simple Account and two paid-for subscription accounts called Classic and Premium which come with extra features and benefits.

Starling Bank has only one type of personal account which is free and comes with all Starling features included. Starling offers a business account, as does Monese. Both offer joint accounts, but only Starling offers accounts for under 18s.

Below outlines the offering of each digital banking app:

Personal Account (free)ticktick
Personal Account (premium)tick (2 options)N/A – the Starling personal account is free
Business Accountticktick
Junior Accountcrosstick (Kite for 6-16 year olds, Teen for 16-17 year olds)
Multi-currency Accountticktick EUR only
Joint Accountticktick

For full details of the various features and benefits of each type of account, you can read more in my Monese review and Starling Bank review

The fundamental difference in accounts between Starling vs Monese is that Starling Bank’s personal current account is free and comes with all features included. Monese, on the other hand, has 3 personal account types – its Simple account is free, then it has two paid subscription accounts called Classic and Premium.

To access all of Monese’s features and benefits, you will need to pay for its Premium account which costs £14.95 per month (or £124.95 if billed yearly). This gives you different types of insurance cover and lower transaction fees. 

So if you don’t want to pay a monthly or yearly subscription, and still have access to lots of money management features and benefits, then Starling Bank is the winner. That being said, Monese includes some features, such as various types of insurance, with its Classic and Premium accounts that aren’t available with Starling. More below on the features of Monese vs Starling.

If you want to open an account for under 18s then you can do so with Starling but not with Monese. There are two options – the first is Starling’s Teen account which is available for 16-17 year olds.

For under 16s, Starling Bank then also has a Kite account which is a debit card and app for children which is linked to an adult’s account. It’s pre-loaded with money by the adult and the app includes money management and learning features, as well as safeguards to prevent any inappropriate spending. The first month of Kite is free, after that it’s £2 per month.

Starling is also part of the Current Account Switch Service, which many banks are signed up to. This is a service which makes it hassle-free to switch from your existing bank account provider to a new one. All direct debits, regular payments and salary details are switched over for you, and your old bank will close down your existing bank account. Monese does not offer this service, so for easy account switching Starling is the clear winner.

Monese offers a built-in multi-currency account as part of its Simple and paid-for accounts. This covers EUR and RON (Romanian leu) currencies and you can open them once you’ve set up your GBP account. Transferring money between your different currency accounts is free Monday (from 6am) to Friday (4pm), with a 1% transaction fee on weekends.

Starling allows you to open a EUR account in addition to a GBP account, so if you want to open an account in RON then you’ll prefer Monese. There’s a 0.4% charge on all transfers between your GBP and EUR account with Starling.

Monese is best for:

  • Fast account opening
  • Multi-currency users

Starling is best for:

  • Completely free current account with all features included
  • Hassle-free account switching
  • Teen (16-17 year olds) accounts
  • Under 16s accounts through Kite

Monese vs Starling – Fees

There are various fees and charges associated with different account types and transactions for each of Monese and Starling. The main fees and charges are summarised below:

Basic current accountFREEFREE
Subscription-based accountsClassic account £5.95 per month / £49.95 paid annually

Premium account £14.95 per month / £124.95 paid annually
Debit card spending abroadSimple – £2k free per month
Classic & Premium – Free
No fee
International transfersStandard – 2% fee
Classic – from 0.5% fee
Premium – Free
0.4% fee plus delivery fee
ATM withdrawals abroadFree up to:
£100/month for Simple
£500/month for Classic
£1,500/month for Premium
2% fee thereafter
ATM withdrawals in the UKFree up to:
£100/month for Simple
£500/month for Classic
£1,500/month for Premium
2% fee thereafter
UK bank transfersFREEFREE
Cash depositsSimple accounts – 3.5% fee
Classic accounts – £400 free
Premium accounts – £1,500 free
3.5% fee thereafter
£1k per year free, 0.7% fee thereafter
Cheque depositsNot allowedCombined with cash deposits above
Overdraft interest rateN/A15% / 25% / 35% APR
Loan interest rateDependent on individual circumstances, via MonevoN/A
Replacement debit cardsDelivery fee of £4.95£5 in the UK or £10 if lost abroad

Which is the lowest cost out of Monese vs Starling depends upon which account type you have with Monese and what you want to use it for.

Monese’s Classic (£5.95 per month) and Premium (£14.95 per month) accounts come with differing levels of insurance cover, lower transaction fees and higher transaction limits. They’re packaged current accounts so you will need to decide if the monthly fee is worth it for the extra features and benefits you get included with it.

Starling Bank offers one personal current account option which is completely free to open and use, and comes with all Starling’s features included. There are no monthly subscription options, so if you want a fee-free current account then you’ll prefer Starling. Monese does offer a free account – its Simple plan – but this has lower limits and higher fees for most transactions, such as ATM withdrawals.

Starling is completely free for withdrawing cash and spending on your debit card abroad. Your transactions will be converted at the MasterCard rate, which is usually quite close to the spot rate. There are also no limits to how much you can withdraw or spend, unlike with Monese (see table above), so Starling is the winner when it comes to ATM withdrawals and debit card spending abroad.

Paying in cash and cheques is also generally cheaper with Starling than Monese. Monese doesn’t allow cheque deposits at all. The only situation where Monese is cheaper to pay in cash is if you have a Monese Premium subscription and want to pay in between £1k and £1.5k per year. But that’s without taking into account the monthly account fee of £14.95.

International transfers are also generally cheaper with Starling. Unless you’re a Monese Premium customer, in which case you will get one of the cheapest international transfer rates in the UK market. That’s before the monthly fee of £14.95 is taken into account, though.

Monese is better for:

  • Packaged current accounts (including insurance)
  • Cheaper international payments/transfers with a Premium account

Starling is better for:

  • No monthly account fees
  • Spending abroad on your debit card
  • Withdrawing cash in the UK and abroad
  • Depositing cheques (you are unable to do so with Monese) and cash

Monese vs Starling – Spending Abroad

There are two main ways you can spend money abroad. You can use your debit card to make purchases as you would in the UK, or you can use your debit card to withdraw cash abroad.

Starling Bank is the better option for both. It has no limits on how much you can spend abroad or how much cash you can withdraw. There are no fees at all either, and you will get the MasterCard exchange rate.

Here’s the key information on spending abroad from the fees table above:

Debit card spending abroadSimple – £2k free per month, 2% fee thereafter
Classic & Premium – Free
No fees / no limits
ATM withdrawals abroadFree up to:
£100/month for Simple
£500/month for Classic
£1,500/month for Premium
2% fee thereafter
No fees / no limits

Monese also uses the MasterCard exchange rate, which is usually pretty close to the spot/Interbank rate. 

It should be mentioned that if you are a Monese Premium customer, unless you want to withdraw more than £1.5k in cash, then there is little difference on cost compared to Starling. Monese Premium also has fee-free debit card spending abroad. 

So if you’re happy to pay for Monese’s Premium account, perhaps because of its insurance packages, then your spending abroad will be no more expensive than with Starling.

Monese is better for:

  • Withdrawing under £1.5k abroad if you’re a Premium customer

Starling is better for:

  • Totally fee-free debit card spending abroad
  • Totally fee-free ATM withdrawals abroad

Monese vs Starling – International Payments

Sending money abroad, or making international transfers, was one of the key features for which Monese was created. It’s straightforward to do so with Monese and can be done directly within the app. 

Starling also allows you to make international transfers and payments through its app or online via your Starling Bank account. The fees for both Monese and Starling’s international payments are outlined below:

International transfersSimple – 2% fee
Classic – From 0.5% fee
Premium – Free
0.4% fee plus a delivery fee (around £5.50)

For Monese Premium customers, the cost of making international transfers is one of the lowest in the UK market. It can often beat Revolut and Wise on cost, but it does depend on the currency and the amount being sent. That is, of course, before taking into account the monthly £14.95 account fee for Monese Premium.

Starling is usually cheaper for international transfers vs Monese’s Simple account, as it charges a 0.4% plus a delivery fee of around £5.50. This beats Monese Simple’s 2% fee, unless you’re sending very small amounts.

So Monese Premium is the lowest cost way of making international transfers, but comes with a £14.95 monthly account fee. So which is cheaper out of Monese and Starling will depend on how often you plan to make international transfers and whether Monese Premium is therefore worth it. If you do so regularly, Monese Premium may work out cheaper for you.

Monese is best for:

  • Usually cheaper international payments with Monese Premium

Starling is best for:

  • Often cheaper international payments if you’re not a Monese Premium customer

Monese vs Starling – Which Is Safer?

Starling Bank is a UK regulated bank, authorised and regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which oversees bank regulation in the UK. It’s also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA regulation means that you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you cannot resolve a dispute directly with Starling.

You’ll also get Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection with Starling, so that your deposits up to £85k are protected in the event that Starling went bust, which is great for peace of mind.

Monese is an e-money institution and not a bank, so it does not offer FSCS protection. Instead it safeguards your money under FCA guidelines. It must separately store and protect your money. More on this in my Monese review. Monese is regulated by the FCA so you will also be able to make use of Financial Ombudsman Service if you cannot resolve a dispute directly with them.

Overall, you may get better peace of mind with Starling as it has FSCS protection on your deposits and is a PRA authorised bank.

Starling is, in my view, probably the safest of the UK’s leading digital challenger banks. It’s profitable, unlike its rivals, well-capitalised and is a fully authorised and regulated UK bank with FSCS protection.

Starling is best for:

  • FSCS protection
  • Fully licensed and regulated bank

Monese vs Starling – Which Has The Best Features?

Both Monese and Starling offer the money management features you would typically expect from digital banking apps. These include round-up spending, bill splitting and savings pots. Here’s a full breakdown of the main features of Monese’s Premium account vs Starling’s personal account:

Monese Premium (£14.95 per month)Starling (Free)
Personal accident / sickness insurancetickcross
Purchase protection insurancetickcross
Discounts and offerscrosscross
Interest paid on your current account balance crosstick 0.05%
Round-up savingsticktick
Instant spending notificationsticktick
Categorised spending insightsticktick
Separate money spaces/ potsticktick
Higher limits for cash withdrawals and depositsticktickNo limits
Bill splitting and tabsticktick
Mobile cheque depositscrosstick
Apple & Google Payticktick
Samsung Paycrosstick
PayPal integrationtickcross
Avios integrationtickcross
See other accounts in-apptickcross
Multi-currency accountGBP, EUR, RONGBP & EUR
Free additional GBP accountcrosstick
Credit buildertick £2.50 per monthVia Marketplace

The Monese Premium account comes with personal accident & illness cover and purchase protection insurance. Bundling insurance as part of a packaged bank account is relatively common these days. If you like the sound of having insurance in the same place as your current account then you may consider the £14.95 monthly fee worth it.

So you will need to decide whether or not it’s worth paying the £14.95 monthly account fee with Monese Premium. For example, it may work out more cost effective to get insurance cover separately.

Starling doesn’t directly offer insurance, but it does give you access to a personal finance marketplace. This is a hub within the app (or through online banking) which brings together 3rd party financial services providers which you can sign up to. These include (as at August-23):

  • Wealthify for investing
  • Penfold and PensionBee for pensions services
  • Tail, a cashback service on your spending
  • CreditLadder, which reports rent payments to Experian with the aim of improving your credit score over time
  • Habito, a mortgage broker
  • So-sure, Anorak and Churchill for insurance products

This means that you can pick and choose products, such as insurance and a credit building service, that you would like based on your own needs without paying a monthly account fee to Starling.

Given the range of 3rd party providers on offer, you’re able to browse a comprehensive set of personal finance products and services. In my opinion, this is a feature that makes Starling stand out from the rest of its digital banking rivals, not just vs Monese.

So if you like the idea of having a comprehensive set of personal finance products and services at your fingertips, then you’ll prefer Starling to Monese. But you should aim to check a range of other providers for prices and fees before signing up to any additional services.

In terms of borrowing, Starling allows you to apply for an overdraft but Monese does not. On the other hand, Monese allows you to apply for a personal loan through Monevo, a 3rd party broker, whereas Starling does not offer personal loans.

If you’re interested in building up your credit history, then you may be interested in Monese’s Credit Builder. It costs £2.50 per month and works by essentially providing an interest free loan to you which you then pay back in instalments. The monthly fee works out to be an effective 9.1% APR based on a £600 loan over 12 months. For more on how this works, see my Monese review.

Starling doesn’t have its own credit building service, but there is one available through the personal finance marketplace called CreditLadder. 

Both Monese and Starling have Apple and Google Pay integrations, so you can link your accounts to your mobile wallets on your phone. Starling also has Samsung Pay integration, so if you’re a Samsung user you may prefer Starling for this reason.

A stand out feature for Monese is its integration with Avios. If you collect Avios points you may prefer Monese over Starling as you’re able to link your Avios account to your Monese account and earn points on your spending. 

Monese also allows you to integrate your PayPal account with your Monese account, so you can view your transactions from the Monese app. You can’t directly send or receive Paypal payments through the Monese app, though.

Neither Starling or Monese has investing capabilities, unlike Revolut. However, you can sign up to Wealthify, a robo-advisor and one of the best investment apps in the UK, through Starling’s marketplace.

Monese is best for:

  • Linking and viewing your PayPal account
  • Linking your Avios account and earning Avios points on your spending
  • Income protection, hospital stay and purchase protection insurance (Monese Classic/Premium)
  • Building your credit history via Credit Builder

Starling is best for:

  • Overdrafts
  • Samsung Pay
  • Access to pension and investing platforms through the personal finance marketplace 
  • Insurance add-ons through the personal finance marketplace (may incur additional cost)
  • Mobile cheque deposits

Monese vs Starling – Borrowing, Loans & Overdrafts

Starling gives you the option of applying for an overdraft with your personal current account. Monese does not offer overdrafts, so if having an overdraft is important to you then you’ll prefer Starling. 

Overdrafts are available up to £5,000 at interest rates of 15% / 25% / 35% depending on your individual circumstances. You will need to apply and undergo a hard credit check as part of your application.

Monese does not directly lend money, so you cannot get an overdraft with your Monese account. And although you can’t get a personal loan directly with Monese it has partnered with Monevo, a 3rd party digital loan broker, to connect you to lenders.

Under the Explore tab of the Monese app you’ll find a ‘Credit’ section. Tap this and you can fill in a form with your details which will then be used to conduct a soft credit check (your credit score will not be affected). Monevo will then present you with search results that show different loan options with different providers. 

If you go on to apply for a loan with a 3rd party provider, you’re likely to have to undergo a hard credit check, too. Starling does not currently offer personal loans.

Personal Loanstick via Monevocross
Business Loanscrosstick
Buy Now, Pay Latercrosscross

Monese is best for:

  • Personal loans (via Monevo)

Starling is best for:

  • Overdrafts

Monese vs Starling – Who Has The Best Customer Service?

Starling Bank offers a dedicated UK phone number to get in touch and 24/7 customer support. You can also contact customer support via in-app chat. Along with Monzo, Starling has probably the best customer support of the leading digital banks in the UK. 

I had to contact customer support with an issue around ID verification when I was signing up to Starling. Within around 20 seconds of phoning customer support I was speaking to an agent who was professional and helpful. This was around midday on a weekday, and my issue was resolved quite quickly. 

Unlike Starling, Monese does not have a dedicated phone number for customer support. You can contact Monese customer support by chat in the app or via email. It’s not available 24/7 though, so you may get better peace of mind with Starling vs Monese knowing that you can reach someone at any time.

If you’re a Monese Premium account holder you’ll get priority support, so you should get a response faster than Simple or Classic customers. I’ve personally not had any issues with Monese customer support, but if you have an urgent issue it could be frustrating not having a number to call.

A standout feature of Monese’s customer support is that it’s multilingual. You can connect in 15 different languages, so this will be useful for those whose first language is not English. 

Monese is best for:

  • Multilingual customer support
  • Priority support for Premium account holders

Starling is best for:

  • Dedicated phone number for customer support
  • 24/7 support for all customers

Monese vs Starling – Customer Reviews

The Trustpilot and App Store ratings of Monese and Starling are below:


  • Monese 4.0/5
  • Starling Bank 4.3/5

App Store:

  • Monese 4.8/5
  • Starling Bank 4.9/5

Starling scores higher than Monese with Trustpilot, with 4.3 compared to 4.0. It has 75% of reviews rated as ‘Excellent’, with positive reviews tending to praise the useful features and customer support. Some of the negative reviews talk about payments getting rejected due to fraud prevention when they shouldn’t have been. A few also mention that the initial account set up process is a little lengthy.

Monese has a Trustpilot rating of 4.0, which places it below Starling Bank, Monzo (4.4) and Revolut (4.3). Some of the positive Monese reviews praise the ease with which you can transfer money in different currencies and the fast account setup. However, some of the negative reviews mention issues with verifying their location through the app, as well as issues with withdrawing money.

Monese vs Starling – Final Verdict

If you want a digital bank that retains the features and products you would expect from a high-street bank, then Starling is your best option. It’s a regulated bank, comes with FSCS protection on your deposits and allows you to apply for an overdraft. You’re unable to get any of these features with Monese.

Starling also has a host of in-app money management and saving features that we’ve come to expect from digital bank accounts. These include round-up savings, spending breakdowns and budgeting tools. 

On top of that, you’ll get 24/7 customer support as a Starling customer as well as a dedicated phone number to call if you have any issues. So when it comes to customer support, Starling beats Monese here too. 

One more standout feature with Starling is that its personal current account has no monthly fees and comes with all features included. This is unlike Monese, Monzo and Revolut which all have basic free accounts but require you to sign-up to a paid-for premium account to access most features and benefits. 

If you want to access more products and services then you can do so through Starling’s personal finance marketplace, which is a really handy feature.

Monese is still a great choice for your digital bank account in other ways. If you’re happy to pay for a packaged bank account then Monese Premium is one of the best available among digital banking apps. It comes with different types of insurance cover, one of the best international money transfer rates and priority customer support. 

If you’re an Avios user you will like that you can integrate your Avios account with Monese and earn points on your debit card spending. You can also integrate your Paypal account so that you can view your transactions directly from your Monese app.

With Monese you can also apply for a personal loan through a 3rd party, unlike Starling which does not currently offer personal loans. Monese has partnered with Monevo which will serve up a range of loan providers to choose from. If you like the idea of applying for a personal loan through your digital banking app then you might like this feature, however there’s nothing to stop you applying for a personal loan separately anyway.

Another feature you will be interested in if you want to build your credit history is Monese’s Credit Builder. It costs £2 a month and you can sign up through the app. Starling doesn’t offer this feature directly, but you can sign up to CreditLadder through Starling’s personal finance marketplace.

For international money transfers Monese Premium gives you one of the lowest cost methods in the UK market. However, that’s before taking into account the monthly £14.95 account fee. If you don’t want a Monese Premium account, Starling may be cheaper for international transfers depending on the currency and amount. 

If English isn’t your first language then you may prefer Monese as it has 15 languages available when contacting customer support.

Overall, Starling Bank is currently my favourite digital banking app for its blend of traditional banking features and protection, great money management tools and all without charging monthly account fees.

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