5 Of The Best Monzo Alternatives For 2024

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The Generation Money Guarantee

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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The Best Monzo Alternatives with Monzo logo

Monzo is one of the UK’s leading digital banks, but there are some great Monzo alternatives out there too. 

Although Monzo is a fully licensed UK bank and has a wide range of money management features, it may not be the best option for your needs. 

Other digital banking platforms have caught up, or even overtaken. If you browse the startups looking for investment on crowdfunding sites, it feels like a new digital banking app is springing up every month!

In this article I’ll run through the best alternatives to Monzo for a range of different banking and finance needs, as well as the best all-round Monzo alternative.

Use the links below to skip ahead to the Monzo alternative that suits you best, or read on for the full rundown.

For more on Monzo, read our in-depth Monzo review.

Best All-Round Monzo Alternative: Starling Bank

There are some great digital banking apps that specialise in certain areas, such as international payments or spending abroad – more on these below. But the best all-round alternative to Monzo is Starling Bank.

Starling Bank logo for Monzo alternatives

Starling Bank

Starling Bank is a fully licensed UK bank, founded in 2014 as a challenger to the traditional high-street banks.

It now has over 2 million customers and is one of the few digital banks to be profitable – unlike Monzo which is still loss-making.

Like Monzo, Starling is a fully PRA authorised UK bank with FSCS protection and 24/7 customer support. But one of Starling Bank’s standout features that makes it a great Monzo alternative is its marketplace. 

Through your Starling account you can access a personal finance marketplace where you can sign up to 3rd party financial services. These include insurance providers, a mortgage broker and Wealthify, the robo-investment app. As a result, you have access to a more complete set of personal finance products than with Monzo.

The other key advantage of Starling over Monzo is that its personal current account is free and comes with all Starling’s features included. Monzo, on the other hand, only offers a basic set of features with its free current account. To access all Monzo’s features you need to pay for one of its subscription tiers.

Starling Bank’s Key Features:

  • Personal Accounts: Free personal account with no subscription required
  • Other Accounts: Business, Joint, Teen, Kite for Under 16s
  • Borrowing: Overdraft
  • Savings: 3.25% interest on up to £5k in a current account, access to savings accounts
  • Fee-Free Card Spending Abroad: Yes, no limits
  • Cash Withdrawals Abroad: Yes, no limits
  • International Payments/Transfers: Yes, fees apply
  • Investing Options: via Wealthify
  • UK Regulated Bank: Yes, FCA & PRA regulated, APP scam protection
  • FSCS Protection: Yes
  • Trustpilot Rating: 4.4

For a full rundown of how Starling Bank compares to Monzo you can read our Monzo vs Starling comparison. For an in-depth look at Starling Bank, read our full Starling Bank review.

Best Monzo Alternative For International Payments

When it comes to international payments, Monzo doesn’t use its own payments infrastructure. Instead, it has linked up with Wise to power international payments through the Monzo app.

Wise primarily used to be a payments app, specialising in international transfers. However, Wise is now much more than that and allows you to open multi-currency accounts and get a debit card. This makes it a viable alternative to Monzo’s current account services.

Wise

If you want a digital app for international payments, then Wise is a great alternative to Monzo. Plus, you’d need to sign up to Wise anyway to make international payments through Monzo.

Wise’s Key Features:

  • Personal Accounts: Free personal account with no subscription required
  • Other Accounts: Business, multi-currency accounts
  • Borrowing: No
  • Savings: Yes – up to 3.19% variable interest after fees
  • Fee-Free Card Spending Abroad: No, currency conversion fees apply
  • Cash Withdrawals Abroad: Yes, fees apply
  • International Payments/Transfers: Yes, fees apply but are some of the lowest in the market
  • Investing Options: Yes – able to invest in one index fund (MSCI World Index)
  • UK Regulated Bank: No, FCA regulated e-money institution
  • FSCS Protection: No for current account balances, where safeguarding regulations apply instead. However, money held in savings or stocks (called Assets by Wise) is FSCS protected 
  • Trustpilot Rating: 4.4

When it comes to withdrawing cash abroad and debit card spending abroad, Starling Bank beats Wise. But for international payments, Wise has some of the lowest fees in the market. So if you want to regularly send money abroad then Wise is a great option.

Best Monzo Alternative For Investing

If you’re looking for a digital bank account that also allows you to put your money to work by investing, then you may be disappointed with Monzo as it only offers savings products.

Fortunately, some digital banking apps are now opening up investments as part of their services. One of the leaders in this area is Revolut which allows you to invest in stocks, commodities and cryptocurrencies. 

Revolut

Revolut logo

Styling itself as a digital finance ‘super app’, Revolut offers a huge range of digital banking and money management features. 

Unlike Monzo, Revolut is not a licensed UK bank – although it is in the stages of applying for a UK banking licence – but its app offers probably the widest range of digital banking features in the UK.

This includes the ability to invest in stocks and shares, commodities and over 80 cryptocurrencies directly through its app. So if you like the idea of a digital banking service that combines spending, payments and investing all in one app, then Revolut could be a good choice for you.

Revolut’s Key Features:

  • Personal Accounts: Free basic account with 3 additional paid subscription options
  • Other Accounts: Business, Under 18s & multi-currency accounts
  • Borrowing: No lending, but does offer early payday features
  • Savings: Yes – up to 2.50% interest in GBP (as of Jan-23) depending on account type
  • Fee-Free Card Spending Abroad: Yes, up to £1k per month, fees apply thereafter
  • Cash Withdrawals Abroad: Yes, free up to £200 per month, fees apply thereafter
  • International Payments/Transfers: Yes, fees apply but tend to be very competitive
  • Investing Options: Yes – stocks & share, commodities and cryptocurrencies
  • UK Regulated Bank: No, FCA regulated e-money institution
  • FSCS Protection: No for current account balances, where safeguarding regulations apply instead. However, money held in savings accounts is FSCS protected 
  • Trustpilot Rating: 4.3

For a more detailed look at how Revolut compares to Monzo, read my in-depth Revolut vs Monzo comparison. For a full rundown of Revolut, read my detailed Revolut review.

Although investing from your digital bank account is convenient, it may not be the cheapest or best way of investing depending on your needs. Check out my rundown of the best investment apps in the UK to find out which platform is right for you.

Best Monzo Alternative For Spending Abroad

Monzo is a great digital bank for spending abroad on your debit card. Like Starling, it doesn’t charge any fees or have any limits on using your debit card for transactions abroad.

However, for cash withdrawals abroad Monzo is only fee-free up to £250 per month inside the European Economic Area (EEA) and £200 per month outside the EEA. Monzo charges 3% on withdrawals above these limits.

Starling Bank

You can see the key features of Starling Bank above, but for withdrawing cash abroad it charges no fees. There are also no limits to how much you can withdraw abroad either, so it’s a great Monzo alternative for travelling.

For withdrawing money abroad Starling Bank uses the MasterCard exchange rate, as does Monzo. To understand why this might be relevant, read on for more about Currensea. 

Currensea

Currensea is an innovative way of spending abroad. It’s the UK’s first direct debit travel card, which means you don’t need to set up a new bank account or pre-loaded card to spend abroad.

Essentially, Currensea links to your existing bank account and transfers any amount you spend on your Currensea card from your bank account via direct debit.

You may have noticed that most debit and credit cards used for spending abroad are issued by MasterCard. When converting money from one currency to another, MasterCard uses its own FX rates.

Banks, however, use what’s called the interbank rate for foreign currency conversions. This is essentially the market, or spot, FX rate. Almost all high street banks who have access to this rate will charge fees on top, so you will rarely get the interbank rate on your transactions without additional charges.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because some digital banking apps and card providers have secured interbank exchange rates on foreign transactions, which they claim gives customers a better rate. One of these is Currensea (Revolut uses the interbank rate too).

In true Generation Money fashion, I’ve tested this by comparing over a period of time the exchange rates used by MasterCard against the interbank exchange rate*. While there are sometimes small differences in favour of the interbank rate, the majority of the time the difference between the two is negligible.

That being said, frequent users of foreign currency transactions may make some small savings over time if they have access to the interbank rate instead of the MasterCard rate, ignoring any additional fees. This is perhaps something more for businesses to consider rather than personal account users.

So, Currensea claims that because it uses the interbank exchange rate for 16 major currencies (including euros and USD) it beats lots of other foreign currency services. Regardless, it’s still an innovative way of spending abroad and well worth considering if you don’t want to set up an entirely new bank account.

Currensea’s Key Features:

  • Personal Accounts: Currensea has plans rather than accounts. This includes a free ‘Essential’ plan with 2 additional paid subscription options (Premium and Elite)
  • Other Accounts: Business accounts
  • Borrowing: No 
  • Savings: No
  • Fee-Free Card Spending Abroad: No set fees but a 0.5% mark up on the FX rate applies to Essential plans. No mark up for Premium or Elite plans
  • Cash Withdrawals Abroad: No fees but 0.5% mark up on the FX rate for Essential accounts up to £500 with a 2% fee above £500, max. withdrawal of £1,500 per month
  • International Payments/Transfers: Yes, fees apply but tend to be very competitive
  • Investing Options: No
  • UK Regulated Bank: No, FCA regulated e-money institution
  • FSCS Protection: No 
  • Trustpilot Rating: 4.9

Currensea also allows you to collect air miles with Singapore Airlines on your spending. 

Best Monzo Alternative For Easy Account Opening

Opening an account with Monzo may require a credit check and you’ll need identity documents that Monzo will verify. This is fine for many people, but in cases of poor credit history or lack of fixed UK address it may be hard to complete these checks and open an account.

Other digital banking options cater for these circumstances and SuitsMe is one of them.

SuitsMe

  • Personal Accounts: Free basic account plus two subscription account options (Premium and Premium Plus)
  • Other Accounts: Business accounts
  • Borrowing: No 
  • Savings: No
  • Fee-Free Card Spending Abroad: No
  • Cash Withdrawals Abroad: Fees apply
  • International Payments/Transfers: Available via partner service provider in-app
  • Investing Options: No
  • UK Regulated Bank: No, FCA regulated e-money institution
  • FSCS Protection: No 
  • Trustpilot Rating: 4.1

Although SuitsMe doesn’t necessarily compare well against Monzo and its alternatives for some features, it’s a great option if you need to open an account quickly. You can open an account in just 3 minutes and get set up with a contactless debit card, direct debits and have money paid into your account.

SuitsMe also offers cashback rewards on your spending.

Is My Money Safe With These Alternatives To Monzo?

All of the options mentioned in this article are FCA regulated and must follow safeguarding rules to protect your money. You can also complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you’re unable to resolve a dispute directly with the provider.

Starling Bank offers full FSCS protection, like Monzo, on your money which means it’s protected by the regulator in the unlikely event of insolvency up to £85,000 for individuals. Also like Monzo, Starling is a fully licensed UK bank which is regulated by both the FCA and the PRA.

However, while Monzo is still loss-making, Starling Bank is one of the few challenger banks that’s profitable. You can read more about Starling’s accounting and capital position in my Starling Bank review.

Starling Bank is also the only challenger bank that’s signed up to the Lending Standards Board’s Voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model Code on Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams.

Others in this article don’t have FSCS protection on your deposits, but that may not be so much of an issue if you only intend to use a provider for a specific purpose, such as international money transfers.

While not always a reliable indicator of safety, I’ve included the Trustpilot ratings of each Monzo alternative in this article. It helps to give you a better idea of what customers think about each provider. 

How To Pick the Right Alternative to Monzo

When picking the right Monzo alternative, you should consider what your main use of a digital banking app will be. Do you want to be able to invest alongside your typical banking services? Or are you mainly looking for the lowest cost way of making international payments?

You should also consider the regulation and protection offered by each provider. Starling Bank is the only alternative to Monzo on this list that is also a fully regulated UK bank, for example.

That’s not to say that your money isn’t safe with other providers, as all the options mentioned above are FCA regulated and must safeguard your deposits. How important a factor this is, though, is up to you and may depend on how much or how often you intend to use a provider’s services.

There’s also nothing to stop you opening accounts with different providers for different needs. In fact, this is what I do! I use Starling Bank for day-to-day bank services, I’ve used Revolut for investing and I tend to use Wise for international payments.

Alternatives To Monzo – Final Verdict

While there are great options as alternatives to Monzo, there’s a reason more than 7 million people have signed up to it. Monzo offers FSCS protection, 24/7 customer support and is a fully licensed bank. 

As an all-round alternative to Monzo, only Starling Bank can rival it, and in fact is the better option for cash withdrawals abroad. Starling also gives you access to its personal finance marketplace which is a great feature. Perhaps the best thing about Starling, though, is that it doesn’t charge any subscription fees for its personal account, unlike Monzo.

The above Monzo alternatives show that, depending on what you intend to use them for, there are cheaper and perhaps more innovative options out there. In our view, Starling is the leading digital challenger bank in the UK.

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*Testing involved comparing the closing interbank rate on randomly chosen days across January and February 2023 and comparing these to the MasterCard rate on the same days. The currencies tested were EUR, USD and CHF compared to GBP.

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I’ve been quoted on BBC News, Newsweek, The Sun, BBC Worklife, YahooFinance, Nasdaq and more.

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