5 Best Monese Alternatives [Tried & Tested By Experts]

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Monese is a UK-based mobile bank account specially designed for migrants and ex-pats. The current CEO of Monese is Norris Koppel. The official website is  monese.com. The service is available in the UK, Ireland, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Spain.

Monese is one of the biggest new names making waves in the UK banking scene today as one of the first mobile bank accounts to be available to the masses. It’s a mobile-only bank account, so it goes without saying you’ll need your smartphone to access this banking service.

Monese isn’t just for the technologically inclined either: Signing up and using Monese is quick and easy, and there’s no minimum balance that customers need to maintain in order to use the service.

As an added bonus, Monese supports Apple Pay making it possible for iPhone owners to make contactless payments without having to enter their pin number or sign anything.

Monese is one of the few UK mobile banking services that allow you to make ATM withdrawals abroad without having to worry about fees or unfavorable exchange rates.

Monese offers a digital bank account with no fees, no minimum balances, and all the latest contactless technology. It has no overdrafts or currency exchange rates.

With Moneses you can send money instantly, pay for anything in shops or online, receive money from anywhere in the world, manage your accounts on your phone or PC, and link your Monzo account for easy money transfers.

Monese is known today as a mobile bank account provider, but they are in the process of becoming one of the UK’s biggest challenger banks.

Features of Monese

Following are the features of Monese:

  • No credit score requirement
  • No operating costs
  • No minimum balance required
  • Unlimited instant free money transfers to other Monese accounts. Free international cash withdrawals at over 40 000 global ATMs.
  • Send and receive money from other UK bank accounts for free.
  • Contactless technology – Monese cards are free and come with contactless payment functionality so you can pay for things without having to enter your pin number or sign anything.

Advantages of Monese

Following are the advantages of Monese:

  • Instant Setup Process

Opening an account with Monese takes less than 10 minutes.

  • No Monthly Fees

Monese doesn’t charge any monthly fee to their customers for holding an account with them. You can keep your money safe in the Monese app and use it as you like without worrying about any extra charges on your account.

  • The flexibility of Funding Options

Monese provides its users with an option to fund their account using either a Credit Card or UK Bank Account. These are the most common options used by people when opening a normal bank account in the UK, so Monese has done a great job in providing its users with these two popular methods of funding.

  • No Minimum Balance Requirement

Monese doesn’t require its users to maintain a minimum balance in their accounts. You don’t need to keep any cash in your Monese account as you can simply use it as a wallet and transfer money from there when required.

  • Instant Transfers with Monese Mastercard

As soon as the funds are received into your Monese account, you can instantly send them to another bank account using the Monese card. All the card payments are processed in real-time which means that your money will touch your bank accounts within minutes of having received it into your Monese account.

  • Lowest Fees

Monese doesn’t charge anything for making card payments or sending money to other people using the app, which is great news for everyone looking forward to keeping their costs down while using an online bank account in the UK.

There are many banks in the UK that charge between £1.50 to £5 for making card withdrawals, so Monese is far ahead of them all in this field.

  • No Debit Card Usage Fees

Monese doesn’t charge any fee for using the Monese debit card to make payments. No extra charges are applied to your purchases or online transactions with the help of a Monese debit card.

  • 24/7 Customer Support Services

Monese offers its customers 24/7 customer support services through phone calls, emails, and web-chats to ensure that all their users are taken care of well. You can contact the Monese team anytime you want if there is any problem with your account.

Disadvantages Of Monese

Following are the disadvantages of Monese:

  • Web Interface

The interface isn’t as good as that on other apps. It’s very basic, but there is no big deal about it.

  • Unclear Refund Policy

There is no information available about the fee for sending money to other countries and whether you will be refunded your fee if there is an error in your request.

  • No Advanced Features

Monese doesn’t offer any advanced features like real-time notifications or activity tracking. It’s just like the normal bank account that you hold in the UK. Many people blame Monese for not adding any advanced features to their app, but at least it doesn’t affect the overall service quality of Monese.

  • Only One Funding Option

Monese only allows its users to fund their accounts with a UK bank account. You cannot add your foreign currency credit card to the Monese app. This is one of the major drawbacks for many people looking forward to using Monese services.

Who can use Monese?

You can use Monese if you are a UK resident or national. You should be at least 16 years old to apply, use the services, and hold an account with Monese.

How to open an account with Monese?

Following are the steps to open an account with Monese:

Step 1: Visit the official website of Monese.

Step 2: Click on the “Apply Online” button from the official website to start your application process.

Step 3: Fill in your personal information to get started with the Monese online account opening process.

Step 4: Submit your application by uploading a photo ID and proof of address documents.

Step 5: Pay the fee required for account opening with Monese.

Step 6: The rest of the funds can be added to your account by linking your existing bank account and making a transfer from there. You will get an email notification when you’re all set up, and you’ll be able to access your money immediately.

How to use Monese?

Following are the steps to use Monese:

Step 1: Visit the official website of Monese.

Step 2: Log in with your credentials, or click on the “Open an account” button to start with a fresh registration process.

Step 3: Enter your personal information and upload a photo ID.

Step 4: Enter your income details to complete the registration process.

Step 5: You can create a personalized Monese PIN at this point or you can leave it blank and use your phone number as an alternative way of unlocking the account if needed.

Step 6: Add bank accounts to link with Monese.

Step 7: Now you can see your Monese account balance on a daily basis and start using it for online shopping, online services payment, and money transfers.

Step 8: You can pay for online services like Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon Prime directly through the Monese app.

Step 9: You can also use cash to buy gift cards that you can redeem for popular items at major retailers like Argos, Asda, and Boots.

After discussing Monese, let us discuss the best alternatives available for Monese:

N26

N26 [formerly Number 26] is a great bank for digital nomads because they are an online-only bank with no branches. The only thing you need to open an N26 account is a smartphone, which makes it easy for anyone who travels frequently or doesn’t have a permanent place of residence anywhere.

The entire sign-up process can be done from your phone or computer and takes just 5 minutes. The best thing about N26 is the use of direct debits in multiple currencies to settle your bills (most banks in Europe only allow you to choose one single currency).

The N26 card can be ordered for free and it will arrive within 2-5 business days. The ATM fee is 1.7% when withdrawing funds in a foreign currency.

The fee for withdrawing funds from an ATM locally is just 2.8 euros per transaction, which isn’t bad at all considering you’ll save a lot of money on currency exchanges with the use of direct debits.

The N26 account also comes with a free VISA Debit card and there’s no minimum balance required to open the account. The only downside is that N26 will not allow you to open a business account right now (you can still run your company online through N26, but there’s no separate account available just for businesses).

The process is generally streamlined and very easy to use – most of it takes place on the app. The N26 card is a full-fledged debit MasterCard and it’s accepted anywhere that accepts major credit cards.

The account comes for free for all users and additional services such as overdraft, currency exchange, etc., are very reasonably priced. And N26 is an excellent choice for digital nomads who want to travel the world without worrying about local currencies or optimizing foreign exchange.

Pros and Cons of N26

Pros:

  • Highly secure banking platform.
  • An excellent mobile app that is ideal for both beginners and experienced users.
  • No account minimum.
  • No monthly fees or currency exchange fees on purchases.
  • Direct debits in multiple currencies for all services.
  • Free VISA debit card.

Cons:

  • No business account option.
  • No cash withdrawals via ATMs.
  • Cannot convert crypto to fiat currency directly on the app. 

TransferWise

The Wise digital nomad account comes with the ability to open both checking and savings accounts in USD, GBP, or EUR. The account is FDIC insured just like you would get at any traditional bank in the US.

The best thing about this bank is that there are no fees for doing an international money transfer – which means your recipient gets the full amount you sent.

The transfer takes place on the next business day and there is no upper limit on the amount of money that can be transferred. The Wise savings account also has a 2% APY (in USD) for all accounts above 10,000 dollars.

The only downside is that you cannot send an international wire outside of the US from Wise – you can only receive international wires. The account is ideal for digital nomads who want to be banked in a traditional way.

The bank is FDIC-insured and it’s very easy to transfer money back to the US from anywhere in the world. The best part about opening an account with Wise is that they have no mandatory monthly balance requirement.

The account comes with a debit card that can be used anywhere VISA is accepted. The bank charges 1% for international ATM withdrawals. The only downside of the digital nomad Visa debit card is that it doesn’t charge any fees for foreign currency transactions, but there are no additional perks either (e.g., 2% cashback on purchases in foreign currency).

The bank does not charge any fees for incoming wire transfers. The amount you can transfer is unlimited and the service is available 24/7. The only downside is that the account doesn’t come with a separate business account (it’s possible to run your company online, but there’s no separate account for that purpose) The minimum balance requirement is just 10 dollars.

The main downside of this bank is that the debit card doesn’t charge any fees for withdrawing money from foreign ATMs, but it also doesn’t provide extra perks in terms of cashback or 2% fee rebates.

Pros and Cons of Transfer Wise

Pros:

  • Unlimited money transfers.
  • International wire transfers are available 24/7.
  • FDIC insured service.
  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • No monthly fees or currency exchange fees for international money transfers.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide a separate business account option.
  • Doesn’t come with a separate mobile app for digital nomads.
  • Doesn’t provide cashback bonuses on all purchases made in foreign currency.
  • No IBANs, only bank transfers available.
  • Strict regulations prevent certain countries from using the service.
  • Service is not available worldwide.

Varo

Varo mobile account comes with full access to your money in any location. The bank is FDIC insured and there are no fees for making international wire transfers – which allows ex-pats and digital nomads to save a lot of money on currency exchange (which usually takes place when transferring funds back home).

The best thing about this bank is that it doesn’t charge any monthly fees for holding an account. The Varo debit card doesn’t charge foreign currency transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees, but it also has additional perks (e.g., 2% cashback).

The main downside is that this bank does not offer any business accounts – so it’s not very suitable for companies. The best part of the Varo bank is that there are no fees for international transfers, even when they come from a different country than your own (i.e., you can receive money in USD if you’re living in Europe).

The debit card also has several perks – including 2% cash back on foreign transactions. The only downside of the Varo account is that it doesn’t come with business accounts.

Pros and Cons of Varo

Pros

  • Using Varo will be cheaper and easier than using a classic bank.
  • There will be no minimum balance required, no hidden fee, and no overdraft fees. Moreover, you can store your money in USD or EUR instead of Varo tokens if you wish to do so.
  • Varo Bank has a strong referral program and over 40% of acquired customers come directly from existing users’ referrals. Therefore, you can expect to have access to a large customer base.

Cons

  • Varo Bank is a new bank and has to follow all costly regulations in its countries of operation. There are no guarantees that we will be able to operate the business with desired returns on investments or even reach the break-even point. Regulatory changes may also impact the cost of operation.
  • There is no guarantee that Varo token holders will be able to receive dividends or sell their tokens.
  • If the number of cryptocurrency users increases significantly, it would require them to spend more money on development and marketing which may decrease our profitability or even put them out of business.

Curve

The curve is a UK-based bank, which follows all European banking laws and regulations. The Curve account comes with 2-step verification for additional security.

Furthermore, the company promises to reimburse customers in case of any fraudulent transactions made from their accounts. You can also rest easy knowing that Curve is FDIC insured, which makes it a very safe banking option for the digital nomad.

The Curve bank comes with a Mastercard debit card. The digital nomad account is FDIC insured and it has no monthly fees. The card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees – which makes using a Curve debit card a very cost-effective solution for traveling and making online purchases abroad.

The Curve account also comes with the ability to receive money via bank transfer or paper check, which means you can easily save on international transfers.

The only downside of this account is that it doesn’t come with a business account option. The best part about this account is that there are no monthly fees associated with the Curve debit card (which some people just need to have an account with no monthly fees and those don’t come with a business account).

The Curve bank debit card has no fees associated with foreign currency transactions or international ATM withdrawals. The downside is that this account’s only additional perk is the ability to receive money via paper check – which can be difficult to manage as a digital nomad.

The Curve card comes with no monthly fees and no overdraft fees. There are no foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees either. The only downside of this account is that there is no business account option and that checking and savings accounts come with a 1% cashback on all transactions and ATM withdrawals.

Pros and Cons of the Curve:

Pros:

  • The Curve comes with FDIC insurance which is a huge plus. You can’t get a more secure account than an account that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
  • No monthly fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees.

Cons:

  • It is only available in the UK at this time.
  • Fees associated with cryptocurrency transactions.
  • The Curve card comes with no additional perks.

Payoneer

The Payoneer prepaid Mastercard is a transactional account that comes with an accompanying debit card. The account doesn’t charge for wire transfers and there are no monthly fees to worry about (balance requirements apply).

The only downside of this card is that it charges 2% on international withdrawals (which can add up quickly when you’re traveling abroad). The best part about this account is that there are no monthly fees associated with it and that it comes with a debit card (with additional perks like 2% cashback on international transactions).

The only downside of the Payoneer account is that it charges 2% on foreign ATM withdrawals. The amount that you receive is the same as when using normal ATMs in the US – but it costs twice as much.

Also, Payoneer is safe to use. It comes with an FDIC-insured account option and it has a Mastercard debit card – which is one of the best debit cards you can get as a digital nomad.

Payoneer does not have any monthly fees and there are no overdraft fees associated with the account as well. If you’re looking for a bank account that doesn’t charge monthly fees and has no overdraft fees then this is a very good option for you.

You can open a Payoneer prepaid Mastercard with only $1 and there are no minimum requirements to maintain your balance either (withdrawal requirements apply though).

Pros and Cons of Payoneer

Pros:

  • The Payoneer prepaid Mastercard has no monthly fees.
  • No balance requirements are associated with the account.
  • No transaction fees on wire transfers.
  • An accompanying Mastercard debit card.
  • The ability to receive money via a wire transfer.
  • No international ATM withdrawal fees (when using a Mastercard debit card).

Cons:

  • 2% foreign currency transaction fee on international withdrawals.
  • No business account option is available.
  • No ability to receive money via paper check or bank wire transfer.
  • No additional perks

Conclusion

There are countless debit cards out there – but it can be difficult to find one that doesn’t charge monthly fees. Some people just need to have a debit card (with no monthly fees) and those don’t come with any business account options either.

For this reason, the Curve bank accounts is the best Monese alternative due to it being FDIC insured and it comes with no monthly fees or overdraft fees (the Curve card also has perks like no foreign transaction fees).

The second-best alternative to Monese is the Payoneer prepaid Mastercard. This account doesn’t have any monthly fees either – but beware of the 2% foreign currency transaction fee on international withdrawals.

Rest it depends upon the needs and priority of the users.

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.

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