TransferWise vs Monzo

7 Things You Need to Know – Only One Winner!

Monzo is a UK-based challenger bank offering full service current accounts and robust local money transfer capabilities.

TransferWise Vs MonzoTransferWise, on the other hand, is an international money transfer giant that offers some banking features when you sign up for their Borderless Account.

To put it simply, Monzo and TransferWise offer fundamentally different services but with some overlaps like a prepaid MasterCard which is great for travel. That’s the root of all confusion, isn’t it?

We totally get it. 🙂

That’s why we uncover what exactly makes each service unique and attractive to their users so you can pick one that lines up with YOUR specific needs.

To help, we award a winner in each of the 7 important categories. (See Winner)

Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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The Big Difference

  1. Who Can get One?
  2. Detailed Account Features
  3. Cards and Fees
  4. Money Transfer
  5. Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)
  6. Safety & Security
  7. Customer Service and Support

Verdict

The Big Difference

Monzo is a completely digital bank that offers full-service current accounts to UK residents. With Monzo (review) you can easily set up direct debits to pay your bills, receive your salary, and manage your money efficiently with their cool budgeting features.

You can access Monzo both via their mobile app and from a web app during emergencies. Monzo also offers a prepaid Mastercard debit card that can be used to pay for goods and services anywhere in the world. The card also lets you make free ATM withdrawals in the UK and while traveling abroad (limits apply).

TransferWise is an international money transfer big wig who offer local and international currency transfers to 60+ countries around the world. They’re known for their low and transparent fee structure and are available in 50+ countries worldwide.

Here is why you might choose TransferWise over Monzo:

TransferWise Borderless is an extension of their currency transfer service that equips you with some banking features. These include a multi-currency account (so that you can hold, transfer, and convert multiple currencies) and international bank details in most major currencies (GBP, USD, AUD, CAD, NZD), and the ability to pay and get paid like a local.

The Borderless account (review) also comes with a prepaid Mastercard debit card that can be used for ATM withdrawals and to pay for goods and services while travelling.

TransferWise Borderless card (review) is available in the UK, US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Monzo Pros

TransferWise Pros

  • Licensed and registered challenger bank in the UK
  • Offers full-service current accounts with interest on funds stored in savings pots (See “Detailed Account Features” below)
  • Offers a Mastercard debit card for ATM withdrawals, online payments, and for payments while traveling abroad (See “Cards and Fees” below)
  • Funds protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
  • Can be accessed both via mobile app and web app (in case of emergencies)
  • Offers both personal and business accounts

 

  • Licensed money transfer service regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
  • TransferWise is available in 50+ countries while TransferWise Borderless is available in the UK, US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Low and transparent fees for international transfers at the interbank rate
  • Offers multicurrency accounts and international bank details in major currencies (See “Detailed Account Features” below).
  • Offers a prepaid Mastercard debit card that is globally accepted for payment of goods and services (See “Cards and Fees” below)
  • Can be accessed both via mobile app and website
  • Offers both personal and business accounts

 

Monzo Cons

TransferWise Cons

  • Only available in the UK
  • You can only hold money in GBP
  • Can’t receive international transfers
  • Not a real bank
  • No direct debit or money management features
  • Funds not protected by FSCS

 

1. Who Can Get One?

Monzo

TransferWise

Monzo is only available to UK citizens above 16 years of age.

The best thing about Monzo is that you don’t need an address proof to sign up for an account.

TransferWise is available in 59 countries and lets you send money to 60 countries world wide.

But the TransferWise Borderless card is available in the UK, US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

Winner: TransferWise

TransferWise and TransferWise Borderless are available in almost all countries around the world. This gives you immense flexibility to pay (friends, family, or contractors), get paid (personal or business payments), and hold money in multiple currencies no matter where you are.

However, you will need an address proof at the sign-up stage to make sure you’re creating an account from an area TransferWise services.

2. Detailed Account Features

Monzo

TransferWise

  • Free to open and hold a a full service current account
  • You don’t need an address proof to open an account
  • Hold money in GBP
  • Easily set up direct debits to pay for bills and utilities
  • Create savings pots and earn interest on your savings (1.63% pa)
  • Get your salary credited by sharing your unique Monzo account number with your employer
  • Pay friends and family in the UK easily and fast (See “Money Transfer” below)
  • Easy budgeting and bill splitting features (split bills with friends who don’t have Monzo)
  • Offers joint accounts that you can bank efficiently with a partner or a flatmate (both need a regular Monzo account to get started)
  • Instant notifications for payments
  • Fund your account with a bank transfer, cash deposit at a PayPoint location, or cheque deposit
  • Offers pre-approved overdraft features £500 and loans up to £3,000
  • Open a dedicated business account to manage your business finances (with multi user access and integration with key business apps)
  • Free to open and hold an account
  • Hold, manage, and transfer 40+ currencies with the TransferWise and TransferWise borderless multi-currency accounts.
  • Get international bank details in USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, and NZD with TransferWise Borderless
  • Send money directly to your recipient’s bank account.
  • Get paid like a local and transfer money like a local with the Borderless Account.

Check the full list of currencies supported by TransferWise Borderless here.

  • Fund your account and transfers with cash, check, or direct deposit
  • Open a dedicated business account (generate invoices, pay and get paid, integrate with business apps)

 

Winner: Monzo

Monzo offers a full service current accounts (and even joint accounts) that can go up against any high street bank in the UK. So if you’re looking to jump ship to a digital bank, manage your personal and business finances efficiently, and travel hassle-free with a Mastercard debit card, you can’t go wrong with Monzo. The only catch is – you have to be a UK resident.

However, if you’re planning to stick with your high street bank account but looking for a lot of flexibility when it comes to international fund transfers and paying for goods and services while traveling, TransferWise is a great choice.

3. Cards and Fees

Monzo

TransferWise

  • Mastercard debit card that’s accepted globally
  • Zero foreign exchange fees when you use it while traveling abroad
  • Free ATM withdrawals in the European Economic Zone (no upper limit) and abroad (up to £200 per month; a 3% fee is applicable over the limit). However, some ATMs may charge a convenience fee.
  • No card delivery fee but you do need to pay a £30 card replacement fee if you lose it abroad
  • Integrates with Gpay and Apple Pay for contactless payments
  • Freeze and unfreeze card from the app
  • Only available in the UK
  • Issues a globally accepted MasterCard
  • Foreign exchange fees applicable on payments while traveling abroad (0.35%-2.85%, depending on the currency)
  • Free ATM withdrawals up to £200 per month; a 2% fee is applicable over the limit
  • Integrates with Gpay and ApplePay for contactless payments
  • Freeze and unfreeze card from the app
  • No card delivery fee or renewal fees
  • Available in the UK, US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and NewZealand

 

Winner: Tie

As you can you see, both the cards are pretty similar in how they operate and what they offer.

If you’re in the UK, the Monzo card will serve you well whether you need to pay for your daily expenses at home or while traveling.

The TransferWise card can get a bit expensive with the foreign exchange fee, but it’s much more affordable than making online payments and withdrawing money abroad from your high street bank debit card.

4. Money Transfer

Monzo

TransferWise

There are 5 ways to transfer money with Monzo:

  1. Monzo to Monzo payments to anyone in the UK (instant and free)
  2. Send money to anyone by email, text, or via social media (you don’t need their banking details – they’ll get a link to sign up for Monzo to claim their funds)
  3. Bluetooth payments with the “Nearby Friends” feature in the Monzo app
  4. You can also initiate a regular bank transfer from your Payments screen in the app (UK bank accounts only). The receiving bank may charge a convenience fee in some cases.
  5. For international transfers, Monzo partners with TransferWise. Currently, Monzo supports transfers from GBP to 35 currencies. Fees include Monzo’s fee (£0.5-3.0) + TransferWise’s % fee on the interbank exchange rate.

Things to note:

  • There’s a £10,000 pound limit for sending money through Monzo
  • You can’t receive international payments with Monzo
TransferWise supports both local and international payments with a low, transparent fee structure.

  • You can fund your transfer with a credit card, debit card, or location-specific payment methods like iDEAL or Sofort.
  • They charge a % over the interbank exchange rate, which is extremely competitive compared to their peers and high street banks (who charge 3-5% of each transfer).
  • You can check out the exact fees you’ll pay on the currency convertor widget on their home page.
  • Plus, TransferWise has bank details in all the areas it services so there are no unexpected deductions for you or your recipient.

With TransferWise you can only send money to another bank account. But this is convenient because your recipient has instant access to the funds once the transfer is complete.

You can both send and receive money (local and international payments) with TransferWise.

Currently, TransferWise supports transfers in 40+ currencies worldwide.

 

Winner: Tie

Monzo is a great option for sending money and receiving money in the UK. Monzo to Monzo transfers are instant and free and direct payments to UK bank accounts are also fast and cheap. But Monzo isn’t ideal if you need to move money across borders or receive international payments. In fact, you’ll end up paying double for international transfers since Monzo banks on TransferWise for these.

Since TransferWise is primarily a currency transfer company, they support transfers between a large number of countries and currencies. The Borderless account also helps you get paid like a local while traveling abroad.

TransferWise doesn’t offer free or instant transfers in any location, but most transfers are typically completed within the same day (or 2-4 days at most).

5. Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)

Monzo

TransferWise

Monzo is rated 4.5/5 on Trustpilot with over 7,500 reviews.80% of Monzo users had an “Excellent” experience while 5% had a “Good” experience banking with Monzo.

Most people love the easy to use app, the quick sign up process, and the fast Monzo to Monzo transfers.

However, we were concerned about the 12% of users who had a “Bad” experience with the service due to unexpected account freezes.

As a regulated bank, Monzo routinely audits user accounts to prevent theft, fraud, or other illegal activities. They may also freeze your account if they feel your Monzo account is under threat.

In most cases, users were allowed back into the account after resetting their password.

But we realize it can be frustrating if you’re stranded with no access to your funds.

That’s why we recommend splitting your funds between your regular bank accountyou’re your Monzo account.

Check out our full review of Monzo.

TransferWise scores 4.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 86,000 reviews.86% of users had an “Excellent” experience and 8% had a “good” experience transferring money with them.

Most users turn to TransferWise time and again for their transparent fee structure, affordable rates, and easy-to-use interface.

However, 3% of users had a “bad” experience with the service.

We narrowed the top causes of dissatisfaction down to transfer delays and unexpected account suspensions.

But here’s the good news: TransferWise is super responsive to user requests and strives to solve their issues quickly and efficiently.

Check out our full reviews of TransferWise and TransferWise Borderless.

 

Winner: Tie

In our experience, both Monzo and TransferWise have always delivered on their promises. Depending on your unique needs, you can’t go wrong with either because they’re both committed to creating truly user-centric products and services.

6. Safety & Security

Monzo

TransferWise

Monzo is a registered bank in the UK, which means your money is safeguarded by the same security and regulatory protocols employed by the high street banks.Plus, if Monzo shuts down, you have guaranteed fund protection of up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which you can check.

Also, Monzo verifies all purchases in the app and via text messages to double check that the payments have indeed been authorized by you.

TransferWise is a registered and regulated financial services provider in all the major countries it services.For example, it’s regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in Australia, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) in Canada, etc.

Morever, TransferWise verifies all user accounts and audits transfers to prevent theft, fraud, or money laundering. Plus, they have industry-leading encryption protocols to make sure your account and transfers are completely secure.

However, since TransferWise is not a bank, your funds are not protected under a government guarantee.

That’s why we recommend transferring funds to your multi-currency wallet shortly before initiating a transfer to lock in the exchange rate.

 

Winner: Tie

Both Monzo and TransferWise are registered and regulated financial institutions who strive to protect your data and your money with robust security protocols. Also, kudos to Monzo for going the extra mile with the FSCS protection guarantee for their users.

Rest assured, you’ll have a smooth and secure experience of holding and transferring money with either service.

7. Customer Service and Support

Monzo

TransferWise

Monzo has a thriving Q&A forum and a fairly comprehensive help section on their website.Existing Monzo users can reach out to Monzo’s customer service via the chat option in the app.

But it’s a little difficult to get hold of their customer service team via phone since they don’t list the number on their website. This can be quite disheartening for users who need to speak to a human during an emergency.

We’ve noticed that this is a common problem for most challenger banks since their operations are fully digital and they keep costs low by working with a remote customer service team.

You can reach TransferWise via phone, email or live chat (this may be unavailable depending on their work load).They also have an extensive FAQs section and country-specific guides to help you with your transfers.

Finally, TransferWise has a reputation of rising to the occasion and helping their users swiftly and efficiently in case of emergencies.

 

Winner: TransferWise

TransferWise works hard to create a great user experience by publishing comprehensive online guides and by ensuring their customer service team is easy to reach.

If Monzo wants to retain the loyalty of their existing customers and onboard new customers with ease, they need to improve the customer support aspect of their business.

Verdict

Here’s how the scorecard looks: 2 wins for TransferWise, 1 for Monzo, and 4 ties.

TransferWise is the winner if you have to choose.

But now that you have read this, you will know their core functions are quite different.

Monzo is a fully digital challenger bank whose banking capabilities are stronger. So if you’re a UK resident, and are looking for a worthy challenger bank you can’t go wrong with Monzo.

TransferWise is primarily a money transfer service with some very useful banking features (such as holding money for transfers, paying folks, and receiving payments).

So which service is best for you ultimately comes down to your specific needs.

Happy Money!

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