Wise and Monzo are two of the best digital alternatives to old-school banks in the UK.
Both boast Trustpilot scores of 4.3/5, have services you can trust and numerous ways to make money management more fun and inexpensive.
But because Monzo is a licensed bank while Wise is not they do have some big differences you’ll want to know about.
In this post, we will compare Wise and Monzo on a bunch of different factors, including availability, fees and what it all means.
Let’s get stuck into it!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which may save you and do not cost any more. For more information, see my disclaimers here.
1. Quick Comparison
Wise and Monzo are both great alternatives to traditional banks. On Trustpilot, Wise has 192k+ reviews with 91% positive ratings, while Monzo has 27k+ reviews with 84% positive. The big difference: Monzo is a UK bank, while Wise has a stronger international offering.
|Trust||High – Excellent Trust pilot reviews and regulated service||High – Excellent Trustpilot rating and deposit protection by UK banking authorities|
|Fees||Money transfer fees (low percentage fee), and some account fees are applicable.||Varies by account type – Get started with a free account|
|Trustpilot Rating||Excellent – 4.3/5 with over 192,999 reviews (as of July 2023)||Excellent – 4.3/5 on Trustpilot with over 27,802 reviews (as of July 2023)|
|Full Review||Wise (review)||Monzo (review)|
2. Important Differences
|Availability||Available in over 160 countries including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European countries.||Available in the UK and soon in the US|
|Banking License||No||Yes – UK banking license and deposit protection|
|Personal Or Business||Both||Both|
|Multi-Currency Account||Yes – 40+ currencies||No – hold only GBP|
|International Transfer||Yes – in 40+ currencies||Yes – in 35 currencies via Wise|
|Debit Card||Yes||Yes – for personal and business.|
|Instant Transfer||Yes – depending on the currency||Yes – local Monzo to Monzo transfers|
|Special feature||Local receiving accounts in 10 major currencies for expats and frequent travelers||Buy now, pay later with Monzo Flex | Loans and Overdrafts|
3. Pros and Cons
- Widely available
- Earn interest on the money you hold (USD, GBP, and EUR only)
- Licensed and regulated service
- Personal and business accounts
- Affordable money transfers
- Multi-currency account
- Debit card that can be used globally
- Available in small and large transfers
- Local receiving accounts in 10 major currencies
- Not a real bank and no deposit protection
- No instant transfers on some currencies
- Real bank – UK banking license
- Deposit protection up to £85,000 GBP (by FSCS UK)
- Many service tiers (including free account)
- Available for personal and business
- Debit card for worldwide use
- Buy now, pay later with Monzo Flex
- Only available in the UK and soon in the US
- No multi-currency account
- Fewer currencies for international transfers
4. What Others Say – Third-Party Reviews & Analysis
Excellent – 4.3/5 with over 192,999 reviews (as of July 2023)
All the positive reviews suggest that Wise is an efficient system for banking and money transfers.
People loved their low fees, fast transfers, and how easy it is to use the app.
Many users consider Wise the best way to manage multiple currencies while travelling.
Transfer delays and cancelled transfers
While Wise is usually fast, many customers were disappointed with the transfer delays and cancelled transfers. Many claimed that their money was held for weeks before the transfer was cancelled.
Typically, bank-to-bank transfers – such as ACH transfers from the US – can be slower vs card-to-bank transfers.
As for the money being held, Wise conducts regular audits as a regulated financial institution to make sure transfers comply with their usage terms and to keep your money safe (preventing online transfer scams).
Several reviewers also mentioned that their accounts were deactivated without any notice or reason, and their funds were frozen.
What They Said
“Absolutely excellent banking platform and banking app. Cannot compare to traditional banks. Everything can be done online and the FX rates are brilliant”– Jason on Trustpilot
“I’ve been using Wise as my only app for transfers, i’ve never had any issues with my transfers or payments, big amounts or small.I’m also using the debit card and it’s such a life safer for international travels, no need to go looking for expensive currency exchanges”– Navin Singh on Trustpilot
Excellent – 4.3/5 on Trustpilot with over 27,802 reviews (as of July 2023)
Many users appreciate the ease of use of the Monzo app and its innovative features, including the ability to create pots for savings, monitor spending, and pay for things while traveling abroad.
The negative reviews are primarily related to poor customer service. Customers are frustrated with their inability to get their complaints resolved in a timely manner and the lack of concern or apology from Monzo.
The lack of transparency and communication regarding account closures and blocks are also prominent.
What They Said
“Great bank with a fantastic app.
Easy to manage money, set up savings, transfer money between accounts and to people. I now use Monza as my primary bank account.
Spending abroad and Monzo flex are just some of the benefits that are worth getting Monzo for.”– Craig on Trustpilot
5. Wise vs Monzo: Fees
Personal Account – Free
Business Account – One-time fee (varies by location)
International transfer fees
- Transfers at the mid-market rate
- Low percentage service fee (0.66% of the amount on average)
- Sending large amounts – pay less when you send more (above £100,000 GBP)
ATM withdrawal – 2 free per month | 1.75% per withdrawal over the limit
Card delivery fees – One-time fee (varies by location)
Receiving fees applicable for some locations (for example, wire transfer fees in the US)
- Monzo Standard (Free)
- Monzo Plus – £5/month
- Monzo Premium – £15/month
- Monzo Lite – Free
- Monzo Pro – £5/month
International Transfer Fees
Same as Wise
Cash deposit fees – £1 fee+
Free account ATM withdrawal: Withdraw £250 for free every 30 days, 3% charge over £250 for withdrawals abroad
Monzo Plus ATM withdrawals – Withdraw £400 for free every 30 days, 3% charge over £200 for withdrawals abroad
Monzo Premium ATM withdrawals – Withdraw £600 for free every 30 days, 3% charge over £200 for withdrawals abroad
Cash withdrawal abroad – Mastercard exchange rate
6. Wise vs Monzo: Transfer Speed
- Transfers funded by a debit or credit card: from almost instant to a day
- Bank-to-bank transfers: 0-5 days (a lot depending on the countries involved and their banking systems)
- Local Monzo to Monzo transfers: Instant
- Local Monzo to other UK bank account: 2-4 hours
- International transfer via Wise: 0-5 days
7. Wise vs Monzo: Safety
- Regulated by financial authorities in the US (FinCen), UK (FCA), Canada (FINTRAC), Australia (ASIC), and more
- Customer funds held separately in reputed high-street banks
- Two-factor authentication on the website and app
- Dedicated audit and fraud detection teams
- Has a full banking license from the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK
- Deposit protection up to £85,000 GBP by FSCS in the UK
- Touch ID, Face ID, fingerprint or PIN
- Instant notifications on all account activity
BONUS Wise vs Monzo: For Business
- Paid account only
- Multi-currency Account (40+ currencies)
- Get paid like a local with receiving accounts in 10 major currencies
- Business debit card
- Integration with software like Xero
- Bulk payments (local and international)
- Free and paid account
- Free instant bank transfers in the UK
- Get paid with a link
- Stripe payments
- Accounting integration
- Physical and virtual debit cards
- International transfers (via Wise)
- Deposit protection up to £85,000 GBP
- Pay in cash and cheques
Wise and Monzo are great financial services providers but have different strengths and weaknesses.
Monzo is a fully licensed bank that provides protection for your money. It’s a solid choice for those who are UK-focused and are looking for a better alternative to high street banks.
Which is better Monzo or Wise?
Wise is better if you travel frequently, transfer money internationally or work with multiple currencies but if you are looking for a digital bank with a more traditional bank like benefits loans and overdrafts, Monzo is the better option.
Is Monzo safe to use?
Monzo is a fully licensed bank, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Plus, Monzo has a bunch of top-notch security features to keep your account super safe.