/ travel tech

Travel Tech: A 21st century bank account that charges zero fees for use abroad

About a year ago I learned of Monzo, a startup UK bank.

Built for your smartphone, this is banking like never before. One that updates your balance instantly, sends intelligent notifications, and is actually easy to use.

They want to completely disrupt the UK banking scene. They have no physical branches, only an Android and iOS app. From the app you can control your entire account, including freezing and unfreezing your MasterCard debit card and tracking your spending. You'll also get real time notifications when you purchase something.

But that's not the best thing about Monzo...

Monzo charge 0% transaction fees for using your card anywhere in the world.

That's right. They charge you exactly what the MasterCard global FX rate is on the day you made your purchase. It would be almost impossible to get a better exchange rate anywhere else!

There is one caveat however; they used to allow unlimited withdrawls from ATMs abroad for free, but because it was costing them a significant amount they've had to limit each customer to £200/month, and anything after that is charged a 3% fee. Thankfully this only applies to ATM withdrawls abroad. Using your card to pay in-store or even online in foreign currency will remain fee-free according to Monzo.

Is it going to replace my main bank? Not right now, but I wouldn't travel without it anymore. It's been significantly easier for me to track how much I spend and where I spend it when travelling and because they are protected by the FSCS, up to £85,000 of your money is covered just like with a regular bank.