🇨🇳 Monzo in China [Discussion]


Hey @luc, I recently returned from Wuhan as well, and I can confirm they don’t accept ANY card other than Union Pay. They tried all the inserting and typing they could, but to no avail.

Like you, I found Shanghai, was more accepting of MasterCard and Visa.

(Geoff) #18

Just got back from Shanghai and man was Monzo a dream! No fees, instant report of cost in GBP, friendly ‘welcome to china, the exchange rate is xxx’ message. And the exchange rate was legit!

Also love the ‘categorise transactions as holiday’ feature.

Monzo if I could marry a beta-cash-card-cum-almost-bank it would be you.

(Colm Britton) #19

I’m currently in Beijing and after a few false starts I’m having more luck with my Monzo card now.

I have been able to withdraw cash at

  • Citibank ATMs
  • China Merchants Bank ATMs

Bars and restaurants often frequented with westerners have generally accepted my Monzo card.



I spent 10 days in Beijing and Xi’an in May 2017 and used my Monzo card throughout, both for withdrawing cash from ATM’s (refused once but I used the app to change the mag stripe settings) and to pay hotel bills.

The app came into its own when, annoyingly and stupidly, my partner was pickpocketed on the subway. Within minutes he had frozen his Monzo card via the app so the thieves’ attempts to use the card to the tune of £2k were thwarted.

Plus, the reassurance of someone to talk to via the app was invaluable. I cannot recommend using Monzo abroad highly enough.

(Anthony) #21


I’m currently in Chengdu, China and can’t connect either the Monzo or CA apps. In addition, ATM withdrawals have been declined. I have magstripe enabled and the ATM had the MasterCard logo.

The app says “we couldn’t establish a secure connection to Monzo, please ensure you have the latest app or contact us”.

Any ideas?



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(Marta) #23

What’s your app version? China blocks Google Play, so it might be that your app is outdated and couldn’t update. I’m not sure if ios has any blocks in China.

Monzo needs to enforce update by blocking the app sometimes - when there’s an important bugfix, or specific feature needs to be pushed out. Please see what Tristan said:

Current Version for Android is 1.13.1.
IOS version is 1.9.17.

I’m not sure about CA, I have CA Preview and there’s no version on it. :thinking: And I can’t access testflight, since I parted ways with an iphone I borrowed for testing. :wink:
Android 2.0.0-alpha3
IOS: v2.0.0 (322)

You can contact support via help@monzo.com and explain the problem. If this is a case of the outdated app, maybe they can help out with it. If it’s not it, then Monzo is the only one that can help anyway! :smiley:


my CA beta shows version info as 2.0.0-alpha 3
like you I ditched iPhone so can’t help with that ver no

(Bob) #25

Current iOS CA preview is V2.0.0 (322)


Get yourself a VPN and it should be good to go. I doubt Monzo can do anything against a shitty government that’s feels so insecure it needs to block anything they don’t like, including foreign servers as they can contain “forbidden” content.


For an iOS VPN with a one month free trial, use encrypt.me (formerly Cloak) …I’ve been using this for a couple of years and it’s very good.

(Hugh) #28



(Andrew Ross) #29

Totally agree with this recommendation for Encrypt.me. I’ve been using for nearly two years now as well with excellent service. In fact I’ve just updated to family package!

(Justin) #30

I spent several weeks in China in April-May, and had no such problem using the app (iOS). I used my UK Vodafone SIM card, so assume this is because the services were all routed via the UK. When using hotel wifi, I used ExpressVPN to make it look like I was in the UK.

I did experience trouble withdrawing cash from some ATMs, but the majority were fine (the only one I can remember definitely working is ABC bank).


I just had my Monzo CA card declined at the Starbucks in the Guangzhou airport international transit area. The staff said ‘No Mastercard’, and sure enough my First Direct Visa debit card was accepted. Most cheap places around Guangzhou are cash/chinese cards only, so it seems the best bet is to use Monzo to withdraw 200gbp equivalent from one of the airport cash machines and then put the card away somewhere safe.

(Manuel) #32

just a short note to share my experience last week (February 2018) in China.
To make it short: if travelling to China leave your Monzo at home, bring cash and exchange it on any bank.

I have tried, and being declined, to pay using my Monzo on:

  • hotel
  • Starbucks
  • Pacific coffee shop
  • big supermarket (sorry forgot the name)
  • bar

Basically they only take UniPay cards.
So you end going to take cash to an ATM…but most of them only work with UniPay cards, not Mastercard. Of course you need to enable the stripe on the app…that only lasts for 24 hs.
A complete pain.

To make a long story short: next time I will take cash and exchange on a Bank and that is it.

If you have a friend that has a Chinese bank account, the best idea would be to ask him to help setup wechat and use it to pay. Everybody takes wechat to pay.

Hope is helpful!

(Valeri) #33

Or just open your own chinese bank account - the market over there is much less regulated and as such all you need to open a bank account is a passport really, they might ask for address as a contact point but would rarely ask to prove that you actually live there. Some banks are more foreigner friendly (e.g. have English forms, websites, apps etc.) than others buy you can find that pretty quickly with a simple online search. Then with an UnionPay card you would have unlocked all of China including AliPay & WeixinPay :slight_smile:

Btw I did not have problems with my (not-Monzo-issued) Mastercard across various Starbucks in Shanghai a few years ago, not sure if that has changed. Seven Elevens also had resonable acceptance, and most ATM located near their bank’s entrance seem to have worked for me. The odd think was ATMs asking me if I want to access my checking or credit account even though I was inserting a (Halifax Clarity) credit card. Never bothered to figure out what is the difference since I’d just select credit anyway.


Banks are required to verify identity and when this can’t be done face to face in a branch it is done by presenting ID thru a video link or posting certified copies of ID. Banks would be failing in their compliance obligations if they did not check an applicant’s identity.

(Valeri) #37

Regardless of that, the UK system is very hostile to foreigners that have just moved and cannot present 3 months of bills under their own name and NIN (except for Monzo, but then again they are going to have challenging time if they want to deposit some cash into it), whereas passport only requirement in China makes things easy for even people on short trip open one should they want one.

My comment was in regards of - it is pretty easy and simple, might end up being more convenient than using friends’ account for the chap above. Definitely not as discussion starter on how different countries handle bank account openings.


Not sure how recent your experience was but my friend recently opened a TSB account online and it necessitated either sending original ID to their central banking or going into your nearest branch and getting the originals photocopued by them, certified by their staff, and forwarded by them to central banking.