Difference between Tags and Categories

Hi everyone,

Tags is indeed a great step forward to help the organisation of your spending but my initial feeling was that the experience of creating tags is quite fastidious and not really pleasant compared to categories. Tags are hidden in the note section and doesn’t have any validate action to save it.

Why not transforming categories into tags? You have a pre-selected selection of categories but you can add custom categories. Why not also have multiple categories per spending.

As an example I still don’t know where to put all my internet subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix, … It would be amazing if I could just create a new category called subscriptions instead of going into nots and add a tag on top of a non ideal category.

Perhaps there is future developments in the app that I’m missing but for now, tags doesn’t make sense to me.

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It looks like Tags will be more prevalent in the Spending update at the end of the month (and beyond), but it is a sneak peak at the moment. As well as talks about changing some of the categories.

For now we only have this hidden #tags to work with, but will be integrated in search menus and a heading in the Spending tab by the looks of it :slight_smile: Hopefully it’ll save and remember tags for quick picks then too :slight_smile:

At the moment a Category is just that, and a Tag is a Sub-category, so I’d probably say your subscriptions best under Bills or Entertainment, with maybe tag InternetSubscription ?

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That’s what I’m doing, but the UX seems a bit odd. It really looks like an over kill to have to categorise + Tag your spendings. I love the auto-categorise feature. It’s for me a big thing to help me understand how I spend in a simple manner. Tags is creating a level of complexity that doesn’t seem mandatory.

As I said I would love to be able to add more categories that will be automatically added based of what I do. If I want to categories Spotify and Netflix as a subscription category, the system will auto assign it the next time.


I agree, I find the tag feature useful, a more personal way to see where your money goes. One thing that would be great, and maybe it is coming as part of the spending review, is to see how much you have spent in a particular period. Say for example you have tagged lots of transactions #lunch within the eating out category. Clicking on a tag or searching it should display total spending in a period, much like the overall categories do.

You can get that in the search (if you’re on iOS) but just not on the spending/targets screen

“much like the overall categories do.” - That’s the thing. To me the two serves the same purpose. It would be just great to have only extensible categories and being able to had multiple categories on a transaction.

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Categories & Tags are solving two different problems; Categories are high level groups that mean roughly the same thing to most users (& to Monzo), whereas Tags enable users to add custom groups.

Since Categories are automatically assigned, you should find that you only need to add Tags to select transactions that fall within a sub-group. I do this with coffee, takeaways, excercise & recurring payments aka subscriptions. The latter will soon be grouped automatically anyway, when the Breakdown launches.

It sounds like if Monzo improved the UX for Tags (I assume they will, if they’re used), that would solve your problem or am I missing something?

Thanks for the reply Alex. I kind of disagree with that. They both serve the same purpose which is organising your spendings in groups to visualise how you spend your money in an easy way. You can call them groups, categories, tags…

I truly believe you can achieve a more holistic approach by creating a more clever category system that has a set of predefined categories and the possibility to create new ones to enable the experience to be more personal.

Tags are hidden in notes, no validation button and they are not that clever.

Monzo is known to create a simple bank deleting the complexity of traditional banks. I still believe tags is a cool thing but not clever and categories are super simple and powerful but too restrictive.

I’m a designer so this is me being picky.


Right but you’re not considering Monzo’s use case for the standard categories which will enable them to give us insights & make better lending decisions.

I don’t think that that would work because users would create categories that overlap with the existing categories. The split between Categories & Tags enables users to create whichever Tags they want, without impacting the use cases for Categories.

Yes, we agree that the Tags UX needs to be better.

A note on the difference between categories and tags. They are logically different in one important way. A transaction can have only one category but can have multiple tags. It’s useful to have both types of data (“one-to-one” and “one-to-many” in database speak) when you’re organising stuff. You might for example want to know how much you spend on your kids and how much you spend on clothes. Some transactions will fall under both descriptions (clothes you bought for your kids) so tags are needed. But you also need categories that only allow for one per transaction so you have a way of looking at summary date that adds up to the correct total!


That’s a great distinction for the Monzo implementation of Tags and Categories -

One of the important things that my defacto budgeting tool allows, is split a transaction into multiple categories - say I spend £100 at a department store / supermarket - with my budget tool I can allocate the split between my clothes / my kids, or groceries vs cat food, etc.

So I can still the the accurate measure of “Groceries” without other transactions getting in the way. I know that is beyond the scope, for now, of the purpose of Categories and Tags of Monzo - however this I think is the better way of both budgeting and trending the data available.

My personal view, is that if the Categories bit was more customisable - it would be more powerful than current categories and tags combined.

I get that Monzo want to use Categories to drive better insights into a bigger data set - but I feel it misses the loop of being able to set budgets more effective.

Case in point: Given Categories are quite generic - and only 1 per transaction - it’s quite hard to make conscious decisions about ones budget with that level of info. I could set a £200 / month budgeton Groceries - all of a sudden spending somewhere that has both mixed groceries / another category throws those numbers out of sync - and I can no longer trust the numbers in my budget.


This inability to split one payment into multiple categories (and the restrictiveness of the categories) is my biggest bug bear so far and the thing that brought me to the forums - it makes the tool useless for seeing patterns in my budgeting and throws it off.

It may seem useful for Monzo to have those broad categories as per the case above, but actually by removing my (/the customer’s) incentive to care about those categories, you’re removing my incentive to adjust them to be more accurate when they’re incorrectly assigned.

In other words, if they don’t work effectively for the customer to display their budget accurately then you’re potentially introducing a whole raft of errors into the aggregate data and making them correspondingly less useful. Totally agree with the above poster BritishLibrary that a more powerful and versatile categories system would be a far better solution than the current categories and tags.

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I mean, ideally this could be linked to a robust receipt mechanism - you scan the receipt, it breaks down the different items, each one automatically assigned to the general category (eg groceries for a supermarket shop) and you can then assign individual items/costs to a different category (eg toiletries to that category, beer to an alcohol category).

Realise it’s not strictly a budgeting tool but I would have thought it would make it more helpful for spending analyses. A man can dream…

You can vote for the ability to split a transaction into different categories here:

Thanks! Have now done so. Did do a search of forum posts first to see if I could find those that referenced it but clearly didn’t include the right key words. Appreciate the redirect.

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