👋 Hey! I'm baack from my sabbatical!

Well hello there team :wave:

You haven’t heard from me a while, as I’ve been away! I took advantage of the wonderful benefit Monzo gives to folks who have been here for over four years; a three month sabbatical. I spent the time travelling South America with my partner – we went to Colombia, Ecuador (including the Galápagos Islands), Argentina and Brazil. We had a really amazing time and saw some incredible things!

Any of you been to South America? What are your highlights if you have?

Obviously, whilst out there, I used Monzo. I have a few reflections that I thought might be worth sharing, as a Monzo fan.

I found Flex really useful

I was lucky enough to nab a physical Flex card just a few days before we headed off in early March, and I really liked using it. I used it as a credit card – I used it for hostel and hotel deposits and to rent a couple of cars.

I was glad to have it as a physical card, as not all card machines out there supported contactless just yet (although most did).

It was also really useful for some of the bigger expenses, like the cruise we did in the Galápagos Islands and our flights between countries. For those – rather than paying for them straight away, it allowed us the freedom to pay over time. What was particularly great was that we changed our mind on a few of these – one we decided not to pay over time anymore, and it’s super easy to just pay back in the app.

Whilst we were out there, the team shipped the ability to choose your default payment type on your Flex card. I changed it to “Pay in full” so Flex behaved like a traditional credit card by default, but then it gave me the extra flexibility to go back into the app and change payments after the fact.

There were QR codes for payment everywhere

In Brazil, it was pix, which from what I could tell was a government/central bank-backed QR payment system. Everyone had it: from street sellers to big department stores. There were different, more fragmented systems in the other countries, but all countries we went to had them and preferred using them.

It made me think about how we might use QR codes more and more, and whether the UK would ever accept them as much as those countries. Monzo customers can already show their Monzo.me QR code to get paid by friends, and Monzo Business customers can do the same to get paid too – can’t wait to see these catch on a little more as people get more and more used to QR codes.

My partner and I used a Shared Tab

And it worked out pretty well! We liked having a little folder for our travels and keeping track of those travel expenses specifically. By the end of the trip, the total at the bottom was a very scary number! But I was grateful to be able to see it so quickly and at a glance.

I also used Trends to compare how our spending compared to my usual monthly outgoings using the Yearly view, and although we obviously spent more as we were doing more activities than I’d usually do day-to-day at home, it was really surprising to see how much less we spent on food and drink compared to when we go out in London (although, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, we’re talking about London!)

The new Home Screen made it easier to navigate my accounts

I really liked seeing my Flex and Current Account balances as soon as I opened my app, and seeing spending from both of those in the main feed. I felt like I could move between Pots and some of my Premium features a lot quicker too, which is the whole point! I felt more organised at a glance and a swipe.

Other things

  • There were a few websites that we booked activities from that didn’t feel super trustworthy, so I appreciated having virtual cards with my Premium account, to create and delete as soon as we’d made the booking

  • It was great to see so many Hot Coral cards amongst the British travelling crowd we met in hostels and bars

  • I’m just very grateful to Monzo for giving me the opportunity to go see the world!

Oh, final thing – I’ve got a new job. I’m still at Monzo obviously, but I’m moving from Product Marketing to Brand Marketing. It means I’ll be working on what Monzo means to people and how we can grow awareness and love for Monzo across the UK (and eventually, the world!). So less product updates from me in the future, but hopefully we can still chat about some fun stuff :eyes:

:v:

Because I work here and because I’ve mentioned Flex and Premium I’ve gotta make sure I give you the details! :point_down:

You have to have a Monzo account and be over 18 years olds to apply for Monzo Flex. Ts&CS apply.

Flex is 0% interest when paying in full on your payment date or in 3 monthly payments. If you want more time, it’s 29% APR representative (variable) for 6 months or 12 monthly payments.

Carefully consider the cost of credit for purchases. Missed payments can negatively impact your credit score and you may lose the interest-free rate on existing plans.

Representative example: 29% APR representative (variable). £1200 credit limit. 29% yearly interest (variable).

Lastly, if you want a Monzo current account you need to be a UK resident. Ts&CS apply. For Monzo Premium you’ll also need to between 18-69 and pay £15/month for a minimum of 6 months. Ts&Cs apply there too.

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Hope you had an amazing experience - trip of a lifetime!

I’ve been lucky enough to do some of South America - mainly Peru & Ecuador (including Galapagos). Aside from the usual South American must-dos, diving off several different islands in Galapagos and spending 4 days deep in the Amazon (via Iquitos) are definite highlights for me! :deciduous_tree::diving_mask:

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Spoiler / staff exclusive! (My emphasis)

But more seriously, sounds like you had an excellent time - I’m very jealous!

Come back and tell us about Brand Marketing some time :soon:

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Welcome back, Jack! And congrats on the new role.

Was that end of old role > Break > new role.

The sabbatical part sounds joyous. I wonder if I can get my company to start this? Because I’m owed two!

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:jack_eyes:
Welcome back!

More bus-wraps on the cards?

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This sounds amazing, be great to see some pictures!

No, but it’s definitely a place I would love to visit. It always looks so amazing.

How did you find this? I’d be curious to try Flex as a credit card alternative, but it still feels more BNPL to me IMHO compared to other credit cards.

This is probably why I think that. In this case It just bills you for a total that you need to pay off by a date or flex over time?

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Welcome back. Wow what a trip. Amazing!

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Ahh, we really wanted to do this but ran out of time :slightly_frowning_face: bet it was amazing??

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Whoops! Well, hopefully it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that we want to bring all your payments into the main feed to give you a overview of all your spending, all in one place :wink:

Big time! We’re just warming up a brand team for the first time internally and really excited about what we can do :eyes: so will definitely be back to tell you more, as we do it!

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Thank you!!

I absolutely will not provide pictures because I know exactly what @Revels will do to them :joy:

Honestly, it was great. To me it feels like a credit card ++ because you get way more control over how you pay back versus other credit cards – the fact that you get to choose how you pay back per transaction is the best bit, I think. So I used it to pay over time for some bigger transactions, but just paid the smaller ones back in full.

There was a very niche situation in Argentina – essentially they have a few different exchange rates. You’ve got the official exchange rate, then you’ve got the blue dollar rate, which is what people will give you in exchange for dollars (and was about double when we were there), and the newer tourist rate, which is provided by Mastercard and Visa (and I think Amex have just committed to it too).

The tourist rate is close to the blue dollar, but not quite. And Mastercard and Visa implement it differently – Visa gives you the rate straight away, but Mastercard charges you at the official rate, then refunds you the difference a few days later.

Flex was really useful for this, because it meant that we weren’t paying double what we’d end up pay in the end and then getting the money back (which would also be pretty annoying in the feed, seeing so many transactions then refunds). So I paid on Flex, then when the refund came through a few days later, I had my actual amount I owed, and paid it then. And because of the timeline-like view inside a Flex transaction, it was really easy to stay on top of: here’s an example:

Obviously, having the rate straight away would be a little better, but this was a good, niche use-case for Flex!

Yeah, exactly. So I default to paying it off, but for bigger purchases I switch to paying over time.

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This is a safe space! Promise!

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Suspicious Fry GIF - Futurama Serious Stare GIFs

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A few hours on a little wooden boat up the Amazon river to a small settlement/camp site. It was amazing, but I’ve never felt heat/humity like it!

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Sounds incredible @jackcully and welcome back! And congrats on the new role!

I went to Guyana about 12 years ago now, while I was at uni to assist in research in the rainforest. It was an incredible few weeks camping out in the heart of these largely undisturbed locations, seeing all that the natural world had to offer. Although, I could have done without the spiders and ants :joy:

I actually go off on my own sabbatical after today! Much less exciting, but I’ve the flexibility to split it over this year and next, meaning I get the whole summer off with my kids :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: and hopefully we can sneak a short break in there somewhere!

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I went to Ecuador in 2002, leading to an almighty complaint with Nationwide upon my return as they’d talked me out of opening a second FlexAccount to get a Cirrus card because “Visa is everywhere”, whereby I discovered every ATM in Ecuador didn’t accept Visa – Cirrus only!

Mind you, riding on the infamous railway down the sheer cliff face of the Devil’s Nose, where we all sat on cushions on the carriage roofs for the full eight hour train ride, and then staying in a ‘hotel’ (seemingly in someone’s house and run by a four year old) for $1 for one night were fun highlights, alongside the rainforest lodge three hours downriver from Coca and the last great Inca capital at Cuenca.

The trip home also involved sitting in the plane on the tarmac at Bogotá International Airport, guarded by tanks due to the state of emergency which had been declared a day or so before, and to protect us from the, apparently, very real risk of hijacking.

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Welcome back. Sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve never been to South America but it’s on the bucket list for sure :heavy_check_mark: :bucket:

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