Reducing the cost of debit card top-ups

I can see the issue with the cost of large transfers, but it’s a feature and the provision of features will generally cost monzo money.

As a going concern they need to balance the customer gain from offering the feature with the cost of providing it - but that’s the same for every feature.

I partly ask because if has different limits, or contributes to the top-up limit, it further complicates the cognitive load of using Monzo. So if you are brining them in, consider how you can structure limits and fees so we aren’t juggling lots of figures in our head (or not!). :exploding_head:


I very much agree with this.

The trial period comes across as favouring new customers (something that really bugs me whenever any company does it) and would be a real turn-off.

The monthly allowance seems much fairer as it gives people the ability to get started using Monzo but also acts as an emergency/safety-net for everyone if they need it, without favouring either new or existing customers. And if people need to regularly top up via debit card, you get paid for the cost which is only fair. In fact I’d go as far as to say the free monthly threshold could be lower.

The tip idea is cute but I don’t think it’s realistic. I’m not sure I’d pay as I’d feel (as I do with other tips) that really the charge belongs on the service. That is to say, if you need to charge me, just state it and do so.

Another idea, based on what @Jami has said about the costs, is to make it a lower, per-payment threshold. I.e. debit top-ups up to £50 are free, but above that they’re charged. You could defeat it by doing loads of smaller transactions instead of one big one, but I can’t imagine many people going to that kind of extreme. And again, it means it’s free for emergency use.

For what it’s worth, I’ve got my salary being paid in and well on the way to being fully Monzo (it’s now my ‘primary’ account) :mondo:. I’ve never used the debit card top-up since being converted from the prepay, but would treat it as an emergency top-up if for some reason I wasn’t in a position to do it more conventionally. Which seems to fit in with how you see things too :+1:


That was one of the models we considered before testing, but that very reason made us rank it lower for now. We want to avoid a situation where it’s possible for very tenacious people to still rack up large costs with workarounds. We’ll see though, nothing is ruled out yet!


Could this be addressed by some ‘fair use’ wording in the T&Cs? Not an immediate cut-off, but if someone is transferring £500 all at once using 10 top-ups in a row, they are contacted and reminded that they are breaking the fair use conditions. I realise we’re getting into potentially murky water here though…


My salary is all set to go in this month and I’ve manually changed my DD’s and Standing Ordes. I’ve also suggested on Twitter people who are not happy with RBS branch closures move over. Love monzo so far :grinning:


Two things:

  1. At the moment I make Faster Payment transfers from my existing Current Account to my Monzo account. This is because however much I would love to pay my salary into my Monzo account, my employer pays me using IBAN (currency is still GBP). It would be much easier for me to use debit card top-ups (than using my legacy bank UI for one-off faster payments), but obviously this costs Monzo money.
  2. Hopefully there will be a way to keep around? I find it incredibly useful for request payments from friends who don’t use Monzo (e.g. to collect money after making a group reservation for tomorrows Christmas lunch :slight_smile: )
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You can charge 1% outright for top ups but the one condition is that hot chip needs to be dressed as a bandit and creep across the app to remove said amount from my balance. Oh and the difference between 1% charge and the actual cost to monzo should go towards financial inclusion charities :raised_hands:


I am glad you’re being transparent. I think it’s important that things that are required to practically use the account, like the debit card, remain free (Revolut charging for replacement cards caused me to cancel when I needed one, and I’d leave any bank that charged for a debit card in a second).

However, unique over the top services like debit card top ups (most banks don’t have at all) or foreign ATM withdrawals (that most banks charge a fortune for), those I think are good places to charge fees.

However, it’s cool to allow people an emergency way to get a little money on their Monzo account. How about one free £50 top-up per month, and then 2% (I expect this would more than cover your costs, adjust as needed) after that?

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I wonder if with Open Banking, in the future there will be a way to provide a similar feature that uses inter-bank transfers instead of debit cards. Or somehow integrating with Pay by Bank. Would love to see the feature remain, but made low/no-cost to Monzo, and also slicker so people don’t have to enter card details.


Honest viewpoint here but I don’t want it to sound negative because it fundamentally isnt.

I love the Transparency, I really do. I think the way the Foreign ATM Usage situation was handled was really great and honest. The outcome was effectively a way to make it affordable, but keep it available for those who need it and still beats the competition
(The only negative thing I honestly saw of that, was the voting. It turned the community a little toxic nor did it allow any additional voting options with input from the community - but we can’t have everything :stuck_out_tongue: )

I also appreciate the honesty with which top ups are now being handled. They cost more than they should and Monzo is absorbing the cost too much to make a profit. I agree on the approach (I never use it since getting a CA and moving everything across). I thought the blog post and the decisions behind it seemed fair and logical.

But one thing that really hit me today is its starting to feel like Monzo is doing a race to the bottom. They need to reduce overhead, so they need to cap some of the more, exotic features like Free ATM’s Aboard and Free Apple Pay Topups). Fully understand that, but I have to ask - where does that leave the customer?

Right now, your Mobile Apps amazing, your approach is amazing and open but ultimately what you are doing is giving the competition a run for their money. They are rushing to catch up - and eventually they will. At that point one has to ask, what does Monzo offer me over the competition?

I can give an example now. Monzo’s growth has been extreme, a great product at a time when no one trusts big banks while giving the community such a big push and role. However since then, with such growth and such users - the personal side of the service sadly takes a hit. It’s totally expected though. Speaking to Support now feels more scripted. Takes a lot longer to get to tickets and if so, it doesnt feel at all times like the person at the end has time for you - likely as they got so many people to support!
I’ll still remember the first few support requests, getting answered by Tom himself! Those were the days :smiley: Though totally unsustainable.

So now as a Customer - with the competition starting to catch up - What do we get?
We’re losing some of the best Perks because the cost overhead is extreme and support is being hammered with so many users and becoming very impersonal - I’ve been called the wrong name more times than I care to admit on it!

Put it this way, if someone has thousands of pounds sitting around in their Monzo CA which is making a lot of interest for Monzo (in effect paying for the service as we don’t get the interest). What incentives me to keep it in that account? Pots don’t as all they do is lock my money in an interest free area and make my available balance deplete at risk of bounced DD’s.
Right now I have no choice but to transfer it off Monzo to another provider to make interest. Therefore Monzo is encouraging users not to have high value balances in their account.

Maybe the target market for Monzo is more for the lower end of the Financial spectrum and I just sound like a entitled (insert negative word here). But I do ask, who does Monzo want to appeal to?

Fundamentally though to the point of my rambles. I love Monzo, I do. I get the exotic perks cost a lot and need to be contained because of abuse/overuse by a certain % of people. But for the honest Monzo user, following the guidelines, using it as their primary account with salary, having a high balance - what does one get from Monzo to keep them as a customer?
Right now like I said its guaranteed because no one can compete with the service in terms of the App - but that will change in the long run.


This sounds snazzy but I’d like to see it keep the option to pay using debit card as well. I’ve never had (I had prepaid but never used it, then went to CA where it doesn’t yet exist) but could imagine it being great for being paid for occasional freelance work - I currently offer as a payment option but well… you know… PayPal…

If I could switch over to and know that all people had to do was make a regular card payment, that would be fine. And I’d be happy to have Monzo take a fair percentage too, much like PayPal does.

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The narrative around this stuff is certainly getting more complicated. I remember people used to be really into the foreign ATM withdrawals now there’s negativity around the caveats.

I completely understand Monzo’s position though, I think you’ll have to give good feedback in the app about how much of all these allowances are remaining so people aren’t surprised when it starts to cost them.


Once again, why not just charge the exact cost of the top up for all top ups? It’s the most fair approach and allows customers to choose based on the balance of whether it’s worth the cost.


I had my salary paid to my Monzo current account for the first time yesterday.

I left my existing Standing Orders & Direct Debits in place with my old bank. I estimated how much I’d need to cover those outgoings, and wired the money across yesterday.

I sent too much money, so will be topping-up Monzo via Debit Card, later today, to retrieve the remainder of the funds.

My old bank account was so basic, it didn’t actually offer the facility to create Faster Payments online. I had to use third-party apps like PayPal and PingIt to get around the lack of functionality.

I can’t imagine I’d use Debit Card top-ups on a regular basis. I’ve now changed all my Standing Orders & Direct Debits. Monzo is now my main bank account.


OK, so it’s size not frequency of top up that you’re trying to limit. Thanks for clarifying.

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It’s challenging, because you need to win customers, but no one likes fees. Sometimes someone does something so wrong that it’s laughable (e.g. Revolut charging for the debit card itself). Bye, Felica.

For a ‘challenger’ bank to charge for something every legacy bank makes free is unthinkable - not much challenging there!

On the other hand, sometimes a free feature isn’t offered by legacy banks for a reason - it simply costs too much (e.g. foreign ATMs). I think the compromise there (free foreign purchases, £200 free foreign ATM allowance) is great. It lets people use it free for ‘normal use’ and curbs abuse. But that’s me. People will have different standards for what matters. The MSE crowd is unlikely to agree with me that that’s a great solution!

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I appreciate that debit card top ups cost Monzo money. It’s something I wasn’t previously aware of and simply being informed of the fact is likely to change my behaviour.

I think that all of the proposals smack a little off of school legacy bank behaviour, though. You’ve noticed that some customers are doing something you’d rather they didn’t, and so seek to punish them with new charges. That’s what old fashioned bankers do.

Why not look at rewarding good behaviour? You could provide a small monthly bonus to customers who transfer funds into their Monzo account but who don’t do so by debit card.

It’s just an idea, I’ll continue to use a pot as a reserve tank and transfer funds in by means other than debit card, even though I’d been looking forward to the return of Apple Pay.

It’s good that you’ve been transparent about this. I really appreciate that.


I’m unlikely to use debit card top ups so this doesn’t really affect me - but with this and the foreign ATM withdrawal fees it feels like Monzo is beginning to regress in to the same sort of complex tariff of fees that we see with legacy banks.

How many more functions are Monzo going to have to eventually fess up about and say ‘actually we can’t do this for free?’


Since this cost + the foreign ATM withdrawals make up ~80% of Monzo’s annual cost per user, I’m hopeful that this will be it.

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