Safety & privacy implications of names on cards


Hi Monzo community,

I’m a fan and a fairly early user of Monzo. I started with the prepaid card which made my VISA card, held at a big bank, completely redundant.

The VISA card had “MS + my first name initial + my full last name” on it while the prepaid card had a customer ID number only. I don’t know whether I have made a mistake somewhere in the process of signing up for my second Monzo card or it’s like this by default, but the new card has my full name on it.

The issue is, I’m a young woman and it has happened to me on more than one occasions that the off-licence cashier/barista/waiter had a glimpse of my name on the card during a friendly exchange and tried to get in touch with me via Facebook afterwards. I think this is an embarrassing situation for both parties involved and I would feel a lot more comfortable if the card wouldn’t have my full name on it.

I’m sure this can be solved quickly by simply replacing the card but I realised this might be an issue for other people as well so maybe tweaking the sign-up process a bit and enabling people to select between display names like “Jane Doe/J. Doe” would be a good idea? Or simply having the latter as a default?

(Rika Raybould) #2

Sure! For the prepaid cards, they came with a unique token because at the time they are produced, they are not linked to any account so we used that number to link them to your account as well as perform other actions that would otherwise require the full card number.

Unfortunately, this caused some issues with card acceptance, especially in the US! For the debit cards, the app allows you to select between legal and preferred names if they are different.

You can request a replacement card through support that has an abbreviated or otherwise reasonable form of your name. For example, somebody named Jane Doe could certainly have a card that has J DOE embossed on it. :white_check_mark:

A small number of early debit cards contained no name at all or had MONZO BANK written in the name field. We are looking to bring this back as an option at some point!

Our Plans to Close the Monzo Prepaid Cards
Our Plans to Close the Monzo Prepaid Cards
(Johnny Ellwood) #3

Im sure you can ask the COps team to change that and send you a new card.


Will do exactly that, just wanted to make sure the sign-up process will get tweaked so other people won’t have the same issue.


You can also set your Fb to only allow friend requests from “friends of friends”, I had that back when I was on Fb and it put a full stop to requests from unknown people.


Yes, that’s a valid option and my privacy settings are already quite strict there but my point is that I prefer not to give out my full name while buying a pack of crisps.


Try contactless if available :thinking:


I’m surprised this problem hasn’t come up before though, including with the legacy banks. Seems like an obvious privacy issue now that I think of it, and makes me love my nameless “preview” card even more.

(Allie) #9

I think this is a good point, and affects a lot of people especially women, as you identified and also LGBT+ people, religious minorities, etc. Unfortunately, it’s a major issue and one that’s led me to battles in the US with cashiers, when I had to explain that no, I would not show them supplementary ID, that doing so was putting me at unnecessary risk (since I only had a driving licence, with address, on me). I also pointed out it violated the Visa and Mastercard merchant agreements.

Thankfully, on recent trips back, this seems to have settled down. For one, the local police (who I contacted) quit advising local merchants to demand supplementary ID - something the police had actually circulated to local businesses! (sigh for not caring about the safety of customers…). Two, in-person fraud has dropped a lot in the US with the introduction of EMV, causing businesses that are EMV-enabled to feel less at risk.

I had reason to feel unsafe at the time, and I get where this is coming from to this day. I think initials or even no name would be great options, but sadly, they do need to remain options due to the acceptance issues @RichardR pointed out (plus, now that I live in the UK, I feel much safer and having a personalised card with my name as I want it is actually pretty cool to me, so there’s preference as well).

One nice option would be to allow ‘card personalisation name’ as an optional free text field, though there may be issues with Mastercard in doing so.

Finally, it is worth noting, separately but importantly for the most privacy, that when you use contact EMV (insert) or swipe, the shop receives your name electronically. When you use contactless, they only receive a placeholder name. A nice bit of extra privacy to be had by using contactless wherever you can.


I agree that this is not a women-only issue, someone can have a million reasons why they prefer not to give out their name: privacy, possible harassment, etc.

I only used my card in Europe so far and it’s interesting to read about the regulations in the US, and the last paragraph about EMV vs contactless is completely new info to me, so thanks for that!

(Allie) #11

Definitely, religious minorities are a huge one for travel too. Imagine having a Jewish name on your card in certain countries… or an Arabic name in others. For LGBT+ people it’s more about just a generally higher risk of stalking, and also for all women as well. There’s so many reasons. Everyone benefits from equality and a safer environment. I hope you didn’t see that as me taking it off-track, simply pointing out how important safety is to so many to get as much buy-in as possible!

No worries, it’s something I think more people need to be aware of. The reason isn’t actually to protect your privacy from shops, it’s to protect you from someone finding your name with a portable NFC reader aimed at your wallet. But it’s nice to protect your privacy from shops, too!

The US is just… well, I won’t say my feelings, but I have feelings. On a lot of things, LOL!

(Simon B) #12

Totally agree that we need un-named cards back. There are many examples including the ones already mentioned, but I’ll mention my personal anecdote.

My cousin is a hugely successful record producer and DJ. We’re talking tens of millions of sales and productions/writing credits for some of the biggest names in music over the last 25 years. He also has a very unique and “interesting” name. He is literally the only person in the world with his name. When I first got him onto our prepaid Beta and he started using it, one of his first reactions was that he liked that it did not have his name on it because people in stores have looked him up before.

I really hope we can offer the un-named cards again soon, or even the “Monzo Bank” ones, which is what I’ve been using myself for a while!

Our Plans to Close the Monzo Prepaid Cards
Our Plans to Close the Monzo Prepaid Cards

Just having it custom (within reason) would be nice. I think RBS allowed this at some point when you ordered a new card on a paper form in branch. There was a field on the form asking what name you would like to have on the card. I think they don’t allow it anymore, but people used to write 2nd Card or whatever on them. I’m happy to be corrected!

(Amelia Ikeda) #14

This problem does come up, it’s just dismissed as noise :roll_eyes:

We really do :pensive:

(Alan Reid) #15

This could be deemed as an issue for anyone no matter their gender, sexuality, religion etc. We really need to start think of people as people instead of labelling them - but that’s a different cannot worms.

Anyway I digress, this issue has been addressed by most “legacy banks” by simply using the first letter of your first name.

So on the card the name would read “J SMITH” for example. This mean you cant see which gender or their first name. Some banks still use the full name though. I don’t see this being an issue and it’s more a matter of the vendor dealing with their staff and their policies than Monzo trying to reinvent the wheel.

(Allie) #16

Most legacy banks also insist on printing very gendered titles, and even getting the gender-neutral ‘Mx’ can be a huge pain.

Not to mention that they generally want to use titles for women that disclose marital status…

(Daniel White) #17

Agreed, I find the title of this thread objectionable.

(Alan Reid) #18

I guess its older banks whose systems are quite dated that still use the Mx titles. Barclays and my Barclaycard are my initial and surname. However, Natwest and FD both use “Mr”. I have never had an issue personally like has been described.

I still believe it should not be down to Monzo to take the burden of what “crazy people” do with the name on your card, but more the vendor should be dealing with their creepy staff. I do agree with the whole Initial and surname with no prefix title solution - I think that’s the best one tbh.


The hassle after I got divorced of having to fill in paper forms so my ex could get her name changed on various systems from Mrs to Ms was rediculous. If companies did not use a title or gave a customer the ability to edit it themselves, that would be so much better.

(Allie) #20

Are you serious? Most titles have no legal meaning and that is absolutely absurd, none of their business, and simply should not happen.