Travelling with Monzo to North America

(Romain) #1

Hi everyone!

I’ve been using Monzo for a bit now, never really used the card abroad before.
At the beginning of April I went the USA and Canada with my partner, we spent 3 weeks there and I used Monzo most of the time. I thought I would give you some feedback about the stuff I’ve noticed while using it there :slight_smile:

  • When going to a service station, in the US and Canada, they generally ask you to pay a certain amount (pre-authorisation) before being able to use the fuel pump :fuelpump:️ So if I want to fill up the tank entirely or just a bit, I have to choose a certain amount (i.e: 50 dollars) and then fill up the tank. If I fill it up for an amount of only 20 pounds, they will refund 30 dollars (I guess it’s like a refund?)
    Problem: I went to this service station in Canada where, I had to choose 200 dollars because the tank was pretty empty and I didn’t actually know how much I needed. From the service station side, it’s a pre-authorisation, from Monzo side it’s a normal payment. So I filled up the tank for like 9 dollars, but on the app, it was showing 200 dollars until like the morning after.
    Is it possible to display under the amount a line saying that it’s just temporary and the amount will be updated shortly or something? I don’t really mind that the money is “taken” out of the account as you can’t be sure how much I really spent straight away, but it would be great, as a user to be able to see that it’s not the definitive amount (When you travel, you don’t want to have to call companies to make sure it’s not a mistake)

  • When going to a hotel, they want to take a card and do a pre-authorisation too. So they will do this pre-authorisation but clearly explain that you are not actually being charged and it will show up on your bank summary that it’s not a real payment.
    Problem: It did show up as a payment on Monzo and actually tried to charge the account.
    I don’t know if it’s the same idea than my previous point, but any chance to indicate it’s a pre-authorisation too?

  • There is something I’ve noticed with the notifications; when you receive a notification, it’s always showing you how much “you’ve spent today”, but because of the time difference, the amount was always wrong when we were there. I guess it’s because it’s using the UK’s time zone and not the current time zone you are in however, it’s a bit annoying when you want to keep track of how much you are spending… Maybe you could use the phone’s time to make it more accurate or something?

  • Not specifically related to travel, but it seems that Monzo doesn’t have an offline mode. Nothing is displayed when you are not connected to 4G or WiFi. We were somewhere in Colorado, no 4G, no WiFi, I tried to use my card, but it didn’t work, so I’ve opened the app and check, my balance was 50 pounds, so I was like annoyed the payment didn’t work, but then realised I was offline and my actual balance was lower than that. My mistake, I should have looked if I was online or not, but one thing I’ve learnt while working on apps, you should always have an offline mode :stuck_out_tongue: Any chance we could get a little dialog or something saying “Oops, it seems you are not connected to the internet, your balance might be incorrect” or something?

  • In North America you have to tip, it’s rude if you don’t tip. Generally, you will get the bill, pay and then they give you another paper asking you if you want to tip, you can put a percentage, or the total amount and I don’t actually know how they do, but they can “update” the bill you paid before and add the tip to it. Sadly, I think I’ve never been charged for those tips. I guess maybe, they can’t “post-charge” with a non American card? Anyway, I wanted to know clarify this because I felt like a **shole later.

That’s it, except those points, the experience with Monzo is fantastic. The fact you don’t charge any fees to use the card abroad, the live notifications, etc, It’s just awesome. I dream that one day you will add a service like TransferWise within the app and I will just be the happiest person ever :stuck_out_tongue:

(Sorry for the bad formatting + spelling mistakes)

:canada: Monzo in Canada [Discussion]

Quite a comprehensive write up!

Just one point:

The handling of pre-auths is “by design”: It’s not that someone tries to charge your account, it’s just that monzo takes your money from the account the moment they receive an authorisation request. That’s intentional. It’s come up quite a lot in the past, so search the forum for details, but you may want to read this as a starting point:

(Romain) #3

Makes sense, thanks nanos!

However, if it’s intentional, I think it should be explained when the operation shows up in the app.

I guess from the backend they know it’s an authorisation request, so it could probably be customised in the app to appear differently or with some info to help the user understand it’s not a final charge?


I agree. I believe that when you open the transaction details screen, it actually says “pending”, but I personally think that they should treat pending transactions differently, particularly for long term pre auths, but there you go…

See this thread on my thoughts of this (and for why other Monzo customers disagree with me) :

(If there's the wrong end of a stick, you'll find me holding it.) #5

I don’t know which OS you are using, but on iOS this message appears (but only for about a second, it took me a few attempts to capture it).


I’m impressed by the dedication! :slight_smile: :+1:

(If there's the wrong end of a stick, you'll find me holding it.) #7

Bloody autocorrect :joy:

(Romain) #8

Good job, I didn’t spot it before.

On Android, it appears at the bottom of the screen. I’m so used to see error messages at the top that I didn’t notice it! :open_mouth:


I’m sure when I was there I had the problem where they pre authorise the amount of say a meal, but if you add a tip it charges a different amount and the original meal costs stays there pending for 7 days.

Was really annoying.

The petrol thing too - seems so backwards compared to here. :confused:

(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #10

I have no problem with :monzo: Monzo ‘using’ my location. After all, I know I’m abroad, and I know Monzo know I’m abroad because they’re authorising transactions made by me abroad (and not flagging them as fraudulent) so there’s no ‘privacy’ issue here.

(#savetheseabass) #11

I’m more concerned that England seem to have their own time zone, separate to the rest of the UK :thinking:


Very useful information for the USA and Canada. Do you have any information for Mexico which is also in North America, or perhaps we could change the title to “Travelling with Monzo to Canda and the USA”?

(Romain) #13

Well, England is in the UK, so the UK’s time zone is England’s time zone. The name of the time zone is BST if we want to be precise :wink:

(Romain) #14

Are you always this welcoming to new members of the community? :heart_eyes:


Monzo don’t use GMT or BST but UTC


That was what they said in a post on this community answering the question in a different thread


Welcome especially if you are new.

Thanks again for posting this information.


(James) #19

My experience while in the US recently was that it took several days for the pre-auth to disappear and for the actually amount (including tip) to appear, so if you’ve returned the receipt with the tip + total to the restaurant staff, they will eventually charge you for the correct amount.

I suspect it varies by restaurant (and Monzo does include a helpful guide in each meal transaction that explains this) but my experience was it took a few days to update (and threw out the automated coin pot value!)


As @anon44204028 said Monzo use UTC - Below post from a Monzo staff confirmed this;

(Romain) #21

Great, thanks, UTC or any timezone, I don’t mind, it’s not my original point and doesn’t fix the problem.