Unwanted Overdraft

I have recently unknowingly went into my overdraft, although it was a few pence I never asked for a overdraft and I’ve been told there is no way of opting out of a overdraft.

Why would Monzo not have a opt out for the overdraft facility, especially as it started life as a prepaid card to manage a budget.

I liked my Monzo card as I knew that I could check my finances. Seems a betrayal that you can’t get out of it overdraft.

Yeah they give everyone a £20 few free buffer to cover you just incase.

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You will only go into an unauthorised overdraft if it’s an offline payment or foreign currency settling

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I understand the £20 buffer but it’s not really my point. If i don’t want to go into debt and have rejected the overdraft. Monzo should be able to figure out a way for my card not to go over drawn like pre allocating funds or for foreign funds adding 5% for currency fluctuations.

You don’t have an overdraft. You have a £20 buffer like many high street banks have account buffers.

In a few rare circumstances, as @Rat_au_van states, you can go into that £20 but generally Monzo won’t let you. I’ve never entered it, and the card has just rejected any attempt to go below £0. You are not being charged interest over the few pence.

Monzo cannot reject all offline payments full stop as some services like the London Underground use it.


Monzo have no way of knowing you have made an offline payment until the merchant asks for the money, which could be days later. By that point you could be long gone so Monzo is required to pay the merchant even if it takes you into your overdraft.

All banks have to do this, but quite a few other banks don’t have a fee-free buffer and so charge you until you realise you’ve gone overdrawn and pay it off.


Hi :slight_smile:

How would you suggest they handle offline payments? These are payments that are approved at the time of transaction, but are not connected to a real time network, so the bank is only notified at a later date.

This is what the £20 buffer is intended to handle, making these transactions completely free. This is different from giving you an overdraft, which by default you do not have unless you request it, and is intended to stop unfair fees from ‘unathorised overdrafts’ as the offline payment is not your fault.

Would you suggest another solution? The technical limitation is that the bank has no knowledge ahead of time that the transaction has been made, as it has been made outside of the real time payment network.


What everyone is essentially saying is that the only way to guarantee you don’t go below £0 is for Monzo to disable contactless / offline transactions and foreign currency transactions. It’s way many basic bank accounts don’t come with a contactless debit card.

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Or just don’t spend down to a £0 balance if this technical solution to offline payments bothers you. Keep your own £20 ‘buffer’ in place.


I don’t think that is true they do verify the account with a pound payment. Surly there is some way of pre allocating funds as this is a digital bank

That’s true though place like petrol pumps only take a pound out then it requests funds a day later. This is what happened spent a load of money in fuel but I couldn’t remember exactly how much petrol I had bought. I wrong assumed I would be able to go in to negative funds

I presume you meant “wouldn’t” here. But if Monzo prevented that payment going through, they’d effectively be aiding you in a crime – that of theft of petrol (as you wouldn’t have paid for it).

Thankfully I believe this is changing to be £99 initial debit, followed by adjusting to the actual amount. It’s worse for folks with low balances, but it at least tackles this kind of issue.

I do get all the comments and that essentially it isn’t really a big deal.

Sometimes you are not aware of these offline purchases. It seems like such a antiquated system and make it difficult to budget if you have to wait day for payments to go through.

You could sort out the underground by having 7 pounds preallocated as that is the maximum fare.

I didn’t think Debit card were allowed to be used for offline payments ( my ignorance). I thought that would be moving into the territory of a credit card. I don’t really understand why there are offline transactions with debit cards.

But now I’m just rambling

I would say the retailer has a part to play in having update technology, but yeah I guess Monzo would just be blacklisted.

The maximum fare on TfL can be much higher: Touching in and out - Transport for London

I still don’t understand fully your aversion to this buffer, really.

You seem to want to invent a whole host of workarounds, just to avoid the workaround Monzo have invented.

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Okay so it seems there’s some misinformation here and it’s getting a bit confusing and unhelpful.

  1. Monzo doesn’t force you to have an overdraft. If you opted out when signing up, or weren’t eligible, you won’t have one. This includes the £20 buffer. No overdraft, no buffer.
  2. For the vast majority of transactions, if your account balance isn’t enough to cover the transaction (it would go below zero), it will be rejected instantly and no money will be taken from your account.
  3. there are some types of transactions that happen “offline” which means they don’t do a check to see if you have all funds available, or only take a small amount to make sure the card is real first which then becomes the full amount later. Two examples: Pay at pump and TfL takes £1 to make sure the card is real and then a day or so later becomes whatever amount you actually pumped/travelled. The other is on planes where they don’t have signal to process the card transactions live so take the card number and do it manually later. Banks (not just Monzo) can’t refuse an offline transaction (except in cases of suspected fraud), so this is a way of going into overdraft even if you don’t have one.
  4. The other way is that all transactions take a couple of days to get fully processed. For most transactions this means nothing, but if you buy something in another currency, the exchange rate that will be used is the one a few days later when the transaction is fully processed. This means the transaction could finish a little bit more or less depending on the exchange rate difference.
  5. if you have an overdraft turned on, you are allowed up to £20 without any fees (which some refer to as the “buffer”). If you don’t have an overdraft, you can’t directly access this “buffer” unless it’s due to the things mentioned above. when that happens you can’t use your card until you put money in to get positive again.
  6. On the petrol pump side of things, changes are afoot to do things the other way around where the pump takes £99 (or whatever your balance is at that time) and then will reduce down to the amount you actually took “within 20 minutes” (according to the spec if I remember correctly). This will stop the exact situation you’ve experienced because you’re not alone in your frustration at suddenly going overdrawn, even without having a formal overdraft.

Phew, if I’ve got anything wrong, or any other overdraft questions, please let me know. As someone who has an overdraft for still being able to use my card when I go into the “buffer”, I think I know these processes fairly well.


It’s unclear if the £20 buffer is linked to the overdraft or not. I had thought this was for everyone, and not linked to if you had an overdraft turned on.



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Good point. As I say in point 5, those without overdrafts have that £20 “buffer” but only accessible due to late-finalising or fully-offline transactions. If the transaction takes you £20 or less overdrawn, you won’t get charged. If it takes you more than £20 over, you get charged. Some examples:

  1. My balance is at £101 and I don’t have an overdraft turned on. I go to a pay at pump petrol station which authorises £1 (balance now £100) and then proceed to take £50 of fuel. I then go buy £70 of groceries (balance now £30). A day or so later, the pay at pump finalises and takes a further £49 off my balance (£1 was already taken from the authorisation). The balance is now at MINUS £19. I won’t get charged, because this is less than the £20 limit.
  2. same again, but I take £60 of fuel. The resulting balance is MINUS £29. I then get charged the standard rate of 50p per day for overdrafts of any kind with Monzo.
  3. My balance is at £10 and I have overdrafts turned off. I try to buy something for £20 at a retail shop. The transaction is done online and is rejected due to lack of funds.
  4. My balance is at £10 and I have overdrafts turned ON. I buy something for £20 at a retail shop. The transaction is done online and it’s approved and I go overdrawn, but I’m not charged as I’m in the “buffer”.