🇺🇸 Monzo in the USA [Discussion]


I’m currently in the US (Washington DC) and this is how my transactions are breaking down:
-Swipe: 80% (sometimes with signature, often without):
-Chip and signature: 15% (sometimes just chip without signature)
-Chip and pin: 5%

Of the 20% that have chip machines, about half accept Apple Pay or contactless (so 10% of my transactions). It’s still very rare here.

Loads of businesses often use a payment system called Square which offers retailers cheap swipe and signature terminals and chip and signature terminals.

For swipe or chip, often they don’t even require a signature. And sometimes if I forget to sign, they’ll just do a squiggle for me on their terminal. So signatures are not taken seriously at all.


Those Square iPad/card reader combo terminals are annoying… I hate signing on touch screens.


It does very much depend on where in the US (as you say with Washington D.C). I’ve noticed California has a very high rate of chip readers but then historically it always had a lot of issues with fraud. Chains are also much better equipped than smaller stores. If you go to border towns or cities with Canada you’ll generally find a high amount of chip readers as well (historically Canadian cards have had chips for a long time (in some cases since 2005), so stolen or cloned cards were used in the US).


Haha. I actually LOVE the emailed receipts (give your email address to one Square retailer and you automatically get receipts every time you pay in a shop that uses Square).

I usually just squiggle instead of signing.


Agreed - Safeway uses chip and pin (one of the few places that does). Trader Jones accepts contactless including Apple Pay.

I would guess California has a lot of chip and pin because it’s also the tech centre of the US.

One cafe I go to has Square swipe and Square chip terminals. He routinely just uses swipe but Monzo declined (I needed to turn on magstripe in the app). The guy told me he just reaches for the swipe terminal because so many first iteration US chip cards are unreliable.


Not for card payments, that toggle is for ATM’s only.

When I was in the US, I had the magstripe toggle turned off and my card worked all the time (first time too, in most cases).


That’s what I thought. Magstripe usually works for me too, even though I have it switched off in the app.

But when it got declined, Monzo COps told me it was because it was switched off in the app.


That seems to be perpetuated by the Monzo CS but it’s wrong. More than likely it’s because Square mark the transaction as ‘fallback’ when a card is swiped (when a chip reader is also installed), so Monzo would have been liable for the fraud (so probably have it set to auto-decline all fallback transactions).


Ah interesting! So if they only have a Square swipe, it would have been accepted. But if they have a chip reader and they use swipe, it rejects.

(Jack Curran) #341

I’m moving to the US in January and Monzo will be my main account while I transition to the US banking system so hopefully it will all work ok.

Out of interest does anybody know of any similar app based banks in the US? I know a lot of people use Venmo for splitting bills when eating out. Maybe an international expansion from Monzo at some point…

(Jonathon) #342

Currently in the US and having a massive pain with the NY transit system. Sometimes it just flat declines, and then today I had to choose “credit card” and enter a ZIP code (used one I had 10 years ago in the US when I lived here) and went through fine.

Very frustrating!

(Richard) #343

Yup, had same problem when I was in NYC. Out of curiosity does the N26 card work with it?

Plan B was to buy an MTA card from a shop

(Valeri) #344

The moderately good news is that in ApplePay is coming to MTA… in 2020

(Stu Manton) #345

When you go to a terminal always choose credit card and then for a ZIP just enter 00000. Works every time.

(Splodf) #346

I imagine 90210 would work too :grin:

(Dawid) #347

I used to have this problem with NYC Subway only if I selected DEBIT as the card type as I didn’t know that it’s debit only on home soil and always credit on foreign one. It’s probably not the actual cause but somehow that was the pattern with mine.

(Rich) #348

Used mine (both card and with Apple Pay) with no issues in Seattle :+1:t2:

(Richard) #349

It’s because in the USA, debit cards are carried over a different processing network (not Visa or Mastercard), and is intended only for domestic debit cards.
Choosing Credit forces the transaction to be processed over the correct network that can handle international cards.

So only chose Debit in the USA if you’re using a US issued debit card. Use Credit for all internationally issued debit cards and all credit cards.


@Dawid @Tellytart Indeed…In the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (and other countries), Debit really means one of the local networks and credit means Visa, MasterCard, Amex etc.

The one exception are that some Canadian debit cards can be run as ‘Debit’ in the US (although with most Canadian debit cards now being co-branded with Visa or MasterCard for usage outside of Canada, it’s not really important anymore). It’s only really useful to get around the zip code prompt at US gas stations as you can use the PIN option instead of the zip option (as Canada has British style postal codes).

(Dawid) #351

Yes I realised that just in time or the second trip to US :smiley: