Using Mondo abroad (exclusively)

(shad) #1

The last time I used bank card abroad was August 2014 in Munich. It sucked.

I’d woken up that morning with hope in my heart and fear in my liver. It was my penultimate day in Munich - Bits and Pretzels was wrapping up and the organising team were hosting a kickass party. In a tent. At Oktoberfest. I showered, got dressed and walked solemnly down to the dining area for breakfast. There were sausages, there were scrambled eggs and there was cereal. I wasn’t spoilt for choice so I ate all of it. Everything.

I took the subway with other members of our team to the Oktoberfest site early. We finally got to the Oktoberfest site and I walked to the ATM by the entrance. To save myself visits later in the day I withdrew €50 and told myself “that should be enough”. Fast forward a little and I’m out of my €50 (and the €20 I had remaining from the day before). I stumbled out of the tent with at least 6 litres of beer in me. I began walking in the direction of the ATM from that morning. I saw a horse on the way.

I stopped talking to the horse at some point and continued towards the ATM. I queued for what felt like an eternity and finally made it to the dim, tiny screen. That hope I had from the morning is reignited. My heart began racing.

I punched in my pin.

I punched in my pin.

I punched in my pin correctly.

I then attempted to withdraw an additional €50 but my heart sank to the sight I saw next.

“Unauthorized usage”

So yeah, I do have a hazy recollection of dejectedly asking Lloyds’ customer support “why are you doing this to me?” with the sounds of Oktoberfest roaring behind me. I was informed my card had been blocked due to suspicious activity and so I decided to call it a day. I returned to the tent defeated and told my boss I was too tired to continue ‘networking’ and left back to the hotel with another member of our team. I shouldn’t have this memory and I blame Lloyds for it. The moral of this story is if you’re going to Oktoberfest, don’t bank with Lloyds.


I’ve been using Mondo almost exclusively in the UK, and thought why not just use Mondo abroad and then report back to you lovely folk - the worst-case scenario was that I’d spend an extra £2-3 here or there using my Lloyds card if a transaction didn’t go through. Lloyds charge 3% of the local currency and £2-4 on top of that for withdrawal at ATMs. Then when you factor in potential ATM-specific fees it seems a bit ludicrous to even consider using using a debit card abroad.

Using Mondo alleviated a hell of a lot of headache. I never had to withdraw cash at any point (although I was tempted - Iceland has some hilarious looking banknotes). Transactions went through without a hitch and showed up promptly on the app. While I did keep a daily tab on my balance, Iceland is a pretty expensive place and I didn’t always do the maths - my card was declined twice for having £1-2 less than the required amount. Thankfully converting to ISK from GBP in your head isn’t too bad, but I’d imagine for other currencies it’d be far better to be able to toggle your balance between the native currency and GBP. I did see that transactions did display Krona spent alongside GBP so perhaps displaying the currencies together in a similar format could work?

Design-wise it seems clear that you don’t want users to worry too much about a settings area of any sort, but when Mondo becomes a bank-bank there’ll be a tonne of stuff to view/change, right? What might be nice to throw into a settings area could be something along the lines of “Travelling with Mondo?” - which would then ask the user for their location (whilst using the app only). I do understand that to the average user a banking app requesting your location could seem a little unorthodox, but I’m sure it beats calling a bank and telling them you’re going abroad? What are others’ thoughts on this?

( related to Monzo CEO, Investor in Monzo ) #2

Hi Shad, I was recently in Austria and decided to use Mondo rather than my Halifax CC - which gives you the master card rate, but only tells you what you have spent a month later , or Lloyds which as you say charge you quite heavily when they don’t block you for suspicious activity and again tells you how much they have charged you in your next monthly statement. Bought some socks from Intersport, the checkout girls only comment was “nice colour” card went through no problem , but only on “Chip and pin” and got an immediate buzz in my pocket :wink: telling me what I had paid in Euros and GBP 1.32 Euro to the pound (after I worked it out using a calculator - can’t remember the screen telling me what rate I got ? maybe this rate could be added to the balance display Mondo ? ). Having topped up my card instantly when I knew what the hotel bill was - and again got my calculator out to know how many GBP to cover the Euro bill ;-( the only hitch I got was paying the hotel bill which was over £2000, card was declined , “have you another card ?” - I did but wanted to pay with Mondo with such a great rate - it took three transactions which all went through without problem at about 1.32 Euro . I contacted Mondo on the app and asked why they only allowed 1000 euro transactions , and The CEO - Tom got back to me within an hour - on a Saturday in Austria, without hanging onto the end of a phone for 30 minutes - and told me Mondo limits a transaction to £1000 but intended to increase this limit at some time - now where would anybody get a reply from a bank on a saturday - great stuff Mondo - love it. One disappointing disadvantage with using Mondo is it does give you a cumulative total of what you have spent on alcohol ;-(