Why does Monzo suck for double barrel surnames?

The recent offer to provide forum members with new Joint Account cards (yay) has reminded me of one of my largest frustrations with Monzo… how they deal with double barrel surnames (boo). Going to use a made up name for the purpose of this post to demonstrate: let’s call me ‘Oliver Griffin Williams’. Let’s also say my middle name is Daniel.

When issuing new cards, every bank/financial institution I’ve ever been a customer of has sent a card saying one of two things. Either ‘Oliver Griffin Williams’ or ‘O Griffin Williams’.

Sometimes with a Mr thrown on the front for good measure. Very rarely, I’ll get a ‘O D Griffin Williams’ with or without the Mr and sure why not.

Monzo, for some reason known only to them, seems to struggle unlike any other bank. They try to issue cards that say ‘Oliver Griffin Williams’ but their cards must have a character limit, meaning my name gets shortened - but not in the way any other bank does. Instead, they decide to go for ‘Oliver G Williams’, arbitrarily cutting off half my surname. They’ve never been able to explain why in the past they do it differently.

There is no mechanism to save a preferred name for card use only (despite being told in the past there is) so in times like this, when I have a new card on the way, I have to contact CS and go through that loop to ensure they don’t truncate my name in such a weird way. Given Monzo have these systems for preferred names that most banks don’t seem to have, I’d assume they would do better in this regard but this weird quirk has persisted for years. I don’t have a hyphen in my surname, which I’ve always theorised could cause this issue but as far as I know it’s uncommon but not exactly rare for someone to have a DB surname with no hyphen.

I’m curious - any other long named customers out there suffer with this? 100% acknowledge this is a first world problem, so hopefully people don’t take this as some sort of rage post and it’s honestly just curiosity at this point as to why this has never been sorted out. At least I can get it changed with getting in touch with CS.

(Now making me remember how Monzo refuse to exclude my middle name from statements, but that’s for another time).


I no longer work in the relevant area of operations so wouldn’t have the answer myself sorry! :thinking: I imagine it might be to do with the lack of hyphen and the (incorrect) assumption that the first half of your surname is your middle name, hence the initial.

I’ve also got a double barrelled name, and because I’ve a lot of characters, I’m usually shortened to “first initial, surname” to make it fit. But mine is hyphenated so not identical to your situation, and also not something I’ve ever had issue with.

There is definitely a character limit on cards - 18 from what I remember, which including first initial, spaces and hyphen, is what mine adds up to :sweat_smile:

Reminds me of one account I had, I think Virgin(?), where because they couldn’t fit characters, they just missed the last letter of my surname out :roll_eyes:


Is there anyone in your old team you could send this post to who may know? From your reply the questions I have are:

  • Is the 18 character limit a Monzo implied limit? I assume yes, as the ‘Mr X X Sur-Name’ version of my name is 23 characters and other banks have produced cards with that just fine.
  • Since yours gets shortened what I consider ‘the correct way’, what decides how this happens in Monzo: systems or people when you first register for an account?
  • If the hyphen is the issue, can Monzo account for this in some way?

I have had the missed characters at the end of a name thing too but not for many years at this point!

To be honest I have never seen a double barrel surname without the hyphen. I didn’t realise people did that, I would have read it as a middle name if it occurred on any job applications I vet although I do think we not have first name as a field then surname making it clearer but forms with full name would be stuffed.

Learn something new I guess.


I don’t I’m afraid, it would be someone in the account management team I think, so you could ask for it to be referred there via chat? I’m no longer front facing in operations though.

I do know that we don’t do titles on cards, so the “Mr” wouldn’t count. I may be mistaken on the character limit - a quick google shows that the MC limit is 21 - that might be ours too, I honestly can’t remember! So take out the Mr and you’ll be at 20 characters total.

It’s been that long since I changed my name (married) but I would have said in the chat what my new surname was and how it was spelt, along with providing my marriage cert. There should definitely be a way for it to be set as a preferred name for you to avoid the error in future though.

That was my first thought. I know of at least one person who added a hyphen to their surname because they weren’t getting named properly.

I get this, but I’m sure Monzo would have a surname field specifically which is why this has always been a mild frustration (been a customer for so long I’m assuming they do anyways!).

I mentioned the Mr in there more to make the point around whether the character limit is Monzo’s own limit vs a technical limit.

Tried this once in the past but then in the app my name shows up as an initial! There’s clearly a way to work around this, as I’ve managed to get the card name changed in the past but it’s luck of the drawer as to whether someone gets it on first line or I have to escalate it to get it done. Not an everyday activity of course but all it means is I occasionally have a bit of a struggle to get it sorted.

Unfortunately not an option for me at the moment for… reasons.

I have a funny feeling the sign up flow uses full name when you are joining rather than fields if I recall. It may get parsed into fields on the back end up having know people with 2 middle names it would possibly cause a problem.

I also thought last time I ordered a card it asked me for my preferred name as I prefer Name Middle Initital Surname over full name on my card.

EDIT: I see now in the help it says to contact them to set your preferred name.

Hmm. May ask them this specifically. For all I know there’s an admin error and one part of my surname is being treated as a [second] middle name (they have my middle name also).

Sine first joining Monzo way back, my name has become double-barrelled, with a hyphen. Isn’t that how double-barrelled names work? Never had an issue with any company.

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Not always but I think it’s less common here. Two of my friends from France have double barrelled surnames without the hyphen. The one British guy I know who has one is hyphenated.

It’s funny you mention character limits, because Barclays’ solution for this by default was to always print as much of the name that would fit until you ran out of characters.

It was 25 characters, so your name would have fit, but I’ve seen instances where folks had half the surname missing because of it.

I thought 25 was an industry standard, because it was governed by the embossing, so not sure why or if it’s being printed that way due to not enough characters with Monzo.

Often yes, always no.

This makes sense with other cards I’ve had in the past thinking about the longest form of my name (23 chars). Leaning more towards a potential admin error in Monzo since my name isn’t hyphenated.

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It’s not a standard. However, a lot of articles on the internet seem to say that people switch to hyphenating it because it removes ambiguity and any potential issues by being misnamed.

it removes ambiguity and any potential issues by being misnamed.

This is exactly the issue I have. The first part of my surname is also a first name (think Edward-Smith, but not that) so almost everytime I have to tell someone my surname for an order or a prescription, they’ll start looking at “S” rather than at “E”. Very annoying :sweat_smile:


Sort of related but it really irks me when a bank doesn’t account for my middle names properly.

Let’s say it was Frederick. One bank I used to be with always had FIRST FREDERI LAST.

Used to right pee me off.

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You would think they should be able to handle this, as many people have long names and multiple surnames. Apart from double barrelled surnames, there’s also many countries that use two surnames (a maternal and paternal surname), and it sounds like they’d have the same issue

Just out of interest, which countries?

I know Spain does, for a start.


Most South American countries and a few European ones, they’re fairly common.

They’re unhyphenated double-barrelled surnames are not totally uncommon in the UK either apparently. Andrew Lloyd Webber being a famous example. The Borat guy being another. Helena Bonham Carter (love her!) as well. And loads of others too.


Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries often use 2 surnames. So anyone from South America could have an issue, especially as in the Spanish naming system, they have paternal surname followed by maternal, and if they only use surname, it would be the first one. Whereas Monzo seems to use the last one

As an example, F1 driver Fernando Alonso is technically Fernando Alonso Díaz, but if he inputted that into Monzo, it sounds like Monzo might just call him Fernando Díaz or Fernando A Díaz, both of which are wrong