Why some shops “don’t take Monzo” 🛒️💳️

You are on a quick visit to the tourist shop, as you plan to buy your grandma a cute lucky-charm for Christmas. :older_woman:t3: After waiting on a London-style queue, you whip out the hot coral to pay at the til. :credit_card:
As always with contactless, you tap and walk away. *1 But wait! As you are happily walking out of the shop, you see a member of staff chasing you like you are in League 1 Rugby. :rugby_football:
- “Excuse me, your payment was declined” *2
Embarrassment level: it’s over 9,000 *3

These things happen and they are not always your fault. Even if you have enough money in your account and your card is not frozen…

Technically if a shop takes Mastercard, it takes Monzo. So what happened there? Sometimes there is no quick way to tell without some good old detective work :male_detective:‍♂. But I can tell you that 9/10 times it’s because we are trying to protect your money. :money_with_wings:

Let me give you 3 real scenarios we dealt with recently. *4

  • You are one of 700 monthly customers who go abroad and shop at ArgentinianStakes. When swiping your hot coral card at the payment machine, you get an immediate decline! *5 It turns out this shop is constantly sending us swipe transactions without any of the security data they should have! That means if a hacker tried to replay that transaction or modify it in certain ways, they could get away with it! We don’t want to risk your money, so Monzo declines it. Better to lose a steak than to lose your savings! :cut_of_meat:

  • You are one of 5,000 monthly customers of a high-street credit card provider in the UK – HighCredit :credit_card: – who pays for their balance using their Monzo account. You go on HighCredit’s app, enter your Monzo details, which pops up with a page saying “We want to verify your identity. Please go on the Monzo app and approve this” *6. You go to the Monzo app, approve it, now back to HighCredit’s app… and what?? You are back to the homepage! The app logged you out and it doesn’t remember where you stopped… Monzo can’t verify your identity, so we can’t approve that transaction :disappointed_relieved:

  • You are one of 1,000 monthly customers going for a weekly shop at a UK supermarket chain, FreshFruit. :kiwi_fruit: You tap in with contactless, but… (guess what?) transaction declined. There are two types of contactless payments enabled in your card: one safe, one… not as safe and with no limit! *7 - They were using the unsafe type (CMS) with incorrect data, which looks shady to Monzo. Verdict: :x:

None of these scenarios imply these shops are being evil :smiling_imp:. Sometimes they are due to mis-configuration, mis-communication, human-error, technical problems, etc…

But if we let any of these transactions through, we would be putting your money at risk.

What do we do about this? We have a team of top-notch payment experts tackling these problems every-day. That means talking to shops & Mastercard, creating additional rules from our side and making sure that, next time, your grandma will definitely get that lucky-charm.

Happy holidays! :santa:t3:


  1. Please don’t tap and immediately walk away – some shops will explicitly tell you so!
  2. This has happened to a “friend”
  3. If you get this quote, drinks are on me :beers:
  4. Real names and exact numbers have been altered to protect the shops’ reputations
  5. “Payment machine”, also known as POS (Point of Sale). “Swiping” refers to “Magnetic Stripe transactions”, using that black line on your card
  6. Also known as an EMV 3D Secure challenge
  7. Massive over-simplification of EMV contactless VS Magnetic Stripe Contactless (CMS) - for more info, read https://paylosophy.com/contactless-payments-demystified/

Great insight thanks for sharing this, I’m guessing when this declines for the reasons you said above, if you re-tried it again would the chances be higher of them going through? :thinking::nerd_face:

Can’t you turn on SMS verification for the credit card provider scenario?

Yes! We actually do that for a few merchants exactly because of this. Although it is not as safe, given you never enter your PIN on the app (if you receive SMS).

Hey Scott. For some of the scenarios I covered here, a retry would only succeed if you tried a different payment method (ie. Magstripe VS Contactless).

Ahh I see thanks for clearing that up :+1:

Kudos for the dragonball reference!
Will patiently wait for said drink:P


I had this a few weeks ago at the Hilton, oddly enough. Bought a drink for me & I’m indoors, contactlessed my Monzo, phone jingled to say it had gone through, jobs a gooden. Nope! Barmaid said “Sorry its been declined!” You can imagine her face when I showed her my phone showing Hilton, the amount and “Cleared” :rofl::rofl::rofl:
Needless to say, I didn’t need to produce another card… :thinking:



3 posts were merged into an existing topic: December removed

I had one at MCD’s drive through transaction confirmed on Monzo showed employee, their entire till crashed also, got home to see payment refunded to card (do not Disturb While Driving always on :joy:) So free mcds, th amount of time they fudge up orders only fair :joy::joy::joy:

1 Like

I thought it was written in an odd style. What do all the asterisks mean?

1 Like

They are footnotes. Every time you see an asterisk, refer to the numbered list at the bottom of the post.


They just show that one of the footnotes at the bottom apply to that sentence.

1 Like

Not sure why you’re flagged, it’s a legitimate question :confused:

I thought the same too until I saw that it was a new account, then the flair theory popped into my head.


Flagged and removed. I assume I’m now on Santa’s naughty list.

That’s so bizarre! :exploding_head:

Coal for you! :laughing:

1 Like

Coal? LUXURY… (Yes, I’m from Yorkshire…)


I still find that more times I get refused with Monzo card abroad than my Barclays VISA Debit or credit cards and that’s to be honest why I haven’t totally moved over fully yet as my main account.

A recent European roadtrip highlighted this a lot and not in areas where I would expect always. Motorway tolls in Portugal (Travelled top to bottom)…never accepted Monzo in all my trials but did usually (not always) accept my Barclays card and always seemed to accept MBNA credit card.

Several times in larger supermarkets in France Monzo wasn’t accepted and several self serve petrol stations but others were and in restaurants (usually smaller ones) was risky with Monzo embarrassment factor 9000 !

I have approached Monzo in the past about this to try and sort out but either they need times and places I dont always have or simply that there was nothing on record their end to say yay or nay (usually the response) ?

So…there does seem to still be something wrong, less respected or over protective on Monzo versus high street banks - whatever is said…and I would love to get it sorted as everything else is miles better !

The random cases shown above in your post dont cover the general rejections I and I expect others experience…it could be entirely wrong at the other end or from 3rd parties but the net result is some cards work when Monzo doesnt ?


Motorway tolls - we initially had problems in France because the older toll booths use magstripe. Once we enabled that we were fine. Not sure if Monzo give the relevant decline message in-app, we first discovered that using Revolut.

Edit for grammar.