Natwest launches Monzo-style bank account with no fees for spending abroad

Natwest has become the latest bank to launch an app-only account – in a move that will rival the likes of Monzo and Starling.

The account, named Bó, will replicate the two start-ups, and come complete with budgeting tools, a 'piggybank' service, a yellow card, and instant transaction alerts.

The account is available to anyone aged 18 or over who lives in the UK, and Natwest says it can be opened in 'just a few minutes'.

But of course you'll only be able to access it via the app – on the Apple App Store  or  Google Play Store – where you can verify your details by uploading a photograph of your passport or driving licence.

Your Visa debit card should then arrive three days later.

In terms of day-to-day use, NatWest suggests using Bó as a 'companion account' for everyday spending by moving money into it from your main bank account.

The app is useful for tracking your daily spending, such as how much you're blowing on food and other regular outgoings. You can separate it by category, location and retailer, giving you an overview of your day-to-day purchases.

You can also set a monthly budget, however, unlike Monzo, for instance, there's no arranged overdraft facility.

Natwest said the account has been specifically designed to help people manage their outgoings in real time – its market research found half of those who it would apply to 'spend everything they earn'. An additional quarter consistently spend more than their income.

Monzo and Starling vs B

Like Monzo and Starling, it doesn't charge fees for spending money or taking cash out abroad a win, win for customers.

Unlike Monzo, Bó also has no monthly limit on fee-free cash withdrawals, making it a better option for travellers.

But it's worth noting that the Mastercard exchange rate you get with Starling – which also has no limit on fee-free cash withdrawals – will usually beat the Visa rate from Bó.

Perks

Customers can use Bó to:

  • Separate their spending money from bills – allowing them to transfer 'disposable income' using faster payments

  • Keep tabs on their spending – with instant alerts whenever you use your card so you know what you've spent and where

  • Get to know their habits – the app will allow users to see everything they buy listed by retailer, category and location

  • Save little by little – by setting 'Bó goals' such as for a holiday

  • Spend like a local – experience more abroad with competitive Visa exchange rates.

“We are launching Bó to help people build the habits and routines that will allow them do money better day-by-day and week after week so they can fund their lives and lifestyles in a more sustainable way," Mark Bailie, at Bó, said.

“As we’re part of NatWest, people can rely on Bó to keep their money safe. But as a digital bank, built entirely on a separate cloud-based technology, Bó is also able to harness new technology and develop rapidly in line with our customers’ needs and expectations.

"With Bó we have an opportunity to help address a genuine societal need and to be a positive force in our customers’ lives. Our aim is to transform the nation’s attitudes and behaviour around money and I’m hugely excited to see what we can achieve."

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