Hacks Life

App-based cards and banks – my recommendations

With your phone pretty much always with you, the idea of managing everything financially from it doesn’t seem that odd. And there are a lot of credit cards and banks out there that are a lot more integrated than anything you get from a high street bank.

Not only are the convenient and very easy to use but they’re great for travelling too.

There are quite a few alternatives on the market but I use Monzo and Curve – the former as my current account and the latter for handling credit cards.


Monzo is a bank account. More specifically, it’s a current account. And it’s all managed via their mobile app.

Everything can be categorised and organised – you can create virtual “pots” of money, and they even offer an overdraft facility. You can quickly split bills and money transfers to another account can just be a few taps. It makes managing your money a genuine breeze. What I particularly like is how quick everything happens – you buy something at the shops and it immediately shows up in the app.

And, yes, you can use it with Apple Pay, etc.

As for travelling, there is no charge, just standard Mastercard conversion rates – and that includes at ATMs. Being able to take out money (up to £200 within 30 days), at no charge, from a foreign ATM is a huge advantage, imo.

And if you’re worried that Monzo is some fly-by-night operator who’ll go bust and walk off with your cash, they’re protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so your money is safe up to £85,000, no matter what happens.

Throughout December, Monzo are giving £10 just for signing up with them. To get the cash, use the button below, which contains a special invite code.


Curve is a credit card. But it’s kinda not – it’s a virtual card, onto which you can connect your existing cards (inc. debit cards). So, I have a work and personal credit card, along with my Monzo debit card. Each of these can be set-up in the Curve app. Then, when I go to pay for something with the Curve, they charge it to whichever card is active within the app at the time. This means I only need to carry the Curve card with me.

On top of this, you can get money back by spending at certain retailers – this money is added to a virtual “Curve Rewards” card, which you can then set as your active card and then use it to buy items using any rewards you’ve accrued.

For travelling, Curve don’t charge anything when abroad, although they do pass through to your bank/card provider when you’re using an ATM, so they may charge you.

The downsides – they don’t yet support American Express, but they are currently testing support for it, and you can’t use it on Apple Pay, Android Pay, etc (although they say they do intend to support it in the future).

If you’re interested in Curve then use the button below and Curve will credit your account with £5 when you make your first transaction.

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