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Revolut alternatives including banks, apps and competitors
Looking for something like Revolut, but not quite? Let's go find the challenger current account that suits you best.
Top alternative banks and apps to Revolut
The main alternatives to Revolut are N26 and Starling. Even though Starling is not yet available in Ireland, we have included it in our guide here so you can see what to expect when it does arrive. And although Monese and bunq are a bit smaller, they should fill a gap in the market.
- N26: Good for banking
- Starling: Good for travelling
- Monese: Good for opening an account
- bunq: Good for banking
Launched as a prepaid, multi-currency card back in 2015, Revolut now offers a current account with a wide range of features and the banking challenger has more than 12 million customers worldwide. In Ireland today, there are others out there offering similar services, and competition in the market is heating up – which is obviously great news for consumers.
Cards like Revolut for day-to-day banking
If you’re looking for a challenger to use as your main current account, Revolut is probably not your best shot as it’s missing a couple of key features some people may consider quite important.
Among the others, Starling, Monese and bunq all offer similar services for day-to-day banking, but there are some differences:
- Cash withdrawals. As you can imagine, cash isn’t the strongest suit of these companies, which offer digital-only current accounts. With Revolut, free cash withdrawals are limited to €200 a month (there’s a 2% fee after that) and you can’t load cash at all. With N26, you’ll get up to 3 free withdrawals with the free account or up or 8 free withdrawals with the paid accounts. With the Monese standard plan (the free one), free cash withdrawals are also limited to €200 with a 2% fee thereafter. bunq allows its Easy Money customers (it’s basic account) 4 free withdrawals a month (€2.99 per withdrawal thereafter). With Starling, all ATM withdrawals are free.
- Cash loads. Among the two that allow them (Starling and Monese), Starling is definitely the top player because it lets you do it for free at all Post Offices.
- Overdrafts. N26 and Starling allow planned overdrafts. You can get an overdraft facility of up to €10,000 with N26 and the interest rate applied is 8.9%. With Starling, you can negotiate an overdraft of up to GBP£5,000, with an interest rate of 15%, 25% or 35% EAR (variable) depending on your credit rating.
Also, with all of these challengers (with the exception of bunq, which only offers paid-for accounts), you can expect a free current account, card and app, and free bank transfers and card payments within Ireland (except for Starling, for the time being).
Day-to-day banking: The verdict
If you’re just looking for a new current account to use in Ireland, and you want to go for a challenger because you’re sick and tired of traditional banks’ bureaucracy and fees, N26 and Starling offer the broadest set of features, with Starling having a slight advantage because you can deposit cash for free. On overdrafts, there is the potential to borrow more with N26, which also has a slightly cheaper interest rate scale compared to Starling.
Cards like Revolut for travelling
While most traditional banks charge a fee for using their debit card abroad, challenger banks take pride in being different.
- Card payments. You may want to rule out Monese here – it charges a 2% currency exchange fee for money transfers unless you upgrade your free account to a Classic or Premium option. But if you pay by card, you can go on a holiday spending spree without having to worry about banking fees for the first €2,000 you spend each month. There are also no charges for spending on your N26 or Starling cards abroad.
- ATM withdrawals. Starling doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, and the maximum amount you can take out of a cash machine is GBP£300 a day. You’ll need one of N26’s paid accounts in order to benefit from free unlimited withdrawals in other currencies. Otherwise, with the standard account, it’ll set you back 1.7% of the withdrawal amount.
- Money transfers. That’s where Revolut gets really competitive – if you need to send money abroad often, you can transfer money in 30 currencies at the interbank rate for a small fee of 0.5% fee for up to €1,000 a month. Money transfer service Wise powers N26’s currencies feature, which allows you to send money in 19 currencies from the app. bunq also uses Wise for its money transfers. With Monese and Starling, you can set up free euro accounts (and thus send out free money transfers in euro).
Travelling: The verdict
Starling wins the league with its fee-free ATM withdrawals – if you like avoiding the most touristic areas and are going somewhere where cash is still king, then Starling is a clear front runner. For money transfers, you could check out Wise – it’s a peer-to-peer money transfer service with really competitive rates.
Alternatives to Revolut for saving
Don’t expect a wide choice of accounts or amazing rates here – if that’s what you’re in for, you may want to look at our main savings account page. However:
- Starling pays a very small amount of interest on all balances. The bank pays 0.05% interest on personal current account balances of up to GBP£85,000.
- Negative interest for new N26 customers. New N26 customers that deposit more than €50,000 will be charged 0.5% on any balance over this amount. Only new Metal account holders and existing N26 customers are exempt from this negative interest.
Savings: The verdict
Challengers are still building up savings accounts offers, so watch this space. For now, Starling wins our savings roundup. You can still earn a small amount of interest with Starling compared to being charged interest on balances over €50,000 with N26.
Overall alternatives to Revolut
As you will have read in this guide, the three main alternatives to Revolut are N26, Starling and Monese, so we summarise the free accounts available with each of these three challengers below.
With N26’s free standard version of its app-based current account, you can categorise your spending and set budgets, as well as create 2 saving “pots” to help you save for the future.
You’ll get a virtual debit card that can be added to Apple or Google Pay for online or in-store purchases. But in order to benefit from a physical debit card, you’ll need to pay an additional €10.
With the free account, you can save time and effort by being able to instantly pay other N26 customers using Moneybeam and use the “split the bill” tool to share expenses with others. And you’ll be able to send and receive transfers through the app.
If you need to withdraw cash, you can make up to 3 withdrawals in a month. But after this, you’ll pay €2 per withdrawal. If you’re looking for more features, you may wish to turn to N26’s paid accounts, which offer a variety of free and unlimited perks.
Monese is perhaps less well known than Revolut or Starling, but it too offers a free digital-only current account. What’s more, you only need your ID to open an account, and not a proof of address (though you need to reside in the European Economic Area). You can also have Monese accounts in different currencies – and it’s free to move money between them. (For other international transfers, you get a less competitive exchange rate with the free Monese account than with one of its paid-for accounts).
The free account also comes with a spending overview tool, monthly and weekly budgeting features, and instant notifications whenever you spend. Similar to some of the other challenger accounts, you can create savings pots and set a rule to round up your spending, to help you put money aside.
You’ll get a contactless payment card with your Monese account, which you can use to spend for free in Ireland and spend up to €2,000 abroad each month (a 2% fee applies after that). You also get €200 worth of ATM withdrawals for free per month (and a 2% fee applies after that too).
Like Revolut’s Standard account, Starling’s personal current account is free, and you can open and manage it all through a mobile app. You’ll get notifications when payments leave or enter your account, and can analyse your spending, to assist with budgeting. You can also set “goals” to help you put money aside to save up for specific things, plus there’s an overdraft facility available if you qualify.
You’ll also get a physical card to make purchases in-store or online and to withdraw money from ATMs. One of the big plus-points with Starling is that it’s completely fee-free to use your card abroad, for both spending and cash withdrawals.
Although there are no Starling bank branches, you can deposit cash into your Starling account for free at a Post Office in the UK. You can also deposit cheques through your app via cheque imaging (although cheques worth more than GBP£500 will need to be sent to Starling through the post, for free). With Revolut, on the other hand, you can’t deposit cash or cheques at all. While Starling remains in the planning stages of launching in Ireland, we still felt it worthy of being included in our list of alternatives so you can get an idea of what to expect.
Are challengers safe?
The short answer is yes. However, there may be slight differences when it comes to how your money is protected:
- N26. Every N26 bank account has deposit protection: the compensation scheme of German banks guarantees up to €100,000. N26 also offers cash rewards as part of its Bug Bounty programme, encouraging security researchers to track down bugs or vulnerabilities. The app itself has a three-tier security procedure protecting your account and transactions. Your account can only be paired to one smartphone at a time, you must log in to your account using your password or fingerprint and you must verify all online and offline transactions with your PIN.
- Monese. Monese is registered with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the UK and is authorised to deal in electronic money, but isn’t technically a bank. In practical terms, this means that your money is held safe in a segregated account so that if Monese is no longer in business, you will receive your money back. To register, you’ll need a photo ID or to possibly even take part in a video call for the verification process. You’ll be required to enter a passcode each time you log into your account. And if your phone or card is stolen, customer service is available Monday to Saturday during working hours.
- Starling. Starling is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so you would be covered for up to GBP£85,000. With its app, registering for an account requires video and photo ID. While logging into your account will need you to enter a passcode and password each time. If you suspect your card has been stolen, you can instantly freeze your card.
Compare a range of digital banks in Ireland
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
The bottom line
Revolut is one of the leading banking challengers in Ireland and its current accounts have many useful features, particularly when it comes to foreign currency and money transfers. But if it’s not the right banking provider for you, then as our guide above shows, there are great alternatives out there for you to explore.
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