Alternatives to Starling: A list of alternative banks and apps

Starling is certainly not the only digital bank out there, so we've compared it against the competition to see what the best option is.

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Top alternative banks and apps to Starling

The main alternatives to Starling Bank are Monzo and Revolut. Cashplus and Monese are a bit smaller, but should fill that gap in the market.

  • Monzo: Good for travelling
  • Revolut: Good for banking
  • Chase: Good for cashback
  • Cashplus: Good for improving your credit score
  • Monese: Good for opening an account
  • Curve: Good for connecting apps

Main alternatives to Starling

Starling is a challenger bank offering digital-only current accounts (and a bunch of related services) to its 2.7 million UK customers. If you’ve checked it out but for some reason were unimpressed, fear not, there are other digital banking brands for you to consider.

While you can also read Finder’s individual reviews of Atom bank, Monese, Monzo and Revolut, this article looks at them all together, to help you figure out which is best for what.

Monzo

Starling and Monzo offer very similar bank accounts. For a start, you’ll be able to send international payments, spend fee-free overseas and benefit from a round-up savings feature with both accounts. Both apps also offer budgeting tools and spending categories and both accounts are FSCS protected. You can also apply for an overdraft with the 2 banks.

However, there are also some notable differences: Starling pays interest on in-credit balances and there is no limit to the number of ATM withdrawals you can make per month. Monzo, on the other hand, limits ATM withdrawals to a set amount each month in both the UK and abroad and also charges for cash deposits, while Starling doesn’t.

MonzoStarling Bank
Finder score4.6
★★★★★
4.7
★★★★★
Interest when you're in credit0%3.25%
Free spending abroad
FSCS protected
Have salary paid in
Separate savings accounts
Cheque scanning
Free ATM withdrawalsUp to £400 per monthUnlimited
Free foreign transactionsUnlimitedUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsUp to £400 in EEA and £200
elsewhere every 30 days
Unlimited
Credit check
A more comprehensive comparison can be made by reading our Starling vs Monzo guide.

Revolut

If you’re looking for an account that offers fee-free spending abroad, you’ll find it with both Starling and Revolut. However, while Starling offers unlimited fee-free foreign transactions, Revolut limits this to a monthly allowance. Both also offer international money transfers.

Other key differences include that Starling offers an overdraft and pays interest on in-credit balances, while Revolut does not. You’ll also benefit from FSCS protection with Starling Bank, but there’s no such protection with Revolut.

On the other hand, both accounts offer round-up savings features and the apps offer budgeting tools and spending categories to help you keep track of your spending. Revolut also offers the opportunity to trade shares, while Starling doesn’t.

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Finder score4.2
★★★★★
4.7
★★★★★
Interest when you're in credit0%3.25%
Free spending abroad
FSCS protected
Have salary paid in
Separate savings accounts
Cheque scanning
Free ATM withdrawalsLimited to £200 per
month or 5 withdrawals
Unlimited
Free foreign transactionsLimited to £1,000 per monthUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsLimited to £200 per monthUnlimited
Credit check
A more comprehensive comparison can be made by reading our Starling vs Revolut guide.

Chase

If you open an account with either Starling or Chase, you’ll be able to earn interest on your balance, as well as use a round-ups feature, where your transactions are rounded up and the difference is transferred to a savings pot. Interest is also paid on this money.

With both accounts, you’ll be able to spend on your debit card abroad for free and you’ll benefit from FSCS protection. The difference is that Starling’s app is a little more advanced and lets you categorise your spending. You can also pay cash in at Post Office branches with Starling, apply for an overdraft and make international payments. Chase doesn’t offer any of these options.

ChaseStarling Bank
Finder score4.2
★★★★★
4.7
★★★★★
Interest when you're in credit1%3.25%
Free spending abroad
FSCS protected
Have salary paid in
Separate savings accounts
Cheque scanning
Free ATM withdrawalsUp to £500 per dayUnlimited
Free foreign transactionsUnlimitedUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsUp to £1,500 per monthUnlimited
Credit check
A more comprehensive comparison can be made by reading our Starling vs Chase guide.

Monese

Both Monese and Starling include the option to carry out international transfers and spend fee-free abroad. However, while fee-free foreign transactions are unlimited with Starling, Monese limits the amount you can carry out each month, depending on the plan you choose. One thing in Monese’s favour though is that it has an account in euros as well as pounds sterling.

Starling also offers an overdraft on the account and pays interest on in-credit balances, while Monese doesn’t. Money held in a Starling account is FSCS protected, but Monese doesn’t have a UK banking licence so doesn’t offer FSCS protection. Both apps offer budgeting tools and spending categories.

MoneseStarling Bank
Finder score4.0
★★★★★
4.7
★★★★★
Interest when you're in credit0%3.25%
Free spending abroad
FSCS protected
Have salary paid in
Separate savings accounts
Cheque scanning
Free ATM withdrawals2% per withdrawalUnlimited
Free foreign transactions2% feeUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawals£1.50 feeUnlimited
Credit check
A more comprehensive comparison can be made by reading our Starling vs Monese guide.

Banks like Starling for day-to-day banking

Challenger banks differ in the broad range of services they offer customers, but they all provide fee-free digital-only current accounts that can be opened in a few minutes, and that can easily function as main current accounts as long as you have fairly essential banking needs. With all of them you can expect a free current account, card and app, and free bank transfers and card payments within the UK.

If you rule Starling out, your main options are:

  • Monzo. The most popular challenger bank in the UK with its 7.4 million-strong user base, Monzo is probably the most similar to Starling, and ticks most of the boxes (you can set up direct debits, use Google Pay and Apple Pay, and ATM withdrawals are free). You can also deposit cash on your account at PayPoints for £1 a transaction, and is the only one apart from Starling that’s offering overdrafts. Monzo also offers a buy-now-pay-later service called Monzo Flex.
  • Revolut. Revolut was born as a multi-currency card more than as a banking account, and it shows when it comes to some basic day-to-day banking: in the UK, you can’t set up direct debits yet and free cash withdrawals are limited to £200 a month.
  • Monese. Monese is another option that’s been providing basic banking on smartphones since 2015. The unique thing about Monese is the ability to open an account anywhere in the UK or Europe without an address, without credit history and without a fixed income.

Bottom line

As we said, Monzo is the most similar to Starling and the one with the broadest range of features for day-to-day banking. However, you could also give Revolut a shot. Revolut has a tonne of features and is constantly adding more. In recent years it has opened up a trading option to buy and sell shares. It could also be a good shout if you’re interested in a premium option with more benefits (see our review of Revolut Premium).

Cards like Starling for travelling

Generally speaking, challengers will treat you better than traditional banks when it comes to overseas spending, deposits and transfers. Depending on whether you’re a serial traveler, only have the occasional trip or mostly stay in the UK but need to send money to someone who doesn’t, some will be more suitable than others:

  • Card payments. Apart from Monese (which charges a 2% currency exchange fee unless you upgrade your account to a Plus or Premium option), you can use your card abroad for free with all the others. At weekends, Revolut charges a 1% markup fee.
  • ATM withdrawals. Both Monzo and Revolut allow them for free but they’re limited to £200 a month (after that, Monzo charges a 3% fee, Revolut a 2%).
  • Euro accounts. Monese is the only challenger offering a free euro account together with your regular sterling one.
  • Money transfers. Revolut is in for an easy win here – the others all charge a fee, while with Revolut you can transfer money in 29 currencies at the interbank rate for no fees, up to £5,000 a month.

Travelling: The bottom line

Let’s face it, if you’re looking for a card that will give you great freedom abroad without charging any fees, you should probably reconsider your reluctance over Starling – it’s the only one that offers free ATM withdrawals in another currency with a limit of £300 a day.

However, Revolut makes for a good alternative that has reasonable fees and if you also need money transfers, it definitely stands above the competition.

Alternatives to Starling for saving

Challengers are a mixed picture when it comes to savings accounts, so if putting money aside and earning interest on it is your main goal, you may also want to have a look at what traditional banks have to offer.

Starling is the only challenger that pays an interest on current account balances (0.05% on up to £85,000), Starling also offers a 1-Year Fixed Saver account. Atom also offers dedicated savings accounts, with a good range of fixed-term options that pay decent rates, as well as an Instant Savers account.

Monzo has a savings market place, which provides different partners that offer both easy-access and fixed-term accounts. The rates aren’t half bad, but you can still get better ones if you go to the source and open an account directly with the provider.

Finally, Monzo and Revolut all categorise your spending in the app and allow you to put money aside in separate sub-accounts (respectively known as Pots and Vaults) to save towards a goal. Monzo and Revolut also have a feature that automatically rounds up and saves your spare change, functioning as a digital piggybank. Revolut’s vaults offer interest which is paid daily.

Savings: The bottom line

If you’re only looking at how much money your savings can earn you, Atom is competitive for fixed-term accounts, while the others still have quite a long way to go.

On the other hand, if you find organising your budget and saving money challenging, both Revolut and Monzo have slick apps with loads of useful features that can help you organise your money and save.

Are challengers safe?

The short answer is yes – all the challengers we’ve mentioned are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and fully authorised to do what they do. However, there is a slight difference when it comes to how your money is protected:

  • Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). It protects all deposits up to £85,000 and applies to institutions that have a full banking licence. That is: Monzo, Starling and Atom Bank.
  • Segregated accounts. Institutions that only have a licence for dealing in electronic money have to keep all clients’ money in segregated accounts, from where it can’t be used to pay the company’s debt and is thus safe in case of bankruptcy. That’s the case for Monese; Revolut recently got a European banking licence, but until it’s fully finalised, deposit protection doesn’t apply and client money will still be kept separate from company money.

Banking scores

★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor

Finder scores, in blue, are based on our expert analysis. We also show reviews from users, where we've received more than 10, with a score in yellow. We gather more reviews from customers every year in Finder's customer satisfaction survey.

To find out more, read our full methodology.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Written by

Valentina Cipriani

Valentina Cipriani was a writer at Finder UK. She wrote news, features and guides about banking and credit cards, helping people to improve their financial lives. She holds an MA in International Journalism. See full profile

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