The UK’s first digital bank, smile is known for its role in past technological innovations in banking. It now operates as a trading division of The Co-operative Bank, but its unique history ensures it’ll always remain a distinct entity. While it was on the cutting edge of banking in the late 90s, is it still today? We’ve had a look at the smile app to see how it measures up to its peers.
What is the smile app?
The smile app is an app for smile customers, allowing them to quickly and easily check their balance and to manage their money wherever they are in the world. It also boasts a fair few extra features.
How does the smile app work?
In order to set up the smile mobile banking app, you’ll need to register with smile online banking. If you’re not already registered, you can be do this through the app itself. Once you’ve registered with online banking, you can log in to your smile account in the app. You’ll then be able to see balances and transactions for each account. You can also do the following:
- Log in securely with your fingerprint, Face ID, or a passnumber
- Browse over a year’s worth of transactions on your current, savings or loan account
- Save and pay a new payee
- Make one-off payments, up to a maximum amount of £250 per day
- View and cancel direct debits and standing orders
- Update your contact number and email address
- Quickly and easily transfer money between your smile accounts, and top up your smile credit card without having to set up a new payee
- Change your contact preferences for smile’s marketing (by post, email, phone, SMS, etc)
How do I apply for a current or savings account with smile?
The easiest way to apply to open a new account with smile is online. Go to the smile website to open a sole or joint account, open a second account or switch your existing account to smile.
Saving with the smile app
Aside from the option to manage your savings account alongside your current account, and also set up standing orders, there’s no budgeting tool built in to the smile app. While some apps, such as Starling or Barclays Bank for example, allow you to see a categorised “breakdown” of your spending, the smile app has no such feature.
smile fees and limits
- As with pretty much all other banks, if you take out an overdraft with smile, you’ll incur fees and interest charges.
- You’ll also incur fees for debit card payments in a foreign currency, cash withdrawal in a foreign currency while outside the UK, sending money outside of the UK and transferring money within the UK via CHAPS.
Is smile safe?
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is an independent statutory fund set up to safeguard consumer finances in the event of a bank being unable to meet its payment demands. The Co-operative Bank, and therefore smile, has full FSCS protection, which provides compensation for the loss of up to £85,000 – as is the standard for UK bank accounts.
Alternatives to Smile
With Revolut, you’ll get a mobile-only current account and a debit card, but there’s so much more than that available.
You’ll face no fees when spending money overseas and on limited ATM withdrawals in foreign countries overseas.
Revolut customers can make free international money transfers. You can use the Revolut app to buy gold, buy cryptocurrency or trade stocks. There are a few features to assist with your personal budgeting too.
The sign-up process is quick and easy. You only have to provide a picture of your photo ID and a selfie for verification. No need for a credit check, proof of address or any other documents.
There’s no overdraft available with Revolut.
Monzo is another online bank account that lets you spend money overseas at no extra cost.
The app has plenty of budgeting features to help you reach your savings goals.
Monzo also offers a “Monzo Plus” account which offers cashback, account aggregation and a credit report service, among other rewards. Monzo also offers a premium account which offers all the benefits of Monzo plus, with extra perks including worldwide travel insurance, phone insurance and discounts on airport lounge access for £15.99 a month.
You can apply for an overdraft of up to £2,000 and personal loans of up to £25,000.
Monese is another mobile bank account that works similarly to Revolut and Monzo.
It doesn’t have as many complex features as those 2 apps, although it’s pretty easy to set up.
It includes generous limits for overseas spending and ATM withdrawals. There are a few budgeting features to help you reach your savings goals on the Monese app too.
Starling Bank is another popular digital-only bank, with similar features to those listed above.
When you sign up to its current account, you’ll be granted one for Euros and one for pounds sterling. You won’t be charged for overseas purchases or ATM withdrawals (up to £300 a day).
You can apply for an overdraft or a personal loan using Starling too.
Pros and cons of the smile app
- Get full access to current and savings account – you can receive your salary, make direct debit payments and bank transfers
- View over a year’s worth of transactions
- Access a broad network of The Co-operative Bank branches if something goes wrong
- Add new payees
- No budgeting tool
Customer service information for smile app
|In-app or live chat
As an online-only bank, it’s key that Smile offers its customers easy ways to manage their account via the web and on their smartphones. Broadly speaking, it meets this goal with its app, but user experience can be patchy.
Conveniently, the app allows customers to view over a year’s worth of previous transactions, which can be an enormous help if you need to check your spending on a certain day. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t really offer any budgeting features. If you’re interested in using a digital banking service, there are other players on the market that offer a greater wealth of app features.
Frequently asked questions
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