Starling Bank review
- Key benefits
- No fees overseas plus refer a friend and earn a free National Trust day pass – redeemable at hundreds of the places it looks after
- Account fee
- Interest (AER)
- 3.24% AER
- Overseas card transactions
- Representative example
- If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable.
Some of us at Finder have had Starling for a while and we're all quite impressed. The app looks a bit more serious than Revolut's or Monzo's, but is user-friendly and efficient. Starling is also constantly expanding its range of features.
Starling is especially competitive for travelling abroad - as well as not charging any fees for foreign card payments, there are also no charges for taking money out of ATMs. And you can withdraw up to £300 worth of foreign currency a day.
100% digital sign-up
24/7 UK customer support
'Settle up' feature to split joint bills
Pays interest on current account balance
Overdrafts available (only on personal accounts)
Lower ATM withdrawal limit than some other digital challengers
No group savings feature
Doesn't have a specific monthly budgeting tool
No rewards program
|Current Account - Age 18 and over
|ATM withdrawal limit
|Cash / Debit
|Minimum eligibility age
|Minimum operating balance
|Minimum opening balance
|Current account switch guarantee
|Foreign cash currency fee in Europe
|Foreign cash currency fee in rest of world
|Foreign cash transaction fee in Europe
|Foreign cash transaction fee in rest of world
|Arranged overdraft available
|Arranged overdraft rate
|Overdraft Grace Period
|23:59 same day
|If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable.
How we scored Starling
|Starling scores highly across the App Store and Google Play.
|Starling is free to use, with no monthly fee.
|Pay a small transaction fee on cash deposits over the monthly limit.
|Starling has no fees for using your card abroad.
|Starling scored highly in the Finder Customer Satisfaction Survey.
|Starling scored well due to its low operational emissions and clear policy not to invest in the fossil fuel sector.
|Starling supports most account management but some services are only available via the Post Office.
|Starling has most payment features available but has no cashback or reward programme.
|Benefit from budgeting tools, spending categories, Savings Spaces and much more.
What is Starling Bank?
Starling Bank offers a full UK current account that can be opened and managed directly from the app. It aims to make banking easier and more customer-centric and make your finances accessible to you wherever you are.
When you sign up, you get a current account, a debit card and an app that’s all about helping you understand where your money goes, budget and save.
How to start using Starling
- Download the app
- Create an account by providing your name, date of birth, email address and home address
- Verify your identity through the app using a selfie video and photo of your ID
- Wait to be approved (this usually only takes a few minutes)
- Once approved you can link the account to Apple Pay or your Google Wallet, to start spending immediately
- Receive your physical Mastercard debit card in the post within 3-5 days
- Link this card to the app and start spending with it
How does Starling Bank work?
The app focuses on the necessities, with a minimalist design covering key information. Tabs allow you to access other features including:
Other key features include:
Starling’s personal account customers can manage their accounts through online banking, in addition to their Starling mobile app.
What are Starling Savings Spaces?
Starling operates a system of “Savings Spaces”, which are essentially virtual piggy banks where you can keep savings separate from your main balance. The Savings Space sits within the app and you can easily top it up from your primary account. There is also the option to use Starling’s Round Ups feature to automatically add to your chosen Space.
You can also spend directly from a Saving Space using Starling’s virtual cards. Cards can be assigned to a dedicated Saving Space instead of linking to your main account balance. As a result, payments can be made from a personalised space instead of your primary account, making it easier to stick to a budget.
What is Starling’s Bills Manager feature?
As part of its Savings Spaces, Starling has a Bills Manager feature which allows you to pay direct debits and standing orders straight from your personalised space. It’s a way to ring-fence money for bills and keep those funds separate from your main balance. You can set up automatic transfers to set money aside, and bills will be paid automatically on their scheduled date.
Is Starling any good compared to other challenger banks?
Starling is definitely one of the best challenger banks out there. The app is quite elegant and streamlined, the lack of fees makes it great for travelling and it’s a fully licensed bank, so your money is as safe as with a traditional high-street bank.
However, the most popular banking challengers – Starling, Revolut, Monzo – are quite similar to each other and all offer a solid service. Compared to Starling, the Monzo app is a bit more fun, while Revolut is more about using different currencies at the same time. Learn more about alternatives to Starling.
If you’re undecided between two of them, applying for an account is really quick and easy, so you could even try both out for a while and then pick the one that works best for you.
In a boost to its green credentials, in October 2020 Starling announced that it would be planting a tree for every successful new personal or business customer referral. The bank followed this up in March 2021 with the introduction of the UK’s first recycled Mastercard debit card. Made from 75% recycled plastic (rPVC), the material is sourced from EU industrial waste from the printing and packaging industries. Only 25% of the card is made up of unavoidable non-recycled elements, including the card’s chip and magstripe. Existing customers will receive the recycled debit card when their current one expires and new customers will be issued the card upon joining the bank.
Starling is also a founding member of TechZero, a climate action group of UK tech companies. It plans to become a net zero company, with a target of reducing the carbon emissions from its own operations and supply chain by one third by 2030. In 2023, it was our highly commended Green Digital Bank of the Year in the Finder Green Banking Awards. It was commended for its exceptionally low operational emissions and clear policy not to invest in the fossil fuel sector.
Can I travel with the card?
Yes, you can, and using your Starling debit card abroad should be a much less painful experience than with a traditional bank.
Thanks to Starling’s mobile nature, it is much easier to keep track of your budget while on the road. Also, charges for spending abroad or withdrawing cash at an ATM aren’t an issue since using your Starling Bank card overseas doesn’t incur extra fees.
When you pay in a foreign currency with your Starling, money will be converted at the Mastercard exchange rate. And when you withdraw money from an ATM abroad, Starling won’t charge you for doing so.
What does the Starling app look like?
Can you get cashback with Starling?
Starling doesn’t offer cashback as standard. Instead, it has partned with cashback app Tail. Part of its Starling Marketplace, Tail gives you access to cashback offers at retailers like FatFace, Ocado and Homebase.
You will need to activate Tail within your Starling app. Once you have activated the service, your Tail and Starling accounts will be linked.
Simply pay using your linked Starling bank card and cashback will be paid directly into your bank account.
Starling Bank overdraft, fees and limits
Starling offers an arranged overdraft option. Interest is calculated daily and charged at 15%, 25% or 35% EAR (variable) based on the customer’s credit score. There are no additional charges for unarranged overdrafts.
Starling’s fees are competitive:
- Current account and transactions. Starling doesn’t charge you for basic transactions and banking services. There’s no monthly account fee, and card payments and ATM withdrawals come for free both in the UK and abroad.
- International money transfers. Starling charges a fee for sending money abroad, which depends on the receiver’s country and the amount of money transferred.
- Cash loads. Depositing and withdrawing cash for personal current account holders is free at your local Post Office.
Starling Bank’s interest rate
Starling Bank pays 3.24% AER interest.
This is relatively uncommon among banking challengers. Revolut, for example, pays no interest at all; and with Monzo, you only get interest if you open a savings account with one of Monzo’s partners.
However, if a considerable interest rate on your balance is what you’re looking for, you may be better off with a traditional bank – some traditional current accounts offer up to 2% on balances up to a set amount.
What is the Starling Kite debit card for kids?
Starling Kite is a kids’ debit card and account. It has no monthly fee and is linked to the parent’s personal (or joint) Starling account.
The card has the child’s name printed on it, and they can use it to spend online, in-store and to withdraw cash from ATMs (up to a maximum of £100). If the Kite debit card is lost or stolen, it can be locked from the adult’s Starling account.
Parents can also use their Starling banking app to allocate funds (such as pocket money) to their kid’s account and then monitor their spending. Parents receive notifications whenever their child spends money, and parental controls within the app mean that they can limit specific functions such as online payments and ATM withdrawals, or set a daily transaction limit.
There are no fees for using the card abroad, which is a big plus. There is also a dedicated app for your child to use as well.
Learn more about this new kids’ debit card in our Starling Kite review.
Is Starling safe to use?
With a relatively new bank like Starling, it’s natural to worry if your money will be safe. One major question is: what if the bank goes bust? Would you be covered? As Starling is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), you would be protected up to £85,000.
If you fall victim to fraud, Starling is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and has adhered to a new voluntary industry code called Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) code. This not only means that in most cases it has to refund any unauthorised payments made from your account, but that it will also refund you if you’re tricked into sending money to a scammer voluntarily (for example because they pretend to be part of your bank’s security team). The exception is if you’re negligent.
Starling’s app and card also have several security features to protect your account:
- Your finances are secured behind a passcode and password and completing your registration requires video and photo ID.
- If you ever lose your bank card, you can immediately deactivate it with a push of a button in the app, and Starling’s customer service team is there whenever you need it.
- A live record of your transactions and home screen notifications means you are alerted to any strange payments immediately.
When Starling reported its first full year of profitability in the financial year ending 31 March 2022 – a pre-tax profit of £32.1 million, compared to a pre-tax loss of £31.5 million in the period leading up to 31 March 2021 – Starling’s founder, Anne Boden, said “As an innovative digital bank with a sustainable business model and a strong balance sheet we are generating our own capital and we stand apart from both the old banks and other challengers.”
Customer service information for Starling
|In-app or live chat
Starling customer reviews
Starling was the winner in our 2024 Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards, receiving 4.9 out of 5 stars from customers in our survey, with 100% of its users saying they would recommend the brand. Its current account holders particularly praised the app’s features and ease of use. Here’s what some of those Starling customers had to say in our survey:
“It was very easy to set up and use. Any queries I have get answered very quickly.”
“They’re very good and I highly appreciate the support they have given me.”
“The bank has amazing customer service.”
“The app gives a clear breakdown of money spent, there are options to have a separate savings options within the app. Also customer service is 10/10, very fast reply and efficient.”
Starling Bank also has an average score of 4.9 out of 5 stars in the App Store, from more than 2.1k reviews. Over on the Google Play Store, it has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on reviews from 113k Android app users (January 2024).
On the reviews platform Trustpilot, Starling has a score of 4.3 out of 5 – classed as “Excellent” – based on more than 38,000 reviews (last updated January 2024).