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 Starling and Monzo. N26 was a big player here but it closed down in the UK after Brexit. Cashplus and Monese are a bit smaller, but they should fill that gap in the market.
- Starling: Good for travelling
- Monzo: Good for banking
- Cashplus: Good for improving your credit score
- Monese: Good for opening an account
- Curve: Good for connecting apps
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. However, in the UK there are a bunch of companies 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. Also, you can rule Atom out as it only does savings accounts.
Among the others, Starling, Monzo and Monese 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 Monese’s standard plan (the free one), cash withdrawals are charged at £1 each. Cash withdrawals with Monzo are free up to £250 every 30 days (then there’s a 3% fee), while with Starling, all ATM withdrawals are free.
- Cash loads. Among the three that allow them (Starling, Monzo and Monese), Starling is definitely the top player because it lets you do it for free at all Post Offices.
- Overdrafts. Monzo and Starling allow planned overdrafts. With Starling, you can negotiate an overdraft of up to £5,000, with an interest rate of 15%, 25% or 35% EAR (variable) depending on your credit rating. With Monzo, you get a fee-free £20 buffer for going unintentionally overdrawn, and you can also apply for an arranged overdraft of up to £1,000, with an interest rate of 19%, 29% or 39% EAR (variable) depending on your credit score.
Also, with all of these challengers you can expect a free current account, card and app, and free bank transfers and card payments within the UK.
Day-to-day banking: The verdict
If you’re just looking for a new current account to use in the UK, and you want to go for a challenger because you’re sick and tired of traditional banks’ bureaucracy and fees, Starling and Monzo 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 Starling, which also has a slightly cheaper interest rate scale compared to Monzo.
Cards like Revolut for travelling
While most traditional banks charge a fee for using their debit card abroad, challenger banks pride themselves on 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 Monzo card or Starling card abroad.
- ATM withdrawals. Monzo has a combined UK and European free cash withdrawal limit of £250 every 30 days (and charges a 3% fee beyond that). Starling doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, and the maximum amount you can take out of a cash machine is £300 a day.
- Money transfers. That’s where Revolut gets really competitive – if you need to send money abroad often, you may want to reconsider the idea of looking for an alternative. You can transfer money in 30 currencies at the interbank rate for no fees, up to £5,000 a month. All the others do charge a fee, although 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 you’re going to need them. For money transfers, you could check out Wise – it’s a peer-to-peer money transfer service with really competitive rates (and also the company that Monzo uses for its account holders’ international money transfers).
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:
- Atom specialises in savings accounts. And it’s got a wide range of fixed term options. If you don’t need to access the money you are putting aside, it is fairly competitive.
- Monzo has a savings marketplace. It has partnerships with different savings account providers, and you can apply directly through through the Monzo app for both easy access and fixed term savings accounts with any of them.
- 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 £85,000.
Savings: The verdict
Challengers are still building up their savings accounts offers, so watch this space. For now, Atom wins on fixed term savings accounts, while Monzo has the option to apply for some competitive easy access accounts with its partner providers – but you might still get better rates if you go directly to the provider.
Overall alternatives to Revolut
As you will have read in this guide, the three main alternatives to Revolut are Monzo, Starling and Monese, so we summarise the free accounts available with each of these three challengers below.
With Monzo’s free version of its app-based current account, you can categorise your spending and set budgets, as well as create savings “pots” and choose to “round up” your spare change to save into one of those pots. You’ll get instant notifications of transactions, and you can also establish a bills pot, and choose to have you direct debits and bills paid from it, to keep your disposable income separate.
When you apply for an account, you’ll be issued with the famous bright coral Monzo card, which is a contactless Mastercard. It’s free to use it to make purchases in the UK and abroad, although the free cash withdrawals are limited to £250 every 30 days in the UK and across Europe (there’s a 3% fee when you go beyond that).
There’s a £1 fee for depositing cash into your account via a PayPoint (you can deposit up to £300 in one go, limited to £1,000 in total over 6 months). Cheques can be deposited, but must be sent to Monzo by post, using the Freepost service. You can also apply for an overdraft with Monzo.
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. You can also deposit cheques through your app via cheque imaging (although cheques worth more than £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.
Monese is perhaps less well known than Revolut, Monzo 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. 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 the UK 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). Cash deposits at Post Offices and PayPoints come with a 2% fee (and a minimum charge of £2), while cheques are not currently accepted.
Are challengers safe?
The short answer is yes – all of the challengers we’ve mentioned are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are 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. Those challengers are Monzo, Starling and Atom.
- Segregated accounts. Institutions that only have a licence for dealing in electronic money have to keep all their clients’ money in segregated accounts at licensed UK banks – 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 and Revolut.
The bottom line
Revolut is one of the leading banking challengers in the UK 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 and our comparison table below shows, there are several great alternatives out there in UK market.
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