These are three of the major names in “challenger banking”, offering a range of similar services. Which is the best for you?
Within a few years “challenger banks” like Revolut, Monzo and Starling have made huge waves in the digital banking world. Millions of customers carry their cards and use their accounts daily.
Here we take a detailed look at what these three rivals do best, across three rounds: travel, saving, and general use as a day to day account.
Round 1: Travelling
Round 2: Saving
Round 3: As a current account
Revolut card: Free delivery worth £5
- Spend abroad with no fees
- Great for international students
- Simple to set up
- Visualise your spending in real time
- Trusted by 2 million users
Starling Bank: award-winning banking on your mobile
- No monthly fees or fees overseas from Starling Bank
- Apply in minutes, direct from the app
- Best British Bank 2019 award winner
- Get instant notifications & insights on your spending habits
- Earn interest on your real-time balance
Revolut vs Monzo vs Starling: the verdict
So, which is better for what? Let’s see…
There’s not much to separate the apps on offer from these three competitors.
Using smart technology they break your transactions down by category or by shop. These are then fed back to you in weekly or monthly insights, showing you where your spending most.
You have total control of your card through their apps, so if you lose your card you can temporarily freeze it or cancel it through your phone.
It’s super quick and easy to pay friends with any of these banking apps, too.
Split the difference: fees, interest and deposit protection
Day-to-day banking is free with all the three of them, so there isn’t really a difference. However:
- For travelling. Starling tops the chart with fee-free card spending and the highest limit for free foreign ATM withdrawals.
- For sending money abroad. Revolut is the cheapest option since it’s mostly free. Both Monzo and Starling charge fees, although they’re still quite competitive.
- For earning interest on your savings. Starling is the only one that pays an interest on current account balances. Monzo offers higher rates, but only if you open a separate savings account with one of its partners. In truth, you can get better rates from traditional banks, but these rates are still better than the 0% offered by Revolut.
Unlike Revolut, Monzo and Starling both have a full UK banking licence and your deposits are covered by the FSCS.
More, more, more: range of features
All the three of them are expanding their range of features, trying to become more than basic digital current accounts. Generally speaking, Monzo and Starling have focused more on offering other kinds of financial and banking products, while Revolut has gone all in with techy features that you can’t find anywhere else. More specifically, these are the main extra features/products they offer:
- Revolut. Free international money transfers, ability to hold multiple currencies, cryptocurrencies, pay-per-day travel insurance.
- Monzo. Savings accounts and energy switching (through marketplace); international money transfers (through TransferWise); joint accounts and overdrafts (in-house).
- Starling. Insurance, mortgage and investing products (through marketplace); joint accounts, international money transfers, overdrafts and personal loans (in-house).
The verdict of the verdicts
All in all, they’re all solid banking solutions and none of them is exponentially better than the others. Depending on what you need and how often you go abroad, you may be better off with one or another.
However, if we had to pick one for your average banking needs, it would probably be Starling. There’s little separating it from Monzo, but the higher limit on free ATM withdrawals outside the UK comes handy if you travel to a country where cash is still king.
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