Revolut vs Starling

Revolut and Starling are part of the new breed of "challenger banks", but there are some major differences in what they offer.

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In recent years, there has been a leap in the number of challengers taking on traditional high street banks such as Barclays and RBS. Traditional banks have so far failed to make online banking as easy and practical as consumers want, and new mobile banking apps such as Revolut and Starling have capitalised on this.

Challenger bank apps offer features such as fee-free spending abroad, weekly and monthly insights into your spending, and real-time information about your account – allowing you to even see contactless payments instantly in your app, or letting you freeze or cancel your debit card in an instant.

Here we cover two of the biggest players in banking apps: Revolut and Starling.

Revolut or Starling – side by side comparison

Revolut (Standard)Starling Bank
NameRevolut (Standard)Starling Bank
Fees and chargesFree with finder.com, otherwise card delivery is £4.99Free
Delivery speedUp to 9 working daysBetween 3-5 working days
PaymentsEasy UK payments and can transfer money between 23 countriesPay via bank transfer or using PayPal or Google Nearby
UK ATM withdrawals £200 free monthlyFree
Spending insightsShows spending by category, merchant, country, and monthInsights lets you compare spending between different merchants
Categories10+ categories10+ categories
Direct debitsRevolut currently only supports direct debits with the Euro IBAN accountYes - future Direct Debits shown as alerts
Top upVia bank transfer. Longer term users can pay in with the auto top up feature.Via bank transfer, standing order, or have salary paid in
Freeze your cardYes: touch of a button in appYes: touch of a button in app
AlertsSends realtime transaction notificationsReal time notifications about any account activity. Starling alerts you if you have insufficient funds to cover direct debits.
InterestNo interest0.5% AER up to £2,000, 0.25% over £2,000 to £85,000
Savings goalsSet budgets in the appCreate different spending goals and protect money from daily spending
VisualisationSpending graphs show which days you've spent most/least moneyThe Pulse circle graph shows you how much you have spent each day in real time and on what.
Foreign ATM withdrawals£200 free monthlyFree
Foreign transactions feeNo feesNo fees
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Starling CEO Anne Boden explains why Starling Bank is different


Revolut (Standard)

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  • Open an account in minutes
  • Instant spending notifications
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Starling Bank

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  • 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
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Revolut vs Starling: The verdict

In truth, Revolut and Starling are broadly similar. Although there are some small differences in details that might affect your decision.

Similar app features

Both offer apps that are designed to help you budget. Both automatically categorise your transactions and give you insights into where you are spending your money most – by category and by shop. If you’re blowing half your salary on lattes in Starbucks, you’ll see this detail in either app.

Another key feature you get with both is total control of your card from the app. Both let you manage your account with ease and in real time, letting you temporarily freeze your cards with a touch of a button in the app.

Key differences

  • Transferring money abroad: Revolut use the interbank exchange rate, which is usually cheaper than the MasterCard rate offered by Starling. Although, it is worth checking current rates. Revolut do markup their exchange rates for out of market hours too. So be wary of this.
  • Startup costs: the immediate difference between the two is that Starling offers a debit card totally free, whereas with Revolut you’ll have to fork out £4.99 for card delivery – unless you order it through finder.
  • CASS: Starling offer the Current Account Switch Service which makes switching from your old bank far simpler. you won’t have to set up any direct payments as they’ll come across from your old account automatically.
  • Interest: unlike many other “challenger banks” Starling offer interest on your account. 0.5% may seem small but it’s more than Revolut’s 0%.
  • Security: Revolut doesn’t currently have a bank license, so you’re not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. With Starling, you’re protected for up to £85,000.
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