Revolut vs Starling

Revolut and Starling are both challenger banking brands with a slick app. Find out the key differences between them using our side by side comparison.

Revolut vs Starling logo

Mobile banking apps such as Revolut and Starling have capitalised on traditional banks’ failure to offer great, easy mobile banking. Challenger’s apps offer features such as fee-free spending abroad, weekly and monthly insights into your spending, real-time information about your account, and the ability to instantly freeze or cancel your debit card if you need to. If you’re undecided about which account to open, we take an in-depth look at both Revolut and Starling to help you decide between the two.

Revolut vs Starling: Vital statistics

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Ratings
Finder
score
★★★★★
User
survey
★★★★★
Finder
score
★★★★★
User
survey
★★★★★
Free spending abroad
Overdraft rateNo overdrafts15%, 25% or 35% EAR
Interest when you're in credit0%0.05%
Branch access
FSCS protected
Product image
More InfoGo to site
More Info

With the free Revolut account (called Revolut “Standard”) you receive a blue and pink two-tone card, while Starling’s free (and only) current account comes with a teal-coloured vertical card.

Neither bank has branches, but you can withdraw or deposit money into your Starling account at Post Office counters. Unlike Revolut, Starling also pays a small amount of interest on current account balances (0.05% on up to £85,000). You can also apply for an overdraft with Starling, a facility that Revolut doesn’t offer.

Starling has a UK banking licence, which means individual customer funds up to the value of £85,000 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if the bank goes bust. Revolut doesn’t have a UK banking licence, so doesn’t come with FSCS protection. But as a FCA-registered electronic money institution, it does keep its customers’ funds in a separate account at a licensed UK bank, which means the money is ring-fenced should Revolut cease operating.

In Finder’s 2021 Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards, Starling scored 4.5 out of 5 stars in our customer survey, with 79% of its customers saying they would recommend the current account. Meanwhile, Revolut scored 3.5 out of 5 stars, with 79% of its customers saying they would recommend one of its current accounts.

Round 1: App features

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Visual breakdown of spending
Spending categoriesCustomisable10
Set spending budgets
Set up direct debits in the app
Top up via bank transfer
Have salary paid in
Savings goals or pots
Round-ups
Customer service via the app
Customer service via a telephone line
Cheque scanning
Freeze/unfreeze card in app
Send money abroad
Fee for sending money abroadFree in SEPA region, 50p to send elsewhereLocal network fee + 0.4% Starling fee
More InfoGo to site
More Info

Revolut and Monzo both have a comprehensive range of features available in their mobile banking apps. Both have spending categories, where your transactions are automatically placed into an appropriate category, such as utility bills or eating out. Although with Revolut you can create and customise your categories, whereas with Starling they are pre-set.

You can also analyse your daily, weekly or monthly spending insights in both apps, which helps you set budgets, as well as receive alerts you when payments go in and out of your account.

Revolut’s “Vaults” and Starling’s “Goals” let you put money aside for specific treats or targets, like a holiday or a savings goal. Plus both offer “round-ups”, where spare change from your transactions can be “rounded up” and put into your savings bucket.

You can pay your salary into either your Revolut or Starling account, manage direct debits and make international payments. You can freeze or unfreeze your card in the apps, as well as contact both customer service teams through the in-app chats. With Starling you can also speak to customer service agent over the phone, but that’s not possible with Revolut.

You can also use Starling’s cheque scanning tool to pay cheques into your account should you need to, whereas Revolut doesn’t accept cheque deposits at all – or cash deposits, for that matter.

  • Winner: Tie. Most of this duo’s feature options are identical, so this is too close to call. In terms of the few differences, Revolut has the advantage of customisable spending categories, while Starling offers the ability to digitally deposit cheques and speak to the customer service team on the phone.

Round 2: Spending in the UK

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Free card transactions in the UK
Contactless card limit£45£45
Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
Free ATM withdrawalsLimited to £200 per
month or 5 withdrawals
Unlimited
More InfoGo to site
More Info

Spending on your Revolut or Starling card is free in the UK, and both cards currently have the standard contactless limit of £45.

You can also add your Revolut card or Starling card to Apply Pay and Google Pay, but only Starling supports Samsung Pay.

Starling offers unlimited free ATM withdrawals in the UK. With Revolut you can make up to 5 ATM withdrawals or take out £200 for free every month – whichever of those limits you hit first will trigger the subsequent charge of 2% on each following withdrawal (with a minimum fee of £1).

  • Winner: Starling, for its unlimited free ATM withdrawals in the UK (plus its Samsung Pay feature, if that happens to be your mobile wallet of choice).

Round 3: Using the card abroad

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Free foreign transactionsLimited to £1,000 per monthUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsLimited to £200 per monthUnlimited
More InfoGo to site
More Info

With Starling there is no charge for using its card to make a purchase abroad, or for using the card to take money out of a foreign ATM.

With Revolut, it’s a bit more complicated. You can use your card to make purchases abroad for free on weekdays, up to a monthly limit of £1,000. You can use your card to withdraw money abroad for free on weekdays, up to a monthly limit of £200. But on the weekends, a mark-up of 0.5% applies to both card spending and cash withdrawals overseas (Revolut says this is because the international money markets close over the weekend). That 0.5% mark-up relates to all the major currencies, but for some minor currencies it rises to 2%.

  • Winner: Starling. Free card spending and free ATM withdrawals at any time, wherever you are in the world. Simple.

Round 4: Account types

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Free account
Premium account
Joint account
Teen account (for 16 and 17 year olds)
Kids' account or card
Business account
More InfoGo to site
More Info

Revolut and Starling both offer free current accounts. For Starling, it’s the only personal current account it operates, but Revolut has expanded its current account range with three paid-for tiers – Plus, Premium and Metal.

Starling offers joint accounts and business accounts, which Revolut doesn’t. Starling also operates a kids’ card called Starling Kite, while Revolut has a kids’ account called Revolut Junior (both of which are managed through the parent’s current account).

  • Winner: Tie. Both have a free current account that can be linked to a kids’ card or account. If you’re after a joint account or a business account, then head over to Starling, but if you want a paid-for premium account with some perks, check out Revolut.

Round 5: Signing up

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Apply through the app
Quick application
Credit check
Card delivery fee£4.99Free
Card delivery timescaleUp to 9 working days3-5 working days
More InfoGo to site
More Info

You can apply for either a Revolut or a Starling account through their respective mobile apps in a matter of minutes. There are no credit checks, although a photo of your ID and a selfie is required. The accounts are then usually opened on the same day and both the cards are sent through the post. Starling does this for free, while Revolut charges £4.99 for card delivery.

  • Winner: Starling. Although both accounts are quick and easy to open digitally, Revolut charges a fiver to have your card delivered and the standard delivery time is not even that speedy.

Round 6: Access to extra benefits

Revolut StandardStarling Bank
Free euro account
Marketplace
Trade shares
Buy gold and silver
Buy cryptocurrencies
More InfoGo to site
More Info

You can open a free euro account alongside either your Revolut or Starling account. And Starling also offers access to a “marketplace” where you sign up to financial products from its selected partners, who deal in things like insurance or pensions.

But the other extra features available with a Revolut current account is probably where it comes into its own. You have the option to trade shares, buy gold and silver, or buy cryptocurrencies through your Revolut account. Fees per trade do apply for Revolut “Standard” account holders, but the ability to do this through a current account remains pretty unique.

  • Winner: Revolut, for the additional options around trading directly through its banking app (although remember, your capital is at risk if you do decide to make investments).

Overall verdict: Is Revolut better than Starling?

The free current accounts from Revolut and Starling are very similar. Both are managed via an app, both have spending analysis and budgeting features, and both accounts can be used to make international transfers.

This makes it hard to choose one above the other, but if we had to pick just one to open, it would probably be Starling. It’s a completely rounded current account, with the ability to deposit cash and cheques (which you can’t do with Revolut), plus it’s unbeatable when it comes to spending and withdrawing money overseas (whereas Revolut imposes limits on it’s free allowances for this). Starling’s UK banking licence means that its customers’ deposits are protected by the FSCS, and it doesn’t charge you for delivering your card.

That’s not to say that Revolut doesn’t have some distinct advantages of its own. It’s currently free to transfer money to any account in the SEPA (Single European Payments Area) region, plus if you’re interested in trading or buying cryptocurrencies then you can do it directly from your Revolut app.

  1. Financial Services Compensation Scheme
  2. Finder Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards 2021
We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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