Starling Bank review

This easy-to-use banking app is the ideal match for your spending habits.

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Starling
Starling Bank is one of a growing group of “challenger banks” looking to simplify how we manage our finances, using modern technology to bring banking into the present.

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.

Finder rating ★★★★★

App
Fees
Customer service
Travelling
Range of features
5/5
4/5
4/5
5/5
5/5

In a nutshell

  • Zero fees on spending abroad
  • Deposit cash at Post Office branches across the UK
  • Lose your card abroad and it might cost £60

Starling

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
Promoted

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:

  • Payments. Just as with any payment system, there’s a feature for transferring your current standing orders from your old bank.
  • Add money. For anyone who joined after August 2018, there is no limit to how much you can pay in. You can add as much as you like using “Faster Payments” and online banking.
  • Spending. Get a record of your transactions, categorised to let you know what you’re spending your money on and advising you on where you can save.

Other key features include:

  • Goals. This is basically a digital piggy bank. You set your goal and then squirrel cash away either manually or automatically, encouraging you to save more.
  • Card. Starling sends you a physical card when you sign up. From the app, you can activate the card, let Starling know if you’re travelling abroad and manually deactivate it if it gets lost or stolen.
  • Overdraft/loan facility Eligible account holders can be given an overdraft facility, or a fixed-rate Starling loan.
  • Marketplace. Starling’s partnerships with third-party financial technology companies offer ways to compare insurance, pensions and mortgages.

The card does all you can expect, from making payments to allowing you to withdraw cash from ATMs. Although there are no physical Starling branches, you can load cash into your account at every Post Office in the UK.

We spoke to the Starling CEO Anne Boden to find out why it’s different

Can I travel with the card?

Yes, you can, and the experience should be much less painful 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, money will be converted at the Mastercard exchange rate.

Starling Bank overdraft, fees and limits

Starling offers a non-negotiable overdraft option. Once you are offered an overdraft, you can choose whether to accept it and you can adjust the amount of overdraft you want to have, within your upper limit. Interest is calculated daily and charged at 15% AER (annual equivalent rate).

Starling’s fees are competitive:

  • Free current account and transactions. Starling doesn’t charge you for basic transactions and banking services. There’s no monthly 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 cash on your account at the Post Office costs £3 up to £1,000, and 0.3% of the amount loaded if you need to deposit more.

Starling Bank’s interest rate

Starling Bank pays a 0.5% AER to account balances below £2,000, and 0.25% to those under £85,000.

This is relatively uncommon among challengers – N26 and Revolut, for example, don’t pay any interest at all; 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 3% AER.

Is Starling safe to use?

With a 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 covered for 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 to 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 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 card, you can immediately deactivate it with a push of a button, and customer service 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.

Pros and cons of Starling Bank

Pros

  • Full free UK current account, up and running in 20 minutes. Card delivered within a week.
  • Slick mobile app packed with budgeting and saving features, including spending categorisation and saving goals.
  • Nice interest rate paid on current account balances.
  • Easily split the bill with the Starling Bank ‘settle up’ feature.
  • Fee-free spending abroad, including ATM withdrawals.
  • Starling’s “Marketplace” offers competitive pensions, mortgages and insurance from other growing fintech companies.
  • Overdraft fees are competitive and easy to understand.
  • Safe and secure, fully licensed by the FCA and PRA.

Cons

  • While they offer a wide range of services they’re still a fairly new bank, so do not yet offer more complex services such as mortgages however, some more products are available through the Starling Bank Marketplace.
  • There aren’t any bank branches, but you can use the Post Office to deposit and withdraw cash. You won’t get face-to-face communication with a Starling Bank staff member, though.

The verdict

If you can look past the remote aspects of Starling, then a personal account might be right for you. The minimalist app lives up to the bank’s promises of convenience and efficiency, while the easiness and simplicity is refreshing if you struggle to save but want to improve.

Starling is especially competitive for travelling abroad and, besides not charging any fees for foreign card payments, also has the highest fee-free foreign ATM withdrawal limit (£300 a day) available on the market.

Compare Starling against its competitors

Updated September 17th, 2019
Name Product Fees and charges Delivery speed
Free
Between 3-5 working days
Everything you get from a current account, but with new features for mobile living. (E.g. Goals for saving, spending catgorisation, interest on your balances)
Free with finder.com, otherwise card delivery is £4.99
Up to 9 working days
App-based current account with loads of extra features. (e.g. Real time transactions, payment categorisation, save spare change, free international money transfers, buy cryptocurrency)
N26
Free
5-7 working days
App-based bank account that can be used on the go in any EU country. All about the ease of sending and saving money.
None
Between 3-5 business days
A multi-currency mobile banking app that aims to be ‘built around you’. Use it to open a fully functional current account instantly, straight from your phone, all supported by a feature-rich mobile app

Compare up to 4 providers

Frequently asked questions

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Banking app ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates banking apps to determine their value against similar products on the market.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

Starling
Starling

What is it?

Everything you get from a current account, but with new features for mobile living. (E.g. Goals for saving, spending catgorisation, interest on your balances)
N26
N26

What is it?

App-based bank account that can be used on the go in any EU country. All about the ease of sending and saving money.
Revolut (Standard)
Revolut (Standard)

What is it?

App-based current account with loads of extra features. (e.g. Real time transactions, payment categorisation, save spare change, free international money transfers, buy cryptocurrency)
Monese (Starter)
Monese (Starter)

What is it?

A multi-currency mobile banking app that aims to be ‘built around you’. Use it to open a fully functional current account instantly, straight from your phone, all supported by a feature-rich mobile app
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39 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MarkAugust 2, 2019

    Hi if abroad on holiday and you lose your starling card can you still get money from a bank or atm and how ?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoAugust 3, 2019Staff

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for leaving a question on our page! First of all, let Starling know if you’re travelling abroad. Starling sends you a physical card when you lose your card to almost anywhere in the world (within reason!). You’ll need to be available at the delivery address to sign for the card, and bear in mind that it’s not always possible to guarantee a delivery date since customs procedures vary from country to country. Starling charges a £60 fee for this service.

      Also, when you lose your card, don’t forget to to manually deactivate it from the app.

      Hope this helps and feel free to reach out again if you have other questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  2. Default Gravatar
    GeoffMay 17, 2019

    Can I switch to Starling Bank? Thanks!

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMay 19, 2019Staff

      Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      The answer is yes, you can switch to Starling Bank as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. For example, you would need to be a UK resident and should be 16 years old and older. You would also need a smartphone since this is an online bank. You would need a valid photo ID such as a UK passport or driving licence to verify your verification.

      If you are planning to open their business bank account, you would need to be self employed or owner of a limited company. If you are planning to open a joint bank account, both of you need to have Starling personal current account and be physically near the person you want to open the account with.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  3. Default Gravatar
    GemmaMay 9, 2019

    I am traveling to Croatia and just received my Starling bank card. Do I get charged fees from ATMS or transactions in restaurants, etc?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezMay 10, 2019Staff

      Hello Gemma,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Per checking, the ATM withdrawals for the Starling bank card come for free both in the UK and abroad. Hence, you’ll not incur fees on ATM’s and card payments in Croatia. You can make international payments from the app for a small fee which would show before making the payment. When making payments abroad, conversion is done automatically and you are not charged.

      But please note also, that while Starling does not impose any withdrawal charges on customers, ATM providers in your country of destination may charge their own fee. The cost of withdrawing from ATMs differs in different countries and locations.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  4. Default Gravatar
    alexanderMarch 20, 2019

    do you offer business accounts to sole traders

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaMarch 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Alexander,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Yes, Starling bank has business account for sole traders. You would need to download the app and follow the steps from there.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  5. Default Gravatar
    MarianMarch 14, 2019

    Can I withdraw money from an atm using starling card?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesMarch 15, 2019Staff

      Hi Marian,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Yes, you may be able to withdraw funds using the Starling bank card. Please look for the MasterCard logo on the ATM for you to be able to make a withdrawal. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  6. Default Gravatar
    AnneFebruary 5, 2019

    I am on a DMP. I do not want any loans or overdraft facilities so would I be able to open a Starling Account?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseFebruary 7, 2019Staff

      Hi Anne M,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Yes, you can go ahead and apply for a Starling bank account even if you are on DMP however, your approval is not guaranteed.

      When you apply for an account with Starling bank, a soft credit check is done to see if they can offer you an account and this won’t count as credit application on your credit report. In most cases, they will be able to give you an instant decision, once they have done their checks.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  7. Default Gravatar
    AnthonyJanuary 11, 2019

    Can I walk into a shop and use my card to pay? Can I use my Starling card for grocery purchases?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaJanuary 13, 2019Staff

      Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Yes, you can use the Starling card to purchase grocery items and other products provided that the store accepts debit cards.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  8. Default Gravatar
    JackieJanuary 4, 2019

    How do I apply for overdraft or is it automatically on your card if automatically there how do I know how much I owe back

    • Default Gravatar
      EllieJanuary 5, 2019

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      When you open an account with Starling, you may be offered an overdraft and your overdraft amount would depend on your credit score. If you’re eligible for an overdraft it will show on the home screen of your app. It would also show you how much you have available, including your Overdraft as well as showing you what your overdraft limit is.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Ellie

  9. Default Gravatar
    SamNovember 11, 2018

    Is this card like a MasterCard with credit and does it affect my credit score? Do I have to put money in it myself

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezNovember 14, 2018Staff

      Hello Sam,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Please note that you will be issued with a Contactless Mastercard debit card. Debit cards will not affect your credit score unless you apply for a loan as they will perform a soft and hard pull on your credit file. You can deposit money to your Starling account by bank transfers, visiting any Natwest branch and transfer your salary.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  10. Default Gravatar
    CharlieOctober 9, 2018

    Why are there daily withdraw and deposit limits?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezOctober 9, 2018Staff

      Hello Charlie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Withdrawals from bank accounts are limited by a variety of factors that include federal regulations and the size of the bank’s cash reserves. Generallym banks and credit unions normally keep just enough cash on hand to cover the anticipated needs of their customers. Excess funds are stored in remote vault locations or at the Federal Reserve bank. A banking centre may run out of cash if large numbers of clients make big withdrawals within a short time frame. Consequently, some banks limit the amount of cash that you can withdraw on a single day. Banks can require you to provide seven days’ advance notice when you plan to make a withdrawal from a savings account. I hope this helps.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

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