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Starling Bank review February 2019

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

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. Starling aims to help you make the right decisions for both your current spending and future saving.

What is Starling Bank?

Starling Bank’s CEO, Anne Boden, describes Starling as a bank “in sync with you”. Unlike a traditional bank, Starling has ditched the idea of physical branches; it says it hopes to create the “best mobile-only personal current account in the world”.

A key aim of the bank is to make your finances accessible to you wherever you are.

Starling

Starling Bank: 100% mobile banking

No branches, no fees, no paperwork. Get a smarter kind of bank account with the Best British Bank 2018 – all in under 3 minutes!

Starling CEO Anne Boden talks about why Starling Bank is different

How does Starling Bank work?

Starling Bank issues you with a contactless Mastercard debit card, and you control all of the other features through an app on your phone.

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.
  • Starling’s partnerships with third-party financial technology companies offer ways to compare insurance, pensions and mortgages.

Can I travel with the card?

Thanks to Starling’s mobile nature, it is much easier to keep track of your budget while on the road. 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. You will be charged the Mastercard exchange rate for purchases.

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.

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, while Monzo pays a 1% AER but only if you put at least £1,000 aside in one of its Savings Pots.

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. This means, in most cases, it has to refund any unauthorised payments made on your account without delay. 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

  • Account is up and running in 20 minutes.
  • Contactless bank card delivered within a week.
  • Record and categorisation of your spending encourages you to improve your spending habits.
  • “Goals” tab emphasises saving.
  • Starling’s “Marketplace” offers competitive pensions, mortgages and insurance from other growing fintech companies.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Fully licensed by the FCA and PRA.

Cons

  • Starling’s services include current accounts and loans. If you’re looking for a wider range of services, a traditional bank may be better for you.
  • 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.
  • Having control over the size of your overdraft and no options to remove contactless from your card can leave you vulnerable to overspending.
  • If you’re looking for a decent return on the credit balance in your current account, you’re likely to be better off with a traditional bank.

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. If these all sound good to you, then Starling Bank may be the right choice for you.

Compare Starling against its competitors

Updated February 17th, 2019
Name Product Fees and charges Delivery speed
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.
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)
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
5 days
Curve simplifies your finances by connecting all of your accounts to one smart card, letting you manage all transactions through the app.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated February 17th, 2019
Name Product Foreign ATM withdrawals ATM withdrawal limit Foreign transactions fee Card cost Delivery speed
N26
ATM fees differ depending on country
€2 after exceeding free withdrawal limit
No fees
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.
No ATM fees
£200 per month. Anything more is charged at 2% of value of withdrawal.
No fees
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)
No ATM fees
£300 per day. Maximum of 6 withdrawals per day.
No fees
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)
€1 per withdrawal
£300 per day
2% on card spend and ATM usage
Card delivery is free
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

Updated February 17th, 2019
Name Product Fees and charges Interest Savings goals
N26
Free
None
n26 'Spaces' feature lets the user open sub-accounts to stash your money away
Free with finder.com, otherwise card delivery is £4.99
No interest
Set budgets in the app
Free
0.5% AER up to £2,000, 0.25% over £2,000 to £85,000
Create up to 10 different spending goals and protect money from daily spending
None
No interest
Not a feature

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated February 17th, 2019
Name Product Direct debits UK ATMs Payments Freeze your card CASS
N26
Yes
Free
Use MoneyBeam to transfer money instantly. Is partnered with Transferwise so can send money to 16 countries.
Yes: touch of a button in app
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 currently only supports direct debits with the Euro IBAN account
Free up to £200 a month
Easy UK payments and can transfer money between 23 countries
Yes: touch of a button in app
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)
Yes
Free
Pay via bank transfer. Can't pay into paypal currently.
Yes: touch of a button in app
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)
Yes - can cancel with touch of a button too
£1 per withdrawal
Pay via bank transfer, easier to send to another Monese account.
Report lost/stolen in app to be sent replacement
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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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)
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)
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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29 Responses

  1. 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?

    • finder 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

  2. 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?

    • finder 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

  3. 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

    • finder Customer Care
      EllieJanuary 5, 2019Staff

      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

  4. 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

    • finder Customer Care
      JhezelynNovember 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

  5. Default Gravatar
    CharlieOctober 9, 2018

    Why are there daily withdraw and deposit limits?

    • finder Customer Care
      JhezelynOctober 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

  6. Default Gravatar
    RafalOctober 5, 2018

    Do I have to have main account to link with starling card or is not necessary ?
    Also how can I put money on my account if I have a cash…

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 5, 2018Staff

      Hi Rafal,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Starling bank account is a fully functioning current account which comes with a Mastercard debit card so linking a main account won’t be necessary.

      You can add money to your Starling personal account by doing any of the ff:

      – Bank transfer directly from another bank account to your Starling personal account
      – Cash deposit through any Natwest branch.
      – Choose to transfer your salary, balance; set up direct debits and any other regular payments by making Starling your main bank account

      You can also visit Starling bank’s website for more information about their different bank accounts features and services.

      I hope this information helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  7. Default Gravatar
    VasylOctober 5, 2018

    Where can I find my sort code?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 5, 2018Staff

      Hi Vasyl,

      You can find your Starling bank sort code on your mobile app by following these simple steps:

      1. Click on “Account Management”
      2. Click on “Account Details”

      You can also refer to Starling bank online video tutorials for more instructions on navigating your mobile app.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  8. Default Gravatar
    RossOctober 5, 2018

    Does starling bank allow transactions to and from Ewallets? (Example Bitcoin, litecoin etc.) If so is it relatively simple or quite complicated to set up?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 5, 2018Staff

      Hi Ross,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      As of this time, Starling bank does not support transactions that deals with cryptocurrencies. If this feature will be available in the future, Starling bank will announce it in their community page.

      You can check out other digital banks like Starling on this page to see if there is any on the list that allows cryptocurrency transactions.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  9. Default Gravatar
    MikeSeptember 25, 2018

    I am a uk resident. Can i get a starling account and move abroad a few months later. My change of address would be a postbox address since i will be selling my home.

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      You can only open an account with Starling if you live in the UK and have a UK address and a UK phone number. Since you have plans of moving to another country after opening the account, you need to contact Starling bank directly so they can advise you further if it’s possible to keep an account with them after moving from UK.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  10. Default Gravatar
    SophieSeptember 17, 2018

    Hi, I live in France but I have a UK bank account. I’d like to open a Starling account to use it for my travel in Asia. Is that possible? Would they send my mastercard to my address in France?

    Many thanks

    Sophie

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Sophie,

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

      One of the requirements for opening a Starling bank account is for you to be a UK resident. If you’re not a UK resident, then you might not be able to use Starling. Check here for alternative options. If you’re a UK resident, then you may continue and visit their website.

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

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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