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Starling Bank review December 2018

This convenient and easy-to-use banking app is the ideal match for today’s 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 with hopes of creating the “best mobile-only personal current account in the world”.

Starling Bank’s keystone feature is its remote format, fusing modern financial technology with the tried-and-tested conventions of banking, making your finances accessible 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!

How does Starling Bank work?

Starling Bank issues you with a Contactless Mastercard debit card, and the rest is controlled entirely through an app on your phone.

The app focusses on the necessities. The minimalist design only shows the information you need. Easily accessible tabs allow you to view other features including:

  • Pay: Just like any payment system, with a feature to transfer your current standing orders from your old bank.
  • Add money: Add up to £250 a day to your account or transfer as much as you like using ‘Faster Payments’ and online banking.
  • Spending: A record of your transactions, categorised to let you know what you’re spending your money on and advising on where you can save.

Starling’s more unique features include:

  • Goals: Basically a digital piggy bank. Set your goal and then squirrel cash away either manually or automatically, encouraging you to save more.
  • Card: Starling sends you a physical card upon signing up. From the app you can activate it, 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 helpful ways to compare insurance, pensions and mortgages.

Can I travel with the card?

Thanks to Starling’s mobile nature, it is much easier keep track of your budget while on the road. Confusing foreign ATMs and overseas bank charges aren’t an issue with Starling. Using your Starling Bank card overseas comes with no extra fees, so rogue bank charges gnawing away at your holiday budget aren’t a problem.

Starling Bank overdraft, fees and limits

Starling offers pretty reasonable rates on its personal accounts:

  • £1,000 tax-free interest if you pay basic-rate tax, and £500 if you are on a higher rate.
  • 0.5% annual equivalent rate to account balances below £2,000, and 0.25% to those under £85,000.
  • Equivalent annual rates are 15%, and your overdraft is negotiable to up to £1000 depending on your credit rating. You will not be penalised for going over the arranged limit.

Starling’s fees are also competitive:

  • Starling Bank will generally not charge you for any payments—the only exception being foreign currency transfers and currency exchange.
  • Payments within the UK are subject to no additional charges.
  • There is a daily fee for using your overdraft, depending on its size.

Is Starling safe to use?

With a new bank like Starling it’s natural to worry if you’re 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.

You shouldn’t worry about this too much, though. Starling’s app and card have several security features designed 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 it’s needed.
  • 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

  • An account 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 don’t stretch far beyond their personal current accounts.
  • The lack of bank branches and face-to-face communication can be hard to overlook when finding somewhere to save your money.
  • Having control over the size of your overdraft and no options to remove contactless from your card can be leave you vulnerable to overspending.
  • Traditional banking establishments are still necessary for anything beyond the personal current account Starling provides.

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 do struggle to save but want to improve. If so, then Starling Bank is a great choice.

Compare Starling against its competitors

Updated December 11th, 2018
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)
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

Updated December 11th, 2018
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 December 11th, 2018
Name Product Fees and charges Interest Savings goals
N26
Free
up to 1.48%
n26 'Spaces' feature lets the user open sub-accounts to stash your money away
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
No interest
Set budgets in the 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)
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
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)
None
No interest
Not a feature
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 December 11th, 2018
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
No
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
No
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
Yes
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
No
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

Back to top
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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23 Responses

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Default Gravatar
    DrewskiAugust 21, 2018

    I am about to start traveling around Asia and thinking of using this Starling card as my main source of getting cash from ATM’s and paying hotels etc via debit card. Is there any downsides to this that I need to know about?
    Also, how easy would it be for me to get a replacment card whilst in Thailand should I loose mine?

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Drewski,

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

      There are definitely a lot of great features that you will love about Starling. However, you also need to consider the downside of using it. On this page, please review the details found under the subheading “Pros and cons of Starling Bank.”

      After reviewing the pros and cons, it would also be helpful to check the fees. While Starling will not add any fees or charges when using your card abroad, you need to take note that Mastercard foreign exchange rates will apply when the card is used overseas.

      Regarding your second question, it is somewhat a little difficult to order for a replacement card since the process for this is currently highly manual. You also need to pay £60 for the replacement card. It may take a few days to a few weeks depending on your location and the availability of their service. To find out exactly how long, please directly get in touch with Starling Bank.

      Moreover, please remember that if your card is lost or stolen, you should lock your card as soon as you can.

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

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  9. Default Gravatar
    PhilAugust 20, 2018

    I am going to South Africa for up to a month vacation. Will I incur any charges if I deposit sterling into a Starling account and use the card for purchasing items and paying bills and also for withdrawing South African rand

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. It’s nice to hear your plan to have a vacation in South Africa. :)

      Regarding your question, let me answer them. For one, it is worth noting that, “Starling will not add any fees or charges when using your card abroad. Mastercard foreign exchange rates will apply for transactions outside the UK or online in foreign currency. It’s also free to withdraw domestic and foreign cash from an ATM outside the UK (remember you may be charged by the ATM provider, the same as in the UK).” This is a statement I read from Starling’s official website.

      From this statement, the answer to your question is no, you won’t be charged with any fees by Starling when you use it in South Africa. However, you need to consider that local ATM providers might charge you.

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

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  10. Default Gravatar
    TerryAugust 5, 2018

    I do work in China. Is Starling supported in China? Can I get yuen out as sterling? Is there a service charge?

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Terry,

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

      Yes, you can use Starling Bank in China. However, please remember that most Chinese establishments don’t accept Mastercard or Visa. Thus, card acceptance is rather limited. Most of them would only accept local cards such as the Alipay or Wechat.

      Yes, you can use the ATM in China to withdraw Yuan from your account. According to Starling’s website, they don’t charge any fees for you to use your debit card. They also add that there are no ATM fees. However, please be aware that ATM providers in China may charge their own fee.

      If you need to get more personalised answers, please get in touch with Starling.

      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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