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.
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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
- 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.
- 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.
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.