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Starling Bank Review

Starling Bank Logo with purple icon
Starling Bank Logo

Starling Bank were one of the first app based banks to launch in the UK, and have definitely been one of the most successful, having gained millions of customers. Our in-depth updated Starling Bank review explains why they are so popular, so you can decide if the bank would be good for you.


Table Of Contents


Starling Bank – In Brief

Starling Bank are definitely a contender for being the best digital bank in the UK. There are many reasons for this, and that is why millions of UK customers have opened an account with Starling Bank.

Starling Bank’s closest competitors, Revolut and Monzo, have focused on creating a cool image and product, with extras like metal cards, cryptocurrency, insurances and more. Starling Bank have focused clearly on the core current account product, and a simple and effective smartphone app that modernises the banking process. Importantly, the Starling Bank current account is completely free.

Starling Bank are profitable just a few years after their launch, which is impressive. They also have a higher average amount deposited per customer than their competitors, which shows more people are putting their salaries into their Starling Bank account, so Starling is their main bank. Starling Bank is definitely a bank for UK based users to consider when looking for a new provider.


Starling Bank Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Starling Bank focus 100% on their bank account.
  • They are a fully licensed UK bank so customer deposits are protected under the FSCS.
  • ATM withdrawals are free.
  • Categorise your spending & get real-time alerts.
  • No monthly costs for having a bank account.
  • Starling have a desktop version of their app so you can bank with your computer.
  • Great for travellers as they allow free ATM withdrawals within Europe

Cons:

  • No cool extras like metal debit cards or insurances
  • International currency transfers can be more expensive than some competitors
  • Starling Bank have no branches so any issues need to be dealt with online.
  • Paying in cash is only possible via the post office, and could get expensive if you had to do it often.

What is Starling Bank?

Starling Bank were one of the first Fintech’s in the UK to launch as a challenger bank, aiming to take customers from the traditional high street banks. Formed in 2014 by Anne Boden – a finance industry veteran who had worked for several large banks. Her vision was to create a purely digital bank that gave consumers a flexible and transparent banking experience.

As of 2022, Boden’s vision appears to have been largely achieved. Starling Bank have over 2 million accounts opened on their system, and as of early 2021 claimed to be profitable.

Starling Bank are a fully licensed UK bank – which means that all customer deposits are protected by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FCSC), which insures deposits up to a maximum of £85,000 per customer.

Starling Bank Features

Starling Bank App with Personal and Business Mastercard Debit Cards
Starling Bank App with Personal and Business Mastercard Debit Cards

Easy to use smartphone app – bank on the go, 24/7.

Instant Notifications – get informed of any activity on your account immediately.

Spaces – Spaces are ‘virtual piggy banks’ within your Starling Bank account, where you can split your money into different areas i.e. bills, saving etc.

Categorised Spending Insights – Within the app you can analyse your spending via categories to allow you to manage your money more efficiently.

Starling Bank Marketplace – Starling Bank recommend other financial services – such as insurance, mortgages, pensions and more.

Free ATM Withdrawals – Starling Bank offer free ATM withdrawals in the UK and within Europe and do not have limits on the free amounts you can take out.

Savings Goals – easily set up within the app.

Mastercard Debit Card – with full contactless functionality.

Freeze your debit card – instantly stop the card via the app if it is lost or stolen.

Interest on your current account balance – 0.05% on balances up to £85,000.

Pay in cash via Post Office branches – up to £1000 per year free.

Who is Starling Bank For?

Starling Bank is currently only available to residents of the UK. They are looking into expanding into Europe.

Starling Bank are looking to appeal to consumers who would want to find a more efficient and modern way to bank, utilising their smartphone and replacing the old systems and processes of the traditional bricks and mortar banks. However, they are not offering lots of fancy extras such as metal cards or trading stocks etc like some competitors. Therefore Starling Bank may appeal to a slightly older customer, who wants the benefits of modern technology, but is not interested in the (potentially expensive) extras.



Starling Bank Costs & Fees

Unlike their competitors, Starling Bank don’t have different account tiers with monthly charges. They have one personal current account, and there are no monthly charges to have that account. However, Starling Bank do have certain charges for certain actions within the bank:

  • For transfers between currencies, they charge 0.4% of the amount transferred plus a set fee of £5.50.
  • Customers can pay in up to £1000 in cash into their account per year. If they wish to deposit more than £1000, Starling Bank will charge 0.7% of the amount above £1000.
  • Starling Bank charge an overdraft fee that will depend on the customer’s credit score, but starts at 15% APR.

Is Starling Bank Safe?

Starling Bank is a fully licensed UK bank. This means that customer deposits are insured up to £85,000 per customer via the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

In early 2021 – Starling Bank was rated the safest bank in the UK. This was above ALL other banks, ranking not only above new smartphone based competitors, but also above the traditional big 4 banks – Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and Natwest.

This is largely due to Starling Bank being app focused, which means that it is very hard for criminals to hack into your account. This is undeniably a very impressive result for such a new bank.

Starling Bank also appear to have avoided some of the controversies around accounts being frozen – something that competitors Revolut and Monzo have received high levels of criticism over.

Starling Bank Customer Reviews

Starling Bank has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 out of 31,000 reviews on Trustpilot. 75% of the reviews are the highest score – 5 out of 5. These satisfied customers often praise how easy Starling Bank is to use. 10% of the reviews are rated at 1 out of 5. Most of these bad reviews seem to focus on issues with the business account, whereas this review is of their consumer offering.

Unlike Monzo and Revolut, Starling Bank don’t have a dedicated subreddit on Reddit. This probably reflects an older user base. There are several threads within the r/UKPersonalFinance subreddit that are worth reading through if you want to make a decision on whether to give Starling Bank a go or not.

Starling Bank Comparisons

Which is better – Starling Bank or Revolut?

Starling BankRevolut
PricingFreeFrom free to £12.99 Details
ATM WithdrawalsFree UK & AbroadFree with limits Details
Safety/SecurityDeposits protected under FSCSDeposits NOT protected under FSCS
ExtrasNoneMany options Details

Read our full Starling Bank vs Revolut comparison

Which is better – Starling Bank or Monzo

Starling BankMonzo
PricingFreeFrom £5 to £15 Details
ATM WithdrawalsFree UK & AbroadFree in UK, 3% abroad if over limit
Safety/SecurityDeposits protected under FSCSDeposits protected under FSCS
ExtrasNoneMany options

Read our full Starling Bank vs Monzo comparison

Which is better – Starling Bank or Monese?

Starling BankMonese
PricingFreeFrom free to £14.95 Details
ATM WithdrawalsFree UK & Abroad£1.50 charge on Free, and if above limits
Safety/SecurityDeposits protected under FSCSDeposits NOT protected under FSCS
ExtrasNoneGBP and EUR account

Starling Bank FAQ

Who owns Starling bank?

Starling Bank is owned by a combination of employees and investors. Founder Anne Boden has the largest individual stake, and various other employees have equity stakes in the company. Then there are various investors and investment funds who have funded the rise of Starling Bank who have equity stakes, such as Harry McPike, Fidelity, Jupiter, Qatar Investment Authority, Goldman Sachs and more. Starling Bank state that they are 100% independent.

How to pay cash into Starling Bank?

You can pay cash into your Starling Bank account via any Post Office branch. Personal current account holders can pay up to £1000 per year into their account for free. Any amount paid in above £1000 within a year will then incur a charge of 0.7% of the amount paid in. Each account has a total amount of cash that is permitted to be paid in, and customers have to speak to Starling Bank to find out this limit.

How to contact Starling Bank?

The quickest way to contact Starling Bank is via the in-app chat function, where customer service representatives can help you with your issue. Alternatively, you can call their customer services on 0207 930 4450.

If you wish to contact Starling Bank by post, their address is:

5th Floor, London Fruit And Wool Exchange, 1 Duval Square, London, E1 6PW

How Does Starling Bank make money?

Starling Bank’s business model is very similar to a traditional bank. They make money via interchange fees (a percentage earned whenever the debit card is used), subscriptions (mainly to their business account), overdraft fees, transfer fees (for example on other currencies), referral fees (when a Starling Bank customer uses a product recommended by Starling), interest earned on the cash balances they hold, and more.

Is there a Starling Bank business account?

Yes – Starling Bank have a fully featured business bank account for any business or sole trader.

Read our full Starling Bank business account review here

Is there a Starling bank savings account?

Starling Bank do not offer a dedicated savings account. However, they do pay interest on the balance within current and joint accounts. You can use the Spaces function within your account to separate money you wish to save from your day to day money. As of 2022, Starling Bank pay 0.05% on current account balances up to £85,000.

Is Starling Bank any good?

Over 2 million people in the UK have signed up for a current account with Starling Bank, so they must be doing something right!

What are the downsides of Starling Bank?

Starling Bank is a good quality UK bank, and has many good features, but nothing is perfect! Some users have complained that their accounts have been frozen and they have not been able to contact customer services to resolve the issue. In addition, if you want your bank to have branches you can go to, or you want to pay in a lot of cash into your account, then Starling Bank is not for you.

Is it worth switching to Starling Bank?

Starling Bank offer a cheap and simple smartphone app based current account. Compared to their competitors, they have a far higher monthly balance per customer. This suggests that more people are using Starling as their main bank, and putting their monthly salary in, whereas with some competitors people are using them as a second bank account. It looks like many people are happy that they made the switch.

Is Starling Bank The Best Bank in the UK?

That is a very difficult question to answer, as there are many options out there, such as Revolut, Monzo, Cashplus Bank, Tide, and more. Each have their own strengths that would appeal to different customers with different requirements.

However, Starling Bank are definitely within the discussion over who is the best digital bank in the UK. In fact, Starling won the Best British Bank award at the British Bank Awards for 4 years in a row, from 2018 to 2021. However in 2022, it was Monzo who took the award.


Starling Bank Verdict

Starling Bank has in a very short time become a fixture of the banking industry within the UK. Their closest competitors in the UK, Revolut and Monzo – have focused on creating a cool image and product, with fashionable extras like metal cards, cryptocurrency, airport lounge access etc. Starling on the other hand, have focused clearly on the core banking product, and creating a simple yet effective smartphone app that modernises the banking process.

That Starling Bank are profitable in such a short time after launch is impressive, as is the average amount deposited per customer. All in all Starling is definitely a bank for UK based users to check out, and who are likely to be a growing presence within the UK’s banking sector over the coming years.