starling bank review


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You've probably heard of Starling bank from your friends or their TV adverts, but you might wonder what Starling bank is and should you trust it with your money?

I like you had these same questions. After joining Starling bank myself, I wanted to share an honest Starling bank review to showcase what Starling bank is and answer the many questions surrounding this new type of banking.

Entering the market in 2014, I first heard about Starling bank and its great travel features (0% commission on spending abroad). Since then, I've learned that Starling bank is much more than a Travelcard - it's a full-blown regulated bank that can help you save a lot of time and money!

Keep reading to find out if the Starling UK bank account is correct for you. 

4.9/5

Starling Bank Account Summary

Starling Bank is an award winning bank account. Offering accounts to suit everyone including personal, joint and business. Their personal account is also suitable for Teens aged 16+ and for children they offer a Kite card which is linked to a parent account. 

Customer service

24/7 UK based support through app and phone or email its no wonder Starling get fantastic reviews from its customers. 

Security

Regulated by the financial conduct authority just like a regular bank and a app that you can instantly get notified of any transactions and freeze your card makes Starling very secure. 

Features

Packed with benefits that save you money all in a FREE bank account such a:

- No travel fees when using your card abroad

- Spare change round up to help you save money

What is Starling bank?

Starling is a full UK bank account.

Starling’s vision is to ‘create a better bank for everyone. And so far, they have lived up to this promise, Winning Britain's Best Bank in 2018, 2019, and 2020! 

Starling Bank has certainly made an impact since it was founded in 2014. The key difference with Starling vs your other long-established banks like Barclays is that it is an app-based mobile account. This has to lead to many, including myself asking:

what is starling bank? image shows starling current account, starling business debit card and starling app

Is Starling bank a real bank? 

Is it a member of the financial services compensation scheme?

In short, yes, Starling is absolutely a real bank with an UK banking license with FCA protection for its users.

The key for me is Starling is about innovation. It's no wonder people ask these questions about Starling because it is so different from banking you have seen in the past.

Related article: Best Digital banks



For instance, Starling bank was - 

  • The first UK bank to enable Apple Pay from within its mobile app. This means that customers can use their account, make payments before their card arrives through the mail with Apple pay. That, for me, meant within minutes of my account is approved, I could use it! Total game changer.
  • Android mobile wallet support also followed suit to this and was launched in 2017. Starling has since also enabled Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay.

Other things you should know about the Starling account

Starling debit card

Starling personal account debit card

  • Starling bank accounts are entirely managed through the app or your desktop. What I like about this is that you can do pretty much everything on the app to manage your current account without having to visit a bank. You can even take a photo of a cheque up to £500 to deposit it!
  • As a customer, you receive a contactless Mastercard debit card. It comes in a beautiful teal colour, far from the boring cards I used to get from high street banks.
  • Cash deposits are made via the Post Office, so it's effortless to put money into your current account visit one of the many Post office branches.
  • You get real-time notifications on your phone every time you make a purchase or get paid - probably the best way to prevent a scam as you will know real-time any spending that is happening. You also get direct debit reminders.

Who is Starling Bank Owned By?

Who is Starling Bank owned by?

Starling Bank majority holder

You won't find Starling on the stock market, and that is because it is privately owned. You might be thinking another big bank must own a new bank that has over 2 million customers as of writing. Well, no, it's not.

Actually, 24% owned by CEO and founder Anne Boden, employees and ex-employees, and an employee benefits trust set up for employees. The rest are private investors.

What are the benefits of Starling bank?

You now know what Starling is about, but you are probably wondering if it's worth setting up an account and what you actually get with this bank. Here's a breakdown of all the features:

Starling bank app

Starling app

The core of the difference with a Starling current account compared with other bank accounts is its innovative app.

Designed in my opinion with you in mind, Starling gives you information at your fingertips so that you can take control of your spending.

Here's what you can do in the app:

Lock or freeze your card

If you've ever lost or had your card stolen, you know how scary the experience is. You don't need to worry about scrambling around searching for your bank's phone number. If this happens with a Starling card, all you need to do is open up your Starling bank app, tap the card and just lock the card.

This will block all payments from your current account. You can literally do it in seconds!

Get Spending insights

With a few taps in the app, you have access to spending insights. This automatically groups together similar purchases, for instance, shopping or eating out. This helps you as a user take control of your spending habits with insights that can help you save money in the future.

If you knew that coffee out was costing you £60 a month, for instance, would you change your habits?

Check out the video below, which shows you exactly how this feature works.

Paperless statements

Starling bank account spaces

You might be wondering how on earth you get a bank statement with an online-only current account. It's actually easier than you think. Within the app, you can produce PDF or CSV statements.

This is great if you need to prove your earnings for any credit checks, and if you want to put your expenditure into a spreadsheet, you can do it easily.

Ability to set up Savings pots (without having to open another bank account)

This is a really great and easy feature that you can set up again in seconds. When I had a traditional high street current account, I had to set up a separate savings account to keep my savings separate.

With a Starling account, you can do it all within the app. I love the ability to add pictures to my goals, which makes it personal.

Tip: Use your savings pots to set aside money for key spends like a Grocery shop. 

Related Article: Best Budgeting Apps in the UK

App Marketplace

Starling bank app marketplace


With the app marketplace, you have the ability to integrate other services to make your banking experience even better. A few usual apps on the marketplace are:

  • Flux: this handy app provides digital receipts straight to your starling app when you shop at Flux enabled retailers like H&M and KFC.
  • Tail: A cashback app that links directly with Starling. No messing around with this app. You just use your card and redeem. No codes or coupons required- nice!

If you decide to set up the loyalty and receipts, feature then it's easy to access your receipts by tapping a card in the app, then 'loyalty and receipts.

Related Article: Best Money Saving Apps

Instant spending notifications

Starling spending notifications

One of the biggest benefits of having a mobile banking platform is the instant notifications for spending. In my opinion, this adds an extra layer of protection against you going into an overdraft.

If you are in the unfortunate position that fraud happens, you can deal with it instantly. 

Meaning if an unexpected purchase pops up on your notification, you could freeze your card instantly.

Compare this to a traditional bank, and you are relying on yourself either logging into your online banking daily or waiting for a monthly statement.

Round up spending

starling bank round up spare change in starling app


Something I had never experienced with a traditional bank that Starling account offer is round up spending. If you are terrible at putting money aside, this is the feature for you.

In a nutshell, round up spending automatically rounds up your purchases to the nearest pound and adds them to any savings pot you enable it on. So, in essence, you are saving money without thinking about it.

Tip: want to save money faster? You can increase your round up amounts by up to x10 so that you save money quicker!

Related article - Apps that Round-Up Spare Change

Mobile Cheque deposits

If you are like me and still receive the occasional cheque for your birthday or just in general, there is no need to worry about not being able to deposit it with Starling. Within the app, you can deposit cheques of up to £500 by just taking a picture!

If your cheque is for more than £500, you can still deposit it into your account, but you will need to post it.

Spending Abroad: Starling as a Travel card

When I first heard about Starling current account years ago, a big benefit was its dual use as a travel card. That is still true today. Here's why:

  • 0 Fees abroad - you can use your card in 190 different countries, and you won't get charged, specifically anywhere you see the Mastercard logo. You won't get charged.
  • That includes any ATM withdrawals (there may be local ATM charges)
  • Great exchange rates - Use your card and benefit from the Mastercard exchange rate without any added fees
  • 24/7 UK based customer support if you need a hand whilst you're out of the country
  • No need to let Starling know you are going on holiday. Your card works from the off.


can I use my starling card to travel

Other Cool Features that I Love about the Starling Current Account

  • Settle up - If you are going out with friends and want to split the bill quickly, you can easily settle up. You can pay the bill and send your friends a secure link to pay you back the rest.
  • Additional connected card - Not used this myself, but a great feature nonetheless. If you want someone to go and do your shopping, you can order them a card, and they can spend up to £200 on your behalf.
  • Log in via desktop - a new feature that was very much requested has now been delivered. So if you are worried about losing your phone and not having access to your bank, you need not worry. You can now access Starling on your Desktop computer too.
  • Personal and joint accounts available: Yes, you can get both accounts if you want to share a Starling bank account with someone. Find out more in Best Joint Bank Account
  • ATM withdrawals happen the same way you can use any and withdraw your money.
  • Send international money transfers: You can send and receive international money transfers.
  • Earn interest on your account: Yes, you earn interest monthly on your balance of 0.05%.
  • Starling debit card is made from recycled plastic.

Starling Bank Customer Reviews

Changing banks or just setting up another account is a big decision. After all, we don't want to give out our personal details willingly. It's important to go with a bank that you can trust.

And even if you plan just to use Starling for a second account or travel, so still want to know if this is a bank you can trust - I know I did.

Before signing up to Starling myself, I researched other sources that would be hard to fake to see what the 'many' thought of Starling. Here's what I found:

Starling bank reviews

review of Starling bank


Trustpilot is a great source of information as you have to be a verified purchase to review. It's not the kind of place where people can just buy reviews. As of writing, Starling has over 20,000 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars which is incredible.

To give you an idea of how good the reviews are that Starling has received both in quantity and quality, I compared all the major banks featured in Trust Pilot to see where Starling fits. As you can see, Starling comes out on top for both the number of reviews by users and the overall rating.

Starling bank reviews

Award-winning

Starling has won best bank for the last 3 years from the Best British Bank awards. According to the British banking awards, this is like the Oscars for the banking world! It has also been awarded business banking customer satisfaction by Finder and a recommended provider for current accounts by Which?.

starling bank awards

How does Starling bank work?

Getting an account with Starling is really easy. There are a few different accounts you can consider. In this Starling bank review, I have mainly concentrated on the benefits of the personal account; however, Starling does offer something for everyone. Here are the different options available:

Personal current account

It's easy to open a personal current account (Starling offers solo and joint). You don't need to make an appointment at a bank or on the phone. You can do it whilst sitting in the comfort of your home.

To open a personal account, go to Starling bank, put your number in the portal, and they will send you a link to sign up.

To be eligible for a personal account:

  • You must be aged 16 or over (making this a great account for teenagers). 
  • You will need a valid photo ID such as a driving license or passport.
  • UK resident
  • They will ask you to record a video of yourself saying a phrase to protect you from identity fraud. Starling promises that this process will take around 5 minutes, which is SO much quicker than making an appointment and then going into a bank!

As shown earlier in this article, you will receive a contactless MasterCard debit card and be able to set up standing orders and direct debits through the app.

You can also connect instantly through Apple wallet as soon as your account is accepted and start using your account before your card arrives!

You might be wondering what happens from a cash point of view since this is an online mobile bank, so it's good to know you still can withdraw and deposit cash. Here's how:

  • You can make up to 6 withdrawals a day with your Starling bank card, a maximum of £300 at any ATM.
  • If you want to deposit cash, you can do that too, just visit any post office branch to do so. Note this is capped at £20,000 of cash deposits per year.

From an earning interest perspective, you do earn some, but it's small, 0.05% on balances up to £85,000.

Starling Connected card

Starling bank connected card

Starlings connected card is what the name suggests a card that is connected to yours. Basically, this is a card that you can order to allow someone you trust to spend on your behalf. The card is designed to be given to trusted friends, family or carers to stop the hassle of transferring money or splitting a bill.

Although the card is capped at £200, this is perfect for Grocery shopping. The £200 for the connected card is stored in a separate space in your Starling account. If you rely on the support of someone else, this is a fantastic service that I can't believe other banks haven't thought of sooner!

Good to know: if you give anyone a connected card, it's good to know that they can't see any of your personal details or finances. The connected card can not be used at ATMs or for Gambling transactions either, so it's really for the essentials.

Cost: Although many things come free with Starling for this service, there is a small cost of £2 a month.

Starling Kite account

starling kite children connected account

If you have children under the age of 16, this might be something you want to consider. Starling Kite is like a pocket money current account for ages 6-16.

Like the connected card, it sits as a space in your personal account. The benefit of this is that it makes it easy to transfer pocket money into a secure place for your child to access.

I love this service because Starling is helping children learn how to save from such a young age. Setting these habits early, I'm sure, will help them in the long run.

Good to know: Children can work towards their own savings goals, and you can cap any spending.

Cost: Because this is an additional service there is a small charge of £2 a month.

Related article: Top Prepaid cards for Kids


Starling Business accounts

Starling business accounts


If you have a business, you should look into Starling banks Business accounts offered to sole traders and limited companies for no monthly fees.

There are no fees for the Starling business account unless you opt for an additional business tool kit which costs £7 a month for extra bookkeeping, invoicing and VAT features. The first month is free.

Starlings business account works similar to Starlings personal account in that you get notifications of spending and can categorise your transactions. It's easy to see all of your direct debits in the app.

You can hold both a personal and business account and switch between your accounts in the app easily.

Good to know: you can have a personal and business account and switch between them easily in the app.

See a separate Starling bank review for business here.

Starling Banks Euro Account

Starling also has a unique service offering in its launch of the Euro account. This is both for personal and business accounts. The account does what it describes - you can hold, send and receive money in both pounds and euros.

The Euro account is free for personal accounts and just £2 a month for business. When you send money abroad, it gives you the exchange rate. 

Related content: Starling Euro account review

Is Starling Bank free?

Yes, it's completely free to set up for personal and current accounts and get a lot of the benefits. If you are a Business customer, you will be pleased to know that a Starling Business account is also free.

While the bank is free, there are some additional charges for other services if you choose to get them. These are:

  • Starling Kite: an extra card for children aged 6-16 at the cost of £2 a month
  • Starling connected: an extra card for others to shop on your behalf, £2 a month.
  • Overdraft fees: interest rates of 15%, 25%, and 35% EAR (variable) depending on credit score.

How long does Starling take to check details?

From my own experience the check for my account was completed within 20 minutes of sending off my ID and recording my video. I simply got a notification on my phone to say my account was ready to go! Of course this will vary from application to application but Starling say they can usually do same day. 

How to pay cash into a Starling bank account

You might be wondering how the heck you pay cash into a mobile-only bank. I'm pleased to say that you can, and it's straightforward to do. Simply visit your local post office and give them your card and cash to make a deposit—no fees for current or personal accounts.

Is Starling Bank safe?

It depends on what you mean by safe. A few things came to mind for me before I joined Starling. I really wanted to know:

Does Starling make money, i.e. is it financially secure?

As with any new business growing rapidly and innovating at such a pace, profit usually doesn't come hand in hand. However, I can tell you that as of late 2020, Starling entered profitability. They are the first digital bank in the UK to do this.

Is my money safe with Starling?

Starling has a full banking license and is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, £170,000 for joint accounts. The FCA also regulates them. This means it must adhere to strict rules on protecting money for its users and treating customers fairly. It also means you as a customer have an escalation route should you not resolve something.

From a data perspective, Starling says it uses advanced data encryption and storing technologies that ensure your personal information and transactions are secured safely.

How to open a Starling bank account

To open an account with Starling is really easy. Here's how you do it:

  1. Head over the Starling website
  2. Pop your mobile number in the box
  3. use the link they send you to download the app
  4. Select the account you want to apply for
  5. Complete your details and upload your documents by taking a picture


You will need proof of address and ID, if you haven't been living in the UK very long and need a account that doesn't ask for proof of address, you could also consider Monese as a option. 

Related article: Opening a Bank Account in the UK Without Proof Of Address

Is Starling or Monzo better?


If you've heard of Starling, chances are you have probably heard of Monzo, which is one of its main competitors. Starling and Monzo have lots in common as they are both mobile-only banks.

Starling vs Monzo what do customers say image shows how they compare for customer reviews

In terms of functionality, both have very similar features. With Monzo, you also get access to instant notifications and savings pots; however, some functionality is more expensive with Monzo from a fee point of view.

Travelcard fees

With Starling, there are no fees when using your card abroad. This is kind of the same with Monzo; however, they have put a cap of £200 for ATM withdrawals when using your card overseas. So if you are a jet setter and want to use your card with 0 fees, the best value is Starling.

Roundups

I mentioned how Starling has the savings functionality to round up spare change from all transactions into your savings pot. This is a great feature, and you can choose to multiply this up to 10x if you want to grow your spare change savings faster. And Monzo does indeed offer a similar feature; however, you cannot multiply. Meaning saving through round-ups will be better through Starling.

Note: Monzo now does offer a chance to multiply your round-ups but only by paying for its new Monzo plus service, which is £5 a month. This is free as standard with Starling.

Overdraft charges

Monzo charges (dependent on your credit score) 19%, 29%, or 39% EAR for each day you are overdrawn for its overdraft feature. So, for example, if you used a £1000 overdraft for 30 days on the 39% EAR, you would be charged £27.45.

For Starling, the interest rates are 15%, 25%, and 35% EAR (variable) for each day you are overdrawn. So with Starling, if you were £1000 overdrawn for 30 days, the charge would be £25.26.

Find out more in this related article: Monzo V Starling: Which is better for you?

What about Starling Vs Revolut? Find out more in this article Starling Bank Vs Revolut

Is Starling bank any good?

As part of this Starling bank review, I wanted to help you answer the question is Starling bank any good so that you can decide for yourself.

For me personally, the features that are now available within Starling have made it the main competitor to be your main bank account. There is no wonder they now have over 2 million customers. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Will you use the savings features?
  • Would payment notifications on your device help you?
  • Would you prefer an app to go into a branch?

As Margaret Wolfe Hungerford once said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To decide if Starling bank is any good, you really need to look at the features I listed earlier in this article and see if they would make your life a bit easier.

Then give it a go and let me know!


Starling Bank account final thoughts

In summary, Starling has a lot to offer anyone who wants a complete banking solution that you can control from the palm of your hands. Of course, no bank is perfect. Here is what I have found to be the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Super easy to set up
  • No need to leave your home to get a new account
  • Customer service is available 24/7 and based in the UK
  • Get for use as a travel card as there are no fees
  • App gives you spending notifications
  • Recently added desktop mode
  • Excellent reviews and reputation
  • Easy to save money through round ups



Cons

  • Only available to UK residents
  • No physical banks if you really want to speak to a person
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Conclusion:

For me, Starling has been a key player in revolutionising British banking. No longer do you have to wait in queues at a bank. Or be put on hold.

You can do many of the things most of us want from a bank in the palm of our hands.

Then there are the saving features; Starling is making it easier than ever to save money. When we live in a world where 1 in 10 brits have no savings this is a key movement from traditional banking. It feels to me Starling is doing its best to put users at the heart of its decisions and reaping the rewards from it.

Did you find this Starling Bank overview useful?

What are your thoughts on Starling bank? Let me know in the comments below!

Starling Bank Faq

Does starling offer a joint account?

Yes, Starling bank does offer a joint account. 

Does Starling do personal loans?

Right now, Starling does not offer personal loans. 

Can I trust Starling bank?

Starling current accounts like other high street banks are regulated by the financial conduct authority so it has to hold high standards. 

Is Starling bank better than Monzo?

Starling and Monzo are both fantastic current accounts. But the answer depends on your needs, this article on Starling V Monzo should help you decide.

Starling Bank
Starling bank review

Starling Bank is an award winning bank account. Offering accounts to suit everyone including personal, joint and business. Their personal account is also suitable for Teens aged 16+ and for children they offer a Kite card which is linked to a parent account. Find out if Starling bank is for you

Product Brand: Starling Bank

Product Currency: £

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4.9

About the author 

Mary Elizabeth

Founder of MeMoreMoney. A self-taught finance nerd, learning by doing and experiencing. Bought first house at 21, paid off student debt, and save 100k by 30. Featured Personal Finance Expert in GO Banking Rates and Yahoo! Finance

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