July 5, 2021

starling vs monzo which bank is better


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You're probably wondering: Starling bank v Monzo, which is better for me?

It's no secret that challenger banks are shaking up the banking industry.

As with any decision like this, where you have two options to choose from, it depends on what you need the account for.

In this post, we'll break down the differences between Starling and Monzo so that you can find out which one will work best for your needs!

Related Article: Full Starling Bank Review

Starling Vs Monzo: Are challenger banks safe?

are challenger banks safe


Yes, they can be very safe if you pick the right one. Monzo and Starling are regulated banks in the UK.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects money that you put in their account.

However, challenger banks are still considered "riskier" because of their smaller size. But considering both of these banks are registered, your money is as safe as any other bank up to £85,000.

Another safety feature that makes challenger banks safe, which Monzo and Starling both have, is the ability to freeze your card instantly in the app if you misplace it.

Related article: Best digital banks in the UK

What is the difference between Starling Bank and Monzo?

In this section, we will discuss in detail the real differences between Starling and Monzo. We are looking at the personal current accounts to business bank accounts.

But first a brief overview of both banks:

About Monzo account


Monzo account

Summary:

Monzo is a UK challenger bank with an app-only approach to banking. It is up there with Starling as being one of the most well-known challenger banks.

The bank has been in operation since 2015 and now offers current accounts, payment cards with contactless and Chip & PIN, and savings accounts.

The mobile app is designed to be the main way you access your money. Instead of using traditional online banking services, everything happens within the Monzo app - from logging in to seeing transactions.

You can make payments through the app by using just an iPhone camera to scan a QR code or choose a person from your contacts list to pay them cash back into their Monzo account. 

Type of accounts and financial products offered by Monzo:

  • Personal current account
  • Joint account
  • Monzo Business accounts
  • Apple pay and Google Pay support
  • Bill payments via savings pot
  • Free atm withdrawals in the UK and abroad (some limitations)
  • Credit score tracker (with a premium account at £5 a month).

  • Current account customers can get premiums accounts, 2 tiers that give you access to extra perks such as travel and mobile phone insurance.
  • Holographic and Metal card available 

About Starling Bank

Staring bank overview


Summary:

Starling bank, established in 2014 is a UK challenger bank with an app and web approach to banking. The mobile app is designed to be the primary way you access your money, and it offers current accounts, payment cards with contactless and chip & pin, savings account.

Starling Bank provides a convenient banking experience that delivers instant transactions across both on-device services and merchant terminals in real-time. 

It's easy to send money all over the world and you get free transactions when abroad, yes that's right no fee for your card abroad. 

Type of accounts and financial products offered by Monzo:

  • Personal Starling Account including joint
  • Teen accounts
  • Adult account and children's accounts (linked to the current account, ages 6+)
  • Starling business account (sole trader account and limited company account)
  • Business loans
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay support
  • No monthly fee for a UK current account or business account.

  • Free ATM withdrawals in the UK and abroad 
  • Deposit cash with the Post Office
  • Accept foreign money transfers with current account IBAN



Main features of Monzo and Starling Bank compared


Header
Monzo bank v starling comp
starling vs Monzo features compared

Account monthly fee

Standard: Free

Plus: £5 per month

Premium: £15 per month 

Completely Free

Direct debits

Interest on balance?

Not with basic account, earn 1.00% AER gross interest with Monzo plus (Extra £5 a month) 

0.05% AER on balances up to £85,000, paid monthly

UK banking licence 

Freeze card instantly


Advanced round up included as standard

Standard spare change round up available on free account but you cannot multiply to do this you need Monzo plus £5 a month. 

Yes you can automatically save money on every transaction by rounding up to the nearest £, Allows you to do this up to 10x so you save faster. 

Salary paid 1 day early

Free cash withdrawals the UK

Free cash withdrawals EU

Must use Monzo as main bank account to get unlimited. 

Additional financial apps

App marketplace which allows you to securely to financial products like Nutmeg. 

Topping up the account

Send money via salary, bank transfer. Cash limits of £1000 every 6 months and fee of £1

Send money via salary, bank transfer. 

Cash Free for personal accounts, 0.3% for business customers at Post office

Debit Card options

3 different ones for personal

1 business

1 personal and 1 business made from recycled plastic

Pay in cheque via app by taking a photo?

Instant notifications of payment


Overdraft facility and interest rate

39% representative APR

£500 overdraft cost for 7 days = £3.20)

15% representative APR

£500 overdraft cost for 7 days = £1.35)

Customer Support

Via app

24/7 via app, phone and email UK based. 

Mobile payment types

Google Pay, Apple Pay

Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay

Fast UK payment limit

£10,000

£25,000

Easy bill splitting by payment link?

Personal loan available?

No 

Already decided?


Monzo vs Starling: Which is the best app?

Both apps offer ease of use and instant transactions, as well as a variety of features that you might not find in your traditional bank. Having used both apps extensively, I have to say it is easy to get things done in both.

Monzo's app come across as a bit more quirky in its style, for example you can search your spending by symbol which is pretty cool. 

Starling is a lot more functional in its appearance, I find it the best to logically navigate around. 

Winner: A tie, both apps are excellent and easy to use, one advantage that the Starling app does have is that you can easily deposit cheques via the app by taking a picture. 

Starling vs Monzo: Which is the best card?

Both offer iconic contactless debit cards for everyday spending, or you can use Google pay or Apple pay. Samsung pay is also available to Starling users.

With Starling, you get a mint green card that is contactless, chip and pin enabled. What I do love about Starlings card is that it is made from recycled plastic bottles, the first card in the UK to do so. 

If you do add on the Kite children's account they also get their own special card which you can see in the image below. For the business card, it's dark blue. 

starling different cards available

With Monzo, you get a coral MasterCard bank card. The difference with Monzo is if you go for their premium accounts, you can get a holographic or metal card depending on which plan you go for. 

Monzo cards


Winner: The best card winner is Monzo because of the variety and options for different types. I mean, the holographic and metal are pretty much for vanity but are pretty cool. Compare the Monzo metal to the infamous AMEX credit card, which is £600 for the year and £15 a month is a pretty good deal.

Ask yourself: Will you use the card to pay much? Having a cool card is great, but how much will you use your card now? Apple Pay and Google pay are so good and easy to use?


Which is best for savings?

If you're looking to save money, both banks offer good potential interest rates on their own accounts or as a challenger bank alternative to traditional banking institutions.

With Starling Bank, their standard account gives you an (0.05 % Annual Equivalent Rate) and for Monzo, they don't offer any interest on their free account. However you can set up a savings pots with their partners where if you are prepared to lock money away you can earn up to 0.7% AER. 

If you also like the invest what is good about Starling is it can be synced with Nutmeg through the marketplace. 

The winner: Starling based just on the interest rates because they offer interest on free accounts. 

Related Article: Apps that round up spare Change


Goals and Pots

Both banks have a cool feature that allows you to save money away from your main balance without setting up a separate account. When you use your card to pay, any money in a pot – not in your everyday spending area – will not be touched.

The Starling bank offers the option to create a savings pot, which they call 'spaces', although you can keep your savings in the same account as other pots. You will earn monthly interest on any money stored in these spaces of 0.05% AER. 

Starling goals and pots showing how you can save with starling

Monzo calls it pots, and it's a little more advanced as it lets customers pay bills from each designated bill pot. This is a great addition as you can really put money to one side and make sure you don't spend your money on gas and electricity, for example!

Monzo also lets you connect your pots with savings partners so you can lock in and get some interest if you lock in at the time of writing you can earn up to 0.7% AER. 

Related Article: Best Budget Apps (UK)

Monzo Bills and pots

Joint account

Both have joint account offerings, but Monzo has more options.

You can share your account with up to four people, and starling only allows joint accounts if you're married or in a civil partnership.

Monzo also offers an "instant joint" option which means that it takes less than a minute to set up the account. It's not available.

Child accounts

Starling launched Kite, a product for 6-16-year-olds, in 2020. Setting up the account only takes minutes, and you can load money onto the card instantly. It is not a separate account but connected to a adult current account. 

starling kite


With Starling Kite, you'll get the full picture and see what they're spending directly from your app. At just £2 per month, Kite is priced extremely competitively compared to other banks on the market.

With Monzo, you have to be at least 16 to have an account, and currently, they do offer anything for younger children. You are also able to get a full bank account with Starling for ages 16 and above. 

Winner: Starling, a clever way to show your child how they can manage money early on. I think this is a fantastic service, and that makes a nice addition to your personal account. Today Monzo customers do not have this option. 


Starling vs Monzo: What do customers say about banks?

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


Both banks get excellent reviews from customers.

Starling gets 4.4-star reviews on Trustpilot with 22,00 reviews and Monzo has a rating of 4.5 stars based on over 16,000 ratings, where the majority are five-star reviews.

Both banks have won awards with Starling winning the Best British Bank 3 years running. It has also been named a recommended provider by Which?.

Monzo is not without its awards either winning the Finder award for best bank overall in 2019.

Starling has a slight advantage from a customer support perspective as it has 24/7 UK human customer support via the app, email, and phone, whereas Monzo is just via the app. So if you prefer to speak to someone on the phone, Starling is your best bet.

Winner: Both bank accounts have excellent ratings and reviews, but Starling wins this round by a thread due to the slightly better reviews and the fact they offer more ways for more customers to get in touch. 


Opening a new account

Both Monzo and Starling are free to open, and they operate through their own apps. The process is straightforward, so you don't need to take photos of your ID if that makes you uncomfortable.

To complete account verification with Monzo and Starling, you will also need to record a short video selfie. They say that typically this process can be completed within 10 minutes.

Within two hours of opening a Monzo or Starling account, users can expect their bank to verify the account. For example, Monzo claims it verifies accounts within 2 hours, while Starling says they do so in an average time between 10 and 20 minutes.

Open Monzo bank account here

Open Starling account here


Travel

Starling bank is the best fit for card usage abroad and withdrawals from overseas ATMs.

Starling does not charge any fees, while Monzo only let you withdraw £200 per month for withdrawals from overseas ATMs and doesn't offer fee-free spending.

If you are a frequent traveller and want to get more perks such as travel insurance and airport lounge  Monzo offers this through its plus and premium accounts. 

Security

Monzo and Starling offer the most secure and secure mobile app features. They use Touch ID, Face ID, fingerprint or PIN logins and card controls. Both banks are fully regulated UK banks that follow the same rules as high-street banks.

Your deposits at Starling Bank have coverage up to £85,000* against the possible insolvency of the bank. It’s automatic and free when you make a combined deposit of over £500*, with protection, doubled if you're on joint accounts*. Rest assured that if your lender does ever go bust, all of your money will be returned

With both banks, you also have the option to freeze your card in the app should you lose or misplace it.

Starling bank vs Monzo: Which is better for you?

The answer to this question depends on what you want from your bank.

If you want a completely free account, then Starling is the better option.

Monzo, on the other hand, charges for some of the features that Starling offers for free. For example, advanced round-up is standard with Starling but is only an option with a £5 a month Monzo premium.

If you want fancy features like a metal card, Monzo might be the better option.

There isn't one that is definitively "better" than another; they both have their pros and cons. Starling seems to be the best value for money looking at the comparison table.


Which Business Account is better Monzo or Starling?

Both have good business accounts, but Starling seems to have gone more prominent with their offering than Monzo. Here is an overview of both business accounts:

Monzo bank
Cost: Lite Free Pro: £5 a month
  • Monthly fees for Pro account
  • Deposit max £1,000 in 6 months
  • Multi director access only available on pro plan
  • Saving pots


starling bank
Cost: Free
  • No monthly fees
  • Direct debits
  • Deposit up to £20,000 at the Post Office
  • Overdrafts and Loans
  • Integration with QuickBooks, Xero and Free agent
  • Multidirector Access
  • Used by 300,000 businesses
  • Zero fees abroad



Related article: Review of Starling business account


Winner: Starling business account takes the prize for this round because both have no monthly fees, which is excellent. Starling customers overall seem to get the better deal because a lot of the features that Monzo charge for in its £5 a month pro like Tax pots and multi - user access are free as standard with Starling. 


Starling Vs Monzo: Bottom Line

In the fast-paced world of banking, it's hard to keep up. 

The days of using a simple ATM card are long gone. Now you can use your phone to check balances, transfer money and even pay for items in stores with just a tap. 

Banks have gone from offering little more than an account and access to cash - they're now competing on many different fronts. 

The question is: which one should you choose?

The bottom line? Both Starling and Monzo make fantastic banks and offer great features. If you want a free and packed bank with features, then Starling is the best option. It's easy to use and fantastic for saving money, and easy to integrate with third-party apps. 

The value for money that Starling offers on its free account really is unbelievable!

If you want a premium bank that offers more, Monzo might be better suited to your needs.

Monzo has features like metal cards and interest rates on savings accounts for those who want something more premium. 

Monzo also offers your options for better travel upgrades like travel insurance and airport lounge discounts, although you have to pay a subscription, so it's best to weigh up if you will use these often.


I hope this article has helped your decision, let me know what you decided to go for in the comments below!

faq

Can Starling bank be trusted?

Yes, starling bank is a registered bank in the UK and regulated by the FCA.

Who is Starling bank owned by?

Starling is an independent, privately-owned company and is not part of any other bank. Starling is 24% owned by CEO and founder Anne Boden, employees and ex-employees and an employee benefits trust set up for employees.

Can I use Starling and Monzo abroad?

Yes, you can. Monzo and starling bank allow you to spend abroad in 19 different currencies (as well as your own) using the Mastercard debit card that comes with their account. 

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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