As one of the UK’s top challenger banks, Starling’s current account can be opened instantly from a mobile phone, comes with no monthly fees and is fully FSCS protected.
It won the coveted ‘Best Current Account Provider’ at the 2022 British Bank Awards.
As part of our detailed banking reviews, I’ve spent time exploring the Starling bank account offering. Is it easy to use? Are there any glitches?
I’ve checked the functionality, features, pricing, and safety and compared Starling against other top app-only accounts like Monzo, Revolut and Monese.
NB, this review is for the Starling Current account but do head to this link if you’d like to see our Starling business account review for the business version
Starling Bank Current Account Review: My Verdict
Having used the Starling Current Account for several months now, I am impressed by its range of features, user experience, and efficiency. This award-winning, fully digital, and app-based banking service sets the bar high for what a current account should offer.
Starling’s no monthly fee policy, instant payment notifications, and intelligent budgeting tools make it stand out amongst its competitors. The 24/7 support, free ATM usage overseas, and comprehensive in-app administrative controls also make it a user-friendly service.
The added advantage of no hidden fees for international money transfers and a competitive rate is commendable. The ability to deposit cheques with the app and the environmentally conscious move to use recycled plastic for their debit cards adds more feathers to Starling’s cap.
Based on my user experience, I would highly recommend the Starling Current Account.
- No Monthly Account Fees
- Interest – 0.05% AER, or 3.25% AER/gross interest in a Fixed Saver
- Switching Scheme – Yes
- Requirements – 16 or over, UK address
- Safety – Highly secure, FCA Regulated
- Using Abroad – Free Atm Withdrawals, plus anywhere Mastercard is accepted
Pros & Cons of the Starling Personal Account
- Instantaneous account setup: With Starling Bank, setting up a free UK current account is a breeze, usually taking just a few minutes, and your card is dispatched within a week.
- Advanced mobile application: The bank offers a sophisticated mobile app with budgeting and saving tools, including expenditure classification and savings spaces.
- Interest accrual on account balances: Current account balances with Starling Bank earn interest, adding to your savings over time.
- Convenient expense sharing: The ‘settle up’ feature on Starling Bank simplifies bill splitting, easing group expenditures.
- No international spending fees: Starling Bank provides fee-free spending when travelling abroad and free ATM withdrawals overseas.
- Integrated Marketplace: Starling’s “Marketplace” integrates other financial companies offering pensions, mortgages, and insurance for a comprehensive banking experience.
- Straightforward overdraft fees: Overdrafts are available with easy-to-understand fees.
- Reliable and secure: Starling Bank is fully licensed by the FCA and PRA, ensuring a safe banking environment.
- Limited product range: Although Starling offers a broad spectrum of services, it’s a relatively new bank and doesn’t yet provide complex services like mortgages in-house. However, some products are available through the Starling Bank Marketplace.
- Absence of physical branches: Starling doesn’t operate bank branches. However, customers can use Post Office branches for cash deposits and withdrawals.
- Limited Marketplace offerings: The Starling Marketplace only includes deals from partner companies, so they may not always represent the best available rates.
- UK residency required: You can only open a Starling Bank account if you’re a UK resident.
- No joint account overdrafts: Overdrafts are not available for joint business accounts at Starling Bank.
- Limited features for certain accounts: Some features are exclusive to the Starling personal account.
A Brief History of Starling Bank
Starling Bank was established by former Allied Irish Banks COO Anne Boden, in January 2014, and has since attracted over £500m in funding. Headquartered in London, it was awarded its banking license by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority in July 2016 and launched its personal current accounts in March 2017.
By mid-2022, Starling Bank had over 3 million current accounts, including more than 460,000 business current accounts.
Despite acquisition interests from larger banks, Starling Bank plans to remain independent, with reports of a possible initial public offering in 2023. As of 2022, the bank has become profitable, with a pre-tax profit of £32.1 million, attributed to its significant push into the mortgage market.
Key Features of the Starling Current Account
- Award-Winning Service: Recognised as the Best Current Account Provider in 2022 at the British Bank Awards and recommended by Which? as a top provider for current accounts.
- No Monthly Fees: Starling’s current account comes with no monthly fees, providing you with a cost-effective banking solution.
- Fully Digital Experience: Thanks to the user-friendly Starling app, you can now do everything you would typically do in a bank branch from your phone.
- Instant Notifications: You will receive alerts whenever payments leave or enter your account, enabling you to keep track of your transactions in real-time.
- Money Management Tools: The app provides smart tools that help with budgeting, saving, and visual insights of your spending habits.
- 24/7 Customer Support: The UK-based customer support team is accessible around the clock via the app.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: When you travel abroad, you can use your card and ATMs without incurring extra charges from Starling.
- Competitive Interest Rate: Earn 0.05% AER on current account balances up to £85,000.
- Cheque Deposits via App: You can deposit cheques by simply scanning them with your camera, a feature not found with every digital bank.
- Savings Features: “Spaces” allows you to put money aside in virtual jars, automatically round up transactions to save the change, and issue a Connected card to someone spending on your behalf.
- Environmentally Friendly: Starling’s Mastercard debit card is made from recycled plastic, marking a first in the UK.
- Lending Features: Control your overdraft in-app with no hidden fees or unfair unarranged charges.
- Additional Account Option: You can add an additional account completely free of charge.
- Integrated Marketplace: Connect with some of the UK’s best financial products, like your mortgage, insurance, or pension, all through Starling’s marketplace.
Who is eligible for a Starling Bank Account?
- Age Requirement: Applicants must be over 16 years of age.
- Residency Requirement: Applicants must reside at a UK address. It is important to note that you don’t necessarily have to be a UK tax resident to be eligible.
- Nationality: Starling Bank welcomes applications from all nationalities.
- Application Platform: You must download the Starling Bank app from the iOS app store, Google Play Store, or Huawei AppGallery to apply for an account.
- Credit Checks: Starling Bank will check quickly at a UK Credit Reference Agency when you apply for a current account. These initial checks leave a soft footprint on your credit file, which won’t be visible to other financial services companies or affect your credit score.
What Starling bank accounts are available?
Starling Bank Personal account
Offers an app-based banking experience with a Mastercard debit card, access to various app features, and the ability to earn 0.05% AER on balances up to £85,000. 24/7 customer support is available.
Starling Bank Joint account
Created within the app for existing Starling personal account holders, allowing both users to contribute funds, spend, and track account activity. Features the same access to app capabilities as the personal account.
Starling Bank Euro account
Designed for those who need to hold, send, and receive Euros. Ideal for individuals with European property, those who receive a Euro-based salary, or those who regularly transfer money within Europe.
Starling Kite (6-16 years)
A pocket money app and debit card for children aged 6-16, integrated within a parent’s account for monitoring and control. Children can track spending, budget, and save for goals within their own version of the app.
Starling Bank Teen Account (16-17 years)
An app-based account for teens offering a Mastercard debit card, the ability to earn 0.05% AER on balances up to £85,000, and round-the-clock customer support.
Starling Bank Connected Card
Starling Bank offers an additional feature known as the ‘Connected Card’. This is essentially an auxiliary debit card linked to your account, which you can provide to a trusted individual, such as a friend, family member, or caregiver. The purpose of this card is to allow them to make purchases on your behalf, providing a convenient alternative to exchanging cash or sharing banking details.
The Connected Card is tied to a specific ‘Space’ set up within the Starling app instead of your primary account. This arrangement provides a degree of financial control and security, as it caps the spending limit at £200. As a result, the cardholder can only spend the allocated funds, offering you some peace of mind regarding the card’s use.
However, it should be noted that this card lacks the full functionality of a regular debit card. The Connected Card cannot be used for online shopping, ATM withdrawals, or to access the app. This deliberate design choice limits the card’s usage to the assigned Space and prevents unauthorised access to your main account.
How to Open a Current, Joint, Euro or Teen Account with Starling Bank
- Current Account:
- Download the Starling Bank app from either the iOS App Store, Google Play Store, or Huawei AppGallery.
- You’ll need a smartphone with a signal and a valid photo ID (passport or driving license).
- Set aside approximately 5-10 minutes of your time to complete the application process.
- Joint Account:
- Both parties need to already have a Starling current account.
- You can apply online through the Starling Bank app.
- Euro Account:
- You first need to open a Starling current account.
- After that, you can apply for a Euro account through the app.
- Teen Account:
- This account is designed for 16-17 year-olds.
- It can be opened with just a passport as ID.
If you already have an account with another bank, you can use the Current Account Switch Service to switch your bank account to Starling. They will seamlessly move existing payees, direct debits, and standing orders, taking care of everything for you within seven working days.
Starling Current Account Fees & Charges
Here are the current fees for the Starling current and joint accounts.
|Account Maintenance||No fee|
|Additional GBP Personal/Joint Current Account||No subscription fee|
|Subscription service – Starling Kite||£2 per month|
|Subscription service – Connected Card||£2 per month|
|Arranged/Unarranged Overdraft||No fee|
|Refusing a payment due to lack of funds||No fee|
|Allowing a payment despite lack of funds||No fee (Interest charges apply, must repay immediately)|
|Sending money within the UK||Free (CHAPS payments: £20 fee)|
|Sending money outside the UK||Fees and exchange rates apply (Shown on International Payments page in the App)|
|Receiving money from the UK/Outside the UK||Free|
|Depositing money via Post Office||Free up to £1000 per year, 0.7% fee for deposits above £1000|
|Cash withdrawal in £ Sterling in the UK||No fee|
|Cash withdrawal in foreign currency outside the UK||No fee (Mastercard exchange rates apply)|
|Debit card payment in £ Sterling||No fee|
|Debit card payment in a foreign currency||No fee (Mastercard exchange rates or merchant rates/fees apply)|
|Replacement debit cards (UK)||£5|
|Replacement debit cards (overseas)||£10|
Is Starling Bank Safe to Use?
- Identity Verification: To prevent identity fraud, the account application process requires you to share a government-issued identity document, such as a passport or a UK driving license. In addition, a short video of yourself is required to ensure the right person is setting the account up.
- Mandatory Passcode and Password Protection: The bank mandates a per-device PIN code to secure your app. Biometric features such as fingerprints or facial recognition are also utilized where supported. A personal password is required to set up payees, authorise payments, and edit personal information in the app.
- Real-Time Notifications and Card Controls: Starling provides real-time notifications to keep you informed about transactions in your account. It also lets you control your card by enabling or disabling contactless and chip & pin payments, ATM withdrawals, online payments, and your mobile wallet. If you suspect your card might be lost or stolen, you can freeze or cancel it instantly.
- Advanced Security Features:
- Biometric Identification: Biometric features such as fingerprint or facial recognition provide a highly secure way to log into your app.
- 3D Secure: This adds an extra layer of security for online transactions. A push notification is sent to approve the transaction directly in-app when this is required.
- Confirmation of Payee: This feature helps confirm that the account holder you are paying is correct.
- Virtual Cards: For additional safety while shopping, you can use a virtual debit card, keeping your main card details private and your bank balance safe.
- Data Protection and Fraud Prevention: Starling Bank has built controls across the entire bank to ensure your personal data remains safe, secure, and compliant with GDPR. They are also committed to educating customers on the types of scams and how to spot them, considering it their responsibility to prevent financial fraud.
- Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS): As expected from your bank, eligible deposits up to £85,000 are protected by the FSCS, providing you with peace of mind.
Is Starling’s current account good for travelling and international payments?
Starling is a good choice for travelling and significantly cheaper than most high street banks. Its key international payment features are as follows:
- No Transaction Fees: Starling Bank doesn’t charge you any fees, whether you’re paying on a card or withdrawing cash abroad.
- Competitive Exchange Rates: The bank passes on Mastercard’s real exchange rate to you without adding anything on top. This ensures you get more for your money, regardless of the currency.
- Card Controls: If you lose your card, you can easily lock it within the app or order a new one to be sent out to you, wherever you are.
- Currency Calculator: You can use the bank’s currency calculator to calculate the exchange rate without worrying about spending fees overseas. However, some ATM providers may charge their own fees.
- 24/7 Support: Starling offers in-app support round-the-clock, so you can get help whenever needed.
Does Starling Bank offer a Personal Overdraft?
The Starling Bank personal overdraft, available within seconds via the app, offers a real-time, comprehensive view of your finances at your fingertips. Adjust your limit, track usage, accrue interest, monitor real-time balance, and receive instant notifications and alerts.
The Starling Bank comes with the following key features:
Interest Rate – The rates offered are 15%, 25%, and 35% EAR (Equivalent Annual Rate) for arranged overdrafts, depending on various factors, including credit reference agency data. The representative APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is 15%, assuming a credit limit of £1,200.
Control – Once the overdraft is approved, the limit can be managed directly from the app. However, the limit cannot be reduced to less than the current overdraft amount.
Additional Fees – Starling Bank does not charge additional fees on top of the interest paid for the overdraft.
Going Over the Limit – Starling Bank does not charge interest or fees on the extra amount if the overdraft limit is exceeded. However, payments may be declined if insufficient funds cover them. The overdraft limit can be reduced, provided it’s higher than the current amount.
Does Starling Bank give credit cards?
Starling currently doesn’t offer credit cards, but their contactless debit card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
What’s the Starling app like?
The Starling Bank mobile app performs well as a digital banking platform with a nice crisp UX. It offers a user-friendly interface and instant payments, enhancing the overall user experience.
However, some room for improvement exists.
While useful, the “Saving Spaces” feature could benefit from better integration into the payment analysis system. Currently, transactions to and from these spaces and payments from spaces to payees are not accounted for in the payment analysis, thereby limiting its functionality.
Despite some areas for improvement, the app still scores highly on both Google Play and Apple’s App Store, attesting to its overall functionality and user satisfaction. With a 4.5-star rating from over 101K reviews on Google Play and a commendable 4.9-star rating from over 416.8K ratings on the App Store, it’s clear that the app has been well-received by most users.
Starling Bank Customer Reviews
Starling Bank has a great Trustpilot score, with 35,274 reviews attesting to an overall excellent rating of 4.3 out of 5.
75% of reviewers award Starling 5 stars, with 11% giving a one-star rating.
Positive reviews speak of ‘simplicity’, ‘ease of use’ and ‘works like a dream.’
Some of the one-star reviewers mention slow processing times for international payments.
Overall, this is a great review score which confirms my experience of this being a fantastic bank.
What are the alternatives to Starling Bank?
|Monthly Cost (standard account)||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE|
|UK registered bank account||✅||✅||❌||❌||✅|
|Direct debits/Standing orders||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Fee-free spending abroad||✅||✅||✅||✅*||❌|
|Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad||✅||✅*||✅*||✅*||❌|
|Current account interest||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌|
Starling Bank FAQs
Are Starling Bank ethical?
Yes, Starling Bank is considered ethical. They uphold transparency, fairness, and inclusion principles in their practices, pay a living wage, maintain an ethical supply chain, and commit to avoiding business with harmful industries. They also emphasize environmental sustainability and responsible technology use.
Can starling bank be used abroad?
Starling can be used abroad anywhere with the MasterCard symbol. There are no charges for foreign ATM use (although some individual ATMS add their own fee)
Is starling bank only for UK residents?
You can apply for a Starling account as long as you’re over 16 and live at a UK address. They welcome all nationalities; you don’t even have to be a UK tax resident.
Does starling bank charge for cash withdrawal
Starling Bank does not charge for cash withdrawals from ATMs in the UK or abroad.
Can you deposit cash at Starling Bank?
Yes, you can deposit cash into your Starling Bank account at any Post Office branch in the UK. There’s a small fee for personal account holders, but business and sole trader account holders can deposit cash for free.
Is Starling Bank covered by FSCS?
Yes, Starling Bank is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that your money is protected up to £85,000 if Starling Bank were to fail.