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Starling Bank review

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Starling bank have been going from strength-to-strength in the UK challenger bank space since 2017, providing a current account that allows customers to save money through ‘Goals’, earn money via interest and manage money through their intuitive app.

They have become known for their championing of the ‘portrait debit card’, but they are now known as a versatile current account provider with an app designed to help their customers. We’ve put together an in-depth review of Starling Bank so you can find out whether they’re the right challenger bank for you. Read on to find out more.

 Offers a Personal or Joint current account

 Euro and Teen accounts also available

Analyse your habits with Spending Insights

Use Goals to save money easily

​​​​​​​ Earn interest of up to 0.5% from your balance

​​​​​​​ Overdraft facility available

​​​​​​​ Personal loans available

​​​​​​​ Supports Google Pay and Apple Pay

 Overdrafts come with a 15% equivalent annual rate

​​​​​​​ Additional 0.4% fee for sending payments overseas

​​​​​​​ If you lose your card abroad you could be charged £60

​​​​​​​ If you need to certify documents you will be charged £20

Products

  • Personal account – the personal current account from Starling is completely free-to-use and you can even earn interest on your balance as standard
  • Joint account – all the benefits of a personal account but built for couples and friends who are living together so they can pay bills and manage household money
  • Euro account – this account is designed specifically for those who want to switch between sterling and euros seamlessly. Sending and receiving is free but the conversion comes with a 0.4% fee
  • Teen account – if you want to set up an account as a 16 or 17-year-old, the Starling Teen account gives you access to a Mastercard debit card and plenty of features for managing your money

Eligibility criteria

  • At least 16 years old (18 years old for a personal account)
  • Valid government-issued photo ID
  • Proof of address in a supported country
  • Have a compatible smartphone and mobile phone number from a supported country
  • Create a video selfie

App features

Having the Starling app puts you in touch with your personal finances like never before, allowing you to control everything, from standing orders to savings. You can also keep your money safe on the fly, by restricting the way your card can be used and deactivating the card at the touch of a button.

Spending Insights will allow you to see a breakdown of your account, automatically separated into categories so you can see where you might be overspending. You can even attach receipts, photos or notes to individual transactions to help you keep in control of payments.

Goals will allow you to save money within the app, where you can easily put money aside for a particular reason, or just for a rainy day. Combined with the Round-up feature, which rounds transactions up and puts the loose change aside into your savings, you will find saving money a lot easier.

Pay nearby allows you to transfer money to other Starling users without the need for any bank details. This makes it quick and easy to split the bill at a restaurant, or pay someone back for money you owe.

Marketplace is a useful integration in Starling’s app, allowing you to take advantage of other financial products from third parties, including mortgages, insurance and pensions.

Security

Starling have security features to ensure you have close contact with your account at all times, allowing you to pick up any irregularities or make integral changes at the touch of a button.

This includes activating or deactivating different payment methods such as contactless, chip & pin, ATM withdrawals, online payments or mobile wallet payments. You will also benefit from 3D Secure when making payments online.

When you sign up to Starling you will have to provide not only a government-issued ID but also a short video confirming who you are, ensuring your identity throughout the sign-up process is protected.

There is the choice to use your phone passcode as well as an additional passcode to access your account, meaning you can have two layers of protection. Furthermore, depending on which smartphone you have, you will also benefit from biometric or facial recognition when signing in.

Spending abroad

As standard, you can expect to pay no extra fees on top of any holiday spending, though like other foreign payments you’re advised to pay in the local currency to avoid additional fees and a poor exchange rate. Starling offers the Mastercard exchange rate if you pay in the local currency, which is preferable to most other rates available.

You will only pay an additional fee if you happen to be sending money abroad. Making an international payment will incur a 0.4% fee plus any additional charges for faster payments.

Fees and charges

There aren’t many additional fees on Starling accounts, though you can expect some when it comes to sending money abroad or using an overdraft. Since they don’t offer a premium version of their account, it means at the very least your account is free to use.

  • Overdraft – interest fees when using an overdraft come in at 15% EAR and is calculated on a monthly basis. However, Starling say that if your interest charge comes in at less than 10p, they will waive it completely
  • International payments – as explained above, you will pay an additional 0.4% to send money abroad. You might incur further charges depending on the country you’re sending it too and how fast you would like to send it

Support

Starling have a help centre with answers to most of the common questions they have been faced with, allowing you to quickly get assistance with your account. They also have a chat function through the app, a live chat via their website and an email address you can contact that will reply to you within two hours.

If you have anything more pressing to discuss such as a lost or stolen card, you can get in touch with their contact centre via a freephone number and quickly get it locked.

Summary

Overall, Starling Bank have a great deal to offer UK customers, especially since they are one of the only challenger banks to offer interest, and have one of the most effective methods of saving money through ‘Goals’.

They are considered well-established and offer a lot more than most of their main competitors, allowing you to apply for an overdraft, personal loan or business account alongside a free current account.

This range of financial products has been extended further through Marketplace, allowing you to access mortgage offers, insurance quotes, accounting software and pensions too. Alongside their intuitive app, they are one of the most attractive and flexible challenger banks available in the UK.

Does Starling sound like the challenger bank for you? Find out more details about Starling bank over on their provider page, or start browsing our current account tables using the link below.

Robert Bester