Starling Bank Review

Starling Bank Review

Which? Banking Brand of the Year 2023 – The Winner

Reviews Rating
61%
Review Score
This figure is an average of the reviews score, taken from customer reviews and the overall rating of the bank.
62%
BankRank® Score
This figure is the average of the bank’s total sentiment score and the review scores.
Matt Crabtree
Senior Editor
Matt Crabtree
Matt Crabtree is a senior editor at CompareBanks. He has over 10 years experience in writing about all aspects of finance and is passionate about helping consumers make informed decisions about their money.
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Overview

Contact Info

Email
help@starlingbank.com
Address
5th Floor, London Fruit And Wool Exchange, 1 Duval Square, London, E1 6PW, United Kingdom
Phone
44 (0) 207 930 4450

Which? Banking Brand of the Year 2023 – The Winner

Winning Britain's Best Bank from 2018 until 2021, and Best Current Account Provider from 2018 until the most recent in 2022, Starling is arguably amongst the biggest and most well-known challenger banks.

Starling’s vision is to ‘create a better bank for everyone’. Is this a bank to consider for your new current account?

First Glance

It’s clear that Starling are proud of what they’ve achieved. They have, in their own words, ‘built a new bank from scratch’. That kind of start, with today’s technology, has given them the chance to design exactly what customers need.

Have they seized their opportunity, or does Starling’s offering fall flat?

Read on for a more detailed review of Starling to see how it compares with similar digital banks.

Pros:

  • App-based banking with a variety of money management features
  • Interest on your current account balance
  • Suitable for overseas spending and international transfers
  • Joint accounts available
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • No branches
  • Cash deposits can only be made at branches of the Post Office

What is Starling?

Starling is a challenger bank, founded in 2014. 2016 saw the first Starling bank accounts in action, with the official launch (and Starling’s app) in early 2017.

Since its launch, Starling has been aiming to innovate. It was, for example, the first UK bank to enable Apple Pay from within its mobile app. This means that customers can use their account, even making payments, before their card arrives through the mail. Android mobile wallet support followed in late 2017.

Starling was also the first digital bank account to join the Current Account Switching Service.

Banking. But Better.

Starling

Starling bank accounts are entirely managed through the app or through a desktop browser. Customers receive a contactless Mastercard debit card.

With access to the banking app, users can make use of a range of features including savings goals, real-time banking notifications and personalised spending reports.

Who is Starling for?

With Starling aiming to ‘create a better bank for everyone’, how do their offerings measure up?

For a start, Starling customers receive a full UK current account.

Unlike some other challenger banks, Starling does provide options for paying in cash and cheques. But, your options are limited. You’ll need to visit your local Post Office to make your cash deposit, whilst cheques worth over £1,000 (with a daily cheque deposit limit of £2,000 for personal, joint, and sole trader accounts and of £5,000 for business accounts) will need to be mailed to a Freepost address.

Cheques take 2 working days to clear, once they’ve been received by Starling. Any cheques worth less than this can be scanned in via the app, with no need to send them in.

There are no monthly fees for banking with Starling and no charges for everyday banking. Starling is also one of the few challenger banks to offer interest as standard on its current accounts.

For those that like a lot of financial control, along with spending insights and budgeting tools, Starling may be a strong contender.

How does Starling work?

You can open a Starling account by downloading the app to your Android or iOS device. You’ll need ID in the form of a driving license, passport, UK Residence Card or EU ID Card. You may also be asked for proof of address, such as a utility bill, council tax letter or a statement from another UK bank.

Opening your Starling account also requires you to provide a video selfie, and to go through a soft credit check.

Your Starling account is a full UK current account complete with interest payments, an account number and a sort code. You can receive incoming payments as soon as your account is set up, and make outgoing payments once your Mastercard arrives in the mail.

You can also choose to connect immediately to Apple Pay or Google Pay, for online and contactless payments even before your card arrives.

What features do you get with a Starling account?

Starling bank accounts the following features:

Interest Payments

Starling pays interest of 0.05% AER on balances up to £85,000.

Real-Time Banking Notifications

When you send, spend or receive money, Starling will alert you with an instant smartphone notification.

Spaces

Set money aside, attaching funds to Spaces that can help you to save for the things that you want to buy.

Control Your Card

If you’ve misplaced your card temporarily, you can use in-app controls to lock it. This stops your card from being used by other people until you’re sure that it’s still in your possession. You also have the option to stop certain types of transactions, for more control of your money.

Spending and Budgeting Tools

With Starling, spending insights show you how and where you’re spending your money. Use categories and budgeting tools to see how your money is used, and potentially where you can cut back.

Round-Up Savings

Whenever you spend on your card, Starling can round your transaction to the nearest £1. The additional money can be moved to one of your savings Goals.

Bill Splitting

Split any transaction with your contacts. Select the people that owe you money for their portion of the payment, and monitor their repayments in-app. Incoming payments can be matched against their debts so that you’re notified when friends have settled up.

Overseas Spending

You can withdraw funds from your Starling account with no additional fees at international ATMs. You can also use your debit card to make fee-free payments wherever Mastercard is accepted.

International Transfers

Using the Starling app, you can transfer funds to 36 countries. Payments are made using SWIFT facilities, going bank-to-bank almost instantly, and can be made in 20 different currencies with low fees and competitive exchange rates.

What packages does Starling offer?

Starling accounts are free of charge to set up and use. There is only one personal UK current account available, with all of Starling’s features included.

Are there any additional charges?

There are no charges for using a UK Starling account.

How safe is Starling?

Starling is a regulated bank. It received its banking license in 2016 and is regulated and monitored by both the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority.

Up to £85,000 is protected, per customer, as part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Within the app, you can also reduce your risk with security features including transaction limitations and card freezing.

What about customer service?

There are no Starling bank branches. But, their customer support teams are available 24/7.

You can use the in-app live chat for queries and questions, or the Live Chat feature on their website.

Emails to help@starlingbank.com are regularly monitored, with Starling claiming that they aim to respond within a two-hour window.

A Starling phone number (0800 0234 617) is only available for lost and stolen card emergencies.

Could Starling replace your existing bank account?

As a full UK bank account with a Mastercard debit card, account number and sort code, Starling is fully functional. You can deposit funds, make ATM withdrawals and set up Direct Debits and Standing Orders. You can also receive incoming payments, including your regular salary.

For an easy transition from an existing account to Starling, you are able to use the Current Account Switch Service (CASS).

You will need a relatively modern Android or iOS smartphone in order to use your Starling account. Also, bear in mind that there are no Starling branches. You’ll need to visit your local Post Office if you want to make any cash deposits.

Starling: The Verdict

It’s easy to see how Starling has become an award-winning challenger bank. In fact, its founder, Anne Boden, has been awarded an MBE for services to fintech.

The Starling current account is a strong feature-packed offering, with money management tools and even interest on your balance, though the amount is nothing to write home about.

Starling have shown themselves to be innovative, without coming up with too many novelties that exist for fun rather than function. And, for people that want a smartphone bank, this is probably a very good option.

Despite this, Starling’s lack of branches may alienate certain sections of society. Cheques worth over £1,000 can take a week to process, including the time spent travelling through Royal Mail’s system and an estimated 2 working days to clear. Meanwhile, cash deposits (whilst free) involve a visit to the Post Office.

Starling supports international payments in 20 different currencies.

With fee-free cash deposits and a range of useful budgeting tools, Starling could be considered more accessible than some other modern challenger banks.

More about Starling

Starling is an online-only bank that aims to challenge the way people see banking and make it easier for everyone. Founded in 2014 by Anne Boden, the pioneer of the Same Day Bank Transfer Service that revolutionised the way people handled their finances, the bank is based in London.

Founded in 2014, Starling Bank is a digital bank based in London. Founder and CEO Ann Boden had a three-decade career in finance before deciding banking was ‘fundamentally broken’ and built Starling entirely from scratch. Starling received its banking licence from the Financial Conduct Authority in July 2016.

Starling is what is known as a ‘challenger bank’, a relatively small enterprise set up with the intention of competing with long-established, larger national banks. There are no physical branches, so all banking is done via the Starling mobile app, available for devices running both Android and iOS or a web portal. In August 2018 it was announced that Starling are to provide payment services for the RBS/Natwest digital venture.

Starling Bank Products and Services

Currently, Starling offers personal, joint and business accounts with eligible deposits of up to £85,000 protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Customers looking to open a joint account must first open a personal account, although this is not required for business customers.

Starling customers can pay for products and services using Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay. Indeed, Starling claims to be the first bank in the country to offer in-app provisioning for Apple Pay customers, who are able to add cards to their Apple Wallet using the in-app Card Management screen.

The Starling banking app allows customers to instantly set up and make payments and set up and manage standing orders or direct debits. Accounts have their own sort codes and customers are able to earn interest on their balance. Account balances are updated in real-time.

Starling customers receive a contactless Mastercard debit card, which can be used both online and in-person to purchase products and services.

Starling's Security

Starling has several security features designed to guard against fraudulent activity. On signup, customers are asked to provide both an identity document and a short video confirming their intention to open an account –  these measures are aimed at preventing identity fraud. The app also supports fingerprint or facial recognition security, if the device used has this functionality.

Starling Bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In the event that the bank was to become insolvent, eligible deposits made by Starling customers are protected by the FSCS up to the value of £85,000.

Starling Contact Details

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

E1 6PW London

United Kingdom

Telephone: 0207 930 4450

Email: help@starlingbank.com

If you're looking for the best digital bank in the UK, then make sure you also consider your digital banking options.

Starling may not be the best choice for you!
If you're looking for the best digital bank in the UK, then click here to check out these options first.

Starling Bank FAQ

Are there any Starling branches?

Can my employer pay into my bank account?

Does my account earn interest?

Where are Starling cards accepted?

What is the minimum age requirement for a Starling account?

Is it free to put money into your Starling account?

How much can I withdraw from an ATM?

Are joint accounts available?

What transactions can I make at the Post Office?

Have a question about Starling Bank Review?

Find answers in Q&As and ask your question

To deposit money ... can i transfer from another bank account? — Lynda Joice

Hi, Do you need to be a UK resident to open a Starling account? — Gordon Smith

Hi, Is it possible to make a bank transfers instead of going to the post office to put money into the card? — Nicole Junior

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Starling Bank Review Reviews

Adrian Chamberlain
March 26, 2024

“So obstructive, their approach can be summed up by "computer says no"”

So obstructive, their approach can be summed up by “computer says no”. When I tried transferring money to a savings account with a higher interest rate their algorithms point blank refuse to do it, even for a relatively modest sum. So, I'm going to close my personal and business accounts with them and move to bank with real premises and real people.

Ryan Embrey-Jones
March 26, 2024

“Starling Bank allowed someone to access my online banking fraudulently, and subsequently, completely empty my joint bank account”

Starling Bank allowed someone to access my online banking fraudulently, and subsequently, completely empty my joint bank account. This happened 4 days ago and I am still waiting for someone to call me to tell me what is going on. I have called the customer service number at least 7/8 times now and I just get fobbed off and told “the fraud team are dealing with it” – what the hell does this even mean? What are they actually doing? Nobody has even acknowledged the fraud activity, I have raised complaints, I have requested multiple times that someone from the fraud team who are supposedly “dealing with it” to call me and tell me what's going on, and still I have had no contact. I can't imagine a more stressful situation that to have every last penny of your money taken, and yet they couldn't care less. I haven't even had an explanation as to how they have allowed this to happen – how poor must the security of this bank be. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Abbie Nicholls
March 26, 2024

“Unfortunately, I was scammed and while I was completely entitled to a chargeback, this bank’s incompetence means I will never see the money again”

Unfortunately, I was scammed and while I was completely entitled to a chargeback, this bank’s incompetence means I will never see the money again. I paid for services I didn’t receive and the bank rejected the chargeback on the basis of I hadn’t tried to contact the company, but the problem was they provided me with fake details. I in fact called them to ask before raising the chargeback and the agent said I should be fine without this proof, given that you can google the address and see it doesn’t exist. So I then wasted time (and money) sending emails and letters to the company which I knew would be returned as the agent said I could try again if I got the proof. After spending a long time collecting this evidence, I was then told I couldn’t raise it again. Every time I contacted them I was told the opposite of what they told me the last time. It’s pretty clear that the agents never fully read the messages and make a guess as to what they think the issue is. I requested a letter of deadlock 4 weeks ago so I could report them to the financial ombudsman, and they haven’t provided that, which is really shady. I have no other options on this subject, as I can’t sue a company that doesn’t exist; chargeback was the only recourse I had. So I’m writing this review to warn others to not use starling bank as their main provider, as they clearly don’t honor the rights you should get on all MasterCard purchases and certainly never use them for big purchases. It’s a shame as unlike larger banks, they don’t invest our money into fossil fuels etc, but their lack of training for their agents has cost me thousands of pounds.

Rachel Sharpe
March 26, 2024

“I have a Nationwide, Monzo and Starling account. I’m really unimpressed with Starling and shutting the account”

I have a Nationwide, Monzo and Starling account. I’m really unimpressed with Starling and shutting the account. Heavy admin burdens for someone who doesn’t work but receives money from rentals (monthly money laundering checks), constant issues with ApplePay at Starling’s end, low interest, I could go on. Monzo on the other hand doesn’t suffer with any of these issues and offers much more intelligent financial analysis – even summarising all my spending across all three accounts (Monzo, Starling and Nationwide) in my Monzo app.

2 persons found this helpful
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Starling Bank Review Accounts

Personal Current Account
Personal Current Account
Personal
Monthly Fee
Interest Rate
Yes
Overdraft
We charge interest at 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) based on a range of factors including information from multiple credit reference agencies.
Overdraft Rate
Joint Current Account
Joint Current Account
Personal
Monthly Fee
Interest Rate
Yes
Overdraft
We charge interest at 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) based on a range of factors including information from multiple credit reference agencies.
Overdraft Rate
Euro Banking
Euro Banking
Personal
Free
Monthly Fee
Interest Rate
Yes
Overdraft
We charge interest at 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) based on a range of factors including information from multiple credit reference agencies.
Overdraft Rate
Starling Kite
Starling Kite
Personal
£2
Monthly Fee
Interest Rate
No
Overdraft
Overdraft Rate
Euro Banking Account
Euro Banking Account
Personal
Monthly Fee
0.05%
Interest Rate
No
Overdraft
Overdraft Rate
Business Current Account
Business Current Account
Business
Free
Monthly Fee
Interest Rate
Yes
Overdraft
We charge interest at 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) based on a range of factors including information from multiple credit reference agencies.
Overdraft Rate
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