Best Online Banks in the UK

Thinking of switching to a digital bank? Here are the best online-only banks and apps to choose from.

Updated: May 26, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rachel Wait

Edited By

Rachel Wait

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Best Online Banks in the UK

Digital banking has grown massively over the last few years and has overtaken many traditional current accounts offered by banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Natwest and Lloyds.

Many challenger banks have jumped at the chance to impress customers, offering attractive app-based and online banking options which use the latest technology, from accounts offering real-time spending alerts to those with no fees for spending abroad.

What is an online bank?

Online banking offers pretty much all the services traditional banks offer, but instead of going into a bank branch to do your banking, you can do it online – via a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

It means you can manage your finances on the go, from anywhere in the world at any time of the day or night. You can choose a bank that is purely online, without any branches, or you can choose one which has a mixture of both. 

Best online banks at a glance

To kick things off, here is our table of some of the best online banks to choose from. Most of these banks can be set up within minutes, but this does mean you can't go into a branch to speak to someone.

BankBest ForProsCons
Starling BankBest UK bank overallAccess to full UK current account, interest on balance, overdraft access.Primarily app-based management.
WiseMulticurrency transfersLow-cost money transfers, holds funds in 40+ currencies, fee-free payments in GBP, USD, EUR, and AUD.Not ideal for large payments or frequent cash deposits.
RevolutInternational paymentsMulti-currency top-up, free travel insurance, holds cryptocurrency.Monthly fee for premium features, no cash deposit option.
MonzoEffective budgetingBudgeting tools, free overseas cash withdrawals, no transaction fees abroad.Cash deposit limits and fees, some associated account fees.
MoneseOverseas studentsNo proof of address or credit check, real-time notifications, various plans available.Fees for cash deposits on the Simple plan, limited free features.
ChaseBest all-roundUser-friendly app, 24/7 support, 1% cashback on spending, multiple account features.Focus is quite broad, may lack some specialised services.
bunqEthical bankingPartnered with Wise for transfers, ethical incentives, access to multiple EU IBANs.No free plan, available in Euros only, focused on ethical banking.
ZopaSavings accountsRange of savings options, clear app-based account management, FSCS protection.Focus on savings and credit, less on everyday banking.
ANNA MoneyBusiness bankingOnline business account, features for SMEs, cashback on business spend.Aimed at SMEs, not for personal use, monthly fee or pay-as-you-go.
Atom BankMortgages and savingsEasy account setup, encouragement and tools for savings, range of account terms.Primarily savings and mortgage focused, less on current accounts.
goHenryTeaching financial responsibilityFinancial education for kids, parental controls, reward system.Monthly fee, aimed at children and teenagers only.
Virgin MoneyHonourable mentionInterest on balances up to £1,000, access to savings accounts, cashback on spending.Mainly a general account, less focused on specific needs.

A closer look at the best online banks

Let's take a look at the best online banks picking out some of each one's unique features to help you decide.

ProviderOverseas FeesMonthly FeeArranged Overdraft (EAR)App Rating (Apple Store/Android Store)
1. Starling BankNoNoIf eligible (15%, 25% and 35% EAR variable)4.9/4.5
2. WiseNoNoNo4.8/4.7
3. RevolutNoFrom £0 No4.7/4.5
4. MonzoNoFrom £0If eligible (19%, 29% or 39% EAR/APR variable)4.9/4.7
5. MoneseNoFrom £0No4.7/4.0
6. ChaseNoFreeNo4.9/4.4
7. bunqNoFrom £0No4.2/3.5
8. ZopaNoFreeN/A4.9/4.7
9. ANNA Money1%From £0N/A4.4/4.5
10. Atom BankN/AFreeN/A4.8/No rating
11. goHenryNo30 days free, then from £3.99No4.5/4.2
12. Virgin MoneyConditions applyFreeIf eligible (fees apply)4.6/2.5

1. Best digital bank overall in 2024 — Starling Bank

When it comes to all-rounders, they don’t come much better than Starling Bank. The challenger bank gives users access to a full UK current account that they can manage directly from the app.

It takes only a matter of minutes to get started, and there are plenty of features for just about everyone.

Unlike the majority of the other best digital banks, you get interest paid on your balance, as well as access to an overdraft.

There are many reasons why it's my top pick but if you’re looking for an account you can use as your main current account, you can’t go far wrong with Starling.

2. Best for multicurrency transfers — Wise

With the Wise borderless account, you get low-cost money transfers that are, according to the company, up to eight times cheaper than regular banks.

You can also hold your funds in over 40 different currencies. So, if you’re the type of person who tends to make a lot of transfers overseas, this could be the account for you.

Similarly, you can receive payment in GBP, USD, EUR, and AUD without paying any fees.

You can also get account details for each of these currencies. Of course, it’s not a flawless system. For those who make regular large payments, you could be better off using a speciality service.

Similarly, if you make a lot of cash payments into your account, you should look elsewhere.

3. Best for international payments — Revolut

Revolut is one of the fastest-growing e-money institutions in the UK, and for good reason. The feature-laden account gives you access to all kinds of benefits.

Perhaps most notable is the fact you can top up your card in several currencies.

This means if you’re travelling overseas a lot, you can reduce the fees you pay. What’s more, with the premium features, you can get free travel insurance. You can also hold your cryptocurrency balance in your Revolut account.

As with Wise, there are no options for paying cash into your account. And, if you want access to the best features, you will need to pay a monthly fee, so you'll need to weigh up whether this is worth it.

4. Best for effective budgeting — Monzo

Monzo is practically an established name in the digital bank world these days. The company has spent time developing a broad range of features to help you manage your money better.

You can set budgets, create savings pots, and keep money aside for bills.

You’ll also benefit from free overseas cash withdrawals on your card (up to £200 per month) as well as no transaction fees on overseas spending.

Monzo has gradually added other features such as overdrafts, loans, and joint accounts, making it a viable choice as a main account.

However, there are some limits and fees associated with the account. You can only deposit a maximum of £1,000 cash into your account every six months, and it costs £1 per deposit using PayPoint.

5. Best for overseas students — Monese

Whether you’re a student from overseas studying in the UK or a local student heading abroad, Monese is a good choice of bank. You won't need to provide proof of address or undergo a credit check to get accepted — all you'll need is proof of ID.

Once you have the app, you’ll get real-time notifications and be able to keep track of your spending with ease.

The Simple plan has no monthly fee, but you can also upgrade your plan and get access to more features in return for a monthly fee.

Accounts can be held in GBP, EUR and RON and you can spend on your card abroad fee-free (up to £2,000 a month for the Simple plan).

You'll also be able to withdraw cash fee-free up to a set limit each month. Unlike some of the accounts on here, you can deposit cash directly into your account using the Post Office or PayPoint — a fee applies for the Simple plan.

6. Best all-round — Chase

Chase is a contemporary digital challenger that’s been launched by JPMorgan, one of the largest banks in the US.

So if you have concerns about the safety of your funds with a bank that you're not as familiar with, Chase can put a lot of those to rest. But that's not all Chase has going for it.

It's a solid, all-round choice, with an easy-to-use app, the option to open multiple accounts to help you budget, and excellent 24/7 customer support access — something that some of the more established challenger banks can't offer.

You also get 1% cashback on your everyday debit card spending for your first 12 months (new customers, max £15 per month, cashback exceptions apply).

7. Best for ethical banking — bunq

As a relative newcomer to the digital banking space, bunq is trying to do things a little differently.

The firm is actually partnered with Wise, meaning that you get the same great rates on international transfers. Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll get access to instant payments and can make up to 6 free ATM withdrawals per month. Ethical banking is at the heart of what bunq does.

Bunq has a variety of environmentally conscious incentives for their customers. However, there is no free version of the service, and it’s only currently available in Euros.

There are three banking plans to choose from, plus a savings account. The Easy Money plan lets you have multiple EU IBANs and send money in more than 15 currencies.

8. Best for savings accounts — Zopa

Zopa started life as a peer-to-peer lending company but has since gained a full banking licence.

The newly formed Zopa Bank offers savings accounts and credit cards to customers. You can choose from an easy access account or a cash ISA, as well as five fixed rate savings accounts, with terms of between one and five years.

It’s quick and easy to get started. You'll need a minimum investment of £1 for the easy access and cash ISA accounts and a minimum investment of £1,000 for the fixed rate accounts.

With the easy access account (Smart Saver), you can split your money into pots — you can choose instant access pots that give you instant access to your funds, or pots that require you to give notice before you access your cash and pay higher interest rates.

Similarly, with the cash ISA (Smart ISA), you can put some money in an instant access pot and some in a fixed term pot for one to five years.

Because of its banking licence, your funds are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

9. Best for business banking — ANNA Money

ANNA Money gives you an online business current account with a range of features to help you manage your finances. The account is aimed at SME owners and comes with a Mastercard debit card.

Features include automatic invoicing and invoice management, 1% cashback on your business spend and access to a range of additional employee cards.

If you’re relatively new to the world of business banking, ANNA can help keep you on track with your finances.

You can create pots in your account to save for taxes or other expenses as well as connect any other accounts you have through Open Banking. Choose from a pay-as-you-go plan or pay a monthly fee.

10. Best for mortgages and savings — Atom Bank

Atom Bank is another brand that offers a range of long-term savings options, and it also offers mortgages.

You can get set up with a savings account in just a few minutes, and you’ll get a clear view of your funds and interest rates through the app.

If you’re trying to build your savings, Atom will actively encourage you to do so, as well as show you how much your possible returns are.

Choose from an instant access savings account, or fixed rate accounts with terms from six months to five years.

11. Best for teaching financial responsibility — goHenry

goHenry is a financial tool that’s designed for children from the age of 6 to 18. The app-based account gives parents access to the account, allowing them to view and control their children’s spending habits.

For the child themselves, they can see their balance and use a prepaid Visa card to make purchases and withdraw money. Every time the child uses the card, you’ll get a notification on your own app.

You can also set up a reward system, where funds are sent to the child's account when they complete certain tasks. The tool aims to help children learn about managing their money while giving parents the control they need to oversee this.

However, there is a monthly fee with the account, with two plans to choose from depending on what features you want.

The cheaper account only permits one free card top-up per month, while the more expensive plan offers unlimited free top-ups. You can also spend and withdraw cash on your card overseas fee-free.

12. Honourable mention — Virgin Money

Last on our list is Virgin Money, with an honourable mention. The free, app-based M Plus account has some great features, making it a good all-rounder.

You'll earn interest at a rate of 2.02% AER (2.00% gross per annum variable) on balances up to £1,000, with interest paid monthly.

Plus you get access to a range of savings accounts and you can earn cashback on your spending. It's free for everyone and takes just a few minutes to set up.

Methodology

In our review of the best online banks, we concentrated on several essential criteria:

  • Overall Performance – Evaluated each bank's comprehensive service offerings.
  • Currency Management – Assessed capabilities for handling multicurrency transactions.
  • Digital Innovations – Reviewed technological features that enhance user convenience.
  • User-Friendly Features – Considered ease of setup and personal finance management tools.
  • Specialised Services – Analysed specific services like ethical banking and business accounts.

For a deeper understanding of how we formulate our reviews and employ a star-based rating system, please visit our methodology page.

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