The UK’s marketplace for banks is increasingly diverse. More and more disruptor banks are popping up, challenging the previous bricks-and-mortar style of bank or building society.
A disruptor that has been around for almost a decade is Starling. It’s an option for a bank offering a different way to run your finances. Here, we round up how this bank works and whether it's worth you making the switch.
Who are Starling Bank?
Starling Bank is a digital bank founded in 2014. It is widely perceived as a challenger bank.
It operates entirely online. It has no high street stores and offers a range of personal and business banking services. Its focus is on mobile banking, so Starling has a user-friendly app allowing you to conveniently manage your finances. The bank has gained popularity for its innovative features, such as instant transaction notifications or budgeting tools.
Starling Bank is also known for its customer-centric approach. It aims to provide a straightforward and personalised banking experience. For instance, it offers the ability to stop spending on your card if it is lost or stolen, for instant bank card freezing. The bank also offers competitive rates for foreign exchange when using your card abroad by offering customers the real Mastercard exchange fee with no fees on top.
What are the key features of Starling bank accounts?
Starling Bank accounts come with a range of key features. They’re all designed with that customer-first focus, so you have flexibility and control over your finances.
Some of the key features for each Starling customer include:
- Mobile and online banking: Starling Bank is a fully digital bank. Its user-friendly mobile banking app allows you to manage your account anytime, anywhere. You can also access your account using a computer too.
- Instant notifications: With these, you get notifications for every transaction, helping you stay on top of your spending and ensuring the security of your account.
- Spending insights: The app provides detailed spending insights, categorising your transactions and offering visual representations to help you understand your spending habits.
- Saving: You can set up Spaces within your account, tracking your progress and putting money aside for specific purposes.
- Split the bill: You can work out what you owe specifically on a bill with the split the bill feature when out and about with friends or family. You can send out IOUs by working out who owes what.
- Cash deposits: The Post Office is where account holders can deposit cash if they need. Deposits are free of charge up to £1,000 per year; anything over this amount will incur a 0.7% charge.
- Cheque deposits: Even though the bank is fully digital, you can still deposit cheques. You can do so through the app for up to £1,000. Above this amount, you can send the cheques to Starling Bank by Freepost.
- Overdrafts: Eligible customers can apply for an overdraft facility, providing access to additional funds when needed as a form of short-term lending.
- Fee transparency: Starling Bank has transparent fee structures, with no monthly account fees and no fees on spending or cash withdrawals abroad.
- Direct Debits and standing orders: The app lets you easily set up and manage regular payments.
- Contactless debit card: Each account comes with a Mastercard debit card, allowing you to make online and in-store purchases.
- 24/7 Customer support: Starling Bank provides round-the-clock customer support to assist with any account-related queries or issues.
What type of accounts can I open with Starling Bank?
With Starling Bank, you can open various accounts to suit your financial needs. You’ll need to pass a credit check and meet other eligibility criteria, but if you do, you could open the following types of account:
Personal current account
As the standard account for individuals, this type offers everyday banking features such as debit cards, Direct Debits, and mobile banking app access. Through this account, you can manage your transactions set money aside in Spaces to help you budget for your retirement targets, and benefit from those aforementioned spending insights.
Starling Bank allows you to open a joint bank account with another person if you are both eligible. It provides shared access and control over the account, making it helpful when managing shared expenses and finances.
Starling Bank offers business accounts tailored specifically for small businesses and freelancers through its sole trader account. These accounts provide the ability to invoice, carry out expense management, and do tax calculations. Plus, there are no monthly fees.
Starling Bank does regularly introduce new features, so it's a good idea to visit their website for the most up-to-date information on available account options.
What are the benefits of switching to Starling Bank?
Switching to Starling Bank offers several benefits, including:
Seamless digital experience
As a digital-only bank, Starling’s app offers a convenient banking experience. For instance, you can manage your accounts, make payments, and access various banking services from the comfort of your mobile device or laptop.
Instant transaction notifications
Starling Bank’s instant notifications to your mobile device give you immediate updates on your account activity. While that can help you stay on top of your finances, it also strengthens your financial security.
Spending insights and budgeting tools
The app’s spending insights are very detailed, categorising your transactions to help you understand and track your spending habits. Its budgeting tools allow you to set financial goals, create savings targets, and monitor your progress.
Spending abroad with Starling Bank does not incur a charge. Starling uses the Mastercard real rate, with no additional fee charged from Starling on top.
Competitive foreign exchange rates
The bank also has competitive rates for foreign exchange (not just GBP to Euro), making it cost-effective for international transactions. The fee you pay is the Mastercard real rate and if you need to make an international transfer, you will be charged a 0.4% fee on top.
Quick and easy account application
Applying for an account with Starling Bank is a straightforward and hassle-free process. You can complete the application online in minutes without the need to visit a physical branch or deal with extensive paperwork.
Starling Bank provides 24/7 customer support through its in-app chat feature, ensuring prompt and efficient assistance. Their support team is helpful and responsive.
Enhanced security features
Starling Bank prioritises security. They do so by employing robust encryption and authentication measures to protect your personal and financial information. Other features like instant card freezing and transaction alerts add an extra layer of security.
If Starling Bank is fully digital, how do I take money out or make deposits?
Even though Starling Bank is a fully digital bank, there are still many convenient ways for withdrawing money or making deposits:
- ATMs: Starling Bank customers can use any ATM that accepts Mastercard to make ATM withdrawals.
- Over-the-counter at the Post Office: Many Post Office branches allow customers to make cash withdrawals and deposits over the counter using your Starling Bank card. It's best to check with Starling Bank or the Post Office for specific details of the exact services offered.
- Transfer in: As with other online banking services, you can transfer money into and out of your account using the account number and sort code.
- Cheques: Using the app, you can submit a cheque of up to £1000. If it’s over that amount, you can post it to Starling free of charge.
Is my money protected with Starling?
Yes, your money is protected with Starling Bank, thanks to it being an authorised bank in the United Kingdom. That means it operates under the regulatory framework established by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
However, there are other key aspects which help the protection of your money protection with Starling Bank:
- Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS): Starling Bank is a member of the FSCS. As a result, eligible deposits you hold with Starling Bank are protected up to £85,000 per person, per banking institution. Your money is thus safeguarded in the event that the bank fails.
- Strict Security Measures: Starling Bank views security as paramount. It therefore employs a number of robust measures to protect your money and personal information. That includes encryption, two-factor authentication, and biometric login options.
What’s essential to remember is that while these measures provide significant protection, they do not cover instances such as fraud or loss of funds due to unauthorised access to your account. In such cases, it's crucial to notify Starling Bank's customer support as soon as possible and take appropriate action to mitigate any potential risks.
Switching to Starling
With a wide range of innovative features and exciting benefits, there are so many reasons to apply for a Starling account and then make the switch in its app. Plus, the Current Account Switch Service guarantee means that as your new bank, Starling has to switch your payments and transfer your balance. Your previous bank will have to arrange to close your old account. Therefore, switching should be easy. In fact, it usually only takes 7 days to switch using CASS.