Starling Vs. Monzo 2021 (Complete Comparison)

starling vs monzo

Starling and Monzo will always be connected in a way because without one, there probably wouldn’t be the other. Monzo was born when a couple of top Starling executives, including Tom Blomfield, left the company and founded Monzo. Both banks are now fierce competitors in the UK banking market. Let’s have a look at what they have to offer. But first, here’s our short verdict:

Both Starling and Monzo are excellent challenger banks for a new era of banking. They already took a lion’s share from the high street and the only way is up for them. Starling is a better contender of the two as we like their simplicity and the fact that they charge hardly any fees. If you need a free one-stop banking account on your phone, Starling should be on top of your download list. 

starling bank
  • Voted Best Current Account Provider by the BBA
  • Apply online in minutes
  • No monthly fees
  • No ATM fees at home or abroad
  • Overdraft and loans
  • Mobile cheque deposits
  • Personal, Joint, Kids, Teen, Euro, and Business Accounts
  • Sign up for a Starling Bank account here.
  • No ATM fees home or abroad
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange
  • 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) interest rate on overdrafts
  • 0.4% transfer fee and a delivery fee for international transfers
monzo bank
  • Apply online in minutes
  • No monthly fees
  • Personal, Joint, 16-17, and Business Accounts
  • Overdrafts and loans
  • Energy switching
  • Bill splitting
  • Sign up for a Monzo account here.
  • No ATM fees at home
  • No-fee ATM withdrawals abroad up to £200/m, then 3%
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange
  • 39% EAR (variable) interest rate on overdrafts
  • International transfers handled through Wise

There’s not much to write here as both banks are excellent in this regard. The only fee that Monzo will charge you is if you withdraw more than £200 per month while abroad.

For international transfers with Starling, you’ll have to pay a 0.4% transfer fee and a £5.50 delivery fee for more reliable SWIFT payments. There’s a cheaper no reference and no recall payments option that has a £0.30 delivery fee.

Monzo has an option to transfer money internationally through their app but it’s handled by Wise, formerly TransferWise. They charge a small fee plus a 0.35%-0.65% fee depending on the type of transfer – low cost, advanced, or fast transfer. The amount of money that the recipient gets, in the end, is more or less the same with both Starling and Monzo.

Read our Wise review here

Security

Security of your deposits and the app’s security is definitely something you should look into when choosing a digital bank. Luckily, both Monzo and Starling excel in this regard. They send you instant notifications for transactions happening on your account and you have the option to use Touch ID, Face ID, fingerprint or PIN logins.

There are also all sorts of card controls you can utilize. Choose whether you want to allow or disable contactless and chip & pin payments, ATM withdrawals, online payments and your mobile wallet. Freezing or cancelling your card instantly is also a great option if you think it might be lost or stolen.

Both Starling and Monzo are also fully regulated UK banks that follow the same rules as high-street banks to make sure that your money is absolutely safe.

Your deposits are also insured and protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). That means that if your bank went bust, you’d get all your money up to £85,000 back. If deposits or savings are in a joint account the total of FSCS protection doubles to £170,000. This protection is automatic and free. 

As you can see, both banks offer safe and sound digital banking platforms in terms of app features and deposit protection.

Travelling

Starling

  • No ATM fees
  • No fees for spending money
  • Mastercard exchange rate
  • No need to inform them

Monzo

  • No ATM fees up to £250/m in EEA and £200/m elsewhere, then 3% fee
  • No fees for spending money
  • Mastercard exchange rate
  • No need to inform them

There’s a recurring theme here, as both Starling and Monzo offer fee-free travel with no spending fees, no fees on top of Mastercard’s exchange rate and zero ATM fees. Well, at least up to £250 if you’re with Monzo free account. Even their £15 Premium account has a monthly limit of £600 fee-free withdrawal.

Starling on the other hand never charges the ATM fee, making them a slight winner in the travelling comparison.

If you’d pay the £15 monthly fee for the Monzo Premium account, you’d get worldwide travel insurance for you and your family and discounted airport lounges. Read how their Premium account compares to the Revolut Metal Card account. 

Saving

Starling

  • Get 0.05% AER on balances up to £85,000
  • Saving Spaces

Monzo Free

  • No interest rates on the free account but up to 1.5% AER on paid accounts
  • Savings Pots

Starling offers a slim 0.05% interest rate on their personal and joint GBP accounts and a negative interest of -0.5% AER on deposits over €50,000 on your euro account.

You can make a separate account by opening a new Saving Space in the app. To make the account more personal and motivating, add a photo and a name to your Space. Spaces aren’t real savings accounts and for that reason, your money is always available and there’s no time limit as to how long the money has to sit in the account. 

One can either save on autopilot by rounding up their transactions to the nearest pound or by adding cash manually from the main account.

Monzo doesn’t have Spaces but it does have Pots. They do the same thing; they collect your spare change, one-off sums, regular payments, and even quirky automated payments like putting a fiver into a Rainy Day Pot every time it gets hotter than 20 degrees. It really is a shame then that Monzo’s free account doesn’t have any interest rates attached to your saving efforts.

Monzo and Starling do basic stuff here with their piggy banks with an abysmal interest rate of only 0.05% from Starling and a non-existing one (in the free account) for Monzo. I guess, the winner is Starling then by a slight margin. 

Read also our Starling vs Revolut comparison. 

Starling vs Monzo: Business Account

starling bank
  • No monthly fees
  • FSCS deposit protection (up to £85,000)
  • Connect to QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent
  • Cash and in-app cheque deposit
  • Deposit up to £20,000 cash at the Post Office for £3
  • Overdrafts and loans
  • Free International and local payments
  • Multi-director access
  • Current Account Switch Service
  • Used by 300,000+ businesses
monzo bank
  • No monthly fees
  • FSCS deposit protection (up to £85,000)
  • Cash and cheque (up to 3 weeks) deposit 
  • Deposit max. £1,000 in cash every six months (£1 fee per deposit)
  • Zero fees abroad
  • Free and instant UK bank transfers
  • Mobile and web access
  • Used by 75,000+ businesses

Starling comes strong out of the gate with its comprehensive yet free business account for sole traders and companies. Their zero-fee policy from the personal account transfers into the business account as well. Starling’s business account has all the features that a modern company expects to have in a bank account.

Things like integration with popular accounting tools, cash and check deposits, free payments to local and international firms, access for more directors than one, and so on. The things that we like the most must be spending analytics and digital receipts. Both of these features just make life easier for a business owner. 

If you’re in need of overdraft or business or government loans, Starling Bank does offer them. They are solely focused on CBILS/BBLS business lending at the moment and aren’t taking any other loan requests. 

You can deposit up to £20,000 cash at the Post Office for 0.3% charge per deposit with a minimum £3 fee, and cheques digitally in-app, for free to your business account. Starling also offers a Business Toolkit that for only 7£/m manages your invoices, bills, tax, VAT and more. 

Monzo has a free and a paid Business account. For £5/m you’ll get invoicing, multi-user access, integrated accounting, tax pots, “exclusive offers”, and an optional 6 months of Xero.

They don’t do overdrafts or loans for businesses for the time being, and what’s disappointing, only take in cheques by post – no in-app cheque deposits. This isn’t something you’d expect from a digital bank in 2021. 

There’s another concern too – you can deposit only up to £1,000 in cash every six months. If your business or trade relies heavily on cash, stay clear.

Monzo’s Business account isn’t bad, it’s just a bit worse than what Starling has to offer. If you need to deposit large sums of cash or want to conveniently scan cheques in, via the app, there is no choice here but to go with Starling. 

Read our full review of Monzo Business accounts

Junior Accounts

Monzo offers a personal account for 16 and 17-year olds that is a full-fledged banking account minus two things – no overdrafts and no spending for things that only 18+ can buy or use, like gambling. You’re getting a full UK current account with an account number and sort code, so you can send and receive money.

Starling offers both kids and teen account. Kids account falls under adult Personal account that only parents can open for their 6-16 year old kids. Teens can apply for their Teen account with a smartphone and a passport for verifying their identity. It also has all the features of an adult account. 

Starling’s kid’s account is called Starling Kite and costs £2 per month per kid. It’s great for giving kids their pocket money and teaching them good spending habits with all the control in your hands.

The winner here is Starling as it offers accounts for both kids and teens.

Joint Account

It’s easy to sign up for a joint Monzo account. Both persons will need to have a regular Monzo account already though. Just head to the settings on their accounts tab and follow instructions. You can also easily switch your existing joint account from another bank by using the Current Account Switch Service where you’ll be covered by their Switch Guarantee. 

Both persons will get separate debit cards that are different in design from the personal account cards. In the app, you can see who spent money on what and also set budgets for things like grocery shopping, restaurants, transport, or anything else. 

Starling Joint account is equally easy to set up once you both have a Personal Starling account. If the two of you are sitting together, a joint account scanner will quickly locate your partner, and then all they’ll have to do is find you too and accept. 

There’s nothing else to add here really as both companies make it equally easy to apply for their Joint accounts and offer similar features. Both deposits are protected by the FSCS. It’s a draw. 

Monzo vs Starling: The Verdict

From two great bank accounts, one has to be a winner. And in our opinion, Starling has a better, more mature offer that extends from personal to the business account. Their mostly fee-free banking app is a breeze to sail through and offers everything and more that you could ask from a free banking account. 

Two seemingly similar challenger banks do have different tactics to lure in new and keep old users. While Monzo started to gain ground in the USA during the pandemic, Starling had their hands full in quickly rolling out the Government-backed loans and attracting 2,000+ new lucrative business customers in mere 24 hours. 

They also rolled out much-needed features like Connected cards that allowed customers that were isolated during the pandemic to give access to funds to other people to buy them groceries among other things. And then there were in-app check scans that allowed people to deposit their cheques without leaving the home. 

Monzo in the meantime launched their paid Premium account that offered travel-centric perks that no one at the time needed. The result was staff furloughs and layoffs.

We hope this Starling vs Monzo comparison helped you decide which bank account to go for.