Fierce competitors in the UK banking market, Starling and Revolut both offer plenty of features while not charging monthly fees. At first glance, their accounts are very similar, but once you dive in a bit deeper like we did, you see that they are two very different challenger banks that are giving high-street a run for their money. Before we take a dive, here’s our short verdict:

Although both of these challenger banks have been in the market for a very short time, Starling Bank is just a more mature offering with a mature CEO and founder that gives us confidence in the future of the app. We love the fact that there are no fees and yet, the company is profitable. It’s just a better user experience for people that travel abroad or for people that just want to use it every day. Starling’s security, customer support, and deposit insurance are just the cherry on top. 

starling bank
  • Voted ‘Best British Bank’ 3 years in a row
  • Personal, Joint, Euro, Kids’, Teen, and Business accounts
  • Mobile cheque deposits
  • Overdraft and Loans
  • Marketplace
  • No fees
  • Seamless switching
  • Free card
  • Earn interest
  • Sign up for a Starling Bank account here.
  • No ATM fees home or abroad
  • Unlimited foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange
  • 15%, 25%, or 35% EAR* (variable) interest rate on overdrafts
revolut
  • Investing in crypto, stocks, and commodities
  • up to £200/m no-fee withdrawal
  • up to £1,000/m no-fee currency exchange
  • £4.99 for the card
  • Free Junior account
  • Donations with no fees
  • Earn interest
  • Sign up for a Revolut account here.
  • ATM fees are free up to £200, then a 2% fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No-fee currency exchange up to £1,000, then 0.5% fee
  • 2.5% crypto exchange markup and 1.5% commodities markup

Both Starling and Revolut Standard accounts do not have monthly fees but unlike Starling, Revolut does have other fees. You can get away without any fees though if you’re not exchanging more than £1,000 or you aren’t going to withdraw more than £200 per month.

Starling doesn’t support investing, hence no fees and Revolut charges relatively small fees for investing in cryptocurrencies and commodities. It is the opposite for overdrafts as Revolut doesn’t offer them.

In our Starling vs Revolut comparison, Starling Bank is the clear winner when it comes to charging their customers fees as they have no limits and no fees for your day-to-day transactions.

The way that the company earns money is by earning interest from your overdrafts or loans, by referring its users to the financial products in their Marketplace, and by getting a share of the fee that shops pay for accepting cards.

Security

Both companies boast their security features and track records claiming that they have the most state of the art security systems in place. But do they talk the talk or walk the walk?

starling bank
  • Card controls
  • Biometric identification
  • Confirmation of Payee
  • 3D Secure
  • Real-time notifications
  • Deposit FSCS insured
revolut
  • Fingerprint identification
  • Disposable virtual cards
  • Sherlock anti-fraud system
  • Customisable features
  • 3D Secure

Both apps have security measures in place that you’d expect from a digital bank or a payments app. They offer customisable features that make it easy to enable or disable a payments option for your card, 3DS verification, real-time notifications, and similar features.

In a recent investigation by Which? Starling Bank came on top of 13 leading banks in the UK market by scoring 5 out of 5 stars in almost every security aspect that they tested. Revolut wasn’t included though.

The issue with Revolut is that security problems often result from the company itself blocking customers’ accounts indefinitely while performing lengthy security checks.

You can find plenty of reviews from users reporting the same thing basically, that they were locked out of their accounts and that customer service reps aren’t responding.

Then there’s the deposit insurance. While Starling is a full-fledged bank in the UK and has your deposits FSCS-insured up to £85,000, Revolut applied for the banking licence in the UK in January 2021 only.

They do have other safeguards in place, like storing your deposits within a separate banking institution so that they’re safe if Revolut goes bust.

Starling Bank offers much more confidence when it comes to security. Not only are your deposits insured, but they also seem to put safety issues near the top of their list which is very refreshing.

Travelling

We’re only reviewing Revolut’s free account here because Starling only has a free account. This means that Revolut is missing many excellent features of its paid Metal account for instance which is great for travelling.

Starling

  • No ATM fees home or abroad
  • Unlimited foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited no-fee currency exchange

Revolut Standard

  • ATM fees are free up to £200, then a 2% fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No-fee currency exchange up to £1,000, then 0.5% fee
  • The free account is missing all the travel benefits of paid accounts

Starling is a clear winner again as it has no fees or limits for spending, changing, or withdrawing money abroad. Revolut’s free account is missing all of the features that the Metal account has, such as overseas medical insurance, car hire excess, free lounge access, or delayed baggage and flight insurance.

Saving

Starling

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

Revolut

  • Savings Vaults
  • Up to 0.65% AER on USD and 0.40% AER on GBP, paid daily

Vaults, Spaces, Pots, Pockets – different names for similar things. Starling has a meagre 0.05% interest rate on their personal and joint GBP accounts and even a negative interest of -0.5% AER on deposits that you hold over €50,000 on your euro account.

The way to separate your main balance is to open a Saving Space within the app. You can still have that money available when you need it and you can either save on autopilot by rounding up your transactions to the nearest pound or by adding cash manually from the main account. Add a photo and a name on the Space to make it more visual.

Revolut offers pretty much the same thing but they call it the Vault. You can also round up your spending or make a recurring or one-off transaction. The interest rates are better and so Revolut is the winner here.

Starling vs Revolut: 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
  • Overdrafts and loans
  • Free International and local payments payments
  • Multi-director access
  • Current Account Switch Service
revolut
  • No monthly fees
  • Connect to QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent
  • A £3 fee applies per international payment
  • A 0.4% markup applies for each FX
  • Spend like a local in 150 currencies
  • Multi-director access
  • Funds are safeguarded with a tier-1 partner bank

Both of these free business accounts have a lot to offer to sole traders or companies. It’s worth noting that Revolut has three more paid business accounts that we haven’t taken into account in our comparison. Those three, naturally offer more features, better fees, and additional perks than the free Revolut account does.

So, let’s see what the free version has on offer then. Your deposit isn’t protected by FSCS but is safeguarded on a separate account in a high-street bank. You can connect the account with third-party accounting tools and hold and exchange 28 currencies with free payments to other Revolut accounts. You’ll also get plastic and virtual company cards.

Revolut doesn’t offer any free international payments and they’ll charge you £3 per transaction. You’ll get up to 5 free local payments; after that, a £0.2 fee applies. There’s also a 0.4% markup for each foreign exchange transaction. You can offset these fees by upgrading your account to a £25 Grow, £100 Scale, or a bespoke Enterprise account.

Starling’s business account is inherently free and doesn’t charge you for any transactions at home or abroad. It’s also much easier to sign up by using their Current Account Switch Service if you already have a business account with a different bank.

Your deposit is safe because as a bank, Starling has its deposits insured up to £85,000 under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Your company can also avail of overdrafts and loans, including The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and The business Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

Same as the Revolut business account, Starling’s account connects to popular accounting tools. They also offer a £7 per month Business Toolkit add-on that does instant invoices, automated expenses, records and submits VAT, and estimates taxes.

All in all, Starling wins the business account battle as well because, all things equal, you just can’t beat the no-subscription, no-fee model.

Junior Accounts

Starling offers two different junior accounts – Kite, for kids 6-16, and Teen for 16 and 17-year-olds. The kids’ Kite account falls under your Personal account while the Teen account is a separate thing that kids have to apply for themselves using a phone and a passport.

Starling does charge £2 per month per kids’ account but all other fees are non-existent. There are plenty of management features that you can unleash on your kids’ spending. Place daily, weekly or monthly spending limits, or set where the card can be used ie. in shops, online or at cash machines.

You can freeze the card for any reason and get instant notifications when transactions happen. There are also monthly spending breakdowns and saving goals. Teach your children how money works by using the tools in your app like Savings Vaults or Goals.

As a Standard Revolut user, you get to make one free Junior account that lets you order their own card or download a separate Junior app for their phone. Some features like Goals and Tasks are only available on paid plans which is a shame. What you can do though, is set custom controls for things like contactless or online payments.

We are big fans of kids’ accounts and think that both Starling and Revolut have okay features that can teach kids about spending and saving money. Draw.

Investing

With Revolut, you can invest your money into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin + 9 other ones. Stocks and commodities like silver and gold can also be bought. Of course, you’re not actually buying these things. You’re only buying “exposure” to them, and that is what people hold against Revolut. We’re not saying that they didn’t popularize investing, but they could have done it better and with smaller fees. 

Starling Bank doesn’t offer any investment vehicles for their users because “their customers join them for the features that help them manage their money and their businesses in a more effective way.” All the added features take valuable resources in terms of people power and money, away from the main offering – the current account. The most apparent example of that might be customer support.

Customer Service

You can contact Starling customer support anytime in-app, by telephone or via email. They even offer separate life event, bereavement, money advice, and money worries support. 

Revolut on the other hand has some horror stories of customers getting their accounts blocked and getting no helpful response from the customer service. With more than 15 million users worldwide, it’s bound to happen, yet, we’d like to see less of it. People seem to be satisfied with customer support in general. 

Rapid expansion tends to bring a lot of headache to both users and companies and Revolut will have to hire new people consistently to keep up. 

The winner here is Starling. Its growth is much more stable, making it easier to keep up with growing user demands. 

Starling vs Revolut: Verdict

Whether you’re looking for a day to day banking app or a travel companion, Starling Bank won’t let you down. Their straightforward no fees – no thrills account doesn’t need all the bells and whistles that Revolut has to offer. If on the other hand, you’re looking to invest in crypto, stocks, or gold, Revolut does offer these things but there are some other apps in the market that will do that better and for less money.