I’ve used or researched dozens of digital banks and mobile banking apps in the UK and worldwide. Some of them are good, and some are bad. But how does someone who doesn’t do this for a living find the best digital bank for them?
I’m here to break down the best online banks by category, so it’s easier for you to find your perfect account(s).
When you’re looking into a bank, make sure to go to Trustpilot to see what past and present customers think about the app and the company, and its products and services.
Some of the following banks also have a separate review on our website that you can study as well.
- Best Digital Bank Overall – Starling
- Best Free Accounts – Starling
- Best Paid Accounts – Revolut (Metal)
- Best for Savings Accounts – Raisin
- Best for Travel – Revolut (Metal)
- Best for Kids – gohenry
- Best for International Money Transfers – Wise
- Best for Metal Cards – Monzo (Premium)
- Best for Convenience – PayPal
- Best for Businesses – ANNA
- Best for Freelancers – Wise
- Best for Credit Buiding – loqbox
- Best for Cashback – Curve
- Best for Investing – Revolut
- Best Second Chance Digital Bank – Monese
- Best for the Environment – Tandem
- Best Digital Wallet – Apple Pay
- More digital banks in the UK
Best Digital Bank Overall – Starling
|No monthly fees||Low savings interest rate|
|No fees for spending in other countries||Low daily limit for ATM withdrawals (£300)|
|The first recycled plastic card in the UK|
|Cash deposits in Post Offices|
|Personal, business & joint accounts|
Starling Bank is a digital challenger bank and the brainchild of Anne Boden, a famed Welsh tech entrepreneur who founded the bank in 2014.
The bank rebranded as Starling in January 2016 and obtained its UK banking license the same year.
It has won the Best British Bank award in the British Bank Awards five years in a row now. When you think about all the competition from the traditional banks to the new challenger banks, the awards really mean even more.
Starling Bank really offers an account option for everyone. You have your personal current account, your joint account, Euro account, kids account, and teen account, as well as a business account for companies and sole traders.
You can apply for each of them inside the app in the account menu.
Starling Bank genuinely walks the walk and offers great tools and services in its easy-to-use app. It might not be so popular among the younger crowds, but it does seem to bridge the gap between high street and digital banking for the mature crowd.
It also has the least amount of complaints of all the other new banking platforms that I have used.
Best Free Accounts – Starling
We are staying with Starling as it’s also the best free digital bank account in the UK.
The personal account leaves little to be desired. What I like the most about Starling’s personal accounts is that there are no monthly fees and no fees for using your card abroad or withdrawing money from ATMs.
You can currently send international transfers to 38 countries, with more on the way. I really see no reason why this shouldn’t be your main banking account.
Although it has no brick-and-mortar branches, the ease of use and reliability of the app doesn’t call for one either. You can track your spending and apply for financial services from the app itself.
Best Paid Accounts – Revolut (Metal)
|Free account available||The best features are in paid accounts|
|Multi-currency accounts||Poor customer support|
|Instant international money transfers||Some customer accounts are frozen temporarily due to security reasons|
|Connect all your bank accounts||No savings interest rates in most countries|
|Daily discounts and cashback|
|Great for travelling and sending money abroad|
|Stocks, crypto, and commodities trading|
After Starling, for me, the best digital bank is Revolut. However, its free account can’t compete with Starling.
But when we take into account Revolut’s paid plans, the story is much different. The famed Revolut Metal plan will set you back £12.99 per month, but it is full of perks and benefits.
For example, besides the cool-looking metal card that you get instead of a plastic one, you also have much higher ATM withdrawal limits, additional cashback on your card payments, high discount on international transfers, the ability to open up to 5 kids accounts, but also lower stock exchange and crypto trading fees.
There’s also the Everyday Protection package that gives you theft and accident coverage, event and ticket coverage, refund protection, as well as safer online shopping.
Best for Savings Accounts – Raisin
|Access to more banks||ISAs not available|
|Money management made easy|
|Choice of high AERs|
|Alerts for better rates|
Raisin is a digital marketplace that lets you easily find the best savings accounts and rates in the UK. You can find three types of savings accounts on Raisin:
- Fixed rate bonds
- Easy access savings
- Notice accounts
With fixed rate bonds, you lock away your money for a set amount of time but get a higher AER in return. At the time of writing, the highest rates were well above the 4% mark.
With easy access accounts, you get lower rates but can top-up and access your funds at anytime. Most of these will get you an AER above 2 percent.
And lastly, with notice accounts, you will have to give a 30-90 day notice that you want to withdraw your money. The rates here are similar to easy access account rates.
Best for Travel – Revolut (Metal)
We’re back to Revolut again. Not only is it one of the best paid accounts you can get, but I love this account mostly because of its many travel benefits, such as:
- Flight and baggage insurance
- Winter sports cover
- Overseas medical insurance
- Car hire excess
- Free or discounted lounge access
Even if I’m stuck at the airport, which, let’s be honest, keeps happening more and more in the last couple of years, I can go relax in a lounge or even get some money back for those annoying delayed flights.
Best for Kids – gohenry
|Low or no fees||Up to 4 kids per parent|
|Free trial||No savings interest|
|Automatic weekly allowance||No family account|
|Tasks, goals, and giving features|
gohenry was launched more than ten years ago as an app and a prepaid card. Interestingly, it got its name after its first client – an 11-year-old boy by the name of Henry.
Founded by a group of parents, the London-based firm even broke the world record for the amount of money raised (shy of £4 million on Crowdcube). The app now has more than 2 million clients in the UK and the US.
Like other online-only banks, gohenry makes it easy for you to sign up and delivers outstanding features for both parents and children.
For instance, I love that it lets me set up a weekly allowance for the kids, make spending limits for them, control where they can use the cards, and even set up chores that can earn them pocket money.
And lastly, if you aren’t sure that the account is for you, you have a one-month free trial period to test the app before you and your family commit.
Best for International Money Transfers – Wise
|No monthly fees||1.75% + €0.5 fee for ATM withdrawals above €200|
|Transparent money transfers||Debit card not free and not available in all countries|
|Great exchange rates||Deposits not insured|
|Easy to sign up||No cashback|
|IBAN from 10 different countries||No savings interest rate|
|Holds 50+ currencies|
Wise was launched more than ten years ago with a focus on completing international money transfers far cheaper and more transparent.
It has the best rates as the company simply uses the best exchange rate that you can get. I’ve used it numerous times and can honestly say that it’s miles better than, let’s say, PayPal.
But it’s also better than many other money transfer companies that have cropped up in recent years.
Apart from sending money, Wise also offers multi-currency accounts for people and businesses with 10 IBAN accounts from different countries, and an international debit card.
Best for Metal Cards – Monzo (Metal)
|Classy metal card||£15 per month|
|Worldwide travel insurance|
|Interest on balance and regular Pots|
|Fee-free withdrawals abroad|
|5 free cash deposits a month|
I prefer Monzo’s metal card over that of Revolut. It’s made from a single sheet of stainless steel and is obtainable only for Premium account users that are willing to pay £15 per month. Although you can’t choose different colours, the white colour looks very classy and distinctive.
The Premium account is full of features, benefits, and perks, such as worldwide family travel insurance, open banking, discounted lounge access, 5 free cash deposits per month, advanced roundups for easy saving, bill splitting, and more.
ATM withdrawals are fee-free in the UK and other countries. You can take out £600 for free every 30 days.
If you reside in the UK and are looking for a better banking experience, you should consider Monzo bank. You’ll get around-the-clock customer service, deposit protection, a cool app loaded with features, and a sleek metal debit card.
Monzo is effective for the spending, saving, and budgeting of your funds.
Best for Convenience – PayPal
|Widely accepted||Many fees|
|Free for many domestic transactions||High international costs|
|Convenient and easy to use||Expensive foreign exchange fees|
|Multi-currency accounts available||Some transfers take time|
|Instant credit options||Scammers love it|
PayPal is a payments behemoth with well over 400 million customers around the world. Although it has fewer benefits than in the United States, PayPal in the UK still has more functionalities than in the rest of Europe.
You can, of course, use it to buy online but also in-store. Most people use it to send money locally or abroad, but also increasingly to buy things in installments or even to buy cryptocurrency.
For businesses, PayPal is still an indispensable tool for accepting payments. But the reason it’s the king of convenience is that so many people already have a PayPal account and that it’s just there, ready to be used.
I know that I still use it on a regular basis for personal and business reasons.
Best for Businesses – ANNA Money
|Free account available||No loans|
|Fully automated VAT self-assessment||Deposits are not FSCS protected|
|Auto-match payments to expenses||Foreign currency fees|
|Calculate and file VAT returns|
|4/7 responsive in-app customer service|
|Cashback on purchases|
ANNA (Absolutely No-Nonsense Admin) is an online-only business current account and assistant created to help small to medium-sized companies.
It offers simple accounts that are nearly the same across the board. The only difference is the monthly cost which depends on the scope of your business, with a free pay as you go account available.
Because digital banks aren’t as strict about who they let in, you can get a current account for your business in a few minutes, coupled with a debit card that miaows.
I found that it’s incredibly easy to add funds to your account via transfer. But ANNA also includes a convenient invoicing tool that allows your clients to pay you directly into your account. The app will even follow up with a reminder to your clients if they neglect to pay in time.
Other features include expense management, additional debit cards, tax service, MTD VAT filing, open banking, and accounting software integrations, making ANNA value for money.
Best for Freelancers – Wise
I chose Wise as the best account for freelancers, even though there are many other viable options on the market, including Starling, Revoult, ANNA, and Monzo, among others.
Freelancers in today’s world often work with international clients and travel extensively. If you don’t want to lose any of your hard-earned cash due to unfair fees, you can apply for Wise with a few taps. Their transparent and fair fee structure won’t leave you guessing.
The company lets you keep almost all the money that you earned with writing, coding, video editing, or whatever else you do.
You can use the business debit card to pay business expenses and spend online or in-store all over the world in the currency of the country you’re buying from to save on conversion fees.
Additionally, there are many business tools that every freelancer, sole trader, or entrepreneur needs.
Best for Credit Building – loqbox
|Credit builder program||No savings interest rate|
|Free||Can’t move your monthly payment date|
|No credit checks||Missing a payment damages your credit|
|Reports to 3 agencies|
Loqbox calls itself a “wellbeing business”. It operates not only here, but in the US as well. It’s also among the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK. So, why is it so popular?
First of all, it can help you build or improve your credit score, which we know is extremely important. It does that through one of four ways:
- loqbox spend
- loqbox save
- loqbox rent
- loqbox coach
With loqbox spend, you grow your credit score with an credit account that’s interest-free and has no hard checks, charges, or anything similar. The company then reports your account to the three major credit reference agencies.
Save and rent work in a similar way, and the coach program helps you master your money and gain financial knowledge.
Best for Cashback – Curve
|Up to 20% cashback||Free account for two cards only|
|Free account available||Amex, Maestro, and Diners not supported|
|Ability to switch transactions from one card to another|
|Great for people with many cards|
|Optional metal card|
A unique player in the digital banking world, Curve is trying to make your life easier by combining all bank cards into one. It’s great when it works as intended, but when there are problems, you could be stuck waiting for their slow customer service.
But Curve also offers a rewards program simply called Curve Cash. It includes a variety of cashback programs where you earn 1% cash back on every purchase made with your Curve Card.
If you’re already getting cashback from your other cards or accounts, you’ll get Curve cashback on top of them too.
Best for Investing – Revolut
Apart from being great for travelers, I also prefer Revolut for investing. I use it alongside Degiro and especially love investing fee-free in stocks. I get real-time updates on my tracked stocks, together with any news that I don’t want to miss.
Available are more than 1,500 stocks that you don’t have to buy whole but can get fractional shares, as well as, around 100 cryptocurrencies that you can buy with 30+ currencies.
Best Second Chance Digital Bank – Monese
|No proof of residence or credit history needed||No banking license|
|GBP, EUR and RON accounts||No overdraft|
|Bills & Purchase Protection||No loans|
|Credit builder||Free account limited|
|Budgeting and analytics|
Monese is one of the top digital banks in the UK. This bank is somewhat specific, though. You know how banks ask for a myriad of documents like proof of address, local utility or council tax bills or even rental contracts with your name on it.
Monese, on the other hand, doesn’t ask for any of that. All you’ll need to open an account is an email address, phone number, and ID.
There are also no credit checks or income history checks. You will, however, have to take a short video selfie in the app to confirm your identity, but that’s as far as it goes.
Best for the Environment – Tandem
|Autosave||No current account|
Tandem was founded in 2015 by Matt Cooper, Michael Kent, and Ricky Knox, who, until recently, was serving as CEO. He was replaced by former Credit Suisse executive Susie Aliker.
They acquired a banking licence by purchasing Harrods Bank in 2018. The deal also brought them Harrods’ customers and £80 in the capital. But also, £375 million mortgage book and over £400 million of deposits!
Tandem has doubled down on its offering outside credit cards and is on a mission to become “the good green bank” by offering green loans. Apart from that, you’ll still need a current account elsewhere, as Tandem only offers savings accounts.
The bank also has a marketplace that provides access to tools, advice and a breadth of greener home improvement services and products. These can all help you cut down your bills and, what’s increasingly important, your carbon footprint.
Best Digital Wallet – Apple Pay
|No monthly fees||Works only with Apple devices|
|No transaction fees||Limited features|
|No internet connection required||Instant transfer fee of 1.5%|
|Easy to use with an Apple Watch|
More than 500 million people worldwide use Apple Pay and its wallet feature that lets you hold bank cards, tickets, boarding passes, loyalty cards, government IDs, and more in their digital form.
Alternatives are obviously Google Pay and Samsung Pay that do almost the similar things. I find Apple’s wallet the best however, and the most secure.
Other Notable Digital Banks in The UK
- UK’s first app-based bank
- Savings, mortgages, and loans
- High AERs
- Free to open
- Highly rated by customers
Atom Bank offers high-yield savings accounts and mortgages, as well as competitive loans.
Although it doesn’t have some of the features that I rely on, such as a current account, what it does, it does great. But, it will also not replace my regular bank account for now.
- Connects to other bank accounts
- Free trial
- £7.50 per month
- Business insights tool
- Sorts out taxes
- Send invoices
- Claim expenses
Coconut is a digital bank that offers smart bookkeeping and tax management for sole traders, freelancers, the self-employed, and small business owners.
It was founded in 2016 by Adam Goodall and Sam O’Connor and is based in the UK and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
You can connect as many bank accounts with the app to get a consolidated view of your business.
The app lets you track all your business transactions kissing spreadsheets goodbye. By collecting data on your self-employed income, loans, rental and PAYE income, you can get an overview of the taxes boxed to the government.
- Easy to open online
- Debit and credit cards
- Owned by HSBC
- Est in 1989
- Current and savings accounts
- Loans, mortgages, investments
First Direct has been around since the late 80s and has brought innovation into the stale banking sector. Today, the bank has 1.5 million customers that rely on its many services.
The bank has a great reputation as one of the first true innovators in financial services, not only in Europe but worldwide. Their service gives many long-time customers peace of mind in their well-established internet and phone banking services.
The app makes all your day-to-day banking needs straightforward and fast. It’s also one of the few digital banks that offer a comprehensive online banking service, with choices of first direct current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, investments, loans, mortgages, etc. It’s handy to have all of these accounts in one place on the app.
- Available in the UK
- Soft credit check performed
- Credit builder program
- Cashback rewards with major retailers
- Open online in minutes
Pockit is a UK-based digital banking platform launched in 2014 by Virraj Jatania. The fintech company is known as a challenger bank for its innovative features and modern banking techniques.
It’s also proving to be a strong contender in this emerging market, with more than 700,000 customers.
They hold a Mastercard license and are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, though it’s worth knowing that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme does not cover money saved with Pockit.
Pockit’s biggest selling points are by far its cashback rewards with retailers that include Argos, New Look, Nike, Apple, Primark and others.
- Free account
- For sole traders and limited companies
- Backed by NatWest
- Syncs with accounting tools
- FreeAgent free account
- Branded invoices
When high street banks start their own challenger banks, you know that the banking market is getting crowded. mettle is a challenger bank backed by NatWest that focuses solely on business accounts for sole traders and small companies.
mettle is a very capable small business account that will appeal to everyone that wants a free business account and Mastercard to make their day-to-day banking easier. If you need to send or receive international transfers or wish to use a desktop, look elsewhere.
- Fast online mortgage application
- Inovativity that’s changing the mortgage landscape
- Accessible and fair mortgage service
- Straightforward online experience
- Limited companies eligible
- Ability to overpay
- Great customer service
Molo offers an incredibly convenient and accessible mortgage service for those looking to buy to let. It is completely evolving the process of obtaining a mortgage, which has traditionally been a long and relatively unpredictable process.
Molo Finance is a 100% online-only lender offering a swift and hassle-free mortgage to UK residents.
It’s also one of several online-only lenders emerging in the UK to disrupt the mortgage market, offering the competitive edge of making mortgage applications quick, fast, and fully accessible online.
- All the significant marketplaces supported
- Make and receive payments easily
- Currency exchange fees
- No monthly fees
- Easy to open an account online
Payoneer has been with us for a long time. It’s one of the best-known online payment providers in the world. It has partnered with the most prominent marketplaces like Amazon, Airbnb, Fiverr, Upwork, and many others.
The company headquarters are in New York, but they also have 24 offices worldwide. Their team is getting bigger every day, and as of now, it’s 2,000 people big. More than 5 million customers have used Payoneer’s services.
If you’re looking for a no-frills way to get paid and send payments to others, and you don’t need to accept cards, Payoneer is a suitable option.
- Over 100 countries supported
- Fixed fee
- Instant transfer processing
- Paysend Global account
- Paysend Smartcard
- Business accounts
Paysend is an excellent money transfer service and digital wallet for personal and business use. With a fixed transfer fee and acceptable FX rates, Paysend is on par with other money transfer services out there.
The company also offers a very capable digital bank account or wallet in which you can hold, spend, request, and, of course, send money.
The account comes with a Mastercard that will arrive after you pay a small delivery fee. You can hold up to eight currencies, including USD, GBP, EUR, PLN, and others. It’s also a good choice for travel as there are no extra transaction fees that some banks charge.
- For ages 3+
- 1-month free trial
- £19.99 per year
- Chore management system
- Prepaid Visa debit card for kids
- Educational content & resources
- Star & reward chart
- Flexible card controls for parents
Rooster Money is a prepaid debit card and pocket money app that’s available in the UK, US, and Australia. It’s designed to teach your kids how money, finances, and responsibility work.
There are three accounts available:
- Virtual Tracker (free)
- Rooster Plus (£0.99/m)
- Rooster Card (£1.99/m)
The top account comes with a free trial and a chore tracker and you can even set interest rates and add unlimited guardians.
- Easy to open
- No proof of address needed
- PAYG, £4.97 or £9.97 per month
- Saving and budgeting features
- Cashback rewards
Suits Me card was launched in 2015 in Cheshire, England. It’s a challenger bank that’s trying to carve out a niche in the UK banking sector. Since 2015, they have acquired more than 100,000 customers and have won numerous awards for their banking services.
People looking for a simple bank account that offers cashback and gives you a free Visa debit card will find Suits Me bank a good choice for their day-to-day banking needs.
Those who travel abroad a lot or need more features like loans, overdraft, or savings accounts need to look elsewhere.
- Allows you to pair your app with your other accounts
- Spending categorization
- Low fees
- Invoices can be created within the app
- Strong security features
Tide has to date acquired more than 450,000 customers in the UK. Its accounts are tailor-made for small and scaling businesses, as well as freelancers. Tide’s three different account types offer something for every business.
Tide is an excellent option for those it was designed for, specifically self-employed, freelancers, and small businesses.
The app provides an easy-to-understand overview of all accounts, helping customers keep track of finances and stay on top of payments and invoices all in one place.
The fees are reasonably priced for a business account, and it is a handy bonus that Tide allows its customers to make cash deposits.
- 8-18 years old
- 1st month free
- Free standard Osper card
- £2.50 per card per month
- Nickelodeon-branded card designs
- Saving options
You can add weekly or monthly allowance to the card, and oversee spending as well as set limits and any card controls you want.
The Osper app lets your child save for a specific goal and set up regular monthly savings based on the percentage of the allowance you give them.
What Features do Digital Banks Offer That Traditional Banks Don’t?
- Quick and easy online applications
- Approval within minutes
- No tedious paperwork required
- Advanced analytics features
- No hidden fees
- Fewer to no fees for transactions and ATM withdrawals abroad
- Savings accounts or non-savings accounts with interest
- Monthly reports and forecasting
- In-app customer service
- Bill splitting
Are UK Digital Banks Safe?
Security is extremely important when it comes to banking. For that reason, some of you may be concerned about how safe and secure online banks really are.
Don’t worry though, digital banks are at the cutting edge of innovation, and this includes security.
One of the expectations I and many other people have when joining a bank is that it is FCA-approved (by the Financial Conduct Authority), and that the FSCS scheme protects our deposits (up to £85,000).
Many digital banks are full-banks, This includes Monzo, Starling, and Tandem, among many others; however, it is certainly something you can check before you open an account. Some banks are also FCA-approved but have yet to receive the coveted FSCS protection.
When it comes to safety of your digital bank account, challenger banks have proven that they are often far more innovative in ways they protect customer accounts.
Although they make it extremely easy to sign up to their services, they also use rigorous methods of authenticating user identities, such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, and voice recognition, and they will continue to adopt the latest security technology as it comes out.
Traditional banks, on the other hand, are often following the lead of challenger banks when it comes to innovation, so this should provide digital bank customers with some peace of mind about their security.