If you are looking for an app-only bank, or the cheapest way to spend money abroad, but are struggling to decide which is best for you we compare Revolut* and Starling Bank* - two of the biggest players in the market. In this article, we give an overview of the key differences between Revolut and Starling Bank but you can also read about each in more detail in our full Revolut review and our full Starling Bank review.
You can use the links below to jump to key parts of this comparison of Starling Bank vs Revolut:
Revolut vs Starling - which is best?
|UK registered bank account|
|Direct debit/Standing order|
|Money management features|
|Fee-free spending abroad||Free up to £1,000/month||FREE|
|Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad||Free up to £200/month||FREE|
|Interest on account balance|
|Interest on savings|
|Connect other bank accounts to the app|
|Apple Pay/Google Pay|
|Insurance policies||(provides links from its marketplace within the app)|
|Invest in cryptocurrencies|
One important difference to note is that Revolut does not yet have a UK banking licence and neither is money held with it protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). See the section below titled "Revolut vs Starling - FSCS protection" for more details.
Both Revolut and Starling* have a host of great features that make them appealing to those who wish to get more from their bank and the fact that neither has a high street branch does not affect how you can use the mobile apps. The money management features that come with app-only banks allow you to better understand your finances and help you to improve your financial wellbeing with handy budgeting tools and account categorisation. Both apps come with these features, including categorised spending which allows you to see where your money is going each month.
Starling has the facility to deposit cheques up to £1,000 by scanning them within the app and you can also deposit cash via the Post Office, unfortunately, this is something that is not currently offered by Revolut. Revolut* does, however, have a range of insurance policies that can be accessed by users - some are for those on premium plans only - and you can also choose to invest in stocks and digital currencies via the app. We compare the key features between both Revolut and Starling in the above table but you can read our Revolut review and Starling Bank review for a more in-depth analysis.
Revolut vs Starling - Accounts
|Teen Account||(16 & 17 year-olds)|
|Kids Account||(6 - 17 year-olds)||(6 - 16 year-olds)|
|Euro Bank Account|
|Multi-currency Account||(For business only)|
Both Revolut and Starling have a range of accounts to choose from but Starling comes out on top with a greater account choice. In addition, it is possible to have a joint account with Starling Bank, something that is not yet available with Revolut.
Both Revolut* and Starling have options for children's cards. With Revolut you can get one <18 account for free with its standard plan however the features that you have access to are limited. If you want access to more <18 accounts and additional features you will need to subscribe to a premium Revolut plan. Starling Bank has a Starling Kite account for 6 - 16 year-olds which is accessible via your personal account, however, this does come with a £2 monthly fee. Once your child turns 16 they can benefit from a Starling Bank Teen account where they get all of the features of the main account without an overdraft and with some age-restricted transactions. The Starling Bank Teen account is free and can be set up via a smartphone.
Revolut has a multi-currency account which allows you to spend and exchange in up to 30 currencies. Starling Bank* also has a multi-currency account for business holders only but this is only available in Euros or US Dollars. You can however open a personal Euro account with Starling Bank.
Finally, both Revolut and Starling Bank have business accounts which we look at in more detail in our reviews:
Revolut vs Starling - Fees
|Monthly account fee||£0 (for the free plan)||£0|
|Subscription accounts/plans with additional features||£2.99/£6.99/£12.99 a month||N/A|
|Fee-free spending abroad||Free up to £1,000/month then 0.5% fee||No charge|
|ATM withdrawals abroad||2% fee (min £1) over 5 withdrawals or £200/month whichever comes first||No charge|
|ATM withdrawals in the UK||2% fee (min £1) over 5 withdrawals or £200/month whichever comes first||No charge|
|International Transfers||Varies depending on the currency. You can calculate the exact fee here*||0.4% + local transfer fees and £5.50 for SWIFT payments. Find out more here|
|Overdraft interest rate||No overdraft facility||15%, 25% or 35% AER|
|Depositing cash||Does not accept cash deposits||0.7% fee over £1,000|
|Replacement debit cards||£5 plus delivery fee||£5 in the UK, £60 if lost abroad|
When it comes to fees Starling is cheaper in comparison to Revolut as you can withdraw money from ATMs fee-free both abroad and in the UK (some ATMs may charge a fee) as well as spend abroad at no extra cost. Revolut does let you spend abroad and withdraw cash fee-free but this is capped until you reach a certain limit. However, some of these restrictions are lifted with Revolut if you opt for one of its subscription plans.
Revolut vs Starling - Spending abroad
|Fee-free spending abroad||Free up to £1,000/month (on the Standard plan)||No charge|
|ATM withdrawals abroad||Free up to £200/month (on the Standard plan)||No charge|
If you want to spend abroad with no fees then Starling may be the better option as there are no limits to how much you can spend. Revolut uses the Interbank exchange rate which is a variable rate which means it is constantly changing.
When you spend on your card Revolut uses this rate to exchange the currencies. Starling Bank uses the Mastercard exchange rate to convert your money when you spend on the card. While it is often said that the Interbank exchange rate is better than the Mastercard exchange rate, our experience is that this is not always true as prices fluctuate. Usually any differences are relatively small.
Revolut vs Starling - FSCS protection
|UK registered bank account|
Is Revolut a bank? Despite having an EU banking licence, Revolut is still yet to obtain a licence for the UK. As a result, it is considered an e-money institution which means that your deposits are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Despite this Revolut says it 'safeguards' your money in a client money bank account which means that 'the money in these accounts would be used to pay out you (and our other customers) before anyone else.' With Starling Bank* your money is protected up to £85,000 per person under the FSCS.
Revolut vs Starling - Rewards
|Cashback||Earn cashback on everyday spending with the paid-for Revolut Metal plan. (0.1% in Europe and 1% outside of Europe)||Earn cashback if you integrate with Flux or Tail within the Starling Marketplace.|
|Rewards||Benefit from cashback and rewards when you shop with certain retailers using your Revolut card|
|Marketplace||Connect with other financial products to benefit from additional products including insurance, pensions and investment accounts.|
You can benefit from rewards and cashback with Revolut even as a standard user but to get cashback on everyday spending you will need to sign up to a subscription plan. Starling Bank has limited rewards and cashback offers in its app which means that Revolut is slightly better when it comes to offering user perks. Starling Bank does have a marketplace, however, where you can get access to other financial products and there is the opportunity to earn some cashback if you connect to the Flux or Tail services.
Revolut vs Starling - Saving
|Round up spending|
|Interest rate||Between 0.55% - 1.20% depending on the Revolut plan||0.05% on current account balance|
Both Revolut and Starling have savings pots and round-up functions to allow you to save spare change and save for rainy days or a particular savings goal. Revolut does also have the option to open a Savings Vault where you can earn interest on your savings. Depending on which Revolut plan you have you can earn up to 1.20% interest on your savings and your money is saved with an FSCS protected provider. Starling Bank does not offer any savings accounts but you can earn 0.05% interest on your current account balance.
Revolut vs Starling - Lending
Revolut does not currently offer credit to its users and opening an account with Revolut does not require a credit check. Starling Bank offers accountholders an overdraft facility between £500 - £5,000 but you will need to apply for this and approval will be subject to a credit check and a hard search on your credit report. If you do not apply for credit with Starling Bank only a soft search will be conducted when you open a Starling account which will not impact your credit rating.
Revolut vs Starling - Customer reviews
Both Revolut and Starling Bank are rated 4.4 out of 5.0 stars on the consumer review website Trustpilot. 75% of over 30,000 users rate Starling Bank as excellent with 76% of 112,000 users rating Revolut as excellent. Starling Bank users commented on good customer service, a prompt set up and great to use overseas. Revolut users cited a user-friendly app, efficient for spending money abroad and great customer service.
Revolut vs Starling - Summary
If you are after an app-only bank and current account that offers the products and services you've come to expect from a UK bank then Starling Bank* will appeal over Revolut*. Starling Bank also offers the reassurance of full FSCS protection and has a UK banking licence, unlike Revolut. While Revolut states that its card is a bank account (it has a sort code and account number) it really operates best as a prepaid card when travelling abroad. This is where the comparison between Revolut and Starling is most interesting. Both are among the cheapest ways to spend money overseas and there is little to choose between them. Revolut's free plan does have monthly spending limits beyond which fees are applied to overseas spending, but they are minimal. These fees can be reduced if you pay a monthly charge for one of Revolut's more expensive paid-for plans which also offer perks such as airport lounge access. Meanwhile, Starling does not apply limits on overseas spending or ATM usage, meaning that Starling's current account offers fee-free use abroad which is impressive. The difference then comes down to the exchange rate used by both when converting your money, as detailed in the section above titled "Revolut vs Starling - Spending abroad" and whether you want a UK current account for future use (Starling) or just a prepaid card to use when on holiday (Revolut).
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