Starling Bank - The Award-Winning Digital Bank
Starling Bank is a digital bank that provides a range of accounts and benefits to help people manage their money. Since its inception, Starling Bank has won multiple awards, including Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider, two years in a row.
Customers of Starling Bank receive a debit card that can be used to make payments and withdraw cash from ATMs. Customers can also set up direct debits, pay bills, transfer money, and have their salary paid into their accounts.
What is Starling Bank?
Starling Bank was formed in 2014. It is the brainchild of former Allied Irish Banks COO, Anne Bolden, who has since been awarded an MBE for her dedication to financial technology.
Besides offering current accounts, Starling Bank has also entered the world of loans and overdrafts, which is something not all digital banks offer.
What is a Digital Bank?Although they provide many of the same features as a traditional high-street bank, the main difference with a digital bank is that you manage everything via an app on your smartphone.
Digital banks have become popular in the UK and around Europe, as they do away with unfair charges and archaic methods of banking often practised by traditional banks.
History of Starling Bank
- 2014 - Former Allied Irish Bank COO, Anne Boden establishes Starling Bank.
- 2016 - The bank raises £48 million through Fintech funding.
- 2017 - Starling Bank launches its beta and partners with TransferWise.
- 2017 - Starling becomes the first digital bank to join the Current Account Switch service.
- 2018 - The bank launches business accounts.
- 2018 - Starling Bank partners with Post Office, allowing customers to use its branches to deposit and withdraw cash.
- 2019 - It launches personal Euro accounts in the UK.
Is Starling a bank?
Absolutely! Starling Bank has a banking licence and it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Besides this, it also protects up to £85,000 of your money through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Who is Starling Bank owned by?Starling Bank is a fully independent bank and does not belong to any larger banking groups or parent companies.
In its relatively short life, Starling Bank has amassed almost one million customers, received awards for Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider - not once but twice - and its founder, Anne Boden, received an MBE for her commitment to financial technology. These are some excellent achievements for a bank that only came into fruition in 2014.
Awards aside, customer service reviews are normally a good indicator of how a bank treats its customers. Fortunately, for Starling Bank, its customer reviews echo the praise it receives from its peers.
Review site Trustpilot gives Starling Bank a generous 4.5/5, based on reviews from customers of the bank. In fact, 87% of reviewers rate it as excellent or good, and just 10% rate it as poor or bad.
To be fair to other digital banks, this positive review score is very normal. In fact, every single digital bank on the market outranks every high-street bank. Considering that the average Trustpilot score for a high street bank is around 1.5/5, digital banks seem to be shaking things up in a good way.
Starling Bank vs other banks.There is a good selection of digital banks available these days, and you can check out all the digital banks available to compare your options. If you are unsure whether digital banking is for you, then why not check out our guide on the Best Current Accounts available.
Starling Bank accounts and features
It is now common practice for banks to go beyond giving its customers the basics of paying money in and out of an account. Nearly every bank has additional perks and features, plus advanced ways of managing your money, such as mobile apps. Starling Bank is no exception to this, and below we have detailed the features and benefits of using its services and of the accounts available.
Starling Bank is packed with lots of great features that come free as standard with its current account.
Starling bank app
One of the main things you need to know about Starling Bank is that it has no branches, internet banking, or telephone banking. You manage everything via mobile banking. You may think this would be restricting, however, it is becoming the norm for modern-day banks. Monzo, Revolut, N26, and Monese all follow the same mobile app-based banking method, and it has proved very successful.
The Starling Bank app is used to:
- Open a new account.
- View your account balance, spending summary, and budgets.
- View your transaction history and account information.
- Send money to other people or transfer funds between accounts.
- Apply for an overdraft or loan.
- View and amend your direct debits and regular payments.
- Speak with an advisor and view FAQs.
The Starling Bank app is one of the highest-rated banking apps available. Customers rate it 4.9/5 on the App Store and 4.6/5 on the Google Play Store, where it is available for free download.
Built within the Starling Bank app lives a clever budgeting tool called Spending Insights, which summarises your spending behaviour and gives you the ability to create budgets to help you manage your money.
Every time you use your Starling Bank account to make a payment, send money, withdraw cash, or receive a payment, the app automatically assigns the transaction a category. So, if you spend £20 at Tesco, the app will categorise this as ‘Groceries’ You can then use Spending Insights to see how much you have spent so far this month on ‘Groceries’ or any other category.
To help you manage your money further, Starling Bank gives you the ability to set an overall budget and a budget for each category. You will receive a notification whenever you are getting close to reaching one of your budgets, so you can slow down on your spending.
Whenever there is activity on your account, you will receive a notification on your phone, letting you know:
- The amount paid or received.
- Where the payment was made or the name of the person who sent you money.
- How much you have spent so far today.
Starling Bank will also notify you if it declines a payment or direct debit, letting you know how much it declined and the reason.
Digital banks tend to offer different levels of accounts, with each level having its own set of features and benefits. Starling, however, does things a bit differently, offering just one main current account, plus a teen account, and a euro account. The good thing is, all of its accounts are free to open and free to use.
The Starling Bank personal account won Best Current Account 2019 at the British Bank Awards. It has no monthly fee and comes packed with a huge range of benefits, including:
- No monthly fee.
- Free MasterCard debit card.
- Earn interest on your balance.
- Overdrafts for eligible customers.
- Instant notifications on your phone whenever you use your account.
- In-app budgeting tools.
- Round up your space change and save the difference.
- 24/7 customer support.
- No fees to spend or withdraw cash abroad.
- Google Pay and Apple Pay compatible.
And because a Starling Bank account works in the same way as a traditional bank account, you can use it to:
- Receive your salary.
- Pay direct debits and standing orders.
- Send and receive payments.
- Withdraw cash from an ATM.
- Spend in-store or online.
Starling Bank only offers one level of its current account. If you are looking for a digital bank that offers a premium account with additional perks such as travel insurance, metal debit cards, and phone insurance, then you might want to check out Revolut or N26.
A joint account is available to help you manage shared finances, savings, and bills. Both account holders will need a Starling Bank current account before opening a joint account.
You will both receive a debit card and have access to the joint account in the Starling Bank app, and you will also both receive notifications whenever there is activity on your account.
A joint account operates in the same way as an individual current account, except both account holders have full control over the account and the money held in it, so it is advisable to only open a joint account with someone that you know and trust.
You will have access to the same features and benefits of an individual account, so you can split bills, save money together, and set up joint budgets.
A euro account is exactly what it sounds like; an account for those who need a bank account in Euros, whether it be for holiday money, sending money abroad regularly, or for people from Europe who live in the UK.
If you already have a Starling Bank current account, you can open a euro account from within the mobile app. It is free to open an account and you will receive the following benefits:
- An EU IBAN.
- No account fees.
- Convert between pound sterling and euros.
- Switch between your pound sterling and euro account within the Starling Bank app.
The main benefit of having a euro account is that you don’t need to have two separate bank accounts, and you can exchange currencies as often as you like.
Customers enjoy real-time exchange rates, meaning that you will always get the best rate available. Starling Bank charges a 0.4% fee for converting currencies.
A Teen account is available for customers aged between 16-17. The account comes with the same features and benefits of a current account, minus the ability to apply for an overdraft or loan.
Loans & overdrafts
Starling Bank is one of only a few digital banks to offer overdrafts and loans to its customers. You can apply for a loan or overdraft directly from within the app, and view and manage all aspects of your loan or overdraft.
Eligible customers can apply for an overdraft with Starling Bank. It charges a flat AER of 15% which is accrued daily and charged to your current account on the 15th of the following month.
Starling Bank overdraft benefits include:
- No additional fees.
- Control your overdraft and check accrued interest from the app.
- Instant notification when you use your overdraft.
- Increase or decrease the amount borrowed within the app.
Similar to overdrafts, customers can apply for a Starling Bank loan within the app with no paperwork. If it approves your application, you will receive the money in your account instantly. Starling Bank only charges an interest rate, and there are no fees for making additional payments or repaying the full amount back early.
You will need an overdraft on your account before you can apply for a loan. If Starling Bank thinks it can offer you a loan, it will prompt you in the app.
Starling Bank connects its overdrafts with its loans. Which means, if you need a loan, you can only borrow as much as you have left in your overdraft. Say, for example, you have £2,000 left of your £4,000 overdraft; It will only be possible for you to apply for a loan of up to £2,000. Starling Bank will then reduce your overdraft by whatever you borrow.
Starling Bank business accounts are available to those looking for a low-cost way to manage their business expenses. Benefits include:
- No monthly fees.
- Deposit cash.
- Business Marketplace Integration.
- App and online banking.
- Notifications every time money enters or leaves your account.
- Free budgeting tools.
- CSV exports.
- Business savings.
Business customers also enjoy the same features and benefits as a personal current account and can manage both types of accounts from within the Starling Bank app.
How to open a Starling Bank account
Opening an account with Starling Bank is straightforward and should only take a few minutes. You will first need to download the Starling Bank app from the App Store or Google Play Store for free.
As part of the application, Starling Bank will ask you to confirm some personal information, including:
- Date of birth
- Mobile number
- Home address
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Who can open an account?
Starling Bank accounts are available to all UK residents that meet the following criteria:
- Over the age of 16
- UK resident
- Has a compatible smartphone
- Hold a valid proof of ID
If you are under 18, then you can apply for the Starling Bank Teen Account. This will automatically be upgraded to a full current account on your 18th birthday.
What is the application process?
Once you have downloaded the Starling Bank app and entered your personal details, it will prompt you to provide proof of ID in the form of:
- A passport
- A driving licence
The app will ask you to record a short selfie video to state your name and confirm you want to open a Starling Bank account.
Once you have done this, your account will be open straight away, your new MasterCard debit card will be with you in 2-3 working days, and you can view your new sort code and account number within the app.
You can add your card to Apple Pay or Google Pay as soon as your account is open, with no need to wait for your card to arrive, meaning you can start using your new account straight away.
Does Starling Bank do credit checks?
Starling Bank will check with a UK credit reference agency to confirm you are who you say you are, but you only need to pass a credit check if you wish to apply for an overdraft or loan.
Using your Starling Bank account
Once your account is open, you can start using your new Starling Bank account. You can have your salary paid into it, set up direct debits, plus all the usual things you would expect from a bank account.
Adding money to your account
The first thing you’ll need to do is add some money to your account. You can do this via:
- Bank transfer
- Any Post Office branch
Can you pay cash into Starling Bank?
Yes, Starling Bank has partnered up with the Post Office. Simply visit your nearest branch with your cash and Starling Bank card.
It is free to pay in and withdraw cash from your personal or joint account.
Direct debits and standing orders
To set up a direct debit to come out of your Starling Bank account, simply give your sort code and account number to the provider you wish to pay. It will then set up the direct debit for you.
For a standing order, simply visit the payment section of the Starling Bank app where you can set up a repeat payment. You will need:
- The sort code & account number of the person/business you want to pay.
- The amount you want to pay.
- A reference number.
- The date you want the payment to be made, plus any repeat payment dates.
You can view, amend, or cancel your active direct debits and standing orders from within the Starling Bank app.
Sending and receiving money
If you need to send money to somebody, you can do so via the Starling Bank app and the money is normally in the other person’s account as soon as you hit the send button. There are a few ways to send money.
To send money to a non-Sterling Bank customers’ account, you will need their sort code and account number. Just head to the payment section of the Starling Bank app and fill in their details along with the amount you want to send.
If the person is a Starling Bank customer and they are in your phone’s contacts, then their name should appear automatically within the Starling Bank app. Just tap their name and enter the amount to send.
If you need to receive money, then the same rules apply. The person sending you the money will either need your sort code and account number, or they can find you in their Starling Bank app if you are in their phone’s contacts.
UK card payments and ATM withdrawals
A great feature of Starling Bank is that they charge no fees for using your card. The only time you may be charged is if the ATM you are using charges its own fee.
Online payments are also available with Starling Bank, so you can use it to shop online. Online payments are secure, and you will need to approve an online transaction via the app before it is authorised.
Using your account abroad
Every Starling Bank account comes with a MasterCard debit card so you can use it anywhere in the world that accepts MasterCard to make payments and withdraw cash from ATMs. Starling Bank does not charge any fees for using its cards abroad or withdrawing cash from an ATM.
You will need to factor in the exchange rate when using your card abroad. However, because Starling Bank uses MasterCard’s real-time exchange rates, you are always guaranteed the lowest rates available.
The Starling Bank app can be used anywhere in the world, as long as you have your phone with you. If you lose your card abroad, you can freeze it in the app or report it lost/stolen.
Whenever you use your card abroad, you will receive instant notifications letting you know how much you spent, where you spent it, and how much it charged you in both pound sterling and the currency of the country you are in. You can then use the app to view the exchange rate applied to your purchase.
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