Revolut Vs Starling

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A few years ago, you could only access financial services from traditional banks devoid of technology. The simplest of services required a day of waiting in queues and bank managers that never seemed to be there when you needed them. The financial services you could access depended entirely on where you lived or did business.

When digital banks started, they had one goal: to provide their customers with financial services wherever they were. With only a few options to pick from, it was easy for customers and businesses to pick one. After all, they were better than the alternative.

But, the number of digital banks has swollen over the years with increasing features. It’s harder for customers or a business to pick the right one considering the many factors they have to consider. Pay iO, Revolut and Starling Bank are among the leaders in this field.

This guide compares two industry leaders, Revolut and Starling Bank, to uncover what they offer and which of the two could be the better option for you.

About Revolut

Revolut is a fintech company with a single app covering its customers’ financial needs. It is easily the most successful fintech start-up in Europe. It has millions of customers with a staggering valuation into the billions.

Revolut offers an extensive range of features and services. But its core product is an app-based current account with a debit card. It also offers other financial products within the app, including money transfers.

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank was one of the challenger banks in the UK. It has taken many customers from the traditional high street banks and is believed to have gained over 3 million customers in the last few years.

Unlike some of its competitors, it is a trusted brand and bank and has gained a full bank status and is often used as a secondary account.

Account Plans

The two challenger banks have different account plans. Customers can choose which of the account plans serves their needs best.

Revolut

Revolut has four different tiers of personal accounts and a business account service. Each of the accounts has a different price. Besides the monthly costs of operating each account, the other difference is the increasing withdrawal limits, among other additional perks. The account tiers are as follows;

  • Revolut Standard – Free
  • Revolut Plus – £2.99/month
  • Revolut Premium – £6.99/month
  • Revolut Metal – £12.99/month

Starling Bank

Starling Bank has a simpler account plan. They only have one account tier, which is free. There is no monthly paid option, and every account feature is available on the free plan.

Verdict

Customers looking for a simple, cost-free account will be pleased with what Starling Bank offers. It has very low running costs with few drawbacks. Revolut has a similar offering but with limited features. If you want to access the entire package, you have to part with a monthly fee.

Features

Available features vary depending on the account you choose. Most features are common in both accounts, but each has a few that make it unique and attract specific customers.

Revolut

Revolut has a more robust range of features as far as digital banking is concerned. The most notable of these is the easy-to-use smartphone app. You can bank wherever you are, any time, day or night. The app gives you spending analytics to help you understand your finances and spending patterns. 

The app features a notable feature called “Pockets.” It allows you to categorise your spending with pockets. If you have a saving goal, you can use the “Vaults” feature within the account to save. Should you choose to use the saving feature on Revolut, your savings can earn interest. On Revolut, customers get instant notifications of any activity in their accounts. 

The Revolut app also allows you to set a budget and create spending categories. It’s a nifty way to organise your finances and ensure every penny counts.

You can withdraw money worldwide using the MasterCard debit card on any ATM that accepts the card. The card is enabled for Apple Pay and Google Pay and has contactless features. You get free ATM withdrawals with the card up to a certain limit on each account tier.

Besides saving and setting your financial goals, you can also use Revolut to invest in stocks and other available options.

There’s no doubt that Revolut has an extensive range of features. But, most customers are attracted to its low-cost currency transfers, which are at the real exchange rate.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank has a more individual and domestic approach which is evident in its features. Depending on various circumstances, it offers a 3-tier overdraft service at 15%, 25%, and 35% EAR.

Its mobile app is quite robust, with the ability to manage the limit directly through the app itself. The app gives you access to your finances 24/7. You get instant notifications on any activity and the same savings feature in the form of “Spaces” on Starling Bank. You can also use the spaces to split your money for different expenses like bills and savings.

Starling Bank has a resourceful marketplace where it recommends other financial services like insurance, mortgages, pensions and more. 

With the Starling Bank debit card, you get free ATM withdrawals in the UK and within Europe. And you don’t have any limits on the free amounts you can take out. Using the app, you can freeze and unfreeze the card and get interest on your current account balance.

Verdict

Starling Bank having a fully-fledged bank status has its perks, including the overdraft features. But Revolut has features that you can’t access on Starling. These include the ability to book holiday accommodation, travel insurance, lounge passes, refund protection, accident coverage and the potential for reimbursement if you’re unable to attend an event.

Domestic customers might find Starling’s features more productive, while travelling customers will find that Revolut has more comprehensive features that they can use in more parts of the world.

Fees and Exchange Rates

The main reason people are turning to challenger banks is because they make it easier and cheaper to send money to friends, family and employees abroad.

Each of the banks has different fee structures and exchange rates which though small, could be a huge difference if you use the service regularly.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank charges a standardised flat fee of 0.4% of the transfer amount, which is applied to international remittances.

Depending on the currency being transacted, an additional fee of £5.50 or the equivalent is added when arranging a priority delivery via SWIFT transfer.

There’s also a no-recall payment option that is even cheaper. It attracts a tiny fee of £0.30 or the equivalent depending on the currency. The downside to this transaction is it can’t be reversed.

As for the exchange rates, Starling Bank offers transparent exchange rates, which are provided by Mastercard. When sending money internationally using Starling, you will notice there’s a markup of 0.003% to 0.13%. It’s very competitive and only a fraction of the mid-market rate.

Revolut

Revolut has a more complex fee structure. There are small fees applied to all international money transfers. But the size of the fee depends on the type of Revolut account plan you have.

Premium customers receive one monthly fee-free global transfer, while metal customers have unlimited transfers.

Standard international money transfers attract 0.3% of the transfer amount pegged at a minimum of £0.30 and a maximum of £9.00 or the equivalent.

Customers using the SWIFT option incur a charge of £5.00 will be applied to USD, EUR, CHF and GBP transfers.

Other fees associated with sending money on the Revolut network include an international payment for payments going out of the SEPA region of between £0.30 and £5.00, depending on the size of the transfer.

The currency exchange rate is between 0.5 – 1% depending on the transfer size. Transfers conducted on weekends and UK bank holidays attract a 1% charge. Payments over £1,000 per month will incur a 0.5% fair usage fee. 

Revolut gives the strongest exchange rates to smaller transfers in popular currencies. These include USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, CHF, JPY, SGD, DKK, PLN and CZK, among others.

During the week when the market is open, Revolut offers to match the real mid-market rate, which has zero exchange rate markup. During the weekends, Revolut applies a spread of 1% to all currencies.

Verdict

Starling has a more straightforward fee structure compared to the multiple layers you get with Revolut. Starling also has a lower currency conversion for the majority of foreign exchange rates. Also, the profit margin applied to Starling Bank is lower compared to other competitors.

Debit Cards

Debit cards are a huge part of the services that challenger banks offer. They bring an aspect of convenience and accessibility.

Revolut

Revolut offers a Mastercard debit card in a range of colours and a metal card with a choice of four colours. It is only available to Revolut metal subscribers only. The card can be used contactless and comes enabled for Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Starling

All Starling Bank current account holders can get a Mastercard debit card. It has full contactless functionality and is enabled for Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. Personal account holders get a teal card, while business account holders get a black card. Both have a vertical design.

Locations

Challenger banks don’t have to be in every location to function. But their presence in strategic locations makes them more impactful. Also, when applying for debit cards, you must consider where you can and can’t use them.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank customers can hold and manage funds n GBP currency only. They can send money to 38 countries, mostly within

Revolut

Revolut is more robust, with a presence in more countries. Revolut allows customers to hold and manage 30 currencies. It also supports international payments to more than 150 countries.

Verdict

Revolut is the clear winner in this case. It offers more currency options and allows customers to send money internationally to more countries.

Which is Faster

Time is a crucial factor that must be carefully considered when sending money, whether locally or internationally.

Starling Bank

Most international money transfers on Starling Bank take 1-3 working days to get to the recipient. SEPA transfers are only processed during working hours. That means the time you make the transfer and other factors like national holidays may interfere with the processing times.

Starling offers instant domestic transfers from one account to another. This is the fastest transfer method available on Starling.

Revolut

Revolut can process most domestic transfers instantly. However, in some cases, the transfers have been said to take up to three days to clear, depending on the payment type.

International money transfers take even longer. They can take up to five days to get to the recipient. Time-sensitive transfer options like SWIFT transfers are also available for customers that value time over cost. If you have a premium account, the transfer will be fee-free. 

Verdict

Starling is a formidable competitor rivalling fast money transfer services like Pay iO, Wise and WorldRemit, which can transfer international transfers within the same day. Although Starling is still not up to par, it is slightly faster than Revolut.

Security

Challenger banks have not only improved how we access money and other financial services like money transfers but also improved financial safety and security.

Starling

Starling guarantees FSCS protection of funds up to £85,000 as a fully licensed bank. They take security seriously, using multiple layers of protocols across the mobile banking app like video and biometric identification, 3D secure encryption and mandatory PIN codes. You can also use the app to freeze or cancel your card anytime.

Revolut

The FCA authorises Revolut and possesses a European banking license. Revolut customers benefit from various security features, including the FSCS scheme, which protects up to £85,000 per account. The company also employs additional security features like fingerprint identification, Sherlock anti-fraud system and other customisable features to protect customers’ data.

Verdict

Both services have done exceptionally well to ensure the safety and security of customer data and finances. They are both regulated and have additional security features that instil trust and confidence in their customers. 

Customer Reviews

Starling has an almost excellent rating from customers. It has a 4.9 rating out of 5 on TrustPilot and 4.6 out of 5 on Google Play Store. Most reviews highlight the quick registration process and the simple and easy-to-use interface as the highlights of their experience. A few negative comments mention software issues as among the issues that have affected their experience with Starling.

Revolut has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on the App Store and Google Play Store. Most of the positive feedback mentions the easy technology, convenient services and useful products and functions. As with Starling, the negative feedback is not on the services but on the app, particularly having log-in issues and confusing updates.

Rapid Setup, Web & Mobile Access, FX Exchange

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