Monzo vs Starling – Which Digital Bank Is The Best?

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At Generation Money our purpose is to help you make better financial decisions. All of our articles are independently written and/or edited by finance professionals and adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This post may contain links which, if clicked, could result in a payment to the site. These links never impact our editorial policy and all rankings and product recommendations remain unbiased. For more details, read how this site is financed.

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Monzo logo vs Starling logo

This is our independent comparison of Monzo vs Starling, two of the UK’s leading digital banks, to find out which platform is better.

Monzo and Starling are major competitors in the digital banking market in the UK, along with Revolut and Monese. In this article I’ll be putting Monzo and Starling head-to-head on a number of metrics to see which comes out on top. To see how Monzo compares to Revolut, read my Revolut vs Monzo comparison.

I worked in banking for just under 10 years, and have accounts with both Monzo and Starling which I’ve used to go into detail for this comparison.

In my view, Starling is the leading digital bank because it combines FSCS protection, a wide range of features, access to a personal finance marketplace and all with no monthly fee. One of the 3rd party offers in its marketplace is a link-up to Wealthify, one of the leading robo-advisor investment platforms in the UK, which is a great place to start your investing journey.

Monzo is a close second, though. Like Starling, it also offers FSCS protection and a wide range of in-app features. It also has more borrowing options than Starling. However, it lacks any wealth-building features and it also has some fees when it comes to withdrawing cash abroad, unlike Starling which is completely fee-free. 

Read on for our full rundown of Monzo vs Starling, or use the links below to skip ahead to the section you’re most interested in:

You can also read our in-depth reviews of each platform here:

Monzo vs Starling – Which is better? At A Glance

Here’s an overview of the key points you need to know from our Monzo vs Starling comparison.

MonzoStarling
UK regulated bankticktick
FSCS protectionticktick
Basic free accountticktick
Subscription-based accountstick 2 optionsNo – FREE
Business accountsticktick
Joint accountsticktick
Under 18s accountsticktick
Multi-currency accountscrosscross
Cash & cheque deposits£1 per deposit / 5 free per month with PremiumFree up to £1k per year, then 0.7% fee
Cheque imaging servicecrosstick
Fee-free spending abroadticktick
Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad and in the UKFree up to £250 per month inside UK/EEA, free up to £200 per month outside EEA3% fee thereaftertick No limits
International payments/ transfersVia Wisetick
Interest on current account balanceMonzo Plus/Premiumtick 0.05%
Access to interest-earning savings accountsticktick
Multi-currency savings accountscrosscross
Rewards & discountsMonzo Plus/Premiumtick via Marketplace
Money management featuresticktick
InsuranceMonzo Premiumtick via Marketplace
Round-up spendingticktick
Bill splittingticktick
Overdraftticktick
Personal loantickcross
Buy Now, Pay Latertick  Monzo Flexcross
Early payday – 1 day earlytickcross
Early payday – day of your choosingcrosscross
Investingcrosstick via Wealthify
24/7 customer supportticktick
Phone customer supportticktick
Apple/Google Pay integrationsticktick
Samsung Pay integrationcrosstick
Connect other bank accounts to the appMonzo Plus/Premiumcross
Current account switch serviceticktick

Both Monzo and Starling offer a range of money management tools and features built-in to their apps. They’re also both licensed UK banks authorised by the PRA and each offers FSCS protection. 

Starling however has a personal finance marketplace where you can sign up to 3rd party services. This allows Starling to offer additional features such as pensions services (via Penfold and PensionBee) and investing (via Wealthify).

Integrating these 3rd party services allows Starling to provide a comprehensive set of banking, investing and pensions offerings which is something Monzo cannot currently offer. If you like the sound of having lots of personal finance options all available through one app, then you will prefer Starling Bank over Monzo. 

Monzo has more to offer in the way of traditional bank lending products, though. You can get an overdraft, like with Starling, but you can also apply for a personal loan and a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) feature called Monzo Flex. Starling doesn’t currently provide personal loans or BNPL, so if you want access to these types of financing, then you mgiht prefer Monzo.

When it comes to spending and withdrawing cash abroad, Starling is the winner as it charges no fees at all with no limits. Monzo on the other hand charges for cash withdrawals abroad above £250 inside the EEA and above £200 outside the EEA. Like Starling though, it doesn’t charge for debit card spending abroad.

Monzo is best for:

  • Borrowing – it offers personal loans and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) as well as an overdraft
  • Earning interest on your current account (Plus & Premium only)
  • Slightly higher fixed savings account interest rate (5.60% as at August-23)

Starling is best for:

  • Completely free personal current account
  • Withdrawing cash abroad
  • Investing (via Wealthify)

Monzo vs Starling – Accounts

Monzo offers a free basic account as well as offering two additional subscription-based premium accounts which have various additional features and benefits. Starling, on the other hand, has only one personal account offering which has all features included. Starling offers a business account, as does Monzo, and they also both offer accounts for under 18s, with some differences.

Below outlines the account offerings of each digital bank:

MonzoStarling
Personal Account (free)ticktick
Personal Account (premium)tick (2 options)N/A – the Starling personal account is free
Business Accountticktick
Junior Accounttick (16-17 year olds only)tick (Kite for 6-16 year olds, Teen for 16-17 year olds)
Multi-currency Accountcrosscross
Joint Accountticktick

Starling’s and Monzo’s personal account offerings are similar and they both offer joint accounts. They’re also both part of the Current Account Switch Service. Under the scheme, you can give the account details of your current bank account to Monzo or Starling and they’ll switch everything over to your new account for you. Your old bank will take care of closing down your existing bank account once the switch goes through.

For full details of the various features and benefits of each, you can read more in our Starling review and Monzo review.

One of the key differences between Starling and Monzo is in their personal current account offerings. Monzo offers 3 different account plans – a basic free account and two subscription-based account options. To access all of Monzo’s features and products, you’ll need to pay £15 per month for its Premium account. This does come with different types of insurance included, as well as many other benefits such as interest paid on your current account balance and various discount offers.

If you like the idea of having lots of extras bundled together with your current account for a single monthly fee, then you will probably prefer Monzo. It’s important that you check what’s included in the packages to ensure it’s suitable for you, though.

Starling does not have subscription-based accounts and instead offers the same personal current account for everyone and for free. This will suit you if you don’t want to pay any recurring monthly fees and instead want to pay separately for any extras of your choosing, such as insurance. Starling’s free personal account gives you access to all of Starling’s features too, some of which you’d have to pay for as part of a subscription with Monzo. You can then access more products and features from 3rd parties through Starling’s personal finance marketplace.

Two more features standout for Starling Bank over Monzo. The first is that it offers a linked account for under 16s, called Kite. A Kite account is essentially a debit card and app for children, which is pre-loaded by their parent/guardian and allows the child to spend money. It includes money management and learning features, as well as safeguards to prevent any inappropriate spending. 

So if you think that a linked account for a child is a useful feature that you’ll make use of, then you may prefer Starling. Monzo does offer a Teen account for 16-17 year olds, but so does Starling. Their Teen accounts restrict age-related spending automatically, and you cannot get an overdraft with them. Other than that they’re an independent account for the user.

Neither bank offers multi-currency accounts. Monzo has, however, partnered with Wise for international payments – more on this below. Wise allows you to set up multi-currency accounts, but this is separate to your Monzo account.

Monzo is best for:

  • Packaged accounts with lots of features and products included
  • Earning interest on your current account (with Plus/Premium)

Starling is best for:

  • A totally free current account with lots of features
  • Setting up an account for a child (via Kite)
  • Seamless international payments

Monzo vs Starling – Fees

There are various fees and charges associated with different account types and transactions for each of Monzo and Starling. The main fees and charges are summarised below:

MonzoStarling
Basic current accountFREEFREE
Subscription-based accounts£5 / £15 per monthNo – FREE
Debit card spending abroadNo feeNo fee
International transfersVia Wise0.4% fee plus delivery fee
ATM withdrawals abroadFree up to £250/month inside the EEA
Free up to £200/month outside the EEA
3% fee thereafter
FREE
ATM withdrawals in the UKFree up to £250/month, 3% fee above this
Or, free with no limit with a Plus account or if you use Monzo as your main bank account (i.e. you get your salary or main income paid into it)
FREE
UK bank transfersFREEFREE
Cash deposits£1 per deposit, or 1 free deposit per month with a Plus account
5 free deposits per month with Premium
£1k per year free, 0.7% fee thereafter
Overdraft interest rate19% / 29% / 39% APR15% / 25% / 35% APR
Loan interest rateUp to £10k – 22.8% APR
£10-25k – 8.9% APR
N/A
Replacement debit cards2 free replacements, then £5
£30 if lost abroad
£5 in the UK or £10 if lost abroad

Which is cheaper out of Monzo vs Starling will be dependent upon the account type you have and what you use it for. Starling’s personal current account is free so you will not pay a monthly subscription fee. Monzo however offers two subscription-based accounts which come with various extra features. 

You may prefer having a packaged account with Monzo that includes products such as insurance as part of the monthly fee. Or you may prefer Starling as you won’t have to pay a monthly fee, and can then pay separately for any insurance policies you may choose to take out.

Neither Starling or Monzo charge a fee for debit card spending abroad. However, Monzo charges a 3% fee for cash withdrawals abroad above its fee-free limits (£250 inside EEA, £200 outside EEA). So Starling is cheaper overall for foreign travel if you want to withdraw cash. 

You’re able to make international payments and transfers with Starling through its app or online using your Starling account. There’s a 0.4% fee on all international transfers, as well as a ‘delivery fee’ of around £5.50 with Starling. For sending money abroad, Monzo has partnered with Wise which is one of the leading international transfer companies in the UK. Wise is generally cheaper than Starling Bank, and I’ve personally used their service many times without issues. More on international transfers below.

Monzo is better for:

  • Packaged current accounts (including insurance)
  • Cheaper international transfers (via Wise)
  • Replacement debit cards if you frequently lose your card

Starling is better for:

  • No monthly fees
  • Withdrawing cash fee-free (in the UK and abroad)
  • Lower representative overdraft interest rates

Monzo vs Starling – Spending Abroad

You’re seamlessly able to use your debit card to spend abroad with both Monzo and Starling. Neither charges a fee for doing so. You’ll also get the usual app features when spending abroad on both platforms too, such as instant notifications and spending breakdowns. 

When it comes to withdrawing cash abroad though, Starling is the winner as it doesn’t charge any fees at all. Monzo charges a 3% fee above £200 for cash withdrawals outside the EEA (£250 fee-free inside the EEA). 

Here’s the key information on spending abroad from the fees table above:

MonzoStarling
Debit card spending abroadNo feeNo fee
ATM withdrawals abroadFree up to £250/month inside the EEA
Free up to £200/month outside the EEA
3% fee thereafter
No fee

Both Monzo and Starling use the MasterCard exchange rate for foreign exchange transactions. 

Starling is better for:

  • Withdrawing cash abroad

Monzo vs Starling – International Payments

You’re able to send money abroad through the Starling app, or online via your Starling account. However, Starling is on the pricier side compared to its digital bank rivals. It charges a fee of 0.4% plus a ‘delivery fee’ of £5.50 on international transfers.

Monzo uses Wise, a 3rd party app, for international transfers. Wise is one of the best apps on the market for international transfers, in my opinion. Wise is particularly competitive for sending large amounts of money abroad, e.g. over £5k. I’ve used it many times for making international transfers in both business and personal transfers and it’s always been straightforward to use.

The only drawback with partnering with Wise is that you cannot make international payments directly through Monzo’s app. You will need to sign up to Wise separately, so sending money abroad is not a seamlessly integrated feature with Monzo as it is with Starling.

MonzoStarling
International transfersVia Wise0.4% fee plus a delivery fee (around £5.50)

The key decision for you will be the convenience of seamless international payments with Starling vs cheaper rates with Monzo but having to use a 3rd party app. You could, of course, have a Starling account and sign up to Wise anyway to make international payments. 

Monzo is best for:

  • Cheaper international payments (using Wise)

Starling is best for:

  • Integrated international payments without using a 3rd party

Monzo vs Starling – Which Is Safer?

Both Starling Bank and Monzo are regulated UK banks, authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which is the UK’s bank regulator. This means they must both follow strict rules and compliance in their operations and in the way they treat customers. 

They’re also regulated by both the PRA and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA regulation means you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if you’re unable to resolve a dispute directly with the bank.

Monzo and Starling both have Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection, so that your deposits up to £85k are protected with them.

There’s one major area where Starling is the clear winner though. It’s signed up to the Lending Standards Board’s Voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model Code on Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams.

That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it means that Starling will compensate you if you’re a victim of an APP scam. This is where a scammer accesses your account and then mimics your bank to get you to give them an authorisation code, which they can use to transfer money from your account.

Starling is the only challenger bank to sign up to this Code, making it our pick for the safest of the challenger banks.

Monzo vs Starling – Which Has The Best Features?

To access all of Monzo’s features you will need to upgrade to the Premium plan at £15 per month. Starling, on the other hand, has no monthly fees for its personal current account and all features are included in it. 

The key features you get with Monzo’s Premium account compared to Starling’s personal account are below:

Monzo Premium (£15 per month)Starling (Free)
Worldwide travel insurancetickcross
Phone insurancetickcross
Discounts and offerstickcross (available via Marketplace)
Interest paid on your current account balance tick 1.5%tick 0.05%
Round-up savingsticktick
Instant spending notificationsticktick
Categorised spending insightsticktick
Separate money spaces/potsticktick
Higher limits for cash withdrawals and depositsticktickNo limits
Bill splitting and tabsticktick
Mobile cheque depositscrosstick
Apple & Google Payticktick
Samsung Paycrosstick
See other accounts in-apptickcross
Free additional accountcrosstick
Credit score trackertickcross

You will need to decide whether or not it’s worth paying £15 per month for Monzo Premium based on the additional features compared to their free account. It may work out more cost effective to get travel and phone insurance separately, for example. On the other hand, it’s handy to have these insurances included in your account without the hassle of keeping track of separate policies with different companies.

Monzo Premium pays 1.5% interest on current account balances up to £2k. So if you keep £2k or more in your account, you’ll get £30 in interest over the course of a year. This offsets some of the £180 annual cost (£15 for 12 months) of having a Premium account.

If insurance is an important feature to you, make sure to check the insurance policy details with Monzo carefully to make sure it’s the right insurance for you. You don’t want to think you’re covered for something when it turns out you’re not because you didn’t read the policy details!

Starling may lack some built-in features with its personal current account, in particular insurance products, but it gives you access to a personal finance marketplace. Through this marketplace you can access 3rd party products and services from other financial services providers. These include (as at August-23):

  • Wealthify for investing
  • Penfold and PensionBee for pensions services
  • Habito, a mortgage broker
  • So-sure, Anorak and Churchill for insurance products
  • Tail, a cashback service on your spending
  • CreditLadder, which reports rent payments to Experian with the aim of improving your credit score over time

By providing this marketplace, Starling is able to offer a comprehensive selection of personal finance products and services. In my view, this really makes it stand out compared to Monzo – and its other digital bank rivals such as Revolut and Monese. At your fingertips with a Starling account you can access insurance, a mortgage broker, start investing and manage your pensions.

If you want a comprehensive set of personal finance products and services at your fingertips, then you’ll prefer Starling to Monzo. Always make sure to check other providers for prices and fees before signing up to any additional services, though.

However, although they’re not strictly ‘features’, Monzo offers more in the way of lending products. It offers personal loans and a buy now, pay later option (Monzo Flex) as well as an overdraft. Starling currently only offers an overdraft, so Monzo may be the better option for you if you want to have access to more borrowing options. 

Both Monzo and Starling have Apple and Google Pay integrations, so you can link your accounts to your mobile wallets on your phone. Starling also has Samsung Pay integration, so if you’re a Samsung user you might prefer Starling for this reason.

Monzo is best for:

  • Packaged accounts including insurance
  • Decent interest paid on your current account (Monzo Plus/Premium)
  • Multiple borrowing options

Starling is best for:

  • Most features are free (except with 3rd parties through the marketplace)
  • Access to pension and investing platforms through the personal finance marketplace 
  • Insurance add-ons through the personal finance marketplace (may incur additional cost)
  • Mobile cheque deposits

Monzo vs Starling – Borrowing, Loans & Overdrafts

Starling and Monzo are both UK regulated banks and offer customers the ability to borrow in various ways:

MonzoStarling
Overdraftsticktick
Personal Loanstickcross
Business Loanscrosstick
Buy Now, Pay LatertickMonzo Flexcross
Early Payday – 1 Day Earlytickcross

For personal account customers, Monzo offers overdrafts, personal loans and Monzo Flex – a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) option for purchases. Overdrafts are available up to £2,000 at representative interest rates of 19% / 29% / 39% depending on your individual circumstances. Personal loans are available up to £25,000 with interest rates typically at 22.8% for borrowing under £10k and 8.9% for £10-25k.

In addition to this, Monzo also offers an early payday option where you can get your usual monthly salary paid one day early. You can get it paid at or after 4pm of the day before your usual payday, so it’s not exactly the most useful feature but may occasionally be useful for you.

Starling only offers overdrafts when it comes to borrowing options for personal account holders. So if you like the idea of having a range of borrowing options, you’ll be better off with Monzo. Having said that, it’s always good to avoid debt so perhaps not having these options will save you from temptation. 

Representative interest rates on Starling overdrafts are also lower than Monzo’s, at 15% / 25% / 35% and you can borrow up to £5k. 

Monzo is best for:

  • Personal loans
  • Buy Now, Pay Later (Monzo Flex)
  • Getting paid 1 day earlier in the month than usual

Starling is best for:

  • Lower representative overdraft rates
  • Business loans if you’re a business customer

Monzo vs Starling – Who Has The Best Customer Service?

Monzo offers 24/7 customer service and two ways to get in touch – an in-app chat and by phone.

Personally, I’ve been impressed with Monzo’s customer service since I opened an account with them. Waiting times never seem to be too long and their customer support team has always been friendly.

Starling also offers 24/7 customer service with a dedicated UK based phone number, as well as in-app chat. My only experience of contacting Starling customer support was when I had an issue with ID verification when I was setting up my account so I phoned customer service. I was speaking to an agent within about 20 seconds (around midday on a weekday) who was very helpful and professional. 

Overall, my personal experience has been great with customer service for both Starling and Monzo. Their customer support options are very similar, so there’s little to choose between them when it comes to customer service, in my view.

Monzo vs Starling – Customer Reviews

Starling’s and Monzo’s Trustpilot and Apple App store ratings are below:

Trustpilot:

  • Monzo 4.4/5
  • Starling 4.4/5

App Store:

  • Monzo 4.9/5
  • Starling 4.9/5

Monzo scores slightly higher than Starling on Trustpilot overall, with 80% of reviews rated ‘Excellent’ and 12% rated as ‘Poor’ or ‘Bad’. Positive reviews mention Monzo’s trustworthiness and efficiency. Some of the negative reviews mention difficulties with ID verification and long waiting times for in-app chat support.

Although Starling scores slightly lower than Monzo with Trustpilot, it still has 75% of reviews rated as ‘Excellent’. Positive reviews tend to praise the useful features and customer support. Some of the negative reviews talk about payments getting rejected due to fraud prevention when they shouldn’t have been. A few also mention that it’s a lengthy process to initially set up an account.

Monzo vs Starling – Final Verdict

There are a lot of similarities when comparing Monzo vs Starling. Both are UK regulated banks with FSCS protection and 24/7 customer support, so there’s not much to choose between them when it comes to safety and support.

But in our view, Starling edges it as the better digital banking option for two reasons. First is that its personal current account is free – there are no monthly charges and you can access all of Starling’s features straight away. Secondly, it offers a personal finance marketplace where you can connect to 3rd party financial services and products through the Starling app. These include investing and pensions services, as well as insurance and a digital mortgage broker.

Starling also beats Monzo when it comes to spending abroad, as it charges no fees on cash withdrawals, whereas Monzo has limits beyond which it charges a fee. Both Monzo and Starling do, however, offer fee-free spending on your debit card.

Monzo is still a great digital bank, though. It offers most of the features that Starling does in its personal current account but you will need to pay £15 a month for Premium to access all of them. A Monzo premium account also comes with worldwide travel insurance and phone insurance included, so if you like the sound of a bundled current account then you may still prefer Monzo.

If you want to borrow money, then Monzo also offers more options than Starling does. Both offer overdrafts, but Monzo also offers personal loans and Buy Now, Pay Later through Monzo Flex. These additional borrowing facilities will appeal to you if you think you’d like to have more than just an overdraft facility. 

Overall, for its lack of a monthly fee and range of features, including 3rd party links, Starling is our preferred digital bank. But if you want a digital bank with more borrowing options and a current account that includes insurance bundled in for a fee, then Monzo may be the better choice for you.

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