Starling vs everything else


Hi all,

So i’m fairly new to this community, but i’ve been reading posts as an anonymous user for some time. I finally took the dive yesterday and signed up to Starling bank to have a play over the next few weeks. But i’m still torn about the benefits it will offer me, and was wondering if you (the community) could help me out with some “sticky points” which i’ll go in to more depth below (I will be playing devils advocate :smiling_imp:).

When reading below don’t think i’m trying to bash Starling or that i’m single minded in my thinking. I’m seriously trying to weigh up the more in-depth pros/cons which would really make me switch, so i’m open minded to all feedback received.

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

Why should I make the full switch to a “smarter” challenger bank when there are apps utilising data scraping (and some using the new Open Banking APIs - I’m sure this will get even better over time) to make my traditional banks that much smarter?

Start of post…

So first things first, I love the ability of getting instant notifications when you make a purchase with your card. But if the future of payment is going contactless (i.e. Google Pay, Apple Pay etc.) then i’ll get a notification from this regardless? Also, you may argue I won’t get notifications if I use an actual card payment with traditional banks but couldn’t I just sign up and use curve?

Next, It’s great to have the ability to search through statements and purchases, and to get summaries/categories on the types of things I spend month to month. I may not be able to do this with traditional banking apps, but using Yolt/Emma, this is easily achievable. And with the next phase of open banking APIs Yolt has started rolling this into their app making it more secure.

One great feature of Starling I like is the fact that you can ring fence your money for savings using goals. But this can be done using savings accounts, or apps like Chip or even get Yolt/Emma to budget for you.

When abroad, I get that you have some of the best exchange rates for spending and free cash withdrawals. But I have a Halifax Clarity card which pretty much does the same, but I can also use this for holds when using car rentals abroad (when they ring fence €1000 and return it back to the card when the car is returned in good nick)…I don’t think Starling can do this without touching my personal money?.. And I also have the extra assurance of the credit card protection (Section 75).

Finally, the added benefit of a bigger traditional bank is they offer much better interest rates on your savings then the challenger banks.

So why should I make the full switch to a “smarter” challenger bank when there are apps utilising data scraping (and some using the new Open Banking APIs - I’m sure this will get even better over time) to make my traditional banks that much smarter?


With Starling you only need the one app, to me that’s one big benefit. Although a lot of people use Starling with Curve, Yolt and so on.

The instant notifications are great, but like you say you get them with Google pay and so on.

Over time with pots and things like that Starling will have the edge, because it means you don’t need extra app’s and extra accounts.

Once there is more in the Marketplace you will be able to manage savings accounts in app. It’s still relatively early days for Starling so it has a long way to go, it’s getting there.

I think one of the best things about Starling is people like the CEO actually read comments, and post comments, and takes things on board.


One answer would be that you needn’t throw your lot in with any one bank. You rightly point out that there are alternatives to some of the features (instant notifications through Curve bring one of them).

You’ll find many account holders here and with Monzo have a hybrid approach, acknowledging that some traditional banks provide packages and savings rates the challenger banks don’t offer.

Suggest you enjoy playing with the account. (Remembering it’s a journey will help manage expectations when the feature you suddenly need is still in production). :smirk:


Hi @Dayle_Salmon - Welcome to Starling.

I’m going to be controversial in my answer here - I don’t use Starling (or any other bank for my day to day spending) - I use my AMEX, and only use Starling when they don’t take AMEX. Having just saved over £1,500 on flight tickets using my Air Miles, I would encourage anyone who can (and wants) to get an AMEX, to get one and start reaping the benefits.

Someone asked me why I used Starling, given what I’ve said - This was my response.

I think it’s also worth noting that if you have to ask the question, you are obviously not sold on it - But the good thing is, you can try it for free, with no danger of being tied in!

I have a Starling account, Monzo, First Direct, Revolut, Transferwise (I could go on…). I try the new services, and I stick with the one’s that suit me.

Starling does a lot of things very well, and in my opinion, has the best functioning banking service out of all the challenger banks right now (you could argue that Monzo has more features due to it’s IFTTT integration, but I wouldn’t use most of them).

I also tried curve, but found it created more hassle than it was worth - Plus it got declined on a big purchase over the phone (by big, I mean £400, so not massive) - Even still, I lost faith in it.

The Halifax Clarity Card is a credit card (based on my quick google) - So yeah, it’ll still take €1000 Euro’s away from your available spend on that card - But if you have a €5000 limit, you are still left with €4000 left to spend.

Starling (and all other debit cards), would work in exactly the same way if you had €5000 in your account - €1000 is ring fenced for the deposit, and is returned when you bring the car back.

This is more of a credit card vs debit card situation, and the reason most people use a credit card for this situation.

Lastly… I’m still yet to really find an aggregator I like - I use Emma, but I don’t love it - The interface is too loud, and it’s just a little messy (haven’t tried Yolt).

I still find the best way for me to manage my accounts is through a manual process - I’m yet to fully trust the other systems, as they often categories things wrong, or make it more complicated to see where things are (just my opinion).

Either way, I’d encourage you to push Starling to the limits of your use, and if you feel it would benefit from a feature, add it to the forum and see what other people think!

Good luck :slight_smile:


You need to be careful, as that’s not always the case. I hired a car on Gran Canaria in May. They actually took the €300 excess when I returned the car and then issued a refund when it was returned. This was unlike the usual pending transaction which is then released that I’m accustomed to. Rather annoyingly if had the same experience on Tenerife at Christmas but forgot about it. That was a worse experience though, as I paid with a Barclaycard and got hit with not only a poor exchange rate, but also a transaction fee of around £10 for each transaction. It worked out the deposit was £270.47 and the refund £254.77. that’s over a £15 loss!


Did you mean they took the €300 excess when you picked up the car?

If so, other than it physically showing it’s not in the account, wouldn’t it come to the same thing?


Thanks for the feedback!

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the marketplace to see what types of services start to get offered there. Coming from a web dev background dealing with APIs, I can only imagine the types of things that could be implemented in this section. One great thing especially, but we would need all of them to play part in releasing their APIs to Starling, is having our store cards/loyalty cards like Tesco, Nectar etc. automatically credit your account when the verified Starling card is used.


Yes, they took the excess at collection on both occasions.

No, it’s not the same thing. Since its two transactions on two different days, rather than a reversal, there are two different exchange rates involved. Also, as I mentioned above, since the first time it happened I used my Barclaycard I got charged a transaction fee on each transaction. The result was a loss to me of over £15.

It looks the same on the face of it, but it really isn’t.

I’ve just checked the rates. I was charged at €1.10/£1 and refunded at €1.17/£1. Each time the transaction fee was £7.85.


Ah sorry, I see what you are saying now.

Interestingly, Avis (in Lanzarote), didn’t charge me any fee on collection other than a “fuel” deposit of €60 - Which was “held”, rather than taken.

First time that’s happened (no “excess” charge being taken/held).


I was thinking of getting an AMEX card as me and my partner do travel abroad a few times a year, so it could be worth it.

The sending/recieving bank transfers is great, if you can get your friends and families to trust the link you provide. As we may be up to date with tech and trusting of what it can do, but i’m afraid not all people are…and that’s a mindset that we need to change as a community. I’d say it’s mainly due to all the online scams when putting in bank details, and if someone doesn’t know what Starling bank is they may not chose to pay you that way.

I have quite a few accounts (mainly to maximise my savings interest rates), but I don’t want to keep adding to this list if I don’t need to. Hence why apps like Emma/Yolt are so great if you have multiple accounts…only thing missing to make them complete (I presume it’s a wait on the Open Banking APIs) is to make transfers from within the app itself, rather than opening up the relevant banking app.

In terms of the Halifax Clarity Card, it is a credit card and although your money may be ring fenced in Starling… they would be ring fencing your ACTUAL money. Whereas with a credit card, it’s there money until you pay it back the following month. And if any mishaps happen you have the protection of Section 75 with the credit card for extra security.

And I agree with you on the Emma interface…I wish we had an app with the interface of Yolt but the features of Emma.

I’ll definitely be giving it a good go to see how I can use it best. Like I was saying in the OP, there’s so many different ways things can be done now APIs are getting released for everything.


Sorry, by this I meant the general Payee management (not the settle up feature, which is also very good) - With my other banks, if I’ve never paid someone before, I have to use the card reader to add them, and I can’t do this on my mobile.

With Starling, you can add a Payee (and have multiple accounts for that Payee under the one name) - It’s then incredibly easy to pay someone.


I’ve heard Tenerife are bad at this type of thing. I recently went 6 weeks ago and went with Interrent who shares services with GoldCar at Tenerife South Airport, luckily I didn’t have such problems. Either way, I used my Halifax Clarity Card as it’s nice to have that peace of mind.


Ahh, I see what you mean. That is quite a useful feature especially if you have someone with multiple bank accounts.


Yeah, I currently have 5 different accounts set up for… myself :joy:

I’m sure someone looking at my transfers would think I’m money laundering!


Yeah, if I included my credit card and savings accounts I probably have near 10 accounts. Hence why I don’t want to create any more if I don’t need to. As nice as Emma/Yolt is at helping with this problem I would eventually like to minimise these accounts into one uniform bank which meets all my needs. But somehow I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.


No, I don’t think it will either - Not for someone who is constantly searching for the best “deal” so to speak (I’m very similar).

There are some “legacy” accounts that are too valuable - Be that for mortgage rates or “packages”.

Credit cards are a must for cash back/points etc.

Therefore, a lot of the spending insights in apps like Starling/Monzo, are lost (this is where Emma/Yolt come in to bring them all back under one roof).


Hi Dayle, welcome. I’ll pass on my views about your points.

Yes, that much is correct. Useful though to know when money has left for direct debits/standing orders, when your wage hasn’t been paid… If a transaction hasn’t happened when you weren’t expecting it. Also now with the advent of joint accounts it’s very useful to know when money has been spent by the other person!

That much is true. However that’s using another service - this is native to Starling. I am also aware Starling are planning to improve search further… That’s obviously not now though!

I would encourage you to use savings accounts if after better interest rates. Chip does not currently work with Starling as they have been very slow on getting integrated with Starling. It depends how you save - if you like the “hidden saving” then you could use Chip with your current current(!) account.

I think it’s hard to compare credit card vs debit card as they’re two different things. If that works abroad for you then that’s great. There is no way to get around the €1000 deposit scenario without using a credit card. Some people like the ease of just using their current account abroad.

Unfortunately that’s only something you can decide. If you’re interested I would encourage you to try it! That’s the only way you’ll know if it’s for you. The big “counter-argument,” as it were, is that Starling is able to do lots of the things you’ve mentioned without having to use alternative apps.


Thanks for taking the time to write an in-depth response.

As you do pick up on a lot of valid points, the main of course being that it is ALMOST an all in one solution but not quite there…and maybe I shouldn’t try to think of it as one.
As my credit card will always be credit card as it is offers a totally different service and shouldn’t be “replaced” by Starling bank.

After re-thinking it all, i’d say the only main thing that is holding me back from doing a full switch from one of my current accounts is the low interest rate that Starling currently offers. So in the end I think it comes down to a “which do I prefer?” …Better savings rate or the benefits the app offers?

As you can probably tell…I’m still undecided and but I do hate the thought of money sitting there not earning much when it could be earning much, much more. But at the same time some of the features could benefit me in the long run…It’s a tough one :smirk:


I agree and have the same system. I use my AMEX wherever possible only switching to debit where Amex isn’t accepted (which I’m pleased to see is less and less places)

But overall I would suggest some sort of reward credit card day for day to day (paid off in full every month of course :wink: ) and then Starling debit to plug any gaps in card acceptance


I’m currently using my Tandem Card in places that don’t accept Amex, that gives cashback so better than just using a debit card.