Starling Vs. Monzo
How do they fair, day to day?

By Rich Martin


Starling comes out on top for the day to day.


There’s been a heart vs. head discussion around these banks online. Monzo seems more attractive somehow, but Starling actually has more features. A month of using Starling has totally switched me over, figuratively, and literally.

Support

Let’s start with support, you will inevitably need support. Several things are similar, but not the same. Both smart banks will give you in app support, near instantly, or very very quickly in most cases. Good-bye Saturday trips or long phone calls to banks.
Here’s where the differences come in. Starling lets you instant chat 24/7, message if you don’t want to instantly connect and call to speak to a real human. Monzo has in app chat, as it’s only option.

Starling has much more comprehensive support options.

Our team is always here to help you.

Starling Bank

Tracking expenditure

Here is somewhere Monzo truly shines, and Starling feels a little behind. Both banks will allow catagorisation of transactions, so you can label things as transport or eating out and then see how much you spent for that catagorie overall for that month. Though, Monzo allows you to add notes and a receipt. This is an invaluable budgetting tool. That night you went out and you don’t really remember the final bar, or spending 37 quid there? A little map pops up to show you what you spent, exactly where you spend it and you can add a little note to explain to yourself that you bought 5 more Jager shots for everyone. Starling will still show you what you spent and where you spent it, but without the option to add a note or receipt. Looking at a receipt is useful for multi-item spending, like your food shop. Monzo in effect, could even act as a little life diary, showing where you’ve been, what you spent and having a small journal entry about what you bought and why.

Monzo has more flexibility in understanding your spending.

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Switching

This is where Starling starts to pull ahead. It just feels more grown up. To switch to Starling I gave them my old bank details and everything was moved over, becuase they have the current account switching service. Monzo, I would have had to go to each individual direct debit and account credit provider and tell them my new details. This is 10+ different online accounts or phones calls and hours of work. Starling = 5 minutes.

Starling has the switch service, hands down easier to swap to.

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Saving

Both Monzo and Starling have little virtual savings piggy pots, which remind me of an app I used to love called, well, PiggyPot. Monzo’s Pots are exactly like a virtual piggy pot, you manually add money. Starlings Goals, however, are a lot more versitile. You can schedule money to add on a recurring basis, so you’re saving for that iphone at £999? you can automatically add £2 a day for the next 500 days. With Monzo you would have to go and physically do this yourself, everyday. You can still do that in Starlings goals, but I believe the trick to saving is making it automatic. Get it out of your main balance, you don’t see it, you don’t spend it.

Monzo do have some of their own cool feautes, such as round-ups. Which they’ve labelled Coin Jars. It will round up spending to the nearest £ into a savings pot, so you can virtually save your spare change.

If you have an overdraft with Starling and you’re overdrawn on your main balance, but have money in your Goals they won’t charge fees. For example, you are -500 in your main balance but +600 in Goals, this is a +100 overall balance, so they won’t consider you overdraft. That’s one step ahead of a traditional savings account. Oh, and money in your savings earns interest.

Starling has much more funtionality when it comes to saving.

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Spending

Here is somewhere else that Starling has edged out Monzo. Day to day spending. It is my honest belief that cash is on it’s way out in the traditional sense. Why use cash when you can use a card? Why use a card when you can use your fingerprint or face? Enter Apple Pay, which I use daily on my Apple watch. Partly because it’s convenient, partly because I feel like I’m in some 80s Sci-fi movie. Side note, this almost always gets a comment from the shop keeper who stares wide-eyed in wonderment.

Starling has it, Monzo doesn’t. Monzo ties me to my Monzo card. Starling let’s me spend in apps, on my watch or even top up my Monzo card, with Apple Pay.

Starling has Apple Pay, Monzo doesn’t. Easy points for Starling.

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Getting started, features and final thoughts.

Monzo has a waitlist. Starling doesn’t. I feel Monzo is still a great way to track your “fun money” spending, and is a great companion to your main account. Whereas Starling is your main account. It just feels further ahead, more polished, more mature…maybe because it started first and the people who founded Monzo were employed at Starling and splintered off. However, Monzo has more buzz around it. It feels sexier. The card is an unmistakeable shade of pink. They’ve got the marketing nailed on.

Both banks are in some what of a feature arms-race. When Pots launched Goals followed. Anything one has, the other is trying to do. It’s just that, overall, Starling is outgunning Monzo and winning the feature-race.

About the reviewer

Rich Martin. Tech/gadget/app enthusiast.