Is this the best bank account ever?

In December 2017, I was feeling rather fed up with my bank. Both personal and business. Suddenly the simple things like sending payments to my friends was over complicated. I had to put in 2 different passwords and couldn’t send a payment using my phone. Having worked in the banking industry for over 15 years, I understand how these systems are built. I understand how the processes work. But I was pulling my hair out!

I decided the time had come to move my bank. I had read a little about the new ‘challenger’ banks. So I decided to take the plunge and switch my bank account from the big high street, with whom I had banked with for 20 years to Starling Bank. My experience was literally life changing. Is this the best online bank account ever?

Best online bank account

pin with boy sticking Tongue out 'the money panel blog 'is this the best online bank account ever? (and time to stick your tongue out to your old bank?)

What is a challenger bank?

Online banks have been coined ‘The Challenger Banks.’ Saying that out loud makes me imagine the CEO’s in a boxing ring! These challenger banks are storming the market with an innovative approach against the big traditional players in the banking industry.

If you have not already been convinced by the high tech, high customer focused online bank, here is why you should:

  • The opening process is as quick and easy as making a cuppa – simply take a photo of your passport and record a video clip of our voice and hey presto your account is open! (Sometimes fraud and credit checks can take a few days)
  • No fees
  • Contactless card
  • Organise and control your own overdraft from your app
  • If you lose your card, you can put a block on it straight from your phone

Starling Bank online banking

  • Categorise your spending across categories and shops- vital if you want to get a grip on your spending habits
  • You can add little photos of your ‘payees’ – I have some fun one evening finding some funny images to give to my hairdresser and my bestie!
  • Fee free transactions when going abroad – I made great use of this in Australia in January at the Apple Store.
  • Gorgeous packaging (sorry, I am a sucker for luxury packaging!)

In recent years, we have experienced so much technological advancement in so many aspects of our lives already. With the launch of voice activated technology such as the Amazon echo, automated lighting such as Hive and wireless controlled thermostats with Nest, it is about time we got techie with our money. One of the most recent updates to the features is something called “settle up.” You know when your friend owes you some money but you don’t want to have that awkward conversation to remind them. You can send them a link with the amount and voila! I know this would come in handy with my friends when it comes to collecting birthday party monies from everybody. Because there is always somebody you have to give a gentle reminder to.

lady holding shopping backs 'insights into your spending'
Categorising your spending

Create better money habits

When I switched banks, I really wanted to get a grip on my emotional spending. As a result, the ‘goals’ and ‘spending’ section of the app, was one of the best features. It helped me change my relationship with money. I quickly realised that my spending wasn’t in line with my values. Here is a handy little video to help you manage your insights. I was spending 91.6% of my money on shopping! Over £400 per month on Amazon on ‘stuff.’ Stuff I could do without.

Consequently, I needed to change my habits big time. Because my spending was tracked automatically, I felt like somebody was looking at my spending and I set myself a challenge to reduce my spending. I sat down and created 3 goals that were important to me for the year ahead. This nifty little app allows you to create goals in a separate little section of the app and allocate money to it as often as you like. It tracks how close you are to reaching your goals and there is no need to open a separate savings account. It is done automatically for you! Boom! I like anything that automates my savings.

Earn 0.5% AER Interest on balances up to £2,000 and 0.25% AER on balances over £2,000 to £85,000.

Create great money habits for you and awesome money habits for your children. Here are my top 6 money goals for 2018.

screen shot of starling bank app showing pots for birthday gifts with £10, car expenses with £134, Christmas gifts kids £138.62, lapland spending money £46.50, new dining table £391.46, teeth hygienist and crowns £15.00

Be part of a community

As an evolving business, Starling have created ‘The Starling Community’ where you can keep up to date with future launches and improvements. Currently, there are some exciting fintech partners active within Starling Marketplace – Flux, Tail, PensionBee and Kasko with more exciting developments coming. They offer these through something called open API, which basically allows third parties to access your data, with your consent of course.

Online business account

In April, Starling launched their first Business account. Available to Ltd companies. They have also recently launched their business accounts for sole traders. I jumped on this new launch and had no hesitation to move my business banking to them. I can now toggle between my personal and business account in one app. If you employ less than 10 people and your turnover does not exceed £1.7million, then the account has absolutely no monthly account fees. This has saved me £60 per annum.

Don’t be put off by the fear of security

One of the most common anxieties that I hear when discussing online banks with my community is security. As Starling Bank is a proper online bank (that sounds grown up!) they offer as much protection as the high street banks. They are regulated and this means that they are FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) protected. So if Starling Bank go belly up, you are protected up to £85,000 per person per institution. You can check if a firm is authorised on the FCA website: 

screen shot of bank switch authorisation from starling bank limited plus reference number and terms
Covered up to £85,000 by the FSCS

If you decide to use the Starling marketplace, you will need to be happy to give permission for some of your data to be shared.

Current account switch guarantee

Starling Bank has one of the most easiest account opening process I have experienced in 17 years of banking. You take a photo of your passport or driving licence and record a video of yourself. Facial recognition technology compares the image of your face. If you are on the voters roll, your account can be open in less than 2 minutes and you can request a switching service over from your existing bank. Then you can sit back and relax and Starling Bank will move all your credits and debits. The process takes 7 working days and and there are guarantees in place that mean any payments into your old account will follow you to your new account for the next three years.

starling bank account purple bank card
Starling Bank

Is this the future of banking?

Starling Bank have some hugely exciting developments happening and Megan Caywood, Chief Platform Officer at the bank says “Starling intends to bring onboard at least 25 third party providers throughout the coming year.” We think that is exciting! Plus:

  • Facility to log on via your iPad and computer
  • Link ups with Mortgage companies
  • Links to Charities, bill management and credit scores

You won’t look back

Starling Bank is a bank from the future, living in the present. This is exactly how banking should be. We know that Money and happiness are interlinked and I love how Starling makes my job with money easy, enjoyable and fun. Starling Bank were voted the best British bank for 2018 and we can see why. They are raising the bar for account holders and with the advancements of technology and open banking, the retail banks are taking notice. Banks try to be good at just about everything all at once with the hope of trying to win trust from their customers and hold more of the financial purse per household. There is a big disconnect. Banks try and be a financial caretaker and they sometimes forget that less is better. I love the way Starling are not trying to be the best with everything.  They have been very smart. Focusing on what they are good at and collaborating with other companies.

This is the best app I have downloaded in 2018. Open an online bank account today, you won’t regret it.

gallery of 4 pictures, two of Catherine Morgan one in colour one in black and white, yellow background 'the 2018 shomo awards finalist' and 'finalist women in financial advice awards 2018'

3 thoughts on “Is this the best bank account ever?

    • Yay! Good of you – I think you are right – there is definitely a movement shaping. Free banking, improving our relationship with money and making business easy!

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