The new wave of digital banks appeals to young people, but which is the best bank specifically for international travel? Let’s compare features.
Here are the features that matter when travelling abroad, compared across the 3 banks. There is a summary table of key facts at the bottom. Let’s find the best bank for travel.
Many destinations still use cash, locals often like to be paid in notes, and it’s always handy to tip at restaurants.
Revolut allows up to £200/month on the free plan, up to £400/month on the £7/m Premium plan, and up to £800/month on the £13/m Metal plan.
Monzo lets you withdraw up to £400/month with the £5/m Plus plan, or up to £600/month with the £15/m Premium plan.
Starling has a flat limit of up to £300/day for all users.
For exchanging money into different currencies, eg GBP to Euro.
Monzo and Starling use the same real time exchange rate as Mastercard, which is about the best you can get.
Revolut also uses the Mastercard exchange rate, with no fees up to £1000/month. However, after £1000 you will incur a 0.5% fee. If you get the £7/m Premium plan, there are no fees and it becomes the same as Monzo and Starling.
Winners: Monzo and Starling
Locking Card Remotely
If your card is lost or stolen, for example if your luggage goes missing, you need to take action. All 3 platforms allow you to go on their app and freeze your card, to stop it being used. If you then find your wallet, you can unfreeze, or defrost, your card and continue using it.
Travel insurance can be bought separately, but it’s a bonus if your bank already includes it.
Revolut has travel insurance included on its £7/m Premium plan. It covers worldwide trips up to 90 days in length.
Monzo also includes travel insurance on its £15/m Premium plan. It only covers trips 45 days or shorter, and has a £45 excess.
Starling does not do travel insurance.
Savings Interest Rates
With inflation anywhere around 10%, money sat in the bank is constantly losing value. Any interest gained on that savings slightly offsets inflation.
Revolut has a savings pot that offers up to 1.35% interest.
Monzo has a range of savings options that yield up to 2.76% interest on a fixed term, or up to 1.55% with easy access.
Starling does not have a savings account, but has up to 0.05% interest on current accounts.
FSCS is the UK’s statutory deposit insurance and investors compensation scheme. In short, it protects your money up to £85,000 if the bank goes bust.
Monzo and Starling are officially FSCS registered, so your money has some claim to security in their accounts.
Revolut claims not to be an official bank, and has no FSCS guarantee, so they could, in theory, go bankrupt and lose all your funds. Here’s how Revolut claim to keep people’s money safe. For this reason, I recommend NOT using Revolut as your main/only bank.
Winners: Monzo and Starling
Monzo insures your mobile phone on their £15/m Premium plan.
Neither Starling nor Revolut offer this benefit.
Transfer Money Abroad
Sending money abroad into a different currency usually has a fee.
Revolut charges £10, with a 20% discount for users on their £7/m Premium plan, and a 40% discount for users with the £13/m Metal plan.
Monzo partnered with the solid international transfer platform Wise, and transfers can still be done within the Monzo app. It charges around £3.75 for transfers up to £1000.
Starling has 2 options, either a riskier low-cost transfer that can’t be tracked if something goes wrong for £4.30 up to £1000, or £9.50 fee for a proper SWIFT transfer.
Overall Winner – Best Bank for Travel
Adding up points for these features, Monzo wins, followed by Starling and Revolut in last place.
However, remember that Starling is free. For travel insurance, Revolut will be £7/m, and for travel and phone insurance, Monzo sets you back £15/m.
Bought separately from another provider, phone insurance is about £7/m, and travel insurance is quite expensive.
Revolut also does not have FSCS protection, which is a concern. It cannot be the best bank for travel on its own, as your savings shouldn’t be kept there.
My personal winner is either Revolut £7/m Premium plan in combination with another, FSCS protected, bank. Or Monzo £15/m with travel and phone insurance.
Summary of key facts:
|Cash Withdrawals||Up to £200/m, £400/m Premium £7/m plan, £800/m £13/m Metal plan||Up to £400/m with £5/m Plus plan, £600/m with £15/m Premium plan||Up to £300/day|
|Exchange Rates||Same as Mastercard. No fees up to £1000/month, then 0.5%. Unlimited on £7/m Premium plan||Same as Mastercard||Same as Mastercard|
|Lock Card Remotely||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Travel Insurance||Yes £7/m Premium plan, up to 90 day trip||Yes in £15/m Premium plan, trips under 45 days, £45 excess||No|
|Savings Interest Rates||Up to 1.35%||Up to 2.76% fixed, up to 1.55% easy access||Up to 0.05%|
|Phone Insurance||No||Yes on £15/m Premium plan||No|
|Transfer Money Abroad||£10 fee. 20% discount on £7/m Premium plan, 40% discount on £13/m Metal plan||Partnered with Wise. £2 fee up to £500, £3.75 fee up to £1000||£9.50 fee up to £1000, or £4.30 fee on low-cost transfer|
Compare Revolut accounts here.
Compare Monzo accounts here.
View the Starling account here.
See travel videos here.