Saturday, October 1, 2022

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    Monzo vs Starling vs Revolut – Which Is the Best Bank for Travel?

    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.

    best bank for travel

    Cash Withdrawals

    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.

    Winner: Starling

    Exchange Rates

    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.

    Winner: Draw

    Travel Insurance

    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.

    Winner: Revolut

    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.

    Winner: Monzo

    monzo starling revolut

    FSCS Protection

    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

    Phone Insurance

    Monzo insures your mobile phone on their £15/m Premium plan.

    Neither Starling nor Revolut offer this benefit.

    Winner: Monzo

    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.

    Winner: Monzo

    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 WithdrawalsUp to £200/m, £400/m Premium £7/m plan, £800/m £13/m Metal planUp to £400/m with £5/m Plus plan, £600/m with £15/m Premium planUp to £300/day
    Exchange RatesSame as Mastercard. No fees up to £1000/month, then 0.5%. Unlimited on £7/m Premium planSame as MastercardSame as Mastercard
    Lock Card RemotelyYesYesYes
    Travel InsuranceYes £7/m Premium plan, up to 90 day tripYes in £15/m Premium plan, trips under 45 days, £45 excessNo
    Savings Interest RatesUp to 1.35%Up to 2.76% fixed, up to 1.55% easy accessUp to 0.05%
    FSCS ProtectedNoYesYes
    Phone InsuranceNoYes on £15/m Premium planNo
    Transfer Money Abroad£10 fee. 20% discount on £7/m Premium plan, 40% discount on £13/m Metal planPartnered 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
    monzo starling revolut

    Compare Revolut accounts here.

    Compare Monzo accounts here.

    View the Starling account here.

    See travel videos here.


    1. You fail to grasp the enormity of this issue, should revolut go bust, fscs is only guaranteed at heart and not on the bank. This needs more work wouldn’t you agree?

      • Hey Tom, yes it’s a huge issue and means Revolut can’t be used to store one’s savings – it’s only really safe to use as a day-to-day payment platform like Paypal. It’s just not the main topic of this post 🙂

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