Sunday, July 21, 2024

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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 – Monzo vs Starling vs Revolut.

    best bank for travel

    Cash Withdrawals

    Many destinations still use cash much more than we do, especially poorer regions like South America and Asia. Locals often like to be paid in notes, because it’s better for them when it comes to tax. Plus, it’s always handy to tip waiters at restaurants, taxi drivers, etc.

    Revolut allows up to £200/month of cash withdrawals 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. You’ll exchange money when going abroad, when crossing the border into another country. Exchanging the funds in your bank account into the local currency is always going to be necessary, so it’s best to obtain favourable exchange rates to make your money go as far as possible. Meaning, you want to get the most dollars/yen/lira for your pound.

    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

    Tip: When paying abroad with your card, the card reader often gives you the option to pay in their local currency or in your home currency. Always select to pay in their local currency (yen, lira etc.) because the store’s exchange rate is likely quite poor. Paying in their local currency means your bank will do the exchanging, and Starling, Monzo and Revolut have better exchange rates than the shop itself.

    Locking Card Remotely

    If your card is lost or stolen – for example, if your luggage goes missing – you need to take action quickly. All 3 platforms allow you to go on their app and freeze your card, to stop it from being used by anyone who finds it. If you later get your wallet back, 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 in 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

    Tip: Many travel insurance policies that come with your normal bank or bundled with other insurance policies are only valid for short trips. Check the maximum length of stay that’s covered before travelling. You don’t want to claim for lost luggage during your gap year, only to find that the policy only covers trips up to 14 days.

    Savings Interest Rates

    With inflation sky-high at around 10%, money sitting in the bank is constantly losing value. For example, £10 in 1990 is equivalent to our £29.08, so if it was just sitting in a piggy bank, it’s lost a lot of value. Any interest gained on savings slightly offsets inflation and helps your money retain value.

    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 claims to keep people’s money safe. For this reason, I recommend NOT using Revolut as your main/only bank.

    Winners: Monzo & Starling

    Phone Insurance

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

    Neither Starling nor Revolut offers this benefit.

    Winner: Monzo

    Transfer Money Abroad

    Sending money abroad in 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 for the best bank for travel 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 – Monzo vs Starling vs Revolut

    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 more travel posts 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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