I have spent last 6 months using Starling and Monzo as my main bank accounts.This is what I have learned.
Working from home today and procrastinating, so I thought I'd share my experience with Monzo and Starling. After largely lurking this subreddit for a number of years now, inevitably every "which is the best bank account" type thread recommends either Monzo or Starling repeatedly. So I decided to give them both a go and see what would happen.
- Male, early 30s
- Live in Manchester
- Income £35k
- Travel a fair bit
- No credit cards (spending done on debits)
- Renting, no mortgage
- Not much in way of savings (6 months ago anyway - the flowchart changed that!)
- To never have to deal with Natwest's god-awful customer service again
- To get better rates when spending abroad
- To get into the "habit" of saving (wrote "spending" originally, lol)
I kept my salary being paid into Natwest during these six months, but switched a couple of direct debits each to Starling and Monzo (Spotify, Netflix etc. Switched energy direct debit to Monzo)
Open the 2 accounts. Both couldn't be easier. Impressed by the lack of faff with both of them.
Debit cards arrive - both, in my opinion, look great. The Monzo pink one still gets lots of "What the bloody hell is that" in my mum's Cheshire village.
The apps are just something else. Straight away I can tell how it's going to help me get into the "saving habit" - just with the visibility of what's being spent. Really like Monzo's kind of monthly "predictor" on whether the money will last based on how you're spending, plus any bills setup.
Start setting up some of the additional features. I do the "change jar" in Monzo, that rounds up spending and puts the extra pennies in a pot. Open an ISA savings pot on Monzo and 2 regular savings pots on Starling for a couple of trips.
Both banks show a notification saying I'm eligible for an overdraft. Don't really trust myself with these, so I decline. Find out in the Monzo settings you can turn off lending offers, so it doesn't appear again (does with Starling).
Slightly overdo it with restricting myself on spending - and read a timely post on here that basically says "remember to enjoy yourself/don't get addicted to saving". Managed to put away £500 that month in savings though!
Birthday month. Granny and Grandad still send me £20 cheques each. Legends. Although, thought this might scupper my plans for Starling/Monzo. Found out you can deposit cheques with both through the post. Both take about 5 days to credit - that was cool. Go away for my birthday to Morocco. Spending on both cards is not a problem - but wanting to go to Bazaars and attempt to ride a Camel requires cash, so Starling performs best here with its unlimited withdrawal fees.
I upped my company pension contributions after checking the flowchart and realising a) my pension had a fee of 0.4%, which was great and b) I've definitely got a bit more extra cash lying around after checking my spending. The plan is working!
Manage to put away £250 in savings.
Monzo starts telling me I can switch energy providers and get £50 off. Yes please? Check my current bill and it's due to come up that month - not sure if that was a coincidence. Go through their tool and find a slightly better rate on Octopus Energy, but the £50 also sweetens it. Popped that straight into the Cash ISA pot. Had another trip abroad to France, Starling worked without a problem once again. Managed to save £300 again in savings pots. Monzo change pot is now up to £42(!), which I move to the ISA.
First bit of a problem for both banks. Some Starling payments start getting rejected on the card, and some transfers to friends don't go through. Checked the balance and was all OK - checked Twitter and seemed to be a problem on their end. (Thought they had a forum but looks like they closed it in 2018? Monzo still has theirs, which is pretty useful although sometimes a bit negative).
Monzo tells me that I can get paid a day early by switching my salary to them. Think it's just a bit of a gimmick tbh. They also had the fuck up with their PIN storage this month, iirc. Didn't affect me, changed PIN anyway.
£300 saved again.
This was the game changer. Monzo updated its app and came out with a salary sorter feature. It says once your salary comes in, it automatically moves money into pots, and then those pots pay your bills. Can also put money straight into ISA (haven't yet until I'm more comfortable with what I've got end of the month).
Haven't had salary paid in yet (still Natwest, but going to change) but did setup the bill pots, and I've watched Netflix and the energy bill go out of those pots automatically.
Had another issue with payments going out on Starling - read it might have been to do with new SCA laws, but my payments where chip n pin. Bit frustrating.
Also put away a bit of money to take the savings up to £1500 + pension contributions. Pretty chuffed.
6 months in and with that new feature its convinced me to use Monzo as my main account and Starling as my backup.
What I learned:
- These apps can definitely help you control spending easier than other ones I've seen.
- Monzo has definitely got me into a savings mentality. Moving the bill stuff automatically and showing what I've got left is great. Used to faff around with this at uni with a separate bills account etc. - this does it all in one place.
- Starling is the king (queen?) of spending abroad., Best Rates A bit shakey at times though.
- Not had to use either customer support properly, so can't comment there.
- UKPF says to keep more than one account open "just in case" so I intend to.
I've now switched my salary to get paid into Monzo and can finally close my Natwest account. True to form, that's taken 2 weeks so far, lol.
Hope this helps someone - a big thank you to this community for all of the financial advice you've given over the last year of lurking. Feels great to finally feel like I'm getting a grip with my finances and be a bit more organised with my money.
Now Using Monzo as my full bank account after their latest update. Keeping Starling as additional backup/full overseas spending. Finally closing my nightmare with Natwest. Saving money regularly for the first time in...ever? UKPF is awesome.