Starling x transparency

2 minute read

At TransferWise, we believe in radical transparency. Which to us, means making pricing crystal clear. So people can make more informed choices on what’s right for them.

We know that the old, traditional banks don’t fare so well when it comes to price. But customers now have far better alternatives — fintechs, challenger banks and digital providers — who are setting far better standards for international transfers. And honestly, there’s space for us all. But are these new dogs up to old tricks when it comes to being transparent with their pricing?

We had a trawl of Starling’s site. And honestly, they’re pretty transparent when it comes to their pricing.

Here’s what we found:

Their exchange rate and fees for sending abroad are crystal clear

Starling make a point of explaining to their customers what the live and real exchange rate is. Even better, they use it.

Their euro account has a flat 0.4% conversion fee

There’s a low fee of 0.4% to convert your pounds to euros — which they do introduce lower down their main euro account page. This is where Starling miss the mark by a little bit. They say it’s free to hold, send and receive euros — which as we’ve seen, isn’t strictly true. Unless you top up your euro account from another euro account.

There’s also a negative interest rate of -0.5% for ballers holding more than 50,000€. It’s only applied to anything above 50k though, and they are clear about it.

That being said, both fees are made clear, and are — thankfully — very small.

Their “no fees overseas” claims is mostly true

Again, we think it’s risky to have a blanket claim of “no fees” — no matter how catchy the slogan.

Credit to them, they don’t charge ATM fees and they don’t charge for using your card abroad either. That's great!

More specific to that "no fees" claim is, if you end up converting pounds to euros on a trip (the other currency you can hold with them), you’ll get that 0.4% flat fee from above.

The verdict

Starling is setting a great standard for the rest of fintech. They are cheap and they stand by their word. They pass our transparency exam with flying colours (purple and turquoise). But as they add more offerings, they might need to take a second look at earlier “free” claims. And it’s ok to charge for some things — but the prices need to be easy for customers to find.

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