Online banks and alternative providers in the UK (2023): accounts, fees and features

Zorica Lončar

Looking for a new bank account? If you’re tired of using a traditional bank, you might be considering using one of the new wave of digital banks.

These ‘neobanks’ or mobile banks have rocketed in popularity in recent years. They’re a great option for people who love the convenience of banking using mobile apps, and are tired of the bureaucracy of an old-school bank.

But which are the best online banks in the UK, and which is the right choice for you?

Here in this guide, we’ll pit the UK’s most popular digital banks against each other. This includes the likes of Revolut, Starling, Monzo, and Chase. We’ll also mention alternative e-money provider such as the Wise multi-currency account.

We’ll compare them on all the key things that matter - account types, features and of course, fees. This should help you choose the solution that best suits your needs.

So, let’s get started.


Launched in 2015, Revolut is currently one of the fastest growing digital banks in Europe. However, the company still hasn’t obtained a UK banking licence. It has over 25 million personal users, along with over 500,000 business accounts¹.

Revolut offers a range of financial services through its innovative mobile app, from everyday transactions right through to cryptocurrency trading.

Importantly though, Revolut isn’t an official bank. It’s an e-money institution authorised by UK Electronic Money Regulations². It does have a banking licence in many EU countries, but not in the UK - although it is working on getting one.

This means that your money isn’t protected through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) but through what Revolut describes as ‘safeguarding’ instead². You can read more on this on the Revolut website.


Revolut has a choice of plans available, starting with a basic free plan. It has three tiers of paid plans above this, where you get more features for a higher monthly cost. The free plan is called Standard, while the paid plans are Plus, Premium and Metal.

All Revolut plans come with a debit card, access to the Revolut app and the option to pay money in and out. There’s also daily interest on your savings.

But as you go up towards the Metal plan, you’ll get increased interest rates and higher limits on things like free ATM withdrawals³. You’ll also get perks such as exclusive personalised cards, overseas medical insurance and unlimited currency exchange.


Revolut offers a huge range of features, although some are dependent on the plan you choose. If you’re on a Standard free plan, you’ll only be able to access basic features.

Here are just a few of the highlights³:

  • International spending
  • Currency exchange in 30+ countries with no fees (Mon-Fri)
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals within limits
  • Daily interest on savings
  • Access to crypto, commodities and stock trading services
  • Budget management tools such as Pockets
  • Manage cards through the Revolut app - including access to single-use cards for extra security
  • Cashback on card payments (Metal plan only).


Here’s what you can expect to pay for each tier of Revolut plan³:

PlanMonthly fee

Revolut also has some other fees you should be aware of. This includes⁴:

  • 2% ATM withdrawal fee above your free monthly allowance
  • International transfer fees, which vary depending on currency.
  • 0.5% fair usage fee if you exceed your monthly currency exchange limit (standard and Plus plans)
  • An additional fee for exchanging currency on weekends - you’ll be able to see this in the Revolut app before going ahead.


Starling Bank was one of the UK’s first digital banks. The idea was dreamed up back in 2014, it gained a UK banking licence in 2016 and eventually launched its mobile app in 2017.

Since then, Starling has attracted millions of customers and won multiple awards. It was even voted Best Current Account Provider five years in a row at the British Bank Awards⁵.

Starling Bank has a user-friendly and award-winning⁵ mobile banking app. And as it’s a fully regulated UK bank, your money is FSCS protected⁶ as a Starling customer.


Starling Bank offers just one main account, it’s free current account. However, you can also apply for a joint account or Euro account.

For business users, there’s a business current account, dedicated sole trader account and multi-currency account.


Here’s what you can expect when you sign up for a Starling Personal Current Account⁷:

  • Manage your money through the Starling mobile banking app
  • Smart budgeting and savings tools
  • Contactless Mastercard debit card, with in-app card security controls
  • No extra charges to use your card overseas
  • 0.05% interest on current account balances up to £85,000
  • Access to a Fixed Saver account
  • Instant real-time notifications
  • Split the Bill and Settle Up features
  • Virtual cards
  • 24/7 support from a UK-based team
  • International transfers with no hidden fees and competitive exchange rates.


One of the great things about the Starling current account is that it’s free, which means no monthly fees.

However, there are some other fees and charges you need to know about⁸:

  • International transfer fees - you’ll see these in the app before you send
  • £5 fee for a replacement debit card
  • 0.7% for Post Office cash deposits above the annual limit of £1,000.


One of the largest digital banks with over 6 million customers⁹, London-based Monzo launched in 2016.

A UK regulated online bank with FSCS protection, Monzo snatched the Best British Bank award from Starling Bank in 2022⁹.


Similar to Revolut, Monzo has a choice of current accounts, starting with a free plan. This is the original Monzo current account, which comes with a debit card, savings and access to borrowing and overdrafts. Everything’s managed in the Monzo app.

If you want more benefits, you can upgrade to Monzo Plus or Monzo Premium. These paid plans start from £5 a month¹⁰, and offer all the free features plus extras such as interest on your balance, worldwide travel insurance and a holographic card. We’ll look at more features next.


The features you’ll get with Monzo vary depending on which account level you opt for. But here are just a few of the highlights¹⁰:

  • Monzo debit Mastercard
  • Instant spending notifications
  • Pots for budgeting and saving
  • Fee-free UK bank transfers
  • Limited fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals (paid plans)
  • Interest on your balance (paid plans).
  • Virtual cards (paid plans)
  • Perks such as phone insurance, worldwide travel insurance and discounted airport lounge access (Monzo Premium).


Now, how much does it cost to use Monzo? Let’s start with the monthly account fee¹⁰:

AccountMonthly feeMinimum term
Monzo Plus£53 months
Monzo Premium£156 months

There are also some other charges you should know about¹¹:

  • 3% for UK cash withdrawals over your monthly £250 allowance
  • 3% for overseas cash withdrawals over your monthly £250 allowance
  • Unarranged overdraft charges, capped at a monthly maximum of £15.50.

However, Monzo will waive some of these charges if you pay at least £500 a month into your account.


Monese is a mobile money account provider first launched in the UK in 2015. It now has over 2 million customers and offers services across 31 countries¹².

The service has an international focus, offering accounts in different currencies along with overseas money transfer services.

It’s not a regulated UK bank though, so doesn’t offer FSCS protection.


Monese offers an Instant Account for personal customers, along with dedicated accounts for businesses. You can choose to open your account in Sterling (GBP), Euro (EUR) or Romanian Leu (RON).

Like Revolut and Monzo, it has a choice of plans - Simple, Classic and Premium. The Simple plan is free, while the others have a month fee in return for extra features. For example, lower fees, higher allowances and perks like insurance.


The features you’ll get with a Monese account all depends on your plan, with the paid plans unsurprisingly offering the most features. Here’s a quick roundup of the most attractive features¹³:

  • Instant Monese to Monese transfers
  • International transfers
  • Contactless debit card
  • Access to credit, such as personal loans and the Credit Builder tool
  • Insurance cover - including accident, sickness and involuntary unemployment protection (paid plans)
  • Avios account integration
  • Money pots with round-up feature
  • Access to interest-bearing savings accounts
  • Multilingual customer support.


There are quite a few fees applicable to Monese accounts. Let’s start with the monthly account fee¹³:

PlanMonthly fee

In terms of other charges, here are the main ones you need to know about¹⁴:

  • £4.99 debit card delivery fee (Simple plan, free for paid plans)
  • 0.5% - 2% fee for international transfers (free for Premium plan)
  • 1% - 2.5% fee for currency exchange at weekends
  • 2% fee for card payments in other currencies
  • 2% fee for ATM withdrawals above your monthly allowance.

It’s also useful to be aware that there are limits, especially for the Simple plan. For example, the free plan limits you to just 50 outgoing transactions a month¹⁴.


Chase is one of the UK’s newest digital banks, launched in 2021 by US banking giant J.P. Morgan. It’s based in London, with a support team in Edinburgh¹⁵. Millions of customers in the US already use Chase for everyday banking services.

Chase accounts are free to open, and deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)¹⁵.


Chase offers a current account and a savers account for personal customers.

The current account comes with a debit card, access to the linked savings account and 24/7 support. It’s free to open, and there are no monthly fees. Everything is managed through the Chase mobile app.


Here’s what benefits you can expect when you open a Chase current account¹⁶:

  • 1% cashback on everyday debit card spending for a year - both home and abroad
  • 2.7% AER interest on your money in the linked savings account
  • 5% AER interest on your round-up balance
  • Numberless card for security - your card details are stored in the Chase app
  • 24/7 support through the Chase app
  • Add your Chase card to Apple Pay or Google Pay
  • Use your Chase account and card abroad for zero fees
  • Open extra accounts in the app for budgeting, saving and more.


The great news is that Chase doesn’t charge any fees. There are no monthly fees for maintaining the account, and it’s fee-free to use your card internationally. Chase uses Mastercard’s exchange rate for converting currency, and doesn’t add on any of its own mark-ups or transaction fees¹⁷.


Wise is an e-money institution authorised by UK Electronic Money Regulations same as Revolut. Wise offers a multi-currency account that allows customers to hold balances in 50+ currencies and receive in 10. So, it could be a good option if you’re considering switching from a bank.

With Wise, you can send and receive money internationally, convert currency, and spend worldwide with a linked debit card.

If you’re looking for an account you can use internationally, it’s a great option. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate and only charges low, transparent fees.

Wise are FCA regulated in the UK, which means we are expected to adhere to strict rules and regulations to protect our customers as best as we can.


Wise offers a free multi-currency account, along with feature-packed solutions for businesses. It lets you manage your money in 50 currencies, all through your online account or the Wise app. You’ll get access to local account details so you can receive money in major currencies without the need for currency conversion.

And for a small one-time fee, there’s a Wise debit card linked to the account which can be used in 175 countries. This automatically converts your money to the local currency using the mid-market exchange rate whenever you spend.


There’s no fee to open a Wise account, and no monthly fees¹⁹. Here are the other charges you need to know about¹⁸:

  • Sending or converting money - from 0.41% depending on currency
  • Free ATM withdrawals up to £200 a month (2 or less withdrawals)
  • 1.75% fee + 0.50 GBP for ATM withdrawals over your free monthly allowance
  • £7 one-off fee to get a Wise debit card.

Sources used:

  1. Revolut - About Revolut
  2. Revolut Blog - How we keep your money safe
  3. Revolut - Our Pricing Plans
  4. Revolut - Fees (Standard plan)
  5. Starling Bank - Awards
  6. Starling Bank
  7. Starling Bank - Current account
  8. Starling Bank - Rates, fees and charges
  9. Monzo
  10. Monzo - Current Account
  11. Monzo - Fee information
  12. Monese - About
  13. Monese - Pricing
  14. Monese - Fees and limits information
  15. Chase - Our story
  16. Chase - Chase Account
  17. Chase - Travel with Chase
  18. Wise - Pricing
  19. Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Sources last checked on date: 18-Jan-2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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