Starling Bank international transfer: fees, rates and transfer time

Zorica Lončar
06.09.21
5 minute read

If you need to make an international payment, it’s a smart idea to check how much it’ll cost you. In this guide, we’ll look at the fees, exchange rates and other important info you need to know about making international transfers with Starling Bank.

Founded in 2014¹, Starling Bank is a digital bank which mainly offers current accounts and business accounts, along with multi-currency accounts. Starling is fully FSCS regulated and has been named ‘Best British Bank’ for four consecutive years in the British Bank Awards².

With Starling, you can send money in 20 currencies to 38 countries³, and manage your money on the move using its mobile banking app.

Before we dive into the details of making an international transfer with Starling, here’s a quick example.

Imagine you’d like to send £1,000 to a friend in France, with the money arriving in EUR. Here’s how much it would cost with Starling, compared to another provider like Wise.

Starling⁴Wise⁵
Transfer fee£4.00£3.69
Delivery fee£5.50-
Exchange rate1.16851.16939
Amount sent£990.50£996.31
Amount received€1157.39 EUR€1,165.07 EUR

It is possible to pay a lower delivery fee with Starling Bank, but this kind of transfer is sent via local partners and can be slower. There’s also no reference, so it’s harder to track the payment and you can’t recall it if a mistake has been made.

Along with the fees, it’s important to keep a close eye on exchange rates when comparing international transfer costs.

The good news is that Starling charges the real, mid-market exchange rate, just like Wise. This is the fairest rate you can get, without the expensive mark-up that banks tend to add on top. Remember that you can always check what the mid-market rate is using the Wise currency converter.

However, there are restrictions as to when you can get this rate when making international transfers with Starling. We’ll look at this in more detail shortly.

Starling Bank international transfer fees

Here’s a quick look at the main fees and charges you need to know about for overseas transfers with Starling Bank. This includes costs for sending and receiving money internationally.

Starling Bank international transfersFees⁴
Sending payments - transfer/currency conversion fee0.4%
Sending payments - delivery feeFrom £0.30 - local network payment£5.50 - SWIFT bank-to-bank payment
Receiving payments2% conversion fee (if the payment is in EUR)⁶

Starling bank exchange rates

As we mentioned above, it’s always important to check whether there is a mark-up on the exchange rate before making an international transfer. Just because upfront fees appear to be low, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a ‘hidden fee’ within an unfavourable exchange rate.

Thankfully, Starling Bank is one of those rare examples - just like Wise - which doesn’t add a mark-up to the exchange rate. This means you get the fairest rate around, which should help to keep costs down for your transfer.

There is a catch, however. Starling doesn’t offer this rate at weekends, when the foreign exchange market is closed. So, if you want to send money abroad on a Saturday or Sunday, you can use Starling’s ‘special weekend exchange rate⁷’ which has a mark-up of 0.5% added to it.

Additional fees with Starling Bank

Starling is reasonably upfront and transparent about its fees and charges, but there are some extra costs you might need to know about.

These mainly relate to sending an international transfer. You know about Starling’s fees, but there may also be extra charges from your recipient’s bank for processing the payment⁶. Plus, if you’re sending money via the SWIFT network, it’s likely that other banks will be involved along the way. Each may charge their own fees, which are outside of the control of the sending bank.

A cheaper and transparent alternative - Wise

If you regularly send money overseas, you’ll be looking for the cheapest possible way to do it. After all, a few extra pounds in fees or a poor exchange rate can soon add up over time.

Wise is a great alternative to using your bank, even one with relatively low fees and fair exchange rates like Starling Bank. You’re guaranteed low, transparent fees for fast, secure transfers, and you’ll always get the mid-market rate - even at weekends.

Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can also hold 50+ currencies at once, and receive money from overseas for low to no fees using handy local account details.

There’s also the Wise debit card, a contactless international card for spending in 200+ countries - which automatically converts currency at the best rate whenever you spend.

Join Wise

How do you make an international transfer with Starling Bank?

If you’ve done your homework, compared fees and exchange rates, and are happy to make your first international transfer with Starling Bank - here’s how to do it³:

  1. In the Starling banking app, head to ‘Payments’
  2. Choose ‘send money’ and then ‘Foreign Exchange rates’ - here you can see what the current rate is to convert GBP to your chosen currency.
  3. Select the currency and enter the amount you want to send in GBP. Alternatively, you can enter the amount you’d like the recipient to receive, in their own currency. The app automatically updates the amount to be paid and the amount received to factor in fees and exchange rates.
  4. Choose a payment method - a SWIFT bank-to-bank transfer, or local network payment - and check that you’re happy with all the fees and charges.
  5. Select an existing payee, or create a new one using their bank and other details (we’ll show you exactly what you’ll need in the next section)
  6. Double-check all the details and confirm the payment.

There are two important things to note when setting up Starling Bank international transfers. Firstly, you can only send money in the currency of the destination country. So, you can send EUR to France but not USD³.

There are also restrictions on when you can send money. Due to the foreign exchange market closing on weekends, Starling Bank can only process international payments at the mid-market exchange rate from Monday to Friday³. If you want to send at the weekend, there’ll be an additional mark-up on the rate.

What do I need in order to make an international transfer with Starling?

To send money overseas with Starling Bank, you’ll need the following⁸:

  • The recipient’s name and bank account details
  • Their International Bank Account Number (IBAN)
  • For SWIFT payments, their bank’s Business Identifier Code (BIC) or SWIFT code.

What do I need in order to receive an international transfer with Starling?

To receive money from overseas into your Starling account, you’ll need to give your recipient all the same details as above. This means your IBAN, SWIFT/BIC code and your standard account number and sort code.

How long does an international bank transfer with Starling take?

The time it takes for international payments to arrive depends on the method you’ve chosen to send the money.

If you’ve chosen SWIFT, you can expect the payment to arrive within 1-3 days⁹. For low cost payments using Starling’s local partner network, your recipient may have to wait longer - although the bank doesn’t give a specific timescale for this.

There may also be delays for payments made over the weekend. Unless you’re willing to lose some money to the more expensive ‘special weekend exchange rate’, you’ll need to wait until Monday for processing of your payment to begin.


And that’s pretty much it - everything you need to know about international transfers with Starling Bank. We’ve covered fees, exchange rates and how to actually arrange your payment, and how to receive one from abroad too.

You should be all set to make your first overseas transfer. Just make sure you’ve compared fees and rates first, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible deal.


Sources used for this article:

  1. Starling Bank - about
  2. Starling Bank - awards
  3. Starling Bank - how to make an international payment
  4. Starling Bank - send money abroad
  5. Wise - fees
  6. Starling Bank - fee information document
  7. Starling Bank - exchange rate on the weekend
  8. Starling Bank - how to send money abroad
  9. Starling Bank - when will my international transfer arrive

Sources checked on 19-August-2021.


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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