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At Wise, 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.
Unlike the examples we've seen with the good old banks, Starling has little to hide when you're sending money abroad.
Much like Wise, Starling also uses a live fee calculator, that uses the mid-market rate. The same calculator shows customers exactly what the delivery fee is (£0.30 for local payments and £4 for SWIFT payments) and a flat 0.4% conversion fee to cover for Starling's costs – so there are no hidden surprises for Starling customers.
Starling's Euro account is free if you're topping up and cashing out in euros
Starling also offers an euro account that lets you "hold, send and receive euros for free".
And this is true if you're someone who is using their euro account as a domestic account, or simply using the account in euros – i.e., topping up your account in euros, receiving in euros and spending in euros.
However, the same 0.4% conversion fee will also apply to convert your pounds to euros and vice versa. So, if you're topping up your euro account using pounds, or cashing out your euros in pounds, the "free" claim isn't strictly true.
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
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.
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 — if the prices are easy for customers to find.
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