The recent banking internet disasters at TSB, Visa and Tesco, plus this interesting post from The FIRE Shrink got me pondering the other week.
My emergency funds are predominantly split across TSB and Tesco Bank (with a bit in Nationwide) and my debit card is Visa.
So what would happen if I did have an emergency and I couldn’t get to my money because of various banking meltdowns?
Ok, unlikely that they would all go down the pan at the same time but it could happen? I do still carry a bit of cash these days but it’s very rarely more than £20. I decided I needed a back up plan but that I needed to look beyond the ‘old banks’.
Again, I have The FIRE Shrink to thank for pointing me in the right direction.
He had as one of his monthly goals: “Set up a Starling / Monzo / Atom / Revolut account”. I’d heard of Monzo and Atom before but thought I’d do some research on all of them. Revolut didn’t appear to have a UK banking licence so they were out of the running. Atom looked ok but for fixed term savings.
So it was a toss up between Monzo and Starling, both having similar features as a current/day to day bank account app.
I suddenly recalled that I’d read something about Starling and it was this inspiring BBC article about the challenger bank’s founder and CEO, Anne Boden. Well, that was my decision sorted – I’ve got to do my bit to support women in finance and tech!
Obviously this wasn’t the only reason why I chose Starling – the debit card is linked to Mastercard (would Visa and Mastercard ever have a meltdown at the same time??), no charges for overseas withdrawals, interest paid on balances, (although nothing to really shout about at 0.5%, it’s better than Monzo’s zero) and it was voted ‘Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider in 2018’.
There are also some other nifty features on the app which I won’t go into as I haven’t tried them out yet but I’ve heard a new feature just developed will be the ability to attach notes and images of receipts against transactions which sounds intriguing.
Also, there was something about Starling that didn’t look gimmicky, perhaps seemed a bit more ‘traditional’ (in a good way), plus there are Boden’s banking credentials too.
As I was drafting this post, coincidentally, this popped up on my Twitter feed:
Just as well I got my application in last week and avoided the stampede!
The whole onboarding process took about 10 mins. It probably would have taken less but in order to verify my account, I had to send a video selfie and since I’d just got in from the gym when I applied (hair still wet and uncombed, make up half on, half off), I spent a few minutes making myself a bit
less scary more presentable before I sent it, haha!
The following day, I received a text confirming my account had been set up and I was able to start playing around the app, transferring in money, setting up payments etc. My card arrived 3 days later.
All very quick and easy, with minimum fuss.
I’ve opened up this account initially to be a back up emergency account. What’s interesting is that I’ve got a free pre-approved overdraft of up to £5000 – well that is an emergency back up and a half! Obviously interest is paid on what you borrow but great for peace of mind. I also plan on taking the card away with me, just in case I need some cash overseas.
I already find that I feel comfortable with this app (the first banking one on my phone) and I see the possibility of it being used for small purchases in the future.
My main current account would continue to do the major heavy lifting, ie direct debits, all bills, groceries, petrol, etc but we’ll see, anyway.