Starling USD Account Review: Fees, Features and Alternatives 2023
Starling is a digital neobank which has a range of accounts and services you can access and manage online and in the Starling app. If you’ve already got an eligible Starling GBP business account you can add in a Starling USD account for your company, with a 5 GBP/month fee. This allows you to hold, receive and send dollar payments, without needing to convert back to pounds.
Read on for all you need to know about the Starling USD business account. Plus, to help you decide if the Starling USD account is right for you we’ll also cover a couple of alternatives for comparison, from specialist providers Wise and Revolut and Revolut, and Barclays as highstreet provider which offers USD accounts to personal and business customers. More on that later.
What is the Starling USD account?
Starling offers a US dollar account to select business customers. You can use your Starling USD account to send and receive USD payments through the ACH network. That’s handy if you invoice clients or get paid by customers from the US, and don’t want to switch your funds back to pounds every time.
You can spend from your Starling USD account using your existing Starling debit card. Just manage your account in the app to confirm if you want payments and withdrawals to come from your GBP account or your US dollar account. As a business customer, you’ll also find a few other perks like money management tools for your business, and 24/7 support.
Pros and cons of Starling USD account
Before we get into too much detail let’s look at an overview of some of the pros and cons of the Starling USD business account:
Low monthly fees - and hardly any transaction charges from Starling
0.4% fee for currency conversion - this is lower than most banks
Send and receive payments in USD without needing to convert back to pounds
Business customers with a limited company only
Payments can only be made in USD through the ACH network
Third party fees may apply
Starling foreign currency account alternatives
Looking for a personal USD account? Or maybe you need an account you can use to hold, send and receive USD alongside a range of other currencies. Here are some alternatives to consider if the Starling USD account isn’t quite the right fit for your needs.
Like Starling, you’ll be able to manage your Wise account online, with low transaction fees and a great exchange rate. Where Wise stands out is for the range of supported currencies, 50+, and the options to receive payments to your account fee free from 30+ countries. You’ll also be able to apply for a linked debit card to spend and withdraw in 170+ countries around the world.
Foreign Currencies: 50+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate, low transaction fees
International Transfers: From 0.41% fee
Debit Card: Available
Go to Wise
Revolut could be a good Starling alternative if you’re looking for fee free currency exchange and don’t mind paying a monthly fee to unlock this and a range of other travel perks. Revolut does also have fee free standard accounts, although they have some limits on the amount of currency you can exchange before fees apply - plus linked debit cards for easy spending and withdrawals.
Foreign Currencies: 30+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits, low transaction fees based on account type
International Transfers: 0.3% - 2% fee, some accounts offer discounted transfer fees
Debit Card: Available
Barclays Euro Account
If you’re looking for an account you can use to deposit cash and cheques, or get a face to face service, then a digital provider won’t meet your needs. Check out Barclays as a traditional bank which offers foreign currency accounts in euros and a range of other currencies. You can deposit euros in cash with no fee, but there’s no debit card which makes this less convenient for day to day spending.
Foreign Currencies: Euro
Fees & Exchange Rates: No monthly fee, exchange rates include a markup
International Transfers: No fee for payments made online
Debit Card: Not available
Here’s a summary of Starling vs Wise and Revolut, for euro and multi-currency account options:
|Monthly fees||5 GBP/month||No fee||0 GBP - 12.99 GBP/month depending on account tier|
|Currencies you can hold and exchange||USD (separate accounts can be opened for GBP and EUR)||50+||30+|
|Exchange rates||Rates include a 0.4% markup||Mid-market exchange rate||Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits|
|Debit Card and ATM fees||No Starling fees|
Get a debit card for 7 GBP
2 withdrawals to 200 in value per month for free - 0.5 GBP + 1.75% after that
Debit card is free to order, but delivery fees may apply
ATM withdrawals fee free to plan limits (200 GBP/month for standard plans)
|International payment fees||No Starling fees to send and receive USD ACH payments. Other transfer types are not available from the USD account||From 0.41%||0.3% - 2% for most payments (paid account plans may offer some discount on fees)|
As you can see, the options, features and fees of different types of foreign and multi-currency accounts can vary significantly. Compare a few to pick the right one for your needs.
How does the Starling USD account compare?
If you’re a business customer with Starling already, adding in a USD account might be a simple choice. However, if you’re looking for a USD account for personal use - or if you need to deposit cash to your USD account - Starling might not be the best bet.
Here’s a comparison of the Starling USD account along with specialist providers Wise and Revolut, and UK high street bank Barclays. We’ll look at these providers in a little more detail later to help you decide which account might suit your needs best.
|Availability||Limited companies only||Available to customers in most countries around the world||Available to customers in the UK, EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US||UK customers with a Barclays GBP account|
Currency conversion from 0.4%
International transfers can be made by ACH to US bank accounts only - no fees apply
No monthly fee
Currency conversion and international payments from 0.41%
0 - 12.99 GBP monthly fee depending on plan
Currency conversion with no markups to plan limits
International payments from 0.3% - 2%
No monthly fee
Currency conversion includes a markup
Some international fees apply, including a 6 GBP fee for receiving payments worth over 100 GBP
|Linked Debit Card||Available||Available||Available||Not available|
Which foreign currency or multi-currency account suits you might come down to the type of transactions you’ll make often. Starling’s USD account is for business owners only - but comes with low fees and a great exchange rate. Revolut and Wise have more flexible accounts you can use to hold dozens of currencies - for business and personal customers. And finally Barclays may be a good fit if you want to deposit cash or cheques, or get a face to face service in a branch. We’ll walk through these options in more detail later to help you pick.
Want to compare more options? Check out our full guide to the best foreign and multi-currency accounts in the UK.
What is the eligibility for a Starling USD account?
To open a Starling USD account you must have a limited company, and already have a Starling GBP business account. If you’re eligible to apply for a Starling USD account you’ll see this option in the Starling app. Unfortunately sole traders can not apply for a Starling USD account.
Who is it good for?
If you’re eligible to apply for a Starling USD account you may be interested as it’s a good way to send and receive payments in USD through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network. ACH payments with Starling are free to send and receive.
However, it’s useful to know that the Starling USD account does have a few limitations. At the time of writing you can’t send or receive payments in any other currency, and you can’t spend using your USD debit card in any currency other than USD either.
When is a multi-currency account needed?
If you’re transacting in USD for your business, a Starling USD account might be a handy way to cut your costs. If you get paid by a client in dollars simply hold your USD balance with Starling until you next need to make a payment to someone in the US, instead of having to convert back to pounds every time.
Personal customers can also benefit from multi-currency accounts, particularly when you can spend internationally with a linked card.
Here’s a quick overview of the Starling USD account set against the providers we looked at earlier, and who they may suit:
Starling - good for business customers who prefer to manage their money online
Wise - flexible account with 50+ currencies and a linked card - handy if you travel a lot or shop online with overseas retailers → Read Wise Review
Revolut - fairly broad range of services available - especially if you upgrade to a paid account tier → Read Revolut Review
Barclays - useful for people who prefer to transact in person in a branch, including depositing and withdrawing in cash
How to open a USD account with Starling
If you’re eligible to open a Starling USD account for your business you’ll see the option in your Starling app, and can simply follow the instructions on screen to apply.
What documents you'll need
To set up a business account with Starling you’ll need to provide documents relating to both yourself and your business. Exactly what’s needed depends on your business type, but can include:
Proof of ID, like a passport
Proof of address, such as a utility bill in your name
Documents confirming the nature of your business
The Starling team will confirm the type of business paperwork needed when you set up your account - this could be proof of membership to an industry body, signed contracts or a business rental agreement for example.
Here’s a rundown of the key fees you’ll pay with your Starling USD account:
|Service||Starling USD business account fee|
|Monthly fee||5 GBP/month - deducted from your Starling GBP business account|
|ATM withdrawal in USD|
No Starling fee
Charges may be levied by the ATM operator
|Receive payments in USD by ACH||No Starling fee|
|Send money internationally|
No Starling fee to send USD ACH payments
Other payment types are not available
Starling exchange rate
If you want to switch finds between GBP and USD across your Starling accounts you can do so with the Starling exchange rate. The Starling rate is calculated by taking the mid-market rate and adding a 0.4% fee. This is much lower than the currency conversion fees - or exchange rate markups - used by many mainstream banks.
How to use the Starling USD account
Starling business USD accounts can be used to send and receive USD payments through the ACH network. Transfers up to 25,000 USD can be processed on the same day they’re sent. As with most Starling transactions, the easiest way to send a payment is online or in the Starling app - here’s the basic outline:
Log into your online or mobile banking service
Look for the option for International Payments
Follow the prompts to add the recipient’s information and details of the transfer
Complete any required security or verification steps
Add money to your Starling account by receiving a payment in USD to be directly deposited to your Starling USD account, or by converting funds from your Starling GBP account.
You’ll be able to send payments from your Starling USD account via the ACH network, to other USD accounts with a US account number and ACH routing number. You can also spend and make withdrawals in USD with your Starling debit card - just set the option in the Starling app to confirm you want transactions to be processed from your USD account rather than your GBP account.
How to use the Starling USD account abroad
Starling USD business accounts are managed online and in app - which means you can use them when you’re abroad just as easily as you can at home. Check over your accounts, get transaction notifications, and spend with your Starling debit card simply by toggling the tab in the Starling app to confirm you want to fund payments in dollars.
Starling USD account limits
Starling foreign currency accounts may have limits to different transfer types, including:
Total card spending can not exceed 10,000 GBP (or the currency equivalent) daily
You can send payments up to 25,000 USD per day through the ACH network
You can receive payments up to 100,000 USD per day through the ACH network
Are Starling multi-currency accounts safe?
Yes. Like most banks and specialist account services, Starling is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and is a safe provider to use.
Starling is a popular digital bank which has low overall fees and a pretty flexible range of products. If you already have a Starling business account and need to add in ways to send and receive USD payments, the Starling USD account can be a good choice. There’s a low fee of 5 GBP a month, and pretty much no other Starling charges - although third party fees may apply.
Starling won’t be right for you if you’re a personal customer looking for a USD account - or if you’re looking for multi-currency account functionality for yourself or your business. In this case, check out digital providers like Wise and Revolut for accounts that can handle dozens of currencies, with transparent fees and mid-market rate currency conversion.
Business customers (excluding sole traders) with an eligible Starling GBP account can also open a Starling Business USD account.
You can also receive USD ACH transfers to your Starling USD account or switch funds from your GBP account over to USD, with the Starling exchange rate.
Starling doesn’t charge fees to send or receive ACH payments - but there’s a 5 GBP monthly maintenance fee which will be deducted from your Starling GBP business account.
Yes. Use your Starling USD business account when you travel, to manage your money online and make payments and withdrawals in USD.