From Kroo to Monzo: Fintech challenger bank current accounts compared
At the beginning of the week, challenger bank Kroo launched its first current account paying customers 2% interest on their bank balances.
The interest rate may have been eye-catching at the start of the year, but as the 2022 draws to a close all top five easy access savings account providers now offer rates above 2%, many of which are linked to current accounts.
So, what else does Kroo offer current account holders? How does it compare to other challenger bank accounts and what should users consider before opening an account with a modern technology-driven bank?
Andrew Hagger, personal finance expert and founder of Moneycomms, said: “Mobile-only current accounts are often aimed at young people who tend not to keep huge balances in their current account so the interest rate doesn’t matter that much.
“Most of challenger banks offer all singing and dancing apps showing you how you’ve spent your money. When choosing an account, look beyond these features.
“Consider whether the account offers services that you really need. If you travel a lot, check the small print around fees abroad. If there is no online banking or branch network consider how else you can get in touch with them if the app goes down. Look beyond the bells and whistles and ask yourself, does this account offer everything I need?”
The challenger current accounts compared
Kroo offers a free current account with a rate of 2% on balances up to £85,000. The account has an overdraft facility available up to £3,000 for a maximum of 30 days.
The interest rate payable on the overdraft is 24.9%. Users travelling abroad can withdraw up to £200 from an ATM every 30 days fee free. Withdrawals over £200 are a charged at 3%. You will not be charged by Kroo for using your card abroad.
Pros of the Kroo account: The maximum interest earning balance is generous. Some banks that offer a decent interest rate, only do so only restricted balances of up to £2,000, for example.
Cons of the account: There is currently no telephone number should you need to call your bank to ask for help. Kroo says a telephone number is on the way. You can only apply for an overdraft for a maximum of 30 days. Although the facility is not withdrawn after a month, the bank would contact you to discuss making changes.
Monzo’s free current account does not pay interest. The maximum overdraft limit is £2,000. Overdraft interest rates range from 19% to 39% depending on your credit score.
There are no fees for using your card abroad. Current account users don’t pay for ATM withdrawals in any EEA county. Elsewhere in the world you can withdraw £200 in a rolling 30-day period. After that, a 3% charge applies to each cash withdrawal.
Pros of Monzo: It’s one of the most-established mobile-only current account providers and has proved that its tech is reliable. It’s also fee-friendly to travellers within EEA countries. There’s a telephone helpline if you can’t solve your query through the chat function.
It has a handy function called ‘salary sorter’ which will sort your salary into categories such as rent, mortgage and other bills to help you budget.
Cons of the account: Some users will be charged almost 40% interest on arranged overdraft balances.
Starling Bank offers 0.05% interest on current account balances. Users who dip into their arranged overdraft will be charged 15% interest.
Starling does not charge any fees for ATM withdrawals abroad or for using your card to make payments in a foreign currency.
Pros of Starling’s current account: The ability to operate your account from a laptop or computer, not just through a mobile app. This gives you back up options should you have issues with your phone. It also offers customers a telephone helpline.
Cons of the account: The daily cash withdrawal limit is lower than some other challenger banks capped at £300 a day. You can make up to six withdrawals a day.
Chase, a subsidiary of investment bank JP Morgan Chase, launched its current account and mobile banking app to the UK last year.
Its current account pays 0% interest but it has a linked easy access savings account which pays 2.1% on balances of up to £250,000. You can hold up to 10 savings accounts and save a maximum of £250,000 across them.
You can withdraw up to £500 a day from cash machines at home or abroad fee free. There are no fees for using your card abroad.
Pros of using Chase: You can activate a cashback facility that entitles you to 1% cashback on every day spending. There’s a round-up savings option. Your spending is rounded up to the nearest £1 and deposited in a savings account that pays 5% on balances. There is the option to speak to someone if you need help, but you must tap the app to contact them.
Cons of the account: No overdraft facility. There’s a limit of £1,500 on cash withdrawals per calendar month in the UK. The technology has yet to prove itself as the app is still new. In October, the app crashed leaving customers locked out of their account.