Your greatest economic friend in today’s unstable age is balance.
That’s according to an economist who predicted 2008’s financial crisis, as well as 2022’s war. Which means having low savings, saving in one currency, or just in cash - is dangerous.
Today’s list of digital banks lets you diversify your money simply, no matter where you want to live. So that you can lower your stress and have an easier life.
In this guide, we’ll cover the most stress relieving, top digital banks.
- 1. 🌴 Wise review — Best Overall
- 2. 🌴 Starling review — Award-winning
- 3. 🌴 Monzo review—Also Budgets
- 4. 🌴 Revolut review — Best for Travellers
- 5. 🌸 Lumio — Best Budgeter
- 6. 🌸 Money Dashboard — Top Alternative
- Most Stable Currencies in the World – Are They Real
- Principles to Handle Your Cash — Hosted by Ray Dalio
Relax. Our Top Pick of Digital Banks Has You Covered 🌞
Before you can retire on that paradisal island with a beautiful sunset, you’ll need a great digital bank.
Such banks understand that more and more people are choosing where they live more. And are in control of their finances more. Sure, pension plans are good, but we need a digital bank with maximum fitness for today’s wild age.
Make sure to check out our budgeting guide, to get the most out of your ideal digital bank. 🌸
1. Wise – Best UK Digital Bank Overall
Wise was released in 2011, focusing on making international money transfers simpler, efficient, and cheaper. Indeed, the goal is to keep costs low so that it eventually becomes free to make a Wise cross-border transfer.
Today, Wise has over 12 million customers, and handles about 8 billion dollars per month worth of trades across over 80 countries. It is a key tool for today’s age where your biggest safeguard against the instability of economies around the world is arguably to diversify your money into the most high-performance assets.
This is why 150,000 reviews show an average of ‘Excellent’ rating.
Wise not only focuses on making transfers easier, faster and cheaper when sending money abroad. They also let you store money in a bunch of different currencies. To do this, Wise has formed its very own payment network to reduce the middlemen and inefficient costs traditionally involved in sending global payments.
Wise’s mission is to give users fairer fees and they keep driving down costs so that their pricing system is very transparent. There’s no subterfuge or hiding fees - what you pay is always clear upfront right from the start of the transfer. If you want to deal with currencies you could also win by using the Wise multi-currency account for individuals and business customers. You’re guaranteed to get the live exchange rate and Wise lets you store 50+ currencies all in one portal.
What You Can Save Via Wise
Wise is known for giving cheap, transparent fees. But what will you actually save by going with Wise rather than an alternative provider?
Specialist services almost always give you cheaper international payments, compared to using a traditional bank. But what you can save will be dependent on the particular service, the currencies involved and where you want to send to.
To get an idea, let’s investigate how this works out when transferring online from your USD account to a friend in Britain. We’ll cover a few different transfer fees and a couple of different specialist services to build a bit of a picture.
Okay, so Wise customers can transfer money to over 80 countries around the world. Also, payments can be carried out online via the Wise app, and gets deposited straight into the target bank account. Which means - unlike many other services - your receiver doesn’t need their own Wise account to get your payment.
Wise transfers are quick. Typically much quicker than normal banks. Indeed, nearly half of Wise's global transfers are instant (delivered in under 20 seconds), while around 80% are delivered insider of a day. Wise supports 54 different currencies letting you transfer to over 80 different countries from the US or Britain. The countries and currencies you can send to are updated constantly.
2. Starling Bank Review – Popular Digital Bank
Starling Bank is one of the biggest and most popular digital banks around, offering a very intuitive banking app that lets you budget and manage every banking need online.
No wonder Starling is a popular option for people seeking ways to skip past the limitations of traditional banks, while getting an effective challenger bank featuring cheap overseas rates using ATMS. There are tons of deposit options, but no physical branches, while cheques can take a while to clear.
They’ve won a bunch of awards too: including the Best British Bank in 2019 / 2020 /2021. Starling Bank keeps trail-blazing as an industry leader in the challenger banks arena, offering users a Starling personal account they can use to get up to the pace of the modern times.
In 2016, Starling Bank was given a UK banking licence, which means they are a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This makes them a full bank -- not an open bank! And it means that users are ensured against an emergency. It also means that Starling Bank account holders can access increased scopes of banking features which can actually meet everyday banking needs like debit cards, handling direct debits and so on.
They’re also one of the fastest services for opening an account. I was able to get a card in a day or two and get started without any phone calls or paperwork. I also used this a bunch while travelling to many far away countries.
3. Monzo Bank Review – Top Digital Bank with Budgets
Monzo’s digital bank offers a Pandora’s box of features – indeed, they’ve written about this expansive list of capabilities. You’ll find many of the same features as with our first two top digital banks.
For Monzo, Instant Balances is designed to alert you as to your balance, whenever you spend money. This feature lets you stay aware of exactly what you're spending, which gives it a similar feel to using cash. It also means not having to wait for days in order to get an accurate account picture, you always know your accurate balance.
You can also instantly Freeze and Defrost so that card payments cannot be made. There’s a large number of ways that this is useful. Beginning from stopping a bad actor using your direct debit to being able to freeze your account if your card gets lost. If you don’t find your card, Monzo issues you a replacement card.
Monzo also skips the typical way that the top digital banks approach account security and they instead do not use passwords at all. Instead, Magic Links let you bypass needing to recall passwords in ord er to log into Monzo. (There aren’t even any PINs, compared to Starling digital banking). Instead, accounts are validated in your email. The digital bank understands that the majority of users don’t use great password practices, or they will reuse or make guessable ones.
One key feature is that you can send payments to anyone near you, simply through the Bluetooth Payment. This works how it sounds. You don’t need your receiver’s number. They don’t need a Monzo account. So long as both of you activate bluetooth, you can pay their digital bank – this ability functions via the Google Nearby API service, which is also called Nearby Friends.
4. Revolut Review – Global Top-Rated Digital Bank
Revolut are superb for folk who do lots of travelling because of their low fees and ideal exchange rates. From the Revolut mobile digital bank app, users can transfer money globally, do crypto investments, or use stocks and commodities, and even travel insurance without hidden fees.
Creating a Revolut account right away gives you an account no. and sort code, including lots of traditional banking abilities like direct debits, ATM use with their card, contactless payments, and Apple and Google Pay.
Whilst Revolut do provide optimal interest rates via their Revolut Plus, Premium/Metal plans, these accounts do also include monthly costs.
The top-rated digital bank was forged in 2015. Revolut is actually a London based digital bank, and has a strong reputation for banking and payments. The model for Revolut is the idea of making a Fintech company something that can also offer banking abilities, using prepaid debit cards, P2P immediate payments, and a crypto exchange, with global currency exchanges.
Revolut increased their services by creating Revolut Trading in 2019 to give customers commission-free stock trading of American shares with expansions for top-rated UK and European stocks, ETFs and ISAs.
Each service is accessible through their sleek, easy to use, mobile digital banking app, which is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK as well as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Crucially, users are insured under Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) protections.
One of the key appeals of Revolut to users is their commission-free foreign spending. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In 2021, Revolut decided to remove fee-free transactions for any Standard accounts (free accounts) as well as Plus account holders, although Revolut Premium account holders can still get 1 free global payment per month, and Revolut Metal account holders are allowed 3 free international payments per month.
Revolut however still offers excellent value on global transfers, compared to traditional high street outlets.
5. Lumio Review – See Clearly Through the Financial Noise
The flower to your tree…
While the best full digital banks give you features you’d expect with traditional banks. Open bank budgeters like Lumio focus on how everything looks together.
Think of digital banks as a wild forest; and these budging apps are like growing a single flower, rather than being overgrown by weeds and woodland.
The free-to-use Lumio app brands itself with the imagery of a firefly, however. Because it is there to guide you through the darkness of too much financial noise. While the brand-name is reminiscent of an illumination spell from Harry Potter, the capabilities are very practical and real.
Too often, we only have minimal awareness of what our finances are up to. Indeed, we’re working through emotions of fear or excitement or momentum. So Lumio works as the firefly of the digital banking world, giving you a simple yet powerful pathway through the forest. It hums quietly behind the curtains by connecting every bank, credit card, pension, savings, and other investment digital accounts under a single portal. Then flits through transactions to figure out how the bills can be assorted into different categories, so that you can see your spending vs. income, and different kinds of each, to give you a salt-of-the-earth illustration of your finances – from one look.
Over 50,000 users are linked up to Lumio. Furthermore, you’ll get much more than categorisations. The open digital bank shows you high-clarity information about your cash-flow, working in your device to figure out ways of growing this; opportunities for tweaking your income and lowering expenses.
Which is why this is optimal for budgeters seeking to not use spreadsheets but who still want to know their finances. And we’ve placed this the best open digital bank because it goes further than most of its rivals in this space – doing more than tracking ingoing vs. outgoings.
Its home screen gives you insights for financial trends, and lets you assign manual labels to particular ones. You can also get started in a few minutes. Just have the key details ready for each account that you want to connect to Lumio. Most impressively, if an account doesn’t show up on its preloaded digital list, you can manually add offline.
Lumio also gives clear guidance on broader aspects related to savings, to help you grow your progress towards your saving objectives 🏝️.
6. Money Dashboard – Best Digital Bank for Ultra Clarity
Seeing as Elon bought Twitter and financial experts everywhere think the UK is heading for a recession and that there is a global recession underway…we need to see clearly and not think we have unlimited options for our money if this isn’t the case.
Money Dashboard lets you cut out all of the madness and see clearly what’s flowing in and out. This Scottish budgeting and open digital banking app has more than 600,000 users, which makes it a popular banking service for the UK.
Money Dashboard works pretty much the same as Lumio although it focuses a bit more single-mindedly on your key financials – including seeing your credit cards, investments, banks, other cards, and more accounts – in one dashboard. Once downloaded, the digital bank starts assessing and evaluating your outgoings.
Also opt for making individual transactions with an automatic label manually defined.
While a number of open banks limit out to timing your payment schedule (for budgeting reasons) to the actual close of the month, Money Dashboard lets you manually change this according to your exact payday pattern. Which is great if you get paid at unusual times or multiple times per month.
Also choose to work with “scheduled payments” set to leave your account on particular days of the month, such as rant, council tax, and utilitie. Knowing exactly What and When is a key way to budget in how businesses do – in other words, you know precisely how much net gain you’ll have after expenses are factored in after our payday arrives.
Which altogether means that Money Dashboard is a superb companion to a fully functioning top digital bank, giving you intense extreme focus on your outgoings and gains. A new feature is the ability to transfer funds between your different accounts and Money Dashboard, despite the prepaid card not yet being available.
On that last note, generally speaking, this digital bank doesn’t performs actual transactions but rather simplifies them so that they occur quickly with a few button clicks.
Best Digital Banks – Buying Guide 📊
This section is great for newbies who are still learning how digital banks work. It should also help you to discern between the best digital banks:
Most Stable Currencies in the World – Are They Real?
Is there actually a “safe” currency? The short answer is… no. Who knows what will come in the future. There are tons of way to guess at a country’s stability but who knows what will affect a currency’s performance. With war now a thing on a global scale, it’s impossible to choose just one that defeats every other.
That said, our times are fast-paced and there is a massive push to get the world to use digital currencies. So this may change drastically. We can’t tell, perhaps one day there may even just be one currency that is stable enough to diminish all doubts about what currency is the most reliable.
Overall, many economists argue that the only real assets today are real-estate and farmland. The first thing allows you to keep warm and sheltered, as well as providing lots of key infrastructure. The other lets you grow food that you can live on even amid terrible British inflation and so on.
Principles to Handle Your Cash — Hosted by Ray Dalio
To end this discussion on the best digital banks, let's give you some real bread-and-butter principles to chew on, so that you can consider it when using your chosen ideal digital bank.
Indeed, let’s look at the Principles by Ray Dalio. This is a good possible recommendation by a billionaire financial investor and manager. The book focuses on decision-making, with a focus on improving the quality of your life by first considering the quality of your decisions.
Ray Dalio has been astonishingly successful, as measured by external metrics and intrinsic ones. Externally, he is a billionaire and incredibly famous. Internally, he dedicated himself to meaningful work and has deep relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues. His book was published in his late sixties, which he says will probably be the last meaningful thing he has to say. He wants to help people now, more than he seeks to be successful himself.
Reasons for the book also include as a guide to his employees at Bridgewater, who he wants to offer fundamental financial principles for decision-making and giving future employees the ability to succeed and thrive without his presence. For others, he seeks to help them make meaningful work and develop meaningful relationships, which he believes are the two biggest indicators of success.
Meaningful work and meaningful work are the two best principles anyone can focus on.
Ray however encourages readers to go through his list of principles with an open mind, not feeling an obligation to adopt every single principle. Indeed, he asks every reader to thoughtfully consider whether any of them apply, and which, if any, to adopt. He seeks discovery for his readers, so that they can grow their own principles and discover what will best improve their decision-making and lives.
Principle 1: Embrace Reality, Deal With It.
If you don’t confront your vulnerabilities and weaknesses as well as the difficulties of a situation then you’re turning a blind eye. This is a form of delusion. To embrace reality, we should consider how reality and its rules and laws function in life and nature. For instance, any form of gluttony leads to bad outcomes. To deal with reality, we must take responsibility for what we focus on, rather than complaining about what we don’t control.
Principle 2: Follow the Following 5 Steps to Achieve What You Want From Life.
- Use clear goals.
- Be aware of what obstacles are in your way.
- Accurately know what is at the root of these obstacles.
- Grow plans that can navigate these obstacles.
- Keep faith and keep moving forward in order to confront and overcome.
Principle 3: Be Extremely Open-Minded.
Your ego is a function of many things, one of these arguably being the amygdala in your brain. In order to overcome your ego requires pain. You must consciously be aware of your ego, which becomes easier with practice. Being radically open-minded means that you don’t focus on winning the argument, instead you focus on discovering the reality, the truth, even if this means you are wrong. You should also be able to have thoughtful and non-explosive disagreements with others instead of being highly emotional and unproductive.
Principle 4: Be Aware That We Are All Wired Differently.
Sometimes very differently. Seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of you and others. It’s the same for physical attributes, we have differing mental abilities too. Knowing about yourself and others means you can better predict their actions and know how to move forward.
Ray advises that you always ask for help from others in areas where you’re at your weakest because this skill is something that can be developed, and it safeguards you against doing what isn’t best for you. Here are five types of personalities to be aware of:
- Goal setters — Visionaries, good at high-level abstractions
- Problem seekers — Detective, great eye for what’s happening in the moment
- Root cause finder — Logical minded and analytical
- Designers — Solution creators, they architect and are practical and visual
- Doer and tracker — Very time oriented, a steady Taskmaster with strong self-disciple and result minded
Once again, people have different physical traits, and they also differ in their psychological traits. By seeking out varying perspectives, we arrive closer to reality. The closer we know ourselves, the more we can see our blind spots and learn our limitations and places for improvement or acceptance. The better we know others, the more we can harmonise and predict how things will turn out.
To learn more about himself and others, Ray uses the following many psychometric tests:
- The Workplace Personality Inventory
- Stratified Systems Theory
- Team Dimensions Profile
Principle 5: Understand Decision-Making
If you work from principles then you have systematic decision-making. Principles batch together different situations so that you can easily recommend one as “just another one of those” situations requiring so-and-so principle. Logic also helps to let you be aware of reality, rather than being sucked into emotional delusions. For a good deal of decisions, we should seek help from others who know a lot about the topic, although detecting a poser from a truther can be hard.
Good awareness also requires being hyper-connected to the big picture. If you lose sight of why you’re doing a thing then it’s easy to end up doing something that has more negatives than an alternative action, or a much lower upside.
From Dalio: Meaningful work and meaningful relationships are more than pleasant things we may or may not select, they are programmed into our biology. Which means that if we resist this, we’re going to have an unhappy life. And: Meaningful work and meaningful relationships were Dalio’s and still are his main goals and everything else was done for them. Making money was just an incidental side-effect of that.