Exploring Sydney with Starling Bank

Sydney Opera House

As I’m almost coming to the end of my three and a half weeks in Sydney, I thought I’d run you through the most useful discovery I’ve made for managing your money while travelling. While I live in the UK now, I’m from Australia originally and my parents have recently moved to Sydney so this trip was all about discovering a new city that I’d only seen fleetingly a couple of times in my life. I was especially excited about finding the best locations to photograph in this iconic city, as well as seeking out all the cute cafes for which Sydney is famous! I’ll list some of my favourite spots down below…

Starling Bank

…But first I’ll tell you about this awesome new bank called Starling. I decided to use Starling Bank to manage my money on this trip as it seemed like the easiest and most affordable way to use money while abroad. I find that if I’m saving money and not being stressed about how much of my budget I have left to spend or if I have enough foreign currency cash left on me, then I’m more relaxed and much more able to enjoy my time travelling. Starling is a mobile only bank which basically does everything a high street bank would, but it also has features to make you more financially responsible and help you to save money while travelling. Here are some of these cool features 🙂

Instant Notifications

As long as you’ve got internet connectivity (4G or Wifi) while travelling, Starling will send you instant notifications regarding your expenditure to your mobile in real-time, just as it would if you were at home. This is super useful while abroad as you can just double check throughout the day that you are being charged the right amount and avoid any nasty surprises.

Starling Bank Starling Bank

No Withdrawal or Transaction Fees from Starling

This is the feature that was hands down the most exciting for me. I’ve lost track of the amount of times on my previous travels where I haven’t had the right combination of cash or coins in the local currency to pay for something, or I’ve underestimated the amount of cash I would need to bring for sightseeing that day and I’ve had to turn to my UK bank card to pay for something. I’m then automatically charged an international transaction or withdrawal fee 😦

The best thing about Starling is that it doesn’t charge you any ATM or transaction fees when you’re abroad, making your whole trip that much more affordable. This feature was especially useful when I was popping into all the amazing local cafes that Sydney has to offer. My boyfriend and I would head to one place for lunch, then walk by another place that looked too enticing to pass up and we’d end up getting another coffee or snack in there – we basically cafe-hopped around Sydney. I’ve included some photos here of my favourite haunts in different Sydney neighbourhoods.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Rabbit Hole, Redfern

The Rabbit Hole, Redfern

Celsius Coffee Co, Kirribilli

Celsius Coffee Co, Kirribilli

Spending Insights

Starling also lets you track your holiday spending using the Spending Insights feature – your spending will be automatically categorised into things like ‘Eating Out’ or ‘Shopping’ but you can also customise your expenditure so that everything you spend on your trip falls under ‘Holiday’. I found this useful for helping me stick to my holiday budget, especially when exploring my favourite Sydney suburb, Paddington. This place is so full of amazing boutiques – I was lucky that I only have limited suitcase space on my trip back to London otherwise I have a feeling I might have spent a lot more…

Paddington, Sydney Starling Bank Paddington, Sydney

Card Control

Starling gives you great peace of mind while travelling because just in case you think you’ve lost your card, you can lock it directly from the app so no one else can use it. Then if you find it again, you can unlock it in the same way – easy! They’ve also just rolled out a great new feature where you can customise your card control: for example, you could customise according to what country you are in. This means you can lock your physical card (if you’re not 100% sure about the security of the place you’re travelling to), but still use your Starling account when you need to book or buy things online.

I was lucky that Sydney is a pretty safe city and I didn’t have any incidents with losing my card or having it stolen, but I still liked the thought of being able to lock and unlock my card straight from the app. Some days I was walking 10-15km sightseeing and I would have definitely panicked if I thought I’d lost my card somewhere along the way!

Speaking of sightseeing walks, here are a couple of my favourite places to view Sydney Harbour with the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in all their glory. One day I’m definitely going to come back and see a performance at this cultural icon of Australia.

Sydney Harbour

McMahons Point

Sydney Opera House

Hickson Road Reserve

Other Useful Features

Finally, I just thought I’d mention that you can use Starling with Apple Pay which is super convenient in case you leave your card at home. They also provide 24/7 in-app chat support if you ever need it.

Try Starling for Yourself

Right now, because Starling is a relatively new company and it’s becoming increasingly popular, you usually have to join a queue to apply for your account and receive your card. However, if you use my Starling Pass “LARAAV17” you can skip the queue for this process!

If you’d like to know more about Starling, especially the travel features that I’ve detailed up above, you can read more by clicking here.

I will definitely be using Starling in the future as it’s been such a brilliant help with my Sydney trip. The next stop for me is Amsterdam in two weeks’ time and I’m so looking forward to using Starling for this trip too!

Sydney Harbour

Mrs Macquaries Point


This post was kindly sponsored by Starling.

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