We don’t know all the incentives Starling might have to maintain this. Schwab, in the US, even pays fees charged by ATM operators. My understanding is they do this to increase their cash reserves for the riskier parts of their brokerage operation, but who really knows? We have nothing like that here, but it’s proof that even negative fee foreign usage (and domestic, most US ATMs charge fees, and Schwab pays them all) can be sustainable in the big picture for a business.
Hmm, I’ve generally found cards so unreliable, I like to have a few fee-free cards on different networks when I’m abroad, and I rarely ever use cash in countries where avoiding it is possible. Thus, I’m not sure I have the same concept of primary cards. Also, my main spending is in Android Pay, whereas ATMs need a physical card, for the most part, now. I’d be hesitant in not taking at least 3-4 cards with me on a trip, minimum. But maybe I’m paranoid, or have just had awful experiences… Definitely the latter, since I’ve had more than one occasion I’ve had to just start handing over cards from my wallet until one works!
For anyone curious, here’s a few types of places I’ve found the need to ‘just start handing over cards until one works’ is more common: train ticket machines (anywhere in the world, it seems), fuel pumps (US, mainly, but there are enough UK examples on here…), anywhere in Japan, certain websites.