Best small business bank accounts in 2022

From spend notifications to instant invoicing, challenger banks offer better visibility and control of finances to businesses and consumers. But which one is right for you?

Our experts

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Our top challenger business bank account is Tide, thanks to its zero monthly fees and easy-to-manage e-money app.

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Best For
Monthly/Annual Fees
Key Features

Tide

Cashplus

Revolut

Starling Bank

Soldo

Mettle

Countingup

CardOneMoney

Best overall

Freelancers with steady work

International payments

A quick and easy set up

Business expense management

A free account

Businesses at all stages of development

Those with a poor credit rating

  • Free replacement card scheme
  • App-based for on-the-go mobile banking
  • Integrates with accounting software
  • Create invoices for billing clients
  • Minimal background checks
  • Easy overdraft extension with iDraft
  • 24/7 phone support available
  • Exchange 29 currencies, spend in over 150
  • Exclusive discounts and perks from partners
  • Support team available to help 24/7
  • Deposits protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
  • Almost no fees
  • Super quick set up time
  • Central hub for all employee card payments and company purchases
  • Unlimited bank card allowances
  • Useful tracking features for spending reviews
  • 100% free (for now)
  • Setup an online account in minutes
  • Backed by NatWest Group
  • Free trial
  • Calculate taxes through the app
  • No monthly charges for first three months
  • No credit card checks
  • UK-based call centre for customer support

The best challenger accounts ease the administrative burden of running a company day-to-day. Many of today's providers also offer flexible lending services that can be used to ease cashflow – a must for many SMEs in the current economic climate.

But our research has shown that some of the best pricing and deals depend on specific details about your business. Like, how many cards do you plan to use? Do you require an overdraft?

Read on for a full breakdown of all our favourite providers' pros, cons, and hidden costs.

Short on time? To make things even easier, we've also designed a Startups' exclusive quote comparison form. You can use it to compare costs and benefits from the top bank account providers based on your unique business needs.

1. Tide

Tide banking

Founded in 2015, Tide is a small business bank account provider that aims to take care of basic financial management for small businesses. There are no personal accounts available.

Tide is a huge player in the business banking space. According to its website, 7% of UK SMEs now use the bank after 100,000 joined in 2021.

Authorised by the FCA, all money in Tide is held in a regulated, ring-fenced account for protection. We like it mostly for its zero monthly fees and stripped back, user-focused mobile app.

Tide pros
  • Free replacement card scheme
  • App-based for on-the-go mobile banking
  • Integrates with accounting software
  • Create invoices for billing clients
Tide cons
  • Account transfers cost £0.20
  • Cash withdrawals cost £1

How do I sign up?

To sign up, you just need to download the app, scan your ID, take a selfie, fill in some details, and wait as little as five minutes for approval. Your card should be with you in a few days.

What cards can I get?

Tide lets you order up to 35 cards for your team, and easily identify who’s made what payment. You can also integrate your Tide account with a contactless Mastercard. Handily, this can be used without incurring purchase fees or foreign transaction fees.

You can freeze and reorder any of your Tide business bank cards instantly from the app.

Can I have multiple accounts?

You can create and instantly switch between multiple accounts, to organise your business budget

What security features are there?

Your account is protected by PIN, thumbprint ,and face ID verification. If you get a new phone, you can scan your ID and take a selfie to get up and running in a moment.

In terms of in-app support, you can send a chat message directly to someone in the Tide team from within the app if you run into any issues.

What integrations are available?

Tide integrates with popular accounting software providers, including Xero, Sage, and FreeAgent.

What account management tools are there?

Using accounting software integrations, you can build receipts, which can be attached as photos or notes to transactions.

As well, Tide permits instant invoicing – meaning you can create and pay invoices from your phone at any time.

Can I access credit?

Yes. Tide has partnered with iwoca to allow you to borrow up to £150,000, repaid on your own schedule without penalty

How much does it cost?

Tide has no monthly or annual fees. Card payments are free, and transfers between Tide accounts are free.

So, what does it charge for?

Tide charges 20p for transfers between your account and non-Tide accounts. It also takes a £1 fee for ATM cash withdrawals and cash deposits at the Post Office.

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2. Cashplus

Cashplus

If you're a freelancer with steady work, look no further than Cashplus. There are no credit checks to get approved for a small business bank account – all you need is a company name and address.

It's important to mention that unlike some of it's competitors on this list, Cashplus is now officially a full UK bank. And this authorisation means they have recently been able to improve the nature and breadth of the financial services they offer.

However, even before this move to being an official full bank, Cashplus had issued over 2.2 million cards and processed an astonishing £15bn in payments.

Cashplus pros
  • Minimal background checks make it good for those with poor credit scores
  • Easy overdraft extension with iDraft
  • 24/7 phone support available
Cashplus cons
  • £50,000 balance limit on lowest costing plan
  • Only 9 free transfers permitted each month

What cards can I get?

Like Tide, Cashplus offers a Business Mastercard that it claims will be with you three to five days after approval. It should be noted that this will cost £9.95 per month.

You can add up to 20 additional cards to your account for employees – 15 fewer than Tide.

What account management tools are there?

Account management is a strong point for Cashplus. Any additional employee and business expense cards or travel cards can be managed via the online system. You can also track expenditure, add or block cards, and restrict transactions – all from the Cashplus Bank app.

Improve your tax reporting and record keeping by downloading statements in CSV straight from your online account

What security features are there?

Cashplus online banking session will time out if you remain inactive for more than 15 minutes. Your Cashplus Bank Account login will be locked out after multiple failed access attempts and you’ll need to contact the company to unlock your account.

Cashplus is also a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which means that all desposits less than £80,000 are protected in case of fraudulent card or account use.

What loans can I take out?

As an alternative to a loan, Cashplus offers business account holders a generous cash advance. Up to £15,000 is available to give your business a leg up when you encounter cash flow issues.

You can also attach iDraft – a low-cost, fixed overdraft limit – to your business current account, with a limit of up to £2,000.

What integrations are available?

Cashplus accounts can be integrated with accounting apps like QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent.

How much does it cost?

Rather than monthly fees, Cashplus charges a flat rate of £69 per year. Your first card is free, with additional cards costing you £5.95 each.

The first three bank transfers each month are free (then 99p each). ATM cash withdrawals cost £2, while cash deposits are free (up to £1,000 a month).

3. Revolut

Revolut

Launched in 2015, Revolut allows you to set up a business bank account from your phone in minutes.

Revolut has more than four million customers around the world, and has facilitated over 350 million transactions at a total value of £40bn.

Touting itself as a global business account for international payments, Revolut allows businesses to hold, receive, and exchange 29 currencies without unfair charges. Not just that, but you can spend in over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate. Revolut claims this can cost you 10 times less than using a bank.

Revolut pros
  • Exclusive discounts and perks from partners
  • Support team available to help 24/7
Revolut cons
  • Only 9 free transfers permitted each month

What cards can I get?

You can have up to 6 active physical cards and 5 active virtual cards linked to your Revolut account. Multi-currency cards are also available, helping to cut travel expenses and avoid foreign exchange mark-ups.

All cards have zero fees.

What loans can I take out?

Revolut is all about simple and transparent banking. Its lending scheme is similarly clear. You can take out personal loans between £1,000 and £25,000 for eligible customers – although these come with high interest rates from 6.45%.

What security features are there?

Most of Revolut's security features revolve around permissions. You'll be able to block contactless payments, ATM withdrawals, and e-commerce transactions.

Revolut users also allows payment approval, so any of your team can raise payments that need your approval. Similarly, the bulk payments option allows you to make up to 1,000 payments with a single click.

What integrations are available?

Using an open API, Revolut Connect allows you to integrate with a range of popular software including Xero, Slack, Zoho, and Sage.

How much does it cost?

Revolut offers three tiers:

  • Start – less than £100,000 incoming funds per month (£25 per month)
  • Standard – between £100,000 and £1m incoming funds per month (£100 per month)
  • Professional – more than £1m incoming funds per month (£1,000 per month)

All tiers offer the same functionality. The price depends on the amount of funds you have incoming each month.

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4. Starling Bank

Starling

Starling Bank’s business bank account prides itself on being free, uncomplicated, and quick to set up.

You can also feel safe in the knowledge that your deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000 – as long as you meet the organisation’s eligibility rules.

The business account is open to both owners of limited companies and sole traders. To open an account, you need to enter some personal details, then verify yourself by sending a short video and some identification documents. You’ll then need to provide some information about the online presence and day to day activities of your business, while Starling carries out credit checks.

Starling pros
  • Zero monthly fees
  • Super quick set up time
Starling cons
  • 15% annual interest rate on overdrafts
  • No free replacement scheme for lost cards (£60 charge)

What cards can I get?

You'll get a contactless mastercard with every Starling business bank account.

What security features are there?

The Starling app sends you notifications every time money enters or leaves your account. This is called 3D Secure, and is a thorough, multi-factor authentication program that ensures all transactions are being approved by the bank account owner.

When you’re buying something from a website that uses 3D Secure, a screen may pop up on the merchant’s site, asking you to check your phone to confirm the purchase. On your phone, you’ll see a notification that will take you to the Starling app. If you recognise the retailer and amount, and you’re happy to make the payment, click ‘approve’ and the payment will be processed.

What integrations are available?

Integrate with Xero and FreeAgent and share your transaction feed with your accounting software instantly.

What loans can I take out?

Need to borrow against your overdraft? The Starling Bank flexible overdraft is available to give your business a cashflow boost at 15% interest

What account management tools are there?

One of Starling's cleverest gadgets is its ‘Goals' tool – a unique feature that allows you to create financial savings goals, then set money aside towards them.

Another bonus is its CVS feature. Download and share key transaction data with your accountant. Similarly, ‘categorised transactions' give you a valuable insight into where your business is spending most.

How much does it cost?

Starling stacks up nicely next to competitors when it comes to fees: there are none for electronic payments, domestic transfers, monthly account fees, or ATM withdrawals (as long as you have fewer than 10 employees, and less than £1.7m in annual turnover).

The only thing it does charge for is depositing cash at one of the UK’s 11,500+ Post Office branches, which will cost you £3.

5. Soldo

Soldo

Soldo is a spend management platform that offers prepaid business cards to help businesses with expense management.

It acts as a central hub for all employee card payments and company purchases, giving you full visibility and control over who’s spending what (and why). We like it most for its clear and powerful analytics tools that make accountancy and reporting much simpler than with larger banking providers.

Soldo pros
  • Unlimited bank card allowances
  • Useful tracking features for spending reviews
Soldo cons
  • Expensive ATM fees including £0.50 per balance enquiry
  • Not FSCS protected in case of fraud

What security features are available?

As well as 3D secure measures and two-factor authentication, Soldo offers an expenditure filter and lock.

This means that you can define which employee can spend what and where. Cards that break these rules can be set to automatically lock.

What account management tools are there?

Without doubt, Soldo's best feature is its spend tracking. You'll be able to check balances at any time, and will receive notifications for transactions, refunds, or payments blocked by your rules. High-quality reporting and analytics elements mean account holders will also have full visibility over your business, with the ability to generate tailored reports and export the data.

Customisable budgets and rules mean you can control exactly how company funds are spent. Users can even set specific rules for different users depending on how much freedom they should have.

What cards can I get?

Soldo offers a contactless business mastercard. Once you have an account, you can create as many prepaid cards as you need in GBP, EUR, or USD.

What integrations are available?

Soldo can integrate with a range of accounting systems, including Xero, Sage, Quickbooks, and NetSuite

How much does it cost?

Soldo has three price plans for businesses to choose from.

Soldo Pro is aimed at small business. At £5 per card per month, it offers the management of spending and expenses for up to 20 cards (GBP).

Soldo premium, at £9 per month per card, offers more advanced reporting, analytics and functionality as well as cards available in EUR and USD currencies.

Soldo Enterprise is aimed at larger businesses who need dedicated support as well as advanced integration options.

All plans include Soldo Mastercard cards, web console and mobile app, accounting integration, free and unlimited transactions, no deposit for charges, and support. These prices exclude a VAT card issuance fee of £5 per plastic card, and £1 per virtual card.

6. Mettle

Mettle

One of the newest players in the digital banking space, high street bank NatWest launched Mettle in 2018 as a “new, forward-looking way” for businesses to manage their finances.

However, it is run independently from the bank, with both current and non-NatWest customers able to apply for an account.

Mettle Pros
  • 100% free
  • Setup an account in just minutes online
  • Backed by NatWest Group
Mettle Cons
  • No direct access to government-backed loans, or any other forms of credit or lending, such as overdrafts and credit cards

How do I join?

Free to join, anyone can open a Mettle account provided they own a startup and an iPhone. You just need to register your email on the website and answer a few questions about your business. Because of this, we think it's a good option for those running a side hustle.

What cards are available?

Mettle offers a prepaid contactless mastercard. Prepaid cards, unlike credit cards, require you to load money onto your account before you can spend. Currently, you can only have one card per account, so it's not a good option for teams with more than 2 or 3 employees.

What security features are available?

Two-step verification is available, so you can approve all transactions that are made. Mettle users have complete card control. You can lock and unlock your card from the app.

What integrations are available?

Like other brands listed in this guide, Mettle allows you to share transactions with your accountant by connecting to software like FreeAgent, Xero, and Quickbooks.

What account management tools are there?

  • Tasks – this creates a daily list of tasks for you to focus on, including overdue invoices, bills, or receipts you need to capture
  • Instant invoicing – enables you to create and send invoices from within the Mettle app. You can also track incoming payments and match them to outstanding invoices.
  • Tailored reminders – if a customer is late in making a payment, you can give them a nudge with a personalised reminder
  • Track transactions – you can capture receipts and track expenses within the app, making life a lot easier for you when it comes to bookkeeping and end-of-year taxes

How much does it cost?

At this stage, Mettle doesn’t charge for… well, anything. The app is free to download, sending and receiving payments is free, and cash withdrawal and card payments are free of charge.

However, you may be charged fees by other vendors or third parties. From our more than 20 years experience working with free small business tools, we also know that Mettle’s pricing strategy may change suddenly.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to regularly compare provider quotes with our online comparison tool, to make sure you're getting the best deal.

7. Countingup

Countingup

With Countingup, you can open your mobile bank account in five minutes and ensure your financial data is accessible from anywhere.

Boasting a 9.2 Trustpilot score, Countingup aims to simplify the banking experience for its small business customers, so they can get on with the more important aspects of entrepreneurship.

Countingup pitches itself as a business bank account that works for everyone, whether you’re a pre-startup, a new business, or an established venture.

CountingUp Pros
  • Free trial is available for new users
  • Tax calculations can be made through the app
  • No monthly charges for first three months
CountingUp Cons
  • No overdraft option
  • Can't pay into account using cheques
  • Not FCSC protected

What cards are available?

Countingup can only provide one business card per account. Card purchases are limited to £50,000 per month, while cash withdrawal via ATM are limited to £500 per day, £500.

What security features are there?

CountingUp doesn't have the most extensive security tools. It is not FCSC registered, but your money is safeguarded and refunds are therefore available in cases of fraud. As well as PIN protection, you can freeze and unfreeze your card from within the app if it’s lost or misplaced.

What account management tools are there?

  • Professional invoices – quickly create and send invoices directly from the app, and receive a notification as soon as its settled
  • Expense management – easily manage your expenses by snapping a photo of a receipt, or remind yourself to claim tax relief on the purchase
  • Data control – stored safely and securely in the cloud, all your business data is available for download as CSV or PDF transaction history
  • Profit and loss – get real-time insights into the financial health of your business

How much does it cost?

Countingup is available at three price tiers:

  • Free – less than £750 of incoming funds per month
  • Standard – between £750 and £1,750 of incoming funds per month (£2.95 per month)
  • Premium – more than £1,750 of incoming funds per month (£4.95 per month)

All offer the same features, and are subject to the same charges: £1 for ATM withdrawals and cash payments at the Post Office, 20p for bank transfers in or out, and 3% taken for paypoint cash payments or foreign currency transactions.

8. CardOneMoney

CardOneMoney

Another option for individuals with poor personal credit history, CardOneMoney is a current account and prepaid card provider designed specifically for small businesses.

Find out how to build business credit when your personal credit rating is poor here.

Launched in 2007, this independent and FCA authorised business banking service has opened £80,000 accounts and processed more than £3bn in customers’ money to date. Its directors have more than 40 years of combined experience in the sector.

CardOneMonday Pros
  • No credit card checks
  • UK-based call centre for customer support
CardOneMonday Cons
  • Minimum £12.50 per month to access account
  • £5 charge to transfer costs from card back to account

What cards can I get?

You can get up to four additional prepaid corporate Mastercards (costing £5 each), which are linked to your business account.

What account management features are there?

  • Online, phone and SMS Account Access – pay bills using Faster Payments from your smartphone or tablet.
  • Bill payment service – direct debits with enhanced security.
  • Reporting – export statements to cloud accounting network.

What security features are there?

  • Text alerts – each time money is paid in, and confirming bills are paid.
  • Administration access – to enable/control employee expenditure.
  • Unique account manager – based in the UK, they can take care of managing your monthly outgoings, and are available over the phone or by email.

How much does it cost?

As well as a refundable £55 application charge, you’ll be paying a minimum monthly charge of £12.50 to use your CardOneMoney business account.

Outgoing standing orders and direct debits cost 30p each, while bank transfers will cost you £5. There’s no charge for using your card with a card machine, but ATM use will cost you £1.50.

Compare Business Bank Account Costs Do you have a business bank account already?
Business bank FAQs
  • What are challenger banks?
    Challenger banks is a broad name for digital-only and mobile-first banks. These challenger banks can be characterised by their shared mission to introduce more transparency and control into banking. This includes features and services that put the power back into the hands of the consumer.
  • Is my money safe with challenger banks?
    Most banking apps feature hi-tech in-app authentication such as face or voice recognition and fingerprint scanning. Many are also protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which covers you against the loss of the first £85,000 of your savings.
  • Are there any free business bank accounts?
    Many business bank accounts offer a free trial period, so you can decide if the account is right for your business without committing. Some also don't charge a monthly fee, but bear in mind that you're likely to incur charges for using other services or from third parties.
  • Why should I use a business bank account?
    A business bank account keeps your business finances separate from your personal finances. This is a requirement if you’re a limited company and your business is a separate legal entity. But, even if you’re a sole trader, it’s wise to open a business bank account so you can keep cleaner records and make submitting self-assessments easier.

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Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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