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The best challenger bank accounts for business

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?

A good business account is about more than just storing money and transfers.

The best business bank accounts will go that extra mile – they can help ease the administrative burden of day-to-day business, and help their customers manage their finances as they grow.

What’s more, many providers offer flexible lending services that can be used to ease cashflow, or to invest in short or long-term growth plans.

This article will focus on the best challenger bank accounts for business. Challenger banks is the term for the numerous mobile digital-only and mobile-first that have arisen over the last decade, offering features that give customers more visibility and control of their finances.

It can be difficult to compare the cost of different business bank accounts directly, as their pricing structures vary. While some don’t charge a monthly fee, they do charge for other services, which can add up.

Choosing which one is best for your business will come down to what services you’re likely to use. For example, if it’s necessary for you to withdraw cash regularly, don’t opt for a provider that charges astronomical withdrawal fees.

Challenger business banks include:

Compare business bank accounts

To help you choose the business bank account that’s genuinely going to help you grow your business, we’ve compared some of the best business bank accounts available.

All the information is taken directly from the provider’s websites and is accurate as of June 2019.

Bank Fees
Revolut Monthly fee: Three plans – free, £6.99 per month, £12.99 per month
Card payments: Free up to £5,000, then 0.5%
Bank transfers: Free
ATM cash withdrawals: Free (within limits)
Cash deposits: Does not support cash deposits
Starling Bank Monthly fee: Free
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: Free
ATM cash withdrawals: Free
Cash deposits: £3
Soldo Monthly fee: £0-£7
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: Free
ATM cash withdrawals: Free
Cash deposits: Free
Mettle Monthly fee: Free
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: Free
ATM cash withdrawals: Free
Cash deposits: Free
Countingup Monthly fee: £0-£4.95
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: 20p
ATM cash withdrawals: £1
Cash deposits: £1
Cashplus Monthly fee: £69 per year
Card payments: Three free each month, then 99p each
Bank transfers: First three every month free
ATM cash withdrawals: £2
Cash deposits: Free (up to £1,000 a month)
Tide Monthly fee: Free
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: 20p
ATM cash withdrawals: £1
Cash deposits: £1
Monzo Not yet available
CardOneMoney Monthly fee: £12.50
Card payments: Free
Bank transfers: £5
ATM cash withdrawals: £1.50
Cash deposits: Free to £1.50 (+£3.50 giro paying in book)

Find out how to open a business bank account here.

Revolut

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

The banking service 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.

Features

  • Multi-currency cards – cut travel expenses and avoid foreign exchange mark-ups
  • Fast payments – transfer money to any other Revolut account for free, and save when you make payments to businesses around the world
  • Payment approval – any of your team can raise payments that need your approval, while bulk payments allow you to make up to 1,000 payments with a single click
  • Integrations – Using an open API, Revolut Connect allows you to integrate with a range of popular software including Xero, Slack, Zoho, and Sage
  • Partner discounts – Revolut offers exclusive discounts and perks from partners to help you get your business up and running
  • Priority support – a support team are available to help 24/7

Pricing

Revolut offers three tiers:

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

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

Visit Revolut today to open an account.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank’s business offering 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.

However, at the moment, the business account is only open to owners of limited companies with significant control. Meanwhile, the sole trader account is only open to people with a Starling personal account (although there are plans to open this up).

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.

Features

  • Notifications – the app sends you notifications every time money enters or leaves your account
  • Categorised transactions – these give you a valuable insight into where your business is spending most
  • Flexible overdraft – need to borrow against your overdraft? The Starling Bank flexible overdraft is available to give your business a cashflow boost at 15% interest
  • Integrations – integrate with Xero and FreeAgent and share your transaction feed with your accounting software instantly
  • CSV exports – download and share key transaction data with your accountant
  • Goals – a unique feature that allows you to create financial savings goals, then set money aside towards them

Pricing

It 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 .

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).

Soldo isn’t actually a bank, and “doesn’t want to be one.” Rather, it sees itself as trying to complement banks’ traditional offering.

It is authorised and regulated as an e-money institution, and follows strict compliance processes.

Features

  • Customisable budgets and rules – you can control exactly how company funds are spent, and even set specific rules for different users depending on how much freedom they should have
  • Track spending – check balances and receive notifications for transactions, refunds, or payments blocked by your rules
  • Soldo Mastercard – once you have an account, you can create as many prepaid cards as you need in GBP, EUR, or USD
  • Reporting and analysis – get full visibility over your business, with the ability to generate tailored reports and export the data
  • Integrations – with a range of accounting systems, including Xero, Sage, Quickbooks, and NetSuite

Pricing

Soldo has three small business plans. The free option, Soldo Start, is a free basic spending solution. Soldo Pro costs £3 per card per month as an introductory offer, while Soldo Premium is £7 per card per month.

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.

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.

Free to join, anyone can open a Mettle account provided they’re running a business and own an iPhone. You just need to register your email on the website and answer a few questions about your business.

Features

  • 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
  • Card control – lock and unlock your card from the app

Pricing

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, and Mettle’s pricing strategy may change.

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.

Features

  • 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
  • Countingup card – freeze and unfreeze your card from within the app if it’s lost or misplaced
  • Direct debit – manage all payments from within the app
  • 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

Pricing

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.

Cashplus

If you’re saddled with a poor credit history, look no further than Cashplus. There are no credit checks to get approved for an account – all you need is a company name and address.

Like Soldo, Cashplus is not a bank. Having been founded in 2005, it’s one of the longest running prepaid card services– to date, it’s issued 1.9 million cards and processed an astonishing £10bn in payments.

Features

  • Business Mastercard – with you three to five days after approval
  • Employee cards – you can add up to 20 additional cards to your account for employees
  • Centralised account management – any additional employee and business expense cards or travel cards can be managed via the online system. You can also track expenditure, move funds between accounts, add or block cards, and restrict transactions
  • Cashplus API – integrate your account with new and existing applications
  • Download statements – improve your tax reporting and record keeping by downloading statements in CSV straight from your online account
  • Business cash advance – up to £15,000 available to give your business a leg up when you encounter cash flow issues
  • iDraft – a low cost fixed credit limit that’s attached to your business current account. Add a business iDraft to your account with a limit of up to £2,000

Pricing

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 card payments and 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).

Tide

Founded in 2015, Tide has been created from the bottom up to save small businesses time and money, so they can focus on growth. There are no personal accounts available here.

Tide is one of the biggest players in the business banking space. In fact, in June 2019, the bank has reached 85,000 members, which it claims amounts to 1.5% market share.

It’s authorised by the FCA, and all money is held in a regulated, ring-fenced account for protection.

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.

Features

  • Contactless Mastercard – can be used without incurring purchase fees or foreign transaction fees, and you can freeze and reorder your card instantly from the app
  • Auto categories – label income and expenditure for easy identification when it comes to expenses
  • Instant invoicing – create and pay invoices from your phone at any time
  • Multiple accounts – you can create and instantly switch between multiple accounts, to organise your business budget
  • In-app support – have a question for your bank? You can send a chat message directly to someone in the Tide team from within the app
  • Security – 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
  • Integrations – Tide integrates with popular accounting software providers, including Xero, Sage, and FreeAgent
  • Cards – order up to 35 cards for your team, and easily identify who’s made what payment
  • Credit – Tide has partnered with iwoca to allow you to borrow up to £150,000, repaid on your own schedule without penalty
  • Receipts – attach photos and notes to transactions

Pricing

Tide doesn’t charge 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.

So, although the lack of monthly fees is a plus, the charges levied for other services are less predictable.

Monzo

Monzo Business Accounts are yet to launch officially, but you can register your interest.

As such, there’s not much information yet available on the features on offer, or the pricing.

However, The Sunday Times has reported that Monzo will charge a small fee for its business accounts.

For now, all Monzo has said is that it that it won’t lump all businesses into a loosely defined bucket depending on size. Instead, it has designed its business account with features to solve specific problems and to help achieve your business goals.

At the moment, it’s running a trial with some businesses to find out what they’d find useful. A wider roll out is expected later in the year.

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.

Features

  • Additional cards – you can get up to four additional prepaid corporate Mastercards (£5 each), which are linked to your business account
  • 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
  • Text alerts – each time money is paid in, and confirming bills are paid
  • Administration access – to enable/control employee expenditure
  • Account manager – based in the UK, they can take care of managing your monthly outgoings, and are available over the phone or by email

Pricing

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.

FAQs

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.

What are challenger banks?

Challenger banks is a broad name for the many digital-only and mobile-first banks that have been established in the last decade as an alternative to traditional financial institutions.

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. So, in terms of access to the app, you can feel safe.

You should also expect your banking app to be regulated and approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 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 challenger 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.