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Mettle vs Starling business: Which offers the best business bank account

Discover the key differences between Mettle and Starling business bank accounts and decide which is best for you.

Starling and Mettle both offer digital-only business accounts. Starling – which also offers personal accounts – launched its business account in 2018. Mettle is a business-only account brand created by parent company NatWest, and it went live in 2019. But which account is the best for you?

Mettle vs Starling: Vital statistics

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Ratings
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★★★★★
User
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★★★★★
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★★★★★
User
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★★★★★
Free spending abroad
Overdraft rateNot availableNot currently available
Interest when you're in credit0%0%
Branch access
FSCS protected
Product imageMettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
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The Mettle and Starling business accounts are both managed digitally, as neither provider has a branch network. These accounts both come with a slick black contactless card. You can use these cards to spend money in the UK and abroad, with no transaction fees. Neither provider offers interest on your account balance when you’re in credit, and you can’t currently apply for a new business overdraft with Starling, while Mettle doesn’t offer them at all.

Starling has a UK banking licence, so it’s covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects individual customer funds up to the value of £85,000. Despite being owned by NatWest, Mettle is not a bank – it doesn’t have a banking licence itself – so it’s not part of the FSCS. But the firm is registered with the FCA as an electronic money institution, which means customer funds must be kept in a separate account at a licensed UK bank, so the money is ring-fenced should the company go under.

Round 1: Account features

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Cash deposits
Cheque deposits by post
Cheque scanning in the app
Freeze/unfreeze card in the app
Extra cards for employees
Accountancy software integrations
Send money abroad
Marketplace
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If you need to deposit cash into your Mettle account, you can pay in up to £500 a time via a Post Office or a PayPoint, although it doesn’t accept cheques at all, either physically or digitally. You also can’t make international transfers. Mettle does offer integrations with three accounting software packages: Xero, FreeAgent and QuickBooks.

Over at Starling, you can also deposit cash into your business account at any Post Office branch, although the bank advises that it’s best to check ahead if you need to deposit amounts over £2,000. For cheques, you can deposit 10 per week, valued up to £500 each, using the cheque imaging function in the Starling banking app. For anything over this you can send the cheques directly to Starling by Freepost. International transfers are also possible from this account, and account holders at Starling can connect to the accountancy software packages QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent and Paystream through the Starling “Marketplace”. The Marketplace also offers link-ups with other Starling partners, who offer services such as insurance or pensions.

Neither Mettle or Starling offer any additional cards that you can give to employees.

Winner: Starling. It has cheque deposits and the ability to make international transfers, which are both features that Mettle is lacking.

Round 2: Account costs

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Monthly account chargeFreeFree
Fee for cash depositsFree (at Post Offices or PayPoints)0.7% or £3 minimum (at Post Offices)
Fee for cheque depositsDoesn't accept chequesFree
Fee for payments in or outFreeFree
Fee for direct debitsFreeFree
Fee for sending money abroadCan't make international transfersLocal network fee + 0.4% Starling fee
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Mettle doesn’t charge a monthly fee for its business account, and it’s free to deposit cash at either Post Offices or PayPoints (up to a maximum of £500 in one go). It’s also free to receive or send UK payments from your account, but you can’t make international transfers using Mettle.

With the Starling business account there is also no account monthly fee, and Starling won’t make charges for electronic payments (such as direct debits and standing orders), or for domestic transfers and cheque deposits. There is a 0.7% fee (with a minimum charge of £3) for depositing cash at a Post Office, and a 0.4% Starling fee plus a local network charge to make an international payment direct from your account.

Winner: A draw. Neither provider charges a monthly account fee or fees for making electronic bank payments within the UK. Mettle is free for cash deposits, which Starling is not, but Mettle doesn’t accept cheques and customers can’t make international transfers.

Round 3: Spending in the UK

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Free card transactions
Contactless card limit£100£100
Free ATM withdrawals
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In the UK, it’s free to make ATM withdrawals and purchases using either the Mettle or Starling card.

Winner: A draw.

Round 4: Using the card abroad

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Free foreign transactionsUnlimitedUnlimited
Free foreign ATM withdrawalsUnlimitedUnlimited
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If you’re overseas, it’s also free to make ATM withdrawals and purchases using the card that comes with both the Mettle and Starling accounts.

Unlimited free international card use is an unusual feature for most business accounts, so it’s notable to see both Mettle and Starling offering this.

Winner: A draw.

Round 5: Signing up

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Apply through the app
Quick application
Credit check
Card delivery feeFreeFree
Card delivery timescale3-5 working days5-7 working days
Replacement card feeFree1 free, then £5 each
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To set up a Mettle business account you’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store, and provide a form of ID: a full or provisional driving licence, passport, European National ID card or UK biometric residence permit. Mettle says it takes a “few minutes” to apply, although it may also ask you to provide proof that your business is trading, such as: an online presence (website or social media account), a utility bill in your trading name, a copy of your VAT registration, a copy of the latest accounts or tax return, a copy of a bank statement dated within the last 6 months, a copy of an in-date public liability or indemnity insurance policy, or evidence of membership from a regulatory body or a relevant professional or trade association. If you don’t have these documents to hand at the time of application, Mettle says you have up to 6 months to provide them. Mettle doesn’t conduct a hard credit check and it’s free to receive your accompanying bank card (in 3-5 working days), as well as free to order a replacement.

To set up a Starling business account, you’ll need to download the Starling app and provide at least one of the following documents to verify your identity: a passport, EU/EEA ID card, UK residence card or UK photo driving licence (full or provisional). To confirm the nature of your business you may also be asked for: invoices, bank statements, accountant letters, signed contracts, qualifications or payslips. If you have all your documentation to hand, Starling says the application itself can take as little as 10 minutes, and 93% of its new business banking customers will get their account number on the same day. Starling doesn’t conduct a hard credit check, and the account’s accompanying bank card is free to receive (in 5-7 working days), although after one free replacement the card costs £5 to replace in the UK.

Winner: Mettle – just. Both business accounts can be up and running quickly once the application process is complete, but Mettle gives a grace period to provide your proof of trading documentation, plus its card delivery timescale is slightly quicker than Starling and it doesn’t charge for replacement cards.

Round 6: Customer support and account switching

Mettle by NatWestStarling Business Account
Customer service via the app
Customer service via a telephone line
CASS switch guarantee
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Account holders can message Mettle through their app, or contact the customer service team by phone. Customer support can be reached 7 days a week, but not 24 hours a day. Over at Starling, there is 24/7 support available from customer service advisers, through the in-app chat, over email and via telephone.

Also, if you already have a business account with another bank, you can use the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) to move it to Starling. You will have to download the app and get approved for a Starling business account first, then you can go to the “Switch to Starling” section in the app. Mettle isn’t one of the financial providers taking part in the CASS scheme, so you won’t be able to use this process to switch your business account.

Winner: Starling, for being the only one out of the two signed up to the CASS scheme, as well as for having 24/7 customer support. Although in terms of communication channels, both providers can be contacted in the app, by email or by phone.

Overall winner: Is Mettle better than Starling?

Both the Mettle and Starling business accounts have a lot to offer, and they are evenly matched in many respects, particularly in relation to fees, which are notably low (or non-existent) – especially for business banking. If we had to choose between the two, it would probably be Starling, as it has the 24/7 customer support, ability to deposit cheques and option to make international transfers. But if those particular aspects aren’t an important part of your business account needs, Mettle is still a very solid choice.

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