Tide vs Starling: Rates, features, overseas banking and more

In this guide, you'll learn the key differences between the Tide and Starling business bank accounts and which one is most likely to suit you.

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Tide and Starling both offer free business accounts that you can access and use through a mobile banking app. They both come with payment cards, they both integrate with various accounting software and they are both set up and managed digitally. So which might be best for you? We examine their different features to find out.

Best business bank account for online banking

Best business bank account for app and online banking: Starling

Starling Business Account

★★★★★

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24/7 customer support

Instant notifications

Software integration
The era of banking in its traditional form is being surpassed. Digital banking is on the rise, offering customers 24/7 access to their bank accounts via apps and other types of online accounts. Thanks to that you can manage your money anytime you want and anywhere you are. What’s more, you can get instant notifications about the payments you made or received and, in many cases, sort your invoices quickly and easily. If you’re looking for the best user-experience, Starling may be the best option for you.
  • Add the new Business Toolkit onto your free Starling account, and get the first month free of charge (RRP £7pcm)
  • Completely free UK current account opened and ready to use in 20 minutes
  • Safe and secure
  • Fully licensed by the FCA and PRA
  • Free to use your card abroad including ATM withdrawals, splitting the bill made easy with "settle up" feature competitive and comprehensible overdraft fees
  • Decent interest rate paid on current account balances
  • Efficient app offering a range of good features such as budgeting tools and saving features
  • Has a marketplace offering competitive pensions
  • Mortgages and insurance from other growing fintech companies
  • Teen account options
  • 24/7 customer support (for all types of enquiries)
  • Relatively new so does not offer every feature e.g. mortgages
  • No bank branches, all done via the web
  • Only available to UK residents
Account fee £0
UK ATM Charge Free
Account software integration platforms Xero, FreeAgent
UK transfer charge £0
Additional cards No additional cards
Additional card fee N/A
Credit check Soft search with no impact on credit score

Best business bank account for small businesses, sole traders and freelancers

Best business bank account for small businesses, sole traders and freelancers: Tide

Tide

★★★★★

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24/7 customer support

Instant notifications

Software integration
Tide is a fintech app which offers business accounts to small businesses and freelancers, hoping to relieve them of some of the financial stress that comes with a growing company. Tide’s business accounts come with a number of features that address some of the most stressful aspects of working for yourself and offer all of this for free.
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Categorised spending
  • FCA regulated
  • Quick set-up
  • No monthly fees
  • Easy to manage accounts and track payments within the app
  • Ability to set up direct debits and standing orders
  • Can receive online bank statements
  • No branches - all done via the web
  • Doesn't accept cheque deposits
  • No personal accounts
  • No international
  • Transfers or interest offered
Account fee £0
UK ATM Charge £1
Account software integration platforms Xero, QuickBooks, FreeAgent, ReckonOne, Kashflow and Sage
UK transfer charge £0.20
Additional cards 35 additional cards
Additional card fee Free
Credit check No - Tide performs an electronic check but no credit check

Tide or Starling – side by side comparison

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Account fee Bank transfers Accounting integrations Non-Sterling transactions Overdraft Account management Key benefits
Starling Business Account
Free
Free
Xero, FreeAgent
Free

Min. 18 months trading to apply
App, Online
Add the new Business Toolkit onto your free Starling account, and get the first month free of charge (RRP £7pcm)
Tide
Free
£0.20
Free if both accounts are with Tide
Xero, QuickBooks, FreeAgent, ReckonOne, Kashflow and Sage
Free
App
Free company registration when you open a Tide business account (usually £12)
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Compare up to 4 providers

Best for paying in cash and cheques

If you have a Tide account, you can deposit cash (between £10 and £500 a day) at branches of the Post Office, for a fee of £1. You can also deposit the same amount at PayPoints, although the fee here is 3% of the total value. Unfortunately Tide doesn’t accept cheque deposits.

You can also deposit cash into your Starling business account at any Post Office branch. There’s a 0.3% charge (with a minimum cost of £3) for which amounts of up to £20,000 can be deposited at larger Post Office branches. 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.

Our verdict: Starling. It’s cheaper to deposit smaller cash amounts at the Post Office with Tide, but then it gets more expensive if you use a PayPoint. Tide also has a smaller cash deposit limit, plus you can’t deposit cheques with Tide at all.

Best for overseas spending

With Tide, when you use your card to spend abroad or online in other currencies, you get the Mastercard exchange rate with no additional mark-up or fees. The standard fee of £1 to withdraw cash at an ATM still applies if you’re overseas.

With Starling, when you make purchases abroad, you also get the Mastercard exchange rate with no extra fees. But there is no cost for drawing money out of foreign ATMs either.

Our verdict: Starling. While Tide’s offering is still very competitive compared to most other bank cards, it’s hard to beat totally free.

Best for multiple cards

With Tide, the business account itself can only be accessed by the named account holder, who also gets an accompanying bank card. However, up to 35 “Team Cards” can be ordered per account, which allows named employees to make purchases related to business expenses (which you can then track in the account). Each Team Card costs £5+VAT per month to operate (although they are free if you have one of Tide’s paid-for accounts).

At Starling, cards are only available to each person who has access to the business account, which at the moment is limited to company directors or sole traders themselves.

Our verdict: Tide. Although be mindful of the monthly fee if you order multiple Team Cards from the free business account.

Best for accountancy software integration

The Tide account offers integrations with six accounting software packages: Xero, QuickBooks, FreeAgent, ReckonOne, Kashflow and Sage.

Business account holders at Starling can connect to accountancy software packages QuickBooks, Xero and FreeAgent through the Starling “Marketplace”.

Our verdict: Tide. It wins this one with six integrations versus Starling’s three.

Best for customer support

Account holders can message Tide through their app, or send Tide an email with their contact number to request a call back from the customer support team during working hours. There is also an automated telephone service to report a lost or stolen card.

Over at Starling, there is 24/7 support available from customer service advisers, through the in-app chat, over email and via telephone.

Our verdict. Starling. For its 24/7 customer support; although in terms of communication channels, both providers can be contacted in the app or by email, both can be reached by phone (although not directly in Tide’s case), and both have a number where you can report lost or stolen cards.

Best for switching

If you 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 get approved for a Starling business account first, then go to the “Switch to Starling” section in the banking app.

Tide 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.

Our verdict: Starling. The only one out of the two that is signed up to the CASS scheme.

Best for setup

To set up a Tide business account you’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store, and provide a form of ID: a driving licence, passport or European National ID card. Tide may also ask you to provide evidence that your business is established, such as: your business’ website or social media profiles, invoices, bank statements, signed contracts, qualifications or an HMRC registration. Tide says 53% of new business customers open their accounts in under 10 minutes, 70% in under 60 minutes and 81% within 48 hours.

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’s 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.

Our verdict: A draw. Both providers ask for similar information in the application process, and both business accounts can be up and running quickly once that application process is complete.

Best value for money

Tide doesn’t charge a monthly fee for its basic business account. Transfers between Tide accounts are free, as is card spending at home or abroad. ATM withdrawals cost £1 each (whether in the UK or overseas), and there is a fee of £1 (at a Post Office) or 3% (at a PayPoint) to deposit cash. It costs 20p to receive or send UK payments from your account, and at the moment you can’t make international transfers directly from your Tide account. It’s free to receive your accompanying bank card and it’s also free to order a replacement.

With the Starling business account there is no monthly fee, and Starling won’t make charges on electronic payments (such as direct debits and standing orders), domestic transfers, cheques deposits, and card spending or ATM withdrawals in the UK or abroad. There is a 0.3% fee (with a minimum charge of £3) for depositing cash at a Post Office, and a 0.4% fee to make an international payment direct from your account. The accompany bank card is free to receive and costs £5 to replace in the UK.

Our verdict: It’s close, but Starling edges it. Neither providers charge a monthly account fee and both have small fees for cash deposits. But although Tide doesn’t charge for a card replacement, the 20p fee for each transfer in and out of your Tide account could soon add up.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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