Here we look at Tide – a financial platform offering online business accounts to companies of all shapes and sizes, including start-ups, sole traders and freelancers.
Tide offers online-only business current accounts, provided by ClearBank, to companies of all shapes and sizes including freelancers, small and limited businesses and those scaling up. Tide helps to support small businesses by offering free ‘starter’ business current accounts (along with free registration to become a limited company) that you can then upgrade as your business grows.
Since its launch in 2015, Tide has attracted more than 500,000 business banking customers. To get an account, you must be registered with Companies House as a director of your company or partnership. Sole traders and freelancers must be UK-based.
Tide aims to streamline and simplify the entire business current account experience. While traditionally you’d have to book an in-person appointment with a bank, take ID, outline your business and wait possibly days for approval, Tide lets you do everything online in one go.
You simply download the app, explain what your business does and who the shareholders are, scan your ID and take a selfie to confirm who you are. All this can be done, according to Tide, in less than 10 minutes.
Tide does not have physical branches, but you can make cash deposits at any Post Office or Paypoint, and withdraw money from any ATM.
Is it safe?
Yes. Tide now offers accounts only through ClearBank, which is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that your money is protected up to £85,000. ClearBank holds all its client funds securely at the Bank of England and they are not used for investment purposes.
Tide is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Tide also has some restrictions on who can open an account. It won’t allow anyone dealing in cryptocurrencies or precious metals and stones, money services such as foreign exchange, loan providers, money transfers and casinos, prize draws and other betting or gambling activities. Businesses selling unlicensed pharmaceuticals, cannabidiol (CBD) products, or weapons, explosives or armaments are also excluded.
Tide says: “We are committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible. We aim to ensure we are being as responsible and sustainable as possible within our office.”
Unique selling points
- Free spending. Make fee-free purchases at home or abroad in any currency.
- Customisable labels. Your Tide account will automatically tag your income and spending with customisable labels to suit your company.
- Organised spending. You can upload receipts, auto-match them to transactions, and add a digital note if you wish.
- Business loans. Apply for a business loan of up to £150,000 via Tide’s partners.
- Register a limited company. Tide lets you register your limited company for free (it will pay the incorporation fee on your behalf).
The plus points
- Instant payment alerts. Keep track of your transactions in real time.
- Easy accounting. You can link your Tide account to accountancy software such as Xero, QuickBooks and Sage, and send, pay and track your invoices all in the app.
- Keep on top of invoices. Send, pay and track invoices within the app.
- ‘Free’ account fees. The free Starter accounts comes with fees that you’ll need to be aware of. Transfers in and out of your account cost 20 pence each and team expense cards are £5 each. Scheduled payments are free.
- ATM withdrawal fees. There is a fee on all Tide accounts of £1 per ATM cash withdrawal.
- Balance limits. Sole traders have a maximum account balance of £25,000, while for Limited Companies the limit is £100,000.
Cost of use
A standard, starter business current account with Tide is free. Upgrading to £9.99 a month will get you one free expense card and 20 free transfers in and out per month. A new ‘Pro’ account, costing £18.99 per month, gives you two free expense cards and unlimited transfers. A ‘Cashback’ account at £49.99 a month comes with three free expense cards, 150 free transactions, and 0.5 per cent cash back on your Tide card.
How do these costs compare to competitors?
Starling Bank offers a fee-free business current account. As with Tide, you can make cash deposits via the Post Office. Starling charges £3 per time compared to £2.50 with Tide.
Fellow digital bank Monzo offers a basic free business account and a ‘Pro’ business account (which comes with extra features like separate tax pots, multi-user access and exclusive business offers, for £5 per month.
Other ethical business current account providers worth considering are:
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