The best bank account for your business will depend on what you want and need from your bank. A self-employed freelancer, a local retailer and a business that trades internationally will have very different requirements
**Note rates and fees correct on 21/11/23.
Business bank accounts aren't only offered by high street banks. As banking has increasingly moved online, a whole new set of challenger banks and alternative services has emerged – and for many businesses, these new options can be a better bet.
Here's our guide to some of the best business accounts available, including both high street banks and new online ‘challengers’. Click on the links below to see the latest deal for each bank account.
If you want to do your own research, use Nerdwallet's business bank account comparison tool to find details of more accounts for start-ups and businesses looking to switch bank.
Best business bank account for free extras
Tide | Free | Free company formation and financial management features
Best business bank account for start-ups and small businesses
Starling | Free | App-based account tops customer satisfaction ratings
Best business bank account for easy bookkeeping
ANNA Money | Free plan (just pay for what you use), business plan £14.90 per month | Easy invoicing and tax estimation
Best high street business bank account
NatWest | Free banking for two years | Keen pricing and free accounting software
Best business bank account for international businesses
Revolut Business | Typically £25 per month | Strong multi-currency and international payments services
Find out more about:
- Starling Bank
- Anna Money
- Cashplus Bank
- Revolut Business
It’s worth being clear about exactly what you are looking for, and what the different account providers are offering, before you make your final choice of bank account. You should also check for up-to-date information – services and pricing can change.
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Good all-round offering for start-ups and smaller businesses, with company registration and additional services thrown in for free.
- quick, free company incorporation with business account for start-ups
- free expenses management, invoice tracking and cash flow insights features
- optional ‘credit builder’ loan
- mobile and desktop access
- free, £9.99 per month 'plus', £18.99 per month 'pro' and £49.99 per month ‘cashback’ plans
- additional charges for payments above plan limits
- cashback plan offers 0.5% cashback on card payments (£49.99 + VAT per year)
Find out more about the Tide account.
- good range of standard features included in the free account
- table-topping customer satisfaction
- 24/7 UK-based customer support
- online only, but cash transactions available at Post Office
- earn 2.50% AER interest when you also open a business fixed saver account
- free business account
- £7 monthly for optional business invoicing / tax toolkit
- free euro account (get the current exchange rate and pay just 0.4% conversion fee),
- US dollar account £5 per month plus 0.4% conversion fee
- charges for cash deposits
Visit the Starling website.
Mobile-first approach and easy invoicing tools make it easy to manage finances through your mobile.
- user-friendly mobile design
- fast sign-up with no credit check
- easy-to-use invoicing and tax estimation tools
- online only, but cash transactions available at PayPoint outlets
- free option for small start-ups includes debit card and free card payments; pay-as-you-go fees for other payments (eg £1 per cash withdrawal)
- £14.90 per month option includes additional cards and set number of free payments
- ‘big business’ option at £49.90 per month includes unlimited free payments (some restrictions including limited international payments)
Find out more about the Anna Money account.
Free invoicing tool could be attractive, particularly for sole traders who spend a lot of time out and about.
- 800 UK branches
- free invoicing and accounting software with the start up business bank account
- phone access to business managers, plus specialist international and high-growth advisers
- free digital banking for first 12 months for start-ups (includes free FreshBooks invoicing and accounting software)
- £8.50 monthly account maintenance fee after the first year
- free electronic payments with e-Payments plan
Find out more about Barclays business bank account.
An interesting range of tools and easy application make this an attractive package, particularly for applicants with poor credit records, but the pricing structure will not suit businesses with a high volume of low-value transactions.
- online only (but cash deposits available through Post Office counters)
- near-instant online account opening with no credit check
- range of useful accounting integrations, expense management tools and payment insights
- free Go account allows three free electronic payments per month then £0.30 per payment
- Business Extra account (£9 per month) allows 20 free electronic payments per month then £0.30 per payment
- 0.5% cash back (capped at £1,000 per month) with the Business Extra account
- get your first year's annual fee refunded
Find out more about Cashplus.
If you like the idea of the digital-first approach offered by challenger banks, but would be more comfortable with a high street name, HSBC’s Kinetic account might be right for you.
- 500 UK branches
- app-based Kinetic account for sole traders and single owner-director companies, small business account for companies with turnover up to £2 million
- spending and cash flow analysis tools in app
- international payments not available in Kinetic app
- HSBC Kinetic account for sole traders is fee-free for the first 12 months, then £6.50 per month
- Small business banking is fee-free for 12 months, then £8 per month
- free online payments
Find out more about the HSBC Kinetic account.
The UK’s biggest branch network might make this a convenient high street choice for your business, and a good option for businesses (such as law firms) that need to hold client funds.
- 1,600 UK branches
- relatively simple set-up for client fund accounts
- optional Business Finance Assistant accounting software helps simplify accounting and tax returns
- free banking for first 12 months followed by £7 per month (pluss fees and transaction charges)
- free electronic payments
- Business Finance Assistant free for three months, then £5 per month
Find out more about Lloyds bank accounts.
A relative newcomer to business banking, challenger Monzo has a devoted fan club for its personal banking app.
- mobile and web app only; cash deposits via PayPoint, cheques by post
- can separate balance into different ‘pots’
- invoicing, accounting links and multi-user access with Pro account
- fee-free international spending
- free Lite offering or £5 per month for Pro account
- additional charges for cash deposits
Find out more about the Monzo account.
Good value from a high street bank, with no monthly maintenance fee and free FreeAgent accounting software.
- 750 UK branches
- free access to FreeAgent accounting software for business account holders
- optional HR support tools (free and priced options)
- different accounts options depending on the stage your business is at including the free Mettle mobile account for side-hustlers and one/two person businesses
- free mobile business account for freelancers, sole traders and side hustlers
- free banking for first two years for start-ups and switchers
- no minimum monthly charge for the business account - only pay for what you use; per transaction charges for payments, with higher charges for manual payments and percentage charge for cash
Find out more about the Natwest account.
Quality offering for businesses that want a multi-currency international solution, and the potential to grow with your business.
- range of options and pricing structures to suit different transaction volumes
- competitive foreign exchange, multi-currency accounts and international payments
- company cards plus growing range of additional services
- online only – need separate account for any cash deposits or cheques
- free business and freelancer accounts available
- higher-cost options available from £25 per month
- additional charges for transactions over account plan limit
Find out more about the Revolut Business account.
Identifying the best account option for your business can be difficult, but the standard small business account with a flat monthly fee could suit many smaller businesses.
- 450 UK branches
- different account options depending on number of owners/directors and transaction volumes
- alternative 1|2|3 business current account carries higher monthly fee but cashback based on payments credited to account
- discounted monthly fee of £5 per month for 1|2|3 business current account holders (18 months for start ups or 12 months for account switchers)
- free everyday banking for 18 months (then £12.50 per month) for the small business account
Common business bank account questions
- Does my limited company need a separate business bank account?
- How do I choose a business bank account?
- How do I open a business bank account?
- What information will I need to apply for a business bank account?
- What are the main alternatives to the high street banks?
- What fees and charges will my business bank account incur?
- How can I switch business bank account provider?
- What can I do if I am refused a business bank account?
- What do I need to know about foreign currency and international bank accounts?
1. Does my limited company need a separate business bank account?
Opening a separate business bank account can make managing your cash flow and budgeting simpler. Opening a business bank account may also be a legal requirement.
- If you are a self-employed, sole trader, you're not legally required to have a separate business bank account.
- If your business is a limited company or a limited liabiility partnership, you must open its own company bank account.
2. How do I choose a business bank account?
When choosing a business bank account, start by establishing what type of bank account you want and which services you will need. There is a growing number of traditional, high-street and online-only providers to choose from. To help you narrow down the options, you should ask yourself some key questions:
- Do they offer the services you need?
- Is it possible to link the bank account with your accounting system?
- How easy is it to make routine transactions?
- What will it cost make the transactions you need?
- Does the provider have a good reputation for dealing with problems?
You may find it helpful to ask business contacts which accounts they use and how satisfied they are. You can also compare business bank accounts using Nerdwallet.
Remember, you don't have to consolidate all your financial services with one provider. For example, you might have:
- a day-to-day account with your main bank account provider
- a savings account offering a higher interest rate with another bank
- a specialist provider for international payments
- separately negotiated borrowing facilities as required
Find out more about the different business bank accounts on offer:
- Check NerdWallet's business bank account comparison tool.
- Read Which? business bank account guidance, basic information and recommendation for the largest providers.
- Compare customer satisfaction levels in the business banking service quality survey, which covers the 14 largest business bank account providers.
3. How do I open a business bank account?
Opening a bank account for your business is usually quite straightforward, but is sometimes complex and time-consuming. You can make the process as simple and quick as possible by getting organised in advance with all the information the bank will want. You may find it takes longer to open an account if:
- your business is in what banks consider a high-risk sector – for example, financial services, gambling or a business that involves a high level of cash transactions
- your business trades internationally, particularly if you deal with countries that have a questionable reputation
- you have external investors that the bank will want to understand
- your business has a complicated structure – for example, if it is part of an international group of companies
For many small businesses, the easiest option is to apply online. You may want to discuss your requirements over the phone or visit a branch if you are a larger business or have more complex needs. For example, you might need help deciding which type of account best suits you, or to ask about different financing options.
4. What information will I need to apply for a business bank account?
Banks need a variety of information before they will open an account for you. They use the information to help them understand your business, check your identity and meet their legal obligations to prevent money-laundering. This information typically includes:
- business basics – name and any other trading name, address, legal form
- details of any existing business bank accounts
- details of key individuals associated with the business, possibly including their bank account details
- an overview of the business – what it does, when it started
- financial details – for example, how much you are investing (in a start up), financial track record (for an existing business), cash flow forecasts
You may be able to provide much of the information needed electronically – for example, by supplying your company's registration number.
If your business is a limited company, the bank is likely to want copies of or access to:
- the company's certificate of incorporation, confirming that the company has been properly registered with Companies House
- the company's articles of association
- any recent appointments of directors (or company secretary)
- documentation proving the identity and address of every individual with significant control over the company or who you want to be allowed to operate the account
You will also need to prove the identity and address of every individual with significant control over the company, and of anyone else who you want to be allowed to operate the account. Be prepared to provide this information for all the directors and anyone else who is a significant shareholder.
Many of the UK's leading banks have cooperated to agree what basic information they will need from you. But each bank has its own particular application process and requirements, so check with the bank where you want to open an account.
5. What are the main alternatives to the high street banks?
The main alternative bank account providers are the new wave of digital 'challenger' banks. There are also smaller banks, sometimes specialising in a particular type of customer or product (for example, lending to the property sector or fixed-term savings) or aiming to provide ethical finance.
Challenger banks tend to be online-only. In some cases, they may be less convenient for businesses that use cash (or cheques). Some challengers have arrangements with other organisations to accept cash or cheque deposits, or allow cash withdrawals.
Challenger banks can offer several advantages:
- Because they don’t have the costs of maintaining physical branches, challengers may offer lower costs and/or higher interest rates than high street banks.
- Challenger banks tend to have well-designed, user-friendly websites and smartphone apps.
- Some challengers have a reputation for superior, friendly customer service (but online only).
Other new types of account providers, such as 'electronic money institutions' (EMIs), are not directly licensed as banks. This means they are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so money held with them is not protected in quite the same way.
6. What fees and charges will my business bank account incur?
Most business bank accounts tend to have charges, though most providers offer new small business customers free banking for the first year or 18 months.
Costs can include:
- a flat-rate, monthly account maintenance fee
- monthly charges for additional account services – for example, if you also have a foreign currency account
- charges for each deposit or withdrawal – charges for electronic transactions are generally lower than for cheques
- additional charges for depositing or withdrawing cash, often as a percentage of the amount
- higher charges for international transactions
- a range of possible one-off charges – for example, for one-off enquiries or copies of bank statements
There will be separate charges for any borrowing, such as an overdraft facility.
If your business has high transaction volumes costs can mount up. There may also be an 'opportunity cost' from receiving zero or low interest on money held in the account, which could earn more elsewhere.
7. How can I switch business bank account provider?
If you're a small business and you want to switch from an existing business account to another bank, you may be able to use the Current Account Switch Service to make the process easier. The service is open to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million. The service can automatically move your balance and any existing payments to your new account before closing the old account.
8. What can I do if I am refused a business bank account?
You should check first whether your chosen bank has any restrictions on opening a new business bank account. For example, a bank may not accept applications from certain types of business, or may prefer to offer small business accounts only to new businesses rather than those switching from another bank.
Even if the bank hasn’t said that they are not accepting applications from your type of business, they may still reject your application. This may be because they consider your business too high risk, because you couldn’t provide adequate documentation, or because you (or someone else associated with the business) has a poor credit record.
It may be worth checking your credit records with the major credit report providers and checking any inaccurate information that could be harming your application:
You may also want to ensure that you are on the electoral register. If you are a sole trader (or in a partnership), make sure you have registered your business with HM Revenue & Customs. The easier you make it for the bank to check your credentials, the less likely you are to have your bank account application declined.
If a high street bank rejects you because of your poor credit record, it may be worth applying for an online account. Many of the new digital account providers process applications without carrying out a full credit check.
9. What do I need to know about foreign currency and international bank accounts?
Costs can be significant if you need to make international transactions. These extra costs can include:
- the service fee for a foreign currency account (for example, in Euros or US dollars)
- significantly higher transaction costs for international payments
- the costs of converting money between UK sterling and other currencies, including both explicit fees and the extra costs of being given a poor exchange rate
If you just need a foreign currency account for a small number of transactions, you may find that your main bank account offers a suitable service. If you make a significant number of transactions, you may want to look at the new generation of online multi-currency accounts such as Revolut or Wise.