Which offers the best business bank account?
When you open a business bank account, it’s sometimes the default to go to the banks that you know, or may use for you personal finances. That’s fine, as you have bigger value items to work on, rather than devoting time to researching business bank accounts. If you find yourself between one of these names (Barclays, HSBC, Natwest and Lloyds) you might be wondering if you should bother switching, or if they are all an equal offering.
Of course, you might be tempted to go to one of these thanks to the breadth of their offering, and as you grow and scale, probably internationally, you will want a bank that has extensive coverage and international payments, but this doesnt mean you need to stick with one of these banks. Digital or neo banks are ramping up their offering and are increasingly more competitive. Alternatively you may be looking for a bank that can provide lending at the same time. We all know growing a startup can be costly!
So, which one is best for you? We have reviewed the business bank accounts offered in each, and provided a summary and comparison of each below.
Barclays and HSBC lead the way in popularity, but thats not to say they are the best. They do have fairly comprehensive service offerings, so if you wanted a bank which has it all then these two will be the ones for you. All the banks we considered here are frequently complained about when it comes to usability. Rebank can help - we will cover that at the end.
If you are just focused on the UK, Natwest is fairly low cost with no monthly fee. They have a start up account and their Mettle service is specially focused on this sector. You can read a bit more about that in our review of SME banks here.
If you want to hold different currencies with your bank, HSBC will be the one for you. Its not going to be cheap at £96 per year just to have another currency account, as well as paying to send and receive funds. We wouldn’t recommend you do this though, as it’s better to use a specialist provider here and keep HSBC for their offerings like overdrafts, loans, or savings accounts. You can read more about other options here.
Barclays isnt known for its great customer service, or its easy to use online banking, however it does get the popular vote for having a broad range of services and being able to service many different needs. When it comes to overdrafts, loans and other supplemental services, Barclays certainly has a long list.
Subject to criteria, it does offer a business account fee free for 12 months, after that an £8 per month fee applies.
You can take advantage of its partnership with Freshbooks to get access to the accounting software for free, when using this account.
Barclaycard is a well built out service in itself, so its card provision is better than some competitors.
International payments with Barclays come at a high price, with a poor exchange rate and a £25 charge for each and every payment means this is not an account to use if you have lots of international suppliers.
HSBC is another very popular choice, with lots of startups choosing the bank as their business account provider. Given its reputation for international banking, its perhaps not surprising. What is surprising, is that its one of the more expensive options to do so!
Their mobile banking offering has improved, and at present is a better experience than the desktop version, so for more established businesses, this is frustrating but overall not too bad. Its international coverage is extensive and it can offer multi-currency accounts, although you will need to pay £96 per account per year to access this.
Natwest is not very popular with businesses, although with no account fee and total free payments its perhaps a little unusual. You can take advantage of its partnership with FreeAgent to get access to the accounting software for free, when using this account adding to the value.
Natwest is aiming to position itself as a startup banking option, by offering a business advice and support via its accelerator, and even extending to offering startup specific mobile accounts. With startup accounts, it can be quick, cheap and easy, but consider if its worth the effort given it might not be suitable to scale with you.
We don’t often see businesses using Lloyds, its £20 account fee might be to blame there, however that is offset by having no payment fees.
Its online banking offering is certainly sub par, and is the most unwieldy compared to the three others here. If you are tempted by the fee free payments, consider the ease of use as well.
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Choosing the best traditional business bank account can feel like a minefield, and with so many different options to choose from it’s hard to find your bank of choice. Before making any decisions, have a clear idea of what you need from your business bank account.
These are the all important questions you should know the answer to before choosing your account. Doing this will help you narrow down your options and zoom in on the account that’s right for your business.