What is Tide business banking?
Tide* is making waves in the business banking market and has attracted more than 200,000 customers since launch in 2015. It is aiming to modernise what can be a long drawn-out process of opening a business account as well as making the actual process of running an account more user-friendly using technology. There are no branches and everything is managed from your smartphone, meaning you can manage your business’ finances on the move.
Is my business eligible?
Users need to be registered with Companies House as a director of that company or partnership. Sole traders and freelancers can also get an account but you need to be UK-based. You will need to be aged 18 or above, have a valid UK phone number and address, and a smartphone registered to the App or Google Play store.
The accounts aren’t available to everyone though. Tide won’t open accounts for those dealing in the trading of cryptocurrencies or precious metals and stone, money services such as foreign exchange, loan providers, money transfers and casinos, prize draws and other betting or gambling activities. Businesses that sell unlicensed pharmaceuticals cannabidiol (CBD) products or weapons, explosives or armaments also can’t open an account.
How does Tide business banking work?
Traditionally, when you wanted to open a business account you would have to book an appointment and then come with ID and outline your business and then wait for approval, which could sometimes take weeks. Tide is aiming to do things differently. The whole process can be managed online. There is no queuing or appointment required. All you have to do is download the app, explain what the business does and who the shareholders are, scan your ID and take a selfie to verify who you are. Tide says most accounts can be opened within ten minutes. You will get a full UK sort code and account number and business Mastercard. Don’t let the lack of bank branches put you off as you can still make deposits at the Post office or Paypoint, withdraw from any cashpoint and you can speak to someone by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org through the app or website to request a callback.
Tide business account features
- Free spending: Use your card to make purchases at home and abroad in any currency
- Instant payments alerts: Keep on track of account balances and payments in one place
- Automatic categorisation: Label your transactions for easy accounting to identify expenses such as sales and marketing.
- Never forget your PIN: Secure access to your PIN number within the app
- Apple Pay: Spend with tide via your Apple products
- Easy accounting: Links with accountancy software such as Xero and FreeAgent and allows instant invoice payment and creation
- Freeze and unfreeze your card - if your card is lost or stolen freeze it within the app
- Easily manage expenses: Digitally upload and store receipts
- Keep on top of invoices: Send, pay and track invoices within the app
- No monthly fees: No regular account charges or minimum amount necessary for free banking.
- Multiple accounts: Create up to four current accounts per company from, each of which will have its own unique account number. You can use these accounts for a specific expense such as marketing costs or to save for your tax. You can also order up to 35 team cards
- Account security: Freeze and unfreeze your account if you lose your card, get PIN reminders and order new cards all from within the app.
- Access your account via your computer: Easily log in to your account via your laptop/desktop and share read-only access with an accountant
- Set up direct debits/scheduled payments: Manage direct debits and setup or edit standing orders within the app
- Monthly statements: Download monthly statement as a PDF
- Business loans: Apply for business loans of up to £150,000 through the app via partner business loans provider Iwoca.
- Register a limited company - Register a limited company for free when opening a business account. (Currently only accepting single shareholders but more can be added by contacting Companies House directly)
How much does a Tide business account cost?
There are three types of Tide account. There is the basic pay-as-you-go style Tide account, a paid-for Tide Plus account which has some extra features or a Tide Plus cashback account, aimed at big businesses. According to the Tide website, the Tide Plus account is temporarily unavailable but will be back soon.
Tide, Tide Plus and Tide Premium account comparison
|Cost||FREE||9.99 (+VAT monthly)||£49.99 (+VAT monthly)|
|Free transfers in/out||0 (charged at 20p each)||20 free transfers a month||150 free transfers a month|
|Priority support in-app|
|Legal helpline (24/7)|
|Dedicated account manager|
Tide Free account
A Tide free account is a free business banking account designed for small businesses and offers the following features:
- No monthly cost
- Free business Mastercard
- £1 ATM withdrawals
- Fee-free spending abroad
- Auto categorisation of your spending
- Upload receipts
- Send, pay and track invoices
- Direct debits and scheduled payments
- Bank statements
- The ability to export transactions to share with your accountant
- Link to business accounting software
- Transfer money in and out of your account for 20p
- Separate your money with sub-accounts
- Hold up to 5 business accounts
- Order up to 35 Team cards
- Tide member perks
Tide Plus account
A Tide Plus account comes with the same features as a Tide free account as well as the following additional features for a £9.99 monthly fee + VAT:
- Matte black Mastercard
- 20 free transfers a month
- Priority in-app support
- Phone support available 9am - 6pm
- A legal helpline accessible 24/7
- A free month if you spend more than £10,000 on your card
Tide Plus Cashback account
A Tide Plus Cashback account offers the same features as the Tide Plus account but for a monthly fee of £49.99 + VAT you also have access to the following features:
- Matte black Mastercard
- 150 free transfers a month
- A dedicated account manager
- 0.5% cashback on all eligible Tide purchases
Cashback is paid within the first 21 days of the following month. You will receive an email detailing the total spend and amount of cashback earned from the previous month within the first week of every month and cashback is usually paid within the first 21 days.
The Tide Plus Cashback account is currently running on a 3 month trial period which started in August 2020. If you decide to open a Tide Plus Cashback account and it continues after the trial ends you will remain on the plan, if you wish to downgrade you will need to do so within the app.
Summary of Tide business account fees
Despite there being no monthly fees for a Tide free business account there are some charges which are outlined in the below table.
|Bank transfers (in or out)||20p|
|Payments between Tide accounts||Free|
|Card transactions home and abroad||Free|
|Cash deposits (through the Post Office)||£1|
|Cash deposits (through PayPoint)||3% of the total transaction value|
Sole trader and Limited company banking limits
Some limits apply to the Tide account depending on the business type but more information on these limits can be found within the 'Accounts' section of the Tide app.
|Sole trader||Limited company|
|Single transaction limits||Receive up to £25,000
Send up to £10,000
|Receive up to £50,000
Send up to £50,000
|Monthly limit (Both to send and receive payments)||£100,000||£200,000|
|Card transactions||Daily: £10,000
How to register a limited company
Tide is an approved formation agent of Companies House and therefore there is the option to register a limited company when opening a Tide business account. All you need to do is search for your company name and fill out your personal and business information. Tide allows you to register a limited company for free as it says it covers the £12 registration fee cost on your behalf.
What you need to register a limited company:
- Unique company name - Tide has a search tool that lets you check the name has not already been taken
- Registered office address - This needs to be a physical UK address for official communications
- Director and shareholder information - The names, date of birth, nationalities, addresses and occupations of each director and shareholder is required. As well as the number and value of the shares.
Is Tide safe?
Tide may look and sound like a bank, but it isn’t. It is actually providing an e-money account from PrePay Solutions (PPS), which is a trading name of Prepay Technologies. It is this company that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means all money must be held in a separate client account to ensure you are getting a level of regulatory protection.
As Tide isn’t a bank you don’t get Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection if it goes bust but PPS says it holds an amount equivalent to the money in Tide accounts to protect it should the company become insolvent. Tide does have plenty of security features however and accounts are secured with a PIN, thumbprints and face ID. All payments must be authorised through your smartphone and limits can be placed on payment amounts plus cards can be frozen immediately if they are lost or stolen.
Tide vs alternative business accounts
Tide isn’t the only app-based business account on the market. There are others that will let you manage your business’ finances from your smartphone, link with accountancy software and also provide a debit card for spending. There are some differences though, check out our table below.
Comparison table: Tide v Starling v Revolut v Monzo
|Regulated Bank account|
|Free UK transfers|
|Free ATM withdrawal|
|24/7 customer support|
|Cash & Cheque deposits||Cash only|
Tide vs Starling Bank business
Starling Bank doesn’t charge monthly fees to run the account or for any payments. Similarly to Tide you can also make deposits at the Post Office but this may end up more expensive as Starling charges £3 to deposit up to £1,000 whereas it would cost just £1 with Tide. Additionally, withdrawals with Starling Bank are free but Tide charges £1. Starling does offer an optional overdraft facility to everybody as well as access to other business tools and products through its marketplace. For more information on Starling's business bank account read our Starling Business bank account review*
Tide vs Revolut business
Revolut is an attractive option for businesses with a cross-border presence as you don’t just have to be registered in the UK to open an account and can hold multiple currencies. It offers a basic free account as well as three other paid options but the allowances are slightly more limited. For example, the free account charges £3 for international transfers and only allows five free local transfer per month. Revolut also charges an ATM withdrawal fee of 2%. For more information on Revolut's business account read our Revolut Business bank account review
Tide vs Monzo business
Monzo finally launched its business bank account in early 2020. It offers a basic free account and a 'Pro' business account for £5 per month. The Pro account comes with additional features such as specialist tax pots, multi-user access, invoicing and exclusive business offers. Monzo is a fully regulated bank account and your money is protected by the FSCS for balances up to £85,000. It costs just £1 to deposit any money at any PayPoint with Monzo whereas Tide charges 3% to deposit cash with any Paypoint and £1 to deposit money at the Post Office. Cash withdrawals with Monzo are free whereas Tide charges £1 for each withdrawal. For more information on Monzo's Business account read our independent Monzo Business bank account review.
Tide customer reviews
Tide has a rating of 3.6 out of 5.0 stars on Trustpilot from over 5,000 reviews. 60% of customers rate it as 'Excellent' with customers commenting on 'great service' and a 'stress-free setup of accounts'. 25% of customers rate it as 'Bad' with customers complaining about payment processing wait times and problems with opening accounts. A common problem also seems to be the inability to contact customer services by phone so you are always waiting for an email response which can take time.
- Quick setup
- Easy to manage account and track payments within the app
- No monthly fees and free-spending
- No face-to-face contact
- Doesn’t accept cheque deposits
- Must pay extra for dedicated support
- No personal accounts
Tide* takes a lot of the hassle and administration out of business banking. You don’t have to waste time with an appointment and can set up your account any time of day. Everything can be managed from the app meaning you can keep your business going and manage its finances while on the move without having to worry about rushing to a computer to send an invoice or to cancel a lost card.
However, you do give up the relationship side of business banking as there is no branch you can visit if there are issues. Also, if you do need support and are not paying for Tide Plus or Tide Premium, you will have to rely on liaising by email. If you are running a small business and just need decent technology and an account to send and receive payments then this is a good option but you may have to consider paying for the extra services or looking at Starling or Revolut if you will regularly need customer support.
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