As a small business owner you almost certainly need a dedicated business bank account. This can take weeks or even months through the traditional high street banks. However with a Tide business account you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Accounts like this aren’t for everyone so let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of a Tide account. Welcome to my brutally honest Tide bank review. Who is it for and who isn’t it for? And is Tide even a bank account?
Tide bank review in a nutshell
It’s 2022 and high street banks are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. So whether you’re setting up a new business or are looking to switch from one of the big names of the banking world, you’re probably wondering wondering if you even need a bank account these days? Well I’ve written an article all about that. TLDR? Yes, you really should have a business bank account. One of the many options you’re probably considering is an internet-only bank account and with that in mind let’s look at Tide.
As usual I want to be completely up-front with you, this article contains affiliate links – these help to cover the costs of running this free website. However this is an honest review based on my own personal experiences.
So, if you’re in a rush… my personal experience with Tide has been great. Tide is definitely worth trying if you’re a relatively normal UK-based small business. If you have slightly more exotic requirements, such as international transfers and IBANs you may struggle. But read on and make your own mind up.
I’ve used Tide for several of my own businesses over the years and it’s worked really well. It’s ultra-fast, free (more-or-less) and very simple to use. If you don’t need a high street branch then it could be the perfect neobank account for you.
Do you want £75 cashback from Tide?
If you just want to give it a try and get your business off the ground, Tide are offering Small Business Toolbox readers a special introductory offer of £75 cashback AND 12 months of free transfers. Please read the full terms & conditions at the bottom of this article.
To make use of this offer simply use this link or use the code BUSINESSTOOLBOX when you sign up.
The benefits of a Tide account in 2022
Tide operates like any normal bank account so should be fine for the vast majority of small businesses. It’s essentially free but you pay a nominal fee when you transfer money in or out of the account (free transfers for the first year using this link).
- Fast account opening
- Low cost
- Sole Traders and Limited Companies
- You can set up direct debits
- You can set up standing orders (known as scheduled payments)
- You get on-line bank statements
- You’re provided with a Business MasterCard debit(ish) card and can have up to 35 ‘team cards’ for staff members etc.
- You can pay-in cash at the Post Office (£1 charge)
- You can withdraw cash at ATMs (£1 charge)
- Cashflow Insights
What can’t you do with a Tide account?
- No cheques (in or out)
- No physical branches
- Limited international payments (no IBAN)
Who is Tide for?
In my experience Tide is great for any 21st century businesses who needs an account quickly, no longer use cheques and doesn’t work with international payments. Contrary to popular belief it’s even great for cash-based businesses! I’ve found it works fine with online payment providers such as PayPal, Stripe, GoCardless and Zettle. As such it’s ideal for:
- Sole traders
- Self employed
- Small companies
- Small shops
- Independent traders
- Generally all trades people!
Is Tide really free?
At the time of writing there are three business accounts to choose from:
- FREE account: The account itself is free (i.e. no monthly fees), you just pay 20p for transfers and they’re free for a year if you use this link. No phone support on this account.
- PLUS account: £9.99+VAT per month, 20 free transfers per month, phone support included.
- CASHBACK account: £49.99+VAT per month, 150 free transfers per month, phone support included, 0.5% cashback.
For most businesses the free account is probably more than enough to get you started. It’s worth noting that if you spend more than £10,000 per month on stock etc. then the Cashback account may pay for itself due to the generous 0.5% cashback rate.
What is Tide?
Tide are a privately owned financial technology company founded in 2015. They’re not the traditional high street bank you may be familiar with. It’s essentially a payment platform. According to their website “Tide also offers bank accounts provided by ClearBank (ClearBank® Ltd. is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 754568).”. However from my own personal perspective I’ve found my Tide accounts operated like any normal bank.
You get a sort code and account number and you can have direct debits, standing orders and all the usual stuff. However there are a few other key differences that set it apart from the traditional high street banks.
So it’s a good idea to make sure things are suited to your business before taking the plunge. In this article I want to dig a bit deeper in to what a Tide account actually is.
How much does a Tide account cost?
The really nice thing about Tide, especially when you’re just starting out, is that if you’re not making any money the account doesn’t cost you a penny. As your turnover grows there’s a small 20p charge for each transfer in or out of the account. Card payments are free and as an added bonus Tide are kindly waiving the 20p charges for the first year if you use this link to sign-up.
I’ve read the odd report saying that Tide isn’t a ‘proper’ business bank account and I guess it all depends on your definition of a bank account. Tide offer most of the normal stuff big banks provide and a few extras that are a genuine breath of fresh air.
One slightly confusing factor is that when Tide first started out they provided e-money accounts provided by Prepay Technologies Ltd. They now offer accounts provided by ClearBank apparently with full FSCS protection (so fully FCA and PRA regulated). They’re also offering older customers the opportunity to switch from their e-money accounts to their ClearBank accounts, which is great news!
It’s not all a bed of roses though – there are a few limitations that could be problematic depending on how your business operates. The fee structure is up-front and simple though – I really appreciate this. I’ve seen some business accounts where the fee structure is explained in 8-point font over the course of a 10 page PDF. Not with Tide:
Tide bank review: Real benefits of Tide
What sets Tide apart from the pack, in my view, is ease of account set-up and management. I’ve never known a bank account that’s so easy to open. Ever! In under 5 minutes I was up and running with an account number and sort code. If you don’t believe me watch this:
By way of a comparison, I recently opened a business account with Barclays. I applied online and provided all of the ID they asked for electronically as requested. It was 3 weeks before I received an account number and sort code. With Tide it was almost instant.
The real joys of account management then come in to play once you start making full use off their mobile app. and the associated web interface.
Tide have really put a lot of effort in to making account management as simple as possible. Everything is a real pleasure to use. It’s fast too! Access to the web interface is controlled by scanning a QR code on the screen from your phone. Access is then granted instantly and I MEAN instantly.
What if you’re a limited company?
For me the application process for a limited company was also very fast. They even offer a service where they’ll set up the limited company for you for free!
Logon to the app itself is instant via fingerprint recognition. You also have a passcode as backup. Face recognition technology is also used for certain tasks, but generally your fingerprint will be sufficient for most stuff.
- iOS and Android compatible
- Account management via app. or web
- Accounting integration
- CSV exports
- Read-only account access e.g. for accountants
- Multiple Accounts (coming soon!)
There’s some really nifty features such as transaction categories and the ability to upload pictures of your receipts to associate with each transaction:
Above all, IT’S SO FAST!! It’s very rare that I would describe management of a bank account as being ‘pleasurable’ but Tide have really ticked all the boxes here. Everything within the app. and via the web is a joy to use. Hats off to everyone involved in designing this – nice work. Very nice work.
How ‘fast’ are Faster Payments?
Faster payments seemed to be slightly slower than with other banks. I carried out a test transfer IN to my new Tide account from NatWest and it took about an hour to come through. A similar transfer from NatWest -> Halifax was instant. I tried another NatWest -> Tide transfer on the off-chance it was just due to it being a new payee and it still look 56 minutes. Not a problem, just slightly slower than normal. I must confess I haven’t tried this since they switched to using ClearBank so this might have changed.
I also tried a test transfer OUT from Tide -> NatWest and that was much faster, at around 10 minutes. Halifax -> NatWest was instant though.
Apparently Faster Payments are processed every 30 minutes and cleared within 2 hours, so that would be close-ish to the above timings. Just for information, BACS payments ‘officially’ take 3 working days and CHAPS are same working day. It’s all Faster Payments with Tide though and the above timings shouldn’t be a problem for most people. Obviously as larger sums are involved additional security checks may be implemented. That might slow things down a bit, but I’d rather they kept security as their top concern versus receiving a transfer a few minutes sooner.
Is the Tide card a credit or debit card?
So you’re provided with a ‘Business MasterCard’ when you open your account – this is actually a ‘prepaid card’ and is marked ‘Commercial Preferred Prepaid’. The card is issued by PrePay Technologies Ltd (“PPS”) under a license from Mastercard International. Apparently PPS is authorised by the FCA for the issuance of e-money. It seems to function like a normal debit card, drawing on existing funds from your account. So it’s not really a credit card and it’s not really a debit card.
For the vast majority of situations this should be fine, however it could cause some complications. A prime example is HMRC who still charge a fee for business credit cards (cheeky!) but paying your tax using a business debit card is free. There have been some reports of the card not being accepted with certain providers and it’s probably down to the vague nature of what it actually is. Apparently Tide are working on releasing a normal debit card so watch this space! I haven’t had any problems with it so far though.
Who is Tide NOT for?
Tide are really shaking up modern business banking but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few of the main differences:
- No cheques
- No international transfers
- No IBAN or BIC / SWIFT code
- No overdrafts BUT see below
The biggest change is no more cheques. Now I haven’t written or received a cheque for many years but I know some businesses still rely on this. If you’re still in a sector where you get presented with cheques on a regular basis then this probably isn’t the account for you. Likewise, you don’t get a cheque book so you can’t write cheques. Why cheques still exist is beyond me.
Also, at the moment there are no international transfers. You don’t get an IBAN so accepting payments from foreign sources could be tricky. Apparently you can get around this using providers such as TransferWise but for me this didn’t work with Payoneer. If this means nothing to you then you can probably skip this bit.
Apparently some Tide members with limited companies can have a Tide International Currency Account but when I applied for one of these in June 2020 I was told this service is temporarily ‘paused’.
They also don’t offer overdrafts, however they’ve partnered up with Iwoca for business loans, which is essentially what an overdraft is. So you can potentially get up to £150,000 of credit straight through the app.
Struggling with cashflow?
Tide seem to be constantly innovating new products and services. One of their latest offerings is Cashflow Insights. This is quite a nifty service, included for free – it makes predictions about your spending habits to warn you if you’re likely to run in to problems. For business small business owners this is a really handy feature and certainly something worth looking in to.
What about Tide for content creators? E.g. YouTubers?
This is where things get a little more complicated. There must be tens of thousands of content creators in the UK who need a bank account to manage their various revenue streams. At first glance Tide would be the PERFECT account for the tech savvy folk who are receiving money through a variety of sources.
One of the biggest frustrations with Tide, and it’s not really their fault, is that the account would appear to be incompatible with a number of international online payment providers. For the content creator market (such as myself) this could be problematic.
Payoneer immediately rejected Tide as a valid destination account. This is potentially a big problem for any affiliate schemes that pay out via Payoneer, such as Patreon and Teespring. Also, Amazon Affiliates requires an IBAN and BIC code, so that straight away rules out Tide. Having said that, you may find now that Tide are using ClearBank some of these limitations might change.
Here’s a quick run-down of my experience for all the fellow YouTubers out there:
Using Tide as a destination account to accept PayPal payments appears to work fine. Fast with no issues.
Fine for receiving credit card payments via Zettle. Less fine for receiving affiliate payments as this requires an IBAN & BIC – this is a pretty niche limitation though.
I’ve yet to try accepting normal payments via Ebay to Tide but have been assured these work fine. Payments via the Ebay Partner Network (affiliates) work fine too.
I added my Tide account to a Stripe payment gateway and it worked fine without any problems.
Apparently fine but I haven’t tested it.
YouTube / Google AdSense: FINE
Payments from Google Ireland for AdSense revenue worked fine.
In all honesty I find Payoneer quite a frustrating platform so I’m not surprised there were issues. When I tried to link my Payoneer account to Tide I received an e-mail from Payoneer saying they don’t support the account that was added. I escalated this within Payoneer but they didn’t bother getting back to me. Tide suggested I try using TransferWise, which I did. A somewhat convoluted way of getting money out of Patreon (Patreon to Payoneer, Payoneer to TransferWise, TransferWise to Tide) but once again ‘computer said no’. The TransferWise account was rejected by Payoneer (so not Tide’s fault!). Payoneer would appear to only work with traditional bank accounts so that’s quite annoying. You can of course pay out from Patreon and Teespring via PayPal but Payoneer would seem to be more fee-efficient. It’s also worth noting that this may now work with Tide’s ClearBank accounts. Please let me know if you’ve tested this!
Teespring pay out your funds via Payoneer or PayPal. So Payoneer isn’t an option but PayPal should be fine.
Similar to Teespring, Patreon pay out via PayPal or Payoneer. If you have a Tide account you’ll need to route the funds via PayPal.
Amazon Affiliates: NOPE
I don’t know how many Amazon Affiliates there are in the UK but I bet there’s quite a few. At the time of writing you need an IBAN / BIC code to receive money from Amazon and that just ain’t an option with Tide at the moment.
So, if you’re a content creator all is not lost BUT you might have to do some creative account management to get around the odd limitation. Amazon is probably the biggest hurdle but there will be other affiliate and influencer schemes that rely on IBANs and BICs. Let’s see how this one progresses as I imagine Tide don’t want to miss out on this potentially huge market!
Tide don’t seem to publish their default account limits any more but on an account I set up for a limited company in June 2020 the limits were as follows:
- Maximum account balance: £1,000,000
- Monthly limit: £250,000
- Single outbound transaction limit: £50,000
- Card transactions: £50,000 monthly limit & £10,000 daily limit per account
- ATM limits: £500 cash per day max
You can also raise a request to increase the limits via the app. so no problems there.
Is my money safe?
In short, I think so! In January 2019 Tide joined forces with ClearBank and this is what it now says on the Tide website:
“Tide Platform Limited designs and operates the Tide website and app. Tide is not a bank, the Tide current account is an e-money account provided by Prepay Solutions (PPS), a trading name of Prepay Technologies Ltd which is an electronic money institution authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (FRN 900010) for the issuing of electronic money. PPS holds an amount equivalent to the money in Tide current accounts in a safeguarding account which gives customers protection against PPS’ insolvency.
Tide also offers bank accounts provided by ClearBank (ClearBank® Ltd. is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 754568). Eligible deposits with ClearBank are protected up to a total of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), the UK’s deposit guarantee scheme. For further information visit fscs.org.uk.
The Tide card is also issued by PPS pursuant to license by Mastercard International. This card is for payments from Tide accounts.”
So it certainly looks like accounts are provided with full PRA and FCA regulation and FSCS protection of up to £85,000. Would I leave my life savings resting in the account? Probably not. Would I be comfortable leaving a normal amount of working capital in the account? Yes, but that’s a risk that’s entirely up to you.
Of course remember that if you’re still using one of Tide’s older e-money accounts then the ClearBank safeguards wouldn’t apply. So I would really consider asking Tide to switch your account over.
What about customer support?
If you want phone support you’ll need to stump up for either their Plus or Cashback accounts. The free account only includes web support. Having said that, their in-app support has been excellent for me. I’ve always received a response well within 24 hours and their staff have been friendly and helpful.
To put things in perspective I also had an account with Barclays and their business support was dire. I tried calling them about an urgent matter. I spent more than an hour on hold on two separate occasions and nobody picked up, so I gave up. I then tried to send them a secure message via my online banking (several times) and it just didn’t work at all. I tried visiting my local branch but there was a queue around the block. I literally had NO WAY of getting in touch with Barclays. So I closed my account.
The moral of this story, just because high street banks have phone lines doesn’t mean you can actually use them. Tide on the other hand have always been a pleasure to deal with. Online chat has always been fast and very helpful.
So should I get a Tide business account?
It’s worth opening an account just to experience the joys of what 21st century banking should look like! In a nutshell it’s all down to whether the limitations outweigh the benefits for your business. For most small businesses who serve customers solely within the UK, Tide is a great option to consider.
I’ve been blown away by the set-up time and ease of use. The account is a genuine pleasure to use. It’s free to set up an account so give it a try and see if it works for your business.
Remember if you want to take advantage of Tide’s offer of 12 months free transfers, just click on the link above or click here.
Tide offer terms:
Tide’s offer is valid for new accounts only. To be eligible to receive the offer applicants must first successfully open a sole trader or limited company business current account with Tide. Account opening eligibility criteria and customary know your customer checks apply. To activate the offer the applicant must use the referral (partner) code: BUSINESSTOOLBOX. The applicant is required to either enter the referral code while signing up via the partner landing page, on https://web.tide.co/sign-up, or through the mobile app. The offer is limited to one £75 cashback reward per applicant. The reward will be paid into the applicant’s new Tide account. It can take up to 8 weeks from the date the applicant successfully opens their account for the reward to be validated and paid. We reserve the right to modify these terms and conditions or withdraw this offer at any time. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other Tide offer or promotion. 12 month free banking offer is by no means guaranteed. Please verify the offer is still valid when signing up.
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Last Updated on 15 May 2022 by Andy Mac