In this review and overview we’re going to take a look at a Tide business bank account in 2024. As a small business owner you really need a dedicated business bank account. This can often take weeks or even months to set up 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 deep dive in to the pros and cons of a Tide account. Who is it for and is Tide even a bank?
This is an honest review based on my own personal experiences. I used a Tide account for my own business banking before writing this review. This article contains some affiliate links – these help to cover the costs of running this free website so if you think a Tide account suits your needs click here to give it a try and as a thank you Tide will give you £50 cashback *.
- Great for ‘normal’ UK small businesses
- No contract and no monthly fees
- Ultra-fast account opening
- Lovely user interface
- Decent Trustpilot rating
- Good customer service
- Stricter eligibility criteria
- International transfers (NEW!)
Table of Contents
- Tide business account in a nutshell
- Benefits of a Tide account in 2024
- What is a Tide business bank account?
- What can’t you do with a Tide business account?
- Who is Tide for?
- Is a Tide account really free?
- Desktop web interface
- Transaction categories and tags
- How fast are transfers?
- Do you get a Tide debit card?
- Invoicing customers
- Bill payments and purchase management
- Tide for Limited Companies?
- What is Tide Accounting?
- Accounts software integrations
- Accepting credit and debit cards
- Who is Tide NOT for?
- Who can’t have a Tide account?
- What is Tide Cashflow Insights?
- International transfers
- Tide account limits
- Is your money safe with Tide?
- Customer service
- £50 cashback when you open an account
- Should you open a Tide business account?
Tide business account in a nutshell
In a rush? I used Tide for my own property maintenance business and it was great. No cheques but that was never an issue for me. Give it a try if you think it suits your needs – if you use this link Tide will give you £50 cashback and free transfers for a year *. There’s no contract and no monthly fees so if it doesn’t work out you can easily change.
High street banks are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The one USP (unique selling point) they had was their presence on the high street but they’re rapidly vanishing. Five banks have closed on our local high street in the last few years. Barclays, NatWest, Santander, HSBC and Nationwide – all gone and Halifax seem to have closed their doors too.
Whether you’re setting up a new business or are looking to switch from one of the big names, you’re probably wondering wondering if you even need a bank account? Well I’ve written an article all about that. TLDR? Yes, you really should have a business bank account. You’ll thank me in the long term! One of the many options you’re probably considering is an internet-only bank account and with that in mind let’s take a look at Tide.
The benefits of a Tide business account in 2024
Tide operates like any normal bank account so should be fine for the vast majority of small businesses. It’s essentially free – you just pay a nominal fee (20p) when you transfer money in or out of the account (free transfers for the first year using this link). Here are a few of the other benefits:
- Very fast account opening
- Low cost
- Suitable for Sole Traders and Limited Companies
- You can set up direct debits
- You can set up standing orders (known as scheduled payments)
- You get full on-line bank statements
- You’re provided with a Business MasterCard debit(ish) card
- You can pay in cash at a Post Office (£1 charge)
- You can withdraw cash at ATMs (£1 charge)
- Incredible user interface
- Huge number of added benefits and features
What is a Tide business bank account?
Tide are a privately owned financial technology company founded in 2015. They’re not a bank as such. They’re a clever tech company who integrate a bunch of banking technologies to deliver a comprehensive financial service suite to businesses. Most of their banking services are provided via ClearBank. According to their website “Tide offers bank accounts provided by ClearBank® Ltd (ClearBank) (account sort code is 04-06-05). ClearBank 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 experience I’ve found my Tide accounts operated like any normal bank. You get a sort code and account number. 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. To the point that it can potentially become the financial and accounting hub of your entire business. In this article I want to dig a bit deeper in to what a Tide account actually is and how it all works.
What can’t you do with a Tide business account?
- No cheques (in or out)
- No physical branches
Who is a Tide business account for?
In my experience Tide is great for any 21st century businesses who needs an account quickly and no longer uses cheques. When I last checked they were rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.
I do have a slight concern that Tide’s rating on the Google Play Store has dropped from 4.3 to 3.8 in recent months with a lot of users reporting app speed issues and bugs. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come – I’d love to hear your own direct experiences.
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
- Smaller limited companies
- Small shops
- Independent traders
- Most small businesses
Is Tide really free?
There are now four business accounts to choose from and they even have a business savings account offering a very generous interest rates. Their core accounts are:
- 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. Online chat support (no phone support).
- PLUS account: £9.99+VAT per month, 20 free transfers per month, phone support included along with a bunch of other account perks.
- PRO account: £18.99+VAT per month, unlimited free transfers, otherwise very similar to the PLUS account.
- CASHBACK account: £49.99+VAT per month, pretty much the same as the PRO account but 0.5% cashback on card purchases and access to a dedicated account management team.
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.
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 (depending on the account type). 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 along with LOTS of 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 by Prepay Technologies Ltd. They now offer accounts via 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!
The fee structure is up-front and simple – I really appreciate this. I’ve seen some business accounts where the fees are explained in 8-point font over a 10 page PDF.
Desktop web interface
What sets a Tide business account 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. Watch my video above if you don’t believe me!
By way of a comparison, a while ago I opened a business account with Barclays. I applied online and provided all of the ID they asked for electronically. It was 3 weeks before I received an account number and sort code and their customer service was dire.
The real joys of account management then come in to play once you start making full use of Tide’s mobile app. and the associated desktop 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 from your mobile phone. Access is then granted instantly and I MEAN instantly.
Once you’re logged in everything is fast and painless. The account management capabilities are way beyond anything I’ve ever seen in a bank account before.
Transaction Categories and Tags
There’s some really nifty features such as transaction categories, transaction tagging and the ability to upload pictures of your receipts to associate with each transaction. It even has a ‘receipt importer’ function where it will automatically try to assign uploaded receipts to the correct 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 interface 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 were instant in my most recent tests. I carried out a test transfer IN to my new Tide account from Starling and it came through straight away. I also tried a test transfer OUT from Tide -> Starling and that was also instant.
Obviously when larger sums are involved additional security checks may be involved. That might slow things down a bit, but I’d rather they kept security as their top concern.
Is the Tide card a credit or debit card?
You’re provided with a business MasterCard when you open your account and mine turned up in under 48 hours. The card is marked ‘Commercial Business Preferred’ and is issued by Tide Platform Limited under license from Mastercard. Tide are 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 (or at least it was last time I checked). I’ve never had any problems with it but let me know your experiences and I’ll update this article.
Invoicing within the Tide account
Even the free version of the Tide account has basic invoicing built-in. This allows you to create simple, professional looking invoices for your customers and track payments, all from either the mobile app or desktop interface. It’s very easy to use:
You can store a database of customers directly within the account and access this at any time to update customer details. Invoice creation is simple – you can add line items with variable quantities and discounts. It doesn’t seem to give more advanced flexibility such as line-level VAT rates but this shouldn’t be an issue for most businesses. The app will even send the invoice to your customer by e-mail. The final invoice is clean and professional looking:
At some point it would be nice to see some import / export functionality for customer and supplier details.
The account also has a facility to track bill payments. This is really useful since it lets you add supplier invoices directly to the app as soon as they arrive. It’s almost an integrated purchase order system (but not quite).
I’ll try to test this in more depth at a later date, but I think the idea of this is to follow this process:
- A supplier sends you an invoice for stuff you’ve bought
- You upload the invoice to the Tide app
- The app will automatically scan the invoice and log all pertinent details (supplier name, amount, due date etc.)
- You can categorise the bill payment as needed
- The app will automatically pay the supplier by the due date
If this works as expected it could be a really nifty way of managing your purchases. Watch this space!
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! All of the most recent testing I’ve done has been on a sole-trader account so experiences my vary slightly.
As an added bonus not only can you get Tide to set up the limited company for you but they even have a ‘virtual office’ service:
This is really useful since you may not want your personal address showing on Companies House. Having a virtual office address can solve a lot of privacy issues.
What is Tide Accounting?
Accounting software for your business can sometimes be a real headache. You know it’s something you need to sort but you simply don’t have time to learn yet more stuff. The basic ‘free’ Tide account will cover most of your needs in the early days but over time you’ll probably want something a bit more advanced.
Tide have developed some easy-to-use accounting software as an add-on to your standard Tide account. This is known as Tide Accounting.
It allows you to send personalised invoices and track payments within the app. You can easily match incoming payments to invoices so you keep a handle on who’s paid and who hasn’t.
You can also track outgoing expenditure, schedule future payments and see what you owe at a glance. As with most of the Tide user interface, the software is beautifully written and easy to use.
It is also MTD (Making Tax Digital) compliant for VAT. This means if you’re VAT registered you can submit your quarterly returns using this software since it’s recognised by HMRC.
Tide Accounting costs £9.99+VAT per month and they sometimes offer a trial free period – for example at the moment you get 6 months free if you open a limited company via Tide. Open a Tide account and you can then add the accounting software to try it out for yourself.
Of course you might already be using accounting software from one of the big names. Fear not! Tide can be integrated with your existing accounts package very easily.
Even if your accounting software isn’t listed above you can probably still integrate it. Tide are a regulated provider of Open Banking services. All of this means transactions from your bank account can directly feed in to your accounting software.
Want to accept debit and credit cards? No problem!
The list of services Tide provide is growing by the day. Their latest offering is a card reader to accept credit and debit cards.
At the time of writing it’s only £49 for the card reader and they charge a 1.5% transaction fee. Hopefully I’ll get to test this in the near future and we can see how long it takes for transactions to hit the actual bank account.
Who is a Tide business account 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 overdrafts BUT see below
- No branches
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.
They also don’t offer overdrafts, however they have partners for business loans and financing, accessible via the app.
Who CAN’T have a Tide business account?
Tide do have quite strict eligibility criteria to open an account. This is for security reasons and to protect all Tide members. To open a business account for an existing limited company you’ll need to be registered with UK Companies House as a director of that company. To open a sole trader account you’ll need to be a UK-based sole trader or freelancer. On top of that you must be:
- Aged 18 or over
- Have a valid UK phone number
- Have a valid UK address
- Hold a compatible device registered to a UK App or Google Play store
Tide acknowledge that certain business types are more complex so the scope of businesses they offer accounts to is quite focused. At the time of writing they’re unable to offer accounts to the following types of business:
- Trading of cryptocurrencies
- Trading of precious metals and stones
- Money services (such as foreign exchange, loan providers, money transfers)
- Casinos, prize draws and other betting or gambling activities
- Sale of unlicensed pharmaceuticals
- Sale or trade of cannabidiol (CBD) products
- Trading of weapons, explosives or armaments
- Unlicensed trading and processing of scrap metal
- Unlicensed waste management
- Sale, import and export of used vehicles or heavy machinery
- Escort services and other services in the adult industry
- Bidding fee auctions
- Modelling agencies
- Travel agencies
- Car wash services
- Political parties
- CICs and CIOs
Tide and the TRIGGERnometry podcast debacle
Tide are particularly twitchy about certain types of business. I suspect this is to retain their partnership with ClearBank but this is unconfirmed. I was disappointed to learn about Tide terminating their relationship with the excellent TRIGGERnometry podcast, hosted by Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster. TRIGGERnometry do accept payments / donations from SubscribeStar, PayPal, Patreon and Bitcoin. However as far as I’m aware they don’t fit in to any of the business types listed above.
TRIGGERnometry had Nigel Farage as a guest on the show around February 2023. Tide closed TRIGGERnometry’s account around May 2023. On 29th June 2023 Nigel Farage announced that his bank (not Tide) was closing his accounts. As far as I know this has now been partially resolved but whether it was all connected is anyone’s guess.
All I can say here is no account is safe from this sort of treatment these days. Read about Yorkshire Building Society and Rev Richard Fothergill for example. BlackBeltBarrister covered the Nigel Farage story in some depth so check out his excellent channel.
On the plus side this shouldn’t impact your average plumber or electrician and I’ve genuinely had a great experience with Tide over the years. Obviously it would be interesting to hear more on this subject so if you have any insider information please get in touch.
Tide also have an offering known as Cashflow Insights. This is quite a clever service, included for free – it makes predictions about your spending habits to warn you if you’re likely to run in to problems. For small business owners this is a really handy feature and certainly something worth looking in to.
If you already have a Tide business account you can access Cashflow Insights from the ‘more’ menu within the app. I’ve written a whole separate overview of Cashflow Insights here.
In the past Tide was a bit of a non-starter for businesses who relied on international transfers. This was especially problematic for Content Creators and YouTubers who would often be paid by organisations all around the planet. Back on 2019 a Tide account simply didn’t work with the likes of Amazon and Payoneer. The good news is this may now be resolved!
In my most recent tests an IBAN and SWIFT code was provided with my brand new account. Apparently you can only receive payments in GBP but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It also support EUR SEPA payments. So this problem may now be resolved – it’s a difficult one for me to test. You’d really need to try it for your circumstances – let me know how you get on!
Tide don’t seem to publish their default account limits any more but on my most recent test account (January 2024) these were the default limits applied to the account:
- Maximum account balance: £500,000
- Monthly transaction limit: £150,000
- Single outbound transaction limit: £15,000
- Card transactions: £25,000 monthly limit & £20,000 daily limit per card
- ATM limits: £500 cash per day
I suspect these limits may vary depending on your credit rating and a number of other factors. 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. As such apparently the account comes with full £85,000 FSCS protection. In 2024 this is what it says on the Tide website:
“Tide Platform Limited (Tide) designs and operates the Tide website and app. Tide is not a bank.
Tide is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 under firm reference number 900843 for the issuing of electronic money and the provision of payment initiation services and account information services under the Payment Services Regulations 2017. Tide is also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to its credit and insurance broking activities (firm reference 718743). Tide is incorporated and registered in England and Wales with company number 09595646 and registered office at 4th Floor The Featherstone Building, 66 City Road, London, EC1Y 2AL.
Tide offers bank accounts provided by ClearBank® Ltd (ClearBank) (account sort code is 04-06-05). ClearBank 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.
Some of Tide’s members also hold e-money accounts provided by Prepay Solutions (PPS) (account sort code is 23-69-72). PPS is a trading name of Prepay Technologies Ltd which is an electronic money institution authorised by the FCA under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 under firm reference number 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 Cards may be issued by both Tide and PPS, who are licensed by Mastercard International for the issuance of cards. The issuer of your Tide card will be identified on your monthly card statement.”
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 obviously that risk is 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 to one of their newer FSCS protected accounts.
What about customer support?
If you want phone support you’ll need to stump up for either their Plus, Pro 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. They since closed my local branch.
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.
£50 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 £50 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. There’s no minimum contract and no obligation to stay with Tide.
So should I open 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 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 and could potentially become the full financial and accounting hub of your business. 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 £50 cashback and 12 months free transfers, just use the code BUSINESSTOOLBOX when you apply, use the above link 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 or through the mobile app. The offer is limited to one £50 cashback reward per applicant. The account must be funded by at least £50 within 1 month of opening. 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. Tide 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. Tide reserve the right to withdraw this offer at any time.
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Last Updated on 2 February 2024 by Andy Mac