Tide vs Barclays: comparing free business bank accounts

How long have you had your main current account? Have you tried comparing it with other bank accounts? One survey found that 35% of Brits have had the same personal current account with the same bank for over 20 years.

But if you’re opening a separate bank account for your business, it’s a good idea to shop around. Your personal account provider won’t necessarily be the best option.

In this post, we compare the free business bank accounts from Tide and Barclays: a digital challenger founded in 2015, versus a 300-year-old high-street banking giant.

Table of contents:

Tide vs Barclays: business bank account options

Tide and Barclays both offer a free business bank account. This post will be comparing both free business bank accounts as well as the range of other current accounts they offer.

Tide account plans

Tide’s free business account is free for as long as you want to keep it. It’s open to sole traders, freelancers, and limited companies. There are no set-up or monthly fees, and your business does not have to be below a certain age to be eligible.

You can upgrade at any time to Tide Plus (£9.99 per month), Tide Pro (£18.99), or Tide Cashback (£49.99) for free transfers, expense cards, phone support – and other advanced features designed for growing businesses.

Note: Members, on any plan, can call the Fraud Rapid Response team by calling 159. Use +44 20 4587 0366 if you’re calling from abroad. Lines are open 24/7.

Barclays business accounts

The Barclays start-up business account is free for the first 12 months only, and you can only apply if you’ve been trading for less than 12 months.

After the free period, you’ll move on to the Barclays Business Current Account – with exact features determined by whether your annual turnover is more or less than £400,000.

The Barclays Business Current Account has two payment plans: the Mixed Payments Plan (£8 per month) or the e-Payments Plan (£8.50) – which one you’re on will depend on how you usually make and receive payments.

Comparing the free business bank accounts

We’ve already seen two big differences between the Tide free business bank account and the start-up business account from Barclays:

  1. You can keep your free Tide account for as long as you like, but the Barclays start-up business account is only free for the first 12 months.

  1. You can apply for a free Tide account no matter how old your business is, but you can only have a Barclays start-up account if you’re in your first 12 months of trading.

Now, let’s start by comparing the basics of these bank accounts:

Feature Tide Barclays
Monthly cost Free Free for 12 months
(then £8 or £8.50 per month)
ATM withdrawal fee £1 Free
Fee for electronic payments in/out 20p Free (up to 500 electronic payments)
Then £0.35 for additional payments
Cash deposits fee £2.50 for deposits up to £500, or 0.5% of cash amount for deposits over £500 (at Post Offices)

3% (at PayPoints)

Free for 12 months
(then 90p or £1.50 per £100)
Cheque deposits fee Not accepted Free for 12 months
(then 65p or £1.50)
FSCS protection up to £85k
information correct as of March 2023

Tide is not a bank. Our business accounts are provided by ClearBank, who are FCA-regulated. Up to £85,000 of your deposits are protected by the FSCS.

Barclays is a fully-regulated bank and your deposits would also be FSCS-protected, up to £85,000.

Opening a free business account

Opening a Tide business account

You can apply for a free Tide business account by downloading the Tide app. We’ll ask you to provide a form of photo ID and take a selfie to verify your identity – as well as proof that your business is already up and running.

Many new Tide accounts are open within minutes, and the majority are open in under an hour. It can sometimes take longer if we need more information. Once your account is opened, you should receive your Tide card within 2-4 business days.

Applying for a Barclays start-up business account

If you’re already a Barclays customer, you can log in to Online Banking and apply for a start-up business account there. Otherwise, you will need to download the Barclays app.

Like Tide, Barclays ask you to provide personal information and verify your identity. They will ask for details of:

  • your business
  • any other directors, and
  • proof of your trading address.

Barclays aim to start processing your application within 7 days, and to send your account details and debit card within 7 days of opening your account.

Feature Tide Barclays
Cost to open Free Free
Monthly cost Free Free for 12 months
(then £8 or £8.50 per month)
Time to open Approximately 1 hour Approximately 6 days
Card delivery time 2-4 business days Approximately 7 days
information correct as of March 2023

Making and receiving electronic payments

It’s free to send money electronically from one Tide account to another. You pay 20p each time you send money to – or receive money from – any other bank account.

With a Barclays start-up business account, electronic payments are free for 12 months. After that, electronic payments are still free on the e-Payments Plan – and they cost 35p each on the Mixed Payments Plan.

Depositing cash and cheques

Tide accepts cash deposits at Post Office branches and PayPoints.

At Post Offices, Tide charges £2.50 for cash deposits up to £500, or 0.5% of the cash amount for deposits over £500. At PayPoints, Tide charges 3% of the deposit amount.

You can’t deposit cheques into a Tide account.

Barclays start-up business account customers can deposit cash and cheques into their account for free for the first 12 months, then charges are:

Cash: 90p per £100 on Mixed Payments Plan, or £1.50 per £100 on e-Payments Plan
Cheques: 65p on Mixed Payments Plan, or £1.50 on e-Payments Plan

Using your card in the UK

Tide and Barclays both offer free UK card transactions, and they both provide a debit card with a £100 contactless spending limit.

It costs £1 to withdraw cash at an ATM with Tide, and it’s free with Barclays.

Tide will replace a lost card for free. At Barclays, you can report a lost or stolen card via the app, online banking, or at a branch. Once reported, you can order a replacement card for free with standard delivery. This takes up to 5 working days.

Feature Tide Barclays
Card transaction fee Free Free
Debit card provided free
Contactless limit £100 £100
ATM withdrawal fee £1 Free
Replacement debit card Free Free with standard delivery
information correct as of March 2023

Using your card abroad

When you use your Tide card abroad, you pay the Mastercard exchange rate only – we don’t charge any additional fees. ATM withdrawals cost £1 abroad (the same as in the UK).

Barclays charges a 2.75% Non-Sterling Transaction Fee for using your debit card abroad when making purchases, withdrawing cash from an ATM, or when you are being refunded.

Tools for managing your money

The Tide free business account comes with a bunch of features designed to take the hassle out of managing your money. These include the ability to:

  • schedule payments via Direct Debit and standing order, and manage them in-app
  • connect your accounting software to your Tide account for easy financial reporting
  • automatically categorise spending for better cash flow insights and accounting
  • create and send professional, customised invoices from within the Tide app
  • grant read-only access to team members for safe, secure information sharing

Barclays start-up business account holders get the invoicing and accounting software FreshBooks for free (otherwise worth over £260 per year). Additional features include:

  • business management and growth advice over the phone, from a UK-based team
  • a secure cash and cheque collection service, provided by G4S
  • deposit cheques in-app by uploading a photo of the cheque
  • mobile invoicing and online group payments
  • borrowing options from Barclays and their partners

Independent service quality survey: February 2023

As part of a regulatory requirement, an independent survey was conducted to ask approximately 1,200 customers of each of the 15 largest business bank account providers if they would recommend their provider to other small and medium-sized enterprises.

Here’s how Tide and Barclays compared in February 2023.

Overall service quality

Customers were asked how likely they would be to recommend their business current account provider to other SMEs:

Online and mobile banking services

Customers were asked how likely they would be to recommend their provider’s online and mobile banking services to other SMEs:

Relationship and account management

Customers were asked how likely they would be to recommend their provider’s relationship/account management to other SMEs:

Find out more about the Business banking service quality survey at the BVA BDRC website.

Summary: no time limit with Tide

So there you have it. After comparing Tide and Barclays’ free business bank accounts, we know that both can be accessed online and via a smartphone app – with similar tools and features for managing your business finances.

But here’s what we think sets Tide apart if you’re trying to decide between the two:

  1. We open accounts in minutes and hours, not days
    Unless we need extra information about you or your business, your Tide account should be open within minutes. It can take Barclays up to 7 days to even begin processing your application.
  2. There’s no expiry date on your free Tide account
    You only get 12 months of free business banking with Barclays, but a Tide free business account has no expiry date. Plus, we don’t restrict our free account to businesses that are less than a year old.
  3. We’re 100% focused on founders
    We don’t offer personal accounts because we exist solely to help people fulfil their dream of working for themselves. Sole traders, freelancers, limited company owners – everything we do, we do it for you.

From forming your company and registering for VAT to setting up a virtual office and improving your cash flow, we’re here for you every step of the way.

Sources used for this article:

All sources checked March 2023. The beforehand information is provided for reference purposes only.  We give no warranty of any kind nor accept any liability whatsoever in connection with the sources, nor any third party’s products or services.

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