Tide vs Countingup: comparing business bank accounts
If you want to make your record keeping and tax returns as easy as possible, it’s a good idea to separate your personal and business finances from the start. But with so many options for opening a business bank account, how do you decide who to go with?
Should you opt for a traditional high street bank, or one of the newer digital challengers?
In this article, we compare the features, benefits, fees, and additional banking and accounting services offered by two of those tech-led innovators: Tide and Countingup.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Table of contents
- Tide vs Countingup: key differences
- How much do accounts cost?
- Banking features
- Add-ons and paid plans
- How easy is it to pay in cash or cheques?
- How easy is it to open a business bank account?
- Using your card in the UK and abroad
- The all important customer support
- Conclusion: similar yet different
Tide vs Countingup: key differences
Tide offers a business bank account, which works in harmony with a smartphone app and a bundle of accounting features. Tide’s business bank account is provided by ClearBank and comes with Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection (up to £85,000). That’s the same level of protection you get with any of the traditional high street banks.
On the surface, Countingup offers a very similar service. Their account comes with a business payment card and an accompanying app that gives you fast access to your financial information. However, Countingup’s account is not a conventional bank account – it’s an e-money account, provided by PPS (Prepay Technologies Ltd).
This difference means any money you held with Countingup would not be protected by the FSCS. In the unlikely event of Countingup going bankrupt, your money would be recovered but it could take longer because an administrator would need time to organise the distribution of funds. You might also get back less than your full account balance because the administrator or insolvency practitioner can deduct their costs from the available funds.
|Freeze/unfreeze card in the app||✔️||✔️|
|Extra cards for employees||✔️||❌|
|Accountancy software integration||✔️||❌|
|for accounts provided by ClearBank|
The Tide business account offers a few features not included with Countingup, specifically the ability to give your colleagues their own expense cards and the option to integrate an external accounting service.
Countingup is a mobile-only app for phones and tablets. While Tide is primarily a mobile app, we also offer online access for those times when you want a larger screen or the support of a keyboard and mouse.
Tide vs Countingup: how much do accounts cost
Tide offers a free business bank account with integrated accounting and invoicing features. There is a 20p fee for transfers in or out of your account.
The Countingup account is free for the first 3 months only. After the 3-month trial, you’ll pay a monthly fee and the amount will depend on how much money you deposit into your account each month.
|Monthly account charge||Free||£3 – £18 per month (after 3-month free trial)|
|Fee for cash deposits||£2.50 for deposits up to £500 |
0.5% of cash amount for deposits over £500
(at Post Offices)
3% (at PayPoints)
|0.5% at Post Office (£2 minimum fee) or |
3% at PayPoints
|Fee for payments in or out||20p each||30p each|
|Fee for Direct Debits||20p each||30p each|
Tide vs Counting up: banking features
Tide’s business bank account includes the option to create standing orders and to schedule payments for dates in the future. With Tide, you can also create Direct Debit agreements with your customers, so you can get your invoices paid automatically.
Countingup also supports standing orders and Direct Debits.
Tide vs Countingup: add-ons and paid plans
Countingup offers three different pricing plans, which all offer the same features and benefits. The only difference is the monthly price, which depends entirely on how much you deposit into your account each month.
- £3 per month – monthly deposits of £0 – £750
- £9 per month – monthly deposits of £750 – £7,500
- £18 per month – unlimited monthly deposits
All Countingup accounts come with built-in accounting software to automate aspects of your bookkeeping and tax admin. You also get advanced features like:
- automated payment categorisation
- invoicing and billing
- tax calculations
- receipt capture, and
- profit and loss calculations.
Tide paid account plans
You can upgrade to one of Tide’s paid plans at any time. Upgrade to Tide Plus (£9.99 per month + VAT) to get:
- 20 free transfers per month
- a legal helpline and support by phone, and
- 1 free company Expense Card.
Tide Pro (£18.99 per month) offers a similar level of service to Tide Plus, but you get 2 free Expense Cards and unlimited free transfers in and out each month.
The Tide Cashback plan (£49.99 per month) is ideal for established businesses. You’ll benefit from 0.5% cashback on all card purchases (including any Expense Card spending) and:
- a dedicated team of account managers
- 150 free transfers per month, and
- 3 Company Expense cards for your team.
Invoicing is free for all Tide members. But the Tide Invoice Assistant may be a useful upgrade (at £10 +VAT per month) if you send lots of invoices, struggle to get paid, or just want to spend less time managing your money.
Invoicing Assistant is a tool that simplifies your invoice management by automatically matching money received to outstanding invoices. The Invoice Assistant also sends reminders when payments are overdue. This can improve your cashflow, and reduce the time you spend on credit control.
As well as automatic invoice matching and chasing, upgrading to Invoice Assistant also comes with 2 free Direct Debits per month, so you can get paid easier and faster.
One of Tide’s additional features is the option to register your company with Companies House and open a Tide account at the same time. You can use the Tide website to check that your preferred company name is available – and Tide will even pay the £12 registration fee for you.
Countingup also offers combined company registration and account opening for a £100 fee, and was offering the service for free when we last updated this post (November 2022).
Tide vs Counting up: how easy is it to pay in cash or cheques?
Both Tide and Countingup accept cash deposits through the Post Office and at PayPoints. Countingup charges 0.5% for Post Office deposits (with a £2 minimum charge), while Tide charges:
- £2.50 for deposits up to £500, or
- 0.5% of cash amount for deposits over £500.
Deposits at PayPoints cost 3% of the amount deposited with both Tide and Countingup.
Neither Tide nor Countingup accepts cheques.
Tide vs Countingup: how easy is it to open a business bank account?
|Apply through the app||✔️||✔️|
|Hard credit check||❌||❌|
|Card delivery fee||Free||Free|
|Card delivery timescale||2-5 working days||2-5 working days|
|Replacement card fee||Free||Free|
Tide account sign-up
Creating your Tide account takes just a few minutes once you’ve downloaded the Tide app. You will need to provide a form of identification, such as a driving licence, passport, or European National ID card. You may also need to provide evidence that your business is up and running, such as HMRC registration or signed contracts.
You won’t be subjected to a hard credit check and your accompanying bank card will be supplied for free. If you lose your card, there’s no fee to order a replacement.
You can also create and use your Tide account completely online, if you prefer the online interface to a mobile app.
Countingup account sign-up
You can create a Countingup account by installing the mobile app. Creating the account takes a few minutes, and the Countingup Mastercard is usually posted the following day. You can then activate your card using the Countingup app.
You may also need to provide additional evidence of your identity, address, and business.
Unlike Tide, Countingup is not available on desktops or laptops – but you can log in on a tablet if you prefer a larger screen.
Tide vs Countingup: using your card in the UK and abroad
|Foreign transactions||Free||3% fee|
|Foreign ATM withdrawals||£1 each||£1 each|
Tide and Countingup both offer free card transactions in the UK, with a contactless limit of £100. Both also charge £1 for UK cash withdrawals from ATMs.
You can use your Tide card abroad anywhere you see the Mastercard sign. All charges are processed at the Mastercard exchange rate, without any additional charges or fees.
Unlike many high street banks, we don’t limit the amount you can spend abroad before you incur charges (but the £1 ATM withdrawal fee still applies abroad).
You can also use your Countingup card to make purchases and withdraw cash abroad. Countingup charge a 3% fee for all foreign transactions and £1 for cash withdrawals.
Tide vs Counting up: the all-important customer support
|Customer service via the app||✔️||Email only|
|Customer support via telephone||✔️||❌|
|Online knowledge base||✔️||✔️|
Tide offers a range of customer support options. Free Tide account holders can contact Tide Member Support through the app, or send us an email to request a call back during working hours. Lost or stolen cards can be reported using a dedicated automated phone line.
Tide members on paid plans (Tide Plus, Pro or Cashback) have access to telephone support, as well as a 24/7 legal helpline for tax or contractual questions.
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.
Countingup offers an online support portal. A help option within the app opens your email account.
Tide vs Countingup: conclusion – similar yet different
Tide and Countingup both offer bank accounts with integrated invoicing and accounting features. They are both quick to set up and easy to manage from a mobile device, and are designed to simplify your business finance admin.
The two providers have a number of key differences. Countingup is only available as a mobile app, whereas Tide can be used on desktop and laptop devices as well.
And while Countingup is intended to be a complete accounting solution, it doesn’t allow you to connect to other accounting software (like Xero, Sage and Quickbooks) in the way that Tide does.
And Tide allows you to order expense cards for your team, to get full visibility and control of your business spending – but Countingup does not.
Sources used for this article