Tide vs HSBC: comparing free business bank accounts

Business bank accounts require some forethought. With a myriad of banks to choose from and a stack of financial services to boot, it’s no surprise that many people in the UK keep the same account for years. 

But just because you have a personal account with one bank, doesn’t always mean you should use the same provider for your business bank account. 

There may be others out there that suit your business’s needs better

Let’s take a look at how a leading financial giant, HSBC, compares to one of the top ranking challenger banks, Tide.

Table of contents

Tide vs HSBC: business bank account options

Tide and HSBC both provide a free business bank account, which we’ll compare in this post. But first, let’s dive into the other accounts available to businesses. 

Tide business bank accounts

In addition to our free business bank account, we also provide a number of paid plans that give you access to more features that support your growing business.

You can upgrade your Tide account at any time to one of three paid plans:

These plans give you access to company expense cards, free transfers and around-the-clock phone support.

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.

HSBC business bank accounts

HSBC has several business bank accounts available that help you spend less time banking, and more time growing your business. 

The HSBC Kinetic account is free for the first 12 months, then £6.50/month thereafter, and it’s this account that we’ll compare to Tide’s free account further down. 

The other plans offered by HSBC are:

  • Small business banking account (free for the first 12 months, then £8)
  • Business banking account (free for the first 12 months, then £10/month)
  • Charitable bank account (£5/month)

These plans serve a range of business needs and vary in charges, which you can look at more closely from the following price list.

Comparing the free business bank accounts

A clear difference between Tide and most of the large high street banks are the limitations around the free business bank accounts. 

At Tide, our free business bank account remains free for as long as you have it. Whereas with HSBC Kinetic, the first 12 months are free then you have to pay £6.50 a month. 

HSBC also requires your business to have a turnover of £2m or less. At Tide, you can apply for a free account no matter the age or turnover of your business.

Now, let’s compare some account basics:

Feature Tide HSBC
Monthly cost Free Free for 12 months (then £6.50 per month)
ATM withdrawal fee £1 0.6% of the value withdrawn
Fee for electronic payments in/out 20p Free
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)

1.5% of the value deposited – in branch or at the Post Office
Cheque deposits fee Not accepted £1.50 per cheque credits made to your account in branch or at the Post Office. There is a charge in addition to the branch credit charge for the number of cheques paid in at branch.
FSCS protection up to £85k
information correct as of May 2023

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

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

Opening a free business bank account

Opening a Tide business account

You can apply for our free business bank account in a matter of minutes by following three simple steps:

  • Download the Tide app from your app store
  • Provide a valid form of photo ID
  • Take a selfie to verify your identity

You’ll receive your debit card in 2-4 business days. If we require more information from you, for example, proof that your business is trading, your account may take a little longer.

Applying for HSBC Kinetic

Opening a bank account with HSBC typically takes up to 48 hours for everything to be processed. The steps are equally straightforward to follow:

  • Have your mobile phone and proof of identity ready
  • Download the HSBC Kinetic app 
  • Provide information about your business
  • Take a selfie to verify your identity

While it may only take a few minutes to complete this application, there will be additional information required to complete the checks. You can track your application’s progress in the app. 

Feature Tide HSBC
Cost to open Free Free
Monthly cost Free Free for the first 12 months (then £6.50 per month)
Time to open Approximately 1 hour Approximately 48 hours
Card delivery time 2-4 business days Up to 7 days
information correct as of May 2023

Making and receiving electronic payments

At Tide, it’s free to make electronic transfers from one Tide account to another. However, if you’re sending money to (or receiving money from) an external account it will cost 20p per transaction. 

With the HSBC Kinetic account, it’s free to send and receive money between your HSBC bank accounts. For payments and money received from other accounts outside HSBC, it’s also free.

Depositing cash and cheques

Tide accepts cash deposits at Post Office branches and PayPoints, however you’re unable to deposit cheques into your Tide account. 

HSBC Kinetic accepts cash and cheque deposits at any branch, and at the Post Office. You can also deposit cheques digitally using the app, at a charge of 50p per cheque.

Using your card in the UK

Tide and HSBC both offer free UK card transactions, each with a debit card and contactless limit of £100. 

To withdraw cash from an ATM using your Tide card, you’ll be charged £1 per transaction whereas with HSBC, you’ll pay 0.6% of the value withdrawn. 

Both bank providers replace lost or stolen debit cards for free. You can expect to wait 2-4 working days for your new Tide card, and up to 7 working days for your HSBC Kinetic card.

Feature Tide HSBC
Card transaction fee Free Free
Debit card provided free
Contactless limit £100 £100
ATM withdrawal fee £1 0.6% of the value withdrawn
Replacement debit card Free Free
information correct as of May 2023

Using your card abroad

When you use your Tide card abroad, there’s no additional fees to worry about. You’ll simply pay the Mastercard exchange rate. For ATM withdrawals, this remains the same as in the UK and will cost you £1.

At HSBC, you’ll be charged 2.75% of the Sterling payment amount. For withdrawals, there will be 2.75%, plus an additional fee of 1.5%, of the Sterling amount. International payments made by telephone or at an HSBC branch are free.

Tools for managing your money

Tide’s free business account offers up a whole bundle of features. So say goodbye to tedious accounting jobs, and start managing your business finances like a pro: 

  • Schedule payments and keep track of your incomings and outgoings
  • Connect your accounting software directly to your bank account
  • Create, send and track personalised invoices to get paid faster
  • Organise your expenses into categories and never miss a beat
  • Apply for a business loan to cover operational expenses

HSBC Kinetic also equips you with lots of features to help you manage your business finances seamlessly:

  • Categorise your spending and get cashflow insights
  • Apply for an overdraft in-app, credit card or small business loan – subject to eligibility
  • Get discounted accounting software with third-party provider, Ember

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 current account providers if they would recommend their provider to other small and medium-sized enterprises.

Here’s how Tide and HSBC 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: Tide stays free for as long as you have an account

And that’s a wrap. Having compared Tide and HSBC, it’s clear they both have lots to offer their customers, from a free business bank account to a variety of features and services. 

But here’s a few points that we believe gives Tide the competitive edge: 

  1. There’s no expiry date on your free Tide account
    While HSBC Kinetic does offer free business banking, this is limited to the first 12 months. However, with a Tide free business account, there’s no expiry date. Additionally, we don’t restrict our free account to businesses based on their turnover or trading time.
  2. Reader access for all team members
    At Tide, we know how important it is for team members to feel valued and have their autonomy at work. That’s why we’ve enabled read access for all Tide accounts, including the free one, so employees can view transactions easily and securely. That means you won’t have to do it for them – saving you time and helping them to complete finance tasks quickly.
    For the moment, HSBC Kinetic does not provide multi-user access, however, this feature is available with other business accounts.

  1. 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 – you’re all eligible for Tide’s free business account. You choose when and how to grow with us. 

Sources used for this article:


All sources checked May 2023. This 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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