The best business bank accounts for UK businesses 2024

Tilly Michell6 minutes
FinanceBusiness tips
The best business bank accounts for UK businesses 2024
In this article

Choosing a new business bank account is a key decision for any startup. 

The provider you pick will determine the financial infrastructure of your business for years to come, so the pressure is on to find the best business bank account to suit your needs. 

There's lots to consider, including fees, benefits and additional features that can make your life easier as your company scales. 

In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the UK's leading business bank accounts, and help you decide the right option for you. 

But first, let’s explore what a business account is and why you need one.

What is a business bank account?

At a basic level, business bank accounts are not so different from personal ones. You can use them to accept money from customers, and send money out to suppliers and employees. 

But unlike personal accounts, business accounts often come with fees. Including monthly account fees, and transaction fees each time you deposit money into your account, transfer money to another account or use your debit card. 

Airwallex is a free business account. That means we don’t charge monthly account fees or transaction fees, even when you spend abroad. 

These days many business accounts come with additional features and benefits, such as employee cards, expense management, multi-currency capabilities and eCommerce integrations. It’s important to look at these benefits when deciding which account to opt for. 

The best business account for you will be the one that makes it easier and cheaper to manage your finances and optimise your business for growth. 

Do I need a business bank account?

This answer to this question is invariably ‘yes’. 

If you own a limited company, you are legally required to open a business bank account, because limited companies are defined as separate entities in the law with their own financial obligations. If you’re a freelancer or a sole trader, you don't have to open a business bank account, but who wants to waste time manually separating business expenses from personal ones? Particularly when there are several free business bank account options on the market. 

What’s the difference between a Business Account and a Business Bank Account?

The difference between a business account and a business bank account is that the latter is provided by a financial institution that holds a banking licence, commonly known as banks (and building societies in the UK).

A business account generally refers to an account and financial solution provided by a financial institution that does not hold a banking licence but does hold other regulated licences.

Many modern fintechs, like Airwallex or Wise, have opted not to become a bank. Airwallex is able to build a business account service that covers payment collection, treasury, transfers and payouts, invoicing, expense management and cards. 

Can I open a business account (from a FinTech) alongside my business bank account?

Yes. Business bank accounts are great for getting started, borrowing and moving money domestically. Many businesses quickly realise the limitations and fees associated with their business bank account as they grow - especially internationally - and soon opt for fintech providers who offer purpose-built business solutions such as international payments, invoicing, company cards and expense management. Check out SaaS business iTrinity’s experience of leaving their traditional bank.

How to open a business bank account in the UK

It’s easy to open a new business account, or switch your business account if you’re unhappy with your current provider. 

Most banks and FinTechs will allow you to set up a business account online. All you need to do is provide documentation that proves that you are who you say you are. Usually, you will be asked to scan and upload documents as part of the sign up and onboarding process. 

If you are a sole trader or freelancer, you will be asked to provide:

  • Proof of identity, such as a picture of your passport or driving licence. 

  • Proof of address, such as a bill or bank statement.

If you own a limited company you will be asked to provide:

  • Proof of identity for all company directors. 

  • Certificate of incorporation.

  • Memorandum and articles of association. 

After you’ve submitted your documents, the provider will review your application to determine whether or not your business is eligible for their services. This should take no longer than a week.  

Once you get the green light, you will be sent your account details and can begin transferring money into your new account. 

What is the best business bank account?

The best business account for you will depend on the type of business you’re running. A local farm shop will have a different set of needs than an international eCommerce company, for example. 

The important thing is to find a business account that can grow with you, and support your financial processes as you take on more staff and push into new markets. Scroll to see a breakdown of the fees, features and benefits offered by the UK’s leading banks and FinTechs. 

Airwallex business bank account benefits

Airwallex

Account fees

None. No, really. 

Airwallex is a free business account. That means you can open accounts in multiple currencies (both domestic and international) with no monthly account fees. 

Airwallex has built its global infrastructure on local payment networks. That means we don't charge transaction fees to the 110+ countries where we have access to local payment networks; over 90% of all payouts on the Airwallex platform are routed through local payment networks. This means you can use your Airwallex account to collect, hold and send multiple currencies at no or low cost.

The only fee we charge is an FX margin of 0.5 - 1% above the interbank rate when you exchange currencies, a margin that is 80% cheaper than high street banks. 

Features and benefits 

  • Multi-currency account: Open accounts in 23 currencies (including USD, GBP, EUR, AUD and CNY) free of charge. 

  • Bank-beating FX rates: Pay just 0.5 - 1% for currency exchange. That’s 80% cheaper than high street banks.

  • Transfers: Bypass the SWIFT network for fast, free international payments.

  • Borderless Cards: Spend globally in multiple currencies with 0% transaction fees. Reward each of your employees with their own card and empower them to spend independently.

  • Expenses: Upload and approve receipts in a click, set limits on a card level, and track spending in real-time.     

  • Payment Links: Collect payments from customers in a click with unique Payment Links. Airwallex rates 

  • Online payments: Connect Airwallex to your Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce store for cheaper multi-currency settlement.

  • Bill Pay: Upload, approve, pay, and reconcile your domestic and international bills all in the same place.

  • Integrates with Xero and Netsuite for easy bookkeeping. 

  • Secure and protected: Airwallex is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and holds an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence.  

Why choose Airwallex?

Airwallex is built to serve all businesses, but particularly those that operate globally. 

More than a business account, Airwallex is a one-stop solution that can help you increase your profit margins, streamline your financial processes, and tap into new global markets.  

And the best part is you can manage all your finances—from expenses to eCommerce payment collections—in one place. 

The fact that Airwallex integrates with leading eCommerce platforms makes it a great business bank account for eCommerce companies. Plus, our dedicated account managers are always on hand to help with any account queries.

Wise business bank account benefits

Wise

Fees

  • £45 one-time account set up fee. 

  • 2% fee for account funding (top-ups)

  • 4.14 USD or 10 CAD to receive USD and CAD.

  • FX rate: 0.43 - 3.56% above the interbank rate depending on transaction volume.

  • £3 fee for each new card issued.

Features and benefits

  • Suitable for freelancers, sole traders or small businesses.

  • Multi-currency account: Open accounts in 10 currencies. 

  • Invoicing: Create and send invoices from your account.

  • Integrates with Xero and Quickbooks.

  • Employee cards 

Limitations

  • High transaction fees and card fees.

  • High FX rate on some international currencies.

  • No payment gateway or payment link capabilities.

  • No expense management.

  • No dedicated account manager.

Why choose Wise?

Like Airwallex, Wise is a good option for businesses that are looking for a cheaper way to send and receive a limited number of payments across borders on a regular basis. 

However, Wise’s exchange rate and card fees are not as competitive as some providers. Wise also lacks some of the additional features, such as expense management and online payments, that can help startups and eCommerce businesses simplify their financial processes. 

Revolut business bank account benefits

Revolut

Fees

  • £0 - £79+ per month depending on your plan.

  • £0.20 for local transfers and £5 for international transfers once you exceed your plan allowance (for example, for £19 a month, you get 5 no-fee international transfers, and 100 local transfers).

  • FX rate: 0.6% above interbank rate once you exceed your plan allowance. Revolut charges an additional 1% for exchanges made outside market hours.

  • Card fees: If you exceed your plan allowance, you will be charged Revolut's standard FX fees for international transactions.

  • Payment acceptance: 1% + £0.20 to accept UK consumer cards and 2.8% + £0.20 to accept all international and commercial cards.

Features and benefits

  • Suitable for freelancers, sole traders or small businesses with occasional international business.

  • Multi-currency account.

  • Multi-currency card and expense management.

  • Payment gateway and payment links.

  • Integration with WooCommerce, Magento, Xero and Quickbooks.

Limitations

  • Only one International Bank Account Number (IBAN) per account. 

  • Monthly account fees can be high depending on plan.

  • Transaction fees if you exceed your plan allowance.

  • No dedicated account manager.

Why choose Revolut?

Revolut boasts competitive foreign exchange rates and offers solutions that facilitate eCommerce payment collection. 

Revolute offers a multi-currency account, opening up opportunities for companies that trade internationally. However, Revolut does not offer unique international bank account numbers (IBANs) for each currency you trade in. Instead, you will receive a single IBAN for your multi-currency account and will need to set up additional accounts to receive additional IBANs.

Revolut charges monthly account fees for some plan allowances, and also charge transaction fees once you exceed your plan allowance.

Starling business bank account benefits

Starling Bank

Fees

  • £2 per month for EUR accounts and £5 for USD accounts. Domestic GBP accounts are free. 

  • £0.30 - £0.90 per international transfer.

  • FX rate: 0.4% above interbank rate.

  • International card transaction fees in line with MasterCard.

Features and benefits

  • Great for freelancers, sole traders and small businesses with occasional to rare international business.

  • Open EUR, USD and GBP accounts.

  • Automated business spending catagorisation and receipt capture. 

  • Integration with Xero, Quickbooks and FreeAgent

  • Overdraft available.

Limitations

  • High monthly account maintenance fees

  • Only two foreign currency accounts available (USD & EUR).

  • High international transaction fees.

  • No payment gateway or payment link capability. 

  • Account access limited to company directors only.

  • No dedicated account manager.

Why choose Starling?

Starling is a neobank, and is able to offer businesses credit, including an overdraft. Starling’s account fees are relatively cheap compared to traditional banks, and their FX rate is competitive. 

Like Revolut, Starling’s multi-currency account options are limited, and they don’t offer a solution for online payment collection. They also charge international transfer fees, making them a less attractive option for businesses that trade globally.  

Payoneer business bank account benefits

Payoneer

Fees

  • Transaction fee applies: 1% to receive local payments and 3% to receive card paymetns, unless receiving funds from another Payoneer account.

  • Up to 3% transaction fee to send a payment unless paying another Payoneer account.

  • 0.5% fee to move funds between your currency balances.

  • FX rate: 0.5 - 2% above interbank (0.5% only applies if sending to another Payoneer account).

  • 1.8% cross-border fee + 3.5% FX fee.

  • $29.95pa for prepaid MasterCard debit cards.

Features and benefits

  • Great if the majority of your clients are also Payoneer customers.

  • Open accounts in 9 currencies.

  • Marketplace integration with Amazon, eBay, Airbnb and more.

  • Prepaid cards.

  • Invoicing.

  • Integration with Xero and Quickbooks. 

Limitations

  • High domestic and international transaction fees.

  • No payment gateway or payment links.

  • High card fees. No expense management features.

  • No dedicated account manager.

For a full breakdown of Payoneer’s fees, read our Airwallex vs Payoneer comparison article.

Why choose Payoneer?

Like Airwallex, Payoneer is designed with global eCommerce businesses in mind. They offer marketplace integration with leading eCommerce platforms and allow for multi-currency payment collection in eight currencies. 

However, unless you’re collecting or receiving money from another Payoneer account, you will be hit with high transaction fees and a steep FX rate of 2% when sending money abroad. for this reason, Payoneer is not the best business bank account for international payments.

Lloyds business bank account benefits

Lloyds Bank

Fees

  • For a small business GBP account, it's £7 per month after an initial 12 month free period. £24 per year for EUR account and £60 per year for international account.

  • Fixed fee £15-£20, depending on location, for international payment via internet banking.

  • FX rate: 2.6% above the interbank rate when sending £0 - £25,000, and 2.10% when sending £50,000.

  • £1 per £100 transaction fee for cash payments. If over £1,500 a month, £0.90 per £100

  • When using a Lloyds corporate debit card, a 2.75% conversion fee is incurred when making a payment in a currency other than GBP plus a transaction fee of 1.5% for international card payments (unless withdrawing EUR from an ATM).

Features and benefits

  • Overdraft available.

  • Comes linked with debit card.

  • Invoicing.

  • Cashflow forecasting.

  • Receipt tracking.

  • Connects to accounting software.

Limitations

  • High FX rate and international account fees.

  • High conversion fees for non-GBP international corporate card payments.

  • No multi-currency account option (separate foreign currency accounts only).

  • No option for local international payments (SWIFT and SEPA only).

  • Only one debit card per account.

  • No payment gateway or payment links.

  • No dedicated account manager. 

Why choose Lloyds?

Lloyds offers an overdraft, as well as business loans and credit cards. They have recently upgraded their digital offering to include additional benefits such as cashflow forecasting and receipt tracking.

Being a traditional bank, Lloyds’ FX rates are high, and transfer rates will be slower than some providers. Whilst you can open multiple foreign currency accounts with Lloyds, each account you open will come with monthly or annual fees, and you will not be able to manage your funds from a single interface.

Barclays business bank account benefits

Barclays Bank

Fees

  • £8 - £8.50 monthly account fee after an initial 12 month free period.

  • FX rate: 4.83% above interbank rate.

  • 500 domestic payments for free, followed by £0.35 per GBP payment.

  • Up to £0.35 transaction fee for SEPA payments. £15 for international payments + £3 for USD Cover Charge if sending USD to accounts outside of the US. Barclays also passes on their correspondent banking partner's fees to either the sender or the recipient.

  • 2.75% transaction fee for all non-sterling card transactions.

Features and benefits

  • Overdraft available.

  • Comes linked with debit card.

  • Free invoicing and accounting software from FreshBooks.

Limitations

  • High FX rate and account fees.

  • No multi-currency account option (separate foreign currency accounts only).

  • No option for local international payments (SWIFT and SEPA only).

  • Only one debit card per account.

  • No payment gateway, payment links or expense management.

  • No dedicated account manager.

Why choose Barclays?

Barclays offers free invoicing and accounting software in partnership with FreshBooks. You can also access credit through an overdraft facility, credit card or business loan. 

Like all traditional banks, Barclays’ FX rates are high, their transfer rate is slow and they do not offer multi-currency accounts. Unlike some traditional banks, Barclays charges transaction fees for online payments, as well as for cash payments.  

HSBC business bank account benefits

HSBC

Fees

  • £8 - £10 monthly account fee for domestic business account after an initial 12 month free period.

  • £96 - £180 annual fee for international business accounts, depending on small business to corporate plans.

  • FX rate: up to 3.5% above interbank rate.

  • Free domestic payments. £17 for CHAPS payments via internet banking.

  • £17 to make international payments from your account via internet banking.

  • 2.75% for international card transactions.

Features and benefits

  • Overdraft available.

  • Comes linked with a debit card.

  • Connects to accounting software.

Limitations

  • High FX rate and account fees.

  • No multi-currency account option (separate foreign currency accounts only).

  • No option for local international payments (SWIFT and SEPA only).

  • Only one debit card per account.

  • No payment gateway, payment links or expense management.

  • No dedicated account manager.

Why choose HSBC?

HSBC offers financial services including overdraft facilities, credit cards and business loans. 

HSBC charges high FX fees and international card transaction fees, so may not be the best option for businesses that trade in multiple currencies. HSBC does not offer any additional benefits such as expense management or payment links.  

NatWest business bank account benefits

Natwest

Fees

  • FX rate: not transparent. Our calculations indicate 2.35% above interbank rate.

  • £0.35 for electronic transactions. £0.70 per £100 for in-branch transactions. £21 for international transactions.

  • £15 to make international transactions via online banking, except EUR. £1 to collect non-EUR payments below £101, or £7 if above £101.

  • 2.75% for international card transactions.

Features and benefits

  • Overdraft available.

  • Comes linked with a debit card.

  • Free invoicing and accounting software from FreeAgent.

  • Dedicated relationship manager (turnover and eligibility criteria apply).

Limitations

  • High transaction fees and FX fees.

  • No multi-currency account option (separate foreign currency accounts only).

  • No option for local international payments (SWIFT and SEPA only).

  • No payment gateway, payment links or expense management software.

  • Only one debit card per account.

Why choose NatWest?

NatWest offers free invoicing and accounting software though FreeAgent, and a dedicated relationship manager to businesses that meet their turnover criteria. They also offer credit options, including overdraft facilities and business loans. 

NatWest are not transparent about their FX rate, and they charge steep transaction fees for sending a receiving money, as well as high international card transaction fees. Like most traditional banks, they do not offer multi-currency accounts. For this reason, they are not the best option for businesses that trade across borders. 

What’s the best business bank account for eCommerce businesses?

The best business account for eCommerce businesses is Airwallex. 

Our integrations with leading eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Magento, Shopify and Woo(Commerce) mean you can collect online payments from domestic and international customers directly into your Global Account without forced currency conversions or unnecessary fees. 

What about startups and small businesses?

If you’re a startup or small business, you should look for an account that doesn’t charge monthly fees, or penalise you for dropping below a minimum balance.

It’s also a good idea to choose an account that can grow with your business. That way you won’t be forced to switch accounts after a year or two. 

Choosing a provider that offers additional benefits such as expense management, multi-currency options and online payments is also a good idea, so you don’t have to find alternative solutions as your company scales. For a business account that offers all that and more, check out Airwallex.  

How can Airwallex offer free business accounts?

We’ve built our services around the needs of modern businesses that need to operate globally in a fast and efficient way. We’re able to offer agility and cost-efficiency because we think differently about moving money globally. 

How do we think differently? Airwallex was established in 2015 when our founders experienced extortionate FX fees when growing their small business. They’ve built Airwallex to be everything they wished they’d had back then. We’ve built our services to include Global Accounts in major currencies, fast and efficient international transfers that use local payment networks, as well as employee and corporate spending cards, expense management software, accounting integrations and bill payments. 

Sign up for a free Airwallex business account

If you’d like to break free from extortionate fees and clunky financial systems, sign up for a free business account today. 

Send and receive multiple currencies across borders with zero fees, manage all your finances in one place, and grow your business without limits.    

Get the business account built for growth, with Airwallex

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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