Compare UK business bank accounts
- •Compare business bank accounts in the UK
- •What is a multi-currency business account?
- •What fees are associated with business bank accounts?
- •Compare business bank account fees
- •Do I need a business account?
- •What do I need to set up a business account?
- •How to choose a business account
- •Airwallex business account benefits
Before committing to a business bank account it’s important that you do your research and compare the best accounts on the market. Whether you’re the founder of a startup looking for the best financial options for your growing business or part of an established company that’s considering switching to a better provider.
In this article, we’ll compare the best business bank accounts on price, FX rates, customer support and benefits. We believe Airwallex offers businesses the best and most cost-effective global financial experience. But we’re biased, so we’ll let you decide!
Compare business bank accounts in the UK
Use our table to compare the business account benefits offered by some of the UK's leading banks and FinTechs.
*FX margin in addition to the interbank rate.
Sources checked in 2021. We have compared Airwallex's pricing structure with standard pricing published by competitors. Revolut has a monthly subscription fee of £0 - £100. Wise has a one-time set-up fee of £16. 'International card fees' refers to non-GBP card spend.
Read our rundown of the best business bank accounts in the UK to learn more.
What is a multi-currency business account?
A multi-currency business account (sometimes called a global business account) allows you to receive, hold and send funds in several currencies. Unlike a standard account, which will auto-convert funds in and out of your home currency, charging you fees each way.
Multi-currency accounts are useful for businesses with international customers, suppliers and partners, as they allow you to accept and send foreign-currency payments without incurring unnecessary FX fees.
Another key benefit of a multi-currency account is that it allows you to manage all your money in one place, rather than opening a separate account for each currency you trade in.
If your business makes regular international payments, your best option is a multi-currency business bank account.
What fees are associated with business bank accounts?
Unlike personal bank accounts, many business account providers charge fees for managing your money. These can include monthly account fees, transaction fees for receiving and sending money to and from your account, and card fees.
Account fees are generally charged on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, while additional transaction fees are levied as a percentage of each transaction value.
Airwallex doesn’t charge account or transaction fees, even on international payments. The only fee we charge is a small FX margin of 0.5 - 1%, which is 80% cheaper than FX fees charged by high street banks in the UK.
Compare business bank account fees
Some business account providers bury their fees in the small print, making it harder for you to find the best deal for your business.
To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here’s a breakdown of the fees you can expect to pay when you open a business account with the UK's leading providers.
Airwallex is a free business bank account. That means you can open accounts in multiple currencies (both domestic and international) with no monthly account fees.
We charge zero transaction fees on both domestic and international transactions.
Airwallex allows you to open accounts in 11 currencies (including USD, GBP, EUR, AUD and CNY) free of charge. That means you can receive payments in multiple currencies into your account without auto-converting to GBP, saving you money.
We charge an FX margin of 0.5 - 1% above the interbank rate.
We do not charge domestic or international card fees, and allow you to access as many virtual and physical Borderless Cards as you need for free.
Airwallex Borderless Cards allow you to spend in multiple currencies directly from your Global Account and avoid FX fees.
Wise does not charge monthly account fees, but they do charge a £16 one-time account setup fee.
Wise charges a monthly fee of 0.07% to hold more than €30,000 in your account. This accrues daily.
It’s free to send money to another Wise account. For all other transactions, there is a fixed fee in addition to their FX rate. The fixed fee varies between £0.20 - £4.64 depending on the currency you are sending.
Wise allows you to open foreign currency accounts in 10 currencies.
The Wise FX rate is 0.33 - 3.56% above the interbank rate, depending on the currency you are converting.
Wise charges transaction fees on their multi-currency card, in addition to their FX fees. The fixed fee varies between £0.20 - £4.40 depending on the currency you are spending in.
Wise also charges a fee of £5 for each new card issued.
Revolut charges account fees between £0 and £100+ per month depending on your plan. The type of plan you choose will determine the amount you pay per transaction for sending and receiving money.
Revolut transaction fees are dependent on your plan.
If you exceed your plan allowance, you will be charged £0.20 for local transfers and £3 for international transfers.
Revolut offers a multi-currency account allowing you to receive and hold multiple currencies without converting funds to your home currency.
However, Revolut does not offer unique international bank account numbers (IBANs) for each currency. Instead, you will receive a single IBAN for your multi-currency account.
Revolut’s FX rate is 0.4% above the interbank rate once you exceed your plan allowance.
If you exceed your plan allowance, you will be charged Revolut's standard FX fees.
Starling does not charge a monthly fee for their domestic GBP account. However they do charge a fee of £2 per month for their Euro business accounts and £5 per month for their USD business account.
Starling won’t charge you to send or receive money from your Sterling account in the UK. But they do charge £20 for CHAPS payments. Starling also charge international transaction fees, which vary depending on the currency and country. The bank charges £5.50 for SWIFT transactions.
Starling allows UK business customers to open a Sterling, Euro and USD currency account.
For all other currencies that you collect into your account, you will be charged an automatic conversion fee of 2%.
Starling charges 0.4% above the interbank rate for currency exchange, plus a local fee for each currency between £0.30 and £0.90.
They charge £5.50 for SWIFT transactions.
Starling does not charge domestic card fees. But payments made in a foreign currency will be subject to MasterCard’s exchange rate.
Payoneer does not charge account fees.
Payoneer offers free transactions to and from other Payoneer accounts. For all other transactions, they charge a fee.
Payoneer charges a 2% fee for paying out, and a 1 - 3% fee for receiving money into your account. They also charge a fee for withdrawing money into an alternative account.
Payoneer allows businesses to open accounts in 8 currencies.
Payoneer charges 0.5 - 2% above the mid-market rate for currency exchange. The 0.5% rate applies only if you are transferring money to another Payoneer account. For all other transfers, the higher FX rate applies.
Payoneer charges an annual fee of $29.95 for their prepaid MasterCard debit cards. They also charge a range of additional fees for card activation, ATM withdrawal and loading the card with money.
For a full breakdown of Payoneer’s fees, read our Airwallex vs Payoneer comparison article.
The Lloyds business bank account costs £7 a month, if it's a domestic Sterling account.
For Euro accounts, they charge an annual fee of £24 and for other foreign currency accounts they charge £60 per year.
Lloyds Bank offers free electronic payments, but charges £1 per £100 for cash payments.
Lloyds Bank doesn’t offer multi-currency account options to businesses. You have the option to open separate foreign currency accounts, but each account will accrue fees separately.
Lloyds Bank charges an FX margin of 2.6% above the interbank rate for payments under £25,000.
For payments between £25,000 and £1,000,000, Lloyds charge between 0.75 - 2.6%
For non-Sterling cash withdrawals, Lloyds charges 2.75% of the transaction value plus a transaction fee of 1.5%.
The Barclays business bank account costs £8 or £8.50 per month depending on your plan.
Barclays offer two plans: Mixed Payments and e-Payments. If you are on the Mixed Payments plan, Barclays charge £0.35 for electronic payments and £0.90 per £100 for cash payments in or out of your account.
If you are on the e-Payments plan, electronic payments are free but cash payments are £1.50 per £100.
Barclays does not have a multi-currency account option for businesses. You can open separate foreign currency accounts for each currency that you trade in, but each account will be managed separately and come with separate monthly fees.
The Barclays FX rate is 2.6 - 2.82% above the interbank rate.
Barclays charges a 2.75% transaction fee for non-sterling card transactions.
The HSBC business bank account costs £5 - £8 per month depending on the type of account. The lower £5 charge is reserved for Charitable Bank Accounts.
HSBC charges a 1.5% + £1.50 transaction fee for paying money into your account via cash or cheque in-branch or in the Post Office.
Electronic BACS transactions in and out of your account are free, but payments made over the phone cost £15 per payment. HSBC charges £17 for online CHAPS payments and up to £30 for CHAPS payments made over the telephone.
The bank also charges fees for cash withdrawals, bulk withdrawals and cheque services.
HSBC does not have a multi-currency account option for businesses. You can open separate foreign currency accounts with HSBC to collect additional currencies such as Euros and USD.
HSBC’s FX rate is up to 3.5%.
HSBC charges 0.6% + 25p for domestic ATM withdrawals, or 0.4% if you have a Charitable Bank Account.
For international debit card transactions, they charge 2.75% of the converted amount.
NatWest does not charge monthly account fees.
NatWest charges £0.35 per transaction for online or digital transactions in or out of your business account.
They charge £0.70 per £100 for in-branch transactions in or out of your account, plus a £0.70 cheque or cash handling fee.
NatWest also charge fees for BACS and CHAPS payments.
The NatWest business bank account does not come with a multi-currency option. You can open separate foreign currency accounts, but each account will be managed separately.
NatWest are not transparent about their FX margin. The margin they apply depends on the amount you wish to trade.
NatWest charges a 2.75% transaction fee for non-sterling transactions.
Do I need a business account?
Limited companies in the UK are legally required to have their own business account because they are a separate legal entity with their own financial obligations.
Sole traders and freelancers can manage their finances from a personal bank account, but many choose not to because manually separating business expenses from personal ones can make tax assessment a headache.
Business accounts also offer benefits that personal accounts do not. These include:
Higher daily spend limits, which are useful when you need to purchase equipment or pay suppliers.
The ability to accept credit and debit card payments from customers.
The chance to build up a good credit rating for your business.
Greater access to loans and credit, including government-backed loan schemes such as the Recovery Loan scheme (RLs), standard business loans, and credit cards.
What do I need to set up a business account?
Setting up a business account is now easier than ever. Gone are the days when you had to go in-person to a bank branch, most providers will allow you to do everything online.
All business account providers will ask for some documentation before setting up your account. This is so they can check that you are who you say you are.
Sole traders will be asked to provide:
Proof of identity, such as a picture of your passport or driving license.
Proof of address, such as a bill or bank statement.
Limited companies will be asked to provide:
Proof of identity for all company directors.
Certificate of incorporation.
Memorandum and articles of association.
Once you’ve submitted your documentation, your provider will look it over and assess your eligibility before setting up your account. This process should take no more than a week.
How to choose a business account
The right account for your business will depend on your individual needs. Here are a few things to consider before deciding which provider to go for.
Account fees: some providers offer good introductory rates, then hike their fees up after a year. If your chosen provider does charge account fees, make sure you read the small print.
FX rates: challenger banks and FinTechs tend to offer a better currency exchange rate than traditional banks. Businesses that deal with multiple currencies can save a lot by choosing a provider with a competitive FX rate.
Multi-currency options: make sure your account can hold the currencies you trade in. That way you won’t be forced to pay unnecessary FX fees when accepting and sending payments abroad.
Cards: look into the card fees and find out how many cards you are allowed per account. Some providers will limit you to just one card, or charge fees for each new card issued. Others will allow you to offer your employees their own virtual or physical card, making expense management easier.
Online banking: whilst most providers offer online banking as standard, it’s worth researching the usability of the platform. Does the platform make it easy to view your incoming revenue and outgoing expenses across channels and currencies? Does it sync with accounting software? Does it include additional features such as instant payment links?
Customer service: if you have a question about your account, you want it answered pretty sharpish. This is your money we’re talking about after all. Choosing a provider that offers a good level of customer service can alleviate a lot of stress and worry later down the line.
Airwallex business account benefits
Our FX margin is 80% cheaper than high street banks, making Airwallex a great option for companies that send and receive money abroad.
Multi-currency account: receive, hold and send multiple currencies from your account with no forced conversions. Avoid FX fees when accepting payment from international customers and use your multi-currency balance to pay suppliers with zero fees.
Low FX rates: we charge just 0.5 - 1% above the interbank rate for international money transfer. That’s 80% cheaper than high street banks.
Borderless cards: use our virtual and physical cards to pay for subscriptions, travel and everyday business expenses at home and abroad with 0% transaction fees. Reward each of your employees with their own card and track spending in the app.
Payment links: create multi-currency payment links for your customers in a click. Allow them to pay in their chosen currency with no forced conversions.
Intuitive online platform: manage all your money in one place, track revenue and expenditure across currencies, and switch easily between your currency balances.
Dedicated Account Manager: no more waiting in call queues or talking to chat bots. Your dedicated Airwallex Account Manager will always be on hand to answer questions about your account.
Xero integration: make bookkeeping a breeze with our seamless accounting software integration.
If you’re interested in setting up a free Airwallex business account, sign up today or click below to watch a 3-minute demo.
Related article: How to switch your business bank account in the UK
Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.
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