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Which bank has the best business bank account?

6-minute read

Simply Business

20 April 2022

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A survey of 17,280 small business banking customers carried out between January and December 2021 ranks 14 banks. Which bank has the best business bank account?

Consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC conducts a regular independent survey for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In this survey, people with a business bank account are asked how likely they are to recommend their provider.

We’ve used the latest survey to list the best business banks, allowing you to compare the business accounts offered by the top providers.

Which is the best bank for a business account?

Respondents are asked about their provider’s:

  • overall service quality
  • online and mobile banking services
  • small business overdraft and loan services
  • relationship and account management
  • service in branches and business centres

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BVA BDRC say the results show “the proportion of customers of each provider who said they were ‘extremely likely’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend each service” to other SMEs.

The best business bank based on overall service quality

Ranking

Bank

Percentage of customers who would recommend

Previous ranking

1.

Starling Bank

86 per cent

N/A

2.

Handelsbanken

75 per cent

1 (-1)

3.

Metro Bank

68 per cent

2 (-1)

4.

Santander

61 per cent

3 (-1)

5.

Barclays

58 per cent

4 (-1)

Nine other banks round out the rest of the ranking:

  • Lloyds Bank (56 per cent)
  • NatWest (56 per cent)
  • TSB (53 per cent)
  • Bank of Scotland (53 per cent)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (50 per cent)
  • HSBC UK (48 per cent)
  • Virgin Money (47 per cent)
  • The Co-operative Bank (45 per cent)
  • Allied Irish Bank (40 per cent)

The best business bank based on online and mobile banking services

Ranking

Bank

Percentage of customers who would recommend

Previous ranking

1.

Starling Bank

88 per cent

N/A

2.

Metro Bank

72 per cent

3 (+1)

3.

Barclays

71 per cent

1 (-2)

4.

Santander

70 per cent

= 4

= 5.

NatWest

69 per cent

2 (-3)

= 5.

Lloyds Bank

69 per cent

= 4 (-1)

Here’s where the other banks placed:

  • Royal Bank of Scotland (66 per cent)
  • Bank of Scotland (65 per cent)
  • HSBC UK (61 per cent)
  • TSB (61 per cent)
  • Virgin Money (56 per cent)
  • Handelsbanken (56 per cent)
  • Allied Irish Bank (42 per cent)
  • The Co-operative Bank (33 per cent)

The best business bank based on overdraft and loan services

Ranking

Bank

Percentage of customers who would recommend

Previous ranking

1.

Starling Bank

84 per cent

N/A

2.

Handelsbanken

70 per cent

1 (-1)

= 3.

Santander

67 per cent

4 (+1)

= 3.

Metro Bank

67 per cent

2 (-1)

5.

Bank of Scotland

59 per cent

= 7 (+2)

Here are the results for the remaining nine banks:

  • Lloyds Bank (58 per cent)
  • Barclays (58 per cent)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (57 per cent)
  • Virgin Money (57 per cent)
  • NatWest (54 per cent)
  • HSBC UK (54 per cent)
  • Allied Irish Bank (54 per cent)
  • The Co-operative Bank (47 per cent)

The best business bank based on relationship and account management

Ranking

Bank

Percentage of customers who would recommend

Previous ranking

1.

Handelsbanken

84 per cent

1

2.

Starling Bank

78 per cent

N/A

3.

Metro Bank

66 per cent

3

4.

Santander

61 per cent

2 (-2)

= 5.

Barclays

59 per cent

= 6 (+1)

= 5.

Lloyds Bank

59 per cent

= 9 (+4)

This is how the rest of the banks fared:

  • NatWest (57 per cent)
  • TSB (55 per cent)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (54 per cent)
  • Virgin Money (50 per cent)
  • Bank of Scotland (50 per cent)
  • Allied Irish Bank (50 per cent)
  • HSBC UK (49 per cent)
  • The Co-operative Bank (44 per cent)

The best business bank based on service in branches and business centres

Ranking

Bank

Percentage of customers who would recommend

Previous ranking

1.

Metro Bank

74 per cent

1

2.

Handelsbanken

66 per cent

2

3.

Santander

58 per cent

7 (+4)

= 4.

Lloyds Bank

57 per cent

= 3 (-1)

= 4.

Bank of Scotland

57 per cent

= 3 (-1)

Here's how the other eight banks ranked:

  • TSB (55 per cent)
  • Virgin Money (50 per cent)
  • Barclays (49 per cent)
  • NatWest (48 per cent)
  • HSBC UK (47 per cent)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (43 per cent)
  • The Co-operative Bank (40 per cent)
  • Allied Irish Bank (32 per cent)

*Starling Bank wasn't included in this category because it doesn't offer in-branch services

Compare business bank accounts from the top providers

Here are more details on the products themselves, letting you compare business bank accounts from the top providers.

Starling Bank: best bank for business account

A new entrant to the survey, challenger bank Starling topped the rankings for overall service quality, overdraft services, and online banking.

Starling Bank business account holders pay no monthly fees or UK payment charges and get access to free 24/7 UK support.

The account is available to all business types and sizes, offering benefits including integration with a range of software solutions, FSCS protection, and free withdrawals in the UK and abroad.

Starling’s business customers can also pay for extra services, such as:

  • The Business Toolkit – for help with bookkeeping and tax returns
  • Euro business account – allowing you to exchange and hold euros
  • US dollar business account – allowing you to use dollars without needing an extra card

Handelsbanken: best business account for relationship management

Handelsbanken came top in the survey for relationship management and account management, and was ranked second for overall service, in-branch service, and overdraft services.

It calls itself a local relationship bank, where each branch works as a local business. Handelsbanken say this helps them better understand their customers, the local market, and the community.

The bank offers a direct line to an account manager and team at your local branch, as well as current accounts in a range of currencies, and overdrafts (subject to status).

There aren’t any details about fees on their website, so you’ll need to get in touch with your local branch to find out what fees they might charge your business.

Metro Bank: best business account for branch and business centre service

Metro Bank came third for overall service quality, but top for service in branches and business centres and second for online banking.

Its USP is that its branches are open outside of usual working hours, seven days a week.

To open a business bank account with Metro Bank, you need to have an annual turnover or balance sheet of up to £2 million. There’s further eligibility criteria around business owners being UK residents.

When it comes to fees, there’s no monthly charge for daily balances above £6,000. If your daily balance ends at below £6,000 in the month, you'll pay the monthly fee of £6.

You'll also get 30 free UK transactions each month, but if you exceed this limit, a fee kicks in at 30p for each transaction (balances below £6,000 don’t get the free transactions however).

Santander: business bank account for startups

Santander business banking came fourth in the survey for overall service quality and third for both in-branch and overdraft services. It offers free and discounted banking for startups, and two business bank accounts.

The Business Current Account offers:

  • 18 months of fee-free banking for startups (the standard monthly fee is £7.50)
  • an arranged overdraft with an interest rate at 10 per cent EAR (variable) and an annual fee of 1 per cent of the agreed overdraft
  • standard day-to-day banking with access online, at Santander ATMs, and Post Office branches

The 123 Current Account offers:

  • up to £300 cashback each year (the rate of cashback depends on how much money is paid into your account)
  • monthly interest of 0.10 per cent on credit balances
  • £5 monthly fee for startups for 18 months and switchers for 12 months (with a £12.50 monthly standard fee)

Barclays: accounts for different-sized business

Barclays, which came fifth in the overall rankings and third mobile banking services, has specialised products for businesses of different sizes.

  • the start-up business account is free for the first 12 months and you get access to Barclays’ Business Direct team, which offers support on growing your business
  • the business account for turnover up to £400,000 is for established business – there are two price plans depending on whether you use mixed payments or electronic payments only (with a £6 and £6.50 monthly fee respectively)
  • the business account for £400,000-£6.5 million turnover is for larger businesses, with access to a team of local relationship managers

What’s the best business account from other banks?

Keen to try a new way of banking? “Challenger” and digital banks are becoming more and more mainstream, and often make entrepreneurship and small business management part of their core offering.

A challenger bank is usually a smaller retail bank, set up with the aim of competing with large, long-established national banks like the ones mentioned above.

There’s been a rise in the popularity of online-only and mobile-first banks in recent years and it’s interesting to note that Starling Bank topped the overall rankings as well as two sub-categories.

Here are two more challenger banks you could take a look at for your business:

  • Tide has a dedicated mobile-first business current account with three different price plans, depending on your needs – from free to £49.99 a month
  • Coconut is a business-only bank, which lets you connect all your accounts and card to the app to see everything easily, or take out a current account directly

There’s also been a rise in the number of sustainable banks, such as Triodos, which only finances projects and organisations that have a positive impact on society, culture, and the environment.

Whichever bank you choose, it’s important to research all of your options carefully and decide what’s best for you. Please only use this article as a guide, as part of your research.

Want to find out more about small business finance? Read our guides on the best accounting software, the best invoice apps, and bookkeeping tips.

How do you rate your business bank account? Let us know in the comments below.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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