In our quest to find the best business bank account alternative we’ve looked at Cashplus, CardOneBanking, and Acorn, but now there’s a new account on the scene courtesy of fintech startup, Tide. Originally this article was an overview of the account highlighting the features and benefits of account at launch. As I’ve tested the account over the years, it has no morphed into a full review of the Tide Business bank account.

What is Tide?

Tide is an alternative ‘bank’ account aimed at small businesses, freelancers, and independents. Think sole traders and small limited companies.
I used to refer to these accounts as being card-based due to the way they work, but in the case of Tide, mobile first, or app-based might be more correct.

In true digital challenger style, the Tide account is based around a smartphone app. And while other popular alternative business accounts also enjoy banking apps they aren’t necessarily as central their proposition.

In Tide’s case, the app is everything. It is the account. You won’t find any traditional online banking though there is an online portal, costly customer service numbers, or frustrating login procedures. The account is run and managed within the app. It offers a web portal, but you’ll need to app to log in. Customer service also comes via the app, though you can of course email too if needed.

How does Tide work?

The beauty of the Tide account is in it’s simplicity. Basically just sign up to Tide here and follow the on screen prompts.  The application process takes less than 5 minutes, and all being well you’ll have your sort code and account number sent to you a few minutes later.

In my initial testing there was a slight issue verifying the ID I used, but I still had the account details within a couple of hours, while the Mastercard came within three working days.

Payments to and from the account can be made immediately, but direct debits can take a few days to setup. Unlike some other digital business accounts, there are no split pools. The money in your account, is in your account. There’s no need to split funds between the account and the card, they are one and the same.

Note: It seems that Tide has rejected some applications from sole traders that have not pre-resgistered with HMRC. Tax rules state that you only need to register within 3 months of starting to trade, but Tide may require this registration before you apply for an account. 

How much does a Tide account cost?

Here’s the real boon. The standard Tide account costs just 20p per transaction. That’s it. Well almost it. There’s a £1 ATM fee, but that’s all.  No monthly cover charges, no hidden fees, just 20p per transaction, and not even on all transactions. If you can receive payments via BACS rather than Faster Payments, then there’s no fee at all.

In addition to the free account Tide also offers three paid accounts Plus, Pro, and Cashback.  Tide Plus costs £9.99 and waives the 20p transaction fee for the first 20 transactions, as well as adding priority support, telephone support, and a 24/7 legal helpline.

Tide Pro is £18.99 a month and is really aimed that business making a high number of individual transactions. In addition to the benefits Plus, Pro offers unlimited transactions i.e. no 20p fee, and an additional expense card.

Tide Cashback is £49.99 a month and is really aimed are larger businesses. It includes three expense cards, 150 free transactions, plus 0.5% cashback on spending.

Most businesses especially side hustles and start ups will be sufficient in the beginning then as the business grows, so too can the account.

What can you do?

You can use the account like you would any standard bank account to make and receive electronic payments, to setup direct debits, and standing orders, to make card payments, and to transfer money.

Additionally, you can also send and manage invoices directly from the app, and use the card abroad at point of sale, or online, without incurring any foreign exchange fees. For the ultra tech savvy, Tide also has an API for hooking up your account data to external services. Integration with accounting favourite Xero is available right out for the box,  FreeAgent integration was implemented in March 2018 which is a great for micro businesses and sole traders that use it send in their tax returns.

One real boon for Tide compared to some other digital challengers is that although Tide offers full FCSA protection for deposits up to £85,000 via it’s partnership with Clearbank.

Like many digital banks and challengers, Tide customers can now pay in cash at Post Office branches, or at PayPoints around the UK. There is a small charge this though of 0.5% when paid in a the former, and 3% when paid in at the latter.

What can’t you do?

Whilst you can now pay in cash over the counter, you can’t receive cheques, nor can you make international payments. And while I loved the app, it is the sole means of accessing and administering the account. That won’t suit everyone, particularly those used to more comprehensive online banking platforms. There is a web-based portal that features the same functionality as the app, but you need the app to access it.

Unfortunately, if you lose or damage your phone, you are stuck. You can email Tide, to get your account frozen and your card cancelled, but you’re locked out of the app and thus your business fiancees until you get a another smartphone. Compare that with other accounts, that offer full online and telephone banking services that can be used in lieu of the app.


  • Instant sign-up (roughly 3 minutes)
  • Low cost
  • No credit checks
  • Pay in cash at the Post Office or PayPoint
  • No foreign exchange fees, commission, or loading
  • App-based
  • Fast customer support (paid accounts)
  • Integration with Xero and FreeAgent
  • Full FCSA deposit protection
  • Works with iZettle, Paypal, Stripe, GoCardless etc…


  • Limited international payments (no IBAN)
  • Totally app based (great for those who live on their mobile, but perhaps not so good for others)
  • Cannot accept cheques (yes, some companies still use them)
  • No account access if you lose your phone
  • Faster Payments are still slow

Who is a Tide bank account for?

Many traditional banks focus on traditional businesses. Those that take cash, send cheques, have a fixed premises, etc.. Tide also covers these businesses but in my opinion is more aimed at the online micro-entrepreneur and micro business crowd with it’s quick account setup and suite of online tools it will cover almost all small business needs, but offers a low cost of entry to those trying out new ideas or going it alone for the first time.

In short a Tide business account is for:

  • Freelancers
  • Micro-entrepreneurs
  • Micro-businesses
  • Side-hussles
  • Self employed
  • Online stores
  • Independent traders etc…

Who a Tide account isn’t for?

Whilst I’ve said above that Tide can cover almost all businesses. In my opinion it might not be a great fit for those relying on Cash. Cash can be paid in over the counter at Paypoints or Post Offices, but those that need to withdraw cash from ATMs on a regular basis will face a £1 for each withdrawal. As such I can’t recommend it for that purpose.

Tide Credit builder

The credit builder is aimed at new companies, or those starting to do business in the UK that may not have had credit before and need to improve their credit history. In some industries this is important as suppliers may offer more favourable credit terms when dealing with businesses with a good history. Or demand payment up front form businesses without.

Tide credit builder helps improve your businesses creditworthiness by offering a structured loan of £240 repayable over 12 months. This is reported to credit referencing agencies (Experian) to help boost your businesses credit score. At the end of the 12 month period the loan is cleared and you get your £240 in repayments back. Tide keeps the interest which is set at 24%. This might seem steep for 12 month loan, but you are effectively paying that £33 for the service, so actually represents decent value. What’s more, loan interest is an allowable expense for tax purposes.

Our verdict – It’s a no-brainer (well, almost)

The Tide account is a welcome alternative to traditional business bank accounts, and even to the usual card based alternatives. It’s the closet to basic business bank account I’ve found, but it’s not for everyone.

It’s simplicity and ease of use, makes it perfect for micro businesses that need a basic account and need it quickly, while the lack of credit checks, and ease of application make it a great proposition for those with a poor credit history. Typically, such users would struggle open a traditional business bank account, and instead turn to the likes of CashPlus or Card One Money. See our article on the top business accounts with no credit check for more on that.

That being said, the account does have some limitations. Although you can now pay in cash, cash-handling businesses (which truth be told are becoming rare), might still prefer a more traditional account, such as a Santander business account.

Similarly, not being able to accept international payments, or cheques (despite the partnership with ClearBank), could also present a problem. Cheques especially, seem to have comeback from the dead since rule changes in 2018 mean that they should clear within a day.

Managing the account solely via an app might put off some, but could be seen as a plus for others. It means quick customer service, and removes the pain of dealing with call centres when replacing cards, or dealing with account issues.

This area of the fintech industry is beginning to get crowded as more challenger banks open up for business, and traditional banks start lifting their game. But, with it’s unique approach, and simple payment structure Tide is step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how it develops as the competition heats up.

If your business fit’s within few accounts limitations, then it’s a no-brainer. At 20p per transaction, it is possibly the most cost effective business bank account around, and depending on your business could work well as a main or even back-up account. In our opinion it makes great sole trader bank account given that there’s no credit check and the barrier to entry is low.

>> Open a Tide account

Who owns Tide?

Before you jump into bed (so to speak) with a new bank, it makes sense to understand a little about its organisational structure and ownership. This is important as protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is own on a per institution basis. For example HSBC owns First Direct that means if you have accounts with both of these, the £85,000 FSCS guarantee is split between them.

Who exactly owns tide then? Tide is a private limited company founded by George Bevis in 2015. Tide has a customer base of nearly 350,000 small and medium-sized business, making up a market share of over 5.5% in the SME sector. Notable investors include Augmentum Fintech, LocalGlobe and The SBI Group, a Japanese-based investor.

Tide has a partnership with Clear Bank providing customers with full FSCS protection on their deposits.



  • Nick Rees

    Front camera has a crack across it and it wont let me take selfie with normal camera, shame everything was going great till then,

    • Carl Michael

      This is one of the problems with these mobile-first accounts. If you have a phone problem you are locked out. Compare that with a traditional account, where you can use telephone banking, or pop into a branch (in the worst case scenario). Still, these are more one-off events.

      We’re currently testing Starling (personal account), and it not only requires a photo of your photo ID, but also that you record a video of yourself saying some kind of daft phrase.

    • Sam

      a Business man with a cracked phone hahaha behave will ya, get yourself a new phone man

  • Simon

    Cheap isn’t always cheerful. Moved to Santander business banking after my Tide app lost its verification (on the same phone BTW) due to Tide’s back end server issue last week and I lost access to my entire business funds.

    Reverification was by taking a picture (I always carry my face) but also needed me to scan a passport into the camera, if I’m away on business in the UK I don’t carry my passport around so when away from home domestically I cant reverify.

    Tide seems experimental and I wasn’t happy with my business being used as a guinea pig so closed my Tide account.
    Santander have amazing customer service, and opened my business banking online in less than an hour, so I’m not sure that Tide claim that they’re beating high street banks with instant accounts really stands TBH.

    Banking is based on trust, and I just don’t trust Tide with my funds.

    • Carl Michael

      This is one the things I point out when talking about these mobile-first accounts (Tide, Monzo, Starling etc…) if you lose your phone, or have some sort of issue you’re stuck. No online banking or telephone banking as a back up. Most even run customer service through the app too. They will get there eventually.

    • Phil Hingle

      Think ill give this company a wide birth. With Banking there has to be a robust system with open lines of communication. Clearly this Bank hides behind an app meaning its accountability is reduced massively.
      Not sure i would want to have an issue and not be able to resolve it within hours. Could be detrimental to business continuity , sorry not for me, ill be looking elswhere

  • Rowan Ling

    The app is full of bugs and if you need to contact customer service – because of the bugs – you have to use the direst of in-app messaging systems and even if you repeatedly ask them to phone you they WILL NOT!
    Signing up to this service will put your business at risk – think lost revenue, unhappy clients and bankruptcy.

    I would rather invest in mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations than give my money to Tide!

    Run before the Tide comes in!

    • Carl Michael

      Harsh words from Rowan, but criticism is how these challengers get better. The recent outage won’t have gone unnoticed either.

      This market space is getting interesting, especially now that CashPlus has announced its application for a full banking licence.

  • Andrew Black

    Interesting development – Has anyone tried using the app from an android emulation on a PC? or a second Mobile?, or is the App locked to a single device for acess to the account?

  • jo

    I am currently finding problems with receiving standing orders . One out of three has succeeded
    Not impressed my first business bank account and think I shall leave

  • Stefan

    I would stay away from Tide. They’re are useless they locking accounts for compliance review purposes. Not only that they do it with YOU knowing it. No warning at all. Funny thing is they don’t know it either! Basically tried to make some payments and couldn’t some error came up. Wrote quickly to helpdesk and she wrote back that they had some issues processing today and I should try again later, obviously wouldn’t work. Following day received a in app message that my account is locked for compliance purposes. Beyond believe how can they do that I don’t know.
    They claim it should take 3-5 working days with regular updates. There are no updates I guess there are few staff to carry out quickly and efficiently the checks.
    Checked reviews on Trustpilot and they’re not good all the bad reviews have same issues like me and some people reporting months of locked account.
    My advise is its a great app based account until they decide to review your account for compliance without letting you know first for as long as they like ( as its stands its way longer than 5 business days, we are at 10 working days and counting).
    I gave up going back to high street bank.

  • Kal

    STAY AWAY all the reviews on Trust Pilot
    They will freeze your account without notice, they say its a compliance issue, which, after you provide all of the details they request (and that takes them takes DAYS ) you are still locked out of your account.
    IF YOUR business relies on this account alone..BE VERY WORRIED
    I contacted the financial ombudsman and sent them ALL my correspondence with this CROOKED set up
    Moved back to high street bank, took extra 3 days but WELL WORTH IT.

  • Jamie

    I’ve banked with Tide for around 9 months now and I think they’re great. I had a bit of an issue whereby I opened a tide account, informed my clients and then switched from a sole trader to a limited company and Tide were unable to change my account from a sole trader to a limited company. I then had to open a new account and email clients another lot of bank details. ( this was 9 months ago so they might be able to do that sort of change now). Tide’s customer service is brilliant, You can’t ring them but you simply message them through the app. When you go to send a message, it advises up to 2 hours for a response providing your message is sent to them between 9:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday, however, whenever I’ve sent them a support message, it’s been answered really quickly even outside of those hours. The only gripe I have with tide is how long payments sometimes take to process. My business is a printing business that relies on clients paying before set deadlines, if they don’t pay before that day’s deadline, their order gets processed the next day. I know faster payments can take up to two hours and maybe I was spoiled banking with Barclays (who tide uses to process their payments) who’s payments came through instantly but with Tide, I’ve sometimes seen it take well over an hour for a payment to show on my business account. I have no doubt that eventually, payments will get to the point where they are shown at the same speed as high street banks, it just took me a while to get used to and had to adjust my customers’ deadlines accordingly. The other great thing about Tide is that you can literally ask their support anything to do with your account or their processes and you will get an answer. A few months ago I asked them about giving colleagues access to the business account and whilst I was told they can’t do that at the moment, it is something they are working on. Colleagues can now have their own cards so I presume it’s only a matter of time before you can give colleagues access to the app. It’s quite refreshing to deal with a bank who answers the question you ask them! As for the not being able to pay in cash, many a time I’ve taken cash from a client, paid it into my high-street current account and then transferred it to my Tide account to tie up with my invoicing (don’t tell Barclays). Sorry for the long comment, and well done if you’ve got this far but in my honest opinion, Tide is the future of business banking – and I’m an ex-banker!

  • Jamie F

    I tried to sign up 4 weeks ago but their system would not pick up the other director, instead it kept showing a resigned director from 6 months ago. I emailed them (as no messenger is available until you sign up) and they did not respond to 2 emails in 12 days. I then stupidly went ahead and signed up with wrong director hoping they could fix it later. I then spent 2 weeks waiting for someone from their sign up team to contact but kept getting told they were experiencing high volumes so there was a delay. I have now have given up and gone to Lloyds instead.

    Who on earth designs a business model like this? Why wouldn’t you hire more staff to facilitate potential growth? This is the worst customer experience I have had for a long time from any industry. Their claims of a sort code in 5 mins are just disingenuous. I cannot see any benefits to their service whatsoever – 120 minute wait for contact by messenger is rubbish, I can ring Lloyds in a couple of minutes and don’t have to type my queries out. All of the high street banks have online signup (Lloyds took 20 mins) and more powerful apps to make banking easy.

    Don’t be fooled by Tide, they are not a challenger bank, they are just a poorly orchestrated front end for a Barclays account.

  • Jamie F

    I left a comment yesterday which was removed criticising my experience with tide.

    It was an honest and measured post, I wonder why you moderated it??????

    I take it this is a sponsored article!

    • Carl Michael

      Hi Jamie, your comment was not removed. We just hadn’t yet approved it. There are plenty of comments here that critise Tide. There are also others that are happy with it.

      When we tested it. The only real hiccups were that the ID checks took a little longer than advertised and reciving faster payments seemed (and still is) a bit slow.

  • BW

    An important negative feature I don’t see mentioned in your article is the £100k cap on the balance in a Tide account. We had an awful experience this week where we received payments that would have taken us over this balance; Tide rejected the payments and returned to sender. They did not notify me, I heard this from the senders. Three days later and £15k is still in the ether. Tide customer service effectively absent, very difficult to get hold of and seemingly only able to say “it’ll turn up”.

    • Carl Michael

      This is true and was an oversight on our part. Will get the article updated. Customer service via the app can take some time, but has always provided an answer in my tests.

  • Kevin James

    With the only means of contact a phone app how would I get bank statements for my accountant to do my tax returns?

  • Jimmy

    This bank is a nightmare. First stole my money and refused to refund my money to my account. I did send a transfer trough transferwise which I’ve canceled so the money have been refunded into my account immediately. But tide don’t credit back my money I am writing in the secure channel tone of messages (this is the only way of contacting tide) and no body reply to my questions. I’ve been assured from transferwise that the money have been refunded and they supplied me with a copy of the refunded receipt. This is a faster payment transfer which is taking tide 3 days to transfer and still not in my account, there is lack of communication with this bank this is a joke. Run away from this bank they still your money and no respond from them . I am closing this account immediately and moving to a real bank.

  • Phil Doherty

    I’m struggling to open an account with them. They want proof that I am a sole trader but my UTR does not satisfy them, nor the fact I am VAT registered nor the fact I’ve been trading for three months (surely if I’m not a limited company but I’m trading, then by definition I’m a sole trader?!) As far as I can ascertain HMRC won’t send any confirmation of registration as a sole trader.

  • KazzySteve

    Tide are a nightmare, the worst bank I have ever banked with.
    There is no inbound customer service phone number, you are forced to message people via an app on a mobile pone an d wait until it suits them to reply. When they do reply they fob you off with feeble excuses and when you ask them to have a manager phone you they try to avoid this and continue chatting to no avail by way of any satisfactory resolution. The conversation is like talking with a robot which says the same thing over and over and you are into a revolving door conversation getting nowhere fast.
    You email them and no reply at all sometimes. Then more robotic dialogue occurs and you get nowhere there.
    I tried to make a payment to a mortgage company via the phone app and it asked me to log into my account on the app to approve the payment, which on this occasion I did at 11.30 am on 31st October 2019, it was a nightmare trying to find out how you approved the payment and as if that wasn’t challenging enough for a non-tech person like me nearing pension age, I received a message at 3.15 pm the same afternoon asking me to log into the phone app to approve the same payment, it was the last day I could have paid the mortgage so not wanting to incur late payment charges from the mortgage company, I logged in in a panic fearing that the payment would be too late in the day and approved the payment again, To my horror my account had been debited twice for £880 to the mortgage company leaving me unable to pay the phone and internet bill to keep my phone on which I need to run my business. I tried messaging Tide and emailing them I was getting no reply so tried to look for a phone number for them – none was to be found.
    Finally this foreign man sounding like a robot, saying that he could not help to claw back the money as it had already left my account twice and he advised I contact the mortgage company which I had to do against medical advice since abuse from them in the past caused me a heart attack last year. They told me that that it was too late in the day to send a payment back and that it would be done the next day (Friday 1st November 2019).
    I got up to find that the money had not come back to my Tide account so spend all day trying to sort this out with the mortgage company who assured me that it had been sent back. Then it transpired that the account number they had sent it back to was not mine. I asked for the account number and sort code of the account it was sent back to and then went back to more useless dialogue with Tide via the app on my phone until finally at 5 pm someone calling himself a manager called me from Tide and confirmed that the account number that the money had been paid back to was their holding account and he refused to pay me back the 2nd payment of £880 refunded by my mortgage company until I had proof from the mortgage company that they sent it, so I was left with no way to stay in business threats of my phone being disconnected over the weekend and my power being cut off, as I am just out of hospital after Cancer and against medical advice back at work trying to earn enough money to keep the power and phone on and pay bills and my mortgage, I told Tide this and that I had no money for food without that money being given back to me immediately, but the arrogant man I spoke to calling himself Stefan was not budging and like a parrot kept repeating his insistence that unless I prove that my mortgage company sent the payment he will to pay me back what is mine.
    My advice is steer clear of this tacky despicable lot of con men, who have no respect for their customers, and are downright rude and arrogant and bank elsewhere, you cannot trust Tide and I will never bank with them again they are diabolical and not fit for purpose. The fault was in their app and they refused to resolve this satisfactorily so I am writing this to warn people not to bank with Tide unless you want to risk the same abuse and disrespect.
    I heard that they are part of Mastercard and Barclays bank and Barclays are a disgrace and also cannot be trusted, they ripped me off for thousands of pounds some years ago and had I known that Tide was part of them I would never have banked with them.
    Tide’s web site at the time of writing this review states that they have partnered with Irwin Mitchel Solicitors to offer a legal help line but no phone number for this line is on their site and so I phoned Irwin Mitchel and they were disgusted and going to raise this concern with them. Tide will drag Irwin Mitchell down with them.
    Tide is the worst bank to bank with. Don’t fall into the trap I did please.

  • jago peters

    Ive been with tide for a little over two months without any problems, A++++

  • Heather

    Wow. Sitting here trying to work out if I’ve been jibbed or not.

    Payment sent from client for over £5k. It’s not arrived.
    I contacted Tide Support via their app. I’ve been advised to progress my concern, I needed to prove the payment was made with a screengrab from the client’s bank account. Luckily the client was understanding and mortified that I haven’t been paid.

    Tide has escalated this to their ‘Finance Partner’ for investigation. Woah. Finance partner? So I’m not banking directly with Tide?

    I asked what the SLA for a response:
    I’m afraid that I cannot provide you with an exact time-frame in regards to our payments team response. I will tag this as an urgent case and push it as fast as possible for you!

    Ok. If I reply on another business or partner for support – I create an SLA – A service level agreement, where we all know who needs to do what and when by.

    Once I receive this payment – I’m closing the account.

    The Tide marketing campaign which is spanning Europe is not going to be worth anything if you keep losing people’s money and providing inadequate service.

    Update: I’ve had no news in 4 hours – only, we’re looking into this.
    I asked who I complained to, or as it’s a third part ho has my funds, do I complain about them via FSA…

    Their response:
    Tide’s financial services are provided by Prepaid Solutions (PPS), an FCA regulated company that operates with an e-money license. Our member’s funds are in a ring-fenced safeguarding account that is fully protected against risk and reinvestment. As a result it does not require FSCS protection.

    So if you’re reading this thinking of opening a TIDE account – DON’T. They aren’t bothered about customer service, or transparency OR TRUST. DON’T open a TIDE account.

  • Robin dunn

    Purely awful experience. Customer support is almost non-existant. 2 weeks down the line and I can’t get access to my money

  • Lijo Jose

    Pros: Easy to set up

    Cons: Entirely dysfunctional team and here’s why:

    1. Extremely badly managed company. If you’re not careful, you and your money will be stuck here. The only card we use on this account stopped working and it’s been weeks. I’ve messaged them over 10 times, with 2 responses back (weeks later) and no resolution yet to what’s a simple case of checking their email and reactivating the card. Thankfully I chose only to keep a minimal balance in this account.

    2. There’s literally no one to speak to. The automated response will promise contact in ‘hours’, in reality this will be days, and in one of my cases, weeks!

    3. It looks like they will delay your account’s cancellation when you request it. I’ll update this review in a few weeks on this point.

    4. They know completely well how shambolic their service level is. Responses that are late by days and weeks often sound arrogant, let alone apologetic or even sincere. They read your messages but just choose to ignore them. Considering these are simple requests to get basic account functionalities working, I wonder how they treat other customers who may have more serious problems accessing their accounts.

    5. The ‘easy to setup’ card is a trap. We wasted time, money, energy, and most of all reputation with suppliers who couldn’t be paid on time because of their faulty service.

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