The Two Minute Review
Mettle is a bold attempt by NatWest to disrupt the business banking industry. Consumers love its app and it comes with loads of features a solo trader or small business would want, resulting in an admirable score of 66%.
- 📱 Great digital experience.
- 📈 Integration with software and free FreeAgent software.
- 🙂 Straightforward to open.
- 💰 No fees.
- 🏦 No branches (though customer support is good).
- 💸 Not FSCS protected.
- 🌎 No international transfers.
- 💳 Can’t add a second cardholder.
- 💷 No overdrafts or credit facilities.
What The Experts Say
“Mettle is an interesting digital play by parent company NatWest.”
“If you are a sole trader or small limited company, a Mettle business account can offer you an easy way to manage your business finances…It is important to remember, however, that your money is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)”
“(M)ettle is a very capable small business account”
What Users Say
Mettle has a Trustpilot rating of 4.6 but here at The Grade we like to dig a bit further.
When you exclude reviews the company has itself invited and look just at organic reviews, the average score is actually 3. This is an excellent score. For comparison Starling bank scores 2.1 on the same methodology.
At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 55 reviews which gave Mettle bank an average score of 4.6 out of 5.
Mettle in a Nutshell
Mettle is a UK-based digital bank that offers business current accounts to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed individuals. It was launched by NatWest Bank in 2019 as a standalone subsidiary.
Mettle provides a range of banking services, including a free business current account, invoicing and bookkeeping tools, payment processing, and cash flow forecasting. The account can be opened in minutes through the Mettle mobile app, and there are no monthly fees or charges for everyday banking transactions.
Mettle is designed to be simple and user-friendly, with features such as real-time notifications, instant payments, and budget tracking. It also integrates with popular accounting software such as Xero and FreeAgent.
Mettle aims to help small businesses and freelancers manage their finances more efficiently, and its digital-first approach allows customers to access banking services from anywhere, at any time.
Mettle prides itself on being totally free from both monthly charges and transaction fees.
Opening a Mettle Account
In order to open a Mettle account you need to meet the following criteria:
- Your business must be registered in the UK.
- You must be resident in the UK and have a UK phone number.
- You and any Person of Significant Control in your business need to be over 18.
- You need to pay tax in the UK only.
There is also a limit on the account size you can have. For a sole trader this is £50,000 and for a limited company, this is £100,000.
Clubs, societies, trusts, charities and publicly listed companies amongst others are not eligible. Your business also cannot concern gambling, alcohol or tobacco manufacturing or the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Full restrictions can be found here.
If you meet the criteria though you’re good to go ahead and download the Mettle App from the Google Play Store or App Store and start the application process. You will be asked to submit:
- Photo ID (e.g. driving licence, passport).
- A short video message. This is used to confirm you match the person on your photo ID.
- The names of people who own your company or have significant control.
You may also be asked to submit proof of address (e.g. council tax bill, utility bill) or proof of trading (e.g. a copy of your latest accounts or tax return, a live website or social media account or a utility bill in your trading name).
You may also be asked for an in-person chat via the app to talk about the details of your business.
Note: A soft credit check will be carried out to verify you are who you say you are. However, this does not affect your credit score.
What Does The Account Offer?
So the big plus is that you get a free account when business banks have traditionally come with a monthly fee and some “hidden” transaction fees. On top of this, you get some nice bells and whistles such as:
- A free prepaid debit card.
- Free cash deposit at the PayPoints and the Post Office (up to £500 a time and up to a weekly limit of £7,500). If you have a cash-based business this may at times be a little restrictive. However, often challenger digital banks have the same issue (see comparison table below).
- FreeAgent accounting software (this is usually £145 + VAT a year). The account also integrates with Xero and Quickbooks.
- The ability to create and send invoices (with your own company logo on customisable invoice templates) directly from the app. It will then notify you when these invoices have been paid.
- Bookkeeping features such as categorising incoming transactions and payments.
- The ability to add receipts to transactions and to export your expense data.
- Money pots: This feature allows you to set up separate savings accounts away from your main spending account. These can be labelled with what you are saving for, e.g. “new van” or “taxes”, and are a useful way to segment your finances.
- Ability to schedule payments.
- Customer support via telephone, the app or email.
Features We Don’t Like
Those thinking NatWest’s backing will mean they can rock up a branch will get a rude awakening. NatWest won’t provide in-branch services to Mettle customers.
Mettle also doesn’t provide credit facilities or access to government-backed loans. This is because they’re not actually a bank but offer e-money through Prepay Solutions (PPS).
Weirdly, there isn’t the option to add second cardholders either though this is apparently changing in the future.
Lastly, you should perhaps steer away from Mettle if you run an international business. There simply isn’t the ability to make international transfers of money or pay in foreign cheques.
How Good is the App and Digital Banking?
The app is really intuitive and has an uncluttered design that has won it lots of positive reviews from customers.
Is My Money Safe with Mettle?
Mettle has pedigree in that it is owned by NatWest who have a lot of reputational skin in the game. However, they are not part of the FSCS scheme which means you won’t be protected through this scheme if Mettle goes bust. They are however regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) which means they have to ring-fence customer accounts so your money should be protected in the event of administration.
Mettle vs. Starling vs. Tide
Here’s a quick comparison of the banking features of each. All of these bank accounts are free on their most basic level.
|FSCS protection||Yes (with ClearBank)||Yes||No|
|Is it a licensed bank?||No||Yes||No|
|Free UK transfers||No (20p per transfer)||Yes||Yes|
|Cash deposits||Yes (for a fee)||Yes (0.7% fee, min £3)||Yes|
|Free ATM withdrawals||No (£1 fee)||Yes||Yes|
|Integration with accounting software||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Create and send invoices||Yes||Yes (for a fee)||Yes|
We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:
Really happy with my new Starling account. The app on both Android and iOS is easy to use and allows me to manage my finances in an easy way.
So far the things that I have enjoyed most:
- Savings pots
- The ability to select a payment and split it with others, sending an easy link to pay.
What a breath of fresh air! I have banked with various banks I various countries, and always ended up having a negative experience after empty promises were made. I eventually got tired of needed a minimum balance in my business account in order to avoid ridiculous bank charges AND a monthly fee, so I switched to Starling. I’m so glad I did.
No charges, no minimum balance, no needless paperwork, no hassle. The app is intuitive and helpful, as well as easy to use and (it looks) secure.
If you have a small business and don’t need to network with your bank manager, then I strongly suggest switching to Starling. You get a bank card for the business, and the app is great. You also don’t need various savings account to set money aside, as you can do so in the app while all the money technically stays in one account.
I’ve been at Starling a few months now, and so far it’s been a pleasant experience, which is more than I can say for most other banks.
Wow! I decided to change banks and opened an account with Starling. I completed the simple process of requesting a switch. The whole process took 5 days and all my stop orders and direct debits were transferred seamlessly.
The communication throughout was excellent.
The app is simple to use, with very useful information and features to help manage your account. Simply brilliant!
Sadly I have not had a good experience of Starling Bank and have decided to leave. To open the account back in September ’21 I was put thought a ridiculous inquisition about my business and was even asked to submit a business plan to them. I was not wanting a loan, just to open an account! I have been with them until now and this week have asked to open a second account. I have over £12,000 in my present account and have an excellent credit rating. However they told me that they would not be able to open another account for me for reasons that they were not prepared to explain. It was all very odd. I since opened an account with HSBC which was applied for, opened and receiving my money into it within 1 hour. What a shame Starling have been so difficult. I would potentially have 2 accounts with them now but as it is I am moving my money out and will soon have no accounts with them. Beware, there are a definitely friendlier and more efficient banks out there!!
I want to start by saying what a great bank, that is until you want to transfer money out and purchase a car, a simple and basic task of running a bank. Once the fund had been transferred out, they then locked the account so i could not add money or transfer out money.
After spending 4hrs on the app, with tension high, they finally threatened to close my account, hallelujah. Now send me the cheque so i can use a bank which looks after clients.
They want you money, but please don’t try and spend it, total amateur banking practises.
I’ve been a Starling bank customer for a while now. Even though I’m on top of my finances and never missed a payment etc. to lose their trust, they dropped my credit limit! In return I cancelled the remaining limit so they can no longer charge me any interest. There are much better banks out there who does business professionally and way better.