The Two Minute Review
Tide is on a mission to revolutionise business banking – and it’s doing a pretty good job! Its business banking accounts offer innovative digital features (e.g. digital invoicing) that are easy to use. If you are currently paying through the nose to bank with a dinosaur then Tide is worth a look. The big banks should be worried.
- 📱 Great app experience with genuinely useful features that take the hassle out of business banking.
- 💰 Free at the most basic level.
- 📈 Good integration with bookkeeping software.
- 💸 20p transaction fees can be hard to keep up with.
- 📉 No free accounting software like Mettle.
- 🌍 No ability to make international payments right now.
- 🏦 No physical branches.
What The Experts Say
“Tide takes a lot of the hassle and administration out of business banking…(but) if you do need support and are not paying Tide Plus or Tide Premium you will have to rely on liaising by email”
”(A)n alternative to established business bank accounts and would like a trustworthy and feature-packed challenger”
“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.”
What Users Say
Tide has a Trustpilot rating of 4.3 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 3.6. This is a very good score. Starling Bank, for example, comes out with a score of 2.13 on the same methodology.
Google reviews seem very negative compared to TrustPilot. The major complaint seems to be accounts being frozen. In the comments Tide often explain that this is due to security reasons but customers seem unhappy with the way this has been communicated to them.
At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 1,022 reviews which gave Tide bank an average score of 4.64 out of 5.
Tide in a Nutshell?
Tide is a UK-based digital challenger bank that provides financial services to small and medium-sized businesses. The company was founded in 2015 and received its banking license in 2021. Its selling point is that it will help take the hassle out of running the finances of small and medium-sized businesses.
Tide aims to simplify the banking experience for small business owners by offering a fast and easy account opening process, instant transaction notifications, and user-friendly mobile and web apps. The bank also offers 24/7 customer support and no monthly account fees. Tide has over 450,000 business customers and has processed over £12 billion in transactions to date.
Tide is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects customers’ deposits up to £85,000 per person per institution in case of the bank’s insolvency.
Opening a Tide Account
You apply for a tide account through their app. You will have to be over 18, have a phone with the App Store or Google Play and have a UK phone number. You will need to be registered as a director on Companies House for a Registered Business account. For a Sole Trader account, you will need to be registered with HMRC. Some businesses, e.g. those that trade cryptocurrency, are not eligible – a full list of restrictions can be found here.
When you go through the process you will need to prove your identity via a passport, EEA card or driving licence. They will also make you take a selfie to verify you are who you say you are.
The process is lightning fast with some users commenting they were approved in 5 minutes and recieved their physical card a few days later.
A real plus point for some is that there won’t not be any credit checks when applying with Tide.
What Are The Features of a Tide Account?
It depends on the level of service that you sign up to:
Free Tide Account:
Unlike lots of business accounts (e.g. HSBC), Tide has a free-tier business bank account. This gets you the following features:
- A tide business card.
- 20p per transfer of cash.
- £1 ATM fee (whether in the UK or abroad).
- Read access to the account for team members.
- Ability to schedule payments.
- Account integrations with Xero, Sage, Quickbooks, FreeAgent, Kashflow, Crunch and Clearbooks.
- Ability to hold up to 5 separate accounts.
- Cash deposits through the Post Office (charged at £2.50 for deposits up to £500 or 0.5% for deposits over £500) or PayPoint (charged at 3% of the total deposit).
You can also add on an expense card for a fiver a month.
Tide Plus Account (£9.99 + VAT a month)
You get all the features you get with the free account plus:
- 1 free expense card.
- 20 free transfers in/out a month.
- Priority in-app support.
- Phone support.
- 27/7 legal helpline provided by Irwin Mitchell LLP.
- Discounts and offers (e.g. with the RAC or storage companies).
Tide Pro Account (£18.99 + VAT a month)
All the features of the Plus account plus:
- 2 free expense cards.
- Unlimited transfers in and out.
Tide Premium Account (£49.99 + VAT a month)
If you are prepared to cough up a whopping £49.99 a month then you also get:
- A dedicated team of account managers.
- 0.5% cash back on purchases. You would have to spend £10,000 a month to cover the fee totally.
Strangely, you only get 150 free transfers in and out of the account per month.
How Good is the App and Digital Banking?
The app is where Tide really shines. It’s visually beautiful and intuitive to use – but it also has a lot of functionality beyond just seeing your balance and transactions. Here are some of the features that stand out:
- The ability to create and send invoices straight from the app. You can choose from free templates and even add your logo. If you are a freelancer or tradesperson this can be an invaluable tool.
- Ability to integrate your accounting software with this account. This can be done in a few minutes with most of the popular software providers. It also auto-updates so you seamlessly keep in sync.
- You can integrate with GoCardless so you can receive Direct Debit payments. This is a real plus if you’re looking to set up repeat customers.
- Some nice extra features such as 30-day financial forecasts (though you should never rely on this feature to make critical decisions!).
- Ability to freeze/cancel cards when lost.
- In-app support.
- Upload receipts and automatch them to transactions – a really handy feature when your tax deadline rolls around.
- Integration with iwoca means you can apply for a £150,000 loan to grow.
- It works with Apple Pay (though we couldn’t get info on whether it works with Google Pay).
Tide Credit Builder
Another nice feature is the Tide Credit Builder. New-ish businesses (i.e. less than 2 years since incorporation) and those that have no CCJs in the last 6 years can activate Credit Builder through the app.
Essentially, Tide gives you a loan that you repay over a year. This loan is for £240 plus interest of 24% (fixed). Each month you pay off £22.69 and this is reported to Experian by Tide with a view to improving your credit score.
At the end of the period you get access to your £240 – and Tide keep the 24% interest you have already paid (just under £33).
Features We Don’t Like
If you are a cash-based business the lack of branches and fees for deposits might become a bit onerous.
You can’t pay in cheques to the account. Also, there is no overdraft facility.
While the account is free, for some businesses 20p per transaction can add up. In any case we find having to keep track of this sort of fee can be quite tiresome.
There is a balance limit of £100,000 for limited companies and £25,000 for sole traders. There are also some transaction limits:
- A transfer in our out cannot be more than £50,000.
- You can’t transfer out more than £100,000 in a month.
Lastly, you can’t make payments to non-UK bank accounts which can be a bit restrictive. You have to use third-party apps to get around this.
Is My Money Safe With Tide?
Tide is part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme meaning that in the unlikely event it goes bust, your deposits are protected up to £85,000.
Tide vs. Mettle vs. Starling
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:
Fantastic smooth experience with new company incorporation and bank account set-up. If you are time-poor and setting up a new business, I don’t think you’ll find a better deal than with Tide once all costs are taken into account. The speed that they’ll get you set up and running is incomparable, hence 5 stars. Only drawback however, as your company grows, is that Tide’s current credit offerings are very thin compared to mainstream banks.
After a couple of weeks it seems good enough.
Unfortunately the card is classed as a prepaid card and not debit which means you cannot use on pay at pump which as a driver is a big issue for me as it becomes a trip in to a busy garage and a queue for the till etc…. then there’s the being in a crowd issue with everything going on.
However the alerts for payments in and out save logging in to check payments recieved and the included invoice system saves having to have separate apps for each which is good.
Brilliant bank, so easy and quick to use and with all the security you will ever need to relax and not worry about your money. Transactions are all editable to say what you’ve bought and for why with personal category’s and can take a picture of receipts and store with every single transaction so you never need to find a receipt again. So easy to use, i highly recommend Tide for personal or business banking needs!
I usually do not write reviews, but this bank left me with no choice to write my review and I wish there will be a zero start cause they don’t even deserve one star. Avoid this bank!!!! Tide Bank doesn’t care if you running a business and or if you have a cash flow problem. After 18 months of banking with them, they have suddenly paused my account without any reasonable reason and did not give me the opportunity to switch bank accounts, despite they are holding my money for more than 32 days.
I must agree with other poor customer reviews. Tide is fine when you don’t have a question or challenge. When you do, there is a very slow response, the technology is dreadful and I am now sitting looking at my Tide app that appears to have disappeared my account. I have now also made the decision to leave.
I’ve had my business account frozen now for over 3 weeks for no reason other than “we need to do some checks, please be patient”. They are terrible, avoid at all costs.