NatWest vs Starling Bank for business banking

Updated on 7 August 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving digital age, choosing the right bank for your business can have a profound impact on your day-to-day operations and long-term success. Among the top contenders in the UK business banking sector are NatWest vs Starling Bank, each offering a distinct approach.

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NatWest, a traditional and established banking institution, boasts an extensive network of physical branches, while Starling, a relatively young and agile digital-only bank, impresses with innovative, user-friendly technology.

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NatWest vs Starling Bank

FeatureNatWestStarling Bank
Online BankingYesYes
Mobile BankingYesYes
Physical BranchesYesNo
Business Account TypesVariousSingle option with multiple add-ons
Customer SupportPhone, In-branch, OnlinePhone, Email, App-based
24/7 SupportNoYes
Business LoansYesYes
Overdraft FacilityYesYes
Business Credit CardsYesYes
International PaymentsYesYes
Interest on BalancesNoYes
Cash DepositsIn-branch, Post OfficePost Office, Mobile cheque imaging
Cheque Book IssuedYesNo
Business Savings AccountYesNo
Direct Debit/Credit SetupYesYes
Free Banking PeriodYes, up to 18 monthsNo, but low cost
Financial Advice ServicesYesNo
Cash Flow Forecast ToolYesYes
Instant Account SetupNoYes
Business Expense CardYesYes
NatWest vs Starling Bank

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HSBC Business Banking
✓ Business Current Account
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Metro Business Banking
✓ Business Current Account
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Mettle Business Banking
✓ Business Bank Account
✓ Online & App
✓ Quick & Easy Application Process
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Monzo Business Banking
✓ Business Current Account
✓ Dedicated mobile app experience
✓ FSCS Protected
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Virgin Money
✓ Business M Account
✓ In-Store, Online & App Banking
✓ Insights & Forecasting Platform
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NatWest

NatWest, a banking stalwart, brings decades of experience and trust in its banking services. It provides a plethora of business banking solutions, catering to the needs of a wide spectrum of businesses, from sole traders and SMEs to large enterprises.

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Pros and cons

Pros

  • Branch Access: Unlike most digital banks, NatWest maintains a physical presence with branches across the UK. This can be particularly helpful for businesses that deal with regular cash transactions or require face-to-face service.
  • Comprehensive Service Offering: NatWest offers a broad range of banking services including loans, overdrafts, mortgages, and insurance, making it a one-stop-shop for all business banking needs.
  • Financial Advice Services: NatWest offers financial advice services, which can be invaluable for businesses looking for tailored advice to manage their finances effectively.
  • Free Banking Period: For new businesses, NatWest offers up to 18 months of free business banking.

Cons

  • Online Platform: While NatWest does offer online and mobile banking, the user experience is often reported to be less intuitive and user-friendly compared to digital-only banks.
  • Customer Service: Some users have reported delays and inefficiencies in NatWest’s customer service.

Table of fees and charges

ServiceFee
Business Current Account£5 monthly fee (waived for startups up to 18 months)
Electronic Payments (in or out)Free
ATM Cash WithdrawalFree
Branch/Post Office Cash Withdrawal£0.90 per £100
International Payments£15 to £30 per transaction
NatWest fees and charges

Unique and standout features

NatWest has introduced several innovative features to compete with digital banks.

One standout feature is the ‘Mettle‘ app, designed for small businesses and self-employed individuals. The app offers an array of digital banking services and tools to track invoices, manage finances, and forecast cash flow.

NatWest also has a strong commitment to sustainability. They provide a Sustainable Business Toolkit to help businesses adopt more sustainable practices.

For enterprises focused on social responsibility, this feature makes NatWest an appealing choice.

Starling Bank

As one of the pioneers of digital banking in the UK, Starling Bank offers an easy-to-use, intuitive platform tailored for businesses that value simplicity, efficiency, and the ability to bank on-the-go.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • User-Friendly: Starling’s app-based banking system is designed for simplicity and ease of use. It’s especially popular among businesses that prefer to handle their banking needs digitally.
  • 24/7 Support: Starling provides round-the-clock customer support through the app, email, and phone.
  • Instant Account Setup: New customers can set up a Starling business account within minutes.
  • Interest on Balances: Unlike many banks, Starling pays interest on positive account balances.

Cons

  • No Physical Branches: While digital banking offers many conveniences, the lack of physical branches might deter businesses preferring traditional, face-to-face banking.
  • Limited Services: Starling’s product offering is more limited than traditional banks, lacking options like business savings accounts or financial advice services.

Table of fees and charges

ServiceFee
Business Current AccountFree
Electronic Payments (in or out)Free
ATM Cash WithdrawalFree
Post Office Cash Deposit0.3% of deposit value
International Payments0.4% exchange rate fee
Starling Bank fees and charges

Unique and standout features

Starling Bank’s key standout feature is its user-friendly mobile application, offering a wealth of features such as real-time notifications, spending categorisation, and easy international payments.

It also provides an integrated tool for invoicing and tax estimation, making financial management simpler for business owners.

Another standout feature is the ‘Marketplace’. This allows businesses to connect their Starling account to a range of third-party apps and services including accounting software, invoicing platforms, insurance providers, and more, creating an all-in-one business management hub.

Conclusion – NatWest vs Starling Bank

Choosing between NatWest vs Starling Bank will depend largely on your business’s specific needs and your preference for traditional or digital banking.

NatWest, with its robust suite of services, physical branches, and financial advice, may be a better fit for businesses needing comprehensive banking solutions and in-person services.

Conversely, Starling Bank, with its intuitive app, 24/7 support, and quick setup process, may better serve businesses seeking a streamlined, digital-first banking experience.

FAQ

Which bank offers a better free banking period?

NatWest offers up to 18 months of free business banking for start-ups, while Starling Bank has no free banking period, but generally lower fees.

Which bank is better for international businesses?

Both banks support international payments. However, Starling Bank offers a more straightforward and cheaper process, making it more suitable for businesses with frequent international transactions.

How good is the customer service of these banks?

While both banks offer customer support, Starling Bank provides 24/7 support through various channels including in-app chat, which might be more convenient for some businesses.

Can I deposit cash at both banks?

Yes, you can deposit cash at both banks. With NatWest, you can deposit at their branches or the Post Office. With Starling, you can deposit cash at the Post Office.

Which bank is more user-friendly for digital banking?

Starling Bank, as a digital-only bank, provides a more user-friendly and intuitive app-based banking experience.

Does NatWest have a mobile app for business banking?

Yes, NatWest does offer a mobile app for business banking, but user experience may not be as smooth or feature-rich as Starling’s app.

Do both banks provide overdrafts and business loans?

Yes, both NatWest and Starling Bank provide business loans and overdraft facilities, but terms and conditions vary.

Reviewed by , Managing Director

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