Ulster Bank business banking review – account types & fees compared

Updated on 6 February 2023

If you’re based in England, Wales, or Scotland, you may not be familiar with Ulster Bank. That’s because this institution only operates in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with accounts and branches held in other UK territories transferred to NatWest.

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Banc Uladh has been in operation since 1836, making it a firmly established presence in the financial world, and for the avoidance of doubt, this guide will discuss a GBP account opened with Ulster Bank NI.

Does Ulster Bank support business banking?

Yes, you will be welcome to apply for a business account with Ulster Bank as a sole trader or a limited company if you are based in Northern or Southern Ireland. 

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The bank even offers a charity account if you’re running a non-profit venture, or an account specialising in foreign currencies. The latter may be worth considering if you trade between Southern and Northern Ireland, due to the varying currencies used as standard.

If you open a business account with Ulster Bank you can manage your account at a branch if you’re in Ireland, or by using the Apple or Android app. If you open an account with Ulster Bank RI you’ll need different apps.

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Is my company eligible for an Ulster Bank business bank account?             

You do not need to be an Irish citizen to open a business account with Ulster Bank or trade exclusively within the Emerald Isle, but if you’re in one of the other UK territories you’re probably better off just banking with NatWest or RBS, who are part of the same banking group and have a presence on the high street.

If you decide to progress with your application, you’ll just need to provide proof of your identity and address and details about your business. Your application may be declined if you have a questionable credit history, or your business model is considered to be high risk.

What business banking accounts does Ulster Bank offer?

There are two core business accounts offered by Ulster Bank. 

  • Startup Business Bank Account, for businesses that have been in operation for less than a year, with a turnover below 6.5m per year.
  • Business Bank Account, for more established companies, or a new business with a substantial turnover

If you’re a business customer, you’ll also be entitled to additional features. These include:

Business accounts with Ulster Bank will also offer complimentary access to FreeAgent bookkeeping software, saving your company upward of £290 + VAT per year.

How do I set up an Ulster Bank business bank account?

You can apply for an Ulster Bank business account online. Your application will need to be assessed by the Ulster Bank team, so it may take weeks to get a final answer. If you’re in a hurry and are based in Ireland, it may be easier to visit a local branch.

What are the advantages of setting up an Ulster Bank business bank account?

If you’re based in Ireland, you will have access to a major high street banking name by opening an account with Ulster Bank.

The wide array of lending streams and business finance options offered by Ulster Bank will likely come in handy, especially for a small business that needs to manage its cashflow carefully.

Ulster Bank is part of the NatWest group, so it’s unlikely to disappear any time soon. Your money can be considered safe with this bank.

What are the drawbacks of setting up an Ulster Bank business bank account?

The geographical restrictions associated with Ulster Bank are pretty obvious – the clue is in the name. Unless you trade in Ireland, there is little to gain by opening an account with this bank.

Like all high street banks, there are a range of fees involved in relying on Ulster Bank for your business finance needs, and the bank has a slightly questionable reputation among frequently disgruntled customers. 

What fees are involved with running an Ulster Bank business bank account?

If you open a Startup Business Account with Ulster Bank, you will not pay any fees for 18 months. After this, or if you hold a standard Ulster Bank Business Account, you will be subject to the following fees and charges.

Type of transactionFee or charge
Account fee£8 per month
Automated debits or credits43p per transaction
Cheque payments58p per cheque
Branch cash withdrawals or credits70p per £100
Ulster business banking fees and charges

If you wish to apply for a OneCard you’ll also be subject to a fee of £30 per card.

These fees are pretty high, but try to balance them against free access to FreeAgent when weighing up expenses.

What is Ulster Bank’s reputation among business banking customers?

Like RBS and NatWest, Ulster Bank has not claimed its profile on TrustPilot. That’s probably for the best, as the institution has a Bad ranking of just 1.7 from 5. The Southern Ireland branch fares even worse with a score of 1.6.

Only 43 users have left reviews, though, and these appear to be expressing disgruntlement with their personal accounts. A poor online reputation is always something to consider, but you’ll struggle to find a high street bank that enjoys a positive standing.

Summary 

Ulster Bank is among the biggest names in Irish banking, so if your business is based in this country and you are looking for a high street account with lending facilities it’s certainly worthy of your attention. If you are based elsewhere in the UK, though, banking with Ulster Bank will likely create more trouble than it’s worth – stick with a local alternative. You’ll get all the same benefits from RBS or NatWest.

Reviewed by , Managing Director

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