Mettle is an online-only arm of the NatWest group, offering business accounts designed for sole traders and small limited companies. Launched in 2018, Mettle is building an impressive reputation in the financial space, especially for individuals and start-ups, but is this the best bank for your needs?
What is Mettle business banking?
Mettle is a business banking account managed through a smartphone or tablet app. You can download Mettle through the Apple Store (iOS 12.2 or above required) or Google Play store (Android 7.0 or above required.)
This service is only suitable for sole traders and small businesses. No public limited company, limited liability partnership, or charity or non-profit organisation may apply for a Mettle business banking account.
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Is my company eligible for a Mettle business bank account?
Before considering whether a Mettle account is the best choice for your business, you’ll need to check that your company is entitled to bank with Mettle.
Mettle is not welcoming to all industries. Your application will be declined if your business trades in any of the following:
- Adult entertainment (including dating sites)
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Freight shipping
- Manufacturing of medical supplies
These industries are considered higher risk by the financial sector and thus require a more traditional business bank account.
So, in summary, ask yourself if the following factors apply to you.
- You are aged 18 or over
- You have a residential address and telephone number in the UK
- You are registered to trade in the UK as a sole trader or a limited company and only pay tax in this country. A limited company must be registered as active with Companies House, with you listed as a director
- You do not carry any bad debt, such as bankruptcy orders, active IVAs, or outstanding CCJs
There are also balance limits on a Mettle business bank account that cannot be exceeded. These are:
- £50,000 for a sole trader
- £100,000 for a limited company
If you meet these criteria, you will be welcome to apply for a Mettle business bank account.
How do I set up a Mettle business bank account?
The application process to open a Mettle account is completed through your smartphone and can be concluded in as little as 10 minutes – though Mettle may come back with questions, depending on the complexity of your business model.
Have proof of your UK citizenship, financial solvency, and business standing on hand, as you will need to upload these documents.
It takes up to 72 hours for Mettle to decide whether your application has been accepted, though it’s usually faster than this. As always with a business bank account, there are no guarantees that Mettle will say yes, and the app will not give details as to why your request was denied.
What are the advantages of setting up a Mettle business bank account?
If you’re considering a Mettle business account for your financial needs, here are some of the most compelling arguments to apply.
- Mettle business banking is free – you will not need to pay a monthly fee to keep the account open, and you will not be charged for transactions, deposits, or ATM withdrawals.
- Mettle business banking is bundled with FreeAgent accounting software at no extra cost, so there’s no need for a separate subscription to manage your books – this could save you up to £150. However, if you prefer to use a service like Xero or QuickBooks, these can be integrated
- You can send professional-looking invoices, complete with a company logo, directly through the Mettle app
- Payments and transactions can be scheduled in advance at the touch of a button, making it easy to run a payroll or keep up with subscription payments
- You can assign different money pots within the Mettle app, so funds can be set aside for impending expenses such as tax returns
- The account comes with a free prepaid debit card. This helps manage expenses, avoid accidental overspending while travelling, and negates the need to purchase external prepaid expense cards
- While all customer service and support is conducted online, you will have access to a human being – no infuriating chatbots that leave you talking in circles for hours
What are the drawbacks of setting up a Mettle business bank account?
Business banking with Mettle is not for everybody. Be aware of the following restrictions and obstacles associated with opening a Mettle business bank account – one or more of these shortcomings may be considered a dealbreaker.
- All business banking with Mettle is conducted online through an iOS or Android app. If you lose or damage your smartphone or have a complex problem with your account, you cannot walk into a branch of NatWest and ask for help
- Mettle business bank accounts do not offer any lines of credit – you will not be able to apply for a business overdraft or unsecured business loan
- While Mettle is FCA-regulated, this business account does not offer FSCS protection if something untoward occurs with your finances
- The maximum balance limits (£50,000 for a sole trader account and £100,000 for a limited company) are strict. Question how you will manage a substantial cash injection, such as an investment or business loan, that will not immediately leave your account
- You can deposit a maximum of £7,500 per week into a Mettle account. This may not be a concern based on the overall balance limits, but a business model that relies on significant transactions in and out regularly may struggle with this
- Mettle is for UK transactions only – overseas payments cannot be arranged through this app. That may place unwelcome limitations on your trading
What fees are involved with running a Mettle business bank account?
One of the great appeals of operating a business bank account with Mettle is the comparative absence of costs and subscriptions. You will not be charged any monthly fees to keep the account open, and you will not be charged for any UK-based transactions, including ATM withdrawals or cash deposits.
What is Mettle’s reputation among business banking customers?
Mettle enjoys a score of 4.6 from 5 on TrustPilot, which is considered Excellent. This should be reassuring to sole traders and small business customers, as these reviews are posted by peers that use the app to manage their finances.
It’s also worth noting that Mettle appears to offer personal, tailored responses to negative feedback that suggest action is being taken to rectify customer complaints, rather than generic, copy-and-pasted apologies that achieve nothing.
Reviews on the Apple Store and Google Play store are equally positive, weighing in at 4.9 from 5 and 4.8 from 5 respectively.
As is often the case with online-only companies, most complaints surrounding Mettle business banking revolve around customer service when a problem arises. As you will not be able to walk into a branch of NatWest and have an issue resolved while looking somebody in the eye, you may find this frustrating.
Mettle is most suitable for sole traders operating at the lower end of the HMRC tax band or small, local companies with no plans to expand in the short- to medium-term.
The inability to make international payments may be restrictive to some businesses, and the balance limits may grow restrictive if you plan to grow your enterprise. Lack of credit lines, such as the absence of an overdraft, may also deter some businesses with a fluctuating or seasonal cash flow.
Overall, Mettle is a straightforward way to manage business banking from your smartphone. If you’re keen to avoid the ever-escalating costs associated with a traditional business account, and you are not concerned by a lack of in-person support in the event of a problem, Mettle is a cost-effective and user-friendly banking service.