Challenger banks are now a fixture on the British business scene, but a Starling Bank business account was a novelty back in 2018 when it became the first online bank to support business customers. With competitors like Cashplus, Mettle, Tide, Countingup, and Monzo now on the scene, is Starling Bank still the standard bearer?
Does Starling Bank support business banking?
Yes, SMEs and sole traders can sign up for an account with Starling Bank without needing to pay monthly subscription fees. This is a challenger bank, so the account will be exclusively managed online through the Starling Bank website, or via the Android or iOS app.
Business banking alternatives to Starling
✓ Business M Account
✓ In-Store, Online & App Banking
✓ Insights & Forecasting Platform
Mettle Business Banking
✓ Business Bank Account
✓ Online & App
✓ Quick & Easy Application Process
Tide Business Bank Accounts
✓ Free, Plus, or Pro Account
✓ iOS & Android Mobile App
✓ Upload & Auto-Match Receipts
NatWest Business Banking
✓ Business Current Account
✓ Online, App & High Street Banking
✓ Quick & Easy Application Process
HSBC Business Banking
✓ Business Current Account
✓ In-Branch, Online & App Banking
✓ FSCS Protected
What business accounts does Starling Bank offer?
Starling Bank offers two basic types of accounts to business customers. These are:
- Sole Trader Accounts
- Business Bank Accounts
The names of these accounts should be quite self-explanatory. Both are free to open, devoid of monthly fees, and can be paired with bookkeeping software like QuickBooks, Xero or FreeAgent if you have an existing subscription in place.
Bolt-ons are also available. Both accounts offer access to the Business Toolkit for £7 per month, which potentially negates the need for the aforementioned bookkeeping software. If you trade overseas, you can also hold a Euro account and balance for an extra £2 per month, and a US dollar account for £5 per month.
You can also apply for a business overdraft with Starling Bank, to a limit of up to £50,000, or an unsecured business loan.
The account comes with a debit card, but not a business credit card or prepaid expense card. For the former, SME owners could apply for a Capital on Tap card to run alongside the Starling Bank account.
Is my company eligible for a Starling business bank account?
On paper, any sole trader registered to pay tax to HMRC, or the owner of a business that is listed on Companies House, is eligible for a Starling Bank business account. Like all banks, Starling has some restrictions on which customers they will accept.
Starling Bank plays its cards pretty close to the chest when it comes to whom it will refuse an application from, but it’s safe to assume that the usual restrictions will apply.
Starling Bank runs a soft credit check upon application for an account, so active bankruptcy, IVAs or CCJs may exclude you from the ability to open an account, and high-risk business models may be declined.
How do I set up a business bank account with Starling Bank?
Using the website, you can apply for a Starling Bank business account online. You’ll need access to the app immediately though, so it’s advisable to download this before you start. This will likely be a faster application process, too.
Applying for a Starling Bank account should only take a few minutes, and provided you upload the appropriate proof of identity and pass the soft credit check, your account will be up and running quickly.
What are the advantages of setting up a Starling Bank business account?
Starling Bank is completely regulated by the FCA and offers FSCS protection.
A Starling Bank business account managed through the smartphone app will enable you to keep an eye on your profit and loss, and if you upgrade to the Business Toolkit, you can send and chase invoices too. This may mean you do not need to purchase an external bookkeeping software package.
The Business Toolkit is considerably cheaper than most external software packages, which ties in with the fact that a Starling Bank business account is a cost-effective way to manage your professional finances.
Starling Bank does not have a physical presence on the high street, but it does offer 24/7 online support within the app.
What are the drawbacks of setting up a Starling Bank business account?
Honestly, it’s pretty tough to find an outright complaint about Starling Bank. It may not have quite as many features or bells and whistles as some of the more recent names to enter the Challenger Bank space, but this is a no-frills, low-cost alternative to a high street bank.
If we are to be picky, we would say that it say it’s a shame that positive account balances do not attract interest, and it might be nice to have a credit card attached to the app. This account can also be a little frustrating if you regularly trade in cash or cheques, as you’ll need to pay a fee when you deposit funds at a Post Office. These really are comparative nit-picks, though.
What fees are involved with running a Starling Bank business account?
As discussed, a basic Starling Bank account will not attract any monthly fees unless you opt to purchase a bolt-on. There will also be some small, additional costs attached to transactions when you hold a Starling Bank account, which break down as follows.
|Type of transaction||Fee or charge|
|Automated payments within the UK||Free|
|Automated payments outside the UK||0.4% transaction fee|
|Depositing money (cash or cheque)||0.7% of transaction total, minimum of £3|
|Cash withdrawals||Free from ATMs, 50p from a Post Office|
|Replacement debit card||£5 in the UK, £10 overseas|
Everything else you may use your account for as standard, such as making purchases using your Starling debit card, is free of charge. This is one of the biggest selling points of opening such an account – unlike many rivals, the microtransactions will not steadily pile up.
You will also need to pay interest on any lending streams you take out, which will be assigned upon your application.
What is Starling Bank’s reputation among business banking customers?
Starling Bank has a phenomenal reputation online. Over at TrustPilot, this bank boasts a score of 4.3 from 5, which is considered Excellent. When we consider that over 33,000 people have left reviews, this positive rating is even more impressive. The consensus appears to be that Starling Bank offers superior customer service when compared to most rivals, and the app is intuitive and user-friendly.
Starling Bank is far from the newest challenger bank on the market, but it remains one of the most impressive. Low fees and a wide range of features built into the app ensure that Starling Bank remains a gold standard for managing your business finances online. If you are happy to deal with customer service online, give this provider serious consideration.