Tide vs Starling Bank

Tide vs Starling Bank: Business Banking, Account Fees & Cards

Jarrod Suda


Feb 27, 2023
Advertiser disclosure

Starling Bank and Tide are two of the UK's best business bank accounts. High-street banks charge monthly maintenance fees and lack user-friendly online finance platforms. Even though they operate physical branches, high-street business banks like Barclays have been known to offer customer service exclusively by phone.

Challenger banks like Starling Bank and Tide have no brick-and-mortar locations, yet have award-winning and fast customer service. Best of all, their FSCS-insured business accounts are completely free to open and never charge monthly maintenance fees.

In this guide, we explore the safety, fees, service, and reviews of Tide and Starling Bank for business. While Starling Bank is Monito's pick for best overall business bank account in the UK, we also explain why Tide might be better for some business models.

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Tide vs Starling Business Bank Account Comparison | In partnership with Nerdwallet

Starling Bank is the better choice for no-fee digital business banking. Their business account gets you free UK bank transfers, free ATM withdrawals, integration with dozens of apps, and access to EUR and USD accounts.

Tide is the better choice for invoices, which are unlimited and free to send (Starling charges a fee for invoicing). Designed specifically for UK small business owners, Tide also generates more detailed spending insights and monthly statements.

Tide vs Starling Bank: Are They Safe With FSCS Insurance?

With both Tide and Starling Bank, your eligible deposits will be protected up to a total of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), the UK's deposit guarantee scheme. In this sense, we think either challenger bank is a secure choice for your small business in the United Kingdom.

Both companies use two-factor authentification and high-end encryption to protect every transaction and to keep your money and data safe. Both used Touch ID and PIN codes to protect your account on the mobile app.

Is Starling Bank Safe?

Starling Bank wins the category because it has obtained a full banking license from the UK. In fact, it was the first neobank ever to be registered as a complete bank in the UK by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Furthermore, Staling Bank has a more sophisticated fraud protection technology. Their real-time prevention platform attempts to notify you within 24 hours of noticing potentially high-risk behaviour on your accounts.

Is Tide Safe?

Tide still remains an excellent, safe choice. While Tide is not a bank, it is a fintech platform authorised by the FCA under the Electronic Money Regulations in the UK. It partners with ClearBank® Ltd to ensure your account with the FSCS.

📋 License

Fintech Platform

Regulated Bank

👥 Business Accounts



🔐 FSCS-Insured

Try Tide ❯Try Starling Bank ❯

Tide vs Starling Bank: Which Has the Better App and Service?

Both Tide and Starling Bank outperform high-street banks when it comes to sorting out your finances online. That's because they are designed for small businesses and sole traders. The high-street banks are mostly interested in only large businesses and corporations.

Both challenger banks offer the most user-friendly and intuitive business platforms on the UK market, which you can download for free on any iOS device via the App Store, any Android device via Google Play, or a web browser. They also can pair with your favorite apps and SaaS products.

We will see in this section that Starling Bank has more international capabilities while Tide is ideal for businesses that send invoices to customers.

Comparing Business Bank Accounts

As online banking platforms, both companies deliver high-quality software that generates monthly statements, integrates with accounting software, tracks spending, and much more.

  • Business checking: Send and receive domestic transfers with your unique UK sort code. Starling Bank is the better option here because transfers are free, while Tide charges 20p per in or out transfer.
  • Business accounting: Easily export your financial reports as PDFs or CSV to make spreadsheets. Integrate with Quickbooks or Xero, manage spending limits, and send scheduled payments.
  • Business loans: As an actual UK bank, Starling Bank offers more direct access to small business loans. They range from £25,001 to £250,000, and the rate you receive will depend on a full credit assessment. Tide cannot offer loans directly because it is not a bank. Instead, Tide evaluates your credit score and different kinds of loans to match you with its funding partners.

What is the Difference Between Tide and Starling Bank?

Starling Bank and Tide do differ in a few financial service categories, including international transfers, cheque deposits, and software features. We walk through these differences in this section:

1. International Payments

Starling Bank wins this section because it supports competitive international money transfers around the world. Tide does not support international transfers.

2. Cheque Deposits

You can deposit a cheque free of charge either through the Starling Bank app or via post. Tide does not support cheque deposits at this time.

3. Cashflow Insights

Tide's online platform analyzes your financial activities to project your potential cashflow in the future. This ability to predict your balance up to 30 days ahead can give you peace of mind as a business owner. It can also give you the leeway you need to make the investments you need to grow your business in the future.

Starling Bank's platform tracks your spending habits, breaking finances down by category. You can automatically set aside savings too. But it does not match up to Tide's advanced cashflow insights features.

4. Invoicing

Tide is great for the freelancer or small business that uses invoices to get paid. Create and send an unlimited amount of invoices for free. Tide gives you the freedom to add notes, set payment terms, write a personal message, add recipients in To/CC/BCC, and add VAT. Your invoices will also be tracked and marked as paid.

Starling Bank offers a very similar service, but charges £7 per month. One advantage that Starling Bank has is letting you invoice internationally to get paid from overseas with IBAN and BIC numbers.

5. Cashback and Interest

Tide offers 0.5% cash back with their Tide card if you sign up for their Cashback Plan, which costs £49.99 per month. Starling Bank does not offer a cash back card.

💻 Platforms

Android, iOS, web browser

Android, iOS, web browser

💵 Deposits

Bank transfer, direct deposit, cash

Bank transfer, direct deposit, cash, cheque

Int'l transfer



Free Invoicing

Debit card

Credit card


EUR and USD Accounts

Files VAT

Business loan access

Try Tide ❯Try Starling Bank ❯

Tide vs Starling Bank: Which Has the Cheaper Fees and Exchange Rates?

Starling Bank and Tide are free to download, have no account opening fees, and charge no monthly maintenance fees.

Tide, on the other hand, uses a tiered model ranging from £9.99 to £18.99 to £49.99 per month. Their free account sets phone support limits, member perk limits, and domestic transfer fees. Those limits, and many other charges, get lifted once you upgrade to higher paid plans.

Cash Deposits

Tide partners with the Post Office and PayPoint to collect your cash deposits. At the Post Office, you can make monthly cash deposits of up to £25,000 and a yearly deposit of up to £300,000. At PayPoint locations, you can deposit between £10–500 each day. Now, here are the fees:

  • At the Post Office: £2.50 for deposits up to £500 or 0.5% of the cash deposit amount for deposits over £500;
  • At PayPoint: 3% of the total deposit.

Starling Bank will charge you a fee for each deposit using the Post Office Counter Service.

  • At the Post Office: £3.00 or 0.7% of the amount deposited, whichever is higher.

Starling Bank Exchange Rates

Starling Bank applies the real mid-market exchange rate to your transfers abroad (as opposed to pocketing an exchange rate margin). Instead, they charge a flat 0.4% fee for the service. This is very competitive compared to many international money transfer services we review at Monito.

PayPal, for example, is well known for its global presence but applies a very high 2.5% to 4.5% margin on its foreign exchange rates. This means that the rate you get is 2.5% to 4.5% weaker than the live rate and PayPal pockets the difference.

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Compare Starling Bank's Exchange Rates

Use Monito's real-time comparison engine to:

  • Compare Starling Bank's exchange rates to other industry leaders;
  • Search for international transfers across hundreds of country corridors.

ATM Withdrawal Fees

Starling Bank waives all ATM withdrawal fees, an excellent feature. If you withdraw cash using the Post Office Counter Service, they will charge you £0.50 per withdrawal (Post ATMs remain free, so better to stick with using the machines). Even for ATM withdrawals abroad, Starling Bank will not charge you an out-of-network fee.

  • Starling Bank: £0.00

Tide charges £1.00 per ATM withdrawal. This fee does not change even if you upgrade to higher paid plans.

  • Tide: £1.00

Domestic UK Transfer Fees

Domestic bank fees are free with Starling Bank. Even if you receive money from abroad (as long as the transfer is done in GBP), Starling Bank will not charge you a fee.

  • Starling Bank: £0.00

Tide charges 20p for each in-transfer or out-transfer. Tide's Plus plan gives you 20 free transfers while their Pro plan gives you unlimited transfers.

  • Tide: £0.20

Debit Card Fees

Starling Bank provides free business debit cards. Replacement cards will cost £5.00. All those with access to the account can order their own debit card. The Starling Bank card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.

  • Starling Bank: £0.00

With Tide, your business card is also free. If you issue an expense card for your team, then you will be charged £5.00 per month per card. As you move up to paid tiers, Tide will give you one free expense card. Tide does not charge a foreign transaction fee.

  • Tide: £0.00


Starling provides an overdraft facility to its business customers. Their Interest Rate (EAR) averages at 11.50%. They will charge you an annual fee too. If the overdraft is taken out on or after 1 July 2022, that fee will be the greater of either 1.75% of your Limit or £50.

  • Starling Bank: 11.50% EAR + 1.75% annual fee

Tide does not offer overdraft loans, but does work with funding partners to give you access to loans. Their rates will vary widely depending on your credit application.

  • Tide: N/A

Account opening



Monthly fee



ATM withdrawal



Card delivery



Domestic transfer



International transfer


Market rate + 0.4%



11.50% EAR + 1.75% annual fee

Try Tide ❯Try Starling Bank ❯

Tide vs Starling Bank: Which Do Customers Review Better?

Tide and Starling Bank can boast high ratings and review counts in the thousands on the App Store and Google Play. Starling Bank's stats are skewed high because their numbers include private banking clients, not just business account holders. As a business-only platform, Tide's reviews are written by business account holders.

Starling Bank won on Google Play with 4.5 out of 5 stars while Tide scored a 3.5. The two services were closer on the App Store with Tide getting a 4.8 out of 5 stars and Starling Bank getting a 4.9. Tide outscored Starling Bank on Trustpilot with a 4.4 versus a 4.3 for Starling.

Customer reviews praised both for real, human support. Some said that Tide's customer support was faster tham Starling Bank's service. Starling Bank's onboarding process has also been known to take more time. However, customers have been very satisfied with Starling's intuitive interface. In the end, we think it's safe to say that both services, by and large, impress their customers.

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Have a closer look with Monito's in-depth comparison of the best business banks in the UK.

🌎 Availability

the UK

the UK

📞 Support

In-app live chat, phone, email

In-app live chat, phone, email

Google Play score



Goole Play # reviews



App Store score



App Store # reviews



Trustpilot score



Trustpilot # reviews



Business Customers



Try Tide ❯Try Starling Bank ❯

Tide vs Starling Bank for Business: The Bottom Line

If you want to escape the unnecessary maintenance fees and the poor digital platforms of high-street banks, then Tide and Starling Bank are both excellent considerations. Both offer top-of-the-line human customer support and user-friendly online banking. Both are very easy to register for and have free checking accounts for small business owners in the UK.

Starling Bank is the better account in terms of fees and international capabilities. They charge nothing for ATM withdrawals, using your card abroad, or domestic transfers. Their international transfer service is competitive and recommended by Monito. Learn more with our Starling Bank review.

Tide is ideal if your business primarily generates revenue through invoice payments (they are free and unlimited with Tide). Tide also impresses with their Cashflow Insights tool, which makes 30-day projections of your cash flows. Since it does not offer international transfers or multi-currency accounts, Tide is best-suited for domestic small businesses. Learn more with our Tide review.

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Starling Bank Features:

  • Free UK transfers;
  • Spending insights;
  • Free ATM withdrawals;
  • Cheap international money transfers;
  • Business loans and overdraft;

Frequently Asked Questions About Cash App vs PayPal

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References Used In This Guide

Starling Bank. Business Account. Accessed 27 December 2022.
Starling Bank. Business Loan. Accessed 27 December 2022.
Tide. Business Loans. Accessed 27 December 2022.
Tide. Help Center. Accessed 27 December 2022.
Starling Bank. Rate Fees and Charges. Accessed 27 December 2022.
Starling Bank. Send Money Abroad. Accessed 27 December 2022.

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