Starling Business vs Tide

Stela Gineva
Freddie Larkins
Last updated
August 3, 2023

As a small business owner, keeping track of finances and managing your money can be a time consuming exercise. That's why having the right business account is crucial. Today, we're putting Starling Business and Tide head to head to see which one comes out on top.

While Starling Business positions their business account as “easy-to-use with powerful money management tools”, Tide’s mission is to save small businesses time and money with their powerful yet simple approach. We'll be comparing both providers on factors such as fees, safety, ease of use, and customer support to help you decide which one works best for you.

So whether you’re just starting your search for a business account or looking to switch providers, read on to find out which business account is the best fit for your business needs.

Go to StarlingGo to Tide

Starling Business vs Tide: at a glance

FeatureStarling Business Tide 
Safety and securityDeposits FSCS protectedDeposits FSCS protected 
Customer supportPhone, email and in-app live chat Phone, email and in-app live chat 
Savings account2.5% AER gross interest rate Sub-accounts, but no interest 
Overdraft and credit optionsOverdraft and business loans available Business loans and Credit Line feature available (via partners) 
IntegrationsXero, FreeAgent, Quickbooks + a whole host of other integrations via their marketplace.Quickbooks, Xero + 5 more accounting integrations, iZettle and Open Banking options. 

So, to sum up:

  • Both Starling and Tide ofer FSCS protection for your deposits.

  • Both Starling and Tide offer phone, email, and in-app live chat support.

  • Starling offers a fixed term business savings account with a 2.5% APR, while Tide offers sub-accounts to help budget, but no interest.

  • Starling offers business loans and overdraft options, and with Tide you can use their Credit Line feature or compare business loans through their partners.

  • Tide offers a whopping 7 accounting software integrations while Starling offers 3.

  • Still, Starling offers a whole host of third party integrations via its marketplace, and Tide offers API integrations via its Open Banking feature.

Go to StarlingGo to Tide

About Starling 

Starling calls itself “Britain’s first digital bank” and offers a range of financial services including children’s and personal bank accounts. It has robust business account offerings too. With offices in three cities across the UK, Starling is quickly becoming a household name for businesses that want to experience the benefits of online banking.

Founded in 2014, the bank prides itself on fixing finance by using plain language and democratising financial education. It has no physical branches and it’s all about digital, paperless banking.

Learn more about Starling

About Tide 

Tide, established in 2015, was one of the first digital-only finance platforms in the UK that provided accounts for businesses. With headquarters in London and offices in Sofia, Hyderabad and Berlin, the company has built a reputation for providing easy-to-use and affordable business banking services.

Bear in mind that Tide isn't actually a bank. Instead it’s a “business financial platform” that offers business bank accounts through ClearBank. That being said, it’s still regulated by the FCA. Tide’s founders believe their model allows them to provide a wider range of products to its customers. Trusted by more than 400,000 small business owners, freelancers and limited companies throughout the UK, Tide is all about “giving time back” to businesses of all sizes.

Learn more about Tide

Safety and security

Safety and security online are key concerns for most business owners. Let’s take a look at how Starling Business and Tide keep your data and money safe.

Deposit protection

Both Starling and Tide are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which means that your money is covered up to £85,000. This protection gives you peace of mind knowing that your money is safe and secure.

Fraud prevention

Starling and Tide offer a set of powerful fraud prevention features to keep your money and info safe.

Real-time notifications are a key fraud prevention at Starling. These notifications keep you in the loop about what's coming in and out of your account, allowing you to detect any suspicious activity. Their 3D secure feature acts as two-factor authentication where you’re asked to approve certain transactions via the app.

Starling also offers card controls, allowing you to choose whether you want to allow or disable features like contactless and chip & pin payments and ATM withdrawals. You can also freeze or cancel your card instantly if you think it might be lost or stolen.

Like Starling, Tide offers two-factor security, ensuring that all new payees are verified through your phone. Tide also offers limits on transaction sizes which they set by default. But if you feel like these don’t work for you, you can get in touch with them to change them.

Both accounts also offer help if you are worried about a potential fraud or theft situation. With Starling, you can contact their helpdesk 24/7 from all over the world to report a potential issue. And with Tide, you can call or get in-app help if you’re worried about fraud.

Protecting user data

Both Starling Business and Tide take data protection seriously. Starling and Tide alike store your information mainly on UK and EEA servers in line with GDPR regulations. Starling describes their server environment as “highly secure” with any information encrypted as soon as it’s stored.

ClearBank provides the bank account used by Tide. Both Tide and ClearBank process your information, but they play by very similar rules when it comes to protecting your data. They employ a “need to know” policy on accessing information, plus they also pseudonymise and encrypt your data where possible.

Plus, if Tide needs to transfer your data outside of the EEA area, they take steps to only share it with organisations that agree to play by the GDPR’s rules. Starling also ensures that your data is safeguarded if it leaves the EEA, but points out the standards outside of the EEA “may not be as stringent”.


Both bank accounts are generally rated on the high end of the scale across several review sites. Bear in mind though, Starling offers both personal and business accounts. As such, the results point to a combined score. This is also probably why there are more reviews, on average, for Starling (approximately 578,000 at the time of writing) versus Tide (approximately 103,000).

Starling Bank Tide 
TrustPilot4.3 /5 (35,000)4.3 / 5 (16,000)
SmartMoney people4.95/5 (33,000) 4.82/5 (6,000) 
Google Play Store4.5/5 (100,000) 3.5/5 (16,000) 
App Store4.9/5 (410,000) 4.8/5 (65,000) 
Total4.7/5 4.4 / 5

With a 4.7/5, Starling has a better overall score than Tide’s 4.4/5. The two accounts are pretty much neck-and-neck across most review platforms. But, Tide has a slightly lower score of 3.5 on Google Play which is why its aggregate rating is also on the lower side.

Go to StarlingGo to Tide


Both Tide and Starling have won several industry awards. Tide recently won World Future Awards’ Best Mobile Banking Solutions category. And, in 2021, it won UK FinTech’s Banking Tech Award too.

Starling, on the other hand, won Smart Money People’s Best Business Banking Provider three years in a row, in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. It won the Best British Bank award three years in a row too. And, in 2021 it won Moneyfacts’ Best Banking App award.

In 2022, it was named Bank of the Year by CityAM Awards, and also earned the Which? Banking Brand of the Year award.

Fees and limits

FeeStarling BusinessTide 
Account opening feesNone None 
Monthly feesNone £0 - £49.99 depending on your plan
Card paymentsNone None 
UK bank transfers via BACS, CHAPS and Faster PaymentsNone, except £20 for CHAPS payments 20p per transfer with free account, otherwise a (un)limited number of free transactions depending on your plan. 
International payments0.4% + delivery fee (£5.50 for SWIFT or £0.30 for slower transfers).   Not available 
ATM feesNone £1 
Minimum balance feeNone None 
Maximum transaction£1,000,000 via Faster Payments, higher amounts possible via CHAPS  It varies, but customers can request that it’s changed. 

As you can see, neither provider charges to open an account and both provide a free version. Tide then offers a tiered price structure with paid features. Its most expensive option costs £49.99 per month + VAT but comes with cashback offers and a dedicated account manager.The free version comes with some great features like invoicing and integrations, but if you pay a little more, you can get yourself access to a 24/7 legal helpline and in-app support options.

Starling technically only offers a free Business account. But, you can pay for add-ons like a Euro business bank account (£2 per month) or a US business bank account (£5 per month). There’s also the Business Toolkit that can be added on for £7 per month. This comes with features like invoicing, VAT calculations, and estimates for HMRC tax and NI contributions.

You can use your card abroad with Starling and Tide alike. But it’s worth noting that Tide doesn’t support international payments yet. This means you can’t make bank transfers to foreign accounts. They are working hard to include this functionality in the future though. Now, if your business is based solely in the UK, that shouldn’t be an issue. But you may need to use another account, such as Wise, to get around it if you have international clients.


Both Starling and Tide provide a reliable service for their users. A quick check shows that all systems are operational at Starling and Tide alike right now, which is always a good sign when it comes to reliability.

For the most part, both sites appear to operate without many incidents. Starling reported a card payment related incident in April , which has since been resolved. Likewise, Tide faced issues with adding payees in March, which have also since been resolved.

All in all, both providers seem to offer a similar level of reliability and seem to work quickly to resolve issues.

Customer support

When you’re in a pinch, you want to know that your banking provider will be able to help you out quickly. Both Starling and Tide offer various customer support options. Let’s take a look at what that looks like.

Starling BusinessTide  
Phone ✅ - available 24/7 ✅ - you can request a callback via the app or via email. Or call 24/7 to report lost or stolen cards. 
Email ✅ - available 24/7 ✅ - available 24/7 
Live Chat ✅ – available in-app 24/7 ✅- available in-app 

The only tangible difference between Starling and Tide is their callback function. With Starling, you can call someone right away. Tide asks that you request a callback or use their hotline to report a lost or stolen card.

With Tide, you do also get a 24/7 legal helpline if you opt for one of their paid plans. And you’ll also get “priority” in-app support, so possibly a quicker response to your query if you pay up.

International payments

If you’re dealing with international clients, you’ll need the reassurance that you can make or take international payments too.

This is where Starling might work better than Tide. Tide doesn’t currently offer the ability to make international payments. They’re working on it though, so if you have your heart set on Tide, the business is probably still a contender. Plus, they say you can use third party services to send and receive payments in the interim.

With Starling, you’ll be able to make international payments using your business account. They support 20 currencies and you’ll be able to send money to 36 countries via their service. Some big players like India and the UAE aren’t currently supported by Starling, so it might make payments a little tricky if your business operates there.

Starling charges a 0.4% transfer fee in addition to a SWIFT fee of £5.50. If you want to lower those costs, you can opt for a local network fee where applicable instead. The SWIFT fee is waived, and you pay a local network fee starting from £0.30, in addition to the 0.4% transfer fee.

What are the international transaction limits? 

There is a limit of £10,000 per day, or the equivalent in the foreign currency of your choice. If you have a sole trader account, your limits may be slightly different, but if you speak to customer service, they should be able to let you know what those are.

Also, if you’ve opted for a Euro or USD Starling bank account, transaction limits may apply too. For instance, with your Euro bank account, there is a transaction limit of £250,000. And you’ll also have a USD limit per transaction set at $25,000. You can receive up to $1,000,000 into your account per day though.

What’s the typical transfer time? 

You’ll always get an estimated delivery date when you make an international transfer with Starling. If you’ve opted for priority delivery via SWIFT, this will typically take between 1 to 5 working days. But, if you’ve opted for a transfer via a local partner network, then expect it to take a little longer.

Ease of use

In terms of ease of use, Starling and Tide alike offer award-winning banking apps. Starling won Moneyfacts’ Best Banking App in 2021 and Smart Money People’s Best Banking App Award in 2021, plus Money App Awards’ Best app for business banking in 2020 to name a few. It’s worth noting, while Starling was the winner in the best app category in 2020, Tide came second, so it’s safe to say the two apps offer a decent user experience which merits awards.

App store user reviews would suggest the two apps are neck and neck too. Starling has a slight edge with a 4.9/5 rating, while Tide has a 4.8/5 rating.The Google Play reviews suggest Tide’s iPhone app is better than its Android offering though. It scored 3.5/5 based on user reviews on the Google Play store. Starling, on the other hand, scored 4.5/5.

Both bank accounts also offer browser access, so they’re not app-only. This is helpful if you’d prefer to do some of your banking on your computer rather than your phone.

And from an accessibility perspective, both bank accounts are doing well based on Chrome’s accessibility audit. When we ran a Chrome audit, Starling’s website had an accessibility score of 98/100, while Tide’s accessibility score was 92/100 on mobile. And on desktop, Tide’s accessibility score was 92/100 while Starling was 100.

All in all, both online bank accounts offer easy to use interfaces for users as evidenced by their high scores and glowing reviews.

Savings accounts and interest rates

Starling Business offers a one-year Fixed Business Saver with a 2.50% AER gross interest rate. This means that you can deposit a lump sum of £2,000 to £1,000,000 and earn a guaranteed return when your money matures in 12 months time. But, it also means you can’t touch the money for a year.

On the other hand, Tide does not offer a traditional savings account, but they do have a feature called sub-accounts. These are essentially mini accounts that you can use to budget and manage your funds.For example, you can create a sub-account for expenses, tax payments, or employee wages. While there is no interest offered on these sub-accounts, they do offer a variety of other useful features such as instant transfers and the ability to make and receive payments.

When deciding which option is best for your business, it really depends on your savings goals. If you're looking for a guaranteed return on a lump sum, Starling Business may be the way to go. But if you're more concerned with budgeting and managing expenses, Tide's sub-accounts could be a valuable tool instead.

Go to StarlingGo to Tide

Overdraft facilities

Overdrafts can be a great way for businesses to cover unexpected costs and ensure they have enough cash flow to keep their business running smoothly. Starling’s business account offers overdrafts from £1,000 to £50,000, and you only pay interest on the amount borrowed.

Tide, on the other hand, does not offer overdrafts. However, they offer the Tide Credit Line feature, which operates in a similar way to a credit card. This revolving credit facility enables you to withdraw money, use it to fund your business, repay, and withdraw again when needed.

When it comes to business loans, Starling Business and Tide both offer a range of options, but there are some differences to consider. Starling Business loans range from £25,001 to £250,000, with a fixed monthly payment plan. They charge no fees for early repayments. However, a personal guarantee is required as security, and there is a one-off loan arrangement fee of 4% payable at the point of drawdown.

Meanwhile, Tide's business loan options include start-up loans, business cash advance, and invoice finance, providing more tailored options for businesses that need specific types of loans.

To sum up, both business accounts offer lending options for business owners. Tide has a range of business loans and its Credit Line feature, while Starling offers overdrafts and business loans depending on your needs.

Account opening process

Starling and Tide alike aim to make their application process as painless as possible. While both offer great services, there are a few key differences in the account opening process that you should be aware of before making your choice.

First, let's talk about documentation. Starling Business requires a valid photo ID, such as a passport or UK driving licence. If you're an LLP, you'll apply for their business account. If you're a sole trader, you'll apply for the sole trader account.

You may also need to provide evidence about the nature of your business if requested. This could include:

  • bank statements

  • lease agreements

  • contracts

  • proof of property ownership

  • relevant qualifications

They’ll get in touch if they need anything specific though.

With Tide, you’ll also apply on the basis of being either a sole trader or business. There’s two separate (but similar) applications. You'll need to:

  • be aged 18 or above

  • have a valid UK phone number

  • have a mobile phone to complete identification checks

Next, let's talk about time to complete the process. Starling Business aims to open your account as soon as possible, often within 24 hours. The application takes about 10 minutes initially, but you may be asked further questions, so it kind of depends on how quickly you can get them the answers they need.

Tide, on the other hand, boasts that 53% of applicants opened their account in under 10 minutes, 70% in under 60 minutes, and 81% within 48 hours. They want to make it as quick and easy for you to open a business account as they can, basically.

Starling Business will run a soft credit check before they approve your account, and Tide will perform electronic checks through a third-party service so they can verify your identity and comply with money laundering regs. These checks shouldn’t impact your credit score, but may appear on your credit report.

Overall, both online bank accounts offer a quick and transparent way to open a business account with them.

Learn more about StarlingLearn more about Tide

Cash deposits and withdrawals

Cash-based businesses need a bank account that can handle that. But is cash king at Starling and Tide? Let’s find out.

Let’s look at deposits first. Tide allows for cash deposits at both Post Office and PayPoint locations. At the Post Office, fees are only £2.50 for deposits up to £500 and 0.5% for deposits over £500, while PayPoint incurs a 3% fee on the total deposit value. Your monthly limit for these deposits at the Post Office is up to £25,000, with a yearly deposit limit of up to £300,000. At PayPoint, you can normally deposit between £10 - £500 per day.

On the other hand, Starling Business also allows cash deposits at the Post Office, but with different fees. You will be charged a fee for each deposit of money into your account using the Post Office Counter Service, which will either be £3 or 0.7% of the amount deposited, whichever fee is higher.The limits to the amount of cash that can be deposited vary between businesses, so you'll need to contact Starling to find out more about your specific annual limit.Now, let’s talk cheques. With Starling, you can deposit cheques of £1000 or less via the app by simply taking a photo. Otherwise, the limit for depositing cheques per day is £2000 for sole trader accounts, and £5000 for business accounts. Tide doesn’t currently offer cheque deposit functionality, but they are working on fixing that.

How about withdrawals though? Well, Tide doesn’t seem to publish that info and it probably depends on the account you hold with them. But, a user reported they were allowed to withdraw £500 per day max from an ATM in 2020, so that should give you a ballpark figure.As for Starling Business, you’re normally limited to £300 per day in ATM withdrawals, or the equivalent in a different currency. They will not charge a fee for withdrawing cash from ATMs in the UK, including Post Office ATMs. However, if you withdraw cash using the Post Office Counter Service, you'll be charged £0.50 per withdrawal.

So which one fares better when it comes to cash deposits and withdrawals? Well, that probably depends on your needs. If you’re going to be depositing lots of cheques, then Starling might be better suited to you as it has that functionality. But, Tide’s cash deposit fees are a little lower than Starling’s, so if you deposit lots of cash, that might work better for you.

Large payments

If you’re handling large amounts of money, you need the reassurance that your business account will let you manage big transactions too. So how do Tide and Starling fare when it comes to large payments?

First up, Tide. Your transaction limits will vary based on whether you’re a sole trader or limited company.  However, by tapping on "Accounts" in the in-app “More” menu, you can see your limits and request an increase if needed. So while you might be subject to limited transactions, it looks like you have some control over what that looks like.

There might be limitations based on the method you use. For instance, one of your options with Tide is to use Payment Links. But if you're using Tide Payment Links, there is a monthly limit of £20,000. This won’t apply to other methods though.

On the other hand, with the Starling Faster Payments scheme, you can process payments up to a whopping £1,000,000 per transaction. If you need to send a payment over £1,000,000, then Starling offers CHAPS payments that cost £20.

Now, Starling does say that payment limits may apply to your business accounts. Typically, if they want to query a payment, they will contact you via the app. Sometimes, you might need to provide evidence which they’ll need to review before they process the payment. So that’s something to bear in mind.

All in all, it looks like both Tide and Starling offer the opportunity to process large payments and retain some control over your limits.


Starling and Tide offer a range of integrations, so if you’re looking to use a specific accounting software or POS system, you might be in luck.

Tide, for instance, currently integrates with the following accounting software:

  • Xero

  • Sage

  • Coconut

  • Kashflow

  • QuickBooks

  • Crunch

  • Reckon

It’s worth noting they’ve committed to adding more accounting integrations in the future, so if your provider isn’t listed, chances are it’s in the works.

Starling Business also offers integrations with some accounting software providers, namely:

  • Xero

  • FreeAgent

  • Quickbooks

Tide offers a wider choice of accounting software integrations, but if your provider of choice is covered by both, that might not be a deciding factor.

If you’re planning on taking payments from customers, both Starling and Tide offer POS system integrations too. Starling offers integrations with iZettle as well as SumUp. Starling Business has a “marketplace” where you can view all business integrations that are currently available for its users across categories ranging from HR to insurance to payments.

While Tide doesn’t have specific info on other integrations, their FAQs indicate that users can use their Tide accounts with services like GoCardless and iZettle too. Plus, Tide’s Open Banking feature allows users to connect their bank accounts to a range of third party apps, so there may be scope for further integrations.


Both Starling and Tide offer robust online business accounts that are FSCS-protected and come with lots of safety features to keep your money safe. Plus, both accounts are pretty highly ranked based on user reviews and have won prestigious awards too.

If you have lots of international clients, then Starling might be a better shout. They support international payments in-app and you won’t have to use third party providers. Tide offers more accounting software integrations though, so if there’s a specific one you want to use, Tide might be a better option. All in all, either option could work well for you depending on your exact business needs.

Go to StarlingGo to Tide


Is Starling cheaper than Tide?

Both Starling and Tide have free business bank account options for their customers. Tide’s free version comes with invoicing, while this is a paid add-on with Starling. However, Starling offers free bank transfers and ATM withdrawals, whereas Tide charges £0.20 per transaction on its basic plan. Ultimately, either provider could work out “cheaper” for your purposes, depending on what your business needs are.

Which bank account has better reviews?

With a 4.7/5, Starling has a better overall score than Tide’s 4.4/5. The two accounts are pretty much neck-and-neck across most review platforms. But, Tide has a slightly lower score of 3.5 on Google Play which is why its aggregate rating is also on the lower side.

How do Starling and Tide protect deposits?

Both Starling and Tide offer FSCS-protected bank accounts to protect your money. But, other than that, both business accounts also offer pretty robust security features to keep your money and data safe. This includes features like two-factor authentication and automatic limits on transactions.

Check out our other comparisons

If there are other business bank accounts on your radar, our detailed comparisons will help you decide which one is best for your business: