Do I need a business bank account?

Tarah Ren
Freddie Larkins
Last updated
August 3, 2023

Starting a new business can be an exciting and challenging journey. But as you navigate through the initial stages, questions about financial management will inevitably arise.

A question that often pops up is whether a business bank account is really necessary. Many new entrepreneurs may consider using their personal accounts for business transactions, especially in the early stages of their business journeys. However, while this may seem convenient at first, evaluating the long-term benefits and drawbacks is essential.

Let’s explore why having a dedicated business bank account may be the right choice for you.

The verdict:

Consider a business bank account if your business:

  • Is set up as a limited company

  • Has employees

  • Make a significant amount of money

  • Needs to track finances separately from your personal finances

  • Wants to improve its credit rating

However, you may be able to make do with a personal account if you are a:

  • Sole trader

  • Micro business

  • Don’t make a significant amount of money

  • Don’t need to track your finances separately

Learn more about the Wise Business account

Benefits of Having a Business Bank Account

Having a business bank account offers a wide range of benefits that go far beyond mere convenience and can contribute to the success and growth of your business venture.

Separation of business and personal finances

One key advantage is the separation of business and personal finances, which is vital for more transparent financial management. Keeping your personal and business transactions separate eliminates any confusion and potential problems that can crop up, which is especially valuable during tax season.

With a dedicated business account, you'll have a clear record of your business expenses and income, making it easier to calculate deductions and ensure compliance with tax regulations. It also helps to automate your tax prep, allowing you or your accountant to link your account transactions with tax preparation software.

By maintaining organised financial records, you not only save yourself time but minimise the risk of errors, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.

Access to business-specific features and services

A business bank account also provides access to various business-specific features and services. Unlike personal accounts, business accounts often come with higher transaction limits, allowing you to handle larger volumes of payments and deposits without constraints.

A business bank account opens up a world of possibilities thanks to exclusive services and special features tailored specifically for businesses. Unlike regular personal accounts, business accounts come with higher transaction limits, enabling you to manage larger amounts of payments seamlessly.

What's more, many accounts offer specialised merchant services, such as HSBC's Global Payments, enabling you to accept credit card payments from customers, enhancing convenience and expanding your sales channels. You'll also be able to process and pay your employee's salaries and get a company debit card.

A business account can offer exclusive benefits you wouldn't get with a personal bank account, including access to business loans, overdraft facilities tailored to business owner needs, and additional lines of credit.

Some banks, such as Natwest, may even provide you access to a dedicated relationship manager who has the specialist knowledge to understand your business needs and can give helpful business advice.

These services shouldn’t be underestimated - they can be invaluable for purchasing equipment, managing cash flows during slower periods and even funding your business expansion.

Check out the Wise Business account

Discounts and perks

Business bank accounts also bring additional benefits that go beyond financial management. Many banks provide attractive incentives such as reduced fees or fee waivers for specific transactions.

These cost-saving advantages can have a positive impact on your business's bottom line, allowing you to save money over time.

Certain business accounts also come with reward programs that offer points or cash-back incentives for business spending. For example, Santander's 1,2,3 Business Current Account offers up to £300 cash-back each year, while Tide's Cash-back Account has the extra benefit of 0.5% cash-back every time you spend with their card.

These rewards can be used to invest back into your business, offset fees or even enjoy personal benefits like discounted travel. By taking advantage of these perks, you maximise the value of your business bank account and make your transactions even more rewarding.

Check out the Wise Business account

Improved credit rating

Using a business bank account will also contribute to building a strong credit history for your business.

By regularly depositing and managing your funds, you establish a track record of responsible financial behaviour, which can prove instrumental when seeking business loans or other forms of financing.

Lenders often evaluate a business's credit rating before extending credit, and a well-maintained business account highlights your reliability and financial stability. With an improved credit rating, you not only gain better access to favourable loan terms but can also receive higher credit limits and other economic opportunities to fuel your business's growth.

Types of Business Accounts

When it comes to business bank accounts, there are various options on offer to meet the needs of different types of businesses and organisational structures. These include:

Sole trader accounts:

A sole trader account is designed for individuals operating their businesses as sole proprietors. It’s ideal for freelancers, consultants, or small-scale entrepreneurs who have complete control over their businesses and assume all financial responsibilities personally.


  • Tide - £0 per month, free invoicing, accounting integration, scheduled payments

  • Starling - £0 per month, 24/7 customer support, expense automation, connect to business tools

  • Wise - £0 per month, send payments to 70+ countries, hold and exchange cash in 50+ currencies, batch payments

Limited company accounts:

As limited companies are separate legal entities, they are legally bound to have separate business bank accounts. Limited company business accounts provide the legal necessity of dividing personal and business finances alongside benefits such as easier access to business loans, increased control over finances, and tax benefits.


Partnership accounts:

Partnership accounts cater to businesses formed by two or more people setting up a business together. Relatively simple to set up, these accounts provide a streamlined banking solution for managing shared finances, enabling partners to track contributions, allocate profits, and make collective financial decisions.


  • Revolut Standard Plan - £0 per month, software integration, team member permissions

  • Lloyds Bank Business Banking Start Up Account - £7 monthly fee after an introductory, free period, free transfers, practical business tools

  • Starling Business Account - £0 per month, Access for multiple directors, spending insights

Charity accounts:

Charity accounts are specifically designed for non-profit organisations and charity institutions, accommodating their unique needs by facilitating the management of donations and grants, as well as other funding sources.

Charity accounts often offer additional features, such as the ability to set up direct debits for recurring donations and offer reduced charges and free transactions. Most charity accounts will also allow you to earn tax-free interest on your balance as long as you can provide a Letter of Recognition. Other features include complimentary presentation cheques(5) for special occasions and a personal relationship manager, depending on your turnover.


  • HSBC Charitable Bank Account - £5 monthly fee, must be established as a not-for-profit organisation.

  • Barclays Community Account - Free banking for not-for-profit organisations, special deposit rates and day-to-day charity banking services.

  • Natwest Community Account - Free banking for not-for-profit companies with an annual credit turnover of less than £100,000.

Overall, choosing the right type of business bank account depends on the nature and structure of your business. Whether you're a sole trader, a limited company, a partnership or a charity, you can find a dedicated account to suit your individual requirements.

What’s the difference between a business and personal account?

The main difference between a business and a personal bank account is that a personal bank account is for personal expenses, while the primary use for a business bank account is managing business finances and transactions.

Personal AccountBusiness Account
Designed for personal transactions and expenses.For business transactions and expenses.
Manages individual finances.Separates personal and business finances.
Offers personal banking features like ATM access and online banking.Provides business-specific features and services like higher transaction limits and integration with accounting software. 

By understanding these distinctions, you can make informed decisions about which type of account best suits your financial needs, whether it’s managing your personal finances or running a business.

Learn more about the Wise Business account

How to Open a Business Bank Account

Opening a business bank account is crucial in establishing a solid financial foundation for your business. Luckily, opening a business account in the UK is pretty straightforward. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process.

1) Research and choose the right bank

Start by researching and comparing the different bank accounts on offer. Consider factors such as fees, account features and online banking capabilities, as well as those all-important customer reviews. Remember, every business is different, so choose a provider that offers the support and services you need.

2) Make sure that you are eligible and gather the necessary documents

Every bank will have its own eligibility criteria to open a business bank account, and you might need to provide information about your business before being considered. While each bank will have its specific requirements, you'll generally need the following:

  • Proof of ID - usually a passport or driver's licence.

  • Proof of UK address - both personal and business.

  • Business verification documents - You may be asked for business registration documents, a Companies House registration number or a certificate of incorporation if you are a limited company. You may also need to provide tax information such as your National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference. Some banks will require a business plan to show why you need a business account, as well as clear identification of all parties who own more than 10% of the business.

3) Submit an application

If choosing to open your account in person, a bank representative will guide you through the opening process and ask any questions they may have about your business during your appointment. Take this opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification on any account features, fees, or services. If your chosen provider allows online applications, then apply online.

4) Wait to receive your account information

Some business accounts can take several weeks to open due to the necessary checks that need to take place, in which case you'll have to wait to receive your account number, sort code and debit card. However, some online business banks offer same-day accounts that allow you to start sending and receiving payments almost immediately. Tide can open an account in under an hour, while Starling can open an account on the same day. Once you’re approved you can start using your account!

By being prepared and following the outlined steps, you can successfully open a business bank account that meets all your business needs.

Open a Wise Business account in minutes

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Business Bank Account

It's important to consider multiple factors when choosing a business bank account in order to find the best offer for your business. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Understand the fees

Understanding the fees associated with the account is vital. Evaluate transaction fees, monthly maintenance fees, card fees, ATM fees, and any other applicable charges.

Look for banks offering transparent fee structures and consider your business's transaction volume to ensure the fees align with your anticipated needs. Some banks may offer fee waivers or reduced costs for certain transactions, which is always worth exploring.

Weigh up the features and services offered

Assess the bank's features and services, ensuring they align with your requirements. These could include:

Online banking

Does your bank provide online banking and mobile banking apps? In today's digital and fast-paced world, financial institutions like Wise and Revolut offer digital features that shouldn't be overlooked. Providing convenience and accessibility, they allow business owners to manage their finances on the go anywhere in the world. While most business banks now offer Internet banking, it’s always best to double check beforehand.

Cash handling services and online transactions

If you run a retail business that frequently deals with cash deposits, you might prioritise a business bank account that offers convenient cash handling services with minimal fees. On the other hand, if you are running an eCommerce business and rely heavily on online transactions alongside access to mobile banking, a bank that offers robust and user-friendly digital banking solutions would be the better option for you.

Integration with accounting software

Accounting software gives you a complete view of how your business is performing in one place and improves the visibility of your cash flow, making it a lifesaver for most companies. It also assists with financial reporting, tax calculations and automates your accounting and reconciliation process. Tide’s business account connects seamlessly to account software, such as Xero, Quickbooks, Kash Flow, and Sage, to make your admin life a breeze.

Flexible overdrafts limits

Overdrafts can assist you with any short-term cash flow challenges and can be preferable to business loans as they are more flexible. You only borrow what you need at the time, making it potentially cheaper than taking out a loan. Barclays business current accounts offer up overdrafts of up to £50,000 unsecured that are quick and easy to arrange.

Deposit protection

Another business account feature to look out for is deposit protection. Under FSCS rules, you'll be covered up to £85,000 across all accounts you hold within a UK-authorised bank, building society or credit union should your bank fail.


Companies that don't cover deposits via the FSCS scheme use Safeguarding to keep their customers' deposits safe instead. This also protects funds should financial institutions go into liquidation and is an alternative form of deposit protection. Banks require FSCS protection because they lend out customer money. Digital banks, such as Wise, don't do this and keep customer money separate from their own, ensuring it's available whenever you need it.

Customer service

Customer service plays an essential role, especially when it comes to business banking. Responsive and helpful customer service can make a significant difference in addressing any issues or concerns that could crop up.

Look for banks with a reputation for excellent customer service, as they are more likely to provide you with the valuable support and guidance you need throughout your banking relationship. Consider make-or-break factors such as responsiveness, customer support availability, and whether you can reach a knowledgeable representative when needed.

Remember, finding the right bank account can contribute to efficient financial management, helping you save money on fees and providing valuable support for the growth and success of your business. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose a business account that will work for you and not the other way around.

Learn more about the Wise Business account

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Business Bank Account

Whenever you open a bank account or enter into a financial agreement, being aware of the potential pitfalls is essential to avoid being caught off guard. Here are some critical mistakes to steer clear of to ensure a smoother banking experience without any unpleasant surprises along the way:

Overlooking hidden fees: One of the most common mistakes is failing to review fee structures thoroughly. Watch out for hidden fees, including inactivity fees, minimum balances, or charges for additional services. Carefully read the terms and conditions or speak directly with a bank representative to ensure you have a good understanding of all the potential fees associated with the business account.

Ignoring minimum terms: Some banks may have minimum term requirements, meaning you are locked into the account for a specific period of time. Be careful of lengthy medium terms that may limit your flexibility to switch banks if you end up being unsatisfied with their services. It’s crucial to understand the duration of any contractual agreements and consider the potential implications before committing to any account.

Neglecting the fine print: Always read the fine print and carefully review the account terms and conditions. Pay attention to any limitations or restrictions affecting your business's banking needs. For example, certain banks may have transaction or deposit limits that could hinder your business's growth or impose additional charges for exceeding those limits.

Not considering future needs: It's crucial to think ahead and consider your business's future needs when choosing a business bank account. While a bank may meet your current requirements, evaluate if it can support your business as it grows. Consider factors like scalability, financing options, and additional services that may be necessary further down the line. Choosing a bank that can accommodate your evolving needs can save you the hassle of switching banks in the future.

Always take the time to research and compare different banks, carefully reviewing their terms and fee structures, and ask relevant questions before making any decisions. If you’re ever unsure, take a proactive approach and talk to a trusted financial advisor who can steer you in the right direction.

Should I open a business account with the same bank as my current account?

So you're considering opening a business bank account with the same bank as your current account. But is it a good idea? As always, there are pros and cons - let's take a look at both sides.


  1. Familiarity and expedited process: Sticking with the same bank can have its advantages. Since you already have a relationship with the bank, they should be familiar with your financial history and have your personal information on file. This familiarity and already established relationship can expedite the account opening process, as they may require less documentation or verification.

  2. Convenience and app familiarity: If you're already comfortable using the bank's mobile app or online banking platform for your personal account, managing both personal and business accounts within the same system can be convenient. You'll already be familiar with the features and layout of the app, which can save you a lot of time and simplify your banking experience.

  3. Streamlined banking experience: Keeping both accounts with the same bank can offer a cohesive and streamlined experience. You'll be able to access your accounts all in one place, making it easier to monitor your finances and transfer funds between accounts.

  4. Relationship benefits: If you have a longstanding relationship with your current bank, they may provide offers and additional benefits for having multiple accounts, such as access to exclusive offers or promotions.


  1. Limited options and competitive rates: By limiting your options to just one bank, you might miss out on better rates and terms offered by other banks or specialised business account providers. It's important to compare different options to ensure you get the best value for your business's banking needs.

  2. Lack of specialisation: While your current bank may offer outstanding personal accounts and provide customers with the option to open a business account, they might not have the specialised features or services that a dedicated account provider, such as Tide or Starling, offers. Specialist business account providers often cater to the specific needs of businesses, which significantly differ from personal account customers.

  3. Limited comparison opportunities: By sticking with the same bank, you might miss out on comparing offerings from different banks. Other banks or specialised providers may provide better features and lower fees that could better benefit your business.

  4. Potential bias in decision-making: Having both accounts with the same bank could result in biased decision-making. For example, if you encounter issues with your personal account, it could affect your perception and trust in your bank's ability to handle your business account effectively and vice versa.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your preferences and specific circumstances. If you have a positive relationship with your current bank and value convenience, then opening a business account with them may be the perfect option.

However, if you require more specialised business features or prefer to explore alternative providers to see what else is on the market, it's worth comparing accounts from different banks. By conducting thorough research and considering all of the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and requirements.

Learn more about the Wise Business account


Do you legally need a business bank account?

In the UK, the requirement to have a business bank account depends on the legal structure of your business. Sole traders and partnerships are not legally required to have a separate business bank account. However, it is advisable for bookkeeping and more transparent financial management. Limited companies, on the other hand, are legally required to have a dedicated business bank account.

Can I use my personal bank account for my business?

Yes, you can use your personal bank account for your business transactions if you are a sole trader or in a partnership.

Do you need a business bank account as a sole trader?

No, as a sole trader, you are not legally required to have a separate business bank account.

Can I open a business account with bad credit?

Opening a business account with bad credit can be challenging but not impossible. While most banks and financial institutions assess each applicant's credit history when considering business account applications, each bank has its own criteria and policies regarding credit checks, so it's always worth exploring different options.