What are the Quickest Business Bank Accounts to Open? 

Long gone are the days when you needed mountains of paperwork and documents to open a business acco

Updated: July 14, 2024
Rebecca Goodman

Written By

Rebecca Goodman

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Long gone are the days when you needed mountains of paperwork and documents to open a business account and it can now be done in a matter of minutes. Previously you may have needed an appointment at your local bank branch and the process was anything but speedy.

But now, there are a huge range of online business accounts and many of these can be opened with a few clicks on a laptop or even on your smartphone.

Banks and e-money providers offer business accounts that are quick to open and often come with lots of benefits. Some of these accounts have a monthly fee but others are free to open and use.

Do I need a business account?

The first thing to ask yourself if you’re thinking about opening a business bank account is what you will use it for and what type of account would suit you best.

If you run your own business, whatever size it may be, having a business account is a good idea. It allows you to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. 

It also makes accounting, and sending your tax return back, a lot easier as there is just one account to look at.

While you don’t have to open a separate business account, it is recommended. Many accounts also offer extra services, such as rewards and cashback, which can provide a nice boost to your business account.

How quickly can I open a business account?

If you’re looking to open a business account quickly, an online bank account or an app-based account is usually the fastest option.

Also Read: 12 Best Online Banks in the UK

The exact timings will depend on the type of bank account you would like to open, the bank or e-money provider, and also things like your turnover and the size of your business.

If you are able to provide all the information needed, such as your business address and financial details, it might be possible to open a new business bank account within a few hours. 

You will usually be required to enter all of these details and send proof of your identification before an account can be opened. If any details are missing, or the bank needs further information, this can slow down the process.

What’s the difference between an online bank and a e-money provider?

There are lots of business bank accounts to choose from, and many of those which are available to open quickly come from e-money providers. 

These work in a similar way to banks but there are some big differences. Banks in the UK, for example, must have a banking licence and be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This protects up to £85,000 of customer money if a bank were to go bust. UK banks are also allowed to lend out customer money and they can earn interest on loans.

E-money providers, on the other hand, are not allowed to do this. They also are not usually covered by the FSCS but will have other protections set up to look after the money they hold. Money is usually kept in a separate ring-fenced account, for example. 

There are fewer restrictions for e-money providers and this means they can often be more flexible and their operating costs tend to be lower. This can be an advantage for customers, as they can usually open an account quickly and cheaply when compared to the more traditional banks. 

Are online business bank accounts safe?

Providers of online business bank accounts must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and follow its rules and processes. 

If you choose an e-money provider, such as Revolut, it is not protected under the FSCS. However, it – and other similar providers – will have other processes in place for protecting customer money.  

Also read: Revolut Business Review

Online vs branch business accounts

If you choose an online, or app-based business account, it will usually be faster to set up an account. However, there are pros and cons of using one of these when compared to traditional branch-based accounts as we outline below.

The pros of an online business account

Some of the benefits of an online or app-based business account include:

  • Quick to set up
  • You can manage your money at any time of the day or night, from anywhere in the world
  • Often cheaper to open and operate

The cons of an online business account

Online accounts aren’t suitable for every type of business and there are negatives to consider too, such as the following:

  • May not have protection from the FSCS
  • You can’t speak to someone face to face about the account
  • There may be restrictions on the amount of money your business can make

What documents do I need to open a business account online?

The exact details and documents required for opening an online business account will depend on the provider. But usually, you’ll be required to show the following:

  • The name and address of your business
  • How many years you’ve been operating
  • Number of employees and shareholders you have (if any)
  • Annual turnover and profit
  • Previous tax returns and your unique tax reference number
  • Proof that you are the business owner (and proof of your identification such as a UK passport or driving licence)

How to choose a business account?

If you’re looking for a fast account to open, an online or app-based provider is usually your best bet. There are lots of accounts to choose from so you will want to shop around and find an account that is right for you and your business. Keep in mind the following points too:

  • How much does the account cost, is there a monthly or annual fee?
  • Are there limits on a company’s overall profit?
  • What extras come with the account – such as cashback or rewards?
  • Does the account offer any benefits for overseas travel?
  • What protection is in place for customer money?
  • What is the customer service like?
  • How can you contact the bank if something goes wrong?

The Best Business Accounts to Open Quickly

Your best business account will depend on what you’re looking for and the nature and size of your business. But here are three of our favourite accounts which are quick to open:

(1) Tide Business Account

You can open a business account with Tide in 10 minutes and there are several to choose from. Each account has different features and you can have five open at the same time.

There are fees with most Tide accounts, to reflect the extra benefits included such as invoicing and business expensing facilities. It offers more services than the ANNA account below, such as being able to set up direct debits and standing orders although it doesn’t accept cheques.

Money held in a Tide account is kept in a ClearBank account, which is protected by the FSCS.  

(2) ANNA Money account

If you’re looking for a business account that’s quick to open, the ANNA Money account takes just three minutes. There are three different types of accounts to choose from and there is a fee for each one. 

It has some nice extra benefits, such as being able to send invoices through the app and connecting with other ANNA users. 

However, you can’t deposit cash or cheques and there are no credit or overdraft services. It’s also an e-money provider so there is no FSCS protection.

(3) Mettle

The Mettle account can be applied for in a few minutes and the bank says it will respond to these in 72 hours. While this is longer than some of the other accounts on our list, Mettle is provided by NatWest so it offers a lot of traditional services in an online format.

One of the best things about the Mettle account is that it offers free accounts to sole traders and small businesses and it has a range of benefits included too.  It doesn’t provide overdrafts and there is a daily limit of £10,000 on payments, which could affect bigger businesses. 

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