The best current accounts for your import-export business.
There are two kinds of people reading this article: businesspeople fed up with traditional banks freezing their accounts and blocking their transactions, and businesspeople struggling to get onboarded.
It’s easy for well-known companies to get onboarded. They have well-established reputations, which makes compliance a breeze. Banks trust them, so their transactions go through seamlessly.
It’s difficult for SMEs. And even if you do manage to get onboard, you face automated responses from chatbots and clueless customer support assistants.
What you need is a business account with good forex rates, human support, fast transaction times and dedicated account managers.
In this article, we’re going to show you the best business accounts offered by UK banks, as well as the new alternatives. Take Silverbird, an EMI-certified payments provider — it gives you a fuss-free, borderless alternative to traditional banking. now.
There are many business accounts offered by traditional banks. We’ve narrowed it down to three in the UK.
The benefits of choosing a traditional bank is the availability of loans and trade finance.
With that being said, the reviews from existing customers are, quite frankly, terrible — and these are the preeminent British banks we’re talking about.
Don’t worry. As we’ll go on to explain, there are alternatives.
As for the UK, let’s go.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), like most traditional banks, is good for established businesses that work in one jurisdiction.
For instance, if you have a turnover of up to 2 million and switch your account from your previous bank, you get up to 24 months of free business banking. You gain access to free accounting software. You pay for what you use — that means no monthly fees.
But unless you have a startup account with that sweet 24 months of fee-free banking, you will pay heavily for each international transaction — not great if you regularly send high-volume transactions.
Here’s the same old story — RBS is good for big businesses. Only big businesses with large profit margins get a dedicated relationship manager. So if there’s a problem — and if you’re a small business — you’ll be lucky if you get to speak to someone who understands global trade.
The benefit is the supposed speed of account opening times. Take this with a pinch of salt, but RBS claim that 80% of their RBS business account holders open their account on the same day as their application.
On paper, HSBC is good for modern international trade. You can open your account online — indeed, HSBC claims that most of its business accounts are opened within 48 hours. Better still, businesses can transfer up to £100,000 per day in over 60 currencies.
You’ll get access to a dedicated relationship manager with a business banking account. The problem is that HSBC relationship managers don’t specialise in international trade — they’re used to run-of-the-mill one-nation businesses. Sure, they have specialist support teams, but they won’t know you or your business.
Lloyds is a good option for non-resident businesses. For one, the small business account doesn’t require your business to be UK-registered. Better still, small business accounts have no fees for the first year.
The downside? You don’t get access to a relationship manager. Lloyds reserves that feature for big-buck businesses with more than a £3 million turnover. Those big businesses can choose their own tariffs too.
Lloyds, unlike RBS and HSBC, is shoddy when it comes to account opening times. It usually takes up to 6 weeks to open an account at Lloyds.
Obviously, this is a dangerously bad state of affairs for UK importers and exporters. No wonder the financial world has seen a rise in fintechs and challenger banks.
Businesses are becoming global and as such, more complex. Traditional banks steer away from complexity. To comply with financial regulations, banks have to scrutinise high-value international transactions to make sure nothing dodgy is going on.
This is easy to do for big businesses. After all, they’re household names with established reputations. For small businesses, it’s a different story: blocked transactions and broken supply chains.
Traditional banks don’t want this trouble. That’s why you’re finding it difficult to get onboard at a bank. With Silverbird, we welcome international trade, and we have tailored fees just for your SME.
What are fintechs doing differently?
Most fintechs and challengers use the power of technology to analyse your data and provide services that are tailored to you. Let’s say you’re an international merchant — you’ll see functions like a low forex exchange rate, no transaction limits or fast and timely overseas transfer times.
For example, Silverbird has fees specially tailored to meet the exact needs of your business, because we understand that every business is different. Explore the Silverbird business account built for global trade now.
What you need to keep your business running is a working business account and fast transaction times. Using a traditional bank risks having frozen accounts without explanation, late payments and unresponsive human support.
Unlike traditional banks, which may take 2 to 4 weeks for you to open an account, challenger banks and digital payment providers help you save time with almost immediate online service.
Traditional banks usually require you to be physically present at the bank to open or close an account, deposit or withdraw money, or perform any other service. Now, challenger banks and digital payment providers let you do this in the comfort of your home, or on the go using a mobile device.
Compared to traditional banks, digital banks have relatively cheaper fees with cutting-edge technology. Some fintechs such as Silverbird offer fast and fair foreign exchange (forex) rates. You can even exchange funds without exorbitant international transfer fees — all within one business account.
These are the 6 best fintechs (in our opinion) for your import-export business.
PayPal is known and trusted by millions of people worldwide. It’s a big company, offering seamless integration with countless platforms, and connects you with a vast network of individuals and businesses.
But unexpected account closures and delayed payments have become commonplace on PayPal Business, so high risk merchants (anyone involved in global trade) should avoid it like the plague. Worse still, don’t expect a dedicated account manager.
Tide does it all, handling all your business needs in one nifty product. Global payments. Invoices. Accounting. Business expenses. You name it.
But here’s the thing about Tide: it’s great if you’re willing to spend nearly £50 per month in account fees. That means only the wealthy few can afford the dedicated account manager.
Tide also only works with UK-registered businesses. With that being said, they go the extra mile by registering your company in the UK for free.
Airwallex is another great all-rounder. It’s cheap (think no setup fees or maintenance fees) and enables seamless software integration at no extra cost, with the likes of Shopify and accounting systems like Xero.
Global payments are easy — you can accept payments from over 180+ countries, for instance. You get a dedicated account manager too.
There’s a problem. Transfer limits are set based on a prior agreement with Airwallex. If you suddenly have to make an abnormally large payment — for example, during a big currency fluctuation — you may face some difficulties.
Check the reviews. Airwallex sometimes locks customers out of their account with no explanation. This is largely as a result of their compliance processes — it’s not wholly focused on global trade.
No monthly fees, and cashback when team members spend using the Wise business card. It’s clear that Wise has a compelling product offer.
Their live FX rates are hard to beat, which makes it an excellent choice for small businesses involved in global trade.
The downside? They don’t offer dedicated account managers for all businesses. But they do offer ‘sales experts' for medium to large businesses.
Revolut is great for bread and butter businesses — companies that do business within a single jurisdiction, like the EU. There’s no monthly fee, and physical cards are available too. It’s FX rates are competitive too. And look at their currency offering — 25+ currencies available to exchange.
The problem for exporters and importers is that Revolut doesn’t specialise in global trade. This can sometimes throw up compliance hurdles and leads to frozen accounts and delayed payments. Moreover, Revolut only offers account managers for certain businesses.
This fully digital payments company gets you onboarded 100% online in a matter of days — with minimum red tape.
Enjoy a free account and a transparent fee structure tailored to your business’s needs. A dedicated account manager — no matter the size of your business. Instantaneous and unlimited payments. The power to pay and get paid in 30+ currencies — all from a single account.
In short, the compliance people at Silverbird understand the complexity of importing and exporting — that means no unexpected frozen accounts and no delayed payments.
Silverbird gives you the power to control 30+ currencies from a single multi-currency account. Send high-value payments regularly — with no limits. No paperwork. No endless cat-and-mouse calls with clueless customer support assistants. Enjoy a relationship with a dedicated account manager who understands international trade. Try Silverbird today.
Get the multi-currency account built for quick and easy international payments, with no limits.