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How do I open a business bank account if I have a poor credit history?

Having a bad credit score makes life difficult in lots of ways and it can mean it’s harder to open a business bank account. However, there are an increasing number of free business bank account options out there if you do have a bad credit history. 

Can I open a bank account if I have a bad credit score?

The simple answer is: yes, you can. 

Having a bad credit score may limit your options as some banks will conduct a credit check as part of their application process. Depending on the bank’s eligibility criteria, this may mean you’re not able to open an account. Typically, high street banks are stricter with regards to who can open an account. 

However, many of the digital-only accounts such as Tide and Starling do not take your credit score into account. Equally, some of the high street banks will offer basic account options for those with bad credit – or, if you’re looking for a no-frills free business bank account

Top mobile business bank accounts with no credit checks

In the last decade we’ve seen the emergence of the mobile business bank account. The new brands offering these accounts are sometimes referred to as challenger banks. The likes of Starling Bank, Tide Business, ANNA Money and Monzo are some of the most notable. The key difference to the traditional banks is that they do not have a high street presence. Instead, their banking services are wholly digital meaning you can conduct all your financial affairs using an app or online banking. 

Most importantly for those with a bad credit score, you won’t be subject to a ‘hard’ credit check in order to open an account. This is mainly due to these accounts not offering credit facilities like traditional banks. Let’s have a look at the eligibility criteria:

Bank

Main features

Credit check?

Tide Business

  • Set up an account in minutes on your phone. 
  • Get a full UK sort code and account number.
  • Lots of useful features on the app such as auto-categorisation of expenses. 
  • Invoicing functionality. 
  • Sync with your accounting software. 

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No. Tide will perform an electronic check which will appear on your credit report. 

ANNA Money

  • Super quick to set up – less than five minutes.
  • Get a debit card, an account number, and a sort code.
  • Invoicing tool included in the app. 
  • Receipt scanner to help with your bookkeeping.
  • Tax calculations and reminders built into the app. 

No. ANNA Money will conduct an identity check to prove who you are. This won’t affect your credit score. 

Starling Bank

  • Best Business Banking Provider 2020 in British Bank Awards.
  • Variety of account options for different-sized businesses.
  • No monthly fees or payment charges. 
  • 24/7 support via app, phone or email.
  • Wide range of app features including analytics, digital receipt scanning and integration with accounting software.

Starling performs a ‘soft credit check’. This will appear on your credit file but won’t affect your credit score.

Monzo Business

  • Monzo Lite is free and quick to set up. You can do it all on your phone. 
  • Move money with free UK bank transfers.
  • Award-winning customer services. 
  • Monzo Pro at £5 a month includes invoicing, integrated accounting and 6 months free Xero access.

 

Monzo performs a ‘soft’ credit check. This will not affect your credit score. 

 

What about the traditional bank accounts if I have a poor credit score?

If you have a poor credit history, whether you have defaults on your credit file or have been made bankrupt, it’s going to make applying for a business bank account difficult – particularly with the traditional high street banks.  

However, a small number of these banks provide basic bank accounts if you’re not eligible for their main business account. This will at least allow you to have an account through which you can deposit/withdraw funds and move money. The list below will help determine the best business bank account for you.

  • Natwest Foundation Current Account – Whilst not widely advertised on their website, this Natwest account is specifically designed for businesses with a poor credit history who do not qualify for their main account. For an application pack contact the New Accounts Team on 0800 206 1962.
  • Santander Start-up Business Current Account – This basic account is aimed at businesses in their first year of trading. There’s no account fee for the first 18 months, after which you’ll pay £7.50 per month.
  • Barclays – According to Money Saving Answers, Barclays are known to be “particularly accommodating” towards current account customers with poor credit who may be looking to open a business bank account. However, this might only be if you have defaults on your credit file not CCJs or bankruptcies.
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