- Free account
- For sole traders and limited companies
- Backed by NatWest
- Syncs with accounting tools
- FreeAgent free account
- Branded invoices
When high street banks start their own challenger banks, you know that the banking market is getting crowded. mettle is a challenger bank backed by NatWest that focuses solely on business accounts for sole traders and small companies.
Now that mettle is up and running and out of its pilot phase, we decided to see what it offers and write this mettle review. But first, here’s our short verdict:
mettle is a very capable small business account that will appeal to everyone that wants a free business account and Mastercard to make their day-to-day banking easier. If you need to send or receive international transfers or wish to use a desktop, look elsewhere.
mettle was founded in 2018 by Charles Wood and Rachel Booth and is a free business account focused on sole traders, freelancers, and small businesses with up to two owners.
Although mettle is a small challenger bank at its core, it’s also backed by NatWest, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, a high street bank. Obviously, even high street banks want a piece of the challenger cake.
The neobank only recently went out of its pilot stage, where it was accepting only a limited number of customers.
Why is mettle so special?
Mettle is a banking app that provides customers with a free digital business account, allowing users to conduct their business banking operations through their mobile phones.
Mettle is the debut standalone banking app offered by a UK high street bank, brought to customers by NatWest, a UK bank that is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group.
Mettle is an entirely separate entity from NatWest, so Mettle is not yet covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that customers do not receive protection on deposits up to £85,000 as accounts with FSCS protection do.
You also won’t be able to access NatWest products or services with your Mettle account.
Pros and cons
- Free account
- Backed by NatWest
- Open an account in minutes
- Custom invoices
- Export data
- Categorise transactions
- No fees
- No desktop access
- No overdrafts
- No FSCS insurance
- No cheque deposits
- No international payments in or out
- No IBAN
Who is mettle for?
mettle is for sole traders (freelancers) or limited companies with up to two owners. The maximum balance you can hold in the mettle account is £150k for sole traders and £100k for companies. The company (or sole trader) have to be UK-based, and the owners need to be UK residents.
How to open a mettle account?
First of all, to open a mettle business account, you have to meet a few of the criteria. We already said that there’s a maximum account balance requirement. You also have to be a UK resident with a UK phone number, and over 18 years old. Also, your business must be registered and trading in the UK.
The account opening process is actually straightforward. Simply download the app and fill in some basic personal information about you and your business. Then, verify your ID and provide the business documents needed. When you’re approved, you’ll be able to start immediately.
How to add funds?
The best way to add funds would be to transfer money from your other account over to mettle. You can also deposit cash into your account at any Post Office or PayPoint.
They will swipe your mettle card and the money added will show in up to 24 hours. You can add between £10 and £500.
There’s no way to deposit cheques into your account at this time. This would be handy, as some apps allow you to take a photo of it with your phone to deposit into the account. Then again, not many people are using cheques these days.
The app offers a range of features that will be of great use to business owners looking for an intuitive and convenient banking solution.
Once your account has been set up, there is a range of features and functions at your fingertips. The app allows users to create and send full invoices straight from their mobile phone, in a quick and straightforward process.
It also allows users to track the progress of all of their invoices within the app in a sleek and user-friendly interface. Customers can also manage and track their expenses quickly and can upload their receipts from their phones. Mettle also offers a unique tasking feature, allowing users to set tasks for the day, from following up overdue invoices to paying bills.
All cards from Mettle can be managed through the app with a simple tap of the finger, freezing and unfreezing with ease.
All mettle account owners get free access to FreeAgent’s accounting software. You can save up to £150 per year with this promotion. You need to make at least one transaction per month from your mettle account to avail of this offer.
If you’re not aware of FreeAgent, it’s accounting software for small businesses that more than 100k UK businesses and sole traders are using. You can sign up for it through the mettle app and sync all your business transactions to stay on top of your finances.
If you have existing accounting software such as Xero, FreeAgent, or Quickbooks, you can automatically share transactions in real-time with it. You can also export your transaction data as CSV, OFX, Excel or a format that’s compatible with accounting software.
We already mention invoicing a bit, but let’s expand this topic further. As mettle is only available via the app, they’ve made it easy to create and send branded invoices to customers.
You can see exactly who still owes you money and what money you owe to others. See what payments are still outstanding or past the due date and send automated reminders.
If you enable real-time notifications, you don’t even have to think about this stuff, as the app will notify you when you get paid and if and when you need to send reminders.
To keep your books up to date, you can categorise incoming payments, reconcile single or multiple ones to an invoice (and vice versa), or easily auto-match them.
mettle gives you access to more than 45 lenders through its Funding Xchange. To see which loans are available to you, tap on ‘Apply for a business loan’ from the Account screen. The loans include:
- Merchant funding
- Unsecured business loans
- Secure business loans
- Invoice finance
You may be able to apply to some or all of them, depending on your business.
How is mettle regulated?
mettle is not a bank but an e-money account provided by Prepay Solutions and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Prepay Solutions is the brand name of Prepay Technologies Ltd., an e-money institution.
Is my money safe with mettle?
You have to be aware that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection doesn’t apply to electronic money institutions. However, your money is protected in a ring-fenced account in a separate bank account and can’t be used for investing or any other purpose than the one intended.
Who owns mettle?
mettle was founded by Charles Wood and Rachel Booth, who are both still in the company. Charles is the Chief Architect, and Rachel is the Senior Product Manager.
Mettle Ventures Limited is a subsidiary of NatWest and part of the NatWest Group and is part of NatWest’s business banking innovation arm. It still operates as a fintech startup and has its own office space in London.
It’s not the same as NatWest because it’s built on separate systems using different technology.
mettle has a 4.5-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 74% of 700+ reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 10% a bad one. With a score of 4.5 stars, mettle is the same as Coconut (4.5) and Monzo (4.5), and better than Starling (4.3) and Revolut (4.4), for example.
You can contact mettle customer service through the in-app chat or by sending them an email at email@example.com. You can also call them on 0800 069 8380.
The customer service is available Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.
They also have an extensive FAQ section with almost 200 articles.
mettle faces plenty of competitors on the UK digital banking scene. Here are some of the most fierce ones.
Almost 400k businesses already use Starling’s business account across Britain. It offers a free bank account that integrates with accounting tools that you may already be using. You also get a fully regulated UK bank account with FSCS-insured deposits of up to £85,000. You can also take advantage of Starling’s Business Account Switch Service that will help you move all your banking (personal and business) over to them.
Revolut has more than 500k businesses using their business account. It’s the best choice for businesses that work with more than one currency and offers an unlimited number of accounts for your business, no matter the size.
Tide is a UK-based digital financial services provider for small to medium-sized businesses that was founded in 2015 by George Bevis. It also has a respectable number of companies (300k) using it. Tide will even help you register a company if you don’t already have one.
The bottom line
mettle is a more than capable free business account that has many advantages and some drawbacks. If you need to make international payments, need an IBAN, want to deposit cheques, or simply want an account with a higher maximum deposit or even an FSCS protection, you’ll need to go to a different digital bank that will have these features available.
With so many digital banks already on the market, mettle has its work cut out for them with heavy-hitters like Starling, Monzo, and Revolut and even smaller challengers like Tide or Coconut.
Adrian Volenik is a fintech enthusiast who loves testing and reviewing digital banking apps and financial products in general. How many digital banking accounts can one man have? Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.