Whether you're happy with your bank, looking to switch, or want to know how your bank compares with the others, C-Store's business banking survey has the answers. Here's our at-a-glance guide to what the major banks have to offer

Few people are without a story or two to tell about their bank - be it about poor customer service, infuriating call centres, or nauseating charges. And according to the Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) review of small business banking, the banks are still failing to fulfil their commitment to the Competition Commission to offer free banking, or pay at least 2.5% interest on business current accounts, and to publicise these services to customers.
The FSB's report, which surveyed more than 4,000 small businesses, looked at progress made since the Cruickshank Review of 2000 and the recommendations of the Competition Commission Inquiry of 2002, when the banks had been referred to the Commission by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
While most small businesses (70%) are satisfied with their bank, the report found that when the service goes wrong, it goes badly wrong.
Switching accounts, overcharging and poor customer service are the main areas of dissatisfaction, with a major cause of this being bank staff's lack of understanding of small businesses.
With small businesses employing 58% of the private sector workforce and contributing 50% of UK GDP, it is in the interests of the whole of the UK to ensure that small businesses succeed, says the FSB, and they need affordable, reliable banking services to do so.
FSB financial affairs chairman Mike Cherry says: "Banking services for small businesses have improved over the past few years, however there's a long way to go before small businesses get the
quality of service from their banks that they need and deserve.
"There has to be a culture change within the banks so that they understand the needs of their small business
customers and can then deliver even better services for them. The current profit levels of the banks demonstrate that they have the capability to do this."
If you're not satisfied with the
service you receive from your bank, or you want to know how your bank's offer stacks up against all the others, then read on. You may well find you can get a better deal elsewhere.

abbey



Minimum/maximum business size: None
Charges: Free day-to-day banking forever for businesses operating within specified transaction limits - 100 cheques deposited, 100 withdrawals, £3,000 cash deposited. Charges apply for transactions that exceed the free limits and for non-standard services such as overdraft and unpaid cheques/direct debits etc.
Interest: 0.75% up to £4,999, 1.25% £5,000-£9,999, 3.5% for £100,000+
Conditions: Limits for free banking
Policy on charges refunds: None
Cashflow management service: No
Tailored small business service: No
Named contact: Local Relationship Managers
Lending: Business overdraft
Complaints procedure: Refer to the area of Abbey Business with which you have an issue. If you remain dissatisfied, there are internal escalation procedures in place and at each stage you will be advised of who to contact
Switching: Sign form and Switcher Team will do the rest

Alliance & leicester commercial bank



Minimum/maximum business size: None
Charges: Up to £4,000 cash deposits free per month then 0.35% thereafter; standard not-cash transactions free and unlimited; cash exchange £1.50 per £100; £5 copy statement per sheet; £10 stop cheque; £7.50 unpaid cheque inwards; £32 unpaid cheque outwards; £12 special presentation; £10 bankers ref/status enquiry; £17.50 telegraphic transfer abroad; £20 CHAPS; £10 bankers draft; £25 audit letter; unauthorised overdraft 17% above base rate; £30 unauthorised overdraft letter
Interest: <£1,000 6.26%; >£1,000 0.10% fixed. On a £5,000 cash balance customer would receive first £1,000 at 6.26% and £4,000 at 0.10%
Conditions: Minimum funding requirement of £1,000 per month or £5 charge applies
Policy on charges refunds: Assessed on case by case basis
Cash flow management service: Yes
Tailored small business service: Account for businesses below £1m turnover
Named contact: No
Lending: Small business loan of £3,000 to £25,000 over one to five years
Switching: Complete form, will contact existing bank within 3 days for all direct debits and standing orders

barclays



Minimum/maximum business size: None
Interest: Standard business tariff is 2.5% below base rate; none for free automated transactions tariff (FATT) accounts
Charges: None on FATT accounts; 75p for non-automated transactions such as counter credits
Conditions: None
Policy on charges refunds: Where customers don't have sufficient funds in their account for paying cheques or other items they will incur a fee. Won't charge the first fee in each charging quarter
Cashflow management service: Provides individual solutions that offer support outside of the usual banking services such as software packages that help save businesses time and money, especially around cashflow
Tailored small business service: Local business service (for businesses of less than £1m turnover)
Named contact: Yes
Lending: Barclayloan for business for £1k to £25k; flexible business loan for borrowing above £25k
Complaints procedure: Speak to relationship manager in the first instance who should be able to answers any queries
Switching: Account transfer service does all paperwork

co-operative



Minimum/maximum business size: Up to £1m turnover
Banking charges: Free banking with Business Directplus account and for FSB members
Interest: Business Directplus: none up to £999, 1.6% (net) for £1,000+, 1.75% £5,000+, 1.85% £10,000+, up to 3.72% £250,000+; Clarity: 2.6%; FSB: 0.6% up to £999, 1.67% £1,000+; 1.85% £5,000+; 1.97% £10,000+ up to 3.72% for £250,000+
Conditions of banking: Must keep balance above £1,000 to qualify for free banking
Service level guarantees: Five Star Service Promise: to begin processing account applications within 48 hours and open them without error, to set up and pay standing orders and direct debits as instructed and without mistakes, not to make any financial errors on statements, to automatically issue cheque books and cards, to calculate charges and interest accurately and correct errors without question. If break any, will pay £25
Cashflow management service: No
Tailored small business service: Yes
Named contact: Only with Clarity account
Lending: Variable and fixed rate loans
Switching: Account switching team will process application within 48 hours. Promises no errors or £25 back

hsbc



Minimum/maximum business size: Business Direct account: below £500,000; Business Current Account: up to £25m
Interest: 0.25% for Business Direct; 3% for Business Current Account
Charges: Up to 18 months free for start-ups; 18 months free for new customers with turnover under £500,000 (accounts opened June 1-August 31); usual free banking period of six months. Thereafter (Business Direct): up to £1,000 free then 2% of value withdrawn from ATM; 10 free cheques paid, then £1 per cheque; 10 free cheques paid in, then 75p per cheque; 2% of value of cash paid in; 2% of value of cash withdrawn at branch
Conditions: No interest during free period
Cashflow management service: Cashflow management resource website
Tailored small business service: Business Direct for up to £500,000 turnover
Named contact: Business Specialists
Lending: Small Business Loan up to £25,000 (fixed interest); Flexible Business Loan variable rates (£10,000+), and variable and fixed rates for over £25,000
Complaints procedure: Will send letter within five working days to confirm investigation. Complaints line open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Switching: Complete online form, provide ID and last bank statement, HSBC does the rest. Offers £10 for every error made

Lloyds tsb



Minimum/maximum business size: No minimum; up to £2m turnover
Interest: None during 18-month free offer; base rate minus 2.5% thereafter
Charges: Two introductory offers: 18 months free for new businesses, 6 months free for businesses switching account. Charges vary after that - refer to www.lloydstsb.com/business/ratesandcharges for tariff
Conditions: Keep account within agreed limits and don't go overdrawn without prior agreement
Policy on charges refunds: Will refund charges immediately if banks makes mistake, otherwise look at request on an individual basis
Service level guarantees: One-off payment of £50 if miss agreed timescales for switching by more than 24 hours
Cashflow management service: Free business planning CD
Tailored small business service: Yes
Named contact: Yes
Lending: Wide range of loan options
Complaints procedure: Promises to reply within 5 working days. If longer, will inform when to expect response. Final response within 8 weeks. If fail to do this, or still unhappy, can request independent review
Switching: Does all paperwork, smooth move guaranteed or £50 back, interest-free overdraft of >£5,000 while moving

Natwest



Minimum/maximum business size: None
Interest: 2.75% (2.78% AER)
Charges: Free for 18 months; see www.natwest.com for full tarif thereafter
Conditions: None disclosed
Policy on charges refunds: None disclosed
Service level guarantees: Dedicated support on the phone 24/7
Cashflow management service: None
Tailored small business service: Dedicated relationship service
Named contact: 1,600 branch-based business managers
Lending: Flexible business loans. Payment holidays, paying less when you need to, taking money when you need it and changing your repayment frequency are subject to satisfactory conduct of accounts. Interest will continue during any payment holiday or underpayment option and payments will increase to include that interest at the end of the payment holiday
Complaints procedure: None disclosed
Switching: Will transfer standing orders and direct debits, transfer balance of old bank account, and if agreed in advance, will transfer funds from new account to old account to clear overdraft

rbs



Minimum/maximum business size: None
Charges: Free for 18 months; see www.rbs.co.uk for full tarif thereafter.
Interest: 2.75% (2.78% AER)
Conditions: None disclosed
Policy on charges refunds: None disclosed
Service level guarantees: Dedicated support on the phone 24/7
Cashflow management service: No
Tailored small business service: Dedicated relationship service
Named contact: 1,050 branch-based business managers
Lending policy: Fixed and capped rate loan options, and flexible business loans to help manage cashflow
Complaints procedure: None disclosed
Switching: Aims to switch account by third working day after receiving list of direct debits and standing orders from existing bank. Can assist with transfer of funds from new account to cover overdraft on old account, or move credit balance from old account to new account

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