Banks hold your financial future in their hands—so you better choose wisely.
As a small business owner, you want to set your business up for success—and the decisions seem never-ending when you’re just starting out.
You have to choose a business name, structure, and location. You have to set pricing and your working hours. You have to make decisions about branding and whether or not to hire a team.
But perhaps the most loaded decisions are the ones about your business’s finances, and that includes choosing a business banking account.
It’s not an easy choice: You have to consider features, services, fees, and growth options, and every business has its own unique set of needs.
To make the choice simpler, here are seven questions to ask yourself when you’re choosing a bank for your business checking account.
1. What kind of bank do I want to use?
Nowadays, there are tons of different types of banks: Banks with physical locations, online-only banks, and everything in between.
For some, the ideal bank has ample locations, great hours, and excellent customer service so you can go to a brick-and-mortar location to do your banking.
Others would prefer a completely electronic banking experience and don’t place any value on the ability to walk into a bank branch, opting for the convenience of going online.
Think about what you value in a bank. Do you need to be able to meet with tellers in person? Are you paid mostly in cash and want to have a secure place to drop money off? Or do you spend a lot of time online and find electronic banks more convenient?
2. What features come with this business account?
Business checking accounts come with tons of features and vary widely.
Some come with one-on-one advisorship. Some have features such as interest-paying checking. Others send checks for you, or allow you to pay bills online.
Keep in mind what types of transactions you’ll need to process in your bank. Some accounts don’t process specialty transactions, and some don’t work with foreign currency—so make sure to do your homework.
3. Does this account come with transaction and deposit limits?
Some accounts carry limits for how many transactions you can process and how much money you can deposit into your account per month—which is a good problem to have. But before you commit, tally how many transactions you usually process in a month along with the amount of deposits you typically make so you can pick an account that works for you.
4. Does this bank integrate with my other platforms?
Consider the software you use to run your business, like online scheduling apps and invoicing software, for example. Does your bank integrate seamlessly with these platforms so you can keep your business expenses and taxes organized in one place?
5. How much are monthly maintenance fees for this checking account?
Business checking accounts can be as low as $0 per month or go into the thousands, depending on how much volume your business is doing and how much money you keep in your account. Online banks are an excellent option for no-fee checking accounts, but those accounts may come with limits on spending.
There are also options that start out as no-fee checking accounts, but charge a premium on every transaction over a certain limit (usually $0.10 to $1 per transaction).
Finally, options for bigger businesses include accounts that have monthly fees, but waive them if you meet a certain monthly or daily balance. Be on the lookout for banks that reduce monthly fees if you go for paperless statements. (You get to save money and the environment. What’s not to love?)
6. What is the customer service experience like at this bank?
Whether you’re just starting a small business or you’re an experienced business owner, you know that customer relationships are everything. And as a customer, you should expect nothing less than exceptional service.
After all, your bank is handling your business assets—they hold your financial future in their hands. It’s imperative that you trust your bank, and you feel comfortable working with them to sort out any concerns or issues you have with your accounts.
Before committing to a bank, look into their customer service features. Do they have 24/7 support? Do customers call and speak to a person, or are issues handled through an online chat client? Can you go into a branch and speak to someone in person? Decide what experience is best for you and don’t settle for less.
7. Will this bank account grow with my business?
As your business grows, your business checking needs will balloon, too. Here’s how to decide if an account can keep up with your expanding empire:
Higher Volume Transactions
Does your account limit the number of transactions or deposits you can make per month? How much does it cost to do more transactions? Will you have to open an entirely new account, or are the fees manageable?
As you hire more employees, you may want to give them the ability to spend on the company’s dime. Does your account allow for multiple cardholders, or will you have to open a higher-level account?
The Best Business Checking Accounts in 2019
With zero investment needed to open an account and no need to keep a balance, Azlo is perfect for someone just starting a small business. Azlo’s mobile app brings banking to your fingertips, allowing you to deposit checks, send direct deposits (also called ACH payments), send invoices, and transfer between your accounts. The bank also integrates with programs like Square, Quickbooks, or Stripe.
Because there are no brick-and-mortar locations, you’ll need to deposit cash to your Azlo account at one of thousands of banks around the country—and you can do so without paying a dime in fees.
A Novo account requires a $50 minimum deposit to open an account, but there’s no monthly fee or a balance fee once you join. Account holders get a Mastercard debit card.
A major perk is that Novo will send physical checks for you that you can customize online, negating the need for a bulky checkbook.
Note that Novo currently only has an iPhone app, and is working to develop a web app and Android version.
This account comes with a $15 monthly fee ($12 if you opt for paperless statements, and why wouldn’t you?) which is waived entirely if you hang onto a $1500 monthly balance. What’s more: You get a $200 bonus when you sign up. This account is perfect for a smaller company that’s just getting started and doesn’t do a ton of transactions each month—you can deposit up to $5000 of cash and make up to 100 transactions per month without incurring a fee. And with online and in-person options, you can choose exactly how you want to bank.
If your business has grown beyond the low balance early days, this Bank of America option is the perfect place to take your ballooning money supply. Bank of America waives the $18 monthly fee if you keep a daily balance of $3000 or an average monthly balance of $5000. You get 200 free transactions per month and $7500 cash deposits per month without a fee, and you’ll incur small fees if you go over each. Businesses with Bank of America checking accounts get access to a Business Advantage Relationships Rewards program, which affords you rewards points like you get with a credit card.
With 250 free transactions per month and the ability to waive a monthly fee of $15 if you keep a balance of $5000, the CitiBusiness Streamlined Checking Account is a fit for small businesses that are starting to bring in more money but can live with limited transactions. Depending on your state, you can deposit between $5000 and $10,000 per month. Note that Citibank is a better option for businesses based in California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, or Virginia.
If you’re a well-established business doing high volume, it’s time to go big. The Spark Unlimited allows for unlimited transactions every month without extra fees. Five domestic wire transfers per month are included with the account. Note that this account comes with a higher monthly fee—$35—but it will get waived if you keep a monthly balance of $25,000. Like we said, this is definitely a fit for a bigger business.
A Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking Account requires a $25 opening balance, and if you keep $500 in your account per month, you get out of paying the $10 service fee. Keep in mind that this account is best for businesses that just need the basics, and typically deal in lower numbers. You’ll get 50 transactions per month, and can deposit up to $3000 in cash deposits on a monthly basis.
Wells Fargo is also a solid option for other small business banking needs, including its fantastic small business loan program, which can help you take your business to the next level.
With no monthly fees or minimum opening deposit, the Citizens Bank Clearly Better Business Checking Account is an attractive offer. Your first 200 transactions are free each month, and each following transaction comes with a $0.50 fee. You can deposit checks on your phone, pay bills online, and you’ll have access to overdraft transfer plans to help keep fees at bay. The account comes with one free debit card, and you can expand to multiple card holders with an upgrade.
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