Ensuring finances are in order and managed properly from the start is a crucial component of starting a business. A free business bank account can be an excellent tool for separating new business finances from personal bills. The trick is finding a provider that won’t charge an arm and a leg for their services. As a new business, every penny matters, and unnecessary costs add up super quickly.
My goal with this post is to do the following:
- Share some great banking options for new business owners
- Point out the ones I like
- Drop some knowledge on why I picked them and bonus tips from when I was in this hunt, myself.
Aside: It’s important to know this post is geared towards United States readers, but I’ve made sure to include a specific option for those in the U.K., as well. The banks in this post may have a presence in other countries, but their offerings may be different or applicable in different situations. With that in mind, you might still find how I’m evaluating these options helpful in your search within another country.
What Does a Small Business e-Commerce Bank Look Like?
It’s effortless to find any bank to take your money. Within four miles from my home, there are at least 10 bank branches from at least five different banks and credit unions. Needless to say, there is no shortage of options near me.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re the best for a business just starting. A lot of banks appreciate high deposit balances and don’t offer large transaction allowances. High-dollar e-commerce businesses might see daily deposits from their payment processor and withdrawals for payroll and expenses, but those are scheduled and routine.
Banks that focus on new businesses, especially e-commerce, know that smaller shops’ needs are going to be different. When every dollar counts, high deposit balances aren’t likely going to be a thing–at least from the start–and there’ll be a need for a debit card and frequent transactions as the only way to take care of regular expenses until lines of credit and invoice terms are established with suppliers.
Having a free or low-cost business checking account is critical for all these reasons and more. While you might not get as many hand-holding-type features and service offerings with some of these banking options, as a startup, you won’t likely need them, anyway.
How These 4 Banks and Fintechs Were Chosen
Anyone can pick 4 random banks off the Internet and slap them into a blog post. I wanted to stay away from such canned content and relive some of what I went through during my research of the bank I use for one of my businesses.
Here is what I wanted to use as criteria for evaluating the options I found:
- Cost. There’s no reason a bank should cost a bunch of money every month when you’re starting. Like I said earlier, every dollar counts.
- Reasonable feature set. At the very least, the account should be easily accessible, and money should be allowed to flow freely.
- Decent transaction limits. I don’t need to see unlimited transactions, but bonus points to those that offer such a thing. Otherwise, please don’t punish me for swiping and using my money a la carte.
- Integrations. This is optional, but more bonus points for those with at least some integration with other services, like Stripe, Quickbooks, etc.
- Talking to a human. It should be clear that if I need help, I can reach out, and a human will respond. Simple as that.
- Longevity. Is this operation going to be around in 5 years? For the online-only bank options, the financial backing institution is an important player. They should be known for or have experience in being a backing bank.
The Best Business Bank Account for Most Small Businesses
I've been a champion of Novo since I first signed up with them–I have three businesses that have Novo accounts, now–and I've been nothing but pleased with the service they offer. Novo offers entirely free small business banking, powered by Middlesex Federal Savings F.A.
You’ll find all the best features here that come free of charge: unlimited transactions, a Mastercard debit card with an EMV chip, notifications on every transaction, and so much more.
One of Novo's powerhouse features is its massive integration catalog. You'll find integrations with Stripe, Shopify, Venmo, PayPal, Quickbooks, and more. In addition to the deep catalog of ways to tie your business together in one spot, you'll have access to upwards of $56,000 in discounts on other services you might use. On this list, you'll find $3,000 in free Google Cloud credits, $50,000 in free service from Segment, and zero-cost transaction processing on $20,000 worth of transactions through Stripe (a $500 savings). That's huge.
The feature set doesn't stop there. Generate invoices to send to clients from within your Novo account, allowing your customers to pay you directly without needing to manage a third-party payment portal, credit card processing system, or deal with physical checks.
In addition, Novo's Reserves feature lets you stash money away for rainy days, ensuring you'll always have some capital on hand, just in case.
Cash Flow Insights tells you where your spending is at its highest and other helpful details about your cash flow.
Going even farther still, Novo is working on adding lending capabilities, more integrations, and additional products catered toward being able to receive and send money quickly.
The Best Bank Account For Businesses That Need a Physical Branch
During my search, this was an option that surprised me to an extent. Chase is no stranger to offering incentives for opening accounts with them. Whether it’s a credit card, checking account, or even sometimes less-trafficked deposit accounts like CDs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a product that doesn’t come with some offer attached.
Before we dive in, let’s talk about features.
The Chase mobile app is pretty good and places all your Chase accounts into one area. I have Chase products and have never had difficulty navigating the app to find what I need.
All the typical bank stuff is present with this account–extensive ATM network, mobile deposit, debit card, wires, ACH transfers, calling and talking to humans, etc.
Chase does have a monthly fee, but it is waived as long as $1,500 remains in the account regularly. Otherwise, the fee starts at $12/month with paperless statements.
Honorable Mention for E-Commerce Businesses
I’m a fan of banks that offer mobile apps that function well, and NorthOne falls squarely onto that list. Used by over 100,000 customers, NorthOne is America's fastest-growing business banking app and their free business bank account makes transferring money, depositing checks, and paying with the NorthOne Mastercard super simple, but what I really enjoy about this option is the dedicated tax account(s). If you collect sales or use tax, making sure you keep your taxes aside and available for remittance is important. Making that an automatic process takes this to the next level.
As far as money management goes, NorthOne supports multiple users and integration with bookkeeping options to pass off accounting tasks to others on your team. Need to get an overview of your cash flow? The app presents good-looking graphs to make that happen.
On top of all that, NorthOne ties into just about every platform you could ever need: Quickbooks, PayPal, Amazon, Venmo, Shopify, Etsy, Freshbooks, and literally a truckload more.
NorthOne is no-fuss, easy banking for businesses. Even if you’re not opening a new business, you’ll find the feature set valuable and a surprising amount of room to grow.
The Best Business Bank Account for U.K. Small Businesses
As time passes, I try to make sure to update this post with new options as I find them. One of such cases is ANNA, a banking product aimed directly at U.K. residents.
One thing I love about this option is that not only does it come with a regular ol’ bank account and debit card, but invoicing functionality, accounting software, and tax services. For small business owners, having all the critical money tasks in one place can be a real-time- and money-saver.
Prices for ANNA start at £0 for income under £500/month and comes with two cards, two money transfers within the U.K, and £100 worth of ATM withdrawals per month fee-free. Above that, rates start at £4.90/month.
A Note About Azlo
Azlo used to be a worthy contender on this list. Azlo’s supporting bank, BBVA USA, was acquired by PNC Bank. Per that agreement, BBVA canceled its services with Azlo, effective immediately. There are no plans for Azlo customers to be converted.
When I originally wrote this article, I had 10 options on the list. As I was going through them, I realized some of them weren’t actually that great and not worthy of being offered up as truly the “best” options.
Even then, some of these might not fit your exact needs, and that’s okay. Businesses growing and needing more backing and flexibility from a traditional institution might not find what they need on this list (though Chase is a powerhouse).
For most of those operating an e-commerce business or are just starting, these options are all solid and worth looking into. I’d be happy with any of them, myself, and I feel unconditionally comfortable suggesting these 5 options to my readers.
Regardless of what path you take, the biggest takeaway is to make sure you’re not spending money on a bank that you don’t have to spend. In the early stages, every dollar counts (I’ve said that how many times, now?). Watch out for unnecessary fees and transaction limits that could end up costing more down the road.
Simple might be a good thing. Start small and build. Like an e-commerce business, you might find the bank you choose has a lot of the same motivations.Last Updated: March, 12th, 2022 at 05:43 am UTC