10 things the best small business bank accounts have in common
Small business owners have to fight off decision fatigue at every stage of growth. Between initial setup, daily operations, advertising, and hiring, even the tiny decisions can take hours of research.
This is particularly true when it comes to finding the right business bank account. Opening an account is an important first step for a healthy company. And yet, between banks, credit unions, and online account providers, the options may feel painfully endless.
But, we’ve got good news. You can learn how to pick out the best small business bank accounts from a lineup — even when the names, account terms, and providers change.
Below, we’ll go over the 10 core features of an excellent small business account. This handy checklist sets you on the fast track to better money management and stress-free banking.
10 things the best small business bank accounts have in common
The best business checking accounts don’t force you to compromise on account features, services, and perks. Instead, they offer a low-cost, high-yield way to manage your money anywhere, any time.
And you always have access to time-saving cash management tools, integrations, and support. Here’s what to look for in a small business bank account.
1. Easy-to-meet account opening requirements
In order to open any bank account and keep it, you’ll have to meet a few requirements. It's likely you'll need to register your business, have a good credit score, and be ready to present your business licenses. The best bank accounts lower these hurdles — or waive them entirely — so that business owners can easily maintain their account.
Most business owners should focus on the minimum balance requirement. This is the minimum amount of cash that must be in your account on a daily or monthly basis.
With some banks, you’ll have to stay above this limit at all times just to avoid a monthly service fee. If your balance is off by a single cent during your statement cycle, you could be charged. That’s a hard sell for new businesses with unreliable cash flow or frequent purchases. Options designed for small businesses, however, remove average balance requirements altogether.
You may also need to make a minimum opening deposit. The leading account providers typically require less than $100 to get started.
2. Low or no account fees
For many entrepreneurs, business banking is an introduction to a litany of checking account fees. Monthly maintenance fees, transaction fees, ACH fees, ATM withdrawal fees, and cash deposit fees are just a few of the costs you’ll encounter. And while they start out small — from 25 cents to $10 — they add up quickly.
Wire transfers, for example, can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 for each transaction. And a $3 ATM fee multiplied by hundreds of transactions each year can seriously eat into your revenue.
Save time and money by choosing a bank account provider that says no to fees from the outset. You’re more likely to get this fee-free experience with an online financial institution. Because they have lower overhead costs than traditional banks, they’re able to pass these savings on to account holders.
3. Generous transaction limits
Business owners transitioning from a personal account may not realize that most business accounts come with transaction limits. These accounts limit the amount of deposits, withdrawals, and transfers you can make on a monthly basis.
The best accounts tend to offer at least 100 to 200 free transactions per month. Account holders who go over this limit may receive an excess transaction fee, generally 25 to 50 cents per transaction. Some accounts, however, go as high as 1,500 items each month before fees begin. And a handful of banks offer unlimited transactions year-round.
If you have a high volume of transactions, make sure your account can accommodate your banking needs. Some banks go above and beyond, sending you custom alerts if you’re about to hit your limit.
4. High returns on cash
You may associate high interest rates with a business savings account, but you can also find excellent returns with modern business checking accounts.
With second-rate bank accounts, your funds simply gather dust until the next transaction. They’ll likely earn the average .01% interest rate — not exactly an annual percentage yield (APY) to write home about.
The best small business bank accounts offer anywhere from .10% to 1% APY. But if you want to maximize your earnings, consider a high-yield cash management account (CMA) like Brex Cash.
A CMA isn’t a bank account, but it does combine the best features of checking, savings, and investment accounts into one powerful tool. There’s no minimum account balance, monthly fees, or transaction fees. Get the best of all worlds, and earn industry-leading interest from day one.
5. Superior business debit and credit cards
Your business debit card or credit card will be your daily companion, so choose a great one. What makes the best business credit card? Of course, you need spending categories and rewards that align with your most frequent transactions — minus the fees.
Protect your assets with a card that guarantees no founder liability. And look for dynamic spending limits that adjust with your revenue growth, helping you scale responsibly. Cash back options also offer simple, direct earnings.
If you have employees, you’ll need multiple cards with spending limits you can easily control. Make sure the account has virtual card capabilities so both domestic and international employees can make purchases. (And check out our guide to creating your first corporate credit card policy.)
6. Intuitive online and mobile banking
While the 21st century hasn’t kept up with all the technological predictions, you can experience seamless online banking.
Over two-thirds of Americans say they access their bank accounts most through an online or mobile platform. User-friendly online portals and mobile apps have made it possible to avoid physical branch visits completely — with the right account.
Now, features like free bill pay, vendor pay, online invoicing, and digital wallets come standard with the best small business bank accounts. And with products like Brex Cash, you can also monitor your spending trends and get in-depth insight into your cash flow anywhere.
7. Ample account integrations
The average small business owner could be juggling 5-10 different business management tools every day. From accounting software and project management software to payroll software and tax software, business finances can spread far and wide.
Today, a small business checking account must be able to connect to the tools you rely on. The best options include hundreds of integrations, allowing you to scale and switch as needed. Some accounts even have tools like receipt-scanners built in. Together, these features cut down your data entry and prevent accounting tasks from piling up.
8. Other useful banking services
The benefits of opening a bank account don’t end with the account itself. Starting a relationship with any financial institution gives you access to other worthwhile services and support.
For example, businesses need a separate merchant services account in order to accept credit card payments from their customers. Your bank may provide you with in-house payment processing services at a preferred rate because you’re an account holder. You may also be eligible for discounted point-of-sale systems. Some banks provide one-on-one advising, insurance, and retirement accounts for owners and employees.
Small business loans are top of mind for many entrepreneurs. Maintaining a top-notch bank account demonstrates your creditworthiness to your own bank and other loan providers. In other words, having an established account makes it easier to qualify for loans.
9. 24/7 fraud monitoring and customer service
Around-the-clock fraud protection is central to the best small business bank accounts — and key in today’s digital landscape. Security features should include suspicious transaction alerts and zero liability protection if your card is lost or stolen.
When you’re abroad and your card isn’t working or a payment is missing, you don’t want to go in circles with a robo-operator. Confirm that your account has 24/7 customer support. Brex, for example, guarantees live phone or chat support in 2 minutes or less. And double check that your bank’s business hours line up with your business needs.
10. Ongoing rewards and perks
Get the most bang for your buck. There’s an abundance of introductory offers, reward programs, free products, and premium services included with modern accounts.
Financial institutions know that introductory offers draw in customers. So after making a few qualifying transactions, account holders see generous benefits. You could receive a one-time cash bonus of $200 to $500 or a higher initial APY. Some banks offer a bonus rate on their savings products, investing options, or fee-free services.
These account upgrades change throughout the year, so keep an eye out for the offers that give your business the biggest boost. You may also be able to negotiate for certain benefits, like free ATM transactions or free cash deposits.
Graduate from the rest to the best
Choosing a checking account doesn’t have to drain you of your time and energy. The most basic accounts let you separate your business and personal finances. But you don’t have to settle for less.
As you can see, the best small business bank accounts have 10 important similarities that can guide you toward a better experience. Look for accounts that do away with minimum balance requirements and minimum deposits. Low fees and clear payment structures are crucial, too.
A bank account is a prerequisite for some of the best credit cards and loans available to small businesses. And mobile and online banking lets you deposit checks and send payments without stepping foot inside a bank.
You know your business best. Identify your priority features, services, and bonuses, and use them to stay focused during your search.
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