In the same way that technology has changed the way we book a flight, hail a cab (or Uber), order takeout, or even buy a car, technology is changing the way we interact with the bank. For example, my mortgage payment is automatically deducted from my paycheck every month and my paycheck is even automatically deposited into my personal bank account. In reality, there are very few banking services I use on a regular basis that require me to go inside a bank. Even if I need cash or happen to need to deposit checks, I can do that through an ATM.
In much the same way, many small businesses are finding they don’t need to go into their bank’s physical location either. And many other business owners are finding they can do all of their business banking online with a bank that doesn’t even have a physical branch.
Benefits of a Business Bank Account
As a small business owner or startup founder, you need a business checking account. Wondering why you shouldn’t just use your personal checking account for business expenses? Here’s why having a separate business account is imperative:
- It will make accounting a lot easier and give you greater visibility into whether or not your business is profitable
- It will help you better manage your business cash flow
- It will make it easier to account for business expenses at tax time
- It will make the transition to an LLC or corporation much easier should you decide to formalize your business entity down the road
If you anticipate the need to take out a loan, there are many small business lenders like the SBA that won’t even consider your loan application unless you have a business banking account, making it much harder to find small business loans to fuel growth or otherwise fund business initiatives.
In other words, a business checking account just makes sense for most small businesses.
Today, you can find a variety of business checking accounts that are fee-free, or that offer a certain number of free transactions before fees kick in. Some offer perks like cash back or discounts on business products.
Top 5 Options to Open a Business Checking Account Online
If you’re considering an online business checking account, these five options are all worth considering:
1. BlueVine: Best for Earning 1% Interest; No-Fee Account
If you’d like to earn interest on your business checking account, BlueVine’s Business Checking account could be a good choice. What’s more, this is a free checking account, a rarity in the industry.
- No minimum deposit or balance requirements
- No monthly service fees
- No ATM fees at 38,000+ MoneyPass® locations across the country (You may be charged out-of-network ATM fees, even if you don’t complete the transaction)
- No fees for non-sufficient funds
- Two free checkbooks
- Easy mobile app
Earning 1% interest on BlueVine’s Business Checking Account is 10X the national average for similar accounts (.1% is the national average), putting them on the top of our list of interest-earning business checking accounts with no fees.
2. OZK: Best Overdraft Protection
Bank OZK offers many of the same services that other banks offer, but also includes common-sense overdraft protection they call Bounce Proof Security which will, if you maintain a positive account balance for at least 30 days on a new account, cover any overdrafts up to your limit, with a maximum overdraft of $500 (there’s a $35 fee for every overdraft regardless of whether it’s caused by a check, an in-person withdrawal, or electronic transaction).
In addition to Bounce Proof Security, you can opt for Safety Link, which automatically transfers funds from a linked checking or savings account for a $10 fee per transfer. Here are additional features.
- Remote deposit capture
- Online banking (a $5 monthly fee applies to some accounts)
- Online bill pay (fees may apply on some account types)
- Instant issue business debit card
- Mobile banking (for mobile banking, carrier rates will apply)
- Merchant processing
- Check image statements
If you’re looking for great overdraft protection, Bank OZK is our choice for online checking accounts. The bank also offers business savings and money market accounts.
3. Bank of America: Best Long-Term Banking Services
Bank of America is one of those brick-and-mortar banks that also offers a lot of online banking services. If yours is a relatively young business and you are looking for a bank that can grow with your business as it grows, you should consider Bank of America. With accounts that are designed to meet a variety of small business banking needs, you’ll likely find an account that fits.
What’s more, you can earn $100 when you open a new account and make qualifying deposits equaling $1,000 in the first 60 days of your new account. You can earn an additional $50 when you pay at least two bills through bill pay within your first 60 days and an additional $300 statement credit if you are approved for and open a new Bank of America business credit card and make at least $3,000 in purchases with the card within the first 90 days of card account opening.
- Get employee business credit cards
- Online banking and mobile app
- Grant customized access to multiple users—plus seamless QuickBooks® integration with Account Management
- Deposit unlimited checks with Remote Deposit Online
- Other services available, including merchant services
4. Axos: Best Free Business Checking Account
Axos Bank has gotten rave reviews online. We agree.
Axos designed its Basic Business Checking account with small business owners in mind. Open a 100% online account and enjoy unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirements. Earn a $100 bonus when you open a Basic Business Checking account—and maintain a minimum average balance of $5,000 for at least 90 days after account opening.
- No monthly maintenance fees
- No minimum account balance requirement
- Your first 50 checks are free
- Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement
- $1,000 minimum opening deposit
Axos prides itself on its simple, convenient, no-fuss approach to a free small business checking account.
5. Chase: Best If You Occasionally Need to Go to a Branch
Chase Bank is another brick-and-mortar bank with branches all across the country for those times when you do need to visit the inside of a bank since there are nearly 4,900 branches and 16,000 ATMs across the country. Chase has business specialists at your local branch for those times when you need to sit down and have a person-to-person conversation with a banker. You’ll get $300 as a new Chase business checking customer when you open a Chase Total Business Checking® account with qualifying activities.
- 250 transactions per month at no charge, plus unlimited electronic deposits and incoming wires
- $20,000 monthly cash deposit without an additional fee
- All incoming wires and two outgoing domestic wires at no charge per statement cycle
- Options for signers and employees to access ATMs and make purchases
- No additional charge for Positive Pay and Reverse Positive Pay Protection services
- Interest option available — see your banker for more information
- Personal account benefits available
- Monthly service fee waived on a linked Chase Business Premier Savings account
- Access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches
- 24/7 customer service
Chase allows you to have your digital cake and eat it too with a convenient online checking account and other banking services, along with the option to visit Chase Bank branches all across the country.
What Do You Need to Open a Checking Account Online?
As a general rule, you’ll need the following documents to open a business checking account with most online or brick-and-mortar banks:
- Your Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- A current driver’s license or passport as personal identification
- Your business license with the name of the business and the owner’s or owners’ names
- Certificate of assumed name (DBA) if you are a sole proprietor
- Partnership agreement with the name of the business and its partners (if there are multiple owners)
- A copy of your organization documents that are filed with the state if you run a corporation or LLC
How to Open a Business Bank Account Online
Some banks that have physical branches may require you to apply in person locally, while others give you the option to open an account online. Obviously, banks that are 100% online give you that option as well!
Opening an account is usually fast and easy. You’ll be asked to input personal details (contact info, date of birth, address, Social Security number) and details about your business (your business structure, address, industry, how long you’ve been in business, annual revenue, number of employees).
Select the type of account you want. You may be required to fund it to open an account, as there may be a minimum daily balance requirement. Your application may be approved instantly, allowing you to access your account online right away, though you’ll have to wait around 10 business days to get your debit card and checks.
What to Consider When Choosing a Bank for Your Business Account
Don’t automatically choose to open a business checking account where the same bank you have your personal account without determining whether or not it is the best bank for your business needs.
Some banks specialize in certain types of businesses or industries. This could also apply to an online bank. If a bank has experience in your industry or similar small businesses, they may even offer additional services or custom offerings designed to benefit you and other businesses like yours.
Before you choose an online bank for your business, make sure you know:
- If there are monthly account fees and if there are requirements to have those fees waived
- If your checking account will earn interest and what the expected interest rate may be
- Whether there are transaction fees for writing checks, accepting credit cards, etc.
- If there are any introductory offers
You want to make sure the online bank offers services to meet your needs. For example, if you accept a lot of cash transactions, is there a way to make cash deposits? Are there branch locations in your area? If not and you feel you need a local branch, it may not be the bank best suited for the way you do business.
Why You Should Open a Business Checking Account Online
Although most banks have some kind of digital presence, online banking services are relatively new. In other words, just because your neighborhood bank has a website, it doesn’t mean it offers all its banking services online.
Online banks are capable of offering most of the banking services you’ll find at the bank branch around the corner, without the expense of a physical location, or locations. As a result, there are some pretty compelling benefits most small business owners might appreciate.
- Your business savings account will earn higher interest rates—sometimes as much as 1%; significantly higher than a conventional bank
- An online bank’s lower overhead means you pay less in fees than a conventional bank
- It’s easier to establish an online bank account with applications that are designed to be completed quickly and easily
- Online bank accounts can connect seamlessly to payment processing accounts and other digital banking services
- Most online banks are FDIC-insured like a brick-and-mortar bank
Nevertheless, if you make a lot of cash deposits, write a lot of checks, or want ATM access anywhere and everywhere, an online bank might not be the best choice for you. With that being said, if you do the lion’s share of your business digitally already, an online bank account may be just up your alley.
Online Business Account FAQ
Now let’s address questions you may have about online business bank accounts.
Can I Open a Business Checking Account Online?
Typically, yes, there are many options for establishing a business checking account online, including the five options listed in this article. However, some physical banks may require you to open an account at a local branch.
How Much is it to Open a Business Checking Account?
Typically, the only cost associated with opening an online business checking account is the minimum opening deposit amount. Some online banks will assess transaction fees for some accounts, but there shouldn’t be a fee associated with opening the account.
Can I Use a Personal Bank Account for my Small Business?
This may work when you’re running a new business, but ultimately, you’ll want to open a separate account to make it easier to track business income and expenses.
Can I Pay Personal Expenses from my Online Business Bank Account?
There’s no law saying you can’t do this, however, it may make filing your business taxes more challenging, as you will have to parse out your business expenses from personal.
Which is the Easiest Bank to Open a Business Bank Account With?
Most online applications are pretty straightforward to open an account, but some online banks may want you to speak with an account manager before they approve your account. You should also expect that your account won’t be open immediately and will likely take several days to activate once opened.
Do You Need an EIN to Open a Business Bank Account?
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, though not always required in every case, is a good idea. A sole proprietor or solopreneur, who doesn’t have any employees, will likely not need an EIN, but if you operate as an LLC or corporation, it will be a requirement to create your business identity.
Do You Need Money to Open an Online Business Bank Account?
Yes. Each bank will have its own minimum required deposit when you open an account.
Do I need an LLC for a business bank account?
Not necessarily. Most banks will allow you to open a business account whether you run a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.