For small business owners, limiting expenses and maximizing profits are a top priority. But one area where it can be tough to save money is with your business checking account. There are very few options available that don’t charge a fee, and many “no-fee” business checking accounts require that you keep a minimum balance to qualify.
Opening a business checking account is crucial for keeping your business and personal finances separate. It can make filing taxes for your business simpler, too.
Benefits of Free Online Business Checking Accounts
Opening a business checking account online has many advantages. Though they may not have local branches, many offer free ATM transactions (or reimburse you for ATM fees).
Many offer perks like a Visa or Mastercard debit card for you and your employees, as well as other banking services like money market accounts, savings accounts, and merchant services.
And if you’re strapped for time, you’ll appreciate remote deposit, which lets you deposit your checks by taking a picture with them on your phone through the banking app.
What to Consider When Choosing a Free Business Checking Account
In addition to finding a business bank account that doesn’t charge a monthly service fee and doesn’t have minimum balance requirements, what else do you want in an account? Consider the features your business needs.
Does Location Matter?
Do you need to do your banking transactions in person or are you okay conducting banking online? If you need a physical location, check for a bank that has convenient branch locations. If you like online banking, look for one that has mobile banking and online bill pay features. Some banking mobile apps even let you make remote check deposits from your phone!
What Banking Features Do You Need?
There are other features to look for with a free checking account, including being able to get business debit cards for you and your employees, getting overdraft protection, and being able to open a business savings account.
What About Financing?
If you think you might apply for financing for your business down the road, look for a bank that offers business credit cards, small business loans, and lines of credit. Having an existing relationship with a bank may help you qualify for a good rate with the lender.
How to Open a Free Business Checking Account Online with No Deposit
Gone are the days when you were required to open a business checking account in person. While some banks still prefer it, you can save a lot of time by applying online.
Also, you’re more likely to find a free online business bank account with no strings attached than you are with a traditional bank.
If you’re looking for a no-fee account that doesn’t require an upfront deposit, here’s how to open a business bank account.
1. Provide Details on Your Business
At the very beginning of an online application for a business checking account, you’ll be asked for your name as the business owner, as well as the name, address, email address, and phone number of your business. If you’re not the sole owner, you’ll also need to provide the names of your partners.
If you’re running a business out of your home, consider setting up a P.O. box or a forwarding address to keep your business and personal mail separate.
2. Get a Little Personal
If your business is a sole proprietorship, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number because that’s also the tax identification number for your business. The bank may also ask you to upload a copy of your driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID to prove your identity.
If your business is structured as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, you’ll likely be asked for your employer identification number (EIN) instead of your Social Security number. If you don’t have one yet, you can apply for an EIN for free on the IRS website. They’ll also likely still ask for a photo ID to make sure you are who you say you are.
3. Provide Your Business Structure Documents
Depending on the type of business you have, you’ll need to provide certain documents to prove that it’s formed legally as a business:
- Sole proprietorship: You may need to provide your business license. Also, if the name of your business does not include your legal first and last name, you may need a fictitious name certificate or statement or a certificate of assumed name.
- Partnership: You may need to provide your business license, fictitious name certificate or statement, certificate of assumed name, or the partnership agreement. If you have a limited partnership, you’ll also need a certificate of limited partnership or a limited partnership document. And if you have a limited liability partnership, you may need a statement of qualification, a limited partnership document, or a limited liability partnership election.
- LLC: The bank may require your articles of organization, certificate of organization, or certificate of formation.
- Corporation: You’ll need your articles of incorporation or a certificate of good standing.
Just keep in mind that while these are general documents that banks may ask for, it’s not a comprehensive list. Each bank is different, so check before you apply to make sure you have what you need.
4. After Approval, Download the Mobile App
Online banks don’t have physical branches, so the institution’s mobile app is the only way you’ll be able to deposit physical checks. In some cases, there may be no mobile app, but you can still get the services you need through your mobile browser.
Get to know the features of the mobile app. You should be able to review your daily balance, schedule online bill payments, and transfer money between accounts.
The Best Free Online Business Checking Accounts that Require No Deposit
Here are a few of the best business checking accounts that offer free monthly transactions and have no minimum opening deposit.
Novo’s web business banking platform is built for today’s business owners. It’s a good fit for both Android and iPhone users, making it convenient from desktop to mobile.
The bank offers a largely fee-free small business checking account — there is a $27 fee if someone tries to cash a check you wrote and you don’t have sufficient funds, but that’s it. There’s also no minimum balance.
- Integration with tools like Xero, Zapier, and Slack
- Free and fast transfers and paper checks
- Works with Apple Pay and Google Pay
Another of the best free business checking accounts comes from BlueVine. Not only can you get unlimited withdrawals and cash deposits, but you also can earn 1% interest on your account balance! Note: there may be fees for wire transfers.
- No ATM fees at 38,000+ network ATMs
- No transaction fees
- Pay vendors and bills by ACH, wire, or check
Mercury offers online business checking services for startups. Its free account has zero fees, and there is a second-tier account if you have over $250k+ in deposits that offers free outgoing and incoming wires, dedicated support, and access to special events.
- No minimum balance
- No overdraft fees
- Savings account available
Frequently Asked Questions
As we did our research on the topic of opening a free business checking account with no deposit, we came across several questions that business owners have. Here are some of the common ones along with their answers.
What Banks Have Free Business Checking Accounts?
Novo is one of our favorite free bank accounts, but there are also several other options out there including those we’ve listed above.
Also, credit unions typically offer bank accounts to their members with no monthly maintenance fee. However, they may not provide the same level of features that you can get from banks with a national presence.
Other traditional banks may charge fees that can be waived if you meet certain criteria, such as a minimum daily balance or other accounts with the bank.
Do You Need Money to Open a Business Checking Account?
Some banks do require you to deposit at least a nominal amount when you open your new business checking account, though the ones we’ve listed in this article do not.
What is the Easiest Business Bank Account to Open Online?
Most online banks offer simpler applications than traditional banks, mainly because you don’t have to visit a physical bank to open an account. Most ask for a few details about you and your business and within minutes, you’ll have a business account you can start using immediately.
Can You Open a Business Checking Account Online?
Absolutely. Online business checking accounts are an excellent option for freelancers and other businesses that don’t need to accept cash. They tend to be cheaper and still provide all the necessary features.
If you do accept cash, however, you may be better off with a business checking account from a traditional bank or credit union with physical branches.
Do You Need a Tax ID to Open a Business Checking Account?
Not necessarily. If you’re a sole proprietor, you don’t need a business tax ID (specifically, an EIN) to open a business checking account. In fact, you don’t need one at all unless you have one or more employees.
You will, however, need a tax ID number if your business is structured as an LLC or a corporation. Also, keep in mind that having an EIN is required to start building a business credit history. So if that’s a priority to you, it may be a good idea to get one anyway.
The Bottom Line
Unless your new business has very specific needs, it’s unlikely that you need a business checking account that charges a monthly fee. A fee-free business checking account with no deposit is best suited for companies that conduct their business online, don’t take cash, and don’t have a lot of transactions.
As you search for and open a free business checking account with no deposit, look online for options that are inexpensive but also come with solid features. If you want in-person service, though, check out your local credit unions and brick-and-mortar banks to see what they have to offer.
This article was originally written on October 4, 2019 and updated on January 18, 2023.