You may know American Express for its personal and business credit cards, but Amex also offers banking solutions for your business. The American Express Business Checking Account offers a fee-free option that earns interest for its account holders. This review will cover the pros and cons, the top features, and who it’s best for to help you decide whether Amex’s business checking is right for your small business.
American Express Business Checking Overview
Business owners can apply to get this Amex bank account that gives you double the perks — it waives most of its fees and also lets you earn a high interest rate. The annual percentage yield (APY), also called interest, applies to balances up to $500,000. So you’ll get money back for keeping your cash in the account. It’s relatively rare to get high interest on a checking account since it’s normally reserved for savings accounts.
Plus, you can earn rewards, detailed below, a benefit that is typically only found on credit cards.
Amex’s business banking solution is offered through American Express National Bank, Member FDIC. So the money you deposit (up to the $250,000 limit per account) is protected by the U.S. Federal Government in the event of bank failure.
Pros and Cons
Like with any business checking account, there are several perks and considerations to think about before choosing the American Express Business Checking Account. Here’s a breakdown of the most important to help you decide if it will work for your business.
- Earn a competitive APY
- No monthly maintenance fee
- Earn Membership Rewards points
- Bill pay features
- No physical branches
- No cash deposits
- Foreign transaction fee
- Mobile app for iOS only
Here are more details about these pros and cons:
Key benefits of American Express Business Checking
- Earn interest on your account balance. You’ll earn interest on any balance under $500,000. At the time of writing, the APY is 1.3% variable, which is high — especially for a checking account. Gaining interest lets you gain money back simply for letting it sit in your account.
- No monthly maintenance fee. Many banks charge a monthly fee and then provide a way for you to qualify to waive it. With this account, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee or worry about qualifying to get the monthly fee waived.
- Earn rewards. Earn a welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you meet qualifying activities. You’ll need to deposit at least $5000 within 20 days of opening your account, maintain an average balance of at least $5000 for 60 days, and make ten or more eligible transactions (including business debit card transactions) within 60 days of account opening.
- Bill pay. Not all business checking accounts let you pay your vendors and bills for free from your account, but this one does. So you can use a single account to send out payments instead of having to use external services. This perk can simplify your business’s accounting system.
- No physical branch locations. If you want a business checking account where you can go and speak to someone in person, Amex doesn’t maintain branches. All of Amex’s services are online only.
- No cash deposits. Because there are no physical branches, you won’t be able to make cash deposits into your American Express Business Checking Account. This factor could be a dealbreaker for businesses in certain industries.
- Foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. If you travel overseas with this business debit card, you’ll have to pay a percentage of each transaction as a fee. This extra charge can add up over time, so it’s worth considering if you take a lot of business trips abroad.
- Limited mobile app. The American Express® Business Checking App is for iOS only. If you have an Android, you won’t be able to access mobile banking and all of the features that come with it, like mobile check deposit. Also, the app is lower rated than many of its competitor apps (3.5 out of 5 stars).
Features of American Express Business Checking
There are several features worth highlighting with the business banking account from American Express. Amex’s business checking customers get a business debit card to use for in-person or online purchases.
The bank waived many of the fees and requirements for its customers. For example, you won’t have to provide a minimum opening deposit or meet a minimum balance requirement — but you’ll miss out on the welcome bonus if you don’t keep a certain balance for the first several months. Qualify for the welcome offer by:
- Depositing $5,000 in the first 20 days after account opening AND
- Keeping an average $5,000 balance for the first 60 days OR
- Making at least 10 qualifying transactions in the first 60 days
There are also no ATM fees at any of the 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide, so you can avoid extra charges for things like cash withdrawals. Additionally, Amex doesn’t charge overdraft fees. And there are no fees for domestic and international ACH transfers or incoming wires; it’s $20 for outgoing wires.
As mentioned, this is a high-yield account — the interest rate is even higher than the Amex savings account at the time of writing. You’ll get access to digital banking and mobile banking. The iOS mobile app to check your account balance and complete mobile deposits (although there is no Android app).
How to Open an American Express Business Checking Account
You can apply for an American Express Business Checking Account online or over the phone. To apply, you must provide:
- An Employee Identification Number (EIN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
- Articles of Organization or a Certificate of Formation (unless you’re a sole proprietor)
- Information from a valid identity document
- Social Security Number(s) of all business owners
- A Doing Business As certificate if your business operates under multiple names
- A business address in the U.S.
The online application for the American Express Business Checking account takes as little as 10 minutes. To apply over the phone, call 1-800-519-6736. The phone line is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to midnight (Eastern time).
Who Is American Express Business Checking Best For?
If you’re a small business owner that is comfortable with an online-only checking account and you use an iPhone, the American Express Business Checking Account might work well for you. It’s also best for non-cash businesses since you won’t be able to make cash deposits.
If your small business account will hold less than a $500,000 balance, this account will earn interest for you, which is a great way to let your money work for you. But if you expect to need to keep a higher amount than that in your checking account, you might want to go elsewhere since you won’t earn any interest on balances above $500,000. The lack of fees on the account also make this a great option for businesses with lower revenue.
Plus, anyone hoping to get an American Express business credit card, it may help your application by building a relationship with the bank through a checking account.
Sole proprietors, freelancers, or independent contractors might consider Amex’s Kabbage Checking, which is a no-fee business banking account that seems to target small businesses with lower revenue.
The Amex Business Checking Account isn’t available for certain industries, like non-profits, cryptocurrency, online gambling, and cannabis. If you run a business in a non-qualifying industry, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
How American Express Compares to Other Business Accounts
The Amex Business Checking Account stands out amongst the competition in many ways. First, it doesn’t charge fees for things like account maintenance, overdrafts, bill pay, stop-payments, or in-network ATM withdrawals. You don’t need to keep a minimum balance, either. Also, you can earn interest and qualify for a bonus offer — both of which are unusual for a business checking account. So this account could work well for any business
The main differences with this account and others on the market are its lack of physical branches and no Android mobile app. Some other banks allow card holders to visit branches to deposit cash, which can be vital for anyone operating a restaurant, bar, or similar business. But an online bank like American Express could work well for e-commerce or digital services companies. Additionally, most of the competitors offer both Android and Apple apps, and their apps are typically better rated than this American Express app.