Relay Financial is a fully-online financial technology company that offers its customers business checking services. It also incorporates a money management platform into its offerings. If you’re looking for a digital business checking account that also can give you tools to manage your cash flow, it could be worth considering Relay Financial.
Check out this Relay Financial Business Checking Account Review for a comprehensive look at what the account costs, how it works, and its pros and cons.
Relay Financial Business Checking Overview
With Relay Financial, there are no maintenance fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balances required. There are also no ATM fees at the 32,000 Allpoint ATMs around the world. You’ll have to pay an ATM fee outside of that network, however.
Relay offers a platform for banking online and managing your money wrapped into one. It’s part of the Mastercard system, so your Relay debit card would be accepted anywhere Mastercard debit cards are accepted. You can also receive payments from PayPal, Stripe, Square, and other payment systems using your Relay business checking accounts. So if those platforms are already part of your small business, the switch would be easier.
Furthermore, you can connect your Relay account with accounting software like QuickBooks Online or Xero. This integration allows for easier bookkeeping and tax season. You’ll have to upgrade to Relay Pro to get bill pay features, and we explain the pricing on that later in this Relay Financial Business Checking Account Review.
If you’re wondering whether Relay Financial is a real bank, the answer is sort of. It’s a financial institution that partners with Evolve Bank & Trust to offer banking solutions. Through Evolve Bank & Trust, your money is FDIC insured up to $250,000, so its offerings and security are similar to what you would find with traditional banks. But there are no physical branch locations.
The Pros and Cons of a Relay Financial Business Checking Account
Like any business checking account, there are positives and drawbacks, and it’s best to consider all of the above before applying for an account. Putting in too many applications at once might lower your credit score and decrease your chances of getting approved.
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of a Relay business checking account.
- Unlimited transactions
- No monthly maintenance fees (for the free account), overdraft fees, or foreign transaction fees
- Incorporated money management platform
- Incorporated money management services
- Bill pay only available on paid Pro account
- No merchant services option
- No interest earned on your balances
- No cash deposits
How Relay Financial Business Checking Works
Relay has two business checking accounts businesses can sign up for: A free option and a Pro option that costs $30 per month. As mentioned above, the Pro options gives you a few added perks like bill pay capability, but otherwise is similar to the free plan.
You won’t pay any fees to open the free account or to use its services. Additionally, you can incorporate services like Expensify, Gusto, Plaid, and Wise into your Relay account, which can streamline your business accounting system. The Relay app offers mobile banking and mobile check deposit as well and currently has positive overall reviews (4.3 stars on Apple and 3.9 stars on Android).
With Relay Financial, you can open up to 20 separate business checking accounts with either the free or the paid Pro plan. You can also give up to 50 team members their own company debit cards, or create cards for specific purposes, like marketing or business travel, with both plans. You can also set spending limits on each card or freeze it from the online platform. For small business owners with more than 50 employees who will need their own debit cards, Relay may not be the best option.
Another consideration is wire transfers. Incoming wires (domestic or international) with a Relay account are always free, but you must sign up for Relay pro to upgrade to free outgoing wires. With the free plan, sending a domestic wire costs $5 and an international wire costs $10.
You might be wondering how a company like Relay makes a profit without charging things like maintenance fees. Relay gets paid by earning a portion of the fee that Mastercard charges to merchants each time you use your debit card. This fee system enables you to pay zero fees on Relay’s free account.
Is Relay Financial Business Checking Free?
The answer to this question depends on your membership level. Relay’s basic account is completely free, with no monthly fees or hidden charges. This account comes with business checking, online banking, and money management services. There are also no minimum balance requirements.
However, you can pay $30 per month per business to upgrade to Relay Pro. With a Pro account, your transactions will automatically import into your accounting software like QuickBooks Online. Also, you’ll have access to the bill pay service. You can import all your business’s bills into the system and pay them directly from the Relay platform, as well batch pay your bills and create multi-stage payments.
With the Pro account, you get the same number of banking services like checking accounts and debit cards as the free account. The main thing that changes is your ability to pay bills directly from your account. But your ACH transfers clear the same day rather than in one to two business days with the free account. And international and domestic wires become free to send.
Relay Pro is on the more expensive side for a business checking account that offers bill pay. Many financial institutions offer bill pay as part of their traditional plans, and with many of these traditional plans, you can qualify to waive the monthly fee. Relay doesn’t offer that option at this point.
Is Relay Financial Business Checking a Good Option for Small Businesses?
As a small business owner or startup, searching for the best business checking option is an important step. Here’s what you’ll want to consider:
- Monthly fees
- Cash deposits
- Annual percentage yield (APY), also known as interest earned
- Options for accepting customer payments
- Debit card access
- Additional perks
Relay Financial provides a free platform that combines business checking services and business finance management. You’ll get access to 20 distinct checking accounts. If separating out your accounts would help you simplify your cash flow management, Relay could be a good option. And although you don’t get an unlimited number of employee cards with a Relay account, 50 cards may be enough for your business.
While a business checking account from Relay could work well for some small business owners, there are a few things to consider. First, you can’t make direct cash deposits to Relay, and this could be a big issue for businesses that receive a lot of cash payments, like restaurants or bars. You may be able to deposit cash without a cost at an Allpoint+ ATM that accepts cash, but not all Allpoint ATMs are enabled with this feature and there could be limits on the amount.
Furthermore, Relay doesn’t offer a merchant services account, so you must use a third-party payment processor to accept customer payments. It also doesn’t offer business credit cards, so establishing a relationship with Relay won’t help you qualify for a credit card in the future. Business savings accounts that may help you earn interest on your business balance aren’t an option with Relay, either.
What Does it Take to Qualify for a Relay Financial Business Bank Account?
You don’t have to be incorporated or have an LLC to get a business checking account with Relay Financial — freelancers and other sole proprietors can qualify for an account. Additionally, you don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to get a Relay account. The company can offer accounts to business owners who are citizens of more than 200 countries worldwide. However, your business does need to operate inside the United States to qualify for Relay.
Relay can work with businesses in most industries to offer business checking services. However, there are several industries that Relay can’t support, like cryptocurrency, ATMs that are privately owned, illegal internet gambling, or cannabis. Check with Relay if you aren’t sure whether or not your industry is supported. For questions, contact Relay’s customer support team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 1-(888) 205-9304, available any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
How to Open a Relay Financial Business Checking Account
The application process for a Relay account is fully online and should only take around 10 minutes to complete. To open a Relay business checking account, you’ll first need to gather your business documents. The documents you need to provide depend on the type of business entity you operate, like a sole proprietor vs. an LLC. A sole proprietor needs to give fewer documents than an LLC, for example.
Every business type must provide information on the business owner(s), like a copy of qualifying identification, SSN or passport number, and a mailing address.
In addition, sole proprietors need to provide:
- Doing Business As documentation (if you aren’t operating under your legal name)
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
- Business address and phone number based in the U.S.
Single-member LLCs also need to provide:
- Articles of Organization or a Certificate of Formation
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- EIN verification letter
- Business address and phone number based in the U.S.
The final step is to register your account online, which should only take a few minutes. You’ll be able to upload any missing documents after you complete registration. Once your documents are verified, your Relay debit card should arrive at your business’s mailing address within eight to 10 business days.
You’ll then be able to access your account and open new checking accounts, request more debit cards for your employees, and view your cash flow from the Relay money management platform.
The Bottom Line
Relay Financial offers an affordable option for small business owners that don’t need a connected merchant services account or bill pay. If you’re happy using external accounts to pay your business’s bills and get paid by your customers, Relay could work well for you. You get access to a large number of checking accounts, along with a money management platform that can integrate with your accounting software.
On the other hand, if you do need things like bill pay and a direct merchant services account, you might want to look elsewhere. The monthly cost of Relay Pro is higher than much of the competition, and the company doesn’t offer any ways to waive the fee like many of its competitors do.
If you need more information on business checking accounts than we provided in this Relay Financial Business Checking Account Review, look to Nav. Opening a free Nav account and filling in some details about your business lets you instantly find the best small business checking options for your situation.