Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
One of the most important tasks you face in setting up a small business is to establish a system for making and receiving payments. Choosing the right business checking account goes a long way to ensuring your clients, employees, suppliers and vendors can get the money they need and keep the lights on at your company.
But what makes a business checking account right for you? It really depends on your company’s size and its needs. Some organizations require a high number of transactions into and out of the account, or the ability to deposit large amounts of cash every month; others may just be getting off the ground and don’t need to be burdened with high minimum balance requirements or a bunch of bonus features.
Just like you would when shopping for a personal bank account, you also need to know what type of financial institution you prefer dealing with, and how you work with them. Are you comfortable with an online-only bank? Do you need to be able to walk into a physical branch and talk to a bank manager? Does the idea of working with a big bank inspire a surge of confidence or a wave of apprehension? These are all questions you need to answer before choosing the account.
Fortunately, the business checking accounts listed below can address a variety of needs and preferences. They’ve been selected from both the database at DepositAccounts.com (like MagnifyMoney, it’s also owned by LendingTree), and by researching directly the banks with the biggest footprint. All of these accounts are available no matter where you live in the country, and either come with low or no fees, or fees that can easily be waived by maintaining the right minimum balance.
The best business checking accounts of October 2019
|Bank/account name||Minimum needed to open||Monthly fee||Minimum balance to waive fee||Number of free transactions per month|
|Radius Bank Tailored Checking||$100||$10||$5,000||Unlimited|
|Axos Bank Basic Business Checking||$1,000||$0||N/A||200|
|Chase Total Business Checking||$0||$15 with paper statements, $12 for paperless statements||$1,500 daily balance||Unlimited via AHC, ATM and Chase QuickPay; 100 for all debits, teller transactions and incoming wire deposits|
|nbkc Business Account||$5||$0||N/A||Unlimited|
|US Bank Silver Business Checking||$0||$0||N/A||150|
|Bank of America Business Advantage Checking||$25||$29.95||$15,000 average monthly balance||500|
|PNC Business Checking Plus||$100||$20||$5,000 average monthly balance||500|
|Wells Fargo Business Choice Checking||$25||$14||$7,500 average monthly balance||200|
Radius Bank — Tailored Checking
This Boston-based bank requires a minimum deposit of $100 to open, but otherwise offers a relatively fee-free service. So long as you maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 at the end of each month, you’ll avoid the $10 monthly fee this account charges.
Something that sets this account apart from the rest of the pack is the relatively high APY it earns. While checking accounts in general don’t earn much interest, the situation with business checking is even more dire, as many of the accounts at big banks don’t offer any interest. With Radius’s account, you earn 0.75% on the entire balance so long as you maintain a $5,000 minimum.
Another great perk is the unlimited number of transactions it allows. Many business checking accounts place restrictions on either the amount or type of free transactions — including deposits or withdrawals — you can make before charging a per-transaction fee. Not so with the Tailored Checking account.
Other benefits include:
- A free debit card
- Free online bill pay
- Mobile check deposits
Axos Bank — Basic Business Checking
This online-only bank lacks the reassurance some business owners find in having physical branches they can walk in to — but if you don’t mind the lack of brick-and-mortar locations, Axos offers one of the best checking accounts for a small business. After opening your account with a minimum $1,000 deposit, you’ll have access to a business checking account that doesn’t charge a dime in monthly fees, no matter what your balance.
Account holders also enjoy:
- Free online banking and bill pay
- Mobile check deposits
- A free set of 50 checks
Basic Business Checking customers are limited to 200 free ATM transactions each month. If you make additional cash withdrawals or deposits beyond the 200 limit, you’ll pay a $0.30 fee for each transaction. Customers get unlimited reimbursements on domestic third-party ATM fees (though you’re still on the hook for international ATM fees).
Chase Bank — Total Business Checking
One of the country’s biggest banks, Chase has the advantage of thousands of physical locations located across the country. Its Total Business Checking account comes with either a $15 or $12 fee (depending on whether you want paper statements or are willing to go electronic), but a minimum daily balance of $1,500 lets you dodge this fee.
This account limits the number of free transactions you can make each month, depending on what you’re doing. All electronic deposits into the account are free and unlimited, but making a deposit with a teller at a branch or via an incoming wire count towards a 100-per-month limit. Also counting against the 100-per-month limit are all withdrawals (or debits, to use the official term) from the account, no matter how you make them. After you exceed your limit, further transactions cost $0.40 each.
Also, if your business requires you to deposit large amounts of cash, you’ll be happy to hear this account allows free cash deposits of up to $5,000 each month. After that you pay $2.50 for every $1,000 deposited.
nbkc — Business Account
A Kansas-based bank with minimalist marketing, nbkc offers a single “Business Account” that serves as its business checking account. The bank proudly touts itself as a no-to-low fee institution; with this account, it doesn’t come up short on that promise. After your $5 opening deposit, there’s no minimum balance or monthly fee. There’s also no limits on transactions of any sort, one of the few business checking accounts offering that deal.
Other perks that come with your nbkc Business Account include:
- No ATM charges when using any of the estimated 32,000 machines in the MoneyPass network
- $12 per month in reimbursements for third-party ATM fees
- Free incoming wires to your account
If you want to wire money directly from this Business Account to another account, it will cost $5 if you’re sending it to another domestic account, and $45 if you’re sending it overseas.
US Bank — Silver Business Checking
The fifth-largest bank in the nation, US Bank offers a variety of checking accounts for both personal and business purposes, but the Silver Business Checking account hits the sweet spot for small businesses that don’t require hundreds of transactions each month.
There’s no monthly fee for this account, no matter how modest your balance — a welcome rarity for a business checking account with such a large institution. However you do pay in the form of a lower number of free transactions the bank allows you each month. After 150 debits or deposits to or from the account, each transaction costs a relatively-hefty $0.50.
One unique benefit the account offers is that signing up for it entitles you to a variety of discounts on other US Bank products, such as business money market accounts and personal checking. If you’re thinking of using US Bank for multiple banking needs, this may be the incentive you need to make up your mind.
If your business has grown beyond the basic needs provided by this account, US Bank offers three other versions of a business checking account — Gold, Platinum and Premium. The Gold and Platinum accounts function similarly to the Silver account, except they allow for more free transactions per month (300 and 500, respectively) and carry with them a monthly fee — $20 for Gold, $25 for Platinum. Those fees can be waived be maintaining an average balance of $10,000 per cycle (for Gold) or $25,000 per cycle (for Platinum).
The Premium account is a different beast entirely: it’s an analyzed account that involves the bank applying credit to the various fees you would normally just pay with other business checking accounts. The bank bases these fees on a case-by-base analysis (hence the term analyzed account) and this option makes sense only for small businesses dealing with high volumes of transactions and large balances.
Bank of America — Business Advantage Checking
While business checking accounts with free transaction limits in the low hundreds may be fine for small businesses just starting out, once your company starts picking up steam you may find the need to upgrade to an account that allows for more withdrawals and deposits. Bank of America’s Business Advantage Checking allows for 500 free transactions each month, while also offering a suite of other business banking products free of charge.
You need at least $25 to open this account, and a minimum average monthly balance of $15,000 in order to avoid a $29.95 monthly service fee. Clearly this account suits small businesses that are raking in the cash, but in return it offers a lot of perks and rewards.
In addition to the 500 free transactions each month, customers can also enjoy:
- A second business checking account free of charge
- A BoA Business Savings Account free of charge
- BoA’s Account Management Tool, which grants multiple users access to any business accounts (to varying levels)
- No fees for incoming wire transfers
After your 500 free transactions, you’re charged $0.45 for each additional transaction. However, ACH, debit card transactions, online bill pay transactions, and check deposited remotely don’t incur this fee even after you exceed your 500 limit.
PNC Bank — Business Checking Plus
Based out of Pittsburgh, this bank operates plenty of branches across the eastern part of the country, and its Business Checking Plus account makes an attraction option for business owners wanting to upgrade from a basic checking account.
This account requires a $100 minimum deposit to open and comes with a $20 monthly fee, which can be waived by maintaining an average monthly balance of at least $5,000. You get a total of 500 monthly free transactions before having to pay $0.50 per transaction, and there are no exceptions to that fee. However, holders of this business checking account receive a personal checking account without having to pay the account’s monthly fee.
Wells Fargo — Business Choice Checking
Banking with one of the largest financial institutions in the country comes with the benefit of being able to stroll into a branch location and have a face-to-face conversation about your money. But Wells Fargo offers far more than just accessibility with its Business Choice Checking account, which provides a solid set of features and benefits for entrepreneurs who want basic business checking with a big bank.
You need to make a minimum deposit of $25 to open this account and, if you want to avoid the $14 monthly service fee, maintain an account balance of at least $7,500. This account doesn’t allow for a huge number of free transactions, but its 200 per month limit is in line with similar accounts offered by big banks. Also of note is that transactions made using a Wells Fargo Business Debit Card or Business ATM Card, Business Bill Pay, Wells Fargo Business Online, Wells Fargo Merchant Services transactions or Wells Fargo Business Payroll Services don’t count toward this transaction limit. Once you exceed your limit, qualifying transactions come with a $.50 fee.
Why you need a business checking account — not a personal checking account
Given that business checking accounts usually don’t come with the same bells and whistles customers expect from personal accounts, you may wonder why you need to pony up for a checking account dedicated solely to your business. Rest assured that any inconvenience or annoyance you feel about shopping for and setting up a business checking account pales in comparison to the annoyance of a lawsuit or an IRS audit.
The IRS requires business owners to keep a record of receipts, business purchases and other basics in case they need to go snooping around your company’s finances. If you don’t have separate accounts for your business expenses, it’s a lot harder to keep track of which purchases can be justified as necessary to run your company versus your personal spending.
In addition, depending on the structure of your business, you could be held personally liable for damages your company is obligated to pay if you commingle your finances. For example, one of the main purposes of forming a limited liability company (LLC) is to prevent you from going personally bankrupt even if your company does. If someone sues your company into oblivion and the court sees you’re not really separating personal finances from business ones, it may hold you accountable for any further damages.
Finally, having a business checking account makes your payments to vendors, clients, and customers look more legitimate, which can make or break some businesses depending on the competitiveness of your field. A vendor looking over her records and seeing payments from “John Doe” doesn’t inspire the same confidence as “Doe & Partners Enterprises, LLC,” for example.
What do I need to open a business checking account?
The exact materials you need to show the bank or financial institution in order to qualify for a business account depends on both the individual institution and the structure of your company. If you’re a sole proprietor, for example, some banks allow you to sign up for a business checking account online. But according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, some of the information you should prepare to share with the bank includes:
- Employer Identification Number (EIN), or a Social Security number, if you’re a sole proprietorship
- Your business’s formation documents
- Ownership agreements, if you share ownership with others
- Business license
You may need some more information depending on the individual account or institution you’re dealing with, but the above materials are a great place to start.