Your business checking account is the lifeblood of your business. It is how you receive and send the money your company needs to keep going each day, growing stronger for the next. There are many banks that offer business checking accounts, but so very few offer low or no fees for having your account.
To find the best free business checking accounts, we used our SimpleScore methodology to compare number of free transactions, minimum deposits, product variety, support and fees for the best business checking accounts in 2020.
Number of Fees
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The 6 best free business checking accounts of 2021
Free business checking accounts at a glance
Best interest-bearing account – BlueVine
Let BlueVine work for you by putting extra cash in your pocket through an interest-bearing checking account.
BlueVine delivers convenience, affordability and cold, hard cash with its new business checking account. Bluevine already made a name for itself with business loans and financing, but business checking is a brand new addition to the BlueVine financial lineup — and an attractive one at that. This is an interest-bearing account that gives you 1% interest as soon as you deposit your first dollar. There are also unlimited transactions with no monthly maintenance fees and live support. Signing up is simple and only takes about 60 seconds.
Best branch support – Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo offers a decent business checking with the in-person support — if you can swing the fees.
There’s no denying the support of powerhouse bank Wells Fargo, but we wish it would be more forgiving with fees. You have a few different options for your business checking account with Wells Fargo, but our pick is the Business Choice Checking account as the best option for growing small businesses. You only need $25 to open an account, and if you keep a balance of $500, the $10 monthly maintenance fee will be waived. You also get your first 50 transactions free each month and up to $3,000 in cash deposits. With over 5,400 branches across the country, Wells Fargo has excellent accessibility with a convenient mobile app that lets you pay bills and make transfers.
Best online-only checking account – Azlo
Checking is all that Azlo does, so while it’s fantastic for easy online banking, you can’t get any other financial products.
Azlo is modern, affordable and easy to use with a sole focus on online banking. As an online-only bank, you don’t even need a minimum deposit to open an account. There are excellent mobile tools to keep you plugged in on the go and unlimited transactions each month, so you don’t have to track your transfers and purchases. There are almost no fees, and you also get access to 55,000 different Allpoint® ATMs. Azlo will get you going quickly, too, with an online-based application.
Best for startups – Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is pretty hush-hush about its fees, although you do get 25 free transactions each cycle with just a $5 maintenance fee.
Citizens Bank offers a few options, but the Venture account is our pick for best small business account for startups. While many banks target their services toward larger, more established businesses, Citizens keeps it simple with its Venture account. You need $100 to open a new account and have the option of adding Overdraft Sweep or an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit as an extra safeguard. In addition to its own ATMs, you also get free use of 800 Access ATMs for even more convenience.
Best for established businesses – Axos
It takes $1,000 to open an account, which can make it tough for some businesses to swing.
No fees, free checks and unlimited ATM reimbursement make for a pretty sweet deal from Axos. Axos has been long-established as a reputable online-only bank, and although it is steep to join, it repays the favor with minimal fees. You can expect to spend some money on your outgoing wire transfers, but incoming transfers are free. There are no maintenance fees, and you can use whatever ATM you want with fees refunded to you. You also get 200 free transactions each cycle and access to 91,000 ATMs, the most on our list by far.
Read our full Axos Bank review.
Best for medium-sized businesses – US Bank
The fees are low enough not to be too much of a bother as long as you don’t send too many wires.
The Gold Business checking account is great for bigger businesses who can afford the fees but prefer in-person support. U.S. Bank keeps things reasonable with its Gold Business Checking Account, requiring just a $100 minimum deposit from the start. You also get the benefit of both mobile tools as well as in-branch support if you prefer one-on-one financial planning and advice. U.S. Bank partners with MoneyPass® ATMs, giving you access to 32,000 in total, in addition to the 300 free transactions you get each cycle.
What is a business checking account?
When you own a business, you still need to make deposits and pay for purchases. That is why a business checking account is an excellent tool for business owners to manage their money. When you file taxes as the owner of a company, you have to report your income and pay taxes. That means you should separate your personal expenses from your business in order to protect your personal finances and also file taxes appropriately at the end of the year.
Because businesses generally deal with more money than the average personal checking account, you may find that the fees and deposit requirements are higher for a business checking account. Some accounts offer extra perks, like free checks and interest-bearing accounts.
How business checking accounts work
Although similar to a personal checking account, a business account has its own requirements and benefits that separate it from a personal account. Not only can you accept payments from your customers, but it gives your business a level of professionalism and establishes it as an individual entity of its own accord.
[Read: The Best Small Business Loans of 2020]
You can keep your personal assets separate from that of your business, so your personal life is protected regardless of how your business performs. It also lays the groundwork for your financial future, because things like business credit cards, loans and lines of credit all require a business checking account.
Personal vs. business checking accounts
There are many similarities between a personal and business checking account, as they function similarly with deposits, debits, withdrawals and wires. You can make ACH payments and use a debit card to make purchases.
There are several differences, however. Business checking accounts generally carry higher fees, charging for things that are usually free or cheaper with personal accounts. This includes things like account maintenance fees, overdraft fees and wire fees. Many banks also require that you provide a higher minimum deposit when you open your account, which can cost anything from $10 to $1,000.
It pays to do your homework because every bank offers different perks and features for its business checking account.
There are a few different types of limitations that your bank may place on your business checking account. Two types are cash deposit limits and transaction limits. A cash deposit limit is when a bank limits how much cash you can deposit into your bank account each cycle. If you exceed that limit, there may be a penalty each time you deposit cash until your cycle is over.
[More: What to Do If Your Small Business Isn’t Insured for COVID-19]
A transaction limit is another kind of limitation that banks may place on your business checking account. If you exceed a certain number of transactions during your billing cycle, you could face penalties and fees.
There are other kinds of monthly transactions that may be affected by fees and penalties. This might include teller-assisted transactions, ATM transactions, debits, credits and even how many checks you can write. Banks like Azlo and BlueVine are far more generous with their regular allotments than other banks.
How to choose the best business checking account for you
Just like any other purchase you make, you should also shop your options for the best business checking account. The bank you choose will have significant bearing not just on the financial success of your company but its overall growth, as well.
Before you choose the best business checking account for you, you should first consider these factors.
- Fees. You want your bank to safeguard your money, not spend it for you on fees and penalties. Be sure to consider what a bank will charge you for things like maintenance fees, transaction fees and even the minimum deposit required to open an account.
- Support. While Azlo and Axos are both online-only banks, there are other banks like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank that offer physical branches that you can visit for more personal support. You should also research what other kinds of support will be available to you as a customer, such as online chat and mobile app functionality.
- Debit card. Most business checking accounts will give you both a checkbook and a debit card, but that’s not always the case. Ask to see a fee schedule, so you can ensure that you are aware of all fees and can plan accordingly.
- Type of account. We all know the difference between a checking account and a savings account, but there is a difference in the kind of account that you have, too. If you anticipate making a lot of purchases for your business, consider signing up for an interest-bearing account that can make you money while you work.
No matter what you need for your business, be sure to thoroughly vet your options so you can make the right decision for you.
Business checking account FAQs
You will need to provide more information for a new business checking account than you do for a personal one. Your bank will request your social security number or the Employee Identification Number (EIN) that is assigned to you by the IRS. You will also need to provide a government-issued photo ID, like your passport or driver’s license.
There are several documents relating to your business formation that you will have to share with your bank, including your business license, Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation and any other formation documents that you have filed with your state.
You should never use your personal checking account for business. The IRS has very specific requirements about how you must file taxes as a business owner, and the commingling of business and pleasure can have severe consequences come tax time or worse if you have to face an audit.
A business checking account only keeps your accountant happy, but it also keeps you in compliance with IRS taxation laws. Beyond the legalities, it is a means to accept and transfer money for your company with the help of traditional financial tools like your debit card and ACH payments.
Too long, didn’t read?
A business checking account is exactly what you need to keep your business financially compliant, but it can also significantly simplify and streamline your operations. With the help of the right bank, you can find the best free business checking account that works for your business and all of the many financial transactions to come.
We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the free business checking accounts we recommend. Contact us at [email protected] with comments or questions.