Once you get beyond a sole proprietorship, it often becomes necessary to have a bank account solely for your business. Still, if you’re just starting out you may not have tens of thousands of dollars to deposit. Larger banks have account options catered to your size, and smaller banks and credit unions might have no-fee options. Here’s a small buying guide of possibilities to consider.
Bank of America
Bank of America has two small business checking accounts: the Business Fundamentals and Business Advantage accounts. The Fundamentals account is the more basic of the two, offering online banking, online bill pay, account alerts and mobile and text banking. The account costs $17 per month, but you can waive the fee by charging at least $250 per month on a business debit or credit card, maintaining an average monthly balance above $5,000 and having a combined average of linked accounts of $15,000, or by keeping a minimum daily balance of $3,000. Integrating with QuickBooks will cost you $15 per month, and a second business checking account will set you back $12.
The Advantage account costs $29.95 per month and comes with a free second account, free integration with QuickBooks and free stop payments on checks. To avoid the fee, charge $2,500 on new purchases on a business debit or credit card, use some of Bank of America’s approved payment services or hold an average monthly balance of at least $15,000 and a combined average of all linked accounts of $35,000.
Citi has four offerings for small businesses. If you make between 200 to 300 transactions per month, you probably want the Streamlined Checking Account. For about $17 per month, depending on the state where you live, you get 250 monthly transactions, a debit card, overdraft protection and remote check deposit, and for a fee you can connect QuickBooks to your Citi account. You’ll need a minimum balance of $5,000 to avoid the fee. If you do more business, their Flexible Checking Account would be a better fit, although it requires an average monthly minimum balance of $10,000.The two other accounts are larger and may not apply to what is considered a small business. Citi also has some specialized accounts for less common business needs.
Wells has four business checking accounts structured much like the other banks. If your banking needs are pretty simple, you might want the Business Choice Checking. For $14 per month you get 200 transactions and up to $7,500 in cash deposited monthly. All you need is $50 to open the account, but if you keep at least $7,500 in the account on average, have 10 or more business debit or payments from the checking account or use some of the bank's other services, you can waive the fee.
For even smaller businesses you can get the Simple Business Checking. The main difference is a lower minimum-balance limit of $3,000. If you use QuickBooks, Wells Fargo will charge you $14.95 per month, or $24.95 per month if you want to pay bills through QuickBooks. Like the other banks, Wells Fargo's other accounts are structured to meet the needs of larger businesses, with more transactions per month, some interest-bearing features and more, but they wouldn't necessarily apply to smaller businesses.
If you like smaller regional banks, check out PNC. You can open a business checking account with as little as $100. The monthly maintenance fee is $12, but it’s easily avoided by holding a balance of at least $1,500 or making $1,000 of eligible purchases on your PNC business credit card. You can make up to 150 transactions and up to $5,000 in deposits. There’s a charge for overdraft protection, and QuickBooks integration will cost $15 per month.
If your business is larger and more active, you’ll probably look at the Business Checking Plus or Business Checking Preferred. They come with a higher fee and a higher balance to waive the fee, but allow for more monthly activity.
Your Local Credit Union
Many credit unions have business checking accounts without minimum-balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees. You might not find all of the features that come with keeping your money at a mega bank, but if you’re OK with a no-frills experience, a credit union might represent the best value. Also look at local banks in your community; most will offer business checking options as well.
The Bottom Line
Staying with the big banks makes a lot of sense if you want frills such as mobile and text-based banking along with the many other perks that come with these accounts, but local banks and credit unions might offer stripped-down accounts without the minimum-balance requirements and fees. As a small business, it might be hard to commit to a monthly balance.