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If you’re starting your small business, you’re in the midst of a lot of big first steps: picking out an amazing name, getting an EIN from the IRS, and filling out about a carton of paper’s worth of forms. And once you’ve gotten past these not-glamorous-but-essential hurdles, there’s still more work to be done in order to get your company off the ground—namely, figuring out the best place to open a business checking account. And lots of modern businesses are interested in opening a business checking account online to save time and hassle.
Online banking has made it easier than ever to open a checking account. That is, if you’re opening an account for yourself. If you’re looking for the best place to open a business checking account online, not so much.
It’s, surprisingly, pretty hard to open a business checking account online without having to go talk to a human being in a bank branch. Even in an era where you can do just about everything over the internet, you still can’t hand your company’s cash to a bank without seeing someone face-to-face.
Here’s where the industry stands—and if you determined to order up a checking account like a large cheese pizza, what your options are to find the best places to open up a business checking account online.
You might find it hard to believe that most banks won’t let you open a business checking account online. Or any business bank account, really. But given the amount of paperwork required to get your company’s account approved at a bank, it’s actually pretty easy to understand why.
First, the bank needs to make sure that your company’s legit, not some kind of scam organization—not tied to any kind of organizations that are up to no good. If you thought you were the only one who had to sift through a pile of paperwork related to your small business, you’ve actually got plenty of company.
A handful of reasons why banks can’t allow you to open a business checking account online have to do with regulations. Chief among them is the USA PATRIOT Act, which allows banks to make sure that the identity of their account holders is certified.
This isn’t usually a big deal for personal accounts, since your identity is easily identifiable by way of your Social Security Number. But since nearly every small business needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and EINs can cover more than one individual, it often takes a bit more time for banks to make sure that you and your co-owners are legit. Banks also have to ensure that their clients aren’t engaging in money laundering, which requires banks to pore through your personal history to make sure you’re a clean character.
→TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): It’s not that banks aren’t interested in letting you open an account online, but there’s a lot of back-office security and paperwork that’s involved in opening an account. That’s easier to do in person, mostly.
Despite the relative lack of opportunity to open a business checking account online with conventional, brick-and-mortar banks, there is one option out there that might be perfect for you.
Azlo is a new, online-only bank that offers small business owners the ability to open a business checking account online, as long as you don’t mind doing all of your banking digitally as well. And as banks shutter branches and customers flock to online banking, you might find that doing all of your business banking online isn’t too different than doing business with old-school financial institutions.
You’ll still have most of the standard staples of a typical bank through the Azlo app and website, like remote check deposit and an ATM finder. And, of course, you’ll have a physical card for your spending and ATM withdrawals from their network. Azlo is backed by BBVA and FDIC insured, too, so you can have the same peace of mind that you’d want from a big-name bank, too.
Not only does Azlo offer you a way to open a business checking account online, it also comes with a whole slew of features that your regular bank doesn’t provide (or only provides for its premier-tier clients). Azlo’s online business checking account provides a feature-rich platform for managing everything related to your company’s financial health, including online payments and transfers, personalized invoicing services, unlimited ACH transactions, and integration with your company’s POS and sales platforms.
We think you’ll very much like Azlo’s merchant integration with Square, Etsy, and Stripe, plus accounting integration with Intuit and Xero, too. And no international transaction fees if you’re sourcing materials overseas, too.
Opening an Azlo account is drop-dead simple, too. All you’ll need to have on hand are the Social Security Numbers of your partners, your company’s EIN, and the business’s articles of incorporation. All told, the process takes a mind-bending 15 minutes before your application is off to the races, and another few days for approval.
→TL;DR: Azlo is a new digital business checking account, backed by BBVA, that you can totally open and manage online. Plus, it’ll give you lots of modern features and integrations that you can take advantage of, too.
The vast majority of institutional banks may not offer one-stop shopping like Azlo does, but they also provide physical branches, which might be more important to you and for your business. After all, not every company can make a full transition to online banking, especially if they deal mostly in cash.
But although your company may not be ready for the full digital plunge, you might be looking to open a business bank account online because your time to stroll down to a local branch, shoot the breeze, and chat about the weather is limited. (You’re running a business, after all.)
Big banks know that you have more important things to do, and even though they haven’t fully automated the signup and onboarding process, they’ve tried to make it slightly easier. Even if most won’t allow you to finish the full process online.
Chase does a great job of streamlining the in-person application process, which at least makes the process a bit easier if entirely opening a business checking account online isn’t possible. Get a more in-depth look at Chase’s three leading business checking accounts.
If you’re looking for an entry-level checking account with a low minimum balance to maintain, and the chance to waive a monthly fee, Chase’s Total Business Checking is an excellent choice for many small business owners. They’re also currently offering an opportunity to earn a $200 bonus for a limited time—and that you can only redeem online!
Capital One also accommodates small business owners who might want to open a business checking account online, but can’t logistically do so. Their small business checking webpage spells out their two business checking account offerings: Spark Business Basic Checking and Spark Business Unlimited Checking, and provides a checklist of the documents that you’ll need to have on hand to make the application process as simple as possible.
The same holds true for Capital One Spark Business Savings, which is a great option for businesses looking to take their banking to the next level by earning interest on their cash. And if you’re willing to open a business savings account instead of a checking account, you actually can open that one entirely online (like Azlo).
If you the creature comforts of a conventional bank, like the ability to walk into a local branch, you might be out of luck if you’re looking to open a business checking account online. That said, the best of them will tell you precisely what it is you need to bring with you, which ought to make the process go by a heck of a lot smoother at the very least.
→TL;DR: Most conventional banks don’t have the option to open a business bank account online, but you can get the paperwork process started.
There are few things that we universally stress—but one of them is that every business owner should have a separate business bank account. Not only is it easy to do, but it’s smart.
No matter which route you go when you’re choosing a business checking accounts, whether you open one at a brick-and-mortar bank, or entirely online, remember:
It’s so important for the health of your business—and your personal sanity—to set up a business checking account. Having one will help you get an honest picture of your cash flow, will give your company a sturdy paper trail for future business loan applications (especially if you’re gunning for an SBA loan down the line), and provides you with the cornerstone on which any other savings accounts, CDs, or business credit cards you might pursue in the future.
→TL;DR: Taking the time to open a business bank account now will position you well for all future business financing, no matter the route you want to take.
You have to start with a checking account if you want to put your company in a position to grow down the line.
So, whether you’re content with a opening business checking account online (that can’t accept cash), or opening a conventional business checking account at a brick-and-mortar bank (that will require you to complete your application in person), it’s vital that you pick one of these two options as soon as humanly possible. Your accountant (and your future self!) will thank you.