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Run a quick Google search for “How to Start a Business,” and nearly every tutorial or checklist you come across will offer the same list of to-do items:
If most of your past experience has been with personal checking accounts, it’s easy to assume that the last step should be really straightforward. But after just a bit of research, you’ll quickly realize that the terms between personal and business checking accounts tend to differ quite a bit.
Without choosing carefully, you could easily find yourself getting hit month after month with piles of small fees that add up to a big dent in your bottom line—and that “free business checking account” you’d hoped for didn’t exactly turn out to be free.
But if you do your due diligence, you can find a free business checking account—or, more accurately, a business checking account that doesn’t pile on extra fees.
Here, we’ll show you some important factors to consider while you search for the best free business checking accounts. After you’ve thought through those factors, take a look at this master list of the best free business checking accounts.
To keep things simple, we’ve organized the list according to standout features. So, we suggest looking for the description you most identify with as a starting point for your best checking account option.
If you’ve been in business for a while but are seeking a business checking account for the first time, it’s possible that you’ve been commingling your business and personal finances until now. So, before we dive into choosing the best free business checking account for you, let’s rehash why it’s so important that you maintain a separation between these financial poles.
First off, mixing business and personal finances will definitely cause an accounting headache come tax season when you’re spending hours picking through your account sheets. But, more importantly, intermixing your personal and business finances may get you into hot water with the IRS, and even ruin your chances at securing small business loans down the line. Plus, depending on your business entity type, if your personal finances are mixed up with your business’s, you may become personally liable in case of a lawsuit.
Choose a free business checking account from our list and fix this today. But also know that you may need to spend some time working with a bookkeeper or accountant (or at least with your calculator) to clean up any lingering confusion in your books.
Now, let’s look into how to choose the best free business checking account for you.
When you start researching checking accounts for small businesses, you’ll quickly learn how much truth there is to that old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Even with so-called “free business checking accounts,” banking institutions have several ways of earning money from your account.
A few common ways that banks earn off your business checking account are by charging interest off your account balance; charging small fees off of each of your transactions beyond a set maximum; small “cash handling fees” for monthly balances above a set minimum; wire transfer fees; out-of-network ATM fees; and more.
Even with a so-called free account, all these fees can add up to significant costs. And although there may not be such a thing as a truly “free” business checking account, there are a few considerations that can help lead you to the lowest-cost option for your business.
Before selecting a business checking account from our business, consider how the following five factors might affect your choice:
When searching for a free business checking account, the first thing you should ask yourself is this: How many transactions do I have on average per month? (“Transactions” include cash and check deposits, cash withdrawals, payables by check, and electronic payments.)
Many “free” checking accounts limit the number of transactions you can make each month before the institution charges a fee for each transaction. Many institutions also set a cap on the number of monthly transactions that qualify for their “free” product level.
If you know that you process a lot of transactions, read the fine print on your business checking account agreement to make sure this won’t cause you to incur additional costs.
Some accounts will charge you fewer fees, or even no fees, if you maintain a high enough account balance. So, consider a realistic expectation for your average daily and monthly account balance, since terms may outline either of the two.
In addition to average daily balance requirements, some accounts with the fewest fees require a much larger opening deposit than accounts with more or higher fees.
Keep in mind that your opening deposit might differ from your average daily account balance if, for example, you need to maintain more than one checking account for a few days (or longer) as you transition between checking accounts.
If you have physical storefront or office space for your small business, or deal in cash for a significant amount of your revenue, you may need access to a local branch to make deposits. If this is the case, a bank that only has a few branches in your state, or is internet based, might not be the most fitting option.
In contrast, if you only sell your products or services online and all of your revenue comes in through digital transactions, an internet-based bank with no physical branches might work just fine for you.
Heads up: If you know for certain that you need access to a local branch, the “local and regional favorites” list at the end of this post may be your best place to start.
Other than the obvious (aka the size), there are a several differences between small and large banks.
First off, small banks tend to provide the fewest details online about the “fine print” behind their fees. Most hope to win you over on the phone, and they want you to eventually come into a branch location for the details. On the other hand, larger banks usually offer more account details online.
To incentivize brand loyalty, larger banks often have options to include balances of other accounts with their bank towards a minimum total balance to waive fees. This is useful if you already have a personal account with a large national brand, and want to open a separate business account with the same institution.
Smaller local or regional banks or credit unions tend to have the best “deals” on accounts. They’re generally more interested in competing for your share of the local economy and are more invested in the best customer service.
And word of mouth in the community is valuable on the smaller scale. There’s less anonymity involved, as you’ll probably speak to a customer service representative face-to-face or will be in contact with them more often, as opposed to a larger national brand with a customer service call center.
Even if your business is in its very early stages, it’s still crucial to open a business checking account. That said, in these early days, you likely don’t have much cash to actually put in your new checking account.
So, you’re best off with a business checking account that carries no or low minimum balance requirements. Start your search here:
If you run a growing but still a relatively small business, the Chase Total Business Checking might be right up your alley. This account requires a minimum daily balance of only $1,500 in order to avoid the $12 monthly service fee—which is still inexpensive. (The service fee is $15 if you’re not enrolled in paperless statements.)
The Chase Total Business Checking account also allows up to 100 monthly transactions without a fee, plus unlimited electronic deposits (excluding wires). You also get $5,000 in cash deposits each month without a fee.
If you’re planning for significant growth in the future, your business may outgrow the free boundaries of this account fairly quickly. You might want to consider the Chase Performance Business Checking or Chase Platinum Business Checking as a next step.
There’s a reason why Wells Fargo tops the list of the best banks for small business. Not only do they offer a healthy small business loan program, but they also provide one of the best free business checking accounts you’ll find for very small businesses.
With a Simple Business Checking account, you can easily waive the $10 service fee by maintaining just $500 per month in your account—one of the lowest minimum account balances we’ve seen. You also only need $25 as your minimum opening balance. (Fees vary according to location, so be sure to search with your zip code to know exactly which charges you may incur.)
Determined to prove that their business checking is “clearly better,” Citizens Bank offers an impressive combination of no minimum account balance and 200 free transactions per month. You also don’t need to pay a monthly maintenance fee, and they only require a minimum of $100 as your opening deposit.
As a small bank, Comerica understands the challenges that small business owners face, so the bank’s Basic Business Checking account features truly cater to small business owners. This account has no monthly maintenance fee, a low $50 opening deposit, or 150 free transactions per month.
More significantly, perks like credit card and payroll processing to help fill in the gaps where new business owners need help the most.
Despite the regional name, Bank of the Ozarks offers small business checking for businesses across the country who are looking for no monthly fees and no minimum monthly balance. Their Small Business Checking account option is best for startups and businesses with low transaction volumes.
An opening balance of just $100 gets you 250 transactions, no monthly service fees, and no minimum balance per month. That said, keep an eye on additional transactions, as $0.50 each can add up to bigger costs over time.
With no maintenance fees, no minimum balance, and overdraft protection, the First Citizens Bank Basic Business Checking is as easy as it gets for small business owners who don’t want to think too hard about their banking.
Even so, business owners who choose this account should pay attention to changing needs as they grow. Once you’ve hit 175 transactions and/or $5,000 in deposits per month, the fees can start to quickly add up.
Business owners hoping to build a relationship with their bank should definitely look into Iberia Bank’s various business checking accounts. In particular, if you open a Free Business Checking account (which has no monthly service charge or minimum requirements), you can also get up to two free personal checking account with this bank.
And if you outgrow the Free Business Checking account’s 500-monthly-transaction minimum, you can graduate to one of the bank’s four other business checking account options.
As long as you’re processing under 200 transactions and $7,000 cash deposits per month, Popular Bank’s starter business checking account truly lives up to its promise of being totally free.
You’ll see no monthly fee and no minimum balance—and when you do hit that $7,000 month, the folks at Popular Bank make it quick and easy to upgrade to next account level, equally tailored to your business’s level of growth.
If your small business is rapidly expanding, then you might have already outgrown some of the low-balance accounts listed above. Established small businesses who have a bit more cash on hand, and routinely process over $10,000 in monthly deposits, should look to these accounts tailored for medium-sized and larger businesses.
At first glance, the $18 monthly fee on Bank of America’s Business Fundamentals account may seem exorbitant. But keep in mind that the bank waives this fee if you maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $3,000, or maintain an average monthly balance of $5,000. For quickly growing businesses, those minimums shouldn’t be such a stretch to hit.
If you process a high number of transactions or a high dollar value of deposits, be prepared to pay a cash handling fee of $0.30 per $100 over the first $7,500 in cash deposits, as well as a fee of $0.45 for each transaction after the first 200.
That said, many business owners find Bank of America particularly user friendly for online banking, so the minor costs may be worthwhile.
Unfortunately, most business checking accounts don’t accrue interest—but the Bank of the Internet Business Interest Checking account is a rare exception. Sure, an interest bearing rate of 0.8% APR isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing!
Additionally, this account requires an average daily balance of $5,000 to avoid the $10 monthly fee, and adds a per-transaction fee after the first 50 monthly transactions.
If you’re based in New York City, consider opening your business checking account at Apple Bank. Their SimpleValue Business Checking account is an especially good option for quickly growing businesses who aren’t interested in a ton of frills attached to their banking experience.
True to its name, the SimpleValue Business Checking account is straightforward, but you can get a lot of value out of its features. Most notably, you get 200 free transactions each month, and no monthly maintenance fee if you maintain a $5,000 average monthly balance.
Like others in this category, Citibank’s Citibusiness Streamlined Checking Account has a $15 monthly fee, but it’s easily waived as long as you maintain an average monthly balance of $5,000.
This account also offers 250 free transactions for month, with a fee for additional transactions billed at $0.30 each. If you process lots of large deposits, keep an eye on their fee for all deposits above a certain amount per month (fees vary by state).
For retail or other point-of-sale businesses who process many transactions per month, per-transaction fees can add up quickly. These accounts either offer unlimited transactions per month, or feature some of the lowest per-transaction fees we found.
If you can access one of their physical branch locations, BBVA Compass Bank’s Clear Connect account provides a great combination of online convenience and in-person customer service.
As part of this monthly-fee-free account, business owners can process two deposits and five withdrawal and/or checks per month, in-branch, at no additional charge. All other transactions are unlimited and come at no extra charge, which virtually guarantees that all your banking needs (both in-person and online) are free.
A great choice for small to medium-sized, single-location retail businesses, Popular Bank’s Simple Business Checking account offers a variety of business checking perks.
Although this account doesn’t quite offer unlimited transactions, 400 free transactions per month is still almost double what most accounts offer, and may be enough for the majority of small retail businesses.
Keep your daily balance above $7,500 to avoid the $15 monthly fee—and if you’re having a particularly great month, prepare to pay a small fee for deposits over $15,000.
If your business operates solely or primarily online, it makes sense to do your banking online, too. First of all, you probably need to visit a physical location rarely, if ever. And you’ll need a bank with a suite of online capabilities—which online banks certainly do.
These free business checking accounts from popular online banks give you access to fellow business minds who think digitally, just like you do.
Azlo is a brand-new, all-digital bank that makes banking easy and intuitive for all manner of entrepreneur. In addition to standard mobile banking capabilities, Azlo also offers customizable invoicing, free electronic bill pay, integration with your point-of-sale system, a secure mobile app, and more.
Even better, Azlo charges zero additional fees, it doesn’t require any minimum account balance, and signing up for your account is completely free. (Seriously.)
Like Azlo, Novo is a completely free, completely digital business checking account (and it takes about five minutes to set up). Unlike Azlo, the Novo app only works on your phone for now.
In addition to allowing users access to fundamental banking tools (like paying bills, transferring money, and processing ACH transfers), Novo features an AI-technology-powered financial assistant that offers users personalized financial insight. Novo is targeted to help mostly emerging startup businesses with their tools and technology.
As an internet-based bank, Everbank offers great solutions for digital companies who want to do their banking exclusively online..
This account requires an opening balance of $1,500, and you can avoid the $14.95 monthly fee by maintaining a monthly balance at least $5,000. You also receive 200 free transactions per month, after which transactions have a relatively low fee of just $0.25 each.
Forget “First Bank of [Insert Your City or State Here].” Bank of the Internet does business exactly where you do—online.
Perks of their Basic Business Checking account include your first set of 50 checks free, 200 free transactions per month, free bill pay, and, of course, a free, easy-to-use, fully-equipped app for your iPhone, iPad, or Android.
The banks that follow aren’t available nationwide, but if you live in one of these areas, you’ll experience their great perks and personalized customer service. And if you don’t live in one of these banks’ areas, but a relationship with your bank is a priority, you should definitely look into your own regional bank’s business checking accounts.
Utah and Nevada residents might enjoy the four free business checking options from America First Credit Union. Their Basic Business Checking account is best for small businesses who have fewer than 250 transactions per month. But the low additional transaction fee of only $0.15 each will hardly break the bank if you run a few transactions overboard.
This local favorite is great for low-volume accounts that want personalized customer service without high monthly maintenance fees. You can also take advantage of America First’s online bill pay services.
A longtime favorite of Golden State entrepreneurs, California Bank & Trust offers five main options for free business checking, but their Business Inspire Checking account is the best option for the smallest businesses.
With this starter business account, you can waive the $7 monthly maintenance fee by maintaining a monthly minimum balance of $1,000. However, monthly cash deposits are limited to $3,000 per month, so if your business is growing quickly you’ll soon need to graduate onto one of the next tier accounts.
Whatever account you hold with California Bank & Trust, you’ll also have access to free online and mobile banking.
Texas and New Mexico businesses have next to nothing to lose with City Bank’s Small Business Checking account.
This account boasts no monthly fees, free online and mobile banking, and a minimum opening deposit of just $100. And even if your needs exceed this account’s 150 free transactions, the tiny fee of $0.10 per additional transaction is one of the lowest we’ve come across.
With no monthly fee, no minimum balance, and 500 free transactions a month, City National Bank’s Best Free Business Checking account is an ideal banking solution for business owners in Kentucky, Ohio, and the Virginias.
Mississippi, southern Alabama, and Louisiana business owners will be pleased with the First Bank’s First Free Business Checking account’s generous terms.
Like others on our list, this free business checking account offers no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum monthly balance, and free online banking. You can also enjoy 150 free transactions per month on this account, with additional transactions charged at just $0.50 each.
Nonprofits and cooperative businesses in Alaska, New York, Ohio, or D.C. area should absolutely check out National Cooperative Bank’s Basic Business Checking account for no monthly fees and a low minimum balance of just $100.
Although you’re limited to 50 free deposits per month, the community-based experience of working with this cooperative bank will appeal to business owners who want to feel like more than just an account number.
As you know by now, there’s no such thing as a truly “free” business checking account. However, the 24 business checking accounts on this list offer some of the lowest attached fees you’ll find on the market. And if you choose your business checking account appropriately, you can easily waive those fees entirely.
So, when you’re searching for the business checking account that’ll work best for your business, consider the following criteria:
Those three criteria can help you avoid monthly fees. Then, on a preferential level, you’ll need to consider whether you want to do most of your banking in person or online, and the level of customer service you’d like to experience.
All told, the answers to those questions will point you to a business checking account that’s as accessible as it is low-cost.