Is a Free Business Checking Account Online With No Deposit Best for My Small Business?

Getting your small business off the ground comes with lots of important steps. Even after you get through a ton of paperwork (okay, not an actual ton—but close), you’re still not done. Next you’ll need to set your company up with a business bank account.

The nice thing about being a small business owner now is that with the advent of online business banking, it’s become much easier to find the right business checking account for your small business—with plenty of free online business checking account options to choose from.

But the real question is if you can open a free business checking account online with no deposit. After all, your small business might not have tons of cash reserves waiting in the wings before its EIN comes flying into your mailbox. Considering it might take a while for you to get rolling with revenue, and you may have already put all you can into the business personally, you might not have any other option but to open a free business checking account online without a deposit in the first place.

We’ll take you through a few options for how to open a free business checking account online with no deposit, plus some options when, well, that just isn’t an option. And then we’ll help you decide what’s the best free checking account for your business!

First, Why Open a Business Checking Account at All?

Here’s a good question to start with. Why would you want to figure out how to open a free business checking account when you could just use your personal checking account for your business?

Because you can’t.

It’s imperative that you separate your personal and business finances once you’re operating your small business, and not just because it’s simply easier to keep your receipts separate. Separating your personal and business bank accounts are necessary for your accounting, and subsequently your taxes.

Your business is looked at as a separate accounting entity unto itself—this is known as the “economic entity assumption principle” in accounting, FYI. Entangling your personal checking account with your business expenses will not only cause headaches when you have to separate them, but mixing the two could also cause you trouble down the line with the IRS. No thanks! (That’s why you should get a separate business credit card, too.)

Here are the top four reasons you 100% need a business checking account:

  1. You’ll have a secure yet accessible home for your working capital.
  2. You’ll gain access to business debit cards (since carrying around a wad of cash isn’t exactly practical or secure).
  3. You’ll gain an invaluable tool for keeping track of your business’s finances.
  4. And, like we said, it’s completely necessary for applying for basically any financial product down the line, whether you need a business credit card or a business loan.

Before Opening a Business Checking Account, Consider What You Actually Want From One

What exactly are you looking for in a business checking account? Is it just somewhere to separate those business and personal finances? Are you barely going to be making transactions with an LLC as a new freelancer, or is this, hopefully, the beginning of something big?

When you go looking into a business checking account, make sure you’re thinking about these factors:

  • Number of monthly transactions. And make sure you’re thinking about cash and check deposits, cash withdrawals, payables by check, and electronic payments, too.
  • Average daily account balance. Can you commit to a certain number in that checking account every month?
  • An opening deposit. Which brings us back to that question about no deposit vs. a small deposit—and you might want to be okay with putting down some cash if you have it.
  • Availability of a physical branch. Some business checking accounts are all online now! And if you’re a very cash-intensive business, that might not be your best bet.
  • Size of the banking institution. Since you’re building a relationship with a bank, do you want to try to do it with a credit union or be able to have your business bank accounts work alongside your personal at a large bank?

These are all things to consider—and, in the end, all things that’ll likely affect the fees you’ll pay for your business checking account.

Because even if you open up a free checking account online with no deposit, signing up for one that doesn’t offer you the right fit for your business means you’ll end up going overboard with fees. And that’s not so free after all.

Do Free Online Business Checking Accounts With No Deposit Exist?

Now that you’re sold on a business checking account, let’s get back to the original question: Is it best to open a free business checking account online with no deposit? It might be! But, also, do those accounts actually exist?

There’s kind of good news and not-as-good news.

It’s actually fairly easy to find a free business checking account online. The catch, though, is that it’s much trickier to find a bank that will let you open a free business checking account with no deposit when you sign on the dotted line. (Unless you go for a completely digital banking experience—more on that later.) But that’s not to say that they aren’t out there!

Let’s go through ’em.

Banks That Offer Free Business Checking Accounts Online, No Deposit Required

Here are two options for free business checking accounts with no deposit required.

The Alternative to Free Business Checking Accounts That’s More Common—But Still Affordable

So, yes, there are a few free business checking accounts online with no deposit required. But many brick-and-mortar business bank accounts are set up a bit differently.

Generally, what you’ll see is many banks require some amount of money to go into the account in order to kick things off. Don’t be put off by this, though! Some of these amounts are as low as $1 (quite literally, as you’ll see). And although others do technically ask for a monthly maintenance fee, again, if you maintain a certain balance, those fees can get waived—making your checking account essentially free after all.

Although some business checking accounts might not be technically free with no deposit, they’re darn close to it. And some of these accounts come with more business benefits, like no ATM fees, unlimited deposits, and more.

So, if you do end up putting in some deposit to open your business checking account, think of it as an investment not only in your business but also in your relationship with a bank. Especially since many of the organizations that allow you to open a free business checking account online will also reward you with better perks and lower rates for basic services if you’re able to put up a bit of cash to start things off.

Business Checking Account Options to Apply For

Whether you want to open a free business checking account online with no deposit or look into another option, heads up! Based on what’s most valuable to your business, we have some thoughts for you—and you can apply to all of these options online.

Totally Free, Totally Digital Business Checking: Azlo

There are lots of benefits to establishing a relationship with your bank, especially if you want to knock on their door in search of a small business loan down the line. But if you own a very small business that generates most or all of its revenue through digital transactions, and you prefer to conduct all your banking online, you might benefit from a purely digital banking experience. And if you sign up for a free digital checking account, you literally have nothing to lose by trying.

In that case, Azlo Business Checking is by far your best digital business checking option: In addition to an easy signup process and no fees, ever (really), Azlo comes loaded with tools that help you run your business. Some key features of Azlo’s app and dashboard include:

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Instant, free payment transfers between Azlo users
  • Free bank-to-bank ACH transfers
  • Electronic bill payment
  • Create and send customizable invoices
  • Connect your business’s payment processing system (just Stripe for now, but other providers are coming soon)
  • Free debit card with free ATM access and no foreign transaction fees

Azlo is geared especially toward freelancers and self-employed individuals, so bigger businesses with many employees might want to consider an option with a traditional bank. Businesses that deal mostly in cash, and who need to visit a physical bank location, are better off with a brick-and-mortar bank, too. If you do opt for Azlo, though, know that your deposits are FDIC-insured, since BBVA, Azlo’s partner bank, holds all accounts on this platform.

Fee-Free Business Checking With No Limitations: NBKC

For another business checking account option that not only requires no opening deposit but, like Azlo, is essentially fee-free, you might consider NBKC. You can open an NBKC account quickly and easily online (in just five minutes according to their website) and manage all of your finances using your computer or smartphone. With NBKC, you’ll have no limits or restrictions—no minimum balance, unlimited transactions, and access to over 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs around the country with your free NBKC debit card. Plus, you’ll receive up to $12 in monthly refunds for ATM fees from any other banks.

Moreover, as a virtually fee-free business checking account, you won’t face fees for:

  • Transactions
  • Returned items
  • Overdrafts or NSFs
  • Online or mobile banking
  • Bill pay
  • Depositing checks
  • eStatements
  • Cashier Checks
  • Stop payments
  • Incoming domestic wires

The only two instances in which you’ll face fees are what NBKC calls “optional instances”—$5 to send a domestic wire and $45 to send or receive an international wire. Therefore, like Azlo, NBKC is a great option for digital-savvy business owners who don’t need or want the hassle of dealing with a traditional bank. With NBKC, you’ll not only have an unrestricted, free account, but you’ll be able to manage your finances regardless of location, wherever your business takes you.

Pretty-Much-Free Business Checking: Capital One Spark Business Checking Account

Capital One is an excellent bank for small business checking. They require practically no deposit to open a checking account with them—to the tune of $1.

Here are a few other great perks of Capital One’s Spark Business Checking Account:

  • Unlimited free transactions each month, which includes deposits, withdrawals, and transfers
  • No monthly fee to maintain your account, and no out-of-network ATM fees or minimum deposit requirements
  • 100% digital checking account with great web and mobile apps
  • Free electronic invoicing and bill paying
  • Next-day deposit availability

This is certainly a great option for anyone looking for a really affordable free business checking account online with (practically) no deposit. And, of course, with a 100% digital business bank account, you can apply and open it up right online!

Free if You Deposit $1,000: Axos Basic Business Checking

Axos will provide you with a free business checking account as long as you can meet their $1,000 initial deposit requirement.

If you can meet that requirement, you’ll have access to a variety a perks that come with an Axos Basic Business Checking account. Here are the particulars:

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No average daily balance requirement
  • Fee reimbursement on any ATM in the United States
  • 60 free remote deposits per month
  • 200 free items per month
  • First set of 50 checks free
  • Online and mobile banking features, including e-statements and bill pay

We understand that the $1,000 initial deposit requirement may be difficult for some small business owners to meet. But if you can, you’ll unlock an array of banking features that can provide your business with a lot more versatility.

A Small Upgrade From Free Business Checking With Big Value: Chase Total Business Checking

While we’re looking at options for affordable small business checking accounts, let’s also look at an account from Chase that’s a small step up but really delivers a big upgrade. Chase’s Total Business Checking strikes a great balance for the small business owner who’s looking for an account with a low balance threshold but also low monthly service fees—and the opportunity to waive them, too.

Here are the best parts of the Chase Total Business Checking benefits at a glance:

  • 100 free transactions per month and unlimited free electronic deposits (excluding wires)
  • $5,000 in fee-free cash deposits each month
  • Pay a monthly fee of $12 if you choose paperless statements ($15 for paper)—but you can get this waived if you maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more in the account or in a linked Chase Private Client Checking or Chase Premier Platinum Checking personal account

So, although there are certainly some higher bars to make this account free, it’s certainly worth it for the small business owner who can hit them—because there are bonuses to be had! And, of course, you can apply right online.

The Bottom Line

No matter where your business is in terms of its lifespan, and why you’re looking to open a free business checking account online, you’re in luck. That’s because there are several free online checking options that will suit your needs without adding to the pile of paperwork and challenges that come with the grind of starting, building, or maintaining a company.

Whether you only need a streamlined business banking experience or could benefit from a bigger suite of business banking benefits, you can find exactly what you’re looking for.  

Contributing Writer at Fundera

Brian O'Connor

Brian writes about finance, business strategy, and digital marketing. He has worked at Morgan Stanley, Foreign Affairs magazine, Student Loan Hero, and as a partner of a small consulting firm, too. Combined, these experiences allow him to offer a unique perspective on the challenges small business owners face.
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