A bank account is one of the first things you need when you’re launching your own business. Business bank accounts can help you separate your personal and company finances, keep track of cash flow, and manage business expenses.
Unfortunately, not every bank is created equal. Certain banks are better for small businesses because of the resources and customer service they provide.
To figure out the best bank for your small business, set aside time to evaluate your needs first. Consider the following seven questions:
- Do you want in-person access to your bank, or do you prefer online and mobile banking?
- What’s your business’s monthly cash flow situation like?
- Will your business need financing in the future?
- Do you want a business credit card?
- What kinds of benefits are you looking for?
- Are you comfortable paying monthly fees for certain services?
- Do you have familiarity with a certain bank already?
Once you’ve thought about your business needs and preferences, it’s time to do your homework. Here are six traits the best banks for small businesses have in common:
1. Multiple business banking account options
It’s a good idea to look for a bank that offers a range of business bank accounts that cater to different needs. Ideally, you want a checking account that suits your company now, as well as one you could grow into as you scale.
Consider how many business checking account options a bank has, and the businesses they’re designed for. Some business bank accounts are perfect for small companies with little banking activity, while others are built for larger businesses with rapidly changing cash flow.
You also have to evaluate the services each business account comes with. The most common Wells Fargo business account, for example, has Bill Pay and mobile deposit. The most popular Chase business account gives you multiple ways to send and receive payments, and the Bank of America small business accounts have enticing introductory offers for business owners.
In the end, the best small business checking account is the one that makes it easier to manage your business finances and cash flow.
2. Online and mobile banking
Running a business without online and mobile banking is almost impossible in today’s virtual world. Having fast, intuitive online and mobile banking options saves you time and brainpower.
Of course, most banks offer some version of online banking, but certain banks are ahead of the curve, designing their apps and online portals with speed, accessibility, and ease of use top of mind. Not only can you view your latest transactions in real time and send payments in one click, you can also deposit checks on your phone and set up automated payments for recurring costs like rent and utilities.
If you don’t need in-person banking services, you may even want to consider a digital-only institution. Some of the best online banks offer lower monthly service fees, since they don’t have a brick and mortar to maintain.
3. Financing help
Even if you don’t need financing any time soon, partnering with a bank that provides lending options can put you one step ahead in the future. As you shop for the right bank, think about your business’s growth goals and potential financing needs. If you want to open a second location in the next 10 years, for example, a term loan could help.
Some banks partner with the Small Business Administration to offer a range of business loans and microloans. Other banks offer equipment financing, business lines of credit, and short-term loans. Most banks also have business credit cards, though the terms, fees, and rewards differ greatly. Certain cards come with steep annual fees, but others may have cash-back opportunities or zero-fee introductory offers.
4. Operations assistance
The best banks don’t just meet your business’s financial needs—they help facilitate other areas of your business, too. Think: payroll and HR. While some banks only offer business checking and savings accounts, others provide payroll services, merchant services, HR assistance, and integrations with your business software for consistent accounting and reporting.
Depending on the particular bank and business checking account you choose, you may have to pay a fee for these additional services, but the extra cost could be worth it. Having all your financial and operational reporting in one place makes it easy to track your company’s cash flow and reconcile issues quickly.
5. Fees that work for you
Every bank has different fees for its services and business banking accounts, but the cost of maintaining an account should feel—at minimum—reasonable considering the value you get.
Review the following numbers when evaluating a bank:
- The monthly service fee for maintaining a business checking account
- The average weekly or monthly balance needed to waive the fee
- The number of transactions allowed per month
- The total cash amount you’re allowed to deposit per month
What works for you depends on your business’s finances and day-to-day operations. If you have a large number of transactions each month and your cash flow is steady enough to maintain a high account balance, you may feel more comfortable paying a higher monthly service fee for a different business checking account. However, if you don’t have a lot of banking activity, you may want to opt for a basic checking account with a smaller service fee.
6. Attentive customer service
Choosing a bank that cares about its customers and aligns with your values is key to building a healthy long-term working relationship. When assessing a bank’s customer service, consider the following:
- How easy is it to get in touch with a representative?
- Do bank employees take the time to answer your questions?
- Are people generally kind and helpful?
- What is the onboarding process like?
- How welcomed and valued do you feel as a customer?
There are countless big and small ways banks show their appreciation for customers. Some offer new customers rewards or bonuses for opening an account, for example. Other banks have free resources for business owners, like networking events, mentorship opportunities, or grant programs for women or minority small business owners.
Finding the right bank for you
The right business bank account can help you facilitate customer payments, manage your cash flow more easily, and streamline tedious backend processes. To choose the best bank for you, make sure you factor in your business’s financing needs, day-to-day cash flow, and growth goals. You may also want to consult your accountant or financial advisor.