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ne of the first things a new business owner should do is open a business bank account. The bank account serves as a record of all inflows and outflows to the business and can simplify applying for credit, filing taxes, paying employees, and other business transactions.
You can usually apply in minutes if you have the right information and documents. Many business owners think that they need to do this in person, but this isn’t necessary, as a number of online business banking options exist.
Why open a business bank account?
Putting off opening a business bank account? We recommend opening one sooner rather than later. Here are the benefits of having a business bank account:
Bookkeeping and accounting
First and foremost, a business bank account is an “official” tracker of all of your business’s inflows and outflows. A business bank account serves as a form of record keeping for your business’ revenues and expenses, as monthly statements can be used along with your bookkeeping and accounting software to track and confirm transactions.
Separating personal from business
A business bank account is imperative for separating personal payments and expenses from those of your business. Having a business bank account reduces the chances of commingling funds. This is important as the business grows, employees are hired, and others have access to the business’s finances. Even if you’re a solopreneur, having your business income and expenses separate will make tax preparation much easier.
As mentioned above, having a business bank account simplifies tax filing. Because it tracks all funds in and out of the business, a business owner, bookkeeper, accountant, or tax preparer can lean on bank statements to review expenses and determine which can be deducted. Additionally, when taxes need to be paid, they can be paid directly from the business bank account rather than the business owner’s personal accounts.
You will need a business bank account specifically to pay employees. A payroll account is a separate checking account for your business that is strictly used for payroll purposes. Because payroll is likely to be one of your most significant business expenses, you’ll want increased visibility over these outflows.
Loans and credit
You can’t apply for loans or credit products (a business credit card, for example) without a business bank account. As they do for consumers applying for mortgages and other types of loans, banks and financial institutions generally need to see money inflows and outflows, in addition to the maintenance of a balance, in order to extend credit.
A centralized source of information
It's a hassle to create invoices manually, deal with paper documents, and sort through transactions one by one. A business bank account solves all of these issues. You can automate the process of creating invoices, keeping track of expenses, and more with the right business banking option.
Gathering what you need to open a small business bank account
The requirements to open a business bank account will vary based on the bank you choose, your entity type, the type of account you're opening, and the state in which you formed your business.
Every bank requires a person opening an account to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Some might require two. When opening a bank account online, you will need to upload a photo of your ID.
Though the account will be for your business, you also typically need to provide personal information, such as your contact information, mailing address, date of birth, and SSN. If your business has multiple owners, you’ll likely need to include this information for owners with 25% or more ownership in the business.
Employer identification number
You will also need to provide your business’s employer identification number (EIN), which should have been provided to you by your state’s Division of Corporations. If you used a third-party entity to incorporate your business, that entity should have that information for you. Sole props and single-member LLCs may be able to use their Social Security numbers instead of an EIN.
Organizing documents and agreements
Your business structure will dictate the documents you’ll need to provide. You may also be asked to describe the type of business you operate and disclose the industry you’re operating in.
Here are the common requirements for different entity types. (Note that these vary by state):
- Sole proprietorships: Business name, registration certificate, business license.
- Partnerships: Business name, address, partnership agreement, business name registration certificate, business license, state certificate of partnership.
- LLCs: Business name, address, articles of organization, LLC operating agreement, business license.
- Corporations: Business name, address, articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, business license.
Some banks require you to fund the account with an opening deposit, but this is not always the case. You might be able to open the account with $0 and then fund it later on.
Selecting the right type of bank account
There are generally three types of business accounts to consider.
- Business checking account: A business checking account serves as the core operating account for your business, allowing you to accept deposits and make payments. A business checking account will also enable access to any digital tools and capabilities your bank provides.
- Business savings account: A business savings account allows you to put money aside for large purchases or even business investments. These accounts pay interest on the balance, similar to personal savings accounts.
- Merchant account: A merchant account, connected to your checking account, enables you to accept credit and debit card payments from your customers. Think of Stripe or Square, for example. Merchants typically charge transaction fees.
Factors to consider when selecting the right bank account for your business
There are several factors to consider when selecting the right bank for your business.
Fees and minimum balances
Banks make a significant amount in monthly account fees. Outside of recurring fees, you should be aware of how much you will be charged should your minimum balance fall below a certain level. Banks might waive fees if you open multiple accounts. For example, if you have a business checking account and linked a business credit card, your checking account fees may be waived.
Cost of merchant services
You probably want to be able to offer customers the ability to pay for products and services with Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and other credit cards. As such, you will need a separate merchant account. Here are things to consider when you're opening a merchant services account:
- Discount rate: The percentage charged for every transaction processed
- Transaction fees: A set amount charged for every credit card transaction processed, regardless of the size of the transaction
- ACH daily batch fees: Fees charged when you settle credit card transactions for that day
- Monthly minimum fees: Fees charged if your business doesn't meet the minimum required number of transactions or transaction volume
Apps and digital tools
As cited above, you might need the flexibility to accept payments via different apps or platforms, like Stripe. Make sure that the business bank account has integrations with these popular platforms so as to reduce friction. Apart from payments, verify that the bank offers integrations with other tools you use to manage your business, such QuickBooks or Xero.
Find out how the bank handles customer service. Generally, banks offer enhanced customer service—a special toll-free number, with full 24/7 access—for business customers.
Many accounts and affiliated credit cards have rewards and points programs that can provide benefits, such as discounts on travel.
Has the bank recently undergone a breach? How do they handle the security of their customer accounts? This is an important consideration when selecting a bank for your business bank account.
Branches, locations, and ATM access
If you need to visit a branch and speak with a business banking specialist, or even withdraw cash, how convenient will this be? Having access to a brick-and-mortar location is especially important if you process a large volume of cash transactions. If you primarily operate digitally, an online-only bank account may be right for you.
Types of fees you may get charged
Business bank accounts typically carry a number of fees.
Monthly maintenance fee
Most banks charge a monthly fee if the account minimum falls below a specified amount. It’s important to understand what these minimums are when selecting a bank for your business bank account. Fees may be waived if you have additional accounts with the bank, such as a credit card. There may also be introductory offers of $0 fees for the first 90 days, for example.
Want to avoid the extra expense? Novo offers fee-free business checking accounts with no hidden fees.
Novo is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.; Member FDIC.
Merchant services fees
Payment processors will charge fees for you to accept credit and debit cards. They typically charge transaction processing fees, but may also charge other types of fees depending on the type of plan you choose and the payment type.
Credit card fees
As with personal credit cards, a business credit card will have an annual percentage rate (APR), which can fluctuate depending on certain factors, such as a late payment or cash advances.
Checklist to open a business bank account
As a quick checklist for opening a business bank account, have ready:
- Your name and personal contact information
- Your personal government-issued photo ID
- Any partners or associates you wish to be granted access to the account, including their contact information and government-issued photo IDs
- Your business’s name, address, incorporation documents, certificates, licenses, and EIN
- Funds, in the event the bank requires a minimum balance to open the account
Requirements and procedures may vary depending on the specific bank, so it's always a good idea to check with the institution for their specific requirements.
Opening a business bank account, or several, depending on your business’s needs, is one of the smartest moves a business owner can make in the early stages of entrepreneurship. A business bank account, especially a business checking account, is the best way to keep track of all funds flowing in and out of the company.
Further, a number of business bank accounts offer additional free integrations with digital platforms, such as bookkeeping software, which can help you centralize all essential information.
Novo offers a fee-free checking account, multiple in-app integrations with popular tools, and a fully digital experience. If you’re ready to create a business checking account or switch to a no-fee solution, sign up for Novo today.
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.
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