As a business owner, limiting expenses and maximizing your profits are a top priority. But one area where it can be tough to save money is with your business checking account. There are very few options available that don’t charge a fee, and many “no-fee” business checking accounts require that you keep a minimum balance to qualify.
Opening a business checking account is crucial for keeping your business and personal finances separate. But if you’re looking for a no-fee account that doesn’t require an upfront deposit, here’s how to find and open one.
How to open a free business checking account online with no deposit
Gone are the days when you were required to open a business checking account in person. While some banks still prefer it, you can save a lot of time by applying online.
Also, you’re more likely to find a free online business checking account with no strings attached than you are with a traditional bank.
1. Know your business’ identity
At the very beginning of an online application for a business checking account, it’ll ask for your name, as well as the name, address, email address and phone number of your business. If you’re not the sole owner, you’ll also typically need to provide the names of your partners.
If you’re running a business out of your home, consider setting up a P.O. box or a forwarding address to keep your business and personal mail separate.
2. Be prepared to share personal details
If your business is a sole proprietorship, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number because that’s also the tax identification number for your business. The bank may also ask you to upload a copy of your driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID to prove your identity.
If your business is structured as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, you’ll likely be asked for your employer identification number (EIN) instead of your Social Security number. If you don’t have one yet, you can apply for an EIN for free on the IRS website. They’ll also likely still ask for a photo ID to make sure you are who you say you are.
3. Have your business formation documents
Depending on the type of business you have, you’ll need to provide certain documents to prove that it’s formed legally as a business:
- Sole proprietorship: You may need to provide your local registration or your business license. Also, if the name of your business does not include your legal first and last name, you may need a fictitious name certificate or statement or a certificate of assumed name.
- Partnership: You may need to provide your business license, fictitious name certificate or statement, certificate of assumed name or the partnership agreement. If you have a limited partnership, you’ll also need a certificate of limited partnership or a limited partnership document. And if you have a limited liability partnership, you may need a statement of qualification, a limited partnership document or a limited liability partnership election.
- LLC: The bank may require your articles of organization, certificate of organization or certificate of formation.
- Corporation: You’ll need your articles of incorporation or a certificate of good standing.
Just keep in mind that while these are general documents that banks may ask for, it’s not a comprehensive list. Each bank is different, so check before you apply to make sure you have what you need.
4. After approval, download the mobile app
Online banks don’t have physical branches, so the institution’s mobile app is the only way you’ll be able to deposit physical checks. In some cases, there may be no mobile app, but you can still get the services you need through your mobile browser.
Some banks may offer different security settings for logging into the mobile app. In general, it’s best to require that you log in each time you open the app — it’s the default setting with many apps but may not be with all. Also, consider whether you feel comfortable with alternative login options like using your thumbprint or your facial features.
Finally, keep your password safe and secure. Avoid using a password that you have somewhere else because if someone manages to hack into the other website’s servers, they’ll suddenly have your password for your business bank account too.
Consider using a password manager like Lastpass or Dashlane. These services allow you to store multiple passwords in one place, making it easier to use complex passwords without having to remember each one. They also have mobile apps, so you can just copy your password whenever you need to log in.
Free online business checking accounts that require no deposit
If you’re on board with getting an online business checking account, here are a couple to consider.
Azlo is an online bank that offers a fee-free business checking account, and you don’t need a minimum deposit — this makes it a solid option for seasoned and brand-new business owners alike.
There are also no transaction fees or any other fees whatsoever. Despite a lack of fees, Azlo provides business owners with several valuable benefits, including:
- Free payments and transfers
- The option to send digital invoices to clients and customers
- Integration with Square and Stripe
- The ability to block and unblock your debit card via the bank’s mobile app
- Real-time notifications on purchases
Novo markets itself as a mobile business account instead of an online one. In fact, there’s no web banking platform at all — and there’s also no Android app for the time being, so it’s a good fit for iPhone users only.
The bank offers a largely fee-free business checking account — there is a $27 if someone tries to cash a check you wrote and you don’t have sufficient funds, but that’s it.
There’s also no minimum deposit, but you will get a match from the bank on up to your first $50 deposited into the account. So if you deposit $25, you’ll get $25 more.
- Integration with tools like Xero, Zapier and Slack
- Free and fast transfers and paper checks
- Works with Apple Pay and Google Pay
Frequently asked questions
As we did our research on the topic of opening a free business checking account with no deposit, we came across several questions that business owners have. Here are some of the common ones along with their answers.
What banks have free business checking accounts?
Azlo and Novo are our favorite free bank accounts, but there are also several other options out there. For example, credit unions typically offer bank accounts to their members with no monthly maintenance fee. However, they may not provide the same level of features that you can get from banks with a national presence.
Also, the Capital One Spark Checking Account doesn’t have a monthly fee, but as of October 2019, the bank is not accepting new applicants. If you want to work with a bigger bank like Capital One, check back regularly to see if applications are open.
Can you open a business checking account online?
Absolutely. Online business checking accounts are an excellent option for freelancers and other businesses that don’t need to accept cash. They tend to be cheaper and still provide all the necessary features.
If you do accept cash, however, you may be better off with a business checking account from a traditional bank or credit union with physical branches.
Do you need a tax ID to open a business checking account?
Not necessarily. If you’re a sole proprietor, you don’t need a business tax ID (specifically, an EIN) to open a business checking account. In fact, you don’t need one at all unless you have one or more employees.
You will, however, need a tax ID number if your business is structured as an LLC or a corporation. Also, keep in mind that having an EIN is required to start building a business credit history. So if that’s a priority to you, it may be a good idea to get one anyway.
The bottom line
Unless your business has very specific needs, it’s unlikely that you need a business checking account that charges a monthly fee. A fee-free business checking account with no deposit is best suited for companies that conduct their business online, don’t take cash and don’t have a lot of transactions.
As you search for and open a free business checking account with no deposit, look online for options that are inexpensive but also come with solid features. If you want in-person service, though, check out your local credit unions to see what they have to offer.
Check out our top banks for small businesses to see if you can find a good fit.
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