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Mercury review: Free banking designed for start-ups

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Mercury review: Scalable business banking for startups

Mercury is a financial technology company offering no-fee, scalable banking for startups and technology companies. In addition to business checking and savings accounts, Mercury offers a credit card, treasury services for businesses with lots of cash, and venture debt funding.

Mercury

Mercury offers free business checking and savings accounts with no balance requirements. An optional no-fee credit card provides 1.5% cash back and higher credit limits designed for business.

As your startup grows, Mercury also offers API access, treasury services and venture debt.

Pros:
  • Free business banking
  • Free ACH and wire transfers
  • Features to help your startup grow
Cons:
  • No cash deposits
  • No interest on basic savings account
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Full review

At its core, Mercury provides banking services to growing small businesses. Mercury is not actually a bank, but partners with Evolve Bank & Trust and Choice Financial Group to provide business checking and savings accounts.

Free business checking and savings

Mercury bank offers no-fee checking and savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements. Their checking account alone is quite compelling, as it offers:

  • Unlimited free ACH transfers
  • Unlimited free incoming and outgoing domestic wire transfers
  • Unlimited free incoming and outgoing international wire transfers in USD
  • Flat 1% foreign currency transaction fee

Unfortunately, however, Mercury does not support cash deposits. And the basic business savings account does not pay interest.

FDIC insurance up to $5 million

Most U.S. bank accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per account holder. In the unlikely event your bank becomes insolvent when you have more than that on deposit, there is a chance you could lose those funds. Mercury is able to offer accounts with FDIC insurance on up to $5 million because of its relationships with partner banks which can spread funds across their sweep network of of established FDIC-insured program banks to ensure more of your funds are insured at all times.

Treasury services

For companies that have received large investments or otherwise need to maintain large cash balances, Mercury offers Mercury Treasury to account holders with more than $500,000 on deposit.

Mercury Treasury can invest idle cash in a money market fund composed primarily of government-backed treasury bills. Your money will earn a healthy return (up to 5.47% as of writing this) while remaining available for your business needs. Your actual return will depend on market performance and how much you have on deposit. (The highest rates require a deposit of $20 million or more).

Tech-focused features

As a tech-focused company, Mercury has plenty of integrations to tools like QuickBooks and Xero but also includes read-write API access with every account. That makes it possible for tech customers to customize their account with dashboards, rules, and automations.

Credit card and venture debt

Eligible customers can also opt to get Mercury’s credit card product, the IO Mastercard. The IO card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on spending and higher credit limits designed for the needs of startups.

For VC-backed startups needing access to additional capital, Mercury offers venture debt. Venture debt is a term loan available to startups who have raised venture capital within the preceding year. Venture debt is an alternative source of credit for startups who can’t yet qualify for other business loans.

Mercury banking limitations

No cash support: As an online banking service, Mercury does not support cash deposits or cash transactions of any kind. Although not uncommon for online-only banks, this will be a deal-breaker for any business that receives cash payments.

No interest on savings: Mercury business savings account customers won’t earn a dime of interest at a time when numerous banks are paying 5% or more on basic savings accounts. Although Mercury Treasury can provide yields up to 5.47% a year, you need $500,000 to qualify.

Mostly online support: Mercury does offer live phone support during business hours, but encourages customers to handle most issues via chat and email. Their phone number is on the back of its debit cards, but finding it otherwise can be tricky.

Who is Mercury best for?

Mercury is best for businesses that send and receive a lot of wire transfers, anticipate having large amounts of cash on deposit, or want venture funding.

Other business owners might be perfectly happy using Mercury for a no-fee checking account but aren’t likely to benefit from most of what Mercury has to offer.

Who should look elsewhere?

Small business owners that don’t anticipate having more than $250,000 on deposit or needing to make frequent wire transfers might not get the most out of Mercury. You can compare the top banks for small business here or read review of Novo or Lili, two other popular online banks for small business.

» Learn more or apply for a Mercury account now

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