As a small business owner, finding an excellent small business checking account can be super frustrating. Big banks tend to charge a ton of fees to have a simple bank account. Credit unions may offer account options with fewer costs, but their apps and related technology usually aren’t the best.
So what should a small business owner that needs a business checking account do? If you don’t deal with a ton of cash, you may want to consider an online business checking account.
When I was looking into the banks for this article, I was surprised how great some of these accounts are compared to the brick and mortar banks I use for my business checking accounts.
In particular, I took a look at Novo, Lili, Bluevine, LendingClub Bank, and NorthOne. Each business checking account has pros and cons depending on the type of small business you run. Thankfully, I feel most non-cash-based small companies should be able to find a reputable business checking account between these five companies.
After you’re done reading this article, you should have a good idea of whether one of these online business checking accounts fits your small businesses’ needs. If one (or likely more) does, pick the best option, and open an account to start benefiting from the convenience and perks these online business checking accounts offer.
Novo vs. Lili vs. Bluevine vs. LendingClub Bank vs. NorthOne summary
Novo, Lili, Bluevine, LendingClub Rewards Checking, and NorthOne all have different target customers. That said, they all focus on making online business checking accounts easy to open and accessible to a large variety of small business owners. Here’s a quick summary of some of the most important factors:
Features Novo Lili Bluevine LendingClub Bank NorthOne
Minimum to open an account $50 $0 $0 $100 $50
Minimum balance $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Monthly service fee $0 $0 for Lili Standard; $4.99 for Lili Pro $0 $0 $10
Interest None 1% on savings with Lili Pro 1.5% (conditions apply) 1.00% on balances of $5,000 and up None
ATM fees No ATM fees and refunds all ATM fees charged by other banks No ATM fees at 38,000 MoneyPass network ATMs No ATM fees at 38,000 MoneyPass network ATMs No fees and ATM rebates for fees charged by other banks. No ATM fees at two million+ Cirrus® network ATMs
Cash back on debit purchases No Cash back with more than 14,000 merchants with Lili Pro No 1% cash back on online and signature-based credit transactions with your debit card No
Free mobile deposit for checks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Novo, founded in 2016, aims to provide business owners with the most compelling banking experience possible. You may be surprised to hear that Novo is actually a tech company, not a bank. Instead, they leave that aspect for their banking partner, Middlesex Federal Savings, to handle.
This may be a bit confusing, but it isn’t a big problem. Your money sits in an account at Middlesex Federal Savings and Novo essentially services your account. The benefit of this partnership is your money is FDIC insured up to $250,000, just like it would be if you put your money in a regular bank account.
Novo focuses on offering features to make managing your business’s money easier. To do this, they’ve come up with several technology integrations to let your business run more smoothly. They also focus on offering a quick application process and no hidden fees.
Lili is designed for a rapidly-growing segment of small business owners: freelancers. You’ll get checking services complete with a Visa® business debit card and no-fee access to 38,000 ATMs. If you need to deposit a check, you can do so in the mobile app with just a couple of quick snaps of the front and back.
But Lili doesn’t just provide a place to park your freelance earnings. You’ll also get a suite of accounting tools that help you track spending and pull reports. At tax time, this will give you the information you need to file. Lili also offers autosave so you can move a little money over each month to cover taxes and build an emergency fund.
With Lili, you’ll also get access to direct deposits up to two business days earlier than with other lenders. This will help with those pesky late-paying clients.
Lili’s standard account is free, but Lili Pro gives you upgraded features for only $4.99 a month. You’ll get 1% interest on savings, along with a debit card that earns you cash back with more than 14,000 merchants. The business tools are upgraded, as well, with unlimited invoicing and the ability to create custom categories for your expenses.
Bluevine was founded in 2013 and initially started as a business lending company. They started by offering intuitive banking services for lines of credit and term loans. Recently, Bluevine has expanded to offer a business checking account that is promising.
Bluevine works like Novo in the fact that they aren’t a traditional bank. Their deposits are managed by Coastal Community Bank, which offers up to $250,000 in FDIC coverage for funds in your account. They focus on being a one-stop-shop for your online banking needs as a small business owner and offer many great features that make this seem like a reality.
About LendingClub Bank
LendingClub Bank is the only company on this list that is actually a bank. They were originally founded in 1987 before internet banking was a thing. Today, they call themselves a leading online bank that caters to both consumers and businesses nationwide. Because they’re an actual bank, they also offer $250,000 of FDIC insurance on their accounts.
As a traditional bank, LendingClub Bank offers a small business checking account called Tailored Checking. In addition to checking accounts, they offer SBA loans and PPP forgiveness. One especially helpful feature they provide to make banking more accessible is the fact their customer service is all U.S.-based.
Like Bluevine, NorthOne partners with Bancorp for its banking. You’ll have all the security that comes with having your money with the fifth-largest bank in the country, without costly transaction fees. NorthOne is an online-only banking platform, but the user-friendly app gives you access to everything you need to manage your business finances.
NorthOne also partners with Cirrus® to make it easy to get cash when you need it. You can use more than one million U.S.-based ATMs, including those that are part of the MoneyPass® network. Worldwide, you get fee-free use of more than two million Cirrus® ATMs. If you ever have to go out of network, NorthOne won’t charge you ATM fees for that, but you may have to pay third-party lenders for using their ATMs.
Novo vs. Lili vs. Bluevine vs. LendingClub Bank vs. NorthOne Account Offerings Compared
While Novo, Lili, Bluevine, LendingClub Bank, and NorthOne all offer business checking accounts, they work differently. Depending on how you run your business, one may be a better fit than the other four.
Here are the details about the account types each company offers.
Novo account offerings
Novo only offers a single business checking account, so you don’t have to worry about picking which option works best for your business. You have to have at least $50 to open an account, but once your account is open there is no minimum balance you must maintain. Opening an account is pain-free and only takes about 10 minutes.
Novo also focuses on having no hidden fees. Their fee schedule is transparent and highlights that the only fees you may come across are a $27 insufficient funds charge or a $27 uncollected funds returned fee. They provide a free debit card, free transfers, mailed checks, and incoming wires, including foreign wires. The account even refunds you all ATM fees other banks may charge you.
Novo wants to make your life as a business owner easy, so they’ve worked with many technology service providers to allow you to integrate your business checking account with these services. Currently, they offer integrations with Stripe, QuickBooks, Slack, Zapier, TransferWise, and Xero. Their mobile app has free mobile deposit if you need to deposit a check, too.
When you get a Novo business checking account, you also get access to a suite of offers from several companies such as:
- Stripe ($20,000 in fee-free card processing).
- Google Cloud.
- QuickBooks (40% discount on the first six months of any Quickbooks online package).
- Google Ads ($150 in credits).
- Salesforce Essentials.
Lili account offerings
Whether you choose a standard account or Lili Pro, Lili’s business model makes it perfect for freelancers. You don’t need to deposit anything or maintain a minimum balance to get started. Whether you’re regularly enjoying deposits from clients or you only sporadically make money as a freelancer, Lili gives you a place to keep your business earnings separate.
Your account will come with no hidden fees, and you’ll also enjoy fee-free cash withdrawals at more than 38,000 MoneyPass ATMs. Members also get expense tracking tools and auto-save options that make tax time a breeze. With Lili Pro, you’ll also get expense category customization and unlimited invoicing, as well as interest on savings and cash back on your purchases.
The mobile app makes it easy to monitor your account balance, freeze your Visa card if there’s a problem, and deposit any paper checks you receive. If you travel internationally, Lili charges no international transaction fees and just $5 for international ATM withdrawals. You won’t get ATM rebates for out-of-network ATMs, but Lili will only charge $2.50 per domestic transaction if you can’t use a MoneyPass ATM.
Bluevine account offerings
Bluevine’s business checking account immediately stands out as their sign-up process takes only 60 seconds, not up to 10 minutes. They are business friendly since they don’t charge monthly or maintenance fees, ACH payment fees, incoming wire fees, minimum deposit fees, minimum balance fees, non-sufficient funds fees, or in-network ATM fees at MoneyPass ATM locations. Outgoing wire transfers do charge a $15 fee, though.
Bluevine will appeal to those looking for a more traditional business checking account as you get two free checkbooks with your account. While these aren’t commonly used, they’re nice to have when you need them. They even pay interest. You can earn 1.5% on balances up to $100,000, provided you meet at least one of the below monthly eligibility requirements (effective May 1, 2022):
- Spend $500 per month with your Bluevine Business Debit Mastercard®.
- Receive $2,500 per month in customer payments into your Bluevine Business Checking account via ACH, wire transfer, mobile check deposit, or directly from your merchant payment processing provider.
If you receive checks as payment, you can use Bluevine’s mobile deposit app. You can even deposit cash at 90,000 retail locations through their GreenDot partnership. Unfortunately, out-of-network ATMs can still charge you fees. Bluevine doesn’t offer ATM rebates as some other online business checking accounts do.
LendingClub Bank account offerings
LendingClub Bank’s Tailored Checking account can be opened in 10 minutes or less. They require $100 to open an account, the highest of any company on this list. They don’t have a minimum balance requirement after you make your initial deposit, though.
Even so, you can earn 1% cash back on online and signature-based “credit” transactions you make with your account’s debit card. The account pays interest on balances of $5,000 and up, but it is at a lackluster 1.00% APY. You do get unlimited ATM fee rebates for ATM fees charged by other banks and free mobile check deposit.
As a traditional bank, LendingClub Bank’s Tailored Checking account comes with some fees. In particular, they charge a $10 monthly maintenance fee if your average monthly balance is less than $5,000. Even with this fee, the right type of small business has access to some stellar benefits with LendingClub Bank.
NorthOne account offerings
NorthOne also has an easy signup process, and all you’ll need is $50 to get started. Once you’ve made that initial deposit, you won’t face any minimum balance requirements. Money Under 30 readers also get three months free to try NorthOne out!
Once your three-month trial is up, you’ll pay a flat fee of $10 a month. This covers unlimited transactions, including free transfers, deposits, and withdrawals. You can deposit checks using the app and, if you ever need cash, just take your debit card to one of the more than one million Cirrus® ATMs in the U.S. that are free for NorthOne account holders to use. You can also add cash to your card at any Green Dot® location. Domestic wire transfers cost only $15 per transaction.
One of the biggest advantages to NorthOne, though, is its envelopes feature. These sub-accounts let you set money aside for a rainy day. You can group your savings into different envelopes, saving separately to meet each of your business’s goals.
Novo vs. Lili vs. Bluevine vs. LendingClub Bank vs. NorthOne pros
- Technology integration can save you time – Novo has spent time integrating their business checking account with several popular software programs and apps. This integration can save you a ton of time as a business owner once you get it set up.
- Transparent fee schedule – Understanding what fees you’ll be charged upfront is critical when it comes to business checking accounts. The fact that Novo only charges two significant fees that you probably won’t come across often is a definite plus.
- ATM fee rebates – Novo will give you ATM fee rebates for any ATM fees your account is charged, including fees charged by other banks’ ATMs. This is huge if you need access to cash and don’t want to worry about finding an in-network ATM.
- Business tools help with taxes – Many freelancers are responsible for paying their own estimated annual taxes every quarter. Lili helps you set money aside by pulling a little money out for your tax savings.
- Expense tracking – You can easily categorize your purchases on your Visa debit card to track expenses. This not only helps you see where your money is going, but you can also pull a report to use when you’re claiming your tax deductions each year. Custom categories ensure you’ll have all your expenses well organized.
- No hidden fees – Lili’s completely transparent about their fees, but you won’t pay that many to begin with. You won’t pay a fee for overdrafts, and as long as you use one of the 38,000+ ATMs in the MoneyPass network, you’ll also get fee-free cash withdrawals.
- Can earn interest – You can earn 1.5% interest on balances up to $100,000 (provided you meet a monthly eligibility requirement). This is higher than online high-yield savings accounts are paying consumers, which is quite impressive.
- Get two free books of checks – While checks may not matter to most people, businesses may have to use checks more than individuals. Getting two free books of checks when you open your account is a nice touch.
- Open an account in 60 seconds – Don’t spend forever sitting in a branch opening an account. With Bluevine, opening an account can take as little as 60 seconds.
LendingClub Bank pros:
- Earn cash back on certain debit card purchases – You can earn 1% cash back on your purchases when using your debit card online or when using it for signature-based “credit” purchases in person. If your business ends up making more purchases versus keeping money in the bank, this could work out better than earning interest.
- Earn interest on balances of $5,000 and up – When you carry a balance of $5,000 and up in your bank account, you earn interest at 1.00% APY. This rate isn’t outstanding and the balance requirement is hefty, but it’s still something.
- Unlimited ATM fee rebates – You don’t have to worry about which ATM you use to withdraw cash because you get unlimited ATM fee rebates each year. This can be useful if your business uses a lot of cash.
- Flat monthly rate – Yes, you’ll pay $10 a month with NorthOne, but that includes everything. There are no sneaky fees, and you won’t be limited to a certain number of transactions each month.
- Sub-accounts for savings – It’s important that businesses have a little extra money set aside for those economic tough times. NorthOne’s envelopes feature lets you earmark those funds for various savings goals.
- Widespread ATM availability – Like other business bank accounts, you’ll get fee-free ATM use at MoneyPass® locations, but NorthOne goes beyond that. You can withdraw cash at any Cirrus® branded ATM location, for a total of more than one million locations worldwide.
Novo vs. Lili vs. Bluevine vs. LendingClub Bank vs. NorthOne cons
- No cash back debit card – While other small business checking accounts may offer a cash back debit card, Novo doesn’t. That means you can’t earn cash back on your purchases.
- No interest-bearing account options – Checking accounts don’t normally pay interest, but there are a handful of them out there that do. Novo isn’t one of them.
- No free checkbook – Let me be honest. Writing a check is rarely necessary. You can get mailed checks for free with Novo, but they don’t send you a free checkbook if you have the occasional need to write a paper check on the spot.
- No interest-bearing accounts with Lili Standard – Lili makes it easy to move money over for tax savings or an emergency fund, but you may want to move the money into an interest-bearing savings account once it reaches a certain threshold. To get access to 1% APY on savings, you’ll need Lili Pro.
- No cash back rewards with Lili Standard – Although you’ll get a Visa debit card with your Lili Standard account, your purchases won’t earn points or cash back. As with interest, you’ll need to upgrade to Lili Pro to earn cash back.
- No out-of-network ATM reimbursement – As long as you stick to the MoneyPass network, you won’t have to pay fees. Lili charges a $2.50 fee on every out-of-network transaction, though.
- No ATM fee rebates – Accessing cash from your bank account is essential with an online bank. While there are plenty of fee-free locations, Bluevine won’t give you a refund for out-of-network ATM fees. That means you need to look at which ATMs you use carefully.
- No cash back debit card – You can get a debit card with your Bluevine account, but it doesn’t offer cash back. This isn’t a major downside, but you need to consider it when choosing an account.
- Not available in all locations – Ineligible locations for Bluevine are North Dakota, South Dakota, and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico.
LendingClub Bank cons:
- $10 monthly maintenance fee in some cases – If your average monthly balance falls below $5,000, you’ll be hit with a $10 maintenance fee each month. This is a traditional bank fee that most online banks have done away with but LendingClub Bank has held on to.
- Lackluster APY only available on high balances – While you can get paid interest in some cases, 1.00% APY isn’t anything special. The fact that you have to have a balance of $5,000 and up to earn interest is even more discouraging.
- No free checks after first order – LendingClub Bank allows you to order your first checks for free, but all additional checks come with a fee.
- No interest on funds – Whether it’s the money in your checking or the funds you’ve set aside in envelopes, you won’t earn interest on your balance.
- No cash back options – Some business owners like to earn cash back or points on their expenses to spend personally. NorthOne doesn’t offer cash back for your purchases.
- No out-of-network ATM reimbursement – Some other banks reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees. While NorthOne doesn’t reimburse for third-party fees, you won’t be charged a fee by NorthOne for going out of network, and you have plenty of in-network ATMs in the U.S. you can use for free.
Why Choose Novo
Easy to open an account
Applying for a business checking account with Novo takes less than 10 minutes. This is very important because I’ve sat through opening a business checking account at a brick-and-mortar bank and it took about an hour. No one should have to suffer through that. Novo makes sure you don’t.
Technology integration with other apps you use in your business is key to speeding up processes that could otherwise take hours. Integration with apps like Stripe and QuickBooks can make your accounting much easier and less time-intensive.
Why Choose Lili
Free business tools
Lili’s biggest differentiator is its business tools, which make it easy for freelancers to track their spending. This gives you insight into where your money is going while also helping you report deductions at tax time. With autosave, you can set money aside to ensure your taxes are always covered.
It’s especially valuable for freelancers to be able to have a separate account that doesn’t require a minimum balance. If you don’t have work for a month or two, you won’t have to worry about keeping enough in your account to avoid a fee. You’ll also be able to get started without making a deposit.
Why Choose Bluevine
A business checking account that pays interest
Finding a business checking account that pays interest isn’t necessarily easy. The fact that Bluevine pays 1.5% interest on balances up to $100,000 (conditions apply) is highly enticing.
Feels like a traditional business checking account with free checks
Those looking for a traditional business checking account feel may find Bluevine is a good fit. They offer two free books of checks when you open your account, which can help you write a check on the spot. As a business owner, this can happen more often than it does in your personal life.
Why Choose LendingClub Bank
Earn cash back with your debit card
For businesses that spend a lot of money with signature-based “credit” purchases in person or online debit card purchases, earning LendingClub’s 1% cash back can pad your profit margins. This feature is difficult to find, so it’s something you should strongly consider taking advantage of.
Working directly with an actual bank
Opening a Tailored Checking account with LendingClub Bank isn’t like working with the other companies on this list. LendingClub Bank is the actual bank your money will be held at, so there is never a middle man you have to deal with. It normally isn’t a problem, but it’s nice to have one less layer to get through if you have an issue.
Why Choose NorthOne
One flat monthly fee
NorthOne takes the worry out of banking fees by charging one flat monthly rate. Your $10 a month gives you unlimited transactions. There is a $15 fee for domestic wires, but that’s the only extra fee you’ll pay.
Best of all, you’ll get three months free just for being a Money Under 30 reader.
Separate your savings into envelopes
NorthOne’s envelopes feature makes it stand out from other business banking options. Instead of simply setting money aside in one account, NorthOne gives you sub-accounts that you can name after various goals. This helps you keep your savings well organized.
Novo, Lili, Bluevine, LendingClub Bank, and NorthOne all offer superb online business checking accounts. The key to finding the perfect fit for you is deciding which features will allow your business to run smoothly and efficiently.
Perks like interest and cash back debit cards can help if you know they’ll provide an extra boost to your profit margins. However, technology integration could save you precious time, which you can’t get more of.