Best Small Business Financial Institutions

If you run a small business, a bank account isn’t an option, it's a requirement. Every business should have its own dedicated checking account, and possibly savings, credit cards, and other accounts, to keep cash safe and build a financial record for the business.

But don’t just head to the closest bank and think they will offer the best deal or even all of the features you need in a small business bank. It is important to do research to choose the best bank for your unique business needs. When reviewing accounts, consider some of these features, which may or may not matter for your business: cash deposits, mobile check deposits, free ATMs, keeping all accounts at one bank, interest-bearing checking accounts and in-person customer service.

And while keeping in mind that business bank accounts tend to charge higher fees than personal accounts, you should still seriously consider the costs of a bank account. Major fees for business bank accounts include monthly account fees, excess transaction fees and excess cash deposit fees.

Because every business is different, there is no perfect account for small businesses. Some small businesses may be happy with an online-only bank that does not charge any monthly fees. Other businesses care more about frequent cash deposits and will never need to deposit a check from their phone.

The only universal desire in small business bank accounts is low fees, so be on the lookout for fees that you may be charged unless you meet specific criteria to avoid them.

I have my personal preference and what I looked for was:

  • Customer Service

  • Being Able to Talk to a Person

  • Application Process

  • Low Fees, and

  • Having My Account Where I have My Personal Account

Now that we have all that out of the way, let's take a look at the best banks for small businesses.

Best Banks for Small Businesses in 2021

If you want the traditional bank experience, Chase is your best option as a small-business owner. Chase has locations around the country, offers business checking with no fee as long as you maintain a $1,500 minimum balance, plus one of the best online banking and mobile banking systems available.

Chase is also a great bank for business credit cards. Chase Ink Business Preferred, for example, offers high-value rewards you can use toward free and discounted travel. If you have your checking and savings accounts at the same place, it is easier to manage everything with one online banking login.

In summary, Chase takes the top spot because it offers everything your business might need, lots of locations, and options to dodge monthly service fees. Both small, solo businesses and brick-and-mortar businesses with many employees can easily find their needs met at Chase.

While it is not technically a bank, Navy Federal Credit Union offers top quality business banking services perfect for a wide range of small businesses. Those include business checking and savings, loans, credit cards, payment processing and even retirement and insurance for you and your employees.

Credit unions are not-for-profit entities. This means they tend to charge lower fees and offer higher interest rates on savings than for-profit banks.

To open a business bank account at Navy Federal, you’ll first need to become a business member. This requires you to join the credit union yourself as an individual first. You’ll also need a $100 opening deposit to get started.

Credit unions are typically geared more toward consumers than businesses​ but don’t overlook the big opportunity to save money with a business checking and savings account at a credit union.

While Capital One put its Spark Business Checking on hiatus, Axos Bank jumped up to claim the spot for the best online checking account that is currently available for small businesses. Axos Bank is the oldest online-only bank in the United States with years of experience providing banking services for both business and personal customers.

The Business Interest Checking account is free with a rather large $5,000 average daily balance, otherwise, you’ll pay a $10 monthly fee. The account includes up to 50 free items per month, so it is not ideal for the busiest businesses with a huge number of transactions or a smaller business that keeps a low daily balance. But it does offer interest, currently 0.80 percent, and great online and mobile banking options.

Axos also offers a basic business checking account with no monthly fee, up to 200 free items per month and other goodies with no interest. Depending on your needs, this may be better than the Business Interest Checking account.

Axos also offers money market and savings accounts for businesses, CDs, and a full suite of cash management services. It’s pretty impressive for any bank, not just online banks. If you don’t need to work with cash but do need a serious bank, consider Axos Bank for your small business banking needs.

Wells Fargo is a hugely popular bank, despite some recent bad PR. It is the largest Small Business Administration lender for SBA loans and has more branches than any other bank in the United States.

Wells Fargo offers four different business checking accounts. These accounts all have monthly fees, but you can avoid them with a minimum balance requirement in most cases. For the Simple Business Checking account, the minimum is $500 to avoid fees.

Because Wells Fargo is so big, it offers virtually any service your business might need. That includes things like payroll, HR and business tax services. But you may pay more to get many of those services from Wells Fargo than some companies that specialize in those various services.

If your small businesses use a lot of cash, Wells Fargo is one of your best options. Not only can you deposit cash at the largest branch network, but you can also withdraw fee-free from its massive network of ATMs.

If you live on the East Coast, consider M&T Bank for your small business banking needs. M&T has 690 branches in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Florida. But M&T stands out for more than its branch network.

M&T Bank offers relationship managers who do more than offer you bank accounts and help you with customer service questions. These bankers review your business finances inside and out to help you better understand them and achieve best small business success.

M&T Bank is a top 10 SBA lender and offers a range of bank accounts. There are five checking options that may be a fit for most small businesses, plus specific accounts for medical and professional services industries. The biggest downside is that you need to maintain a big balance to avoid fees in most of those accounts. To avoid the $10 fee on the basic Simple Checking for Business account, you have to maintain a $2,500 average balance.

  • Best Fee-Free Brick-And-Mortar Checking: US Bank

US Bank isn’t quite as big as some of its competitors, but it still offers a large network of branches and ATMs around the United States. The biggest standout for small businesses is the Silver Business account, which offers checking with no monthly maintenance fee.

That account is great for smaller businesses with less than 150 transactions per month (you’ll pay .50 each for additional items). You can deposit up to 20 mobile checks each month with no fee and pay the same .50 for additional mobile deposits.

Like others on this list, US Bank offers additional services through a bundle including credit card processing, payroll servicing and invoicing. Other checking accounts have a higher number of free transactions, but require a large balance to avoid monthly services fees up to $25 per account.

~the Balance Small Business

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