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, and Radius Bank. 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 four 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.
In a nutshell:
Novo may work for you if you value technology integration to make your life easier and an account that doesn’t charge many fees.
Lili is best for freelancers who need tools to track expenses and to set money aside for tax purposes.
BlueVine acts more like a traditional account for those looking for free checks and the potential to earn interest.
Radius Bank offers a cash back debit card that may be worthwhile if you can avoid the $10 monthly maintenance fee.
Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank summary
Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank 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:
|Minimum to open an account||$50||$0||$0||$100|
|Monthly service fee||$0||$0||$0||$10 on average monthly balances under $5,000|
|Interest||None||None||1.00% if you keep a balance of over $1,000||0.10% on balances of $5,000 and up|
|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.|
|Cash back on debit purchases||No||No||No||1% cash back on online and signature-based credit transactions with your debit card|
|Free mobile deposit for checks||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 free 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.
BlueVine was founded in 2013 and initially started as a business lending company. They started by offering intuitive banking services such as invoice factoring, line 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 The Bancorp Bank, which offers at least $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 Radius Bank
Radius 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, Radius 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.
Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank account offerings compared
While Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank all offer business checking accounts, they work differently. Depending on how you run your business, one may be a better fit than the other three. 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
Lili’s fee-free 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 monthly 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.
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. You won’t get ATM rebates for out-of-network ATMs, but Lili will only charge $2.50 per transaction if you can’t use a MoneyPass ATM for your withdrawal.
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 1.00% on your balance up to $100,000.
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.
Radius Bank account offerings
Radius 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 0.10% APY. You do get unlimited ATM fee rebates for ATM fees charged by other banks and free mobile check deposit.
As a traditional bank, Radius 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 Radius Bank.
Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank 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.
- No fees – Not only will you enjoy fee-free checking, but you also won’t pay a fee for overdrafts. 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 1.00% interest on your balance up to $100,000. 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.
Radius 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 0.10% 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.
Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank 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 – 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.
- No cash back rewards – Although you’ll get a Visa debit card with your Lili account, your purchases won’t earn points or 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.
- Unavailable in all locations – Ineligible locations for BlueVine are North Dakota, South Dakota, and U.S. Territories including Puerto Rico.
Radius 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 Radius Bank has held on to.
- Lackluster APY only available on high balances – While you can get paid interest in some cases, 0.10% 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 when you sign up – Radius Bank allows you to order checks if you need them, but you don’t get free checks when you sign up for an account.
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 1.00% interest on balances up to $100,000 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 Radius 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 Radius’ 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 Radius Bank isn’t like working with the other companies on this list. Radius 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.
Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank 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.