Opening a Business Bank Account: How Business Bank Accounts Work

By Walecia Konrad · March 31, 2022 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Opening a Business Bank Account: How Business Bank Accounts Work

Business bank accounts can help owners keep professional transactions separate from personal banking and aid in their business cash management. These accounts often come with special conditions and requirements, and they may have various fees.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at these accounts, their pros and cons, and what it takes to open one. Let’s dive into the details about business bank accounts.

What Is a Business Bank Account?

There are three main types of business banking accounts: checking accounts for everyday use, savings accounts for intermediate and long-term savings, and merchant accounts for accepting debit and credit card payments. In this article, we’ll focus on business checking and savings accounts, available from both online and brick-and-mortar banks.

What Is a Business Checking Account?

A business checking account works much the same way a personal checking account does. You use it to deposit payments and make withdrawals, usually an unlimited amount. Like personal checking accounts, business checking accounts typically pay low to no interest on your balance.

What Is a Business Savings Account?

A business savings account will pay more interest than a checking account, so it can be a good place to park cash on an interim basis. You will likely be limited on how many transactions you can make per month without a penalty (typically six), and there may be a monthly minimum balance to maintain. Many business owners find using both a business checking and savings account can meet their banking needs.

How Long Does Opening a Business Bank Account Take?

If you open up a business bank account — whether it’s checking, savings, or both — the time commitment needed is usually similar to that of a personal checking and savings account. It will likely take just a matter of minutes if you have the necessary information on hand. You will need to provide some details about yourself, your business, and any additional business owners involved in your enterprise. Then, you’ll deposit funds. Keep in mind it can take up to seven business days for final approval before you can actually access funds.

What Is Needed to Open a Business Bank Account?

Whether you open your bank account online or in person, you’ll need documentation of several personal and business details. Different banks may have their own verification requirements, depending on the type of business you own and the type of account you’re looking to open.

Here is a general list of what you might need to have on hand to make the opening process most efficient:

•   Your name, birthdate, and Social Security number

•   Mailing address and all contact information

•   What percentage you own of the business (anyone who owns 25% of the business or more will likely have to disclose personal details and identification)

•   A government-issued photo ID, such as driver’s license or passport

•   Business name and DBA (“doing business as” name) or trade name, if applicable

•   Business address and employer identification number (EIN) (Note: sometimes Social Security numbers suffice)

•   Industry/type of business

Depending on the type of business you own, you may be asked for the following documents:

•   Sole proprietorships may need the business name registration certificate and the business license.

•   Partnerships may need the partnership agreement, business name registration certificate, business license, and the state certificate of partnership.

•   Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) may need the articles of organization, LLC operating agreement, and business license.

•   Corporations may need articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, and business licenses.

What to Look for in a Business Banking Account

Traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions all offer business bank accounts. All have different fee structures and provide different services. There are many fees and restrictions to consider when choosing a business banking account. But consider this overarching factor: online accounts are usually best for businesses that don’t need to make bank deposits.

Here’s what to compare when you’re looking for an account:

•   Monthly fees, such as account maintenance

•   Any minimum balance requirements

•   No-fee transactions

•   ATM access (for deposits and withdrawals)

•   Transfer, wiring, and payment capabilities

•   Incidental fees (such as, stop payment, overdraft, and nonsufficient funds)

•   Online and mobile banking tools

•   Additional features, such as invoicing, bill pay, or integrations with other business tools (especially tax reporting software)

Benefits of Opening a Business Banking Account

A business account can be a smart tool for a variety of reasons. Business owners may need to keep their personal and business accounts separate for tax and liability reasons. A business bank account also helps you establish a banking relationship that you can draw on in the future for lending or other services that may help your business grow. You will also establish a financial record that can come in handy when it comes time to file taxes and help your concern establish a good credit rating.

Cons of Opening a Business Banking Account

There are very few cases when a business banking account is a bad idea. Some very small sole proprietors may find they don’t need the extra fees and bookkeeping involved. But for most business owners, a separate account can be an efficient tool.

That said, one of the potential drawbacks of a business banking account is fees. High fees that you may not have anticipated can eat into your business profits. Some fees to look out for include monthly fees, transaction fees, monthly balance transfer fees, cash deposit fees, ATM fees, and wire transfer fees. These fees add up fast. Be sure to check thoroughly what fees are involved and compare from one financial institution to another.

Pros of a Business Bank Account

Cons of a Business Bank Account

Keeps professional finances separate from personal May involve additional fees
Establishes a business relationship with a financial institution May involve more bookkeeping
Creates a financial record that can be useful for tax or credit-rating purposes

Choosing a Business Bank Account

Now that you’ve looked at fees, here are some other considerations as you choose your business bank account:

•   Banking online: Business bank accounts with online-only banks can be great for virtual businesses or any business that is not handling daily cash transactions. Many online banks do not require a monthly minimum balance.

•   Network: If you’re banking in person, be sure there is a conveniently located branch near your business. Also, find out how many no-fee ATMs are available in your area.

•   Electronic services: Check if online bill pay, electronic fund transfers, and other electronic services that can support your business are available for low or no fees.

•   Electronic payments: Does your bank accept Zelle and Venmo? If so, are there additional fees involved? How long will it take for transactions to post? Electronic payments are increasingly becoming the lifeblood of many businesses.

•   Software compatibility: Is the bank account you’re considering compatible with the bookkeeping software you use? That can make life easier when you need to track or get access to cash flow, outstanding receivables, and other items each month.

Other support: Does the bank offer small business loans, lines of credit, business credit cards, and other financial support for entrepreneurs that you may need in the future?

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Photo credit: iStock/Deagreez

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