Opening a business checking account isn’t much different from opening a personal account, but it’s an important step when it comes to running your business. A business account can help you keep your personal finances separate from your professional transactions. This, in turn, can make growing your credibility and completing your taxes easier, among other benefits.
The requirements to open a business checking account tend to vary, depending on the financial institution and other factors like your location and business entity. But, in most cases, it’s generally a straightforward process to start one.
Let’s take a closer look at:
• What a business checking account is
• How it works
• How to open a business checking account.
What Is a Business Checking Account?
If you have a personal checking account, you may wonder, “What is a business checking account anyway? Do I really need a separate account?” Let’s get those questions answered. A business checking account is similar to a personal checking account in that you have flexibility in your day-to-day banking. Depending on the type of account, you may be offered features such as unlimited transactions, a debit or ATM card, and check-writing capabilities.
In some cases, you may even be able to earn interest. But, and this is important, business checking accounts are meant to house a company’s funds. Therefore, there may be different features and requirements to maintain the account. Check with a few banks to get acquainted with the details.
Now, for that second question — “Do I need a separate business account?” — the answer is probably “yes” if you own a business. Even a brand new, currently part-time endeavor may need a small business account. In terms of a business vs. personal checking account, you want to keep that biz income separate for tax purposes and to gain legitimacy for your enterprise. Also, if you need to be paying employees or vendors, a business account is the way to go, so as not to get those kinds of transactions mixed up with, say, your home-loan payments and other personal expenses.
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How Does a Business Checking Account Work?
Business checking accounts are quite similar to personal checking, but they typically have different limitations, fees, and balance requirements. For instance, business checking accounts may come with higher bank fees, especially if your business deals with a large amount of transactions. In that same vein, there may also be higher minimum balance requirements to waive monthly fees or to earn interest.
That’s not to say they aren’t budget-friendly options. Many online business checking accounts are being offered to smaller businesses or sole proprietors, though they may not offer interest earnings.
You can use a business checking account to conduct transactions such as bill paying, receiving funds, and writing checks. In many cases, you may even be able to order debit cards for you and your employees to withdraw money and make purchases. The primary account holder (such as the business owner) can set ATM withdrawal limits and spending limits for employee cards.
Can Anyone Open a Business Checking Account?
Almost anyone can open an bank account as long as they have the right type of documentation. In general, you’ll need to prove that you own a business. Now, what if you’re a sole proprietor or an independent contractor (say, a gig worker)? Even if you don’t have the usual kind of paperwork, you may still be able to open a business checking account. However, you’ll probably need to speak with the bank to see how you can do so.
What You Need to Open a Business Checking Account
The types of documentation you’ll need to provide depends on the bank at which you’re opening a business bank account and also on your legal business entity. Typically, sole proprietors will only need to provide their personal information, whereas LLCs and corporations will need documentation about the company and details from each of the majority owners.
Here’s a list of what kind of identification and documentation you’ll most likely need to provide to start your account. This applies whether you are heading to a bricks-and-mortar branch or opening an online business checking account:
• Personal information: Financial institutions will require some form of government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. If you have multiple business owners, then banks may require personal details of each owner.
• Employer Identification Number (EIN): Every business should have an EIN, though sole proprietors and single-member LLCs may be able to submit their Social Security number in their application.
• Business details: You’ll need to provide your business name, address, and, if applicable, your DBA (doing business as) name. In many cases, you’ll also need to disclose the industry your business falls under.
• Documentation: Depending on your business entity, you’ll have to provide your business name registration certificate, business license, articles of organization, partnership agreement, and operating agreements.
• Opening deposit: To finalize your business account opening, you may be required to deposit a certain amount of money. Check with your financial institution to determine what that amount would be.
Do I Need Revenue to Open a Business Bank Account?
Most banks don’t require you to be earning revenue in order to open a business checking account. That means if you’re starting a business, you don’t need to wait until you earn a certain income to open that account. So it can be a smart move to put opening your business checking as one of the first items on your to-do list when you start your enterprise. As long as you have the required documentation needed, you should be able to open an account.
Benefits of a Business Checking Account
Opening a business checking account comes with a myriad of benefits, including:
• Liability protection: If you use a personal checking account for business purposes and have legal issues, it’s more likely that a court will have the right to go after your personal assets. That’s because it doesn’t look like you’re operating a separate business. Opening a business account generally shields you from this potential issue, especially if you’re registered as an LLC or corporation.
• Tax simplification: Having a business checking account allows you to completely separate your personal and business finances. That way, it can help you include all the transactions you need to file your taxes accurately and efficiently. Plus, it’ll be easier to scrutinize your expenses to see whether you can identify further deductions.
• Credibility: Your business may be taken more seriously if you used a business checking account. Your clients or vendors may be more likely to trust you if your payments or checks are coming from an account with your business name on it. These types of accounts also help when you decide to apply for small business financing or credit card. In other words, establishing your business could show business credit bureaus you’re serious enough of an entity to create a credit report for your company.
• Potential future growth: Having a business checking account can help prevent any potential hiccups down the road, such as having to find ways to make payroll for your employees.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Business Checking Account
Many banks offer different business checking accounts suited to a variety of needs, so it’s important to look at the following features when making your decision. There’s probably an account available that fits your needs just about perfectly:
• Fees: Most business checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees. You may be able to have them waived, but you’ll need to meet certain requirements such as maintaining a certain balance.
• Interest rates: In general, interest rates for business checking accounts are lower when compared to savings or money market accounts. However, you may still be able to earn a small return on your deposits. Assuming the fees may be higher for interest-bearing accounts, do some calculations to determine whether the APY makes it worth paying them.
• Transaction limits: Business checking accounts tend to come with deposit and withdrawal limits per month. If you go over a certain limit, you may be required to pay an additional fee.
• Bundled services: Some business checking accounts may offer unlimited employee debit cards, dispense free checks, or waive fees if you sign up for a business credit card or merchant services.
Do You Need a Business Checking Account?
Getting a business checking account is a smart move for anyone looking to launch and grow their business. Even if you’re the only employee (and plan to be for a long time), having this type of account still makes sense.
However, if you’re running a side business, are a gig worker, and don’t intend on venturing away from your full-time job, it might not be necessary. As long as you keep meticulous records to ensure you know what your business transactions are, you may be able to get away with only having a personal account. Note the use of the word “may.” If your business grows or just keeps chugging along for a number of years, you may at a later date regret not having gotten a separate business account. It can simplify and clarify your finances.
If you’ve started or are running your own biz, it’s a smart idea to open a separate account to differentiate your business and your personal transactions. Applying is typically quite straightforward, involving presenting identification and other business documents. In return, you’ll get the flexibility, legitimacy, and services you need to conduct business professionally. Plus, you’ll keep your enterprise separate from your personal finances and avoid confusion.
If you’re looking to rev up your personal banking, however, give SoFi a look. Open linked Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you’ll have access to your paycheck up to two days early, you won’t pay any account fees (including no overdraft fees) and you’ll earn a competitive APY.
What is the difference between a personal and business checking account?
Both types of accounts are similar, except business checking accounts are meant for corporations and business owners, and they feature services that cater to professional needs.
What is the purpose of a business checking account?
The purpose of a business checking account is to facilitate banking for businesses with needs like paying vendors and employees and paying for supplies. It also separates personal and business assets for liability purposes. What’s more, a business account provides a company with more legitimacy.
What makes an account a business account?
Business accounts are designed for professional needs, which may mean many more transactions than a personal account typically engages in, as well as ways to pay employees and vendors. They may have merchant services too, which incorporate credit and debit card payments.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.
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