Mercury Banking for Startups: 2021 Review

Mercury is a free, online-first banking platform designed for startups and tech-focused businesses.

Randa KrissMar 22, 2021
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Mercury is an online banking platform that includes both a business checking account and a business savings account with no monthly fees. Designed with startups in mind, Mercury offers scalable digital tools — plus, every account provides read-write application programming interface access to truly customize your banking.

Additionally, Mercury offers an upgraded version of its platform, called the Mercury Tea Room, for businesses that hold a balance of more than $250,000 in their accounts. The Mercury Tea Room includes perks such as free domestic and international wires, exclusive partner discounts on business products and services and eligibility for the Mercury Treasury cash management account.

Unlike some online competitors, however, Mercury cannot accept cash deposits. Mercury also is not available for sole proprietors.

Mercury banking is best for small-business owners who:

  • Want a free business banking platform with no transaction fees.

  • Prefer to manage the entirety of their finances online.

  • Don’t need to deposit cash using an ATM or branch location.

  • Would like to be able to customize their banking using digital tools and integrations.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No monthly fees, transaction fees or minimum opening deposit.

  • Includes a checking and savings account within one platform.

  • Access to over 55,000 fee-free ATMs to withdraw cash through the Allpoint network.

  • Advanced digital tools including API access to automate and customize your banking.

  • Ability to enter Mercury Tea Room (i.e., upgrade your account) with a balance of $250,000 or more to access additional perks.

Cons

  • Not available to sole proprietors.

  • Can’t accommodate cash deposits.

  • Low savings account rate.

  • Mobile app not currently available for Android devices (but is coming soon).

Mercury banking at a glance

Monthly fee:

$0 (includes checking and savings account)

Minimum opening deposit requirement:

$0 (includes checking and savings account)

APY:

0.001% for savings account (as of this writing)

Transactions:

Unlimited fee-free transactions; savings account is held to the federal maximum of six total account transfers per month.

Bonus:

None

Mercury Business Bank Account

at Mercury, Deposits are FDIC Insured

How Mercury banking works

Account options: As Mercury is not a bank, its banking services are provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, and accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The standard Mercury banking platform includes both a business checking account and a business savings account.

Businesses that hold a balance of more than $250,000 in their account can upgrade to the Mercury Tea Room, which includes free domestic wires, partner rewards on business software and services and free tea.

In addition, businesses that are part of the Mercury Tea Room are also eligible for the Mercury Treasury automated cash management account. With Mercury Treasury, you can put extra funds into U.S. government securities and money market funds to earn yield.

Account eligibility: You must have a U.S. company with a federal employer identification number to be eligible for a Mercury account. Mercury cannot open accounts for sole proprietors or trusts, or businesses in the money services, adult entertainment, marijuana or internet gambling industries.

How to apply: Visit the Mercury website to create an online account and complete and submit your application.

  • Required information: Basic details about you and your business, including your Social Security number, are required. You’ll also need to provide this information for any co-founders, as well as owners with 25% or more ownership or officers who have control over your finances (e.g., a chief financial officer).

  • Required documentation: You'll need to provide government-issued ID for you and any co-founders, as well as owners with 25% or more ownership or officers who have control over your finances; the business formation document (varies based on your entity type); and an employer identification number verification from the IRS.

Next steps: Once you’ve been approved, you can fund your account, send payments and manage your transactions and spending. You’ll be able to download the Mercury mobile app for iOS, add users to your account and integrate with third-party business tools.

Additionally, you’ll receive your business debit card within eight to 10 days after your account has been approved — however, you can also generate virtual cards from your Mercury online account.

It’s important to note that to be able to deposit checks, you’ll need to show a history of funding and transactions within your account. Mercury enables this feature on a case-by-case basis, and once enabled, you can use the mobile app to deposit checks through the Add Funds flow.

Where Mercury banking stands out

No fees: The Mercury online banking platform — including both a business checking account and a business savings account — has no monthly fees, no transaction fees, no minimum opening deposit requirement and no minimum balance requirement. In addition, Mercury offers fee-free access to withdraw cash through the Allpoint network and does not charge for out-of-network ATM use, though you may face fees from the ATM provider.

Mercury also has no overdraft fees, no incoming wire fees and does not charge to send or receive checks. Although you will face fees for outgoing wires, $5 for domestic wires and $20 for international wires, these fees are lower than many online and brick-and-mortar competitors (both domestic and international wires are free for Tea Room users).

Digital tools: With Mercury, you have access to built-in digital tools that allow you to send and receive online payments, track transactions and cash-flow analytics and monitor spending. Mercury offers the ability to create virtual debit cards, as well as manage your debit card — edit spending limits, freeze your card, add it to your mobile wallet — through its iOS app.

Additionally, Mercury gives you the ability to add as many team members as you want to your account, with two options for user access. You can add users as admins, allowing them to move money, receive a debit card and change permissions, as well as add users as bookkeepers, allowing them to only access your transaction history and statements.

Moreover, Mercury allows you to integrate your account with third-party business tools, such as QuickBooks, Xero, Gusto, Shopify, Stripe and PayPal.

API access: Mercury includes read-write API access with all accounts — in other words, developer access to its banking software — a particularly noteworthy feature for startups and other tech-focused businesses.

With this API access, you can customize and automate your Mercury account by designing internal dashboards, making bulk payments, creating transfer rules, reconciling transactions and more.

Mercury Tea Room: Businesses that can hold a balance of more than $250,000 in their Mercury account can enter Mercury Tea Room. With a Mercury Tea Room account, you receive free domestic and international wires, free tea (inspired by Mercury’s company culture of serving each other tea), as well as access to exclusive partner perks, like two months free of OpenPhone or one year free of Rippling payroll.

Mercury Tea Room accounts are eligible for Mercury Treasury, an automated cash management account. Mercury Treasury allows you to put extra funds into U.S. government securities and money market funds to earn yield.

Using information you provide in a suitability questionnaire (like business balance and cash flow), you can create a custom portfolio with a mix of bonds and securities. Then, you can set up automatic transfers and monitor your account.

This account doesn’t require any fees and, as of this writing, can earn up to 0.07% annually on your idle funds.

Where Mercury banking falls short

Not available to sole proprietors: Mercury cannot open accounts for sole proprietors, which according to the Small Business Administration, make up 86.4% of non-employer businesses, 14.1% of small-employer businesses and 1.2% of large-employer businesses.

Therefore, although Mercury may be designed for startups, this restriction excludes a large portion of small businesses in the U.S.

» Need a bank account for your sole prop? Check out our roundup of the best business bank accounts for self-employed entrepreneurs.

No cash deposits: The Mercury banking platform cannot accommodate traditional cash deposits — a difference between Mercury and some online competitors. Although some businesses may be able to find alternative solutions if they need to deposit cash occasionally, it may be problematic for others that deal more frequently in cash.

Low savings account rate: As of this writing, the interest rate on the Mercury business savings account is only 0.001%. In comparison, competitors can offer online business savings accounts, as well as interest-bearing business checking accounts, with much better rates.

Additionally, although Mercury Tea Room account holders are eligible for the Mercury Treasury cash management account, this account only earns up to 0.07% annually.

As an example of other options, BlueVine Business Checking offers 1% on account balances up to $100,000. Similarly, Axos Business Interest Checking offers an annual percentage yield of up to 0.81%, and up to 0.5% on its business savings account.

Compare Mercury banking alternatives