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There are a ton of small-business banking options out there to choose from, each with different advantages and disadvantages. There are small regional banks, credit unions and major nationwide banks to consider. If you’ve decided to go with a large bank for your business banking needs, you’re probably weighing out the pros and cons of Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking accounts.
If you’ve gotten this far, it might seem like the hard work is behind you. Finding the differentiation points with Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America is no easy feat, though, particularly when the accounts have more similarities than differences. Weeding out accounts with vastly different perks, advantages and drawbacks is a relatively easy thing to do. Picking out the minute details that can answer the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking debate? Way harder than it seems.
Whether you’re weighing your options in the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking debate or are merely looking to find the perfect business checking account for your shop, there are a few basic tenets to follow before making a decision. We’ll help guide you through the key components of Wells Fargo and Bank of America business checking plans, as well as what to look for from any checking account, depending on your needs.
What to look for in a business checking account
If you’re at the point where you’re debating Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking accounts, you may have already done your homework on what to consider when finding the perfect business checking account for your company. But it’s more than possible that you, like many small business owners, simply want to dive in headfirst to get the tedious and frustrating business checking account setup process over with. It’s pretty tempting to jump ahead and pick an account without all the facts, but those who do end up doing so at their own peril.
It’s important to pick the right business checking account for your company as early as possible. Switching checking accounts only gets more annoying and complex over time, particularly once you have vendors and payment systems attached to a checking account and have to migrate them to a new bank. If you find the right bank straight from the start, you’ll minimize the need to move at all.
The best small business checking accounts come in different sizes within a single bank. Most major banking operations offer more than one checking account in order to provide different levels of service to their clients. If you’re just starting out, or don’t need a ton of services beyond paying vendors and getting paid, you’re going to want a straightforward account with low monthly fees. If you need more sophisticated tools (or simply more free transactions), you’ll want a different kind of checking account entirely. Knowing this differentiation point from the start will only help you in the long run as your needs change. The best banks support your company’s growth—both in the short term and long term, as well.
You’ll also want to consider other factors, such as monthly fees, which can eat into your account balance if you can’t qualify for the conditions that get these fees waived. Also be mindful of the number of cash deposits, wire transfers and money moves you need to make every month, as most banks differ slightly from one another with regard to how much each of these activities costs.
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking: The basic accounts
If you’re weighing Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking options for entry-level or no-fuss checking needs, you’ve got plenty of elements to consider. Both banks offer you many of the same core features you’d expect from financial institutions of their size: There are tons of branches throughout most of the United States, their online banking portals are among some of the best-designed in the market right now and you’ll get solid customer service via phone or in-branch visits.
There’s more to the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking debate than just those details, however. Even if you’re just looking for a straightforward business checking account. You’ll need to consider factors like account fees, the minimums required in order to have fees waived and smaller fringe benefits like dedicated small business customer service hotlines. Here’s what to know about Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking accounts for small businesses with simple needs.
Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking
Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking is designed for smaller enterprises that really don’t need much more than the bare minimum from their business checking account. This account is great for sole proprietors, home businesses and freelancers who merely need a place to stash their business cash (since you should always separate personal and business finances, of course!). This account comes with 50 transactions and $3,000 in cash deposits for free every month. All it takes is $25 to open a Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking account, and you’ll get access to the bank’s online banking portal, their brick-and-mortar locations and even the Wells Fargo hotline exclusively for small business owners.
Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking is perfect if you’re just getting your business set up, or if you don’t anticipate needing a ton of banking support in the long run. Plus, the variety of Wells Fargo business checking accounts with more support and a greater amount of free items makes it easy to upgrade your checking when the need arises. Plus, you can waive the account’s $10 monthly service fee with as little as $500 in your account during each fee period. As an added perk, Wells Fargo lets you customize your debit card, as well, meaning that you can add your logo or just about any other design onto your account for a little more pizzazz.
Bank of America Business Advantage Fundamentals Checking
Bank of America Business Advantage Fundamentals Checking is another option for small businesses with fewer financial needs on a monthly basis. This account is designed for a similar audience as Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking, as it’s a great fit for sole proprietors, freelancers and small businesses without a ton of overhead or payroll expenses. In exchange for a small (and easily waived) monthly fee, account holders get the bare necessities to keep their business financials humming.
Like Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking, Bank of America Business Advantage Fundamentals Checking focuses on providing account holders with the essential banking features without additional elements that aren’t likely needed. This means you’ll get 200 free transactions and $7,500 in fee-free cash deposits every month. That’s a better bang for your buck than Wells Fargo’s comparable account offering, which might help tip the scales toward this account in the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America Business Checking debate. A word to the wise, though—this account comes with a $16 monthly maintenance fee, which can be waived with a monthly balance of $5,000 or with $250 in new purchases on a Bank of America business debit card.
The higher cap on free deposits with the Bank of America Business Advantage Fundamentals Checking account makes this one a clear winner versus Wells Fargo’s introductory-level account.
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking: For the mid-tier small business
After learning more about Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking and Bank of America business checking, you might not have the impression that either account is a sure thing for your company. If the intro-level accounts in the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking debate don’t quite satisfy your company’s needs, the good news is that both financial institutions offer accounts that are a step up in terms of free features, but without requiring account holders to keep mega-bucks in their account just to get monthly fees waived in return.
If you find yourself wanting more, but not necessarily needing the same kind of support that a mega-company might need, there are options on both sides of the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking divide. Here’s what to look for with each account, as well as our take on which one reigns supreme.
Wells Fargo Business Choice Checking
If you’re a growing company or are simply a little too big to have Wells Fargo’s entry-level account satisfy your needs, the Wells Fargo Business Choice Checking account might be a better fit. This account is great for small businesses that have two or more employees, larger-scale freelance operations, or startups that are just getting their footing. The Wells Fargo Business Choice Checking account provides 200 transactions and $7,500 in cash deposits for free every month. You’ll also get text and mobile banking as part of this account, as well as access to Wells Fargo’s National Business Banking Center or small business customer service phone centers. Plus, you’re entitled to fee waivers and discounts for business loans and business lines of credit with the bank in the future.
The Wells Fargo Business Choice Checking account is a great option if you need a little more from your bank, but without committing to a checking account that’s simply too big for your company. The $14 monthly service fee is pretty affordable for most businesses and is easy to waive as well: a $7,500 average balance, $10,000 in combined balances across business accounts and a slew of other qualifying transactions can help you skip this monthly charge.
Bank of America Business Advantage Relationship Checking
Not to be outdone, Bank of America also offers an account with a few additional features for growing small businesses—all without imposing huge fees or difficult-to-reach account balance minimums. You’ll have to do a bit more to qualify for a fee waiver than you would with Bank of America’s introductory-level account, or get ready to pay a little more in order to take advantage of some of the great features this account has to offer.
With the Bank of America Business Advantage Relationship Checking account, you’ll enjoy 500 transfers and $20,000 in cash deposits for free every month. Plus, if you need to accept incoming wire transfers as part of your business finances, you’ll be glad to know that Bank of America waives all incoming wire fees, be they from domestic or international accounts. You’ll have to pay for outgoing wire transfers, however.
This account comes with a $29.95 monthly maintenance fee, which is more than double what Wells Fargo charges for a comparable account. But on the other hand, you can have this fee waived by meeting one of two available conditions. So long as you maintain a monthly balance of $15,000 or more or become a member of the Preferred Rewards for Business program, you're good to go.
The clear winner again is Bank of America. Their Business Advantage Relationship Checking account simply provides more for your money. So long as you can meet the fee waiver qualifications, and plan to take advantage of the additional free services the Bank of America account provides, there’s little reason not to opt for Bank of America Business Advantage Relationship Checking.
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking: For small businesses that need robust banking services
If the options we’ve covered in the Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America Business Checking debate haven’t fit the bill for your company quite yet, don’t panic. Both banks offer higher account tiers that include more free features and perks in exchange for a higher account balance, or by conducting more business with each bank.
These accounts aren’t perfectly suited for most small businesses, however. Both options are best pursued by small- and medium-sized businesses that have a longer track record, more cash to keep on hand in the account and a greater need for more services at a better value. If your company is still growing and won’t quite satisfy the monthly minimums required to waive fees, you may be better off paying for the occasional wire transfer than a monthly account charge.
Wells Fargo Platinum Business Checking
Wells Fargo Platinum Business Checking pulls out all (or at least most) of the stops compared to the other business checking accounts we’ve covered. This account gives you way more for your money—we’re talking about more transactions, personalized banking, more flexibility with cash deposits and can even earn you interest against your balance. There aren’t a ton of interest-bearing small business checking accounts out there, which makes the Wells Fargo Platinum Business Checking account worth checking out for this feature alone.
In addition to being an interest-bearing account, Wells Fargo Platinum Business Checking provides you with 500 transactions and $20,000 in cash deposits for free every month. You’ll also get fee-free stop payment requests, cashier’s checks, money orders, two fee-free domestic wire transfers and two waived ATM fees every period. You’ll also get two service fee-free Platinum Checking accounts just for opening this account and access to all of the dynamic online banking options that come with each Wells Fargo business checking account.
In a rare move for a robust, feature-packed account of its kind, you only need $25 to open a Wells Fargo Platinum Business Checking account. Waiving the $40 monthly maintenance fee is easy too: all you need to do is maintain a $25,000 average balance or have $40,000 in combined balances across two or more other Wells Fargo accounts.
Wells Fargo: Winning by default
Bank of America doesn’t provide a business checking option for this specific category—their two business checking accounts are it, unless you’re running a large corporation and need customized support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Odds are that any small business isn’t necessarily looking for that level of customized care, nor would they qualify. So on this tier, Wells Fargo wins by default. Even if there was a comparable Bank of America account, it’d be hard to beat Wells Fargo’s Platinum Business Checking account. Few small business checking accounts are interest-bearing, which alone makes this a great choice. The number of freebies that come along with it only sweetens the deal.
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking: The final word
There are plenty of pros and cons to consider when stacking up Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America business checking options. When it comes to lower-tier accounts where a smaller feature set is a worthy tradeoff for smaller account fees, Bank of America comes out on top. But if you need more support for your small business than either banks’ two introductory-level account options provide, Wells Fargo is the clear winner with its Platinum Business Checking Account.
No matter which account you choose, be sure to know what criteria you need to use in order to make the right decision. Every account has slightly different offerings, fees and opportunities to waive those fees. By knowing where your business is now—and where you want it to be in the future—you’ll be able to make the right decision up front and not have to switch banks when it’s harder to do so.
This article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.