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NerdWallet’s Best Free Business Checking Accounts

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts
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Starting a business can come with headaches and unexpected expenses, but if you have a free business checking account, monthly bank fees are something you won’t have to worry about.

Free business accounts usually don’t earn interest, and there may be charges for some actions, such as transactions over a bank’s limit. But the best accounts don’t have minimum-balance requirements or monthly service fees.

NerdWallet looked at the 10 largest banks in the country, along with a few big online banks, and compared their business checking accounts. Here are our top four free accounts.

Best Free Business Checking Accounts
U.S. Bank Silver Business
    Allows 150 transactions a month for free. Has 3,000 bank branches in addition to online banking.

Capital One Spark Business
    Online banking with no monthly limit on transactions.

Wells Fargo Business Choice
    Make 10 debit transactions a month and the $14 monthly fee is waived. Offers a total of 200 free monthly transactions and no charge for the first $7,500 in cash deposits each month.

Bank of Internet Federal Bank Basic Business
    Online-only bank that offers 200 free transactions a month and unlimited fee reimbursement for ATMs in the U.S.

» MORE: A beginner’s guide to business checking fees

U.S. Bank Silver Business

U.S. Bank’s Silver Business checking package has no monthly fee, and you can make up to 150 transactions a month at no charge. Those transactions include deposits, debit card purchases and online payments. You could use online banking to make transactions with your checking account or stop by one of more than 3,000 branches in 25 states.

When it comes to cash deposits, U.S. Bank allows 25 free “units” per month. A unit is a cash deposit divided by 100, then rounded to a whole number. So if you deposit $175 cash in one transaction, that’s two units — 1.75 rounded up to two.

After you reach the 25-unit limit, there’s a small charge for additional cash deposits. Fees vary by state, but the charge is 17 cents for every additional $100 deposited in Minnesota, where the company is headquartered, as well as in some other states, including California and Georgia.

If you have more than 150 transactions a month, there’s also a fee of 50 cents for each item over the cap. A freelance graphic designer probably won’t have to worry about reaching this limit. But a sandwich shop owner may have well over 200 transactions a month and owe fees.

Capital One Spark Business

Capital One’s online Spark Business accounts have no monthly fees and no minimum deposit requirements. Not only that, the accounts also offer unlimited checking transactions each month, including deposits, withdrawals and transfers. Other banks usually limit free transactions to around 100 or 200 a month.

To make check deposits, you can snap a picture of a check and upload it to your account or make a deposit at a Capital One ATM that accepts checks. For withdrawals, you can tap one of the 40,000 fee-free Allpoint or Capital One ATMs across the country.

But Spark Business checking may not be a good option if your business needs to deposit cash or if you prefer face-to-face service. Branches don’t provide support for Spark Business accounts, and only Capital One ATMs, which are in just a handful of states, accept cash deposits.

Wells Fargo Business Choice

Technically, Wells Fargo’s Business Choice Checking account charges a $14 monthly fee. But it’s so easy to get the fee waived — just make at least 10 debit card purchases a month or meet other qualifications — that this megabank earned a spot on NerdWallet’s list.

The first 200 transactions each month are free. After that, there’s a charge of 50 cents per item. And Business Choice Checking is good for businesses that handle cash, because you can make cash deposits up to $7,500 a month at no extra charge. That’s nearly twice the amount other big banks allow. After that, there’s a charge of 30 cents for every additional $100 in cash deposits.

Other ways to avoid the monthly service fee:

  • Keep a $7,500 balance in your Business Choice Checking account.
  • Maintain a combined balance of $10,000 across multiple Wells Fargo accounts.
  • Sign up for select Wells Fargo business services.

Wells Fargo also offers Simple Business Checking, which has a $10 monthly fee, waived with a $500 average balance. You receive fewer free transactions and lower cash deposit limits, but there’s no requirement to make a certain number of debit purchases to get the monthly fee waived.

Bank of Internet Federal Bank Basic Business

This online bank is best for entrepreneurs who prefer to do all their banking electronically, since there are no bank branches to visit. The Basic Business Checking account allows up to 200 free transactions a month and then 30 cents for each transaction after that. In addition, there’s a cap of 60 scanned deposit checks each month.

You can also make deposits by mailing a check to Bank of Internet’s headquarters in San Diego, or by wiring money to your account from another institution. But be aware your institution may charge an outgoing wire fee, typically $15 to $30.

The Bank of Internet account also offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursement for ATMs that are in the United States. There’s no monthly maintenance fee, though you’ll need $1,000 to open the account.

It’s pretty easy to find a free business checking account from a top bank. To find what regional and local institutions have to offer, see NerdWallet’s state-by-state list of free business checking accounts.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @margarette.


METHODOLOGY

We took a close look at the 10 largest U.S. consumer banks based on assets, and five large and notable online banks. Financial institutions surveyed: Ally Bank, Bank of America, Bank of Internet, BB&T, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, EverBank, First Internet Bank, PNC, SmallBusinessBank.com, SunTrust, TD Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
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