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NerdWallet Study: Business Checking Accounts at Banks and Credit Unions

Oct. 10, 2012
Small Business
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There is a plethora of business checking account options, with banks offering up to seven different accounts tailored for various businesses.  NerdWallet aggregated data from 159 business checking accounts across 45 financial institutions and came away with several key findings.



Free business checking is available

  • Big banks offer free checking less frequently than credit unions.  13% of business checking accounts at big banks are free, whereas 39% of business checking accounts at credit unions are free.

Fees are lower at credit unions

  • Credit unions are more likely to offer free checking.
  • The median monthly fee at big banks is $15, while it is only $9 at credit unions.  This can be partially attributed to the fact that banks offer more premium and analyzed accounts while credit unions offer more basic accounts, but the median monthly fee is lower at credit unions for each type of account as well.
  • Credit unions charge less for monthly service fees and excess transaction fees, and they have lower minimum and average balance requirements to waive monthly service fees.  Median fees are displayed below.
Big Bank Credit Union
Basic account fee $10 $0
Premium account fee $21 $13.50
Analyzed account fee $17 N/A
Specialty (Non-profit) fee $11 $0
Excess transaction fee $0.50 $0.15
Average balance $10,000 $5,000
Minimum balance $3,250 $2,000

Big banks tend to cater to large businesses, whereas credit unions cater to smaller businesses

  • Business checking accounts fall into four major categories, differentiated mainly by monthly service fee, the average balance required to waive the monthly fee, and transaction volume.  Analyzed accounts charge per transaction and are designed for businesses with high transaction volumes and high account balances.  Median values are displayed below.
Type of Account Monthly service fee Average balance Transaction volume
Basic $6 $3,000 150
Premium $19 $10,000 300
Analyzed $17 N/A N/A
Specialty (Non-Profit) $9.50 $5,000 150
  • Big banks offer more accounts, and they devote a larger percentage of their accounts to premium and analyzed checking and less to basic checking than credit unions.
Big Banks Credit Unions
Basic 29% 53%
Premium 34% 33%
Analyzed 28% 6%
Specialty (Non-Profit) 9% 8%
Number of Accounts Offered 3-8, average of 5 1-4, average of 2
Monthly Fee $0-$50, median of $15 $0-$24, median of $7
Free Transactions per Month 200 100

Fewer internet banks and credit unions have business checking accounts than big banks

  • Internet banks have few business checking accounts because they cannot process large cash deposits.  Major customers at internet banks include internet companies that accept payment in entirely electronic transactions, such as credit card payments or PayPal.
  • Only 41% of credit unions have business checking accounts.  Many credit unions do not offer this option because they are not equipped to process the high volume of transactions that businesses generate.

To find the business business checking account for your business’s needs, use our business checking tool.

For an introduction to business checking, refer to our business checking primer.


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