Guest post by Greg Boudonck
Separating your personal finances from your business finances is of extreme importance.
Many people have discovered that when they open a separate business account in the same bank their personal account is in, they see major changes.
Businesses do not get the same treatment personal customers get, and rightfully so.
Just consider the upkeep of a business account versus a personal account for banking staff.
There are normally more deposits and more withdrawals, so banks just cannot afford to offer the same “perks” that they give personal account holders.
Finding the right bank to meet your business needs can be a daunting task.
Before you start shopping for a bank to fit your needs, you must know what those business needs are.
You should also try to peer into your future for your business.
Keep those predictions in mind when you start shopping for a bank.
Last, do not be afraid to shop around from time to time for other banks.
You may not get all these at any one bank, so you will want to choose which ones are most important for your business checking and banking needs.
I hope they help you.
1: Balance incentives
One great question to ask your banker is: Will I receive incentives for maintaining a certain balance in my business checking account?
Small incentives can make a huge difference.
And the fact of the matter is, the bank is making good money when money is left in their bank, so you should see some benefits from it too.
2: No minimum balance checking
In some cases, business checking accounts can look like a roller coaster on a graph.
Some checking accounts will charge fees if your business checking account does not maintain a minimum balance.
But to gain business accounts, some banks will offer no minimum balance accounts, so you will not have to worry about fees.
You should ask about no minimum balance.
3: Does the bank offer a corporate credit card?
While not necessarily attached with a business checking account, it is much easier to handle your business banking all in one place.
Having a corporate credit card can provide needed funds in certain situations.
4: How is the bank’s reputation?
This should be the first thing you check.
Ask your friends and family if they use that particular bank, and I suggest you also ask those who would possibly have a business account at that bank.
Some banks may have a good personal account reputation but are lacking in business accounts and vice versa.
You can also check reviews online too.
5: Customer service?
This is another area that is of great importance.
You will want to check their customer service reviews.
Some banks may be great at drawing you in as a customer but when you need help, they are hard to get a hold of.
Being on hold for 20 minutes can be quite frustrating.
6: Do they offer invoicing services?
Some banks have added more services to attract small businesses; invoicing is one that has been a popular addition.
Maybe you already have a good invoicing system but you should still ask if the bank offers this service.
7: Insurance services?
Another service many banks have started adding are insurance services.
It can be helpful to have your insurance and business checking all in one location.
You may want to ask the bank if they offer this advantage.
8: Does the bank have online banking?
Many small businesses are relying on the internet for sales and more.
It only makes good sense that you can manage your business checking account online.
Believe it or not, there are still some banks that do not have online banking, so you should ask if they offer this feature and if they do, how secure it is.
9: Do they have a mobile application?
Going right along with #8, it can be a huge plus if your bank offers a mobile application.
As business people, we are often on the go.
Having the ability to manage your business checking account from your smartphone or tablet can be a great benefit.
10: Financial advisor services
Many banks now offer services on ways to invest some of the funds in your account to keep a steady margin of interest and dividends coming in.
While we may believe we are good with managing our money, it never hurts to have another voice giving us ideas.
Ask the bank if they offer these services and if they are free with your business checking account.
11: Does the bank offer free check cashing?
Businesses often receive checks as payment.
Maybe you will receive checks from other countries and banks.
Many banks charge fees to cash checks that are not with their bank, so it is wise to ask if this is so.
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12: Does the bank offer business loans?
While all you need right now is a business checking account, you should always consider future business activity.
You should know how easy it is to possibly attain a business loan through that bank if you should need to do so in the future.
13: Does the bank work with, and have a good relationship with the SBA?
Many small businesses utilize the Small Business Administration to help them with loans to build their business.
You should ask if the bank works with the SBA just in case you need to do so in the future.
14: How much authority does your local bank branch have?
This goes hand-in-hand with #12 & #13.
If you are suddenly in need of a small loan to cover a purchase or investment, can the branch approve it, or will you have to wait 10 days or a higher officials approval 2 States away?
15: Does your bank offer discounts with partner services?
Many banks are partnered with other companies such as hotels, restaurants and more.
To gain business accounts, the banks offer discounted services from some of these partners.
This can be a great benefit.
16: Is there an interest-bearing savings account attached?
It only makes good sense to have some of your business money earning interest.
Some banks offer a service where you can keep a large portion in an interest-bearing savings account and money will transfer to the checking account to maintain a certain balance.
I highly suggest you ask the bank about this feature.
17: Monthly fees?
You should immediately ask the bank what the monthly fees are on your business checking account.
You really should look for a bank that offers low or better yet, no monthly fees.
18: Free debit card
The majority of banks now give a free debit card to business checking account holders.
But, make sure it is free.
19: Does the bank have an extensive ATM network system?
Personally, I seldom write checks.
I rely on ATMs and my debit card.
It can be important to check if your bank has an extensive ATM network.
20: No fee use of non-network ATMs
Some banks have started offering to refund checking account holders the fees associated with using a non-network ATM.
So, if the bank does not have an extensive ATM network, you should ask them about this.
That $1 or $2 fee for using a non-network ATM can add up quickly if you use ATMs a lot.
21: Is the bank flexible?
Just as my clients ask me to be flexible from time-to-time, we should expect our bank to be slightly flexible too.
While they do have rules and regulations, bending slightly to help a business account holder can be a strong reason to open an account with them.
You can normally find out if they are flexible by asking other account holders and researching online reviews.
22: Convenient operating hours
I have noticed some banks that actually close at 3PM.
For many businesses, that is quite inconvenient.
Ask your banker what their hours of operation are, especially at nearby branches.
23: Do they offer a bill payment system?
It can be a great benefit if you can pay your utility, telephone and other bills right at your bank.
I do suggest you ask the bank if they offer these services.
I suggest you use this list as a checklist.
I highly doubt you will find any bank that offers all of these, but you can get a good idea what they do offer, and what will help you most with your business.
If you do find a bank that offers all of these, please tell our readers.
As an added bonus, I want to share with you a link I found.
The people over a Nerd Wallet put together a list of free business checking banks in each State.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.
About the author
Greg Boudonck is a freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He writes on many different topics, but business subjects are one of his primary areas of writing expertise. See Greg’s biography here.