Here's what to look for.
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A checking account is typically the first type of account an entrepreneur will open when launching a business. It’s the “central financial management account for any business,” says Peter Fitzke, Sr. Product Manager over Business Banking checking products at U.S. Bank.
A checking account allows you to make payments and receive money, it organizes payment information for you, Fitzke says. Ultimately, having transactions in a single place saves time, which, as any entrepreneur can tell you, is often an overstretched commodity.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a checking account that works for your business.
1. Online features.
So much happens online and you don’t want your banking experience to be any different. Make sure your bank offers online and mobile banking, which allows you to conduct financial transactions through the bank’s website or app.
Another plus: mobile check deposit, a feature that makes it easy to deposit a check remotely. It’s a time-saver, and given the spread of COVID-19, its importance has come to the forefront. “Our mobile check deposit rates have gone through the roof since March,” Fitzke says.
2. A debit card and checks.
Make sure any checking account you open comes with a debit card that allows you to withdraw and deposit money from the bank’s ATMs for no fee.
Same goes for checks. After all, not all payments are made digitally. “More than 50 percent of our business customers utilize checks as their primary method to both pay and receive payments from their customers,” Fitzke says.
3. Bill pay.
Another fundamental feature is bill pay, which allows you to make single or recurring electronic payments either online or by check. The service has been available for a long time and for good reason; it can help save you time and effort managing your payments at work, Fitzke says. Many checking accounts provide this service for free.
4. Free transactions.
Most checking accounts come with transaction limits, which means after a certain volume of transactions, either in frequency or amount, you will be charged a fee. If possible, estimate the transactions—the number of times you will deposit money into your account and pay someone from it—you’ll likely perform each month, as that informs the type of checking account to get.
U.S. Bank, for example, offers three options: Silver, which has a 125 monthly transaction limit and no maintenance fee; Gold, which has a 300 monthly transaction limit and a $20 maintenance fee; and Platinum, which has a 500 monthly transaction limit and a $30 maintenance fee. “As you go from Silver to Gold to Platinum, you get more volume of transactions, and more volume of cash deposits,” Fitzke says.
Another important variable: how much money you plan on keeping in the account. Oftentimes, if your balance exceeds a certain amount, any maintenance fees associated with the account are waived. “Transactions and the cash deposits are numbers people hone into, but balances enable you to do more with less, in terms of fees and expenses,” Fitzke says. If you initially selected the wrong level, changing accounts is as easy as visiting your local branch and speaking with an associate, he says.
5. Overdraft protection.
Many checking accounts can add overdraft protection, which can save you from hefty fees. Customers can apply for a reserve line or a credit card to back up funds should they overdraft. U.S. Bank’s Reserve Line is one of the most popular products, Fitzke says. “It offers businesses a lot more flexibility, especially for companies that are tightly managing their cash flow.”
If you’re starting a business, choosing the right checking account doesn’t have to be complicated. In addition to making sure it offers core features such as online banking services, a debit card, and checks, start by sizing up your business’ financial needs to determine the type of account that will work best.
If you have all the necessary information, this can easily be done online. If you’re unsure, however, your banker can offer guidance by asking action-oriented questions about the specific needs of your business.
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