The best free business checking account (at least in my opinion) is Novo Bank. You don’t know this, but you need Novo Bank for your small business even if you are just starting your business. And let’s say your business is you getting other bank bonuses by using Novo bank to fake a direct deposit, you can do that too!
In this Novo Review, I’m going to explain how to set up a small business and how to get approved Novo business checking account (it’s a little more work than you would think). I was rejected for two different business account applications through Novo and approved for one Novo business checking account.
If you want to take advantage of checking bonuses and the lower tax rates for your small business, you’re going to need a business checking account (and a business). With a business checking account, you can be your own employer and “pay” yourself with a direct deposit that would qualify as a direct deposit. Additionally, if you set up an LLC in a state with low taxes, you might want to funnel your income through your LLC to pay less in taxes. But before we just in to this more, I’m not a financial advisor and am just some guy on the internet who researched it on Google and thinks it works this way.
- Referral Link: https://banknovo.qkweww.net/Dan
- Sign up Bonus: None
- Reason to sign up: Create your own direct deposits for checking bonuses
- Minimum to open account: $50
- Approval time: 2-3 business days
- Required documents:
- Sole Proprietor: Website or social media that proves you have been doing business and a Social Security number or EIN
- LLC: EIN and an articles of organization (LLC documents)
- Where do you set up an LLC? Anywhere you like. For my online small business, I chose to form my LLC in Wyoming since there is no corporate tax rate. Price: $150USD/year
- Account Minimums: None. You can have a $0 balance.
- Monthly Fees: None.
- ATM Fees: None. All ATM fees incurred (even internationally) are reimbursed at the end of the month.
- Foreign Transaction fees: None.
- International Wire Transfer Fee: None. (available in app only)
IMPORTANT: What kind of business do I open?
As a new business, you might find it very difficult to open a business checking account. You might actually have to start running your business through your personal checking account to prove that you have a business.
Like all banks that provide business checking accounts in the United States, there are some strict regulations. Banks need to know what kind of business you have before opening your business checking account. These are pretty much the same for most banks, but this is the list from Novo:
- Cryptocurrency and Money Services
- Privately Owned ATMs
- Marijuana Related
- Money Services Business
I attempted to open up a business checking account for my “potential” business at the time, Sly Credit and was denied. Even though I had an LLC set up and provided an explanation of the business as a Personal Finance blog, I was denied. I think that was due to the business name and Novo Bank saw my business as a potential risk as “Money Services.”
I was able to open a Novo business checking account by reapplying for an account with a different LLC name. I went with a more generic LLC name, “Smarter Futures LLC” because that sounds great. It actually cost me another $150 to change my LLC name in Wyoming while the initial LLC setup also cost $150. My business was already -$300 but I still wanted to set up an actual business checking account to start a business.
You need to prove you have an actual business
To open a business checking account with Novo as a sole proprietor, you will need to (1) provide your social security number or EIN and (2) have proof that you have a business.
Proving you have a business can be as simple as an Instagram account with a few months of history promoting the products you are selling. Or if you have been actively selling products on eBay or Etsy, you can provide a link to that.
I made an UNSUCCESSFUL attempt to open a Novo business checking account as a sole proprietor that sells items on eBay. After going through the entire Novo application process for my business, “Dan Flips”, I was contacted by Novo 3 days later to provide additional information for my business. I wasn’t ready for that.
Novo wanted a link to anything that can prove that I have a business like a website or social media account. Uhhh…I didn’t have that. I did however had a very inactive eBay account where I have been a “buyer” and not a “seller.” With that very thin piece of evidence as a business, I sent a link to Novo for my eBay account profile. That wasn’t enough.
My Novo checking account application as a Sole Proprietor was denied. That why I learned that you need actual evidence of a business to open a Novo business checking account. You can’t just have an initial concept for a business.
TIPS For Sole Proprietors: Before applying for a Bank Novo Business Checking account, make sure you actually have a history of doing business already. Even social media accounts with a history of promoting your products or services might help make you eligible for a business checking account
For new businesses that are still being “conceptualized” you should create an LLC since the business checking approval process will be more flexible.
I had one rejected application for a Bank Novo business checking account and one approved application. The only difference between both of my applications was how I named my LLC. You should absolutely keep your LLC name generic and far away from any of the “unapproved” business categories.
Before applying for an LLC, you’ll need to register your business with the IRS and get an EIN. Here’s a really good walkthrough on how to get your EIN and it should take less than 10 minutes.
How do I set up an LLC? I chose to setup my LLC withy Wyoming Agents. Pretty much you just need to provide them your personal information and an EIN which you can get from the IRS for free. Wyoming agents even has a good write up on how to get your IRS EIN here.
How much is it to set up an LLC with WyomingAgents?
- $150 to form an LLC
- $150 to change an LLC name
- $152 annual fee for the Wyoming annual report (due every year after the first year)
How much are taxes in Wyoming? There’s a minimum tax rate of $50/year for businesses set up in Wyoming. That’s pretty much a flat rate of $50 on business earnings up to $250,000. Anything over $250k, you’ll be paying a tax rate of $0.0002 per dollar earned. That’s really low.
After setting up your LLC you will receive an Articles of Organization. Just make sure your personal info and business information are filled out to the best of your knowledge (Wyoming Agents didn’t fill this out for me) then save your updated Articles. You will need to provide your Articles of Organization when applying for a business checking account and/or business credit cards.
PROS: What I like about Bank Novo
- Very user friendly and an intuitive interface
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance
- No wire transfer fees
- No ATM fees (all reimbursed at the end of the month)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Perks: Discounts for various business purposes
- Integrations: Tools to help manage your business
- Best perk: I use Novo to pay my other accounts as a Direct Deposit.
How to Fake A Direct Deposit with Novo bank: You’ll need to first fund your Novo bank account with some money. There’s a $1250 transfer limit if you try to transfer money from the Novo platform. I recommend transferring money from your other bank account to Novo if you want to work around this limitation.
Will I be taxed more for these direct deposits? I don’t think so (I say that because I don’t want to be responsible if I’m wrong). You’re just moving your money around. You are literally funding your own business then sending that money back out to another personal bank account.
CONS: What I don’t like about Novo Bank
Novo bank is pretty great for my purposes. An easy to use bank for to receive and send business payments. I’m probably one of the few “businesses” (term used loosely) that doesn’t really use all of their features. There are two things I don’t like about Novo Bank (and there are solutions to these problems):
- Can’t Schedule Transfers: You can’t schedule any payments from your Novo account and you can’t schedule any funding to your Novo account.
- Daily Funding Limit of $1250: There is a workaround to funding your Novo account with more than just $1250 in one transaction and you just have to initiate the money transfer from your other bank account to Novo.
What Other people don’t like about Novo Bank:
Even though I’m a happy user of Novo bank, I haven’t left a review on Trustpilot. People who leave reviews are mostly people who had a bad experience that need to share it to the world. I get it. I want to share a few of those points with you so you know what to expect:
- Weak customer support (common with the online only banks)
- Reported issues in difficulties getting or replacing the Debit card
I got my Novo debit card about a week after my account was approved. The funny thing is, I never activated it. It’s not an account I’ll ever use the debit card for since this is just a bank I use for transferring money.
The biggest drawback for me is the daily account funding and the lack of scheduling payments and funding. Why? Because some of the bank accounts I sign up for have monthly fees that can be waived with a direct deposit. If I can schedule my account to fund itself and then schedule it to make a payment (aka Direct Deposit), this will help me avoid monthly fees on that bank account. I’m looking at you HSBC.
Novo Bank Features
Novo bank is pretty easy to use and does offer a lot more features than the traditional banks. They really do have a modern feel when compared to Chase, US Bank, Bank of America and pretty much and of the old legacy banks.
Novo bank offers support to help you manage your money better by integrating with applications your business may already be using. At the time of writing this article, these are the integrations available with Novo:
Novo business checking offers a lot of perks that you won’t find with other banks. For my own business purposes, I haven’t even activated my debit card since I’m only using the account for money transfers. But if you’re an actual business you might find some of these Novo perks pretty useful.
Booking(.com) 6% off benefit
With your Novo debit card, you automatically get 6% in cashback when you make any booking through Booking(.com). That sounds like a good deal. But here’s a tip. It’s not. As someone who gets full value, it’s very rare for Booking(.com) to ever have the lowest rate on a hotel. In fact, most of their prices can be the highest when compared to other sites. MANY less honest travel bloggers will always refer you to Booking(.com).
With all that said and you still want to use Booking(.com), I would go through TopCashback (https://www.topcashback.com/ref/problorger) which gets you 7% cashback when clicking through their rebate portal and THEN using a 3% cashback travel credit card to get a total of 10% back from your booking.
For actually discounted travel, I would recommend using Agoda or Airbnb if you will be booking last minute. Agoda drops their commission which lowers their price for you and typically Kayak will neglect to show you the Agoda listings for last minute bookings. For Airbnb, some hosts also have last minute price drops and you can even contact them to offer a lower price to rent their place if it’s available.
Get a business checking account because it will help you create your own unlimited amount of direct deposits. This will help qualify you for many other bank bonuses and will pay for itself.