The gig economy was just beginning to blossom pre-pandemic. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of gig workers or side hustlers increased by 15%. Unlike many aspects of life, which stagnated during the pandemic, freelancing only grew. Statista reported that 73.3 million people work as freelancers in the U.S. right now, an increase from 57.3 million pre-pandemic.
Freelancing has tremendous benefits for many people. Freelancing or gig work can provide:
- A better work-life balance
- Increased income potential
But it can come with some financial complications, too.
As a freelancer, you’ll need to manage cash flow so that you’ll have money in your account to pay your bills. You’ll be responsible for paying your own taxes. And, with that in mind, you’ll want to track expenses carefully so that you can deduct the costs of running your freelance business from your bottom line.
That’s where having a business bank account can come in handy.
Why You Need a Bank Account If You Have a Side Hustle
According to tax laws, you don’t have to have a business bank account to run a side hustle or a freelance business. You can file your taxes using your Social Security number and receive a 1099 form as a sole proprietor.
But as your business grows, you may want to incorporate under a tax ID number. You may choose to register as a corporation like an S-Corp or, more commonly, a limited liability corporation or LLC. This can get confusing, so it’s important to speak to a tax account before you take this step.
If you incorporate your business, you’ll need a business checking account to keep your personal finances separate from your business expenses. You would pay yourself a salary out of your business account and use your personal bank account to pay for your daily living expenses, entertainment, and anything that isn’t considered a business expense.
Benefits of Business Accounts
Most small business owners, freelancers and side hustlers prefer to open a business account even if they aren’t incorporated. Having a dedicated business checking account makes it easier to track your business income and expenses, which makes filing taxes – and making quarterly estimated tax payments – easier. If you ever get audited, you’ll have a clear record of your personal and business finances.
Plus, if you do any sales and marketing for your freelance business, your business debit card can often pique people’s interest. You’d be surprised how having a debit card with your business name on it can help you generate leads in odd places, whether you’re at your favorite bar or paying for groceries.
If you’re ready to open a separate business account, it’s important to find one that will meet your needs.
Freelancer vs. Side Hustler vs. Entrepreneur
Before you choose a business account, you may be wondering about the differences between entrepreneurs, freelancers, and side hustlers. Which category do you fit in?
These are all loose terms to describe anyone who owns their own business or is self-employed. Self-employed is a tax designation, which means you are a 1099 contractor for other companies. This term would apply to most freelancers and side hustlers.
On the other hand, if you start your own business, you might consider yourself an entrepreneur. The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who starts a business and is willing to take a financial risk in hopes of great success.
A freelancer may also take financial risks, including leaving a steady paying job. In a lot of cases, whether you describe yourself as an entrepreneur, small business owner, freelancer or side hustler is up to you.
Compare the Best Freelancer Checking Accounts
In most cases, business owners, freelancers and side hustlers can all benefit from a good business bank account. Read on as we compare the best business checking accounts for freelancers, gig workers, and entrepreneurs.
1. Lili Bank: Overall Best Bank for Freelancers
Lili calls itself “the one-stop shop for all your small business financial needs.” An online financial services company that provides business banking, accounting for freelancers, invoicing, and tax support, Lili is backed by Choice Financial Group Inc.
As a US-based bank, Choice is a member FDIC, which means your funds deposited in Lili are protected by the federal government up to $250,000 per account.
What sets Lili apart as one of the best bank accounts for freelancers?
In addition to all the other services it offers to business owners, Lili has no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees for basic checking, and a network of 38,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide. You can also open a business savings account and earn 1.50% APY at Lili.
Lili’s basic business checking account has no monthly fee, expense categorization for your purchases, and the ability to generate quarterly expense reports.
Alternatively, for $9 per month, you can earn 1.5% on savings, get a Visa business debit card with cashback rewards, overdraft protection up to $200 and tax, invoicing software, and accounting support.
Lili integrates with third-party services that gig workers may use, including Etsy, Shopify, Venmo, QuickBooks, and your PayPal business account.
When you compare the prices of other invoicing and online accounting services, you may find that Lili offers tremendous value for the money as one of the overall best banks for gig workers you can find.
Bluevine: Best for Business Interest Checking Account
Like Lili, Bluevine is a financial technology company. It is backed by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC to protect your deposits. The Bluevine business checking account offers 2.0% interest, which sets it apart from competitors.
To take advantage of the interest, you’ll need to either spend $500 per month with your Bluevine Business Debit Mastercard or receive $2,500 per month in customer payments to your Bluevine business checking account.
There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements and you can make unlimited transactions with no fees. Like Lili, Bluevine also offers other services for business owners.
If you are looking for a business interest checking account with value-added services, consider Bluevine. Your account integrates easily with QuickBooks, with no fees involved. Plus, you can set up sub-accounts to easily manage your money, add authorized users, and pay bills via ACH or wire transfer from your Bluevine account.
While many credit providers offer business credit cards, Bluevine is one of only a few business checking accounts that offers a business line of credit. You may qualify for a credit line of up to $250,000, with a rate as low as 6.2% interest. This interest rate is much lower than the national average of 20.46% for business credit cards right now, as reported by The Balance. Plus, you could get approved in as fast as five minutes, according to the Bluevine website.
For entrepreneurs seeking to purchase tools or resources, or freelancers in need of business equipment, Bluevine’s line of credit could provide you with the financial security you need to grow. Take note that you’ll need a credit score of 625 or more to qualify and $40,000 in monthly revenue. This is probably not a service for a gig worker, but for a seasoned entrepreneur.
Even so, it’s never too early to get started with a business checking account, especially one with no monthly fees.
Amex: Best for Debit Card Rewards and Bonus Offer
American Express is a renowned name in business and consumer rewards credit cards. But you might not be aware that the company also offers a business checking account with 1.30% APY on balances up to $500,000.
American Express also has no monthly maintenance fees, no fees on domestic ACH payments, and no fees at MoneyPass ATMs. The American Express Business Blueprint app makes it easy to manage your account.
Amex stays true to its credit card rewards roots with a rewards business debit card. Earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $2 on eligible purchases. You can combine points earned with Membership Rewards points accrued with other Amex cards, and use those points for travel, gift cards, or cash back. You can also convert those points into cash deposits directly into your new business checking account.
Amex’s bonus offer stands out to us. Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you deposit $5,000 or more within the first 30 days of account opening, maintain that balance for the next 60 days, and make five or more qualifying transactions within those first 60 days.
NBKC Business Checking: Best for No Fees
If finding a business bank account with no fees is most important to you, a nbkc Business Checking account might fit the bill. The bank offers unlimited transactions with no fee, no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, and no opening deposit requirements either. You can also have out-of-network atm fees reimbursed for up to $12 per month.
If you are a freelancer just getting started or just looking to supplement your full-time income with a side hustle, you’ll find nbkc bank a low-cost and convenient option among free business checking accounts.
NBKC lacks some of the bells and whistles of the top choices on our list. You won’t get integrations with common business software or invoicing and accounting support. But a nbkc business checking account is free with your personal account and provides an easy way to keep your business and personal funds separate.
Novo: Best for Payment and P2P Money Transfer App Integration
Novo is another choice with no monthly maintenance fee, no monthly fee, free ACH transfers, and no minimum balance needed. Like many of the business bank accounts on this list, Novo is a financial technology company. It’s backed by Middlesex Savings bank, a Member FDIC, which means your money is protected up to $250,000 per account.
Novo is the best for business owners looking for an easy way to process payments or transfer funds. You’ll get free ACH transfers from another checking or savings account and refunds on all out-of-network ATM fees.
Novo integrates with many P2P payment apps, including Square, Shopify, and Stripe, as well as Etsy, eBay, Amazon and more.
When you use Novo Boost, you can get paid 95% faster through Stripe, or two business days before the funds would ordinarily appear in your account.
Plus, it’s quick and easy to open an account online, with approval as fast as 10 minutes – rather than days with some other online bank accounts.
Axos Bank: Best for New or Scaling Businesses
Many freelancers don’t think about opening a business account until they have incorporated their company to make that transition from self-employed to entrepreneur. If this sounds like you, Axos Bank could have the best bank accounts for you. The online bank is offering business owners who incorporated after June 2020 an extra $200 in their new business bank account.
If you aren’t newly incorporated, you can earn a $100 bonus.
Like many of the best business accounts on this list, Axos has no monthly fee, no minimum monthly average balance to hold, ATM fee reimbursements for all domestic transactions, and no minimum opening deposit. The bank accepts cash deposits or you can transfer money from other checking accounts via ACH.
Unlike many online banks, Axos offers business owners a dedicated relationship manager to help point you to the products and services that are best for your growing business.
Chase Business Complete Banking: Best for Credit Card Processing
As the largest U.S. bank, with assets of $3.31 trillion, Chase is a traditional bank that offers all the convenience of online banks. This includes personalized service, stellar fraud protection, and a host of other features and benefits we’ve come to expect from any financial institution.
The Chase Business Complete Banking account is ideal for entrepreneurs, offering unlimited transactions and no monthly fee (if you meet certain requirements). These requirements are relatively easy to meet with a $2,000 minimum balance, $2,000 in purchases on your Chase Ink Business credit card, a link to a Chase Private Client Checking account, or $2,000 in deposits from QuickAccept or Chase eligible merchant services.
The best aspect of Chase Business Complete Banking is the ability to process credit card transactions and receive funds the same day through Chase QuickAccept. (Additional fees apply.)
You can open an account with no minimum deposit to get started.
Wave Money Business Banking: Best for Free Business Banking
Wave Money integrates a free checking account with easy bookkeeping for freelancers and solopreneurs. Wave is best for those who want to improve cash flow with instant pay and want bookkeeping tools to make tax prep easier.
Wave has no monthly fee or transaction fees, so you keep more of what you earn. You can use the mobile check deposit feature for convenience, and make ACH transfers easily. There are no transaction limits with Wave, and you can also connect third party payment processors.
Wave is another fintech company, with banking provided by Community Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC. That means your funds are insured for up to $250,000 per account.
TIAA Bank: Best for Business Investments
Besides checking accounts, TIAA Bank offers a variety of banking products for entrepreneurs and gig workers that sets it apart.
If you’re considering business savings accounts, TIAA offers CDs and money market accounts to earn interest at a rate higher than you may get with another account. Currently, TIAA’s one-year business CD offers an APY of 3.75%.
TIAA’s checking accounts offer easy online banking and mobile check deposit, along with personalized service from a business solutions specialist.
LendingClub Bank Tailored Checking: Best for Earning Checking Account Rewards
The LendingClub Bank tailored checking account for freelancers is one of the few banks on our list where you can earn interest on your checking balance, plus 1% cash back rewards when you use your debit card.
Account holders earn 1.5% APY on balances up to $100,000 and 0.10% APY on the portion of your balance that exceeds $100,000.
LendingClub Bank reimburses fees if you use an out-of-network ATM. The bank also supports QuickBooks, Quicken and Mint for budgeting and bookkeeping. You can also send digital invoices and get paid directly to your LendingClub account, making LendingClub Bank Tailored Checking one of the more robust and affordable online banks for freelancers.
Just make sure to maintain an average daily balance of at least $500 to have the monthly fee waived.
How to Choose the Best Bank Account for Your Business
When you’re evaluating business bank accounts, you’ll want to consider your needs and the features that are most important to you.
It should go without saying that you want an account with no monthly fees or no monthly fees. Unless you’re an established business owner, you may also want no minimum balance requirements. You don’t want to get saddled with fees if your business runs into cash flow problems or you have a down month.
If you run a high-volume business, look for a bank account with no transaction limits, no in-network ATM fees, and unlimited ATM fee rebates.
Need a way to manage contracts, collect invoices, and help with taxes?
Your business bank can represent much more than just a place to deposit cash and a means to pay your bills. Many of the best bank accounts on this list also offer freelancer invoicing, tax assistance, and ways to manage contracts.
Budgeting and Savings Features to Look For
When you’re a freelancer, it’s convenient to have an easy way to track your expenses and budget for not just expected costs, but surprise opportunities or financial emergencies.
Just as you should have a personal bank account established with emergency savings, you want a business savings account. In fact, you may want multiple business savings accounts or the ability to divide money into various buckets for known costs – like taxes – and unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or a new phone.
Some budgeting and savings features are nice to have, such as an interest-earning checking account and cash back on debit card purchases.
Why We Chose Lili as the Best Business Bank Account
Lili graces the top of our list because the fintech company offers so many value-added services for entrepreneurs that it’s virtually a one-stop shop for freelancers. However, the other banks on our list for best business accounts have their own benefits you might want to consider.
Should You Use Different Banks for Personal and Business Finance?
If you already have a separate bank account for your personal finance, there is something to be said for opening a business account through the same bank. You may get extra perks and benefits or waived fees. Best of all, it’s easier to use one app to manage all your personal and business banking.
But if you opt for an online financial services company, instead, it is typically easy to transfer funds between accounts. Also, companies like Lili and Bluevine specialize exclusive in business accounts, which means they have services tailored specifically to your needs.
A lot of factors go into choosing the best bank account for your business checking needs. Knowing your must-haves, nice-t0-haves, and those features that don’t really matter to you can help make the decision easier.
What is a business bank account?
A business bank account is a dedicated account separate from your personal accounts that you use to deposit cash, checks, or other customer payments earned through your business. You should also use your business checking account to pay for business expenses.
Do You Need a Business Bank Account if You’re a Freelancer?
Freelancers are not required by law to have a separate business banking account. But if your business is incorporated as an S-corp, C-corp, or LLC, you are required to keep your business and personal accounts separate.
Should You Have a Separate Bank Account If You’re a Freelancer?
Even though it’s not required by law, it’s a good idea to have an account separate from your personal checking account to help you keep track of business income and expenses.
What Makes a Business Bank Account Ideal for Freelancers?
Business bank accounts often have many of the same features as some of the best personal bank accounts. That would include low or no minimum balance requirements, no monthly maintenance fee, no transaction fees, and no hidden fees.
You may also look for features like mobile check deposit, unlimited electronic deposits, and low wire transfer fees if you have a lot of customers, clients, or vendors outside the U.S.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Bank Accounts for Freelancers and Side Hustlers
We evaluated the best bank accounts for freelancers based on the ability to earn interest, monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance requirements, the ease of making cash deposits, customer service, and more.
Some banks are better for freelancers who don’t maintain a high balance or only have a few transactions per month. Entrepreneurs with fast-growing businesses looking to scale may prefer a business checking account with unlimited transactions and the ability to accept credit card payments through the same bank.
Some business owners may want to be able to integrate their Quickbooks accounting system through their bank.
We have banks on this list designed for small business owners, freelancers and side hustlers at every stage of business growth.