When you open a business, it’s a good idea to open a business bank account. This keeps you protected from liabilities, allows customers to pay you with credit cards, and gives you the option to open a line of credit explicitly for business expenses.
What you need to open a business bank account are an Employer Identification Number (EIN), business formation documents, personal identification documents, and applicable business licenses. However, different banks may have additional document requirements.
The article will detail what you need to open a business bank account. Read on to learn everything you need to know to get you started.
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What Do You Need To Open a Business Bank Account?
There are four documents you need to open a business bank account: an Employer Identification Number, business formation documents, personal identification documents, and a business license.
Employer Identification Number
You can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. government online, provided that you meet these requirements for eligibility:
- Your business must be located in the United States or its territories.
- You must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, EIN).
- You must apply for only one EIN per day.
Business Formation Documents
The business formation documents required depend on the needs of your particular business. Consider this list of common startup documents when you choose which to include for your business:
- Articles of Incorporation: contain the company’s name, purpose, stock amounts, and address; considered the “birth certificate” of the company; also called the Certificate of Incorporation
- Articles of Limited Partnership: agreement between two or more company partners
- Articles of Organization: contains the name and address of the company, as well as any other information that the members of the company wish to include
- Certificate of Authority: also known as the Certificate of Registration; necessary when you’re attempting to do business in another state
- Certificate of Formation: received from the Secretary of State after your company is established
- Certificate of Good Standing: letter from the Secretary of State stating that your company is in good standing with the state; sometimes required for loans
- Certificate of Limited Partnership: received from the state once your Articles of Limited Partnership was filed and approved
- EIN Confirmation Letter: received from the IRS once your EIN has been assigned
- Operating Agreement: contract between all members of the company setting the structure of the company, including each member’s name and their contributions
- Banking Resolution: defines the responsibilities of the company’s members as it relates to banking
If you’re unsure which you need, you can check with the bank where you’re looking to open an account.
Personal Identification Documents
You’ll typically need multiple forms of personal identification to open a business bank account. The exact types of personal identification documents that are accepted vary depending on the bank, but typically, at least one will need to be issued by a government agency, like a passport or a driver’s license.
Some small businesses need special licenses in addition to the base formation documents. Different government agencies provide these licenses based on what business activities they cover.
The following are business activities that require special licenses:
- Transporting or importing agricultural products across state lines
- Manufacturing, importing, or selling alcoholic beverages
- Manufacturing, importing, or selling firearms, ammunition, or explosives
- Importing or exporting wildlife
- Commercial fishing
- Transportation of cargo by sea
- Drilling for oil, natural gas, or other minerals on federal lands
- Any involvement in the production, distribution, or disposal of nuclear energy or nuclear energy materials
- Radio and TV broadcasting
- Operating an oversized vehicle
What Kind of Bank Account Do I Need for My Business?
There are five kinds of business accounts that you can open for small businesses: checking, savings, certificate of deposit (CD), money market, and merchant.
A CD is like a savings account but earns more interest than a regular savings account. Typically, you cannot touch the money in a CD without harsh penalties.
Money market accounts are like combination checking and savings accounts, allowing some penalty-free withdrawals while earning some interest.
Finally, merchant accounts are the best accounts for those who want to process credit card transactions from their customers. With a money market account, the money gets transferred into this account first and then put into your main banking account a day or two later.
What Bank Should I Use for My Business?
When you’re looking to open a business bank account, you should take into account these factors:
- Introductory offers
- Fees (minimum account balance, transaction, and early termination)
- Interest rates (savings, checking, and credit)
- Discount rates for processing transactions
- Charges for credit card transactions
- Address Verification Service (AVS) fees
- ACH daily batch fees, charged after you settle daily credit card transactions
- Monthly minimum fees, charged if you don’t meet minimum transaction amounts
Top contenders include the following:
- Axos Bank: rewards checking and no ATM fees
- Radius Bank: a full-service bank that operates entirely online
- Bank Novo: simple business banking platform with no hidden fees
- Chase Bank: great credit card options for businesses
- Bank of America: branches across the company, range of banking options
- PNC Bank: wide range of business accounts and services, easy to use mobile and online banking
- Regions Bank: offers payroll and merchant services and includes multiple checking and savings options
- SunTrust Bank: no fees on introductory checking accounts for the first year, strong credit cards and loan options
- Capital One: great credit card options and excellent customer service in-person and online
- U.S. Bank: flexible loan repayment lengths, lots of loan options available
- BBVA: lots of loan options, especially for new businesses
To open a business bank account, you’ll need an EIN, business formation documents, personal identification documents, and applicable business licenses.
The necessary business formation documents vary based on the kinds of businesses and banks, so you’ll need to establish how your company will operate and then consult the bank to get started.
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