How to open a business bank account in the US
- •Do I really need a business bank account?
- •How long does it usually take to open?
- •Can I open an account as a foreign resident?
- •Can I open a business bank account in the USA online?
- •What do I need to open a business bank account in the US?
- •An easy business banking alternative
- •What fees should I expect?
- •Which bank do I choose?
As a growing online business, expanding your business to new customers, new states—even new countries—may sound like the dream.
But as a growing business, what do you do about your finances?
In this article, we’ll look at how to open a business bank account in the US, the benefits, and the US bank account requirements you need to be aware of.
Do I really need a business bank account?
As a smaller business or solo entrepreneur, you may not necessarily need a business bank account. But if you’ve got plans to grow your business—particularly if you’re looking to take on employees, or scale across the country—then it’s a critical step to look into setting up a US business bank account.
There are clear benefits to opening a business bank account:
It makes it easier to manage your business’ financials, separating them from your personal account.
It makes tax time easier, as you can confirm that all the incomings and outgoings from your business bank account are purely professional.
If you set up your business as an incorporated entity (which we’ll touch on later), this also works to separate your personal assets from the business, adding a level of protection should something go wrong in your business.
It sets your business up for future growth and makes it easier to apply for business loans, add on extras such as corporate cards, and even makes it easier to take on employees.
How long does it usually take to open?
In theory, it shouldn’t take long to open the actual business bank account—usually no more than 15-30 minutes.
But that’s in theory. In reality, the processing of your new account details can take time, so expect to wait anywhere from five days to four weeks until your new business bank account is fully operational.
Can I open an account as a foreign resident?
Whether you can open an account as a foreign resident or not depends on the entity opening an account.
To open a US business bank account as a business entity, then you’re required to be registered in the US, and you need to supply an EIN (Employee Identification Number). So if you’re a foreign-owned business entity, then unfortunately no: US bank business account requirements preclude you from opening a US bank account.
However, you can open a US bank account individually as a foreign resident. On the whole, there aren’t specific residency requirements stopping you from opening one.
But there’s hope in sight for foreign businesses looking to open a bank account in the US; read on.
Can I open a business bank account in the USA online?
For US-based businesses and residents, it’s a fairly simple process. Most of the big banks allow you to open a business bank account online. Simply head to their website, choose the account you want, and you’re ready to go.
Foreign residents may run into a hurdle, as most US banks require you to visit in person and physically hand over your necessary documents. You’ll also need to have proof of a physical US address in order to open an account.
What about foreign businesses?
For businesses looking at how to open a bank account in the USA from overseas, there’s a way to overcome this.
There are some specialist services set up to enable foreign businesses and entrepreneurs to open US bank accounts online. However these will differ depending on the state you’re looking at opening your business in, so it’s best to do your research to find a reputable agency in that specific state first.
What do I need to open a business bank account in the US?
If you’re asking ‘what do I need to open a business bank account in the USA?’ then honestly, the process isn’t as onerous as you may think. To make this as simple as possible, here’s a step-by-step guide outlining how to open a bank account in the USA.
Step 1. Do your research, and choose the bank that’s right for your business needs. Be sure to check their fees, services, and fine print.
Step 2. Head online, or head into your chosen bank branch, and begin the process to open an account.
Step 3. Be sure to bring all the necessary US bank business account requirements. These include:
Photo ID of the business' director that's opening the account—in this case, you.
Documents to prove your business' incorporation.
Your business licence.
Confirmation of your EIN. you can read how to get one here.
Proof of your business' US address.
And that’s it. If you’ve got all this information ready to go, it should be a relatively painless process opening a corporate bank account anywhere in the USA.
Be aware though, that some banks may require a minimum deposit in order to open an account with them, so be sure to check what this is prior to opening your account.
An easy business banking alternative
An Airwallex Business Account grants you access to a business account that’s just like a regular business bank account—but better. It’s quick to set up: just head online, create your account, and you can start using it immediately. You don’t even have to leave your house to do it. There’s no onerous paperwork, no holding periods, no 5-10 day turnaround, and you can start using it with a $0 minimum account balance.
What fees should I expect?
There are a number of different fees you can expect to pay once you’ve opened your business or corporate bank account.
Monthly account handling fees. It’s not uncommon for US banks to charge a monthly fee just for having an account with them. Some may charge $0 for a certain time
period, while some may charge $12 or more per month. Some banks still may even waive these fees—as long as you hold a minimum threshold amount in your account.
ATM fees. Much like a personal bank account, if you’re looking to take out cash you can expect to pay ATM fees if using the ATM of a different provider. These can vary, ranging from low, to $2.50, to $5 or more per transaction
Teller fees. Banks are encouraging users to perform as much of their banking online as possible, and many have started charging fees for banking with a teller. So be aware of this. This is usually around $3 - $5 for daily transactions, with international transactions incurring their own set of fees.
International transfer fees. International transfer fees in America can vary wildly, starting at approximately $15 and going up to as high as $45 per individual transfer.
Account closure fees. Not all banks do this, but you may be charged a fee for closing your account. This is typically charged when you close it within a short timeframe, such as 90 or 180 days. The average fee is $25, but some banks can charge up to $50.
Annual card fees. Many banks charge annual credit and debit card fees. You’ll be able to find a range of different card products; some with lower fees, but higher interest, or some with higher fees, but better annual reward offers, and similar. When it comes to cards, it all depends on what you need out of your card’s performance.
Poor FX rates when transferring money. While not a fee per se, this still costs you money. Banks will typically use their own FX rate when transferring money, which normally include their hidden fees 'baked in'. As such, you may encounter rates that are less than ideal when transferring your international payments.
Which bank do I choose?
There are more than 5,000 different banks and savings institutions across the US, so as an outsider it can be daunting to choose the right one for your business. A good place to start is by trying the Big 4 major banks. These banks are typically set up to accommodate businesses, and offer a range of business bank account options.
Bank of America
One of the biggest US banks, the Bank of America has two business bank accounts to choose from. Both have a monthly fee, ranging from $16 to $30, but these can be waived if you maintain a $5,000 - $15,000 combined average monthly balance.
A name many international businesses will know, Citibank has four business checking accounts to choose from. Available for businesses of all sizes, their individual fees range from $15 - $25 per month, which can be waived if you hold a minimum of $5,000 - $10,000 in your account. They have options for no-interest accounts, or interest-earning accounts, and provide merchant services to help businesses as they grow.
JP Morgan Chase
JP Morgan Chase has three business banking options, designed for small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses. Their monthly service fees range from $15 - $95, but can be waived if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $35,000 - $95,000 or more. Given the higher end of the financial scale, these business bank accounts may be better served for larger organisations.
Wells Fargo has three bank account options for both small and commercial-sized businesses. Their fees range from $25 - $75 per month, and depending on the account these can be waived if you hold a daily balance of $500 - $10,000. Each account also features free-free transactions for your first 100-250 transactions, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to save money on their banking.
A business banking alternative designed to grow with you
Airwallex has you covered, empowering you to open a business account that you can use throughout the US—and the globe.
Better still, get access to an account with no monthly fees. There are no card fees, and no sign-up fees either, so you can bank in peace, knowing your business is keeping more of its hard-earned money where it should be.
You can make as many domestic transactions as you like, completely fee-free. You can send and receive USD directly to and from your account, as well as low-cost transfers in over 30 currencies. And with physical and virtual payment cards coming soon, you’ll be able to empower your employees to do the same.
So stop dreaming about it, and start building your business with Airwallex. Sign up today to discuss how an Airwallex Business Account can get you there.
Joe Romeo is responsible for scaling our Airwallex's product adoption in Australia and the world. An all-round growth enthusiast, Joe's speciality lies in SEO, organic acquisition and making lasagna.
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