What small business owners should look for in a bank

visual space / Getty Images

visual space / Getty Images

Whether you own a one-person e-commerce business or a local store with a few dozen employees, your small business needs a bank. After all, a business bank account can help you organize your company’s finances, take advantage of rewards and separate your business and personal finances for legal reasons.

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But how to choose the right bank for your business? These are the most important features to look for, according to financial experts and small business owners.

Mobile application and internet banking

When choosing a bank for her small business, Elina Furman — founder of the baby massage company Kahlmi — looked for online features that made everyday banking easier.

“I recommend looking for a bank with a mobile app so you can easily make deposits and transfers,” she said.

Many banks today offer apps that allow you to check account balances, pay with credit cards, transfer funds, and more.

Low fees, especially for transfers

Furman also made sure her bank had low account fees and, more specifically, zero ACH service fees. This allows her to pay her suppliers without incurring large monthly transfer costs.

Gian Perrone, vice president of engineering at Nav, agreed. He said: “Avoid banks that charge fees for normal activities, such as accessing ATMs and transferring money to your account. A bank account should be a valuable tool to help your business grow, not something that incurs additional costs for activities that are critical to your business.”

Banks are required to list fees, and many do so online, so be sure to read them before opening an account.

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Minimum account

Check to see if your bank has minimum account requirements. They may charge a monthly service fee that you can waive by keeping a certain amount of money in your account. For some small or online banks, this requirement can be anywhere from zero to several hundred dollars, while the minimum for larger banks can be in the thousands.

“Small businesses need flexibility,” said small business owner Christina Giaquinto of Modular Closets. “[Having no account minimum] it allows you to ebb and flow with constant change in your business.”

A wide selection of banking products and additional tools

When considering a bank for your business, look at what products they offer. This includes essentials such as checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, loans, and credit and debit cards for you and your employees. Some banks also offer services such as payroll, online payment processing, invoicing and expense tracking.

“If a bank doesn’t offer the products and services you need, they may not be able to support your business as it grows and develops,” said Barry Gray, small business owner and founder of The Tools Square.

More convenient branches

Think about which features are most important to your business. For example, is personal banking important to you? If so, keep in mind that while credit unions often have lower fees and loan rates, they tend to have fewer locations than larger banks.

If you travel a lot for work and need to access your bank in person, consider a larger bank with many locations across the country.

Responsible customer service

There are few things as frustrating as facing a business banking problem and not being able to get the help you need. So make sure the bank you choose has excellent customer support, said Andrew Latham, CFP® and editor-in-chief of SuperMoney.com.

“You’re likely to have questions or need help at some point, so finding a bank with friendly and helpful staff on hand is key,” he added.

Also check if they offer phone support outside of normal business hours. You never know if you’ll run into a problem in the evening or on the weekend.

Specialized services

Depending on the type of business you own, you may need specialized banking services. For example, does your company regularly send and receive money abroad? Do you need the services of a dealer? If so, see if the bank can accept them without charging excessive fees.

Also make sure the bank can integrate with your back-end systems, Giaquinto said. “If you use QuickBooks or Zelle, does the bank work well with that software? This is important, especially as your business expands.”

Reward programs

Many banks offer rewards programs that give you cash back or other benefits, but not all rewards programs are created equal. So look carefully at the details.

“Rewards programs can generate thousands of dollars in cash and perks simply for paying your business expenses through their business accounts, so it pays to look for the best fit for your business,” Latham said.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What Small Business Owners Should Look for in a Bank

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