Best Banks for Startups | Low Fees and High Features

Startups often have unique needs when it comes to their banking preferences and needs. This is why you absolutely need to know the best banks for startups in your industry. Before you commit to banking with any one company, you should know the ins and outs of their system and what it is going to cost you. After all, startups need to keep their expenses lean if they want to survive in this competitive market. 

The best banks for startups include Mercury, Brex, First Republic, Wells Fargo, Silicon Valley Bank, and BlueVine. Most of the top contenders are online banks that make it easy for you to manage the business on the go. With low overhead costs, these banks are often able to offer the most competitive fees to help you keep your costs low while still offering convenience. 

BankAdvantages
Mercury– Convenient online platform
– Enhanced security features
– Access to Tea Room and Mercury Treasury
Brex– User-friendly online portal and app
– Easy to integrate with sales platforms for instant payments
– Rewards system 
First Republic– Excellent customer service
– Complimentary 409A valuation
– Brick and mortar locations
Wells Fargo– Flexible checking account options
– Zero liability debit card protection and fraud monitoring
– Card-free ATM services
– Tons of branches nationwide
Silicon Valley Bank– Compatible with popular accounting programs
– Great online platform
– Flexible checking account options with great interest rates
BlueVine– No hidden fees
– Can handle cash deposits
– High yield business checking accounts
Banks for startups advantages

Before you sign up for one checking account, here is everything you need to know about the startup banking accounts offered at each bank. 

The 6 Best Banks for Startups

Understanding what each bank has to offer is crucial to the financial success of your business. After all, you will rely on your checking account to help you manage expenses, make deposits, pay the bills, and more. The top six banks for startups include: 

  • Mercury
  • Brex
  • First Republic
  • Wells Fargo
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • BlueVine


Each one has unique advantages that set it apart from the leading competitors in this space. Let’s take a closer look at what each one has to offer a new or already established and growing startup. 

1. Mercury 

Mercury was specifically engineered to create a safe space for startups to conduct all of their banking needs. While they do specialize in tech startups, most businesses are eligible to open an account and tap into their benefits. This San Francisco-based startup bank has funding from some heavy hitters and some of the brightest minds out of Silicon Valley. This startup bank can be extremely valuable for most companies, with lots of advantages bestowed on its users. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

One of the primary advantages of choosing Mercury as the best bank for startups is its online platform. Many people want to avoid the hassle of heading to a brick-and-mortar location to take care of their daily banking requirements. It is far more convenient to hop in front of a keyboard and tend to your growing funds. Mercury offers everything you could ever possibly need from a bank on a convenient digital platform. 

Security is of paramount importance to this savvy bank. Webpages feature encryption for maximum security with key safety features such as: 

  • HTTPS on all webpages
  • HSTS to ensure a secure connection
  • Passwords stored with bcrypt algorithms
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Database encryption with additional measures taken for sensitive data
  • Penetration testing each year by a third party to minimize vulnerabilities

Of course, it should also go without saying that both savings and checking accounts are insured to the $250,000 FDIC limit. They work with FDIC-insured banks like Evolve Bank & Trust and Member FDIC to store deposits. 

They also have a Tea Room for users who have more than $250,000 in funds in their account. These Tea Room accounts come with perks like free domestic and international wire transfers. You can also open a Mercury Treasury account if you are a member of Mercury Tea Room. This is an automated cash management account that helps you to utilize and grow the funds you aren’t currently using. They allow you to transfer your extra cash into government securities and money market funds to yield greater returns for you. 

Disadvantages

While there are definitely advantages to opening a Mercury account, you must be careful to ensure that you qualify. Their platform is designed for businesses based in the United States, but you can still open an account even if you currently reside in another country. There are a few exceptions to this, but founders can live in most countries and still have access to a Mercury account. 

Not every business is eligible to open a business account through this contender for the best business bank for startups. Money service businesses, adult entertainment, marijuana, and internet gambling companies are not eligible for an account at Mercury. They also do not offer accounts for sole proprietors or trusts. All other types of businesses can proceed onward with their straightforward approach to banking, although it should be noted that the product is mostly engineered for tech companies. 

Because they are an online bank, you will not want to use them if you rely on cash deposits. Take an honest inventory of where your money primarily comes from before deciding whether Mercury can ultimately meet your needs. 

Cost

Mercury is one of the best banks for startups not only because of its many advantages but also because of its cost. All accounts are completely free. There are no minimum balances, account opening fees, or monthly fees. Users can expect to pay money on wire transfers with costs ranging from $5 to $20. 

Instead of charging money for their accounts, Mercury makes money on interchange fees when their debit cards are used. They also earn a percentage of return on Treasury deposits. 

Here's a more thorough review of Mercury.

2. Brex

Among the best banks for startups, Brex is a bit unique because it isn’t technically a bank. Instead, they are registered as a broker-dealer member firm of FINRA/SIPC. However, they do still offer many of the features that startups are looking for when it comes to banking, like depositing funds, spending money, building credit, and even earning rewards. Their unique approach has given them leverage to find excellent investors, raising $400 million in equity. 

The benefit to this type of system is that it allows you to allocate your funds into a money market account that can improve yield on your deposits while you aren’t using it. 

How does this whole system work? First, you should know that your money is safe in one of their cash management accounts. Members of SIPC protect securities reaching up to $500,000 or $250,000 for claims for cash. Any deposits that you make as uninvested cash will be deposited into a program bank and will be FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 per bank. Your money is still protected, but you get the unique advantages that come from this type of bank. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

Much like Mercury, Brex is an entirely online platform while still allowing all of the traditional services of a physical location. Many customers find that their online portal and app are extremely user-friendly, making it easy for you to send and receive money with the app. 

If you are an e-commerce store, then you definitely want to open a Brex account. They are uniquely designed to connect with your sales platforms so that you no longer have to wait for a payout. You receive your money instantly from Amazon, PayPal, Shopify, Square, and Stripe. Of course, you should bear in mind that there is a fee to utilize this service, with rates ranging from 1 to 1.5 percent. 

This contender for the best business bank for startups also comes with some perks. They aim to help offset your expenses with rewards that can you can redeem for cash, gift cards, a statement credit, or airline miles.

Disadvantages

If you want to see how your startup is doing overall, you will have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access Brex Premium. At $49 per month, this can be a bit expensive for a recurring fee for a lean startup. However, it does give you access to spend management software that shows you exactly where your funds are being directed. Administrators who need more control over their spending can benefit from this program. 

Brex Premium comes with a lot of benefits that may make it worth the cost including: 

  • Automatic bill pay
  • Approval flows
  • Custom expense policy
  • Reimbursements for employees (coming soon)

Also, you might want to avoid this online bank if you rely heavily on cash deposits. Much like Mercury, Brex does not have a great way to deposit cash because it is solely an online bank with few compatible ATMs. 

Cost

One of the areas where Brex shines is in regards to its cost. There are no transaction fees or account fees, regardless of the minimum account balance. Opening an account and maintaining it should come at no cost to your business. Deposits, checks, and even wire transfers are completely free for all customers. 

Of course, Brex has to make money somewhere to stay in business. They are paid distribution fees from the money market fund, which does come with some fees and expenses. For those who want to learn more about the fees and expenses of the Dreyfus Government Cash Management Fund, you should view the prospectus and summary prospectus

3. First Republic

The best banks for startups are those that are able to grow with your company. They are great in the beginning when you may not necessarily be flush with cash. However, they are also capable of scaling with you when the time is right. First Republic is one of these banks and should be considered as a top candidate for your startup bank account. 

First Republic is unique among many of the top candidates for the best business bank for startups because it does indeed have brick-and-mortar locations. Most of their locations are clustered together on the west coast, but they have a few on the east coast as well, along with a lone office in Wyoming. For customers who like the ability to pop in and take care of their banking needs or those who need to deposit cash, this is a great feature. 

One of the best banks for tech startups, First Republic offers banking for innovators in Silicon Valley and beyond. They pride themselves on knowing the stories and unique history of each of their clients. First Republic is dedicated to helping its clients achieve long-term success through any means necessary. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

First Republic’s commitment to customer service is one of the areas where they truly shine. When you sign up for one of their accounts, you are automatically assigned to one dedicated team member to help your company move from the initial stages of the startup to something more. As you gain traction, that same team member can help your company through its financial growing pains by offering guidance from leading experts and entrepreneurs in the field. 

For tech startups in the initial stages, they offer a complimentary 409A valuation to help you determine how to structure your company's equity. This is something unique that many of the best banks for startups don’t offer. 

In the modern age, their digital offerings should also be considered. You can access your funds anywhere at any time through a robust online and mobile banking program. The digital services allow you to take care of everything you could possibly need, including moving money around, wire transfers, bill pay, and more. 

If you want to take your hands off the wheel for a while, you also have the option to add a company administrator who has permission to manage users and even authorize payments on your behalf. This is great for those who may expand the business to include other team members at some point in the future. 

Much like both Brex and Mercury, you can also open a treasury management account that gives you access to money market funds. 

Disadvantages and Cost

The main disadvantage to choosing First Republic lies in their fees which are substantially more than some of the other online banks. Most of their business accounts require a $5,000 minimum opening deposit. That number rises to $10,000 for those interested in Business Reward Money Market Savings accounts. 

If you have a balance that is below the $15,000 average, you can expect to be hit with a $30 monthly service fee. Startups with account balances higher than this pay nothing monthly. 

There are also fees associated with: 

  • Checks paid ($0.20 to $0.30)
  • ACH credits posted ($0.10)
  • ACH debits posted ($0.02)
  • Deposits ($1.50 each, $0.10 for checks)
  • Outgoing domestic wires ($35)
  • Outgoing international ($25 to $35) 

While some of these may seem like relatively minor fees, the truth is that they can add up over the years. Do some quick mental math to see how often your startup uses these services and if you can afford the cost of doing business with First Republic. You can see a full list of the services and fees here.

4. Wells Fargo

If you’re searching for the best banks for startups, Wells Fargo should make the list of considerations. They are one of the oldest banks in the United States and have three different levels of business checking accounts for you to choose from. If your business has physical locations or requires lots of cash deposits, you can benefit from the over 8,000 branch locations that Wells Fargo offers throughout the United States. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

One of the advantages of the startup bank account from Wells Fargo is the flexibility of the account type. Sole proprietorships and limited liability companies are both able to register for one of their business bank accounts. There are three different levels of bank accounts to choose from based on the unique needs of your startup: Initiate Business Checking, Navigate Business Checking, and Optimize Business Checking. The main difference between the three lies in the minimum daily balances required to avoid their monthly service fee: 

  • Initiate Business Checking: $500 minimum
  • Navigate Business Checking: $10,000 minimum
  • Optimize Business Checking: Requires a $75 monthly maintenance fee regardless of daily balance

Beyond being FDIC-insured, Wells Fargo has a few features that make it ideal for all types of startup bank accounts. They have zero liability debit card protection along with around-the-clock fraud monitoring. You can utilize their card-free ATM services whenever it is convenient for you. As with most banks, you also get access to online and mobile banking with a user-friendly platform that makes banking easier and more convenient. 

The primary benefit to using Wells Fargo is the easy access to their brick-and-mortar locations. If your business has a lot of cash deposits, it is convenient to find a teller or an ATM that will accept them. This is a huge benefit over other online banks like Mercury and Brex, where most of your financial endeavors must take place solely online. 

Disadvantages

The major disadvantage of utilizing Wells Fargo is that they are catered more toward traditional small businesses instead of startups. Their bank accounts are still relevant and offer a lot of great features for a startup business that knows what it wants and needs. However, they do not have the dedicated team and experience that other contenders for the best banks for startups have. 

For example, First Republic connects you with a dedicated account representative experienced with venture-backed startups. Wells Fargo has a great customer service team to help answer questions you may have, but you won’t have the same level of expertise as you might get with a bank that focuses more on these types of startups. 

Cost

Because there are three different levels of checking accounts you can sign up for with Wells Fargo, there is also a tiered pricing system. The most basic account charges a $10 monthly fee which can be waived with a $500 minimum daily balance or a $1,000 average ledger balance. In the middle tier, you will be charged a $25 monthly service fee, waived with a $10,000 minimum daily balance or $15,000 average combined business deposit balances. Their Optimize Business Checking charges $75 per month. 

Wells Fargo's basic checking account also has no fee for the first one hundred transactions in each fee period. There are also no fees for the first $5,000 in cash deposits each fee period. 

At the other end of the spectrum, their Optimize Business Checking offers no transaction fees for the first 250 transactions per business relationship in a statement period. If you also require a savings account, they will waive the monthly service fee for linked Business Platinum Savings accounts. They also waive the fees for:

  • Stop payments
  • Cashier’s checking and money orders
  • Incoming wire transfers
  • Five outgoing CEO wires on each statement period
  • Two non-Wells Fargo cash withdrawals at the ATM (must be at a domestic ATM)

5. Silicon Valley Bank

Silicon Valley Bank is an extremely appealing option for one of the best banks for tech startups. This is their specialty and area of expertise with approximately half of all venture-backed tech and life science companies choosing to partner with them. They have more than 35 years of experience working with innovators and entrepreneurs which means that you get the dedicated customer service that your startup requires. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

Many startup businesses require more than just banking to manage their expenses and income. Silicon Valley Bank offers its direct connect feature to help you sync with other business apps to manage your finances. Their bank accounts are compatible with popular programs like Quickbooks, Xero, and Expensify. You can also sync the accounts with back-office accounting software through their SVB Transact Gateway. 

Much like many of the other best banks for startups, Silicon Valley Bank is designed to work conveniently while you are on the go. Their online platform is extremely user-friendly and allows you to access reports, transfers, deposits, and wires from the convenience of your phone or laptop. 

This bank offers two different levels of checking accounts geared toward pre-series A companies and growing venture-backed startups. With flexibility like this, you are able to ensure that you are getting exactly what your business requires as it continues to grow and thrive.

SVB Edge Perks and Costs

The entry-level checking account, known as SVB Edge, is engineered for pre-series A companies that are just getting started. To help keep costs to a minimum, the account is free for the first three years. Rates will jump to $50 per month after this introductory period ends. However, you will enjoy no maintenance or transaction fees, unlimited incoming wires, and ACH, unlimited outgoing wires including FX, bill payments, and mobile deposits. 

It also gives you a startup money market account so that your funds can grow while they aren’t being used. You can expect an interest rate of 1.0% on your savings account. 

SVB Edge also hooks you up with a business credit card that allows you to earn 2x unlimited points with no annual fee. The good news is that it also has no foreign transaction fees if your business requires international travel regularly. 

SVB ScaleUp Perks and Costs 

Growing companies that have outgrown the SVB Edge will want to sign up for the SVB ScaleUp. This is a business checking account with more bells and whistles than the standard Edge. You can earn a $500 monthly credit that is applied toward service fees associated with the account. In the beginning, you will have the $50 monthly fee waived for the first twelve months. 

You gain access to lockbox services for remote, wholesale, and imaging. They also offer fraud control services with positive pay with payee validation and ACH blocks and filters. 

Disadvantages

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of choosing Silicon Valley Bank is that opening an account is not necessarily straightforward. You will fill out a questionnaire and must wait for someone to contact you about setting up an account. They connect you with a professional customer service associate specializing in your region and industry, ensuring that they can answer any questions you may have. However, the fact that it is not self-service can turn a lot of customers off from using this excellent banking program. 

6. BlueVine

BlueVine offers an excellent option for those who prefer online banking that will help them to earn interest on their money. They are an inexpensive option that you should consider if you want access to great features at a low cost. 

However, it is worth noting that they are not technically a bank. They are a financial technology company, but your deposits are still FDIC insured up to $250,000 through The Bancorp Bank. BlueVine is very similar to Brex in this way. 

Best Banks for Startups

Advantages

The real advantage to choosing BlueVine lies in its transparent fees and straightforward pricing structure. Many new startups fail due to cash flow problems, so BlueVine offers a solution that can help. The primary draw to this bank account is that they do not charge any type of hidden fees. In comparison to bank accounts like First Republic that can nickel and dime you, BlueVine stays economical. 

Your startup can benefit from no monthly service fees regardless of how much money is in your bank account. There is no minimum deposit or balance required for these checking accounts. There are no fees for non-sufficient funds either. You can make unlimited transactions without any penalty. 

One of the other benefits of choosing this bank is that you won’t get hit with ATM fees if you stop at MoneyPass locations in the United States. While BlueVine is an online bank, access to these ATMs makes it easy to make withdrawals whenever you need to. There are more than 38,000 of these locations domestically, so you should be able to find one that is convenient to your location. 

BlueVine also offers one of the highest yield business checking accounts with 1.0 percent interest on balances up to $100,000. Compared to the national average of just 0.05 percent, that is quite a bit more than you can earn just for allowing your funds to sit in their checking account. 

In addition to all of these benefits, you will also receive two free checkbooks as a bonus. While you could order new checks through Checks in the Mail, this is a nice freebie for choosing to go with BlueVine. 

Disadvantages

Depositing cash is easy with BlueVine because you can access them through Green Dot Reload@theRegister. These retail locations are nationwide, with more than 70,000 locations that can accept your cash deposits. 

There aren’t many disadvantages to choosing to go with BlueVine, but you should be aware that depositing cash is not free. It may be convenient to head to one of the reload centers, but it will cost you $4.95 for each deposit. If you are making daily deposits into your bank account, you may want to consider a bank that is more geared toward this type of transaction, such as Wells Fargo. 

You may try to save up your cash deposits to make one large deposit instead of several smaller ones. This is one way to try to avoid the unnecessary fees, but keep in mind that there are limits. You can only deposit $1,500 in each transfer with a maximum of $7,500 per calendar month. 

Choosing the Best Banks for Startups

The best banks for startups will allow you to access your funds conveniently, both online and through several brick-and-mortar locations. Consider what your priorities are for your banking experience before signing up with any particular bank. You can find many flexible options that can scale with your business as it continues to grow and flourish. The goal should be to keep your costs to a minimum, at least in the early stages when finances can be tight. With these many great choices, you can easily find a checking account suited to your needs.