Regardless of how small your small business is or how it is structured, you should consider opening a business bank account. Even if you don’t yet have many expenses, you hopefully will have income to deposit each month. Keeping business expenses separate from your personal finances can help you better monitor your business’ cash flow and more easily complete your taxes.
Here’s how to open a business bank account, whether at a physical branch, online or by phone.
What Do You Need To Open a Business Bank Account?
Each bank will have its own account requirements based on your business formation and the account type. You might be wondering, “Can I open a business bank account with just an EIN?” and the answer is typically yes. However, it depends on the business.
According to the IRS, you will need an employer identification number if you have employees and/or you’re operating your business as a corporation or partnership. However, if your business is considered a sole proprietorship, you can open a business bank account with your Social Security number, according to the Small Business Administration.
Here are some of the most common documents and information banks require to open a business account.
1. EIN or Social Security Number
Your employer identification number — also called a tax ID number or FEIN — is issued by the IRS, so you’ll need to file for one.
If your business is a sole proprietorship and you don’t have any employees, you should be able to use your Social Security number instead.
As with most bank accounts, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity. You can use a driver’s license or passport for your personal identity. For your business, your EIN or Social Security number should be sufficient.
If you have partners, they will also need to provide identification, and you’ll need to show the bank a document with your business agreement and the names of all partners.
3. Business Documents
The bank will likely require original or certified copies of your business documents and license.
4. Opening Deposit
The amount will vary by bank and account, but many banks will require you to provide an initial deposit to open the account. Some will allow you to deposit the funds within a certain timeframe, but you might be required to make the deposit right away, so it’s best to be prepared.
5. Other Information
Some banks might ask for more information. If you’re planning to open your business bank account in person, call ahead to find out what the bank requires.
How To Open a Business Bank Account
Some banks allow you to open a business account online or by phone, whereas others require you to visit a physical branch. Either way, opening an account should be straightforward if you have all the required documentation and forms.
Opening a Business Bank Account: Step by Step
- Choose a bank. Research to find a bank and business account that meets your business needs. Many business accounts have fees. Be sure to evaluate balance minimums and transaction limits that may increase fees.
- Determine which documents the bank requires at the time of account opening. Check your bank’s website or contact a banker to ensure you know what is needed.
- Fill out any account documents you can download ahead of time. Many banks now have account forms online. This can save time when opening the account.
- Decide how you will fund your new bank account, if necessary. The required opening deposit is different for each bank and account type.
- Open your new account online, by phone or in person. Have digital copies of any required documentation ready for upload, or take originals or certified copies to your branch appointment.
Benefits of a Business Bank Account
Opening a business bank account has a variety of benefits, including:
- Separates your personal and business expenses: This can be helpful because it allows you to clearly see how your business is performing.
- Helps protect your assets: According to the Small Business Administration, having a business account that separates your business income from your personal income can also afford you limited liability protection.
- Makes filing your tax return easier: If you comingle your business and personal funds, having to manually separate the income expenses come tax time can be tedious and time consuming.
- Helps lend professionalism and credibility to your business: Customers can pay with credit cards and write checks payable to your business instead of having to pay you directly.
- Builds purchasing power: Having a business account can make it easier to access a business line of credit or a business credit card.
How To Choose a Business Bank Account
More than one type of business bank account exists. There are business checking and savings accounts, which function like personal checking and savings accounts. The checking account is helpful for depositing money and making payments, while the savings account can allow you set aside money for expenses like taxes.
However, there’s also what’s called a merchant account, which allows you to accept debit and credit card payments from customers on behalf of your business. If you’re not planning to accept debit or credit card payments, you won’t need a merchant account.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a business bank account.
Shop different banks and compare not only the opening deposit that’s required but also whether there is a minimum deposit amount you must maintain to avoid monthly fees.
Monthly maintenance fees and minimum deposit fees can eat into your profits, so look for banks that make it easy to waive these. Compare fees for incoming wires, stop payments, teller transactions and checks written. Also consider credit card transaction fees and other fees related to accepting payments from customers.
Some banks may offer more robust digital capabilities when it comes to managing your business bank accounts, such as integrating with accounting programs you might use, like Quicken, or the ability to create invoices directly from your bank account.
Customer service is another important factor to consider. If you decide to open a business banking account with a bank you don’t already have a relationship with, take the time to read online reviews from reputable sources, such as the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot. You can find out what customers really think and whether it’s where you want to bank.
While you’re at it, check out the bank’s mobile app reviews for Android or iOS. A buggy, outdated app with limited features won’t make for efficient banking.
Branch and ATM Access
You’ll want a bank that has branches near you in case you need to deposit money or visit in person. Also, ATM access should be convenient.
Special Perks or Bonuses
Sometimes banks offer bonuses for opening a new account and completing a requirement or two, such as maintaining a minimum balance or completing a certain number of transactions within a certain timeframe. Some business bank accounts might also have extra perks attached, like discounts on business software or services.
Determining where and how to open a business bank account for your small business is an essential step. Do some research to find a bank and account type that will meet your business needs and has reasonable fees. Make the account opening as simple as possible by having all required documentation ready.
FAQHere are the answers to popular questions about opening a business bank account.
- How much money do I need to open a business bank account?
- The initial deposit amount required to open a business bank account will vary by bank.
- What documents are needed to open a business bank account?
- To open a business bank account, you'll need your EIN or Social Security number, your business license and your personal identification. Some banks may require more documentation, so it's a good idea to contact the bank to learn what they require.
- What number do I need to open a business bank account?
- You'll need your employer identification number (EIN) if you have employees or plan to operate as a corporation or partnership. If you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship with no employees, you should be able to use your Social Security number.
- What is the easiest way to open a business account?
- Opening an account online or by phone is no easier or harder than opening an account at a physical branch. The process should be straightforward as long as you have all the necessary documentation ready when you start the process.
- Which banks make it easy to open a business account?
- Every bank has different business account requirements, but any bank's account opening process will be similar. More important than choosing the bank with the easiest account-opening process is choosing one that will meet your business needs without too many fees.
Andrea Norris contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of March 24, 2023.