Updated October 8, 2022

Best Free Business Checking for Freelancers and Side Hustlers

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Which banks offer the best free business checking accounts for freelancers? Find the top interest rates and business perks for all 1099 employees.

Most freelancers start off using just their personal bank accounts. And that's completely fine! But soon enough, it'll become a major pain to separate expenses during tax time.

Even if you just have a casual side hustle, having a separate business account can make your life easier. Plus, business accounts offer unique benefits that personal accounts don't.

Here are the top 10 best banks for freelancers, gig workers, contractors, and all self employed professionals in between.

Top Business Checking for Freelancers and Side Hustlers:

BankBest for
LiliBest overall for freelancers
BluevineChecking with interest
NovoDigital integrations
ChaseTaking credit card payments
LendingClubCashback rewards
AxosUnlimited ATM reimbursements
Wave MoneyIntegrated accounting
NorthOneSavings sub-accounts
OxygenDigital nomads & travelers
NBKCFree basic checking

10 Best Business Bank Accounts for Freelancers

Luckily nowadays, freelancers have a lot more banking options. There are lots of innovative digital business banks specifically tailored to unique needs of self-employment.

And as an added plus, you can open an account completely online within just minutes.

Are freelancers required to have a business bank account?
If you file taxes using your Social Security number or are a sole proprietor, you aren't legally required to have a business bank account. However, it is recommended to simplify taxes and track your income and expenses.

🏆 1. Lili Bank: Overall Best Bank for Freelancers

Lili is a mixed-use business and personal bank account created just for freelancers. We love its savings and budgeting features.

You can easily sort transactions as "personal" or "business" via a Tinder-like swipe feature. And Lili will generate free expenses reports for you for tax time.

It includes a "Tax Bucket" sub-account. You can automatically transfer a percentage of every deposit to save for your quarterly estimated tax payments.

Because Lili is designed for freelancers, the application process is very simple and doesn't require any proof of business.

However, it has low deposit limits. You can only receive up to $6,000/mo in mobile check deposits and $2,000/mo in external bank account transfer.[1]

There's also a Lili Pro account for $4.99 per month. You get a debit card with cashback rewards, savings account with interest, unlimited invoices, and fee-free overdraft up to $200.[2]

  • Tax Bucket
  • Get direct deposits up to 2 days early
  • No overdraft fees
  • Ability to accept cash
  • Low transaction limits
  • No checkwriting
  • No wire transfers

You can only sign up if you do business and file taxes using your Social Security number. You can't apply with an EIN.

What's the best bank account for artists?
If you do business under your own name and SSN, Lili will likely be a favorite for artists. If you use an EIN to file taxes or have a large cash flow, check out Bluevine or LendingClub.

2. Bluevine: High Interest Rate

The Bluevine Business Checking account is very popular because of the high interest rate. The account is basic, but it offers one of the most balanced set of benefits and features.

You can earn the high APY if you spend $500 per month with your Bluevine business debit card, OR if you receive $2,500 per month in customer payments.[3]

A lot of online banks don't have cash deposit abilities, but Bluevine lets you do so at any of the 90,000+ GreenDot locations (though there is a deposit fee). Plus, you get 2 checkbooks for free.

You can also create 5 free subaccounts. And your funds in there are eligible to earn interest too (on up to $100k in combined balance across all your accounts).[4]

  • High interest rate
  • 2 free checkbooks
  • No overdraft fees
  • Ability to accept cash
  • Requirements to earn APY
  • Very limited integrations
  • Poor app ratings

3. Novo Bank: Digital Integrations

If you use business services like QuickBooks, HubSpot, and Google Ads, Novo should be at the top of your list.

This challenger bank differentiates itself with a huge list of discounts and offers from the most popular business products and services. For example, you can get discount on a HubSpot subscription and Google Ads credits.

You can create aside up to 10 "reserves", which act like savings accounts. This makes it easy to set aside funds for things like taxes or big business expenses.

Another cool feature is that you can send invoices through the app. Clients can pay you through ACH transfer or credit card payment via Stripe. You can also request for Novo to mail checks on your behalf for free.

One downside to note is that you cannot deposit cash with Novo.

  • Robust integrations
  • Create up to 10 Reserves
  • Free checks from app
  • No cash deposits
  • $27 overdraft fee[5]
  • Cannot send wires

4. Chase: Built-in Credit Card Processing

Chase offers the best business checking option for freelancers among the traditional brick-and-mortar banks. With over 4,700 branches, it's great if you also want to do in-person banking.

The Chase Business Complete Banking account is a unique checking account with built-in payment processing. It comes with a mobile card reader so you can accept payments anywhere.

It's a convenient option if you accept credit cards from clients or, say, if you have a side hustle selling cookies.

As a self-employed individual, you only need an official ID and SSN to apply (and DBA if you operate under another name).

  • Credit card processing included
  • Mobile card reader
  • Lots of branches and ATMs
  • Requirements to waive monthly fee
  • Many other banking fees

5. LendingClub: Cashback Rewards

LendingClub Tailored Business Checking is best for self-employed individuals and freelancers that can maintain a minimum balance of $500 to waive the monthly maintenance fee.

If you can, you'll earn cashback on debit card purchases and interest on balances over $500.[6] Plus, you get free ATM access worldwide. This account also integrates with Mint, QuickBooks, Quicken, and Autobooks.

Note that you must have an online website or social media presence to apply for an account.

  • Cashback rewards
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates
  • Generous transaction limits
  • $500 minimum balance to waive monthly fee
  • No subaccounts
  • Requires web presence

6. Axos Bank: ATM Reimbursements

Known for their high APY on personal accounts, Axos Bank also offers different business checking and business savings accounts.

They have a Basic Business Checking Account, which has no monthly maintenance fees but does not pay interest. It also comes with a free debit card and 50 free checks.

However, Axos stands out for their interest-bearing Business Interest Account. You get the highest interest rate for balances below $50,000. Compared to Bluevine, you don't need to meet monthly activity requirements to earn the APY.

Axos has no ATM network, but it will reimburse all domestic ATM fees. You can use any machine you want.

  • Competitive APY
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee rebates
  • First set of 50 checks free
  • Very basic features

7. Wave Money: Integrated Accounting

Wave Money is a new business bank account from the same family of the popular Wave Accounting software. It's created just for freelancers and single-owner businesses.

It integrates seamlessly with the rest of Wave's services (Accounting, Invoicing, and Payments). This makes it easy to track expenses in real-time, send invoices, and make and receive payments. Everything is automatically synced to your bookkeeping.

You can also be eligible for free Instant Payouts, which gives you access to money as soon as you're paid. There is a 1% fee for this service.[7]

  • Integrated bookkeeping
  • Built-in invoicing and payments
  • Instant Payouts available
  • 5-8 days for check deposits
  • No cash deposits
  • Mobile app only

8. NorthOne: Savings Sub-accounts

NorthOne caters specifically to freelancers and startups and offers some of the best budgeting tools we've seen.

While there is an unavoidable $10 monthly fee,[8] it offers well-rounded features. It has free unlimited transactions, invoice maker, and dozens of business app integrations. You can also deposit cash via GreenDot.

NorthOne lets you create unlimited "envelopes" for things like taxes, rent, etc. You can automatically budget for necessary expenses by moving a set amount or percentage of every payment into your envelopes.

  • Robust integrations
  • Unlimited subaccounts
  • Built-in invoicing
  • Ability to accept cash
  • $10 monthly fee
  • No checkwriting
  • Can't send or receive international wires

Which banks offer free business checking accounts?
For a good deal on business checking, look to newer "challenger" banks like Novo, Lili, and Bluevine. Smaller, fintech banks like these hope to compete with big traditional banks by offering better tailored services and special promos. However, several traditional banks also offer free accounts if you meet minimum balance requirements.

9. Oxygen: Travel Benefits

Oxygen was made for the rebels and freethinkers that like to do things differently. It's perfect for on-the-go freelancers.

It has 4 different checking tiers. The basic tier is free. The higher tiers have an annual fee (waivable after the first year) and offer more benefits, rewards, and interest.

You get cashback at approved partners on things like gas, rideshare, and shipping. Plus, you can create savings goals and earn interest on money you have saved.

Your banking account also comes with a ton of other benefits like cell phone protection, lost luggage protection, and car rental waiver. Upper tiers even get certain months of Netflix reimbursement and airport lounge passes.

  • Cashback and interest available
  • Generous transaction limits
  • Unique travel benefits
  • Ability to deposit cash
  • Mandatory annual fee for 1st year (for higher tier accounts)
  • No checkwriting
  • No outgoing wires

10. NBKC Bank: Basic Free Checking

NBKC (National Bank of Kansas City) offers digital banking services to freelancers and small business owners nationwide.

The NBKC business checking account is as fee-free as you can get. In addition to $0 monthly fees, there are no overdraft, incoming domestic wires, or stop payments fees.

But this account is very basic. There are no digital integrations or interest. It's good if you just want a simple free account that gets the job done.

  • Very minimal fees
  • No overdraft fee
  • Ability to accept cash
  • No integrations
  • No checkwriting
  • Very basic features

Other Business Banking Alternatives

If you're not ready to open a new business checking account, there are some other non-traditional solutions too. These alternatives are good for freelancers who just need a way to receive payments.

PayPal Business Account
You can upgrade your personal PayPal account to a business account. This lets you create invoices and clients can pay with credit cards. PayPal does take transaction fees for processing payments.[9]

You can even get a PayPal Business Debit Mastercard. This gives you fast access to the money in your PayPal account. You can make purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs.

Just like a traditional bank, you can do mobile check deposit and pay bills from your PayPal account.

Venmo for Business
Venmo also lets you create a Business Profile for free (read Venmo for Business review) to receive payments. You can even send the QR code directly to clients via email or text. This is good for freelancers who may not personally meet with clients.

Note that Venmo is currently only available within the US.

Wise Business
Wise is a platform for sending money internationally. It also offers a business account.

Wise always gives you the real exchange rate with low transaction fees. It can convert over 140 currencies and usually sends money in just seconds.[10] It's a great option if you work with international clients and contractors.

Freelancer vs. Side Hustler vs. Entrepreneur

There are so many different terms to describe self-employment nowadays. What exactly is the difference between freelancers, side hustlers, gig workers, and entrepreneurs?

All of these give you control over how much money you make and how much you work. But there are some key differences.

  • Freelancer: Someone who works (usually alone) on individual projects to create an income stream. Income is dependent on the number of projects that person works. Examples include freelance writers, designers, and business consultants.

  • Side-hustler: More open to interpretation. Side hustlers have a main job, but make money on the side by freelancing, getting a second job (such as bartending), or finding a source of passive income (such as renting property).

  • Gig worker: This usually refers to someone in the gig economy that works on demand, on their own time. Examples include Uber drivers, food deliverers, and handymen.

  • Independent contractor: This is someone who provides work for another business without being on payroll. You do not receive employee health or retirement benefits. For tax purposes, you receive a 1099 form.

  • Entrepreneur: Also called a business owner. Entrepreneurs create a business that provide passive income, hire employees, and create an entity bigger than themselves.

Do You Need a Business Bank Account if You're a Freelancer?

Freelancers aren't required to have a separate bank account. But if you make money with any kind of side job (even if it's just part time), it's smart to separate personal and business finances.

If you have everything together, it's a big pain to pick out your work expenses come tax time. By having a dedicated business checking account, it's easier for financial management. This will make doing taxes so much less stressful.

You'll be able to know exactly how much you're making and spending. Knowing these metrics will also allow you to make smarter decisions.

Even if you're just casually freelancing, it could turn into something more. You can plan for future growth by setting up a business account now.

If you don't want to maintain separate personal and business banking accounts, check out Lili. It's a mixed-use account designed just for freelancers and side-hustlers.

How to Choose the Best Freelancer Bank Account

Freelancers need flexibility and low fees. Consider these factors when picking the right business account for you:

Eligibility
First of all, it's important to pick an account that accepts freelancers. Some business accounts are more strict and require an EIN and/or proof of business. As a freelancer or gig worker, you may not have those documents.

The banks on our list all accept applications with just your Social Security Number, however, each has their own requirements too. Be sure to understand what's required and choose the one that makes most sense for you.

Monthly fee
You work hard for your earnings. The last thing you want is losing it to bank fees. We prefer bank accounts with no monthly fees, so you don't need to worry about keeping a minimum balance.

However, there are some very good accounts with monthly fees. Don't dismiss them if you like the features and can meet the minimum balance requirements.

ATM access
If you need to withdraw cash, make sure there are convenient ATM locations. A lot of online banks use nationwide ATM networks like Allpoint and Moneypass.

Cash deposits
Not all online bank accounts allow for cash deposits. Some bank accounts let you deposit cash at GreenDot (with a fee). Or they may have ATMs that take cash.

Features
Nowadays, it's standard for banks to offer mobile check deposit and online bill pay. Do you want other features like Quickbooks integration, digital invoices, or cashback rewards? Think about which features are must-haves for your business and look for an account that meets those needs.

Savings
Freelancers need to set aside money for taxes. You may want a separate business savings account so you don't accidentally touch the funds. Or some banks (like Lili, Novo, and NorthOne) include savings sub-accounts.

Common Questions

What's the difference between a business and personal account?
A business checking account will offer more features to help run your business. Things like invoicing services, accounting integrations, and expense reports. A personal checking account is just for your daily life transactions.

Can a freelancer qualify for a business bank account?
This depends on the bank. Some banks (especially the modern digital banks) are more generous when defining a "business owner." They'll pretty much accept anyone who earns income outside of traditional employment.

Some accounts, like Lili and Wave Money, are even designed for freelancers. So the application is less stringent.

How long does it take to open a business bank account
If all your information is in order, it can take just a few minutes to open a business checking account online.

What type of bank account is best for freelancers?
We recommend starting with a free business bank account with no monthly fees. Freelancers often have irregular income. So you don't want to worry about having to maintain a minimum balance.

Do freelancers need a business license?
This depends on where you live and your field of work. You may need a license to operate in your city/state. Certain kinds of work may need a professional license (such as an accountant).

If you're doing work under a different name, you'll need a Doing Business As (DBA). If you're using your own name, you don't need one.

How We Choose the Best Business Checking Accounts for Freelancers

We came up with this list of the best freelancer bank accounts by looking at several factors:

  • Friendly to freelancers
  • Monthly fees & minimum balance requirement (if any)
  • Other bank account fees
  • Wide ATM network
  • Unique banking features
  • Customer support

We also considered the different types of self-employment to include options for all needs. Whether you're a freelancing nomad, sell things at fairs, or are expanding into a larger business, you're sure to find an account right for you.

The Bottom Line

Opening a business bank account can be helpful even if you're a freelancer just starting out. It simplifies tax season and helps you stay organized.

Fortunately, freelancers and small business owners have more options today beyond the banking giants like Bank of America, which charge fees for virtually every business banking transaction.

To find the best business banking account for you, think about what tools and features you need. It's best to find an account with no or low minimum balance requirements and other fees.

References

  1. ^ Lili. What are my funding limits?, Retrieved 3/12/2022
  2. ^ Lili. What are the benefits of being a Lili Pro?, Retrieved 4/4/2022
  3. ^ BlueVine. How you can earn interest on your Bluevine Business Checking account, Retrieved 8/16/2022
  4. ^ BlueVine. Sub-accounts, Retrieved 8/16/2022
  5. ^ Novo. Does Novo charge overdraft fees?, Retrieved 3/12/2022
  6. ^ LendingClub Bank. Cash back rewards, Retrieved 8/16/2022
  7. ^ Wave. Instant Payouts, Retrieved 3/12/2022
  8. ^ NorthOne. Pricing, Retrieved 3/12/2022
  9. ^ PayPal. PayPal Merchant Fees, Retrieved 4/4/2022
  10. ^ Wise US. Currency Converter, Retrieved 8/16/2022

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Chase
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*With Chase Overdraft Assist℠, we won't charge an Insufficient Funds Fee if you're overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day OR if you're overdrawn by more than $50 and you bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day (you have until 11 PM ET (8 PM PT) to make a deposit or transfer). Chase Overdraft Assist does not require enrollment and comes with eligible Chase checking accounts.


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