June 2, 2021

Lili Review

Read more about Lili
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Lili offers a business checking account and debit card for freelancers and independent contractors. Review the features to find out if Lili is worth it.

Lili Promotions
Mobile Banking for Freelancers

Overall Score

4.3

Savings

2.5

Minimum Deposit

5.0

Mobile App

4.5

Fees

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • No monthly service fees
  • Expense tracking
  • No balance minimums
  • Mobile check deposit requirements
  • Slow check deposit clearing times
  • No savings APY

Bottom Line

Fee-free banking for freelancers and smaller businesses

Freelancers and independent contractors deal with fluctuating income, delayed tax responsibilities, and other unique issues.

Luckily, Lili offers a banking solution designed specifically around the freelancer lifestyle.

Lili offers a comprehensive suite of banking features and tools to help freelancers and small business owners overcome common challenges.

In this review, discover the features, fees, and benefits of Lili to see how it stacks up to the competition.

What is Lili?

Lili is a fintech company that offers mobile-only banking services for freelancers and small business owners. It was founded in 2018 by Lilac Bar David and Liran Zelkha partnered with Choice Financial Group.

This service is best for freelancers and small business owners who meet the following criteria:

  • Single person operation
  • Use an SSN for tax purposes (not an EIN)
  • Don't deal with cash
  • Want to keep track of tax liabilities in real time
  • Deposit $6,000 or less in checks per month
  • Do not require online banking (Lili is only available via app)
  • Don't need to transfer more than $1,000 to an external bank per month

How Does Lili Bank Work?

Freelancers can sign up for a checking account with Lili in just 3 minutes on the company's website - all you need is your SSN and email.

After applying, you should be notified within minutes that your account is approved. Once your account is set up, you can start connecting your Lili account to platforms like CashApp, PayPal, Shopify, Etsy, and more.

Managing and funding your Lili account is done entirely through their app. Before you receive your Lili Debit card (takes roughly 2 weeks), you can use a mobile version of the card on the app, as well.

Below, review Lili's small business-friendly features.

Lili Banking Features

Lili's main draw is their suite of features meant especially for freelancers and small business owners. Here's what you can get with a Lili account.

  • Tax Bucket: Automatically set aside a portion of your deposits to help you save enough for taxes.

  • Emergency Bucket: Set aside a fixed amount every day for unforeseeable events, such as severe business slowdowns.

  • Lili Visa Debit Card: Accepted everywhere, no account fees, no overdraft fees, no foreign transaction fees, no deposit required, and free ATM access at 38,000 locations in the U.S.; can also be connected to Apple Pay and Google Pay.

  • Expense Management Tool: Review and sort all your purchases into "Personal" and "Business" categories for tax purposes using a dating-app-style swipe feature.

  • Expense Reports: Lili will automatically create yearly and quarterly expenses reports for you to cut down on preparation time.

  • Early Payment: Set up direct deposit with your Lili account and get paid up to 2 days earlier.

  • Budgeting Tool: Lili also offers budget tracking tools, similar to a basic version of Mint.

  • Mobile Check Deposit: Snap a pic of your check with the Lili app to digitally deposit it.

What bank does Lili use?
The funds deposited into your Lili account are held and protected by Choice Financial Group. Choice Financial also issues all Lili Visa debit cards.

Lili Pros and Cons

Lili is easy to use and effective at helping freelancers and independent contractors manage their money. However, there are a few features lacking that would be nice to have.

Pros

  • Categorize and track expenses
  • Automatically set aside funds for taxes
  • Ability to freeze card via app if it gets lost or stolen
  • Seamless pairing with common payment apps like PayPal
  • Zero fees and no balance minimums
  • Beautiful business debit card with digital wallet compatibility
  • Generous referrals for inviting friends to Lili

Cons

  • No APY: Your money won't grow using Lili
  • No physical checks
  • Mobile check deposit function requires $200 in direct deposits per month (and resets every month)
  • Slow check deposit clearing times (customers report up to 5 business days)
  • Inability to sign up with employer identification number

How Much Does Lili Cost?

For the features they offer, Lili is extremely affordable. They have:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • No stop payment fees
  • No minimum balance to open or maintain an account
  • No foreign transaction fees

The only fee to watch out for is a $2.50 ATM fee for out-of-network ATMs in the United States and $5.00 for international out-of-network ATMs.

Lili uses the MoneyPass ATM network with over 38,000 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Lili app also offers a handy ATM Finder tool, which will tell you the nearest ATM locations near you and whether they are fee-free or not.

How does Lili bank make money?
Lili Founder Lilac Bar David has said that Lili only makes money from card processing fees (these are not charged to you).

What is the Lili App like?

All account activities take place through the Lili app since Lili does not offer online banking services on the web and has no physical branch locations.

Using the Lili app, you can perform many business banking activities, such as:

  • Deposit checks using mobile deposit
  • Transfer up to $1,000 to an external bank account per month
  • Set aside funds for tax purposes
  • Categorize expenses
  • Generate expense reports and download them into CSV, PDF, or Excel format

Download: App Store, Google Play

How to Contact Lili Customer Service

Lili offers an extensive list of FAQ answers, blog articles, and even a "Freelancers Handbook" on their website.

But if you want to get help from a real live human being, customers can call 855-545-4380 to speak with a representative or email info@lili.co.

Where is Lili located?
Lili is a digital-only bank with no physical branch locations. Lili's corporate headquarters are located in New York City, New York.

Is Lili Bank Good?

For smaller businesses and freelancers just starting out, Lili is an attractive banking option. They provide free access to banking basics while making it super easy to track business and personal expenses and earmark funds for taxes.

Customers seem to enjoy Lili and have overall positive things to say about this banking service. Lili boasts a 4.7-star rating on the Apple App Store and 4.4-star rating on the Google Play Store.

Lili puts a lot of effort into providing value to their customers. And it shows. Their informative blog articles provide tips on how to improve your business, based on specific industries, such as writing, driving & delivery, and fitness.

Is Lili FDIC insured?
Deposits are insured by Choice Financial Group, which has been FDIC insured since 1934. You can rest assured your deposits are safe up to $250,000.

Common Complaints

Reading through hundreds of reviews of Lili, complaints are few and far between. The most common issue people seem to have is the $200 monthly direct deposit minimum to use the mobile check deposit feature.

It's definitely an inconvenient hurdle to make customers jump through to use a basic banking feature in 2021.

Lili vs. the Competition

Gone are the days of limited banking options and cookie-cutter account solutions. Today's customer has many options based on their unique needs and situation. Small business accounts are no exception.

Lili vs. Novo
Novo offers seamless integrations and offers from many popular business services, such as a $150 Google Ads credit, 40% off Intuit QuickBooks, and 30% off your first year with HubSpot.

Novo customers can also include business partners on their account and receive multiple debit cards, which you cannot do with Lili.

Why you might choose Lili: Novo has some of the highest overdraft fees and returned check fees in the niche ($27 each). Novo does not participate in any fee-free ATM networks, so you may incur fees when you withdraw cash.

Lastly, Lili makes budget tracking and setting aside money for taxes super easy within the mobile app. With Novo, you have to use third-party services for budgeting, expense reports, etc.

Read our full rundown of Novo Bank here.

Lili Bank FAQs

Get instant answers to three of the most common questions prospective customers have before opening an account with Lili.

Can I overdraft my Lili card?
It is possible to overdraw your Lili account, as Lili does not block payments from going through if you don't have enough money in your account to cover them.

Fortunately, Lili does not charge any overdraft fees whatsoever — so all you need to do is pay back the overdraft amount prior to making new purchases.

How do I put money on my Lili card?
Customers can link their Lili account to popular payment applications like PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp.

Lili customers will likely enjoy receiving direct deposit funds up to two days early compared to traditional banking institutions.

Mobile check deposit is also an option, with an individual check limit of $2,000.

Last option: You can deposit up to $1,000 per day in cash using GreenDot locations (you will likely be charged a $4.95 fee per deposit by GreenDot).

What is Lili's spending limit?
With your Lili account, you can spend up to $3,000 per day and up to $15,000 per month. You can also withdraw up to $500 cash per day and up to $3,000 per month.

Bottom Line: Is Lili Worth It?

Lili is completely free, so it is certainly worth the price!

The option to set aside money for taxes at the end of the year will delight many freelancers, and the budget tracking and expense report tools offer a "lite" version of QuickBooks that is intuitive, easy to use, and a rarely seen perk for small business banking options.

The volume of advice, tips, and tricks on mitigating taxes and maximizing profits for specific freelancing industries also showcase an above-and-beyond attitude at Lili.

Write to Justin Barnard at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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