May 7, 2021

Novo Review

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Novo Bank provides digital banking services for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Explore Novo's features, business perks, and fees in this review.

Novo Promotions

Overall Score

3.3

Savings

0.0

Checking

4.0

Customer Service

4.0

Mobile App

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

Pros and Cons

  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited ATM refunds
  • Lots of software integrations
  • No cash deposits
  • Can't send wires

Bottom Line

Fee-free online business checking with lots of good features

Novo Bank is a digital bank catering to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

They offer significant discounts for business services like Intuit QuickBooks and Stripe and almost no fees.

But can Novo meet the unique demands of today's small business owners? Read this review to learn more about Novo's features, fees, and integrations.

What Is Novo Bank?

Novo Bank is a digital-only banking service with no physical branches.

It's ideal for small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers for its minimal fees and easy self-service. Business owners can use Novo to pay employees, send invoices, send and receive business-related payments, and set aside funds for expenses like quarterly taxes.

They're partnered with Middlesex Savings Bank, which manages their accounts and debit cards. However, Novo is an independently operated technology company.

Who is best suited for Novo Bank?
Novo is ideal for freelancers and businesses that primarily exchange funds digitally. Brick-and-mortar businesses or those that handle a lot of cash would not be a good fit for Novo.

Pros and Cons of Novo Bank

Pros:

  • Integration with business services
  • Free business debit cards for single or multiple account administrators
  • No (or minimal) fees
  • User-friendly app
  • Reimbursement for ATM fees
  • Free incoming and outgoing ACH transfers
  • Free incoming wires
  • 40% off your first six months with QuickBooks
  • $150 Google Ads credit
  • $20,000 in fee-free card processing with Stripe

For the full list of discounts available to Novo customers, click here.

Cons:

  • No physical branch locations
  • No cash deposits
  • $27 overdraft fee; no overdraft protection
  • No paper checks (Novo can send check for you)
  • Cannot set up recurring payments in bill pay
  • Slow customer service
  • No savings, money market accounts, or CDs

Who is Novo Best For

Novo could be right for you if:

  • You're a freelancer or a small solo business owner.
  • You mostly use ACH transfers and invoicing to send and receive payments.
  • You want to integrate your business checking account with financial software you already use.
  • You want a business checking with no monthly fees.

Who is Novo Not For

Novo is not for you if:

  • You regularly pay employees or vendors with checks.
  • You get paid in cash, as Novo doesn't have physical locations where you can deposit cash.
  • Your business is a Series LLC, non-US registered, related to cannabis, adult, money services (and among others).

How Does Novo Bank Work?

Novo functions like a typical digital-only business checking account. You can transfer funds to and from an existing checking account, send and request payments, and monitor account activity online or through the app.

To apply (which takes only minutes), applicants must be at least 18 years old with a U.S.-based business. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid Social Security number, U.S. mailing address, and mobile phone number.

Customers receive a debit card, which can be used to make purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs. You can also add business partners to your account and request business debit cards for each partner on the account.

Is Novo Bank legit?
Yes. Deposits into your Novo account are FDIC insured up to $250,000. Novo's partner, Middlesex Savings Bank, has been in business since 1835.

Features

Novo's only account offering is their small business checking account, which easily accommodates most basic business transactions.

Sending and receiving payments
Novo members can send invoices, deposit physical checks using mobile deposit, and send and receive ACH payments for business expenses. However, you can't send wire transfers, order checks, or deposit cash. Customers can also pay for expenses using Apple Pay and Google Pay.

ATM fee refunds
Novo doesn't have its own ATM network. But it will refund all ATM fees at the end of the month, so you can use any ATM you want. It even refunds international ATM fees.

Reserves
Novo lets you add up to 5 reserves. These are funds set aside for things you may be saving up towards (like for taxes or equipment purchase). The money in your Reserves will not count in your "spendable balance," but they are still available to you at any time.

Send checks from app
If you need to send a paper check, you can request it in the Novo app. Novo will make and mail the check on your behalf, at no extra cost. Just note that it takes 7-10 business days for a check to be delivered.

Software integrations
Novo's most stand-out feature is their business integrations, which directly connect to your account on the Novo App (Apple, Google Play). Here's a few of the platforms they integrate with:

  • Wise for international payments
  • Slack to communicate with partners and team members
  • Xero for automated accounting services
  • Stripe to receive credit and debit payments
  • Shopify to track your eCommerce business finances
  • QuickBooks for simple accounting automatically imported to your QuickBooks account

Does Novo use Zelle?
Not currently. However, Novo is planning to integrate with Zelle in the future, according to their website. Users will have to rely on ACH transfers to send and receive payments.

Fees to Watch Out For

Novo has (almost) no fees. There are no monthly fees, transaction fees, or ACH fees, and users pay nothing to replace a lost or stolen debit card.

They also offer free business checking with no minimum balance requirements after the $50 initial deposit.

The only fees Novo charges are:

  • $27 overdraft fee
  • $27 uncollected funds returned fee

In short, if you don't overdraw your account or receive bad checks, you will never incur any fees from Novo.

Many banks offer free checking accounts for small business. Review your options in our free business checking guide.

How to Apply to Novo

Here is what you need to provide in your application:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver's license or passport
  • US address
  • Proof of address (lease agreement, utility bill, phone bill, credit card statement, or bank statement)
  • US phone number (virtual number not allowed)

EINs are required if your business hires employers. If you're a sole proprietor or single-member LLC, it's optional.

In addition, you will need to provide these documents depending on your state requirements for your type of business:

  • DBA if you have filed for one
  • Articles of Organization and Operating Agreement (for LLCs)
  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations)
  • Certificate of Partnership (for partnerships)

Novo does not credit your credit when reviewing your application.

Customer Reviews

Novo is currently rated 4 stars (out of 5) by Trustpilot.
The majority of reviews are either 5 stars or 1 star, with few in between. This suggests that most customers really like Novo, while a handful had very specific problems.

A common theme with negative reviews is poor customer service. Many customers complain of long wait times and the lack of communication channels outside of email.

However, many reviewers spoke positively about Novo and contradicted the complaints of other reviewers, stating their issues were quickly resolved.

Representative 5-Star Review:
"5+++ great business banking, very secure. Great features in the app, like pay employees, attach receipts or invoices to your payments or withdrawals.

You can even organize each purchase in categories like: utilities, business supplies, and many, many, many more options."
— Meg C. via Google Play Store

Representative 1-Star Review:
"This bank is garbage. Please do not waste your time here. It takes forever to get anything done. There is no phone number in case you need help, everything is done by email correspondence.

Their fraud dept is a waste of time - our card # was stolen and used online and they determined that the charges were valid and refused to refund us. Your money is not safe here."
— Larissa F. via Trustpilot

How to Contact Customer Support

Novo's support office is open from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST. To contact Novo, customers can email support@banknovo.com. There is also a contact number listed on the back of your debit card, which is not publicly available.

Alternatives to Novo Bank

After the closure of popular business bank Azlo, there are three top competitors to Novo: BlueVine, Radius Bank, and NorthOne.

Each competitor has a different fee and benefit breakdown, which we'll cover here.

Bluevine vs. Novo
This may be Novo's fiercest competition. With BlueVine, you can earn 1.00% APY on all balances up to $100,000 (20x the national average).

There is no minimum initial deposit requirement, monthly fees, or fees for insufficient funds.

 Novo
 Learn MoreLearn More
 

Novo

BlueVine

SPECIAL OFFER
Powerfully Simple Business Banking - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

CheckingNo monthly fees; no balance requirements; $50 initial deposit to access all featuresNo monthly fees; no balance requirements; no overdraft fees; 1.0% APY on balances up to $100,000
SavingsNo savings account, but you add up to 5 Reserves, which will not count in your spendable balanceNo savings account, but you earn interest on your checking balance
APY
N/A
1.0% APY on balances up to $100,000
ATMsUnlimited reimbursement of all ATM fees worldwide
38,000+ MoneyPass ATMs
Customer ServiceMonday - Friday 9 am - 6 pm EST
Monday - Friday 8am to 8pm EST

Powerfully Simple Business Banking

Lili vs Novo
Lili is a mixed-use personal and business checking account especially designed for freelancers. You can apply with just your SSN. There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Lili makes it easy to sort your transactions as a work expense or personal expense. And you can also automatically set a portion of your income to a tax savings account.

Another cool feature is that you can get your direct deposit payments up to 2 days earlier.

 Novo
 Learn MoreVisit Site
 

Novo

Lili

SPECIAL OFFER
Powerfully Simple Business Banking - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Mobile Banking for Freelancers - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

CheckingNo monthly fees; no balance requirements; $50 initial deposit to access all featuresNo monthly fees; no balance requirements; no overdraft fees; no foreign transaction fees
SavingsNo savings account, but you add up to 5 Reserves, which will not count in your spendable balanceNo savings account, but you can set automatically aside money in a Tax Bucket and Emergency Bucket
APY
N/A
N/A
ATMsUnlimited reimbursement of all ATM fees worldwide
38,000+ MoneyPass ATMs
Customer ServiceMonday - Friday 9 am - 6 pm EST
Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm EST
 Learn MoreVisit Site

Powerfully Simple Business Banking

Mobile Banking for Freelancers

Radius Bank vs. Novo
Larger businesses may find the features and benefits of Radius Bank Tailored Checking appealing — with 0.1% APY and 1% cash back on all purchases if you have more than $5,000 in your account.

Radius customers can also order paper checks and receive their first 25 checks for free.

Smaller businesses with tighter cash flow may prefer Novo, which has no monthly fees compared to Radius' $10 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. Novo also has a smaller minimum opening deposit requirement: $50 versus $100 for Radius.

NorthOne vs. Novo
Novo stacks up favorably to NorthOne due to the latter's large number of fees for common transactions, including: $10 monthly fee, $10 domestic wire fee, $25 international wire fee, $25 insufficient funds fee, and $10 ACH/PAD return fee.

However, with NorthOne, customers are able to deposit cash at in-network ATMs. And although NorthOne charges wire transfer fees, Novo does not currently allow wire transfers at all.

Looking for other business-friendly banks? Check out our top picks for small business bank accounts, plus the pros and cons to consider before signing up.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Novo?

As one 4-star reviewer wrote on Trustpilot, "Well, it's a bank." Your money will be insured and largely safe from fees of any kind. You can perform the basic functions required of business owners and even get pretty steep discounts on popular business services.

If you are a modest, online, service-based business already looking to use tools like QuickBooks, HubSpot, Stripe, and Google Ads — Novo could save you some serious coin.

For other situations, I would recommend shopping around for a banking solution that earns interest and includes features like paper checks, wire transfers, and Zelle compatibility.

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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Lili Review

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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.

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