Self-employed professionals and freelancers have a lot on their plates. The nature of their work provides flexibility, but it also comes with the added responsibility of having to manage the many different aspects of a business, including banking.
Selecting a bank account that best suits the needs of your business can be challenging, given the number of small business banks that exist today. And bank accounts for independent contractors are very different than the personal bank accounts that any w-2 employee can use.
In this article, we're reviewing the key features that freelancers and 1099 employees will want to look for in a bank account. We'll also share 5 of the best bank accounts for independent contractors.
Key Features Of Bank Accounts For Independent Contractors
When it comes to banking, independent contractors have different needs than the average W-2 employee. Before choosing a bank account, here are some things you'll want to consider in a business bank account.
- Fees: Fees on small business bank accounts can be quite high compared to personal accounts. Look for an account with a low monthly fee, and always read the fine print so you're aware of any of additional fees that might come up.
- Transaction limits: Some bank accounts come with transaction limits, above which you pay extra fees. This can take a bite out of your profits.
- Services: Independent contractors have specific needs. For example, the ability to accept online payments is an important point for many freelancers. Consider the types of transactions you'll need to make as you explore different account options.
- Integrations: If you use a bookkeeping platform to manage your business finances, look for a bank account that integrates with your online accounting software.
- Customer service: If you have a question or run into an issue with your account, having it resolved quickly is critical. Some freelancers are content with online customer service options, but if you prefer to bank in-person, you may want to bypass the online banks.
Top 5 Bank Accounts For 1099 Employees
The following five banks offer some of the best business bank accounts for 1099 employees. While each has its strengths, top features to look for include no fee banking, competitive APYs, and flexible services, such as automated tax savings.
Bluevine puts a unique twist on a business checking account in that it's an interest-bearing checking account. As of writing, it offers 2.00% APY on balances of up to $250,000. The catch is that you must receive at least $2,500 in customer payments per month or spend at least $500 per month with the BlueVine Business Debit Mastercard.
Beyond the interest-earning potential, independent contractors can create sub-accounts to better manage their funds. For example, you might choose to set aside funds for your tax bill in a sub-account.
There are no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements, but if you need to deposit cash, you’ll need to pay $4.95 at a GreenDot location.
Learn more about Bluevine in our full review.
Chase Business Complete Banking
If you prefer dealing with a traditional bank, the Chase Business Complete Checking Account is worth considering.
The account lacks some of the features of the other accounts on our list, like automated tax savings, but you can bank in person at thousands of Chase branch locations.
While the account comes with a $15 monthly fee, there are many ways it can be waived. A few include maintaining a minimum daily balance of $2,000, making $2,000 in purchases on your Chase Ink Business Card, accepting $2,000 in deposits via Chase QuickAccept, linking a Chase Private Client Checking account, or providing proof of your military affiliation.
Learn more about Chase in our full review.
Found is a fintech company that's partnered with Piermont Bank to offer a business checking account without a monthly fee.
The Found account has features which allow you to streamline you business finances. It can help you with bookkeeping, automatically send taxes to a separate account, and issue an unlimited number of professional invoices.
If you you're looking for additional features, you can sign up for Found+ for $19.99 per month. Currently, Found+ members earn 1.50% APY on balances of up to $20,000. You can also import expenses from receipts and pay your federal taxes directly through the Found app.
Learn more about Found in our full review.
Lili offers a business checking account designed with freelancers in mind. While there is a free basic plan, most of the features are available through the paid plans: Lili Pro - $9 per month, Lili Smart - $20 per month, and Lili Premium - $35 per month.
Paid users can take advantage of a comprehensive tax feature, which helps you save for taxes, produce expense reports, and even complete your Schedule C. In addition, the platform offers 2.0% APY on your savings and streamlines your bookkeeping needs.
Along with a separate bucket for taxes, Lili offers an Emergency Bucket, where you can automatically add money to an emergency fund.
Learn more about Lili in our full review.
Novo is another fintech with a focus on freelancers and small business owners. Novo's accounts are provided by the company’s partner, Middlesex Federal Savings.
Similar to Found, you can send and manage invoices within your Novo checking account. And Novo makes it easy for customers to pay you on time through multiple payment options including credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or Venmo.
Like other accounts on this list, Novo offers a way to automatically set aside funds for taxes. In addition, the account allows you to easily integrate multiple business tools. A few include QuickBooks, Xero, Shopify, and Stripe. Best of all, there are no monthly fees. But there are no interest-bearing options either.
Learn more about Novo in our full review.
Choosing the Best Bank Account As An Independent Contractor
If you choose the wrong bank for your business, it's not the end of the world. However, it can be frustrating to have to transfer your account after you've spent time getting it established.
That's why it's important to explore all of your options before making a final decision. In addition to comparing fees and features, check out the online customer reviews for each bank and ask your self-employed friends for recommendations, as they'll give you an honest opinion.
For more business banking options, check out this list of our favorite business checking accounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best bank for freelancers?
The best bank for freelancers will depend on a person's specific needs. But if you can manage an online-only bank account, top options include the no fee accounts featured above, from Bluevine, Lili, Found, and Novo.
Are there specific bank accounts for 1099 employees?
Yes. Hundreds of traditional and online financial institutions offer bank accounts geared to 1099 employees.
What features should I look for in a bank as a self-employed individual?
When searching for the right banking solution, self-employed individuals should prioritize low fees, interest-bearing options, automatic tax assistance, and easy integrations.
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering banking, insurance, credit cards, mortgages and student loans. She has written for numerous finance publications, including MagnifyMoney, Business Insider and ChooseFI. Her blog, Adventurous Adulting, helps young adults get a handle on their finances.