Establishing a business banking account is one of the first things company owners need to do. These accounts are vital for obtaining accurate accounting data and keeping track of allowed tax deductions.
When business owners mix business banking along with individual accounts they will likely end up undergoing an IRS audit. The time spent clarifying expenses and providing adequate documentation can be grueling and may lead to late fees and penalties, so it’s best to start things off on the right foot.
There are quite a few ways to setup a business bank account. Owners can apply online or visit banks in-person. They can select a basic checking account or apply for accounts that include merchant services, direct deposit payroll, or an open line of credit.
Many banks offer accounts that can be connected to accounting software programs such as Peachtree or QuickBooks. Interconnecting accounting software with business accounts help managers conserve time while providing adequate documentation for tax records. Additionally, this method lets business owners access their account from various locations such as work, home, and even while traveling.
Fees associated with corporate checking accounts are usually quite a bit more expensive than personal bank accounts. The majority of banks charge companies a monthly service fee. Some charge fees for every transaction, while others charge if transactions exceed a set number. Fees are also assessed for overdrafts and electronic transfers.
Although it’s never a good idea to bounce a check, companies can avoid expensive fees by setting up overdraft protection. This involves connecting business checking accounts to a savings account or credit card. If overdraft occurs, banks automatically transfer a preset amount of money into the checking account.
It can be very helpful to comparison shop banks to find ones that offer the most benefits and assess the lowest fees. A trusted source for comparing banks is BankRate.com, which offers information about national and local banks.
Small business owners may find it advantageous to open accounts with local banks or credit unions. Local banks tend to be more flexible and willing to work with owners that don’t have pristine credit. This can be very helpful to owners that require working capital or want to apply for business credit cards.
On the other hand, national banks usually offer a broader range of services than local banks. National banks engage in lending practices for small business to Fortune 500 companies, along with providing a variety of credit card options. Additionally, national banks offer integrated accounting services such as invoicing systems and direct deposit payroll.
The best approach for locating the right bank is to create a list of anticipated financial needs for the short and long term. While it can be challenging to determine what services will be required in the next 5 years, most owners can figure out if they will need business loans or credit cards. Spending time assessing overall needs can help owners avoid having to switch banks at a later time.
When comparing banks it’s important to read the fine print and calculate the true costs of conducting business. Make certain to fully understand the fee structure and checking account requirements.
Some banks charge service fees if balances fall below a certain limit. Others set limits on the number of transactions that can be conducted each month and charge hefty fees if limits are exceeded. Over the course of a year, banking fees can cost owners hundreds of dollars.
Researching available options lets owners find cost-effective business banking and can help determine which bank would be the best partnership. One consideration is that local banks frequently participate in community events where local companies are promoted. Acquiring bank endorsement can be very beneficial, so when talking to banks be certain to inquire about the types of promotional activities they participate in.