How to open a business bank account in the United States

Panna Kemenes
16.06.22
5 minute read

America is an attractive place to start a business. There are already over 28 million small businesses in the US.¹

If you’re looking to start a business of your own, then you'll have alot to think about. One thing to get right early on is the act of opening a business bank account in the Uited States.

Check out this guide to learn more about opening a corporate account in the US.

Looking for a stress-free international business account?
Try the Wise Business account

How do I open a business account in the United States?

As a new customer, you’ll often have to visit the bank and present some paperwork before the account is fully opened.

Many business bank accounts in United States may also ask for a minimum deposit amount to open the account. It’s worth checking with your chosen bank before you visit to confirm which specific documents are acceptable.

What documents are required to open a business bank account in USA?:

  • Photo ID for the director opening the account

  • Proof of personal address for the named director

  • Articles of incorporation/organisation. You will have to prove that your business is properly registered, although the acceptable documents will vary according to the type of business entity you run.

  • EIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) confirmation letter. This is required for tax reporting purposes.

  • Proof of business address. Some banks will require you to prove a business address in the same geographic area and state as the bank branch. Others are more accommodating.

Can I open a corporate bank account in the United States with a foreign corporate entity?

To open a business bank account in America, you must first have a business which is registered in the USA. You’ll be asked to present proof of registration when you open your account.

What types of corporate entities are there in the United States?

US law recognises several different types of corporate entities.

You may have one of the following company types:

  • Sole Proprietorship

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  • Corporation

  • Partnership

  • Cooperative

  • S Corporation

Can a foreigner open a business bank account in USA?

There’s no legal issue with opening a bank account in the US as a non-resident. However, do remember that for a company account, your business must be registered in America and have a EIN.

Can I open a business bank account from abroad?

Most banks require you to visit and present identification. This area of law is tightly regulated, so expect stringent checks.

There are some specialist banks and agencies who may be able to help you open an account from abroad. Silicon Valley Bank, for example, specialises in helping start up businesses in certain sectors. They may be able to make arrangements with entrepreneurs from overseas.

Alternatively, there are agencies who will help for a fee. Because these agencies operate typically on a state by state basis, you'll need to search for a reputable agency in the state where you register your business.

💡An easier solution is to use a banking alternative, such as the Wise Business account. You can open an account and get US account details, even as a non-resident. Account opening is done online, so there’s no need to spend precious time at the bank. Wise Business is the perfect solution for international business finances.

Can I open a business bank account online?

It’s difficult to open an account online as most banks require you to present documents in the branch personally. Some specialist online banks may be able to help you, but they're not as established as the ‘Big Four’ listed below and may not have the breadth of product range.

Most banks will let you start the account application process online and then make an appointment to show your documents later.

On the other hand, you can use a banking alternative, such as the Wise Business account. You can open your business account 100% online without having to print forms and spend hours queuing at the bank.

manage-your-international-business

Which business bank account should I choose?

There are a huge number of banks to choose from in the US, including globally recognised brands and smaller local operations. If you already bank with an international bank who works in America, they might be able to help you transfer your account to the US more easily.

If you’re starting from scratch, then you can choose one of the ‘Big Four’ American banks. Or you can look at a smart banking alternative, such as Wise Business.

Some details are given below about business bank accounts for each of the following:

JP Morgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase is one of the largest banks in America. There are several products designed for business banking, with monthly fees. All monthly fees can be waived if you keep a minimum deposit amount in the account.

The exact products on offer may vary according to the location of your business. You have to enter a zip code to get the final word on available products.

Bank of America

Bank of America offers two regular corporate accounts with fees, which are then waived subject to fulfilment of certain conditions. For example, if you make a minimum number of transactions or payments over a monthly cycle then the fee could be avoided. There are 4,861 branches of Bank of America in the US.

Citibank

Citibank has a very large range of business banking accounts; including checking accounts designed for different size of businesses. Luckily, the bank website provides a helpful comparison table so you can choose between them. There are also specialist accounts designed for different sectors and needs. There are 983 Citibank branches in the US, and more branches overseas.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo hasbusiness checking accounts, and accounts which are tailored to the needs of small businesses or non profit organisations. As with all American banks, the products (including fees and charges) on offer vary from state to state so you need to enter your zip code to get the full details.

Save money on international fees with the Wise Business account

Old-world bank accounts only work properly in one country. They hold money only in one currency. And it gets expensive when you try to use them across borders. The Wise Business account solves all of this.

Now you can send, receive, hold, and manage your money internationally, without high fees or unfair exchange rates. Just a small, transparent charge when your money moves between currencies.

Wise offers the true exchange rate you can find on Google. Since your international transfer is made with two local transfers in each respective country, large SWIFT transfer fees are also cut out, leaving you with more money in the end.

There is no minimum balance needed to open an account, and no monthly fees.

Open a Wise Business account today 🚀

Business Banking fees and charges

Before you open your corporate account in the United States, read the terms and conditions carefully. It’s especially worth reading the section on banking fees and charges, as the fee structure might be quite different to what you’re familiar with.

It’s common to find monthly account handling charges, and fixed fees for banking transactions. Even when these fees look small, they can build up over time. Many business accounts have terms and conditions which mean that charges are waived if you meet certain conditions such as maintaining a minimum monthly or daily balance. This can help you avoid unnecessary fees and charges.

Most businesses will also need to make international money transfers to pay suppliers or employees based overseas. Your bank will offer this service, but it might not be the best deal available. If you plan on making an international money transfer, then pay special attention to the fees applied. These may be fixed fees or a percentage of the amount transferred.

Instead of a transparent, up-front fee, you might find that your bank’s profit is rolled into a poor exchange rate. If your bank applies an exchange rate which is worse than the real, mid-market rate, then you lose out as the true cost of your transfer is higher than it needs to be.

To make sure your bank isn’t taking an extra cut, you can use an online currency converter to check the actual value of your money before you transfer internationally. You can also use Wise Business to get the real mid-market rate on international transfers.


Sources:

  1. United States Small Business Economic Profile

Sources checked June 16, 2022.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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