How to Open a Business Account Online: 2024 Guide

Panna Kemenes

Finding time to get into a bank branch and set up your small business checking account might be a challenge. Setting up your business bank account online sounds like a perfect alternative. But unfortunately, it’s not always easy to do. 

Different banks have their own processes for new business customers, and many require you to attend a bank branch in person, to provide paperwork and get your account set up.

This article covers how to open a business bank account online in the US, the reasons banks often ask new customers to apply face to face, and a smart solution if you want to open an online business account — Wise Business

Manage all your business payments online with Wise Business - a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and smart alternative to banks. Get access to innovative features, cut your costs and save time spent on admin.

Learn more about Wise Business

How to open a business bank account online in the US

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Can I open a business bank account online in the US?

Yes. Depending on the type of business you have, as well as its location, you can be eligible to open a business bank account online in the US.

How to open a US business account online - Step by step 

1. Choose the best account option for your business

The first step in setting up a US business account online is deciding what type of business account you want. 

There are many different account options on offer, from simple low-fee accounts to those offering a wide range of features with higher associated fees. Coming to a decision is the result of understanding what your business requires from a business account now as well as in the medium to long-term future. 

For example, if your business deals regularly with international wires and batch payments, then having an online business account that supports these features is key. 

Similarly, if you already use a certain accounting software provider, then selecting an online business account that supports integration with your existing provider would be a smart move. 

2. Provide information about you and your business 

To open an online business bank account, you’ll need to provide certain paperwork relating to you and your business. The paperwork and documentation requirements vary by bank, state, and the type of business you run. 

  • Commonly, you’ll need to provide your name, postal address and date of birth. 

  • With regards to information related to your business, this can range from license and filing documents to providing evidence verifying your business’s trade name (“Doing Business As” certificate). 

  • The requirements for Sole Proprietorships, Corporations, LLCs and Partnerships usually all vary.

3. Submit your application and wait for the bank to contact you

Setting up a business bank account online can take a matter of minutes, depending on the requirements. But the waiting time for verification of your account can take a bit longer. 

Normally, the business account verification time takes anywhere between several working days to a maximum of four weeks. 

🔍 Read on to discover:

Top business bank accounts to open online

cheerful-business-woman-with-laptop-and-notepad

You have multiple options when it comes to setting up an online business account. Here’s a list of the top US providers you can open a business account with.

Click on the links to know more about each:

💡 Or you can discover Wise Business, a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks.

It's not always easy to open an online business account - here's why

thoughtful-businessman-with-laptop

💡 Did you know?
  • Opening a business bank account online can be tricky to do, partly because of a law called the USA PATRIOT Act.¹
  • This 2001 act, signed shortly after the terrorist atrocities of 9/11, is designed to deter and punish terrorist groups, by preventing money laundering and other methods of funding commonly linked to terrorism and organized crime.
  • One of the requirements of the act is that banks know who holds accounts with them

Different banks interpret this requirement differently.

But broadly speaking it means that new customers must provide identification, and have their details verified, so that anything suspicious — such as money laundering, financial crime, or identity theft — can be spotted.

Since 2001, many banks have started to use more advanced methods of checking ID for personal bank accounts, which means it is now possible to get your personal checking account set up without needing to set foot in a bank branch.

For business accounts, though, this is still tricky.

  • For one thing, there is often more paperwork to check for a business account.
  • There may be more than one person who needs to be ID verified, and there could be a range of different acceptable documents depending on the business type, legal structure, and so on.
  • The bank will need to check that you, your business partners, and the business itself are all legitimate — which takes a lot of documentary evidence, and can also take a lot of time.

Add to that the fact that demand for business bank accounts isn’t as high as for personal accounts, and fixing the process for small business owners just isn’t necessarily a priority for banks.

Many simply have automated or sped up the procedures used — which means getting a business bank account is one of the few essential financial services which you usually still have to show up at a branch to arrange.²

Pressed for time, and looking for an account which will suit your business and can be set up from the comfort of your own home? We do have some good news.

A small number of banks will allow you to arrange a business account online - although you’ll typically need to be a sole proprietor, or already hold a personal account with the same organisation.

If that doesn’t work for you, then maybe you need a different non-bank solution, such as a Wise Business account.

Open an online business account with Wise — a smart alternative

If you’re struggling to find a business account you can open and manage online, it’s time to check out the Wise Business account.

This is a smart new type of account, with no monthly service fee or minimum balance. Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks.

It’s designed for business owners, and offers a selection of features designed to save both time and money.

  • Integrate your account with Xero and QuickBooks for seamless accounting, 
  • Automate workflow with the Wise API, 
  • Make easy batch payments to cut the time you spend on admin.

The Wise Business account is also made for global businesses.

  • It’s an account with multiple currencies in one place — perfect if you want to work with suppliers, customers, or employees based overseas. 
  • You can manage 40+ currencies in one place!
  • Convert these currencies whenever you need to for a low fee, using the mid-market exchange rate.
  •  You can also get local account details in 9 currencies - offering your overseas customers to pay you like a local.

Set up your account online, by providing your personal details, and uploading copies of your key business documents.

You can then get started once your account has been verified, with no need to leave the comfort of your own home or office.

Open your Wise Business account online

Opening a business checking account online with a traditional bank

Whether or not you can open a business account online will depend on your personal circumstances, the type of business you have, and the account you want to open.

It’s important to check the specific rules and guidelines for the bank you choose, taking into account the fact that processes and products available might vary based on your state.

Your best bet is to look at some of the Big 4 banks, as regional banks are unlikely to allow online applications. 

Chase offers the option to open a business account online. However all authorized signers may need to be able to provide information or sign documents electronically. Who counts as an authorized signer will depend on the business type.²

You may also be able to apply online with Wells Fargo or Bank of America, depending on your business type. 

You could find there are restrictions based on what sort of business you’re engaged in, but if you’re eligible, you’ll be able to complete the application form online, and scan your documents over for verification.³ ⁴

💡 Important to know!
  • Banks will usually reserve the right to ask for more information, or paperwork, if they feel they need it.
  • That means that, even if you’re allowed to apply online, you may be asked to attend a branch to provide extra documents or details.
  • If your situation is at all unusual - for example, you have bad credit, you’re not a US citizen, or your business is not registered here in the US, the chances are that you’ll need to visit a branch to get an account arranged.
  • Why you should set up a business account online

    If setting up a small business bank account sounds like it might be a hassle, it’s helpful to remember how important this step is, in setting up and growing your business.

    For any type of company other than a sole proprietorship, it’s essential to have a separate business account. 

    In fact, the US Small Business Administration recommends all entrepreneurs should get a business account as soon as they need to start spending or accepting payments on behalf of their company.

    Separate personal and business accounts

    One important advantage of a business bank account is that you’ll maintain personal liability protection, if your own funds are kept separate from those of your business. That means that, in the unfortunate event that your business hits difficulties, your personal finances aren’t impacted. Keeping your personal and business finances separate makes it easier to do your accounting, file your taxes, and see how your business is doing. ⁵-⁶

    Professional image and benefits

    Business bank accounts are designed with features which are attractive to company owners and entrepreneurs, such as access to credit, and merchant services. 

    You’ll also be able to present a much more professional image to your customers by having them pay your company — instead of making payments to your personal account. 

    As your business grows, your financial needs will change, and a good business account will have all you need — such as company debit cards or check books that you can allow your staff to use, or loans to help you invest and take your business to the next level.

    Save time and money with a great business account provider

    Getting easy access to the financial services you need for your business is crucial, to save you time and money, and allow you to concentrate on what really matters. 

    You can spend more time with your customers, and less doing admin, if you get a smart and cost effective business account that you can open and operate online, like the Wise Business account

    Check out the business account options available, and compare the features, fees and day to day convenience with other banks, and modern alternatives like Wise, to get the best for your business.

    go-global-with-wise


    Sources:

    1. Fincen.gov - USA Patriot Act
    2. Chase - How to open a business checking account
    3. Wells Fargo - Online banking
    4. Bank of America - Applying for business banking account
    5. LLC University - How to open an LLC bank account
    6. SBA.gov - Open a business bank account

    All sources checked 19 March 2022


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    This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

    We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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