- 1 How to open a US bank account online for your business
- 2 Opening a Business Bank Account for an LLC
- 3 TD Bank Offers Online $150 and $300 Checking Bonuses
How to open a US bank account online for your business
If you are looking to conduct business with either customers or suppliers in the US, you will need a convenient way to receive money from your buyers, and to pay for goods or services that you may buy in the US. As an individual or a small company located outside the US, the traditional solution is to establish a business checking account in a US bank.
Through your US bank account, you can pay your US suppliers via check or by wire transfer. Likewise, your US customers and clients can pay you by check, by direct deposit or by wire transfer into your US bank account. You can move money into, or out of, your US bank via international wire transfer through your local bank in your home country.
The difficult part for most small businesses is actually establishing that bank account in the US.
(There are also simpler options, such as global payment platforms, that do not require you to establish a US bank account or perform conventional wire transfers. More about those alternatives below.)
What is needed to open a US bank account for your business?
It’s important to understand that the US has recently passed laws that place strict controls on how — and if — US banks can establish accounts for non-residents and for businesses located outside the country. This is designed to prevent money laundering and other international criminal activity.
In addition, individual states often have their own banking regulations that may affect the requirements for opening business accounts for foreign companies. And these regulations can vary widely from State to State.
Further, most commercial banks will have internal policies that govern how they handle accounts from overseas customers — both to comply with law, and to protect the bank against potential fraud or other possible losses. These policies may also be different in each bank.
The best approach is to directly contact the bank in the State where you will be opening the account and ask about their policies and procedures. But here are the general requirements:
- You must open the account in person
With few exceptions, you will need to visit the bank in the US where you wish to open the account. This is required to verify your identity, and to allow the bank to validate the documents and information needed to open your account. You will need an official photo ID, proof of home address, bank statements from your home country bank, and perhaps other verification. Ask the bank for details.
Which US banks should you contact?
Here are some of the largest banks in the US, which have local offices across the country. With many locations to choose from, it will be easier to find a bank near where you intend to do business in the US. And larger banks may be more experienced in opening accounts for foreign businesses.
If you have already have an account with a large international bank that also has banking operations in the US, they may be able to help you establish an account in the US, depending on the nature of your existing relationship with the bank.
There are also firms, based in the US, who offer services to foreign companies looking to open US bank accounts. Their fees and services vary widely.
Perhaps the simplest option for freelancers, online sellers and businesses outside the US are global payment platforms such as Payoneer, which can save you the colossal hassle of opening a US bank account, but still provide you with all the benefits of having one.
Opening a Business Bank Account for an LLC
One of the first things to do after forming your LLC (and getting your EIN) is to open an LLC business bank account.
Not only does opening an LLC business bank account make life easier, it also helps you maintain personal liability protection (which is the main reason you formed the LLC).
Think of your LLC as being another person: it makes its own money, has its own bank account, and has its own expenses.
If you don’t create a separate bank account for your LLC (and you mixed your LLC funds with your personal funds), you would be “commingling” your assets and a court could “pierce your corporate veil”, which would then make you personally liable for the LLC’s debts and legal obligations.
Other reasons to have an LLC bank account are:
- easier financial recordkeeping
- easier to calculate and pay taxes
- audit prevention
- easy to track/deduct business expenses
- professionalism and credibility (using business checks instead of personal checks)
In order to keep your personal liability protection:
- don’t pay personal expenses out of your business account
- don’t pay business expenses out of your personal account
You’ll need the following items to open your LLC’s business bank account:
This will be your LLC’s approved Articles of Organization, which might be called something different in your state (Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization).
Federal Tax ID Number (aka EIN)
Make sure you’ve received your EIN from the IRS before heading to the bank. You’ll need to show them a copy of your EIN in order to open your account. If you need assistance getting your EIN, please see these video instructions.
2 Forms of Identification
You’ll need to bring in two forms of ID. One of these needs to be government-issued (such as a driver’s license). The 2nd ID could be any of the following: credit/debit card, passport, voter’s registration, or utility bill.
Operating Agreement and Additional Forms
Most banks don’t need a copy of your Operating Agreement or your Welcome/Approval Letter (if you received one), but some banks may require it. We recommend bringing all additional LLC documentation just to be safe.
Here are some banks we recommend (and their locations):
Wells Fargo has the largest number of branches and they cover most of the US. They have excellent customer service. (map)
TD Bank has great hours and is open on Sunday. Their branches are located along the east coast. (map)
PNC Bank branches are found in nearly all states east of the Mississippi, except for New England. (map)
Chase branches are found in the more populated cities and not in small towns. (map)
Bank of America has branches in nearly all the states except for MT, ID, WY, ND, SD, NE, UT, and CO. Their service can sometimes be below average though. (map)
If you live in a smaller town, or don’t have access to the branches above, you can open a business bank account with your local bank. You can google “small business checking + ” or review this map for options in your area.
Tip: Whichever bank you choose, they should have great customer service and be willing to answer all your questions. They should help educate you on their various products, like business loans, checking, savings, and investments. Finding a bank with great hours and a few branch locations is also a plus.
All Members Most Likely Need to be Present
Most banks require all LLC members to be present when opening a bank account.
We recommend calling the bank ahead of time to double-check.
Don’t be confused if they ask for your DBA
A lot of people who work at banks are clueless when it comes to LLCs. Hopefully you don’t get one of these reps, but if you do, they may ask for your DBA (aka Fictitious Name) documentation.
You don’t need a DBA for your LLC, since your LLC operates under it’s own name. But often the reps get confused and think that the LLC needs one.
We can assure you, it does not, and the account will just go in the name of the LLC.
Having said that, if your LLC needs to operate under a name different than the one you registered with the state (and you have a DBA), make sure to bring its approval.
Call the bank ahead of time and ask to speak with the person who handles business accounts.
Check on the following:
- what are the required documents?
- what are the minimum monthly balance requirements?
- what are the monthly fees, if any?
- how much is needed for the initial deposit?
- do all LLC members need to be present?
- what’s the best time of day for quickest service?
- what else do I need to bring that I forgot to ask?
Monthly Fees and Required Minimum Balances
A lot of banks charge monthly fees and require you to maintain a minimum monthly balance.
But many other banks don’t charge monthly fees, so we recommend calling a few and checking before going into the local branch.
Be careful of promotions and incentives for opening an account. Although they may sound good, most are just temporary and usually lead to ongoing monthly fees.
Banks may have different packages/tiers of business accounts (like economy, gold, and deluxe, for example). Usually, the fancier sounding packages have crap you don’t need and higher fees.
We recommend going with the basic package and save yourself the money (and the hype). You can always upgrade later.
You’ll also receive a business debit card after opening your account. Some banks will issue them right on the spot, others will mail them in a few days.
Having a debit card helps you keep track of business expenses with a dedicated card.
Most debit cards also have technology built in to prevent any fraudulent purchases.
Besides a debit card, you can also get credit cards for your LLC to use for rewards, such as cash back or travel.
After your account is opened, you’ll be able to order business checks. Below are some helpful tips.
Don’t start your checks at #001
Most checks start at number 001. This could give your business an “amateur” feel. Just ask the bank to start your checks at #1000 or #5000 or whatever you please.
Don’t get super-sized checks
Most banks will try to sell you “special” checks that boost your ego. They are big business checks that come in a large, bulky binder. Unless you need to run checks through a printer (which is what they were originally designed for), you can save yourself some money by just ordering regular size checks.
Most banks will let Single-Member LLCs open a bank account with their SSN, and some might even suggest it. We recommend using your EIN instead of your SSN for privacy and easier record keeping.
If you formed your LLC through our courses, you should have obtained an EIN from the IRS.
Along with the checking account you open, your bank may also offer you a business savings account. If you prefer to keep all your banking under one roof, this might be a good idea.
However, if you prefer higher interest rates on your savings, we recommend setting up a business savings account with CapitalOne 360.
CapitalOne 360 also has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements.
TD Bank Offers Online $150 and $300 Checking Bonuses
Deal Summary: $150 Convenience Checking bonus and $300 Premier Checking bonus.
TD Bank is again now offering its $150 Convenience Checking bonus and $300 Premier Checking bonus that are available exclusively online to new checking customers. The promotion page states the this is a “limited time offer,” but no end-date is mentioned.
$150 Convenience Checking Bonus
- Open a new Convenience Checking account online.
- Have at least $500 in cumulative Direct Deposits* within 60 days of account opening.
$300 Premier Checking Bonus
- Open a new Premier Checking account online.
- Have at least $2.5k in cumulative Direct Deposits* within 60 days of account opening.
*Qualifying direct deposits are recurring electronic deposits of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your Employer or the Government.
Person-to-Person and bank transfers between your TD Bank accounts or accounts you
have at other financial institutions or brokerages do not qualify.
- Available only online to new personal checking customers, defined as those “who do not have an existing or prior personal checking account at TD Bank.”
- One bonus per customer and cannot be combined with any other offer.
- After the Direct Deposit criteria is fulfilled, the bonus will be credited to the new checking account within 95 days of account opening.
- Checking account must be “open, active, in good standing, and in the same product type through the qualifying period to receive the bonus.”
Both checking accounts have monthly service fees ($15, Convenience Checking; $25, Premier Checking) that can be waived by maintaining a required minimum balance ($100, Convenience Checking; $2.5k, Premier Checking).
Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, TD Bank’s market area includes Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont.
As stated above, applying for either checking bonus can only be done online. For any in-branch transactions, TD Bank has more than 1,300 branches located on the East Coast from Maine to Florida.
TD Bank, National Association has an overall health grade of "A"+ at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas ratio of 4.81% (excellent), based on December 31, 2016 data. In the past year, TD Bank has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $10.38 billion, an excellent annual growth rate of 7.3%. Please refer to our financial overview of TD Bank, National Association for more details.
Founded in 1852 as the Penobscot Savings Bank in Bangor, Maine, TD Bank has gone through seven name changes, 29 acquisitions, and three headquarter relocations in the past 39 years. TD Bank is currently the eighth largest bank in the country, with assets in excess of $269 billion and more than 16.1 million customer accounts.
How the $150 and $300 Bonuses Compare
Assuming the required minimum balance is maintained for three months in a new Convenience Checking account to avoid the monthly service fee,
Assuming the required minimum balance is maintained for three months in a new Premier Checking account to avoid the monthly service fee,
Other Bank Promotions and Bonuses
Not eligible for TD Bank’s $150 or $300 checking bonus? Check out my latest bank and credit union bonus blog posts to find other promotions. In addition, DepositAccounts.com readers and I also post often on bonuses in the Bank Promotions Forum.
The above rates are accurate as of 4/6/2017.