When starting a business, think hard where to bank your capital. The fees and rates you incur, the services you rely on to operate and scale, the access to loans and credit, and the security of your funds—all these factors have a direct impact on your bottom line.

The recent ups and downs in the banking sector, marked by the unexpected collapses of SVB and FRB in 2023, have thrown a bit of a curveball for founders, making the choice even harder.

Yes, the startup ecosystem has somewhat adapted to these shifts. But the responsibility of developing a capital strategy that can withstand the next potential bank shake-up still falls squarely on your shoulders.

To help you start, we’ve outlined:

  • The key differences between startup-friendly vs. traditional banks
  • The core financial services startups need to operate effectively
  • A curated list of the nine best banks for startups with their fees, features, and offerings

How are startup-friendly banks different from regular banks?

In the banking sector, traditional banks stand as a steadfast ship, while startup-friendly banks are agile speedboats. While the first offers a standard pack of banking solutions with set terms tailored for clients with a solid track record, the latter provides unique, fast-paced financial services for startups.

Here’s what makes startup-friendly banks a perfect fit for small businesses: 

  • Tailored flexibility: lower fees, adaptable FX rates, accounts with multi-user access, and a variety of subscription options.
  • Rapid banking: swift services and prompt decision-making, minimal paperwork, and reduced bureaucracy. 
  • Tech-forward banking: with advanced digital platforms and mobile apps, these banks speak the language of tech-savvy startups, ensuring banking is as innovative as the businesses they serve.
  • Specialized tools: things like integrated accounting software make financial management and reporting much easier for founders.
  • Beyond banking: they also serve as hubs for networking and advisory, connecting entrepreneurs with relevant VCs and ensuring strategic resources for growth.

In a nutshell, startup-friendly banks are designed to support dynamic, tech-oriented founders in contrast to traditional entities that might not align with all the specific financial services startups need. 

Now, let’s point out what specific services traditional banks typically miss.

Popular financial services for startups

Startup banking usually goes beyond traditional banking, offering a suite of tools and resources pivotal for early-stage business growth:

  • Venture debt financing: It complements the equity you raise, serving as fuel to scale rapidly without further dilution of the ownership. Pivotal for founders wanting to keep the reins of control in their hands. 
  • International transactions management: For startups operating globally, handling international transactions gets tricky. From managing multiple currencies and strict international compliance rules to keeping up with fluctuating exchange rates—it can be a lot. Startup banks help to ease this process, offering solutions like multi-currency accounts, modest exchange rates and smooth international wire transfers.
  • Payment processing solutions: When startups expand, they see a surge in transaction volume—from customer and vendor payments to employee payroll. These small yet frequent transactions can pile up, leading to increased business fees that strain a startup’s limited resources. In this case, banks that offer crystal-clear fee structures and sweet deals on bulk transactions can be game-changers.
  • Customized credit solutions: Unlike one-size-fits-all corporate cards, startup banking offers credit cards tailored to the specific spending patterns of small businesses. These cards come with rewards programs such as cashback on business essentials or points for travel. 
  • Cash management tools: They help optimize cash flow and liquidity, keeping the business engine running smoothly. This includes services like automated savings, easy-to-understand cash flow analytics, and tools that help to predict future financial needs. 
  • Fintech integration: It allows for smarter financial tracking, forecasting, and budgeting, giving startups a clearer picture of their financial health. This leads to better decisions about where to cut costs, when to invest, and how to plan for future growth.
  • Financial advisory services: Most startup banks offer their clients roadmaps for strategic planning, financial modeling, and risk management. Depending on your needs, banking experts can help you with tax planning, budgeting, and cash flow management. 

Now that we’ve covered the crucial financial services for startups let’s zoom in on our top bank picks suited for small businesses.

Best banks for startups with features, prices, and fees

To navigate the noise, we’ve curated a list of nine standout banks. This information should help you weigh all the options and make the right choice. 

1. Mercury

➡️ Mercury, a fintech company with services provided by Choice Financial Group and Evolve Bank & Trust, is a perfect fit for tech startups. With over $163M raised from a16z, Coatue, CRV, etc., more than 100K clients, and over $50B in transactions in 2022 alone, this digital banking platform offers a range of convenient services, a user-friendly interface, and cost-effective banking solutions. Plus, its standout brand reputation makes it appealing to fresh startups.

Base location: Digital only 

Online interface: Great

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Free cash deposit limit: Cash deposits not accepted

Insurance: FDIC-insured business checking accounts up to $5M

Fees: No monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, or overdraft fees

APY: Ability to invest idle cash into mutual funds

Integrations: Zapier, Quickbooks, Stripe

Best for: 

Tech startups, digital entrepreneurs, and those who value programmable banking and advanced integrations 

  • Industries: SaaS, Web3, E-commerce, Life Science, VC funds
  • Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A and beyond

Perks: 

  • Tiered cashback program for all users;
  • $200 bonus when depositing $10K or more.
Before writing a startup deck or pitching investors, you should identify the nucleus of your story and how it could be a $1b+ company. This should be a two-sentence story that you then build the rest of your pitch around. And you should truly believe in your story.
Immad Akhund—CEO and co-founder of Mercury

2. Novo

➡️ Novo is a fintech platform for small business owners. It functions as an independent tech company that is neither owned nor operated by any of the traditional banks. Instead, it partners with Middlesex Federal Savings. While Novo handles the tech side of things, their partner, a full-service community bank, ensures the actual startup banking.  

Base location: Digital only

Online interface: Great 

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Free cash deposit limit: No fee

Insurance: Deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250K

Fees: No monthly fees

APY: N/A

Integrations: Stripe, Shopify, Quickbooks

Best for: Due to its high number of discounts, integrations, and almost non-existent fees, we believe Novo is the best small startup banking platform for e-commerce businesses

Perks: 

  • $5K fee-free card processing with Stripe;
  • 100% discount on the first three months of any Gusto package;
  • 40% discount on the first six months of any QuickBooks Online package; 
  • 30% discount with HubSpot;
  • $500 in free Google Ads credit when spending $500;
  • Up to $150K Microsoft Azure credits over four years.

3. Chase

➡️ Chase stands as a banking powerhouse with the best business bank account options for startups. Given the vast physical presence with over 5K branches,17K ATMs and a robust online interface, it offers both in-person and digital banking experiences, catering to the dynamic financial needs of small businesses.

Base location: NYC and a digital platform

Online interface: Good

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Free cash deposit limit: 5K per month; over 4,7K branches and 16K ATMs

Insurance: Deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250K

Fees: Monthly fee from $15 to $95, depending on account (waivable)

APY: Business savings account interest rates are on the lower end

Best for: In-person startup banking 

Perks: $300 when opening a business checking account online. For new Chase business checking customers with qualifying activities.

4. Revolut

➡️ Revolut serves as a financial backbone for businesses of all sizes. With a wide range of currencies, industries, and countries, it can effectively support your global journey. Revolut leverages APIs and integrations to support startup business bank accounts. They also provide analytics and expense-tracking tools to keep clients informed. Plus, there are subscription plans to help businesses optimize their fees.

Base location: Digital only

Online interface: Great

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Free cash deposit limit: No fee

Insurance: €100K

Fees: No account fees, minimum deposit requirements, or wire transfer fees

APY: High yield options with yields over 4.25%

Integrations: Quickbooks, Sage, Xero

Best for: Venture-backed tech startups

Perks: 

  • $5,000 in AWS credits (new customers only, dependent on Activate eligibility);
  • 100% off the first 3 months of QuickBooks;
  • 25% off the first 12 months of Slack;
  • 25% off the first 12 months of Monday.

5. Wise

➡️ Wise (previously known as Transferwise) makes global startup banking easier with its Wise Business account—a low-cost option with no need for a minimum balance or monthly fees. Ideal for businesses aiming to go global or expand their reach, with the ability to hold and manage over 40 currencies. Plus, they make it easy to get local account details in nine currencies for receiving payments internationally.

Base location: Digital only 

Online interface: Great

Loans or lines of credit: No

Free cash deposit limit: Cash deposits at $150K per year

Insurance: FDIC insured up to $250K per account

Fees: you can send money from 0.43% across currencies, $31 per account registration, Account Funding Transactions of 2%

APY: N/A

Integrations: open API, Amazon, Quickbooks, Sage, Xero

Best for: Businesses that deal with a lot of different currencies and often make currency exchanges; those that plan to go globally

Perks: Partner and affiliate programs offered

6. US Bank

➡️ US Bank is one of the best banks for startup businesses that requires a more traditional approach and a wider range of banking services. This monetary titan not only won the title of the most essential bank amid the COVID-19 pandemic but has also positioned itself well for a digital-driven future by launching the US Bank Smart Assistant and opening branches in 26 states.

Base location: Minneapolis, USA

Online interface: Fair

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Free cash deposit limit: $2,5K per month

Insurance: FDIC insured up to $250K

Fees: $0 fee for Silver Business Checking account

APY: 4.50% bonus interest rate with a new Platinum Business Money Market account

Best for: More traditional or established startups

7. Silicon Valley Bank 

➡️ SVB is definitely one of the best banks for tech startups. Despite its collapse in March 2023 with further acquisition by First Citizens Bank, it’s still operating and providing almost all the services it had before except for Eurodollar Sweep products and Cayman DDA/MMA accounts.

Base location: Santa Clara, USA

Online interface: Fair

Loans or lines of credit: Yes

Insurance: FDIC insured up to $250K per account

Fees: Free unlimited wires, mobile deposits, and bill payments for three years. No monthly maintenance and transaction fees

APY: Up to 5.10% annual percentage yield (APY) on qualifying balances

Integrations: QuickBooks, Expensify, Xero, and more

Best for: Technology and innovation-focused startups, especially those seeking venture capital

  • Industries: Hardware & Infrastructure, Software & Internet, Life sciences & Healthcare, Energy & Resource innovation, Private equity & Venture capital, Premium wine

Perks: Variety of partner credits and discounts

8. Relay

➡️ Relay is an innovative fintech company with bank accounts for startups combining advanced digital banking tools, seamless integration with accounting software, and exceptional deposit protection. It’s an ideal choice for businesses seeking to manage their finances efficiently and securely. 

Base location: Digital only

Online interface: Great

Loans or lines of credit: No

Free cash deposit limit: No option to deposit cash

Insurance: FDIC insured up to $2.5M through Thread Bank

Fees: $30 per month for Relay Pro, no overdraft fees, no minimum balance

APY: Automated business savings that earn you 1% to 3% APY on idle cash

Integrations: Quickbooks Online, Xero, Expensify, Gusto, Plaid, Venmo

Best for: All small businesses. Yet, it should be noted that its accountancy and payment-processing integrations make it particularly effective for both e-commerce and accounting businesses

Perks: Relay Partner Program: Can earn revenue share and discounts by adding clients

9. Lili

➡️ Lili, a fintech company, provides startup banking services under the management of Choice Financial Group. This platform serves as a one-stop solution for entrepreneurs to streamline their business operations—banking, invoicing, accounting, and tax preparation all in a single, user-friendly hub. 

Base location: Fintech, partner bank Choice Financial Group

Online interface: Great

Loans or lines of credit: Limited

Free cash deposit limit: $4.95 per deposit

Insurance: FDIC insured

Fees: Free checking account with no overdraft fees, ATM fees, minimum balance or requirements, and foreign transaction fees

APY: 4.15% APY on your savings account

Best for: Microbusinesses, freelancers, and solopreneurs due to its low fees and banking limitations

Perks: Cash rewards with a Pro account

Next steps 

If you’ve reached this point and still pondering over the best bank for your startup, here are some tips: 

  • Prioritize banks that align with your startup’s unique needs—those offering flexible financing, better APY opportunities, higher cash deposit limits, etc.
  • Consider the scalability of their services as your business evolves, especially in terms of global expansion. Remember, banks might not be everywhere you are and may not use the currencies you need. 
  • Don’t neglect the importance of networking and advisory support.
  • Weigh the fees and suggested perks carefully. 

If you still have doubts and need expert advice, feel free to reach out to our team for financial, fundraising, and growth advisory.

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Ruslana

CONTENT WRITER

Hello! I'm Ruslana, a Content Writer at Waveup. Based on my background in marketing research and business analytics, and my current collaboration with the savvy team at Waveup, I'm excited to share my insights and learnings with you.