Bank of America to launch Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Card in October

Alongside their personal Unlimited Cash Rewards card, Bank of America plans to launch a similar business card in October called the Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards. The bank describes it in their press release with similar details as the personal version, with no annual fee and the same 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Like the personal version, the business card will also have increased earnings rate of 25 – 75% for Business Preferred Rewards clients which can bring up the overall earnings rates to as high as 2.62% on all purchases. Hopefully it’ll come with a signup bonus as well, as does the personal card.


Verizon Launches Credit Card With VerizonDollars 4% Back on Groceries & Gas; AutoPay Benefit; $100 Signup Bonus

(Update 7/2/21: Rewards can now be used to redeem toward gift card purchases as well to places like Amazon and more. Can be redeemed for travel as well.)

Verizon launched a new credit card today, in partnership with Synchrony Bank which has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. It offers 4% back at grocery stores and gas stations, and offers 3% back on dining. There is a $100 bill credit signup bonus. There’s also a potential signup bonus of up to $1,000 for those who signup by June 25th.

Press Release | Signup Link | FAQs

Card Details

  • Card is a Visa and is issued by Synchrony Bank. Card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.
  • Card only available for Verizon wireless postpaid customers. (Far as I can tell, the card is not available to those with Verizon Fios.)
  • Card earns Verizon Dollars which can be used on Verizon phone bills, Verizon Fios internet bills, phones, accessories and more. Each Verizon Dollar is worth $1.
    • Update 7/2/21: Rewards can now be used to redeem toward gift card purchases as well to places like Amazon and more. Can be redeemed for travel as well.
  • Card earns the following rates:
    • 4% back at gas stations and grocery stores, including delivery and pick up
    • 3% back on dining/delivery and curbside pick-up purchases
    • 2% on Verizon purchases
    • 1% on all other purchases
  • Card made out of metal, reports indicate.
  • No limits on how much you can earn, no expiration date.
  • No annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Additional Details and Benefits

Standard Signup Bonus

There is an inconspicuous mention of a signup bonus for the card, seems like this will be the standard signup for the card:

  • New cardholders can get up to $100 in wireless bill credits over 24 consecutive months when they use their new Verizon Visa Card to pay their monthly Verizon bill.
  • To receive the full $100 credit, you must pay a Verizon Wireless or Verizon Fios bill with either a Verizon Visa Card or by redeeming Verizon Dollars to pay the total bill amount for the first 24 months of opening a credit card account. During that time, the monthly credit, equaling $4.17, will not be credited for any monthly bill that wasn’t paid using the Verizon Visa Card or Verizon Dollars. Visit the Verizon Visa Credit Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditions for details.

Launch Signup Bonus

Update 9/3/20: People are getting the prelaunch bonus now and a report of $411.35. That means 2,431 people signed up and qualified for that bonus. Hat tip to mothman69

Offer Link

There is a special pre-launch signup bonus of up to $1,000 Verizon Dollars, based on a pot of $1M divided between all those who apply during pre-launch:

  • Signup between June 22 noon ET and June 25 p PM ET (before card launches officially on June 26) and get a chance to get up to $1,000 in Verizon Dollars if you are approved for the card.
  • Verizon Dollars will be awarded within 2-3 billing cycles to each eligible account owner’s or manager’s My Verizon account who completes all the following: (1) signs up on the list during the promotional period, (2) applies for a Verizon Visa Card through the link provided by the specified date, and (3) is approved for the Verizon Visa Card (“Approved Participant”).
  • $1,000,000 Verizon Dollars is available to be divided equally among all the Approved Participants, however in no event will any individual Approved Participant be awarded more than $1,000 Verizon Dollars. The actual amount awarded to each Approved Participant and the total amount awarded will depend upon the number of Approved Participants. For example, if there are 10,000 Approved Participants, then each will be awarded $100 Verizon Dollars and the $1,000,000 Verizon Dollars in total will be awarded. Void where prohibited. We reserve the right to remove anyone from the Early Access promotion in the event of fraud or abuse of the promotion.

It’s totally plausible you’ll end up just getting $10 or less, if a lot of people sign up. I’d personally guess that if so many people sign up they’ll put a floor on it and offer everyone $50 or something like that, but who knows.

Our Verdict

I hate these kinds of vague signup bonuses since it’s impossible to know how many people will sign up and what the reward will be. That said, if I were a Verizon postpaid customer and I wasn’t worried about 5/24, I’d consider signing up for the following reasons:

  • Get 2% back each month on my Verizon bill (versus paying with bank account to get Auto Pay discount if I didn’t have the Verizon card). Let’s say a $75 monthly bill, means $1.50 per month or $18 per year. Also, if you use Verizon for wireless and internet, the monthly bills could add up and the 2% becomes more significant.
    • Some people use other credit cards for cell phone insurance, but if you’re anyway using your bank in order to get the AutoPay discount, this is a nice little incentive to sign up.
  • Get $100 in Verizon credits over the course of 24 months, $4.17 per month.
  • Get up to $1,000 signup bonus with no spend requirement. In order for the bonus to be $1,000, that would mean only 1,000 customers signup (see above). In all likelihood, the bonus will be much less than that, but it still possible it’ll be some worthwhile amount.
  • The 4% gas and grocery categories will interest a lot of people.
  • No foreign transaction fees is a nice feature for a card with no annual fee.
  • Two free TravelPasses per year which might be useful for international travelers.
  • (Seems that some ‘device dollars’ turn into un-expiring Verizon Dollars, but I’m hazy on the details.)

I can see this card especially for someone who plans to stick with Verizon wireless/Fios for a long time or for someone who values the 4% grocery category.


[Update] PayPal Increasing Seller Fees to 2.99%/3.49 + $.49 on August 2nd

Update 7/1/21: Three things I see on this Paypal FAQ page which seems different than what I wrote in the original post:

  • It states a rate of 2.89% + $0.49 for payments without chargeback protection. That’s different from the 2.59% rate stated on the other page.
  • Indicates that there is no fee change for family and friend payments. I had suggested in the original post that family and friends payments with credit card might go down to the new 2.59% rate.
  • It suggests a rate of 2.89% + $0.49 for sellers who are paid by buyers via a direct link. That’s different than the 2.99% rate mentioned below.

It might be the difference is whether the Paypal account is a personal account or a business one. At this point I’m way too confused to try to make sense of this all, just putting it out there for anyone interested.

Original Post:

PayPal is increasing their seller fees on August 2, 2021. Their current seller fees and website processing fees are 2.90% + $.30. After August 2nd, the fees will change from $.30 to $.49 and from 2.90% to either 2.59%, 2.99%, or 3.49%.

Business Pricing | FAQ | Old Fee Structure 

Here’s my understanding of when these fees apply in layman’s terms, please correct me if there are any mistakes here:

  • 3.49% + $.49 for a website who accepts PayPal. If you have a website which offers PayPal at checkout, your fees will increase from 2.90% + $.30 to 3.49% + $.49.
    • Large websites such as,, etc, likely have a special fee structure and isn’t necessarily changing, so I don’t have any reason to believe that these large websites will stop accepting PayPal. Smaller websites, on the other hand, might drop the PayPal option in favor of cheaper alternatives.
  • 2.99% + $.49 for a regular seller. This will apply if a buyer sends a seller money from within their PayPal account as payment for goods or services. This is an increase of .09% and $.19 per transaction.
  • 2.59% + $.49 for a regular seller when there’s no chargeback protection.
    • I’d guess (?) that each seller will get to decide whether they want chargeback protection or not. Thus, in theory, these new changes are a net positive for a seller who – for whatever reason – does not need chargeback protection.
    • I wonder if this means that for our purposes there’s actually a huge net benefit here – if you ‘send money to family and friends’ and choose to pay with a credit card with a fee, presumably that would go under the ‘no chargeback protection’ provision and our fees will now be reduced from 2.90% to 2.59%.
  • 1.99% + $0.49 for confirmed charities. I believe this is instead of the current rate of 2.20% + $.30. Overall likely a net reduction in fees for charities.
  • For in-person payments there are also some changes, but I’m not entirely clear on what services PayPal offers in that regard and what the fee changes are on that end, so I’ll leave that for others to clarify.


PayPal Increasing Seller Fees to 2.99%/3.49 + $.49 on August 2nd

PayPal is increasing their seller fees on August 2, 2021. Their current seller fees and website processing fees are 2.90% + $.30. After August 2nd, the fees will change from $.30 to $.49 and from 2.90% to either 2.59%, 2.99%, or 3.49%.

Business Pricing | FAQ | Old Fee Structure 

Here’s my understanding of when these fees apply in layman’s terms, please correct me if there are any mistakes here:

  • 3.49% + $.49 for a website who accepts PayPal. If you have a website which offers PayPal at checkout, your fees will increase from 2.90% + $.30 to 3.49% + $.49.
    • Large websites such as,, etc, likely have a special fee structure and isn’t necessarily changing, so I don’t have any reason to believe that these large websites will stop accepting PayPal. Smaller websites, on the other hand, might drop the PayPal option in favor of cheaper alternatives.
  • 2.99% + $.49 for a regular seller. This will apply if a buyer sends a seller money from within their PayPal account as payment for goods or services. This is an increase of .09% and $.19 per transaction.
  • 2.59% + $.49 for a regular seller when there’s no chargeback protection.
    • I’d guess (?) that each seller will get to decide whether they want chargeback protection or not. Thus, in theory, these new changes are a net positive for a seller who – for whatever reason – does not need chargeback protection.
    • I wonder if this means that for our purposes there’s actually a huge net benefit here – if you ‘send money to family and friends’ and choose to pay with a credit card with a fee, presumably that would go under the ‘no chargeback protection’ provision and our fees will now be reduced from 2.90% to 2.59%.
  • 1.99% + $0.49 for confirmed charities. I believe this is instead of the current rate of 2.20% + $.30. Overall likely a net reduction in fees for charities.
  • For in-person payments there are also some changes, but I’m not entirely clear on what services PayPal offers in that regard and what the fee changes are on that end, so I’ll leave that for others to clarify.


Novo Vs. Azlo Vs. BlueVine Vs. Radius Bank – The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts

As a small business owner, finding an excellent small business checking account can be super frustrating. Big banks tend to charge a ton of fees to have a simple bank account. Credit unions may offer account options with fewer costs, but their apps and related technology usually aren’t the best.

So what should a small business owner that needs a business checking account do? If you don’t deal with a ton of cash, you may want to consider an online business checking account.

When I was looking into the banks for this article, I was surprised how great some of these accounts are compared to the brick and mortar banks I use for my business checking accounts.

In particular, I took a look at Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank. Each business checking account has pros and cons depending on the type of small business you run. Thankfully, I feel most non-cash-based small companies should be able to find a reputable business checking account between these four companies.

After you’re done reading this article, you should have a good idea of whether one of these online business checking accounts fits your small businesses’ needs. If one (or likely more) does, pick the best option, and open an account to start benefiting from the convenience and perks these online business checking accounts offer.

In a nutshell:

Novo may work for you if you value technology integration to make your life easier and an account that doesn’t charge many fees.

Lili is best for freelancers who need tools to track expenses and to set money aside for tax purposes.

BlueVine acts more like a traditional account for those looking for free checks and the potential to earn interest.

Radius Bank offers a cash back debit card that may be worthwhile if you can avoid the $10 monthly maintenance fee.

What’s Ahead:

Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank summary

Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank all have different target customers. That said, they all focus on making online business checking accounts easy to open and accessible to a large variety of small business owners. Here’s a quick summary of some of the most important factors:

Features Novo Lili BlueVine Radius Bank
Minimum to open an account $50 $0 $0 $100
Minimum balance $0 $0 $0 $0
Monthly service fee $0 $0 $0 $10 on average monthly balances under $5,000
Interest None None 1.00% if you keep a balance of over $1,000 0.10% on balances of $5,000 and up
ATM fees No ATM fees and refunds all ATM fees charged by other banks No ATM fees at 38,000 MoneyPass network ATMs No ATM fees at 38,000 MoneyPass network ATMs No fees and ATM rebates for fees charged by other banks.
Cash back on debit purchases No No No 1% cash back on online and signature-based credit transactions with your debit card
Free mobile deposit for checks Yes Yes Yes Yes

About Novo

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - Novo

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - NovoNovo, founded in 2016, aims to provide business owners with the most compelling banking experience possible. You may be surprised to hear that Novo is actually a tech company, not a bank. Instead, they leave that aspect for their banking partner, Middlesex Federal Savings, to handle.

This may be a bit confusing, but it isn’t a big problem. Your money sits in an account at Middlesex Federal Savings and Novo essentially services your account. The benefit of this partnership is your money is FDIC insured up to $250,000, just like it would be if you put your money in a regular bank account.

Novo focuses on offering features to make managing your business’s money easier. To do this, they’ve come up with several technology integrations to let your business run more smoothly. They also focus on offering a quick application process and no hidden fees.

About Lili

Novo Vs. Lili Vs. BlueVine Vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - Lili

Novo Vs. Lili Vs. BlueVine Vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - LiliLili is designed for a rapidly-growing segment of small business owners: freelancers. You’ll get free checking services complete with a Visa® business debit card and no-fee access to 38,000 ATMs. If you need to deposit a check, you can do so in the mobile app with just a couple of quick snaps of the front and back.

But Lili doesn’t just provide a place to park your freelance earnings. You’ll also get a suite of accounting tools that help you track spending and pull reports. At tax time, this will give you the information you need to file. Lili also offers autosave so you can move a little money over each month to cover taxes and build an emergency fund. 

With Lili, you’ll also get access to direct deposits up to two business days earlier than with other lenders. This will help with those pesky late-paying clients.

About BlueVine

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - BlueVine

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - BlueVineBlueVine was founded in 2013 and initially started as a business lending company. They started by offering intuitive banking services such as invoice factoring, line of credit, and term loans. Recently, BlueVine has expanded to offer a business checking account that is promising.

BlueVine works like Novo in the fact that they aren’t a traditional bank. Their deposits are managed by The Bancorp Bank, which offers at least $250,000 in FDIC coverage for funds in your account. They focus on being a one-stop-shop for your online banking needs as a small business owner and offer many great features that make this seem like a reality.

About Radius Bank

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - Radius Bank

Novo vs. Azlo vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank - The Battle Of Online Business Checking Accounts - Radius BankRadius Bank is the only company on this list that is actually a bank. They were originally founded in 1987 before internet banking was a thing. Today, they call themselves a leading online bank that caters to both consumers and businesses nationwide. Because they’re an actual bank, they also offer $250,000 of FDIC insurance on their accounts. 

As a traditional bank, Radius Bank offers a small business checking account called Tailored Checking. In addition to checking accounts, they offer SBA loans and PPP forgiveness. One especially helpful feature they provide to make banking more accessible is the fact their customer service is all U.S.-based.

Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank account offerings compared

While Novo, Lili, BlueVine, and Radius Bank all offer business checking accounts, they work differently. Depending on how you run your business, one may be a better fit than the other three. Here are the details about the account types each company offers.

Novo account offerings

Novo only offers a single business checking account, so you don’t have to worry about picking which option works best for your business. You have to have at least $50 to open an account, but once your account is open there is no minimum balance you must maintain. Opening an account is pain-free and only takes about 10 minutes.

Novo also focuses on having no hidden fees. Their fee schedule is transparent and highlights that the only fees you may come across are a $27 insufficient funds charge or a $27 uncollected funds returned fee. They provide a free debit card, free transfers, mailed checks, and incoming wires, including foreign wires. The account even refunds you all ATM fees other banks may charge you.

Novo wants to make your life as a business owner easy, so they’ve worked with many technology service providers to allow you to integrate your business checking account with these services. Currently, they offer integrations with Stripe, QuickBooks, Slack, Zapier, TransferWise, and Xero. Their mobile app has free mobile deposit if you need to deposit a check, too.

When you get a Novo business checking account, you also get access to a suite of offers from several companies such as:

  • Stripe ($20,000 in fee-free card processing).
  • Google Cloud.
  • Gusto.
  • QuickBooks (40% discount on the first six months of any Quickbooks online package).
  • Hubspot.
  • Segment.
  • Zendesk.
  • Google Ads ($150 in credits).
  • GoDaddy.
  • Salesforce Essentials.
  • Homebase.

Lili account offerings

Lili’s fee-free business model makes it perfect for freelancers. You don’t need to deposit anything or maintain a minimum balance to get started. Whether you’re regularly enjoying deposits from clients or you only sporadically make money as a freelancer, Lili gives you a place to keep your business earnings separate.

Your account will come with no monthly fees, and you’ll also enjoy fee-free cash withdrawals at more than 38,000 MoneyPass ATMs. Members also get expense tracking tools and auto-save options that make tax time a breeze.

The mobile app makes it easy to monitor your account balance, freeze your Visa card if there’s a problem, and deposit any paper checks you receive. If you travel internationally, Lili charges no international transaction fees. You won’t get ATM rebates for out-of-network ATMs, but Lili will only charge $2.50 per transaction if you can’t use a MoneyPass ATM for your withdrawal.

BlueVine account offerings

BlueVine’s business checking account immediately stands out as their sign-up process takes only 60 seconds, not up to 10 minutes. They are business-friendly since they don’t charge monthly or maintenance fees, ACH payment fees, incoming wire fees, minimum deposit fees, minimum balance fees, non-sufficient funds fees, or in-network ATM fees at MoneyPass ATM locations. Outgoing wire transfers do charge a $15 fee, though.

BlueVine will appeal to those looking for a more traditional business checking account as you get two free checkbooks with your account. While these aren’t commonly used, they’re nice to have when you need them. They even pay interest. You can earn 1.00% on  your balance up to $100,000

If you receive checks as payment, you can use BlueVine’s mobile deposit app. You can even deposit cash at 90,000 retail locations through their GreenDot partnership. Unfortunately, out-of-network ATMs can still charge you fees. BlueVine doesn’t offer ATM rebates as some other online business checking accounts do.

Radius Bank account offerings

Radius Bank’s Tailored Checking account can be opened in 10 minutes or less. They require $100 to open an account, the highest of any company on this list. They don’t have a minimum balance requirement after you make your initial deposit, though.

Even so, you can earn 1% cash back on online and signature-based “credit” transactions you make with your account’s debit card. The account pays interest on balances of $5,000 and up, but it is at a lackluster 0.10% APY. You do get unlimited ATM fee rebates for ATM fees charged by other banks and free mobile check deposit.

As a traditional bank, Radius Bank’s Tailored Checking account comes with some fees. In particular, they charge a $10 monthly maintenance fee if your average monthly balance is less than $5,000. Even with this fee, the right type of small business has access to some stellar benefits with Radius Bank.

Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank pros

Novo pros:

  • Technology integration can save you time  – Novo has spent time integrating their business checking account with several popular software programs and apps. This integration can save you a ton of time as a business owner once you get it set up. 
  • Transparent fee schedule – Understanding what fees you’ll be charged upfront is critical when it comes to business checking accounts. The fact that Novo only charges two significant fees that you probably won’t come across often is a definite plus.
  • ATM fee rebates – Novo will give you ATM fee rebates for any ATM fees your account is charged, including fees charged by other banks’ ATMs. This is huge if you need access to cash and don’t want to worry about finding an in-network ATM.

Lili pros:

  • Business tools help with taxes – Many freelancers are responsible for paying their own estimated annual taxes every quarter. Lili helps you set money aside by pulling a little money out for your tax savings.
  • Expense tracking – You can easily categorize your purchases on your Visa debit card to track expenses. This not only helps you see where your money is going, but you can also pull a report to use when you’re claiming your tax deductions each year.
  • No fees  – Not only will you enjoy fee-free checking, but you also won’t pay a fee for overdrafts. As long as you use one of the 38,000+ ATMs in the MoneyPass network, you’ll also get fee-free cash withdrawals.

BlueVine pros:

  • Can earn interest – You can earn 1.00% interest on your balance up to $100,000. This is higher than online high-yield savings accounts are paying consumers, which is quite impressive.
  • Get two free books of checks – While checks may not matter to most people, businesses may have to use checks more than individuals. Getting two free books of checks when you open your account is a nice touch.
  • Open an account in 60 seconds – Don’t spend forever sitting in a branch opening an account. With BlueVine, opening an account can take as little as 60 seconds.

Radius Bank pros:

  • Earn cash back on certain debit card purchases – You can earn 1% cash back on your purchases when using your debit card online or when using it for signature-based “credit” purchases in person. If your business ends up making more purchases versus keeping money in the bank, this could work out better than earning interest.
  • Earn interest on balances of $5,000 and up – When you carry a balance of $5,000 and up in your bank account, you earn interest at 0.10% APY. This rate isn’t outstanding and the balance requirement is hefty, but it’s still something.
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates – You don’t have to worry about which ATM you use to withdraw cash because you get unlimited ATM fee rebates each year. This can be useful if your business uses a lot of cash.

Novo vs. Lili vs. BlueVine vs. Radius Bank cons

Novo cons:

  • No cash back debit card – While other small business checking accounts may offer a cash back debit card, Novo doesn’t. That means you can’t earn cash back on your purchases.
  • No interest-bearing account options – Checking accounts don’t normally pay interest, but there are a handful of them out there that do. Novo isn’t one of them.
  • No free checkbook – Let me be honest. Writing a check is rarely necessary. You can get mailed checks for free with Novo, but they don’t send you a free checkbook if you have the occasional need to write a paper check on the spot.

Lili cons:

  • No interest-bearing accounts – Lili makes it easy to move money over for tax savings or an emergency fund, but you may want to move the money into an interest-bearing savings account once it reaches a certain threshold.
  • No cash back rewards – Although you’ll get a Visa debit card with your Lili account, your purchases won’t earn points or cash back.
  • No out-of-network ATM reimbursement – As long as you stick to the MoneyPass network, you won’t have to pay fees. Lili charges a $2.50 fee on every out-of-network transaction, though.

BlueVine cons:

  • No ATM fee rebates – Accessing cash from your bank account is essential with an online bank. While there are plenty of fee-free locations, BlueVine won’t give you a refund for out-of-network ATM fees. That means you need to look at which ATMs you use carefully.
  • No cash back debit card – You can get a debit card with your BlueVine account, but it doesn’t offer cash back. This isn’t a major downside, but you need to consider it when choosing an account.
  • Unavailable in all locations – Ineligible locations for BlueVine are North Dakota, South Dakota, and U.S. Territories including Puerto Rico.

Radius Bank cons:

  • $10 monthly maintenance fee in some cases – If your average monthly balance falls below $5,000, you’ll be hit with a $10 maintenance fee each month. This is a traditional bank fee that most online banks have done away with but Radius Bank has held on to.
  • Lackluster APY only available on high balances – While you can get paid interest in some cases, 0.10% APY isn’t anything special. The fact that you have to have a balance of $5,000 and up to earn interest is even more discouraging.
  • No free checks when you sign up – Radius Bank allows you to order checks if you need them, but you don’t get free checks when you sign up for an account.

Why choose Novo

Easy to open an account

Applying for a business checking account with Novo takes less than 10 minutes. This is very important because I’ve sat through opening a business checking account at a brick-and-mortar bank and it took about an hour. No one should have to suffer through that. Novo makes sure you don’t.

Technology integration

Technology integration with other apps you use in your business is key to speeding up processes that could otherwise take hours. Integration with apps like Stripe and QuickBooks can make your accounting much easier and less time-intensive.

Why choose Lili

Free business tools

Lili’s biggest differentiator is its business tools, which make it easy for freelancers to track their spending. This gives you insight into where your money is going while also helping you report deductions at tax time. With autosave, you can set money aside to ensure your taxes are always covered.

No-commitment banking

It’s especially valuable for freelancers to be able to have a separate account that doesn’t require a minimum balance. If you don’t have work for a month or two, you won’t have to worry about keeping enough in your account to avoid a fee. You’ll also be able to get started without making a deposit.

Why choose BlueVine

A business checking account that pays interest

Finding a business checking account that pays interest isn’t necessarily easy. The fact that BlueVine pays 1.00% interest on balances up to $100,000 is highly enticing.

Feels like a traditional business checking account with free checks

Those looking for a traditional business checking account feel may find BlueVine is a good fit. They offer two free books of checks when you open your account, which can help you write a check on the spot. As a business owner, this can happen more often than it does in your personal life. 

Why choose Radius Bank

Earn cash back with your debit card

For businesses that spend a lot of money with signature-based “credit” purchases in person or online debit card purchases, earning Radius’ 1% cash back can pad your profit margins. This feature is difficult to find, so it’s something you should strongly consider taking advantage of.

Working directly with an actual bank

Opening a Tailored Checking account with Radius Bank isn’t like working with the other companies on this list. Radius Bank is the actual bank your money will be held at, so there is never a middle man you have to deal with. It normally isn’t a problem, but it’s nice to have one less layer to get through if you have an issue.


Novo, LiliBlueVine, and Radius Bank all offer superb online business checking accounts. The key to finding the perfect fit for you is deciding which features will allow your business to run smoothly and efficiently. 

Perks like interest and cash back debit cards can help if you know they’ll provide an extra boost to your profit margins. However, technology integration could save you precious time, which you can’t get more of.

Read more:


Everything You Need for Your Kitchen & Nothing More

Kitchens. They’re amazing spaces. They can be visually stunning. They must be total workhorses. They’re quite often the heart of the home. But they can also accumulate a lot of CRAP.

As I work to not only design but also fully outfit the kitchen for the Hood Canal Cottage, I’m starting completely from scratch. No hand-me-down casserole dishes, no knives I’ve carted around since college, no random herb scissors that I’ve never ever used. For once, I get to hand-select every tool and every object that comes into the space.

With that total blank slate, I find myself often thinking (ok, obsessing) about what I want this kitchen to have. As an avid cook, as we probably all are coming through Covid, I want kitchen tools that are really pretty, but also highly functional. And nothing else.

This kitchen, designed by Our Food Stories out of a refurbished old schoolhouse in the middle of the German countryside, is a total mood. Featuring deVol kitchen cupboards, tiles, shelves, light fixtures, hardware and more. This kitchen is certainly a showcase for the many of the pieces on my list of must-have kitchen tools – and of course, it does so beautifully.

This space immediately transports you to an idyllic rural retreat. I imagine walking through overgrown gardens, picking fresh roses and making multi-course Sunday lunches here.

I love how this kitchen keeps so many key kitchen tools close at hand. While I might not be doing quite as many open shelves at Hood Canal, there is a lot to be said for having key tools within arms reach.

There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a poorly outfitted kitchen. But an overcrowded kitchen can be equally crazy-making. You have to strike that balance.

For me, the key kitchen tools I turn to time and again include one good set of pots and pans, a cast iron skillet, a good set of wooden spoons and spatulas, a top notch cutting board (or several) and then all those little tools that you need when you’re in the middle of pulling together a recipe – measuring cups, knives, peelers, strainers, graters, zesters – all the speciality things that let you add the finer components of a dish.

Those speciality tools are the kinds of things that far too many kitchens lack. Or they’re the big bulky OXOX ones you get at a grocery store that feel chunky in my hand and will just clog up my limited drawer space in the new kitchen. She gonna be cute, but she’s not going to be big.

As the weeks have progressed, I’ve been slowly but surely amassing my ultimate kitchen wish-list. Each kitchen tool, appliance, or serving piece needs to have a very critical purpose and look damn good while doing it.

I thought I’d share my wishlist with you. It’s certainly not comprehensive. As I cook every evening some other thing in my San Francisco kitchen makes me think oh yes, I have to find the beautiful version of this for Hood Canal. But all the extraneous stuff I have in my SF kitchen also makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m constantly digging for my one favorite knife or pan or bowl.

I hope you find something below you’ve been searching for. If you spot a key kitchen tool that I’m still missing, please tell me in comments! I consider my ultimate quest to outfit the ideal kitchen.

I’m also regularly adding favorites for the kitchen in the Apartment 34 SHOP so be sure to check it out too!

all images by Our Food Stories



Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record Drop In 2020?

In a weird pandemic plot twist, bankruptcies actually dropped in 2020, according to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

It seems counterintuitive, given what we know about the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus on American families and businesses. As I dig a little deeper, it’s easy to see some credit can be given to the CARES Act, which provided relief to people who are struggling.

But what do you do when the relief runs out? Will bankruptcies rise again? Let’s find out. 

What’s Ahead:

Bankruptcies for individuals and small businesses dropped in 2020; rose for large corporations

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcies dropped in 2020

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcies dropped in 2020

In early spring 2020, when cities and states began to lock down, experts predicted a calamitous effect on the economy. UCLA Anderson experts called it a “free fall” back in April, and indeed the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product – our total economic output) contracted by 9.5%. 

COVID-19 sparked a severe economic downturn nationwide, but it was unlike any other economic event in our history. Although the stock market plummeted, it soon rebounded, recapturing its losses on the way back up. Despite that good news, with the U.S. recording its sharpest quarterly drop in GDP, it was clear that the American economy was actually hurting. 

Big corporate bankruptcies increased 194% over the previous year – not unexpected given the economic volatility.

But what is weird is that individual bankruptcies and small-business bankruptcies, the mom-and-pop, Chapter 7 kind, actually fell, staying at least 20% below the year before (according to a Harvard Business School report). It was the opposite of what most experts had expected to happen to small businesses.

Why were there fewer small-business bankruptcies?

There are a few theories as to why bankruptcies among this group fell so sharply. First, it appears that the CARES act helped by providing relief to those who needed it. With Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan money coming in, that meant they could put off bankruptcy. And the moratorium on evictions likely helped, too, since oftentimes people don’t declare bankruptcy until their back’s up against the wall. Without being forced out of their homes, they could rely a little longer on pandemic relief.

Finally, with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the kind typically filed by small businesses such as sole proprietorships, there are up-front costs involved. Filing fees and attorney fees can run you thousands of dollars, and for people struggling with money, that can be too far out of reach. Many people may have put off filing bankruptcy because they couldn’t afford it, or simply shut down their small business, quietly closing up shop.

What will happen when relief dries up?

Pandemic relief won’t last forever. The moratorium on evictions, which prevents landlords from throwing people out of their homes for nonpayment, was originally set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021. President Biden extended it to at least March 31, 2021, but there are still a lot of qualifications a renter must meet if they need to take advantage of this assistance.

And while there have been two Economic Impact Payments so far – also known as stimulus checks – they are hotly debated in Washington, and it’s unclear whether more stimulus money is forthcoming, how much it will be, and who will be eligible to receive it.

When Economic Impact Payments, eviction moratoriums, and other pandemic relief runs out, small business owners must be prepared to weather whatever happens next.

How small businesses can prepare for life after COVID

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - how small business can prepare for life after COVID?

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - how small business can prepare for life after COVID?

COVID-19 changed everything. Going forward, you’ll want to help your money stretch as far as possible. Here are three ways you can prepare.

Start or boost a business savings account

Hopefully, you already have a business bank account. These accounts are really helpful for managing your business finances, keeping your accounting straight, and preparing for tax time by separating business funds from personal funds.

Even if you already have a business checking account, you should also have a business savings account. Just like it’s a good idea to save up for emergencies in your personal life, make it a habit to save up for your business, too. Having cash on hand will help you during the lean times. 

If you already have a business savings account, perhaps to set aside money for quarterly estimated taxes, then start adding funds for savings, too. You could set aside a certain percentage of your income and route it right to your business savings account when you are paid. 

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - Novo

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - NovoNovo is an online bank that’s perfect for freelancers and small business owners, and it has been adding a bunch of features to its offerings lately. 

For example, Novo’s new Reserves function (launched January 2021) lets you set aside money right within your account to use later. It’s not a separate bank account; rather, you can think of it as a section within your existing account that puts up a wall around a certain portion of your cash to reserve it for later.

You can also invoice clients directly from Novo now, making it even easier to manage your business. Time is money, so everything you can do to simplify and streamline your processes now will help your bottom line down the road. 

Novo also lets you send and receive checks, make deposits with your phone, track your account balance from anywhere, and most importantly, save up for economic downturns.

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - BlueVine

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - BlueVine

If you’d like to earn a little interest on your business funds, check out BlueVine Business Bank. Their high-interest checking account gives a good return on your balance: 1.00%, which is higher than you can get almost anywhere else, including high-yield online savings accounts.

BlueVine is excellent for small business owners who hate hidden fees, too. There are no monthly, NSF, or incoming wire fees, so you can bank confidently. You don’t have to have a minimum balance, which is great for small businesses that are just starting out and starting to build profit. Plus, you can use 38,000 ATMs across the country to manage and deposit your money.

Opening a Blue Vine account will help you keep your finances straight and earn extra cash, too – both of which are important for small business owners, side hustlers, and freelancers.

Find a credit card that can help

Another underused lifeline in the post-COVID era might be your credit card. Credit cards can be a lifeline between payments, helping you bridge the lean times until you are paid again. 

But if the pandemic has done a number on your credit score, you might have trouble getting credit. You’re not alone! Don’t panic. There are cards available for this exact situation, so there is help for you.

Apply Now

One unsecured credit card that can be an especially good fit for those with poor credit is the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®. This card can approve you even with a previous bankruptcy, so if it comes to that, rest assured you’ll still have options. 

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® offers quick and easy pre-qualification. Pre-qualifying for the card is a great way to know if you’ll be approved without the credit card company doing a “hard pull,” which shows up on your credit report. It’s another way to keep your score as high as possible while exploring your options.

Your annual fee could be $0-$99 depending on your credit profile, but you won’t have to pay a deposit. Try to pay the balance in full each month, because the interest rate on this card is 24.90%

Bankruptcy may still be necessary

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcy may be necessary in the future

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcy may be necessary in the future

Even if you do all you can to prepare, sometimes a bankruptcy will be necessary to wipe the slate clean. In fact, some experts are predicting up to a 140% increase in bankruptcies in the coming year, as people who have put off the inevitable for as long as they could finally pull the plug.

If you do end up filing for bankruptcy, then know that there is help available for you.

The Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA)

One thing to be aware of is the Small Business Reorganization Act, which became effective in February 2020. This law created a subchapter, called Subchapter V, of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. It in essence makes it easier for small businesses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is a reorganization that allows you to get your finances in order and stay in business. Subchapter V streamlines and speeds up the process by which you make a plan to repay your creditors and eliminates a lot of roadblocks that larger corporations have to jump through.

It’s different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where you basically sell-off (or “liquidate”) everything you can to pay off as much of your debt as possible. 

With Subchapter V, you can have up to $2.73 million in debts and still retain control of the operation as you reorganize. You’ll get a trustee who monitors your case and helps you create a repayment plan. Subchapter V also won’t require a smaller business to establish a “creditors committee,” which can be a complex and expensive task when filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Big corporations take advantage of the bankruptcy process to get out from under a crushing load of debt. Take the example of JCPenney, who filed for bankruptcy in 2020, as did J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, California Pizza Kitchen, and a host of others. Often, these companies are able to restructure, reorganize, and reopen better than ever.

You may be able to, too.


If the pandemic has battered your business, find every resource in your power to stay afloat. Whether it’s PPP loans, a bigger, better savings account, or a bankruptcy filing, there’s a way for you to emerge from this national disaster stronger than ever.

Small business is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and it’s businesses like yours that make communities stronger. If you need help weathering the post-COVID era, take the assistance that is available – it just might help you create a powerful new endeavor going forward.

Read more:


Can You Get Chase Referral Bonus For In-Branch Applications? (Maybe)

A question we’ve been getting often in the comments is:

Can I get referral credit when referring my friend to a Chase credit card when they plan on applying in-branch? They may be applying in-branch since they are more comfortable that way or because the in-branch offer is superior. 

This question has been asked many times recently due to the increased 80,000 points Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus. The bonus is the same in-branch and online, but the branch offer waives the first year’s $95 annual fee.

I’ve seen references in the past to be able to go into a Chase branch with the referral info, and the banker would then be able to give the superior branch offer and still have it track back to the referrer so that they get their bonus as well.

A recent Reddit thread mentions that idea as well, noting that you should come into the branch with the referrer’s signup link. I’d recommend also having the referrer’s name, address, and phone number in case the banker asks.

That thread seems to suggest that you can only get the branch offer and the referral offer in the case where it’s a matter of a waived annual fee. However, if the referral offer is lower than the branch offer, the thread suggest it won’t work.

If you try it either way, let us know how it goes.


9 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works

Millennials are taking their banking online for all kinds of reasons. COVID-19 has curtailed in-person customer service at lots of establishments, and these days the Internet is where everything happens anyway.

Online checking accounts are getting increasingly popular, and they’re adding more perks to keep customers on board. Some of these accounts even earn interest — at enviable rates, too.

What’s Ahead:

Best online checking accounts overview


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Chime Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - ChimeMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: None.
  • Account minimum: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

Chime’s online-only Spending Account makes everyday spending easy with a Visa debit card. Overall spending on the card is limited to $2,500 a day, so this isn’t an account for bigger-ticket purchases — but it’s a great place to store money for regular use. 

No credit check is required to open an account. This is a huge Chime bonus, since it’s hard to find a legitimate checking account that doesn’t use credit reporting to screen new customers. If you have a history of closed accounts or less-than-great credit, you can start over with Chime.

Account-holders get a linked savings account with Chime as well. If you want to, you can set Chime to round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and drop the remainder in savings; a “spare change” savings approach. 

With direct deposit, you can get paid two days early. Not everyone can access this feature — your employer needs to allow it — but it’s one of the best parts of Chime. Access your money as soon as the deposit is received, instead of waiting two days for the check to clear.

Open account/get details or read our full Chime review.

Discover Cashback Debit Account

  • 8 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works - Discover8 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works - DiscoverMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: None.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

An online outpost of a well-established bank, Discover’s Cashback Debit account has a solid reputation. It’s remarkably low on fees — Discover doesn’t charge for checks, returned deposits, account inactivity, OR expedited replacement debit card delivery. 

As Discover hints in the account name, there are cashback rewards! The structure is simple: 1% on up to $3,000 worth of purchases a month (debit card purchases only, not ATM withdrawals, loan payments, or peer-to-peer transactions). You can earn up to $360 in cash rewards per year, and points don’t expire.

If you use cash — and sometimes you do need to use cash — another benefit to Discover is the ease of finding a no-fee ATM. Discover boasts over 60,000 branded ATMs around the world.

Discover also has easy paper check deposit, a well-rated mobile app, and award-winning customer service; you really can’t go wrong here.

Open account/get details or read our full Discover Cashback Debit review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Aspiration Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - AspirationMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.25%-1.00% APY.
  • Account minimum: $10.
  • Monthly fees: Pay what you can (Spend and Save)/$3.99 (Aspiration Plus).

Aspiration checking accounts reward you for spending money at socially conscious companies. 

When you buy from the vendors on Aspiration’s list of Conscience Coalition partners, you’ll get pretty impressive cash back rewards — between 3% to 10% on each purchase, depending on the account you have. 

Aspiration’s fee model works on the honor system. You pay what you think is fair. Chipping in a small amount — which you can change at any time — is a good-faith gesture. There are a few other fees for things like wire transfers and expediting a debit card, but Aspiration keeps charges light.

A basic Aspiration Spend and Save checking account comes with 3% to 5% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases, no balance requirements, and an honor system fee. If you want to upgrade to Aspiration Plus, this high-yield account does have a fixed monthly fee of $3.99. But it comes with a starting APY of 0.25%, and you can qualify for a hefty 1.00% APY if you meet spending requirements — plus 10% cash back rewards for Conscience Coalition purchases.

There are cash back rewards for everyday spending outside of Conscience Coalition companies; 0.25% for all purchases, and 0.5% or more for purchases from vendors with a high social impact score on Aspiration’s “Impact Management” metric.

Open account/get details or read our full Aspiration review.

Radius Bank

  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Radius Bank Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Radius BankMinimum opening deposit: $100.
  • APY: 0.10% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $9 (Essential Checking)/None (Rewards and Superhero Checking).

Boston-based, online-only Radius Bank has one of the highest-yield online checking accounts out there. Deposits are unlimited, which is an unusual feature, and you can easily transfer money to and from any linked account.

The Essential Checking account is a no-frills option for anyone without the credit or banking history to qualify for Radius’s fancier accounts. There’s a steep $9 monthly fee and a daily $500 debit card limit, so this is ideally a temporary account to build a positive banking record. After 12 months you’ll be able to upgrade.

Rewards Checking (formerly Hybrid Checking) is the real draw of Radius. There are no monthly fees, a decent 0.10% APY, and unusually high cash back rewards of 1.5% if you maintain at least a $2,500 balance. 

You can also opt for a Superhero Checking account, which has most of the perks of rewards checking. The APY is a bit lower at 0.05%, but Radius matches your earned interest and donates the matched amount to the March of Dimes monthly.

Radius Rewards and Superhero account holders get unlimited ATM rebates, which extend to foreign ATMS. And Radius, like Chime, lets direct deposit recipients access their paychecks two days early.

Open account/get details or read our full Radius Bank review.

FNBO Direct

  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - FNBO Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - FNBOMinimum opening deposit: $1.
  • APY: 0.65% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

FNBO Direct is the online extension of the brick-and-mortar First National Bank of Omaha. Account-holders get a free bill-pay system and direct deposit as well as free fraud monitoring. 

The standout feature is FNBO Direct’s 0.65% APY. It’s uncommon to find an interest-bearing online checking account at all, let alone one that doesn’t have a balance requirement or tiered interest rates.

All account holders get a Visa debit card, but with good credit you can apply for the ExtraEarnings Visa. This upgrade gets you cash back rewards on a points system — 2% on all purchases in the first 12 months and 1% afterward — which you can redeem for credit.

If you opt in to overdraft protection, you’ll get a $33 fee each time you overdraw the account (though FNBO Direct waives your first overdraft fee in a calendar year). If not, any transactions that exceed your account balance will be declined.

Open account/get details or read our full FNBO Direct review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Novo Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - NovoMinimum opening deposit: $50.
  • APY: None.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

Bank Novo accounts are designed for business use, not personal funds — they don’t earn interest. You’ll need to prove you’re working as a freelancer or operating a small business before qualifying for Novo online checking. 

But once you get approved it’s a great resource for everyday cash flow. The only fees you’ll pay are the $27 “Insufficient Funds” charges in case you send or deposit a bad check.

Novo partners with a few popular business platforms like Slack, Xero accounting, and TransferWise for easy digital integration. You can communicate with clients, transfer funds, and review your business finances without skipping a beat. 

Though Novo lacks its own branded ATMs, it reimburses you for domestic and international ATM fees. And you can move funds back and forth between Novo and personal accounts, which can be especially helpful if you’re paying yourself a salary from your earnings.

Open account/get details or read our full Novo review.

Capital One 360

Bad Credit? It Won't Stop You From Getting A Car Loan With These 5 Lenders - Capital One

Bad Credit? It Won't Stop You From Getting A Car Loan With These 5 Lenders - Capital One

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.10% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Big bank service providers like Capital One are getting in on the online checking account craze. This gives customers a few more options — you can do everything digitally, or you can go analog with a paper checkbook. There are other perks to using an established bank, like plenty of fee-free Capital One ATMs to choose from.

Capital One 360 does have a few fees other online banks don’t charge, including fees for stopped payments, physical checks, overdrafts, and overnight debit card delivery. But as long as you keep fee-based transactions minimal, you’ll earn some serious interest with an 0.10% APY.

This account offers three overdraft options, more than most of its competitors.

Auto-Decline simply declines any transactions you can’t afford (this is the default of most banks).

Next Day Grace gives you one business day to add enough funds to cover the overdrawn balance, with a $35 charge.

Free Savings Transfer applies if you have a linked Capital One 360 savings account. Transfer money from checking to savings automatically to cover any overdrafts.

Open account/get details or read our full Capital One 360 review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Simple Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - SimpleMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.01%-1.00% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Simple online checking accounts, as the name suggests, are pretty simple—no fees, no physical branches, no complex rewards systems. The no-fee model extends to overdrafts, incoming wire transfers, stop payments, and closed accounts.

The basic Simple Account offers a modest 0.01% APY. After you open a Simple Account, you can apply for a high-yield Protected Goals Account and earn much more interest — up to 1.00% APY with no minimum balance required. Protected Goals Accounts are designed to make it easier to save up for — you guessed it — big goals. 

The big draw of Simple is that it helps you budget; it’s a checking account and a money management app rolled into one. Plugin savings goals and scheduled payments, and Simple will calculate how much money you have leftover, giving you a “Safe to Spend” sum. 

Open account/get details.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Ally Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - AllyMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.10%-0.50% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Ally’s interest-earning online checking account is easy to fund and use. Transfer to and from an external account for free, use eCheck Deposit to enter a check (you can upload a photo of physical checks), use a wire transfer (with a fee), or enable direct deposit.

They do have some fees, but they’re upfront about it — you’ll pay for expedited debit card delivery, stop payments, same-day payments, and returned deposits.

Balances under $15,000 earn an 0.10% APY. If you can maintain a $15,000 balance or above, you can really earn high yields at 0.50% APY.

Allpoint ATMs are free for Ally checking account holders, and Ally even reimburses you for using out-of-network ATMs up to $10 per statement cycle.

Ally’s overdraft fee is $25, but you’ll only get hit with one fee per day, and there are no extra fees for extended negative balances. If you have another linked Ally account (savings, for instance) you can use Ally’s free overdraft transfer service.

Open account/get details or read our full Ally Bank review.

Summary of the best online checking accounts

Checking account Best for APY Overdraft fees Account minimum Withdrawal limits Rebates for out-of-network ATM charges Cash back rewards Physical branches
Chime No credit check N/A None None $500/ day ($200 daily transfer limit) No No No
Discover Fee-free ATMs N/A None None $510/ day No 1.00% (up to $3,000/month) Yes
Aspiration Social impact 0.25% -1.00% (with fees) None $10 $1,000/day (after first 30 days) Yes 0.10%-0.50%; Conscience Coalition purchases earn 3%-10% No
Radius Bank Cash back rewards 0.10% ($2,500 minimum) $25; $5/day after five days $100 to open account; no minimum balance $500/day (for essential checking) Yes 1.00%-1.50 Yes (Boston only)
FNBO Direct Interest rate 0.65% $33 (with overdraft protection) $1 $10,000 (bill payment limit) No 1.00% (only with ExtraEarnings card) Yes
Bank Novo Freelancers and small business owners N/A $27 $50 to open account; no minimum balance Varies by account No No No
Capital One 360 Overdraft options 0.10% $35 No minimum to open (deposit required within 60 days) $1,000/ day No No Yes
Simple Budgeting tools 0.01%-1.00% None None $500/ day No No No
Ally Fund transfers 0.10%-0.50% $25/day None $1,000/ day Yes No No

How I came up with this list 

I looked for online checking accounts that were easy to set up and maintain. Convenience and simplicity are priorities for each of these banks. 

If you’re new to online banking or managing money through mobile apps, an online checking account will get you started without the stress of moving hundreds of dollars around—that’s why I picked accounts with smaller opening deposit requirements. 

And if you’re an expert at banking via smartphone, these accounts will integrate seamlessly into the rest of your financial life. Most will link to online payment systems like Google Pay and Apple Pay. 

Best of all, each account offers some perk or reward that stands out from the competition. FNBO Direct and Aspiration offer competitive interest rates, Radius, and Discover reward you for spending with cash back, and Simple comes with a built-in budgeting system…just to name a few. 

How to use online checking accounts

You can set up your account from any device with an Internet connection. Going forward, though, it’s easiest to download the mobile app associated with the account. Most platforms can be accessed in a web browser if necessary, but the apps often have more features and make transactions faster.

Though most of these picks don’t have minimum balance requirements, you do need some funds to get started. You can transfer from another account or deposit a check.

In many ways, online checking accounts aren’t that different from traditional checking accounts (some even come from banks with physical branches). You’ll get a debit card and free access to in-network ATMs. Some accounts, like Discover, add a handy ATM locator.

And most accounts will let you set up online bill pay for easy electronic transfer. If anyone’s still mailing checks to the landlord or the electric company, online payments might simplify your life and save you money on stamps.

What to look for in an online checking account

FDIC insurance and security

Some of the options here, like Aspiration and Chime, aren’t traditional banks themselves. If that’s the case, they partner with a bank to give customers FDIC insurance and keep your money secure against theft. A good account also has strong encryption to protect information privacy.

Low or minimal fees

A low-fee guarantee helps keep online banks competitive in a growing marketplace. Though most providers charge some fees in the fine print, the big ones—like monthly maintenance—are absent. The fees you’re willing to accept may depend on your account use. If you’re concerned about overdrawing your account, a bank without overdraft fees (or better yet, overdraft protection) might be a good choice.

Good customer service

All banks claim they have great customer service, and many offer this support 24/7 through phone, email, and messenger. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Look for quick response, representatives who take time to listen and solve your problems, and strong follow-up.

Pros of online checking accounts

They’re accessible 24/7

You can bank online anywhere you have an Internet connection. This means you can deposit checks as soon as you get them, which is essential since checks often take some time to clear. And you can see your balance immediately so you know what you’re working with.

They make automated payments simple

Have you ever been charged a late fee because life got busy and you forgot to pay a bill? Me too. Automatic payments are a saving grace, especially if you’re paying multiple bills. Set up auto-transfers from checking to savings if you want to hit savings goals faster.

They have low (or no) minimum balances

On the other hand, if you don’t have the cash to cover those auto-payments, you can keep your account humming along without a fee or cancellation (don’t forget to cancel the auto-payments, though). Low minimum balances are great if you’re starting small or planning to keep most of your earnings in a higher-yield account.

Cons of online checking accounts

They don’t have in-person customer service

If you prefer to take your banking queries to a human being, or if you want to get to know the staff at your bank, choose an account from a provider with physical branches. When a bank is wholly online, you never see the faces at the other end of the phone, which can be alienating.

They don’t accept cash deposits

Most online checking accounts don’t take cash deposits — this could be an inconvenience if you work in an industry where cash payments are the norm. You may be able to take the long way around by converting the cash into a money order.

They’re vulnerable to internet outages

Websites and apps do crash, and Internet service is almost — but not quite — everywhere. If you can’t access the Internet, you can’t access your bank.


Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking – Which Is Better For You?

When it comes to deciding where to put your money, it can seem like the sky’s the limit. There are so many banks out there, with new ones popping up all the time. But where you decide to do your banking can have important effects on your financial life, so it’s important that you don’t just pick the next bank that comes along. You need to pick the right bank for your financial needs.

Here’s an overview of online banks and traditional banks, as well as why you might want to use one over the other, so you can decide which is a better fit for you. 

What’s Ahead:

The difference between online and traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - The differences between online and traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - The differences between online and traditional banks

Although both traditional and online banks take care of your money for you, they do differ in a lot of their features and capabilities. Here are some of the differences at a glance:

  Fees Interest Service Online access
Online banks Lower fees or even free Higher APY for savings; some offer interest on checking, too Online and some phone customer support Automatic online and mobile app access
Traditional banks Higher fees, and more of them Lower APY, even close to zero In-person, online, and phone support Online and mobile app access usually available if you want it

Online banks

  • No physical locations – Online banks don’t have physical locations you can visit, you’ll do all of your banking via the web, or a mobile app.
  • Speedy account opening process – Opening an account at an online bank can be a quick and easy process. You’ll need to provide some personal info, but once you identify yourself, your new account can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • A slick online process – Online banks focus on the user experience, making banking as easy as possible via their online platform.
  • Some ATM fees – Online banks may offer ATM access, but you’ll want to make sure you find out what in-network fees you might encounter, and what cash limits your account imposes. 
  • Higher interest rates – Online banks usually offer better interest rates. They don’t always have the expenses that traditional banks do — no buildings and so on — so they can pass a little more of the savings on to the customer. 
  • Few to no fees – Online banks are the clear winner when it comes to fees. Just as many online banks don’t need to shave your interest yields down to nearly nothing, they also have the wiggle room to charge less for fees.
  • Phone or online customer service – While online banks definitely have customer support teams, you’ll also find yourself scrolling for answers in support forums or chatting with an online bot to get the help you need. 

Traditional banks

  • Local branches are available – Banks like Chase have actual buildings, called branches, that you can visit, either on foot or via a drive-through. These branches are staffed with bank tellers and other employees who can help you complete all your banking needs.
  • Opening an account can take a while – At a traditional bank, you’ll likely have to bring documentation with you and visit a branch during normal business hours. You could find yourself waiting anywhere from five minutes to an hour for your account to be completely set up.
  • Some online banking options – Traditional banks frequently offer a banking website or mobile app for you to conduct your transactions. However, oftentimes, those apps aren’t as robust as online banks. 
  • Large ATM network – Since traditional banks have bank branches, they’ll also offer ATM access at their network of ATMs.
  • Lower interest rates – You might get 0.10% APY (or even 0.01% APY) on a savings account at a traditional bank, but it’s much easier to find higher yields at online banks.
  • Typically come with fees – A traditional bank might charge $10 or even $15 per month just to have a checking account.
  • In-person customer service – Here’s where traditional banks definitely have the edge. After all, part of all that overhead that keeps them charging more is staffing bank branches with friendly faces.

The difference between personal and business banking

Before I tell you the pros and cons of online banking, it’s important to make a distinction between personal banking and business banking.

Personal banking

  • Meant for personal transactions – Personal banking is the banking you do for your personal life.
  • Direct deposit options – A personal bank account is where you’ll likely have your paycheck direct deposited.
  • Meant for personal savings goals – You may put your vacation savings or your emergency fund in your personal savings account.
  • Lower fees – Personal bank accounts typically have lower fees and are not designed for frequent business transactions.

Business banking

  • For businesses only – You might use a business bank account if you’re an entrepreneur with your own small business, a freelancer, or an independent contractor who needs to keep business money separate from personal money.
  • Lower interest rates, typically – You’ll often find business banking and personal banking offered at the same institution, but rates offered for business accounts won’t necessarily be the same as what’s offered for personal accounts.

Why you should use online banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should choose online banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should choose online banks

Online banks may seem like a new invention in the banking world, but there’s a reason they grew so quickly and are, in many ways, more popular with younger bankers in particular. Plus, online banks are typically every bit as safe as traditional banks, and their funds are FDIC-insured, too.

Online banks have a few other benefits, as well.

Better rates

One of the biggest benefits of most online banks is that they typically offer much better interest rates on your savings accounts. After all, with no bank branches to pay for, online banks have lower overhead, and they can pass those savings on to the customer.

Online banking interest rates can be as much as 10 times higher than standard banks’. During these times of rock-bottom interest rates, it might not be much — say, 1.0% APY — but that still beats the 0.10% APY of typical traditional banks.

Online convenience

The beauty of online banking is 24-hour convenience. Need to make a deposit — at 3 a.m.? No problem. Just snap a pic of the check with your phone and securely upload it to your account. Or if you have a bundle of cash, you may be able to use an ATM, prepaid card, or bank transfer.

Wondering if your check cleared? Just visit your banking website and check the status. You can make transfers, withdrawals, and bill payments at most online banks, too.

Low fees

In addition to competitive interest rates, online banks also tend to offer their customers very low fees compared to traditional banks. Some online banks offer fee-free checking accounts or savings accounts, perks that can save you about $10 or $15 a month depending on the bank. You might even find a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees, transfer fees, or most other fees, either.

Who should use online banks

Those already living their life online

Online banking will require you to be comfortable with using an app or a website to make deposits, check balances, and transfer funds.

If you can confidently open an app and follow directions and hate making a special trip to visit the bank, you’re going to love online banking.

Chime is a perfect example. When you sign up for a free Chime account, you get access to their Spend and Save accounts (roughly equivalent to traditional checking and savings), but instead of a checkbook, you get Chime’s easy-to-use app. It’ll show you your balance, your recent transactions, even real-time notifications and alerts. Lose your card? Just freeze it from within the Chime app, and whoever finds it won’t be able to use it. Hate writing checks? Me too. Just send one using Chime. They’ll write it out and mail it for you! 

Those who hate paying for things

One of the best things about online banks is that you can almost always find one for free.

For instance, you can get a free checking account at BBVA. For a checking account at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you could be looking at $120 a year just in monthly fees to use the account, but not at BBVA.  

If you like free things, you’ll love the banks that pay YOU for banking with them. Radius Bank is one of the banks that pay interest if you maintain a certain balance. Their Hybrid Checking Account will pay you 1.00% APY if you keep $2,500 in your account — compare that to what you’ll get at a major traditional bank, which is just 0.01%. (Not a typo: the national average savings account interest rate is one one-hundredth of a percent. Ouch).

Freelancers or side hustlers

As mentioned above, bank accounts come in not just online or traditional flavors, but personal and business, too. If you’re a freelancer or side hustler, I encourage you to check out the benefits of using an online business bank account for your biz. It keeps your business funds separate from your personal money, which helps you treat your efforts as a legitimate business. (It also makes things way easier at tax time). If you are used to doing most, or all, of your business online, you will probably enjoy doing your business banking through an online bank as well.

Not every business bank account is made for the freelancer life, though. Even business bank accounts designed for small businesses can require high daily balances or large monthly fees, and that often doesn’t fit with operating a freelance business.

You’ll be much better off with a free online account in these situations. Novo, for instance, is a great bank to do business with. It is free to open an account with Novo and they do not charge monthly fees, either. You can link your personal checking account and arrange for invoices to be paid to your Novo business account, then transfer some of your earnings over to your personal account. You can protect some of your business earnings for paying taxes later and it’s easy to keep records, too. Plus, if you sign up with Novo, they’ll help you with discounts for apps and services you’ll actually use in your business: think Slack, Stripe, or Quickbooks.

Novo offers a robust app that lets you monitor your balance, send and receive money, pay bills, and transfer funds to linked accounts.

You should also consider BlueVine – a company that offers both a business checking account and loans for small businesses. The BlueVine Business Checking account provides unlimited transactions, live support, and no monthly fees. Plus, you can earn 1.00% APY.

The business loans side comes with either a line of credit or invoice factoring. With the line of credit, you can get up $250,000 in credit, with rates as low as 4.8%. With invoice factoring, you can get a factoring line up to $5 million, with rates as low as 0.25%/week.

Why you should use traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should use traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should use traditional banks

So, with all that being said, there are still some benefits to using traditional banks. If that’s what you’re used to, you might be inclined to carry on as you always have been.

Personal service

For instance, traditional banks will be able to offer you more personal service. Depending on the bank you choose and the tellers that staff your local branch, you might wind up banking at the kind of place where everybody knows your name. The employees can help you set up banking products such as loans and credit cards and explain how they work. If you prefer a personal touch to your banking experience, traditional banks are definitely in your favor.

Powerful features

With a traditional bank, you might have access to more powerful features than you would with a bare-bones online bank. In addition to personal service at in-person locations, you might have a more robust banking website with more features, including ones that will help you save money. Traditional banks also tend to be more involved with the communities that they service and some can even provide business account holders with networking opportunities. 

Who should use traditional banks

Those who want a little hand-holding

Traditional banks are going to better for those who are looking for a personal touch to their banking. You’ll be able to just pop over to your local branch and see a smiling face (instead of going crazy in the multiple-choice labyrinth of a customer service call). 

In fact, a lot of traditional banks offer more than just checking or savings, allowing you to do a lot of different banking tasks under one roof. HSBC is a UK-based bank making their way across the pond, and they offer CDs, credit cards, mortgages, investing, and insurance in addition to a wide variety of checking and savings accounts. You’d never need another bank if you chose to route all your financial activities through them.

CIT Bank is another one that offers a full-service selection of banking and borrowing, with credit cards and CDs rounding out their checking and savings selections. They even offer a 0.40% APY on their CIT Savings Builder account, though you’ll need either a $25,000 balance or you’ll need to deposit $100 monthly to see those yields.

Those who need to bank like a boss

If it’s business bank accounts you’re after, traditional banks can help you bank like a literal boss. Chase Business Complete BankingSM is a popular choice for small businesses. There’s no minimum to open an account, and there are thousands of bank branches across the U.S. Plus, there are still robust online options like the Chase website and mobile app for when you need to accomplish your banking tasks right away. 


Overall, whether you go with an online or a traditional bank depends a lot on your banking needs, not to mention your preferences and budget. For the low-cost, independent route, online banking might fit the bill, and for the high-budget but high-features path, traditional banks may be more your speed.

Remember, there’s no law that says you can have only one account — you might prefer to have your checking at a traditional bank, but use an online savings account for the great interest rates. It’s up to you. Either way you slice it, you’ll be stashing your cash in a safe, dependable place so it can grow — which is the whole point of a bank account, no matter where you put it.

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