BlueVine Alternatives: 4 Online Business Banking Replacements

by Barbara Hadden

BlueVine now has a waitlist. Here are some solid alternatives for online business banking, each with unique features that may be an even better fit for your business.

BlueVine is an online bank built around the needs of small business owners. It’s truly a great bank for plenty of reasons, including its lack of hidden fees, flexible transaction options, and generous offer of 1.00% APY on all checking account balances up to $100,000. 

But sadly, BlueVine now has a waitlist . The online bank grew massively popular, so it’s no surprise, really. 

Thankfully, there are other online banks that easily compete, and those on this list represent strong alternatives to BlueVine, each with their own unique perks and benefits. 

Without further ado, let’s investigate alternatives to BlueVine. 

Bank Best for Minimum opening deposit Monthly fee Unique offering Novo Free ATM withdrawals worldwide $50 $0 Send paper checks for free Lili No min. balance or overdraft fees $0 $0 for Lili Standard; $4.99 for Lili Pro Free tax prep tools Chase Business Complete Banking℠ In-person banking $0 $15 (waived with balance of $2,000+) $300 signup bonus LendingClub Tailored Business Checking account Cash back $100 $10 (waived with balance of $5,000+) 1% cash back on debit purchases NorthOne Third-party app integration $50 $10 Extensive third-party app integration
  • BlueVine Alternatives: 5 Online Business Banking Replacements - Novo Fees: $27 insufficient funds charge, $27 uncollected funds returned fee.
  • Min. Balance: $5.
  • Promotions: None as of April 2021.
  • Features: Quick signup process, Integration with Xero, Zapier, Slack, and TransferWise, send paper checks for free, refunds on 100% of ATMs worldwide.

In the heated competition for the best BlueVine alternative,  Novo busts out of the gate with a speedy signup process, almost no fees, and slick integration with some helpful finance and communication apps. 

One of Novo’s more unique features is the ability to send paper checks through the app. Let’s say you have an old-school contractor who takes the phrase “check is in the mail” literally. Now, maybe you don’t have a checkbook – or maybe you do , but you’re hardly enthralled by the idea of writing a check, finding a stamp, licking an envelope… might as well use whale oil to power your desk lamp, am I right? 

As an alternative to all that rigamarole, you can simply order Novo to send a check for you through the app, and it’ll arrive within 7-10 days. 

If your contractors prefer cash, or you simply make frequent cash withdrawals for your business, take note of Novo’s other unique perk: automatic refunds on 100% of ATM fees worldwide. This way, you never have to worry about hemorrhaging $3 or so every time you pull cash. 

As far as drawbacks go, Novo doesn’t offer any interest-bearing account options. But, perhaps Novo’s biggest drawback is that you can’t deposit cash, which is a bit odd given how easy they make it to withdraw . Even still, the savings on ATM fees and checkbooks may make up for these shortcomings. 

Learn more about Novo or read our full review.

BlueVine Alternatives: 5 Online Business Banking Replacements - Lili

  • Fees:  Out-of-network ATM fee $2.50 domestic and $5 international; $4.99 monthly for Lili Pro account.
  • Min. Balance:  $0.
  • Promotions:  $50 Refer a friend promotion.
  • Features:  Tax Bucket and Emergency Bucket support financial planning, $0 overdraft, and no minimum balance fees. Lili Pro plan with advanced accounting features and cash back rewards.

Lili  is extremely friendly to small businesses just starting out, as they have no hidden fees, no minimum balance, and most surprisingly, no overdraft fees. If you’re a sole proprietor who’s shied away from opening a business bank account in order to avoid fees, Lili is calling for you. 

Plus, Lili offers some simple but massively helpful tax planning tools. Sure, you can save receipts through the app and download quarterly reports, but those features are hardly unique to mobile banking in 2021. What  is  unique, and begs the question “why doesn’t everyone do this”, is Lili’s Tax Bucket feature. In just a few taps, you can have Lili automatically put aside a certain percentage of your deposits for tax season. You can do the same thing for your emergency fund using the Emergency Bucket feature.

The Tax Bucket and Emergency Bucket features are such helpful no-brainers that I’m honestly perplexed as to why more banks don’t offer them.

Lili Pro sweetens the pot a little more. For just $4.99 a month, you get the following enhanced features: 

  • Cash back rewards with more than 14,000 merchants.
  • Lili Pro debit card.
  • Unlimited invoices.
  • Up to $200 in overdrafts with no fees.
  • Customizable expense categories.
  • 1% interest on savings.

As for cons, well, Lili may not be a long-term solution for growing businesses. You can only send $1,000 to external bank accounts each month, you can’t order multiple debit cards, and Lili is mobile-only.

So in short, Lili has a  lot  to offer freelancers, but its limitations as a long-term banking solution may be quickly outgrown. 

Learn more about Lili  or  read our full review .

  • BlueVine Alternatives: 5 Online Business Banking Replacements - Chase Business Checking Fees: $15 monthly fee (waivable with $2,000 min. balance), 2.6% + $0.10 per authorized Chase QuickAccept transaction, $15 incoming and outgoing wire fees, domestic and international.
  • Min. Balance: $0 ($2,000 to avoid $15 monthly fee).
  • Promotions: Receive $300 upon opening Chase Business Complete Banking℠ account, depositing $2,000 or more in new money within 30 days of coupon enrollment; maintaining a $2,000 balance for 60 days and making 5 qualifying transactions within 90 days of coupon enrollment
  • Features: In-person banking, robust mobile and online banking tools, seamless credit card processing.

All these VC-backed, online-only banks are exciting and disruptive, sure, but Chase makes a darn compelling case to go “old-school” with your business banking needs. I put “old-school” in quotes because despite being around since 1799, there’s hardly anything quaint or inconvenient about Chase’s offerings to small business owners. 

First off, Chase is the only bank on this list with an introductory promo offer, and a generous one at that. Open a Chase Business Complete BankingSM account, maintain a balance of $2,000 for 60 days, and complete five qualifying transactions (deposit, incoming wire, debit purchase, etc.) and you’ll get $300 credited to your account within 10 days. 

In addition to new school features like a slick website and mobile experience, the Chase Business Complete Banking℠ account gives you access to every “classic” banking need your business may have. Checks? Check. In-network ATMs? Check. An actual bank where you can walk inside and ask questions? Check. 

If you frequently handle P2P credit card transactions, take special note of Chase QuickAccept. The blatant Square assassin charges the same transaction fees (2.6% plus $0.10, 3.5% for key-ins) but with a notable exception; Chase will automatically deposit your funds same-day for free, whereas Square charges an additional 1.5% fee. 

Drawbacks to Chase Business Complete Banking℠ include high wire fees ($15 domestic and international, incoming and outgoing) and a high monthly fee of $15. Sure, you can waive it by keeping $2,000 in your account, but if you ever need to move that $2,000 into your personal account, you’re giving Chase your Netflix money that month. If your business involves plenty of wire transfers or you see yourself maintaining a balance below $2,000, you may want to pass. 

Learn more about Chase Business Complete Banking℠ or read our full review.

  • BlueVine Alternatives: 5 Online Business Banking Replacements - LendingClub Tailored Business Checking Fees: $10 monthly fee (waivable with $5,000+ balance) $5 daily overdraft fee (after five days in the red), $5 dormant account fee, $35 expedited card replacement, $25 non-sufficient funds (NSF) charge .
  • Min. Balance: $0 ($5,000 to avoid a $10 monthly fee).
  • Promotions: None as of April 2021.
  • Features: 1% cash back on all business debit purchases, 24/7 customer service, award-winning online experience.

If you’re feeling FOMO about BlueVine’s APY, consider that LendingClub offers the next best thing: 1% cash back on all debit purchases. In fact, if you’re spending more than you’re keeping in your account, 1% cash back is better

When you open a LendingClub Tailored Business Checking account  and start making purchases with your business debit card, you’ll automatically get 1% cash back which, when you’re starting out or growing and your expenses are high, can add up really quickly. The only caveat is you have to make sure to select “credit,” not “debit” at the counter – an odd niggle worth mentioning. 

Plus, once you get your balance above $5,000 LendingClub will apply 0.10% APY. That’s not a giant amount, but it’s enough to pay a bill or two – and it’s always nice to know that your account is generating interest while you sleep. 

As if cash back and interest weren’t enough, LendingClub backs up its solid business checking account with 24/7 customer support and an award-winning online experience.

LendingClub’s chief drawback is its fees. I appreciate how transparent they are, sharing every conceivable fee in one place , but it’s disappointing to see how much they charge small business owners for expedited debit card replacement ($35) and outgoing international wires ($40). Plus, LendingClub charges a $10 monthly fee, only waived if you keep a high $5,000 minimum balance. 

Still, if you can see yourself maximizing that 1% cash back and avoiding their fees, LendingClub may be the bank for you. 

Learn more about the LendingClub Tailored Busines Checking account or read our full review.

  • BlueVine Alternatives: 5 Online Business Banking Replacements - NorthOne Fees: $10 monthly fee, $15 domestic wire fee.
  • Min. Balance: $0 ($50 to open).
  • Promotions: None as of April 2021. Three months free for Money Under 30 readers.
  • Features: Unlimited no-fee transactions, large ATM network, extensive third-party app integration.

NorthOne’s  immediate drawbacks are hard to ignore, so I’ll address them first. There’s a $10 monthly fee that cannot be waived, there are plenty of other miscellaneous fees, and NorthOne is designed as a mobile-first experience – a web-based portal exists, but its functionality is quite limited. 

So what does NorthOne do to make up for it? Plenty. First, NorthOne offers unlimited no-fee transactions, which is a big deal if you’re a high-volume business. If you frequently withdraw cash, you’ll also like NorthOne’s network of two million free-to-use ATMs worldwide, more than one million of which are in the U.S. 

Plus, NorthOne offers the most third-party app integrations of any bank on this list, including Expensify, Freshbooks, Quickbooks, Wave, Xero, Amazon, PayPal, Shopify, and Stripe. If you’re already using some of those apps for your personal banking needs, the included integration with NorthOne may be all the sales pitch you need.

NorthOne also has something called envelopes, which are essentially sub-accounts you can use to hold your savings. You can slip funds into envelopes that represent different savings goals and work toward putting money away for a rainy day, future equipment purchases, or whatever else you have in mind for your business.

Learn more about NorthOne or read our full review.

It might surprise you to hear that no, BlueVine isn’t technically a bank. Rather, it’s a fintech company offering online-only banking services, also known as a “neo bank.”  Is it riskier to bank with a neo bank? Not at all. Neo banks partner with traditional banks to ensure that all of your accounts are FDIC insured for the standard $250,000.  The chief differences between a bank and a neo bank come in the form of perks and offerings. Neo banks don’t have the locations and infrastructure of traditional banks, but that’s also what gives them an edge. 

With piles of venture capital funding and lower overhead than big banks, neo banks can offer customers better technology, innovative features, and more lucrative perks. 

The chief drawback of banking with neo banks is that they’re online-only, meaning they simply can’t replace every service of a traditional bank.  I appreciate how quickly you can open a business checking account with them (10 minutes is like an ice age in neo bank time), but the two hours I spent opening my own account at an in-person bank I feel were totally well-spent. Less subjectively, a major con to neo banks is that they can’t accept cash. So not only will you have to ask customers to pull out their credit card, you’ll lose 1% to 3% of all sales through credit processing fees.  Lastly, the hypercompetitive nature of neo banks means that the horse you bet on may not even exist in two years.

Speaking as a small business owner (and not your tax advisor), you should open a business bank account as soon as you have your tax status finalized (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) and have an EIN to supply the bank.  If you’re worried about meeting minimum deposit or balance requirements, it’s OK to transfer a little bit of money from your personal account to avoid fees until your business revenue comes in. 

If you’re only opening a checking account, here’s what you may need to have one hand, according to the Small Business Administration. You’re more likely to need all four with a traditional bank, but less so with a neo bank: The Employer Identification Number (EIN). Your business's formation documents. Ownership agreements. Your Business license If you’re opening a line of business credit like a business credit card, you’ll need to prepare for a hard pull of your personal credit and your business credit (if any). 

Technically speaking, you don’t need a business bank account if you’re operating as a sole proprietor. If you’re an LLC or a corporation, you do need one.  But regardless of your situation, everyone who’s self-employed should have a business bank account since having one makes life so much easier for someone hustling on their own. 

BlueVine is a great bank, but they’re not the only place in town to open a business bank account. Online banks aka “neo banks” are extremely competitive, so you may find one with perks, fees, and rewards structures that are even better suited to your own business needs. The options on this list are among the best alternatives to BlueVine, offering zero ATM fees worldwide, big signup bonuses, cash back, and more. 

But whoever you choose to bank with, just be sure to read the fine print!

Read more:

  • How To Choose An Online Bank: 7 Features To Look For
  • Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking – Which Is Better For You?

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