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Making money as a freelancer can be hard enough — but then you have to figure out how to manage it.
With a slew of bank account options out there, it can be difficult to narrow down all the financial institutions and determine the best place to stash that hard-earned cash, especially if your financial lifestyle is a little less regular than most 9-to-5 workers’.
To help, the Penny Hoarder team has put together this post to compare some of the best bank accounts for freelancers. That way, you can make an informed decision with minimal fine-print reading.
What Is a Freelancer?
Before diving into the top banks for freelancers, it might be helpful to explain just what’s meant by “freelancer.” In short, a freelancer is someone who does work on a per-task or per-project basis and is paid by the task. Freelancers are self-employed and they don’t receive medical benefits or other perks such as vacation or sick time like company employees do.
Freelancers typically work for several companies, called clients, as independent contractors. The term often has a creative connotation — fields like writing, editing, web design, or photography — but there are exceptions.
What Makes a Business Bank Account Ideal for Freelancers?
Since freelancers are self-employed, they have some additional needs and responsibilities that the average full-time employee might not. For example, freelancers need to pay taxes themselves — nothing is withheld from their paychecks automatically.
Additionally, since freelancers are self-employed, they can count a number of purchases as business expenses, and keeping track of these is important for tax purposes.
Here are the major features to consider when choosing bank accounts as a freelancer:
- Fees: Nobody wants to pay money just to keep their money, especially when you have a variable income. Ideally that means no monthly fee and unlimited transactions.
- Customer Service: Knowing you’ve got a reliable team on your side when you have questions or concerns is vital.
- Accessibility: Since freelancers often work out of their own homes and remotely, accounts that are tech optimized, with intuitive online banking options and high ATM or branch availability, are generally best. ATM access is especially important for cash deposits.
- Business Account Offerings: Don’t forget to look at business account offerings for each bank, which can be helpful if you decide to incorporate your business or start an LLC.
- Mobile-friendliness: A usable mobile app is extremely important, especially for banks that don’t have brick-and-mortar locations.
Help with budgeting and money management will also earn bonus points since everything’s a bit more complicated when you aren’t relying on a regular paycheck. However, these are nice-to-have features, rather than necessities.
Taking into account these features, we have rounded up the best banks — and in once case a well-known online payment system — for freelancers.
The 4 Best Banks for Freelancers
- Lots of experience in online banking
- Generous support hours
- Wide selection of accounts
Axos offers relatively high-yield checking accounts on both the personal and business sides. Their personal savings account offers up to 1.3% APY, and their business interest checking account earns 0.8% APY. That makes it one of the best business checking accounts available for freelancers (or anyone else, for that matter) that want their money to earn interest.
However, if you’re used to in-person banking, Axos might not be for you. Although they offer ATM fee reimbursement at specified locations, you won’t be able to walk into a branch and speak face to face with a teller.
- Physical locations nationwide
- Useful support options
- Variety of business accounts
As a major financial institution, Chase also offers a host of business bank accounts and tools, including merchant services that make taking credit card payments easy — even if your brand of freelancing has you out in the world and not constantly behind a computer screen.
Chase also offers a discount for those who sign up to use ADP payroll, which could be useful if you go the S-corp route (or have an employee or two). All together, the Chase business checking account is an excellent option.
To learn more, read our Chase Bank review.
- Business banking with no monthly fees
- Built-in invoicing and payment features
- Fast transfers to other accounts
There’s no monthly fee with a PayPal business account, though you may pay fees for certain types of transfers. (It’s free to transfer funds to your personal bank accounts as long as it’s not a rush, however.) There’s also a cost to the business owner when invoices are paid — PayPal’s fee is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. This is fairly standard for the payment processing industry, though.
- Built-in expense and tax tracking
- Handy referral program
- Unlimited transactions with no monthly fee
The Lili business checking account comes with its own Visa debit card. Whenever you spend any money, you’ll get a push notification asking you to swipe left or right to instantly categorize the expense as either “personal” or “business.” At tax time, this will allow you to easily maximize your expenses and reduce your taxable income, lowering your tax bill.
Even better: You can earn cash by referring up to 10 friends to join Lili. Once they sign up and spend $250 on their Lili card in the first 45 days, you’ll each get $100. You can also earn a $50 bonus when you open a Lili Pro account and spend at least $1,000 with your debit card within 60 days.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Bank Accounts for Freelancers
Penny Hoarder contributors Dave Schafer and Jamie Cattanach did the reporting and writing for this story.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.