9 Best Checking Accounts for Freelancers 2021

Best overall
Lili logo
Lili
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Free sub-accounts
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    No-fee checking
Best interest-bearing
BlueVine
BlueVine
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Interest-bearing checking
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Easy cash deposits
Fastest approval
Small Business Bank
Small Business Bank
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Same-day account approval
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Long customer support hours
Best personal account
N B K C Bank Logo
NBKC Bank
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Business and personal accounts
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Free business money market add-on
Best for scaling
Axos
Axos
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Choices for all business sizes
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Unlimited ATM reimbursement

As a freelancer, you may have noticed that lots of business bank accounts aren’t designed with you in mind. Many charge monthly fees that can only be waived with large account balances, and they come with lots of features you don’t need.

So what’s a budget-conscious freelancer to do? Well, it turns out there are affordable business checking accounts out there, some of which have features just for freelancers―but they probably don’t come from the banks you know.

Don’t worry though―we’ve done the research for you and rounded up the best freelancer bank accounts.

Best freelancer bank accounts 2021

Compare the best freelancer checking accounts

Brand
Min. opening deposit
Monthly fee
Free transactions per month
Open an account
Lili$0$0Unlimited
BlueVine$0$0Unlimited
Small Business Bank$5$0Unlimited
NBKC Bank$0$0Unlimited
Axos Bank$1,000$0200
Novo$50$0Unlimited
TIAA Bank$1,500$0Unlimited
NorthOne$50$10Unlimited
QuickBooks Cash$0$0Unlimited

Data effective 3/9/21. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Lili: Best freelancer checking account overall

Pros
Pro Bullet No-fee checking
Pro Bullet Tax and emergency sub-accounts
Pro Bullet Cash deposits at retail stores
Cons
Con Bullet Limited customer support
Con Bullet Low spending limits

Lili offers a free checking account it says was designed just for freelancers. And honestly, it delivers.

For starters, Lili doesn’t charge typical bank fees (like a monthly maintenance fee, transaction fees, or even overdraft fees). That makes it a great bank for thrifty freelancers, independent contractors, and sole proprietors.

But it’s also got some smart extras, like free sub-accounts. Lili lets you create sub-accounts for both taxes (so you can plan ahead for quarterly estimated tax payments) and an emergency fund (so you more easily ride out the time between gigs). You can manually add money to those sub-accounts, or you can specify a percentage of each account deposit to get automatically added to your sub-accounts.

Lili also offers features like expense reports, integrations with online platforms (like Upwork, Etsy, and Shopify), and notifications for account transactions. And even though it’s an online-only bank, Lili lets you easily deposit cash at Green Dot retail locations.

Just note that Lili has pretty short support hours (even for a bank), so it’s not ideal if you like hands-on help. Also, Lili sets very low spending limits for your account ($3,000 in spending and $500 in cash withdrawals a day), which may be too restricting for some freelancer spending patterns.

Even with those caveats, the no-fee checking, free sub-accounts, and other helpful tools for self-employed people make Lili our favorite freelancer bank account.

BlueVine: Best interest-bearing account

Pros
Pro Bullet Interest-bearing checking
Pro Bullet Very competitive interest rate
Pro Bullet Easy cash deposits
Cons
Con Bullet Few customer reviews (of banking service)
Con Bullet No interest on balances over $100,000

BlueVine doesn’t have fancy features for freelancers, but it does have one feature you’ll love: BlueVine checking accounts earn interest.

From the moment you open a BlueVine account, you’ll start earning a 1% interest rate on your balance (for balances up to $100,000, at least). That 1% may not mean a lot to you, but that’s a great rate for a business bank account―especially a checking account. It’s a higher rate than most business savings accounts these days. In other words, BlueVine lets you make the most of your hard-earned money.

Even aside from that (awesome) interest-bearing feature, BlueVine has a lot going for it. Like Lili, it doesn’t charge most normal banking fees. BlueVine as a whole has great customer reviews (though there aren’t many banking-specific reviews yet). Plus, BlueVine makes it easier to deposit cash than most banks on this list. (Just find a GreenDot location near you.)

Put simply, a BlueVine checking account can help you get more from your freelancing funds―no extra hours or invoicing required.

Small Business Bank: Fastest account approval

Pros
Pro Bullet Same-day account approval
Pro Bullet Long customer support hours
Pro Bullet Cash deposits via Shazam ATMs
Cons
Con Bullet Outdated website and app
Con Bullet Worsening customer reviews

If you need a freelancer bank account as quickly as possible (maybe so you don’t miss a client’s next pay cycle), then you’ll like Small Business Bank.

Small Business Bank has the fastest approval time for new accounts of the lenders on this list. Lots of online lenders can take days or even weeks to get your new account up and running. But Small Business Bank can approve your new account the same day you apply (depending on when you apply). It also has unusually long support hours for an online bank, making your chances of same-day approval even better.

And like Lili and BlueVine, Small Business Bank charges almost no banking fees, making its accounts fast and affordable. The tradeoff? Small Business Bank has a pretty outdated website and mobile app, so don’t expect the latest and greatest features from your mobile banking. (It still has all the essential banking tools.)

If that doesn’t worry you, then you can get started with Small Business Bank in no time.

NBKC Bank: Best personal accounts

Pros
Pro Bullet Business and personal accounts
Pro Bullet Interest-bearing personal checking
Pro Bullet Free business money market add-on
Cons
Con Bullet Limited support hours
Con Bullet Mediocre customer reviews

Interested in doing your personal banking and freelance business banking in the same place? Then let us recommend NBKC.

NBKC is one of the few banks on this list that offers both business and personal accounts (Axos and TIAA do too). And both of NBKC’s options are great. NBKC’s business account comes with no fees, and you can even add a free money market savings account. Its personal accounts earn interest (at a very competitive 0.25% rate). And those personal accounts don’t come with typical banking fees either.

Now, we do have to say that NBKC doesn’t have the best reviews we’ve ever seen. But compared to big-name alternatives that offer both personal and business accounts (like Wells Fargo and Chase), NBKC’s reviews look great. Plus, its accounts are cheaper.

So if you want to keep your personal money and freelance funds at the same financial institution, NBKC is the way to go.

Get a better business bank account

Want affordable banking with great perks? With BlueVine, you can get a fee-free business checking account―and you can even earn interest on account balances over $1,000.

Axos Bank: Best for scaling businesses

Pros
Pro Bullet Accounts for small and large businesses
Pro Bullet Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement
Pro Bullet Free checks with new checking account
Cons
Con Bullet High minimum opening deposit
Con Bullet Only 200 free transactions per month

Got big plans for expanding your freelancing business? Axos Bank could be right for you.

Axos Bank offers a wide range of bank accounts, with plenty of options for both small and big businesses. So Axos Bank can work for you when you’re a solo freelance writer or when you’ve built a large marketing agency―though you’ll probably end up switching your bank account type somewhere along the way.

Keep in mind that Axos Bank has a larger minimum opening deposit than most of our other recommended banks. That’s part of the reason we recommend it for growing businesses―because Axos can be a bit much for freelancers with no plans of expansion. Also, Axos Bank does charge more fees (like transaction fees) than other banks on this list.

But since Axos Bank can work for larger businesses than many banks for freelancers, it’s still the best option for scaling businesses.

Honorable mentions

Novo

Novo bank accounts have lots of software integrations. It works with popular accounting software, virtual wallets, and even credit card processing software (among other things). Plus, Novo gives you discounts on things like web hosting, travel, and some software.

Between those integrations and the lack of fees in its checking accounts, there’s a lot to like about Novo. It does have some troubling negative reviews (complaining about bad customer service and unexpectedly closed accounts). But if you like the sound of its discounts and integrations, you might want to try Novo anyway.

TIAA Bank

TIAA Bank mostly stands out because of its big ATM network. Its network includes more than 80,000 ATMs. And if you can’t find an in-network ATM, TIAA will reimburse you for some or all of your out-of-network ATM fees each month (depending on your account balance). So if you plan to withdraw lots of cash, TIAA’s ATM network might be just what you need.

That said, TIAA Bank does have a high minimum opening deposit, and you’ll probably end up paying some transaction fees. In other words, it’s not the cheapest option. Still, the convenience of TIAA’s ATM network might make up for the extra costs.

NorthOne

NorthOne gives you free sub-accounts with your business checking account, so you can squirrel away money for self-employment taxes, an upcoming equipment purchase, or whatever else you can think of. (It works a lot like Lili’s sub-account system.)

The downside? NorthOne charges an unwaivable monthly fee (but no other typical banking fees). Sure, it’s only $10―but that’s $10 you could save each month by choosing a different bank. So we mostly suggest choosing NorthOne if you prefer the user interface on the mobile app or need extended customer service hours.

QuickBooks Cash

If you use QuickBooks Online for your invoicing and tax needs, you might like the new QuickBooks Cash. It earns a very competitive 1% interest rate (just like BlueVine). Plus, it gives you envelopes, or sub-accounts, where you can store money for expenses. And of course, it all syncs easily with other QuickBooks products.

But while QuickBooks Cash is a “free” account (with no minimum opening deposit, monthly service fee, or transaction fees), you do need to be an existing QuickBooks Online customer to use it. That makes this account more expensive than other options on this list. Plus, QuickBooks Cash has just started rolling out, so it’s not available to everyone yet. If it’s available to you, though, it’s worth looking at.

Your local credit union

If you prefer in-person banking, then look at your local credit unions. Credit unions often offer low-cost business accounts, and they usually offer great customer service. Plus, you’ll get all the convenience of in-person banking, like easy cash deposits.

With the number of credit unions in the United States, we can’t possibly review them all. You’ll have to rely on your own best judgment here. But based on the trends we’ve seen at credit unions, there’s a great chance your local credit union has great freelance bank account options.

Bullhorn
Does Chime offer business accounts?

No, Chime doesn’t offer business accounts―and neither do most other free online banks that focus on personal banking. That’s why your favorite (personal) bank may not appear on this list.

How to choose a freelancer bank account

Now that you’ve seen our favorite checking accounts for freelancers, how do you actually pick a bank? We suggest you consider a few factors.

Cost

As a freelancer, you already have to pay for things like self-employment taxes and business expenses. You shouldn’t waste money paying monthly fees or other pricey fees on your checking account.

That’s why we stuck to banks that charge fewer fees than typical banks. Most of our picks don’t charge any monthly fees or transaction fees―so you get to keep more of your money.

Money
Online banks

All of our recommended banks for freelancers happen to be online banks. That’s because online banks offer free checking accounts, while physical banks usually don’t.

Integrations

If you have business software you can’t live without, you might want to find a bank account that can integrate with it.

For example, if you use a certain accounting software, you can probably find a bank account that plays nicely with that software. (Accounting integrations are very common.) Or if you use payment processing software (like Square or Stripe), you can make life easier by choosing a bank account that integrates easily.

Other features

You may have other useful features in mind.

Maybe you let an accountant take over your taxes every year. (Good idea.) In that case, look for a checking account that offers accountant access so you don’t have to turn over all your passwords.

Perhaps you want to make sure you set aside enough money for your quarterly tax payments. Then you might find sub-accounts helpful.

Or maybe you just want your account balance to do more for you. That means you should look at interest-bearing accounts.

Put simply, freelancer checking accounts can come with lots of useful features, so make sure you look for the features you need most.

Want more options? Fund your business with a personal loan.

Freelancer checking account FAQ

Do I need to have a business bank account if I’m a freelancer?

You don’t necessarily need a business bank account as a freelancer, but it certainly can’t hurt to have one. It can reduce your liability (if you operate as an LLC), increase your legitimacy, and makes things much easier when it comes to taxes (if you plan to write off expenses).

That said, freelancers can often get away with using just a personal bank account (assuming your bank doesn’t mind, of course).

But when in doubt, we recommend getting a business bank account―especially since most of our recommended freelancer bank accounts won’t cost you anything.

Can I open more than one bank account?

Yes, you can definitely open more than one business bank account. You can have a personal bank account and a business bank account, for example. You can opt to open more than one business bank account (like one account for normal expenses and a separate bank account for taxes).

Just make sure you use good bookkeeping practices to keep track of your finances.

Can I get a free freelancer checking account?

Yes, you can get a free freelancer bank account. In fact, many of our recommended freelancer checking accounts also appear on our rankings of the best free business checking accounts.

Will I get a debit card with my freelancer bank account?

Yep, pretty much every bank gives you a debit card when you open a checking account.

Can I get a credit card for my freelancing business?

You may be able to qualify for a business credit card as a freelancer.

We should note that our recommended banks don’t offer business credit cards. That’s not a problem though―you don’t have to get a credit card from the same place that you do most of your business banking.

The takeaway

Freelancer bank accounts should be affordable (if not free) and come with features that make your life as a business owner easier. We’ve rounded up banks that meet both those requirements.

So whether you want the ability to plan for expenses with Lili or extra earnings from BlueVine, we think you’ll find a checking account that meets your needs.

Want a business savings account to go with your checking account? Take a look at our favorite high-yield savings accounts for business.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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