Leading the way in global trading, the US boasts an incredibly favorable business environment. It makes sense that many people, both residents and foreigners, start companies and open their bank accounts here. It facilitates operations and makes it easier to do business with customers.
If you’re establishing your company here as well, knowing all the intricacies of the US bank account setup will greatly expedite the process. To that end, we’ve put together an in-depth guide with all the information you need to open your bank account.
How to Open a US Bank Account
First things first, you’ll need to own a company if you want to set up a business account. If you haven’t done so already, we’ll briefly describe what the process looks like for an LLC. Starting one is generally easier than establishing a corporation, and this is what the formation consists of:
· Choose your LLC’s name
· File your Articles of Organization
· Hire a Registered Agent
· Designate manager or member management
· Formulate an operating agreement
· Adhere to tax and other requirements
Among other things, the final step includes getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Its purpose is to enable the IRS to monitor company payroll. You can obtain your EIN on the IRS webpage.
Types of Business Accounts
You can open three types of accounts:
This type will be your primary business account. It’s used to receive payments and disburse purchases.
A savings account is basically a deposit account. In other words, you use it to hold money in place while earning a small interest rate.
Credit accounts serve as a backup for whenever your company needs additional funds. This can help you address immediate financial concerns.
In general, banks will ask new customers to visit one of the branches in-person and submit the paperwork. To open your bank account, you’ll be asked to hand over these documents:
· Photo ID of the director setting up the account
· Proof of the director’s personal address
· Articles of Organization – You’ll need to prove that your company is registered properly. The submissible documents vary, depending on the kind of entity owned.
· EIN confirmation letter used for tax purposes
· Proof of your business address. In some cases, you’ll be required to prove your business address in the same state and geographic area as the branch opening your account. Other institutions may be more flexible.
Finally, some banks demand a minimum deposit when setting up an account. Before visiting your preferred bank, make sure to check the document requirements and if there’s a minimum deposit.
How to Set Up a US Bank Account Online
Opening a US bank account online was common practice. Individuals didn’t have to go to the bank, whether for a personal or business account. One of the few requirements associated with opening corporate accounts remotely was a company’s state of registration or incorporation.
Nowadays, online account opening doesn’t take place very often. Instead, American banks require physical visits when opening your first account. Nevertheless, after opening their first account in-person, customers can set up additional accounts online.
Just bear in mind that remote bank account opening may come with additional conditions. For instance, if you’re setting up a business savings account, you may need to deposit more than $100,000. Additionally, most banks let customers begin the process online but may require them to visit the bank and show their documents. Some banks are more accommodating and allow you to perform the whole procedure online.
Business Account Signatory
Another detail to remember is that you should never entrust access to your money to third parties. For example, certain providers may offer to take control of some positions in your company. In this case, they might act as the company signatory at the bank. There are a few advantages of allowing this, such as eliminating the need for business owners to be physically present when opening a bank account.
Still, allowing your account to be opened by a third party may simply lead to fraud. The person opening your account may transfer the money wherever they want and disappear. That’s why you should never agree to hand over the position of the controlling manager of your company. To avoid losing money, you should be the only person with access to your money.
Charges and Fees
Before starting a US business account, don’t forget to read the terms carefully. Most importantly, go through the section concerning bank charges and fees since the structure may be very different from what you’re accustomed to.
In most cases, you’ll find fixed banking transaction fees and monthly charges for handling your account. Even if these fees appear insignificant, they can accumulate and put a dent in your budget. Many accounts come with terms that stipulate a waiver of charges if the customer meets specific conditions, such as keeping a minimum daily or monthly balance.
Periodically, your company may need to send or receive international money transfers. While any US banks would offer this service, foreign wire transfer fees might be extortionate at some banks. So, read through the section regarding international fees if you intend to make international transactions.
Unfortunately, you’ll rarely find an American bank with a favorable deal when their customers want to make payments overseas. More often than not, they include high administration charges for processing these transactions, along with cumbersome transaction fees. The fees are fixed or a percentage of the sum transferred.
However, even if the fees are low, the bank will usually find another way to profit and cost you some money. Instead of transparent fees, you may find that the bank’s profit is generated through unfavorable exchange rates. If the exchange rate is worse than the middle rate, the bank gets the better end of the deal.
To prevent this, a good idea is to use online currency converters. These can help you check the most current exchange rates before making international transfers.
Choosing a Bank
There are a plethora of banks in the US where you can open your business account, both prominent and local. Determining which bank offers the best terms for your bank account is tough. Some offer advantages like a broad branch network with ATMs all over the country. Others have international operations and offices in Asia, Middle East, Europe, and other regions worldwide.
However, you typically can’t go wrong with any of the Big Four. The following institutions are well-known for high customer satisfaction.
One of the greatest benefits of working with Wells Fargo is the checking accounts that are a perfect match for non-profit organizations and small businesses. As with any other bank, Wells Fargo’s products (including charges and fees) vary by state, which is why you’ll have to type in your zip code to get the relevant details.
JP Morgan Chase
One of America’s biggest banks, JP Morgan Chase has many products tailored to business accounts and charges monthly fees ranging from $10 to $95. A great thing about this bank is that it waives your monthly fees if you can maintain a minimum deposit. The products available vary depending on your location. Again, obtaining all necessary details requires you to enter your zip code.
Citibank is an excellent choice for its wide array of business checking accounts for companies of all sizes. You also get specialist accounts designed for various sectors. To figure out which one suits you best, you can take a look at the comparison table on the bank’s website. Citibank has hundreds of branches in the USA and even more overseas.
Bank of America
You can open two types of business accounts with BofA. They are subject to fees, which you can avoid if you meet specific conditions. For instance, you can avoid the monthly fee (of $30 or $17, depending on your account) if you complete a certain number of payments or transactions per month. The bank has over 4,000 branches in the USA.
Don’t Keep Your Business Waiting
Now you know how to set up a US bank account, which is one of the final steps of forming your company. Before you head to a branch or start an application online, make sure all the necessary paperwork is in good order. In addition, go through the terms and conditions of your banking agreement carefully to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.
Once your account is open, you can finally start making transactions and growing your company.