5 Questions Every Small Business Should Ask Their Bank

March 26, 2024

Reviewed By: Amplify

Opening a bank account for your small business can have a lasting impact—not just on how you access, accept and distribute your small business’s funds, but also on your access to future capital in the form of small business loans. While choosing where to bank might seem like an overwhelming decision when you’re starting out, there are a few questions that can guide you through the process and make the decision easier. Here, we provide a few questions you can ask yourself and your potential banking partners before opening an account.

1. What are my business’s banking needs, now and in the future?

When your small business is starting out, your needs will likely be different from a company that is well-established. For instance, if your company is a small startup with just a few employees, chances are you may simply need a business checking and savings account to meet your day-to-day needs. On the other hand, if your company has grown substantially and employs a good number of people, you might want to choose a bank or credit union that can offer help with payroll services and cash management.

Your banking needs will change over time, but it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. Take a look at your business plan for the next five years. If you think you’ll need access to financial services beyond the basics of checking and savings accounts, seek out a bank or credit union that offers services you can take advantage of a few years down the road.

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2. What additional resources and services are available?

Once you’ve determined what your organization’s needs are now—and hopefully a few years into the future—you can narrow your list of potential banking partners. Depending on what your company requires, a few resources and services to keep an eye out for are as follows:

  • Small business loans. If you think you might need to take out a loan at some point in the future to finance new equipment or additional real estate as your business grows, investigate what types of loan options are available through the banks and credit unions on your list of options.
  • A large ATM network. While it might seem like a small thing, a broad ATM network that allows access to your business’s funds when you need them may be crucial for your daily business. Be sure to check the extent of any financial institution’s ATM network, as well as the fees associated with using an ATM that is not part of that bank or credit union’s network. Not only can it be a hassle if you have to go to a specific location to withdraw cash, it can also eat into your cash flow if you need to pay to access your funds every time you have to use an out-of-network machine.
  • Online banking capabilities. Most banks and credit unions now offer the option to bank online, as well as via the use of a proprietary mobile app. However, it’s still wise to check what each financial institution’s capabilities are before opening an account. The ability to bank online or on your mobile device can be a huge time saver, and with the time you save you can focus on the daily operations of your organization.
  • Personalized advice. Some banks and credit unions that are well-embedded in their communities may offer customized financial advice that is specific to you and your small business. Smaller banks and local credit unions can often help guide you as to when and how to apply for a loan—if you need one—as well as give advice on how to manage cash flow, save money, and other tactics to keep track of your finances.

3. What are the fees?

When it comes to banking, one of the most important things to consider—other than your needs and the services the bank or credit union offers—are the fees. The best-case scenario is to find a bank with low to no-fee banking—like Amplify! Other financial institutions may charge you overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, and wire transfer fees. Even if these fees seem small when you’re doing your research, know that they can quickly add up.

4. What interest rates are offered?

The next major consideration for choosing the best financial institution for you: the interest rates. In addition to fee free banking, competitive interest rates on business high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit can help put your company in a strong financial position. The more interest you can earn on interest-bearing accounts, the better.

Meanwhile, lower interest rates on commercial loans can save you thousands over the life of the loan—money that you can put back into growing your business.

5. What paperwork do I need to open a business account?

Finally, once you’ve narrowed down your options, the last thing to ask your potential bank is what paperwork you’ll need to open the account. Usually, you’ll need to complete the financial institution’s application, then provide proof of identity and other documents specific to your business. The required documents will vary based on your company’s structure, i.e. whether you’re a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, a general or limited liability partnership, or an unincorporated association, so always check with the bank or credit union when you’re in the application process.

Choose Your Bank with Confidence

There are many decisions to make when starting and growing your small business, and choosing which financial institution to bank with is an important choice. Keep these questions in mind and you’ll be able to make the decision with confidence, setting your organization up for success.

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