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7 min read

9 Best Lili Alternatives for Business Banking

By Matas Pranckevicius

Content Manager, Relay

Lili promises to help business owners keep their personal and business funds separate. It offers a free business checking account, and features that help you categorize expenses. But with multiple other alternatives to choose from, is Lili the best fit for your business? Let’s take a closer look at the options.

Here at Relay, we work closely with small business owners and their advisors (CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers), to build a business banking platform that caters specifically to the needs of entrepreneurs. With that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at how Lili compares to other alternatives from a financial management perspective, so you know what to consider before opening an account. This article will cover all the options available to you: from brick-and-mortar banks to digital banking platforms.

Read on for more information on Lili first, or jump to any of the Lili alternatives listed for an in-depth breakdown.

Best Lili banking alternatives:

What is Lili?

Lili is an online banking alternative designed for freelancers. It offers no-fee accounts and unique banking features useful for freelancers and other service businesses that work as sole proprietors.

A digital banking platform like Lili aims to give entrepreneurs features to make their day-to-day business banking easier. For example, Lili connects directly to bookkeeping software like QuickBooks or Xero, payment processors like Stripe and Square, and money-sending apps like CashApp or Venmo.

A Lilibusiness checking account has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements. However, despite the appealing price point, it comes with some limitations. For example, you won’t be able to send wire transfers, you’ll have to pay cash deposit fees at ATMs, and you’ll face limits on both check deposits ($6,000) and transferring money to external accounts ($1,000) when banking with Lili.

Why you need a Lili alternative

One thing to keep in mind when opening a business bank account is whether it can meet your needs in the long term, as your business evolves. 

So, while Lili is a good fit for new freelancers or the newly self-employed with low activity, you might hit a ceiling as your business scales. For example, Lili’s limits on direct deposits and external money transfers may slow you down as you try to ramp up operations or move money to and from your business. And, since Lili only provides you with only one Visa debit card, you may face problems if your team grows and you wind up needing advanced spend management features.

What to consider before choosing a bank

When you open a new bank account, you should keep the long-term plans of your business in mind and future-proof your setup, as this will save you work and money in the long run. You don’t want to deal with the headache of switching to a different bank account once your business is up and running.

This is why you should think through your biggest banking needs now — before you choose your next bank account — so you don’t have to revisit it later. Start by asking the following 4 questions to evaluate your business banking needs:

  • How do I prefer to bank? Not everyone has the time for in-person banking. An online platform or a mobile banking app lets you self-serve and can save you a lot of time. Make sure your banking platform provides this.

  • What do I need beyond basic banking? Today’s banking platforms come equipped with tools that help you budget, speed up accounting, help manage team spending, and streamline accounts payable. Make sure your platform of choice supports the features you’ll need!

  • What fees will I be charged? Fees add up. Before you jump on a special offer, it’s wise to dig into the fine print of your provider’s terms of service, as you’re likely to discover multiple fees along the way.

  • What types of payments will I need to make? Few things are as frustrating as finding out that you can’t, for example, send or receive international wire payments after 6 months with your new banking provider (happens more often than you think!). So make sure that you have all your needs covered before signing up.

Read more about things to consider before choosing a bank here.

The top alternatives to Lili

So, what Lili alternatives should you consider before committing? We’ve outlined the top 9 below.

Relay

Relay Logo - Banking Alternatives

Relay is a business banking and money management platform that helps you get crystal clear about how much you’re earning, spending and saving. We built Relay in collaboration with accountants, bookkeepers and CPAs — the experts who truly understand business finances, what business owners need to manage cash flow, and how to stay on the money.

As a result, Relay is equipped with tools that help you budget and keep track of spending. This includes up to 20 individual checking accounts that enable multiple bank account budgeting, percent-based money transfers between your accounts, and up to 50 physical or virtual business debit cards to help categorize your spending.

To make financial reporting and day-to-day cash management easy, Relay gives you detailed data about each transaction and integrates deeply with tools like QuickBooks Online, Xero and Gusto.

You can apply for a Relay account online and bank with no monthly account fees, minimum balance requirements, or overdraft fees. You can also upgrade to Relay Pro, which costs $30 a month and unlocks features like same-day ACH and accounts payable integration.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balances or overdraft fees

  • Easy-to-set-up integrations with small business software like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Gusto

  • Connect with third-party apps using Plaid and Yodlee

  • Up to 20 unique checking accounts with individual account and routing numbers

  • Issue up to 50 virtual or physical business debit cards to your team

Pros:

  • Apply 100% online in 10 minutes

  • FDIC-insured via Thread Bank

  • Visa® Zero Liability Protection

  • Bank with no account fees, overdraft fees, or minimu balance requirements

  • Automate money management with percent-based account transfers

  • Securely collaborate with your bookkeeper, accountant or CPA

  • Fee-free cash withdrawals at over 50,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S.

  • No fees for domestic and international wire transfers with Relay Pro

  • A full-suite accounts payable automation platform with Relay Pro

Cons:

  • No savings accounts

Novo

Novo Logo - Banking Alternatives

If you’re looking for a basic bank account that comes with features friendly to business owners, consider Novo. Novo offers a free checking account that seeks to simplify your monthly accounting process. A built-in invoicing solution handles your accounts receivables, and you can keep data synced with your accounting platform thanks to Novo’s integrations. If you make a lot of cash withdrawals, Novo also offers an additional perk, as it refunds all your ATM fees.

However, a Novo checking account may not be the best fit for all businesses. If you need to make a lot of cash deposits, for example, you’ll need to look for a solution other than Novo. The same goes if you’re planning to make a lot of international wire payments, as Novo doesn’t yet support this feature out-of-the-box. And while you get “reserve” accounts with Novo, they’re not full-fledged checking accounts but sub-accounts, and they come with limitations.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balance requirement

  • Works with other tools like Shopify, Stripe, QuickBooks Online, and Xero

  • Discounts and promotions at participating partners

  • Any ATM fees get refunded

  • Budget by automatically transferring money to reserves

Pros:

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • 10-minute application

  • Invoice and pay bills online

  • Paper checks can be sent for free

Cons:

  • Missing out on both domestic and international wire transfers

  • Cash deposits must be done through money orders

  • Comparable features to competitors are locked behind apps and integrations

Bluevine

Bluevine Logo - Banking Alternatives

You might know Bluevine more as a lender than a banking platform, as it’s known for business loans and lines of credit. But they’ve made the foray into business banking with a free checking account that can generate an estimated 2.0% APY on balances up to $100,000.

To generate interest on your account, you need to meet criteria around transaction volume. To be eligible, you must process at least $2,500 in customer payments per month and at least $500 in purchases using Bluevine’s business debit card. Interest may be appealing to some, however, depending on the nature and size of your business these requirements may be tough to consistently meet.

Blueinve’s checking account comes with no monthly fees, but it does have transaction fees that can add up over time — for example fees for out-of-network ATM usage and cash deposits. Depending on how you use your account, you might end up paying more in fees than the interest you generate.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balance

  • 5 free sub-accounts

  • Offers loans and lines of credit

  • Unlimited transactions

  • Options for accountant and team member account access

  • No fees for overdrafts or ACH payments

Pros:

  • Backed by FDIC insurance

  • Up to 2.0% interest on your first $100,000

  • 2 checkbooks free every year

  • Incoming wire transfers are fee-free

  • All MoneyPass network ATMs are fee-free

Cons:

  • Meeting the criteria to generate interest can be difficult

  • Out-of-network ATMs have $2.50 fees

  • Cash heavy businesses will pay $4.95 per cash deposit

  • Lacks integrations with payment and payroll processors

  • $15 fee for every outgoing wire transfer

NorthOne

NorthOne Logo - Banking Alternatives

NorthOne is small business banking solution that helps solopreneurs, freelancers and micro businesses streamline their finances.

Unlike most digital business banking platforms, NorthOne charges customers a $10 monthly fee. In return, customers get a mobile banking app, a business debit card, and dedicated customer support. Note that making or receiving wire transfers also costs $15 per transaction.

To help with the budgeting process, NorthOne equips small businesses with digital envelopes — a way to organize your cash on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These transfers can be a set amount or a percentage of your balance so you’re saving more when you can afford it. The only downside here is that these envelopes are sub-accounts and come with limitations compared to full-fledged checking accounts.

Features:

  • No minimum balance

  • Envelopes budgeting tools

  • Online support available 7 days a week

  • Integrations with apps like Quickbooks, Shopify, and Amazon Payments

Pros:

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • Free online check deposits and cash deposits at GreenDot ATMs

  • Issue multiple Mastercard business debit cards for your team

  • Free ACH transfers

Cons:

  • Incoming and outgoing wire transfers are $15 each

  • Lack of cash flow tools to understand revenue and spend

  • Each additional account has the same monthly fee

  • Monthly fee adds up if you’re not using all the features

Brex

Brex Logo - Banking Alternatives

Brex is a spend management platform built for medium to enterprise organizations. It offers a full spend management suite that includes business banking, corporate spend cards, bill pay, venture debt, as well as other products. One of the biggest downsides of Brex is that most businesses are unlikely to meet their strict eligibility criteria. As the company announced in 2022, Brex now only accepts enterprise companies and venture-backed startups on its platform.

If you are eligible, expect to get advanced spend management tools and integrations with popular back-office software. Beyond that, the ease of managing multiple currencies and making global payments is great for growing international operations.

The eligibility criteria is a good indicator of whether Brex is for you. If you don’t meet it, chances are it’s not the perfect fit for your needs to begin with.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balance requirement

  • No overdraft or deposit fees

  • No fees on ACH transfers

  • Open up to 8 total checking accounts

  • Detailed expense categorization and spending breakdown

  • Team permissions to manage access globally

Pros:

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • Integrates with accounting tools

  • Custom workflows

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Know how long your reserves will take you with the runway forecasting tool

Cons:

  • Services a very specific type of business

  • Built for online, international banking

  • Sole proprietors are not eligible

  • Missing tools for accounts payable or invoicing

Mercury

Mercury Logo - Business Banking Alternatives

Mercury is another business banking platform favored by startups. It offers checking accounts, corporate cards, venture debt, and treasury services. In addition to its core services, Mercury also offers perks that include an investor network and special offers from partners.

It’s a strong choice for technology startups and similar businesses, however, it may not be the perfect fit for everyone. For example, if you’re looking to generate interest on your account, you will need to hold millions of dollars in your Mercury account, which may not be viable for all small businesses.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balance

  • No fees for deposits, overdrafts, or ACH payments

  • 15 total free checking accounts included

  • Discounts and other perks with select partners

Pros:

  • Backed by FDIC insurance

  • Can generate interest on your holdings

  • Accounting integrations include QuickBooks and Xero

  • Free wire transfers

  • Access to venture funding

  • Apply for credit cards with 1.5% cash back

Cons:

  • Features cater to high growth startups

  • The best features are locked behind high minimum account balances

  • No accounts payable or invoicing

  • Only one debit card per user on the account

  • Any cash flow management functions need to be set up with API integrations

Axos Bank

Axos - Business Banking Alternatives

Axos Bank is one of the first digital banking platforms, has been around since the early 2000s, and offers a number of different options for small businesses.

Many businesses are initially attracted to Axos due to the bank’s Business Interest Checking Account. This account generates 1.01% APY on the first $50,000 if you meet the minimum balance of $5,000. If you don’t meet the minimum balance requirements, however, you’ll be paying a $10 monthly service fee. If you’re hesitant about the balance requirement, their free Basic Business Checking Account has no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.

Beyond bank accounts, Axos is active in other financial services. Even if you don’t have an account with them, they can help kickstart your business with loans, lines of credit, and equipment financing. On the other hand, Axos does not offer as many money management tools as some of the other digital banking platforms out there.

Features:

  • Free business checking account with no minimum balance

  • No initial deposit required

  • Offers support with SBA loan applications and payroll

  • Every month two domestic wire transfers have fees reimbursed

  • 24/7 customer support

Pros:

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • Cash deposits are free at MoneyPass and AllPoint ATMs

  • Reimburses domestic ATM fees

Cons:

  • Not as many tools for financial management as other platforms

  • Interest is only earned on the first $50,000 of your balance

  • No credit, only offers assistance with SBA loan applications

Chase

Chase for Business - Banking Alternatives

Chase is one of the most popular options for small business owners who are looking for a traditional bank account. Unlike neobanks, Chase charges fees for most of its banking services. However, you can waive these fees if you meet a minimum transaction volume or minimum balance requirements.

As a traditional bank, Chase offers its customers multiple brick-and-mortar locations to get customer support in person. This will be especially useful to those who need to make frequent cash deposits. Finally, since Chase is a large national bank, you’ll be able to hold both your personal and business accounts with one institution if you prefer to do so.

Features:

  • Monthly fee can be waived under certain conditions

  • Cash flow management tools

  • Make payments to providers with Online Bill Play

  • Over 16,000 ATMs and 4,700 branches

  • Bank on the go with the Chase Mobile Banking app

Pros:

  • No minimum opening deposit

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • Sometimes offers signup bonuses

  • Options for credit include loans, lines of credit, and credit cards

  • Many brick-and-mortar locations for in-person banking

Cons:

  • Monthly fees start at $15 / month

  • Limited integrations with popular business software and tools

  • Limits on fee-free cash deposits and in-person transactions

  • Costly overdraft fees

Bank of America

Bank of America Logo - Business Banking Alternatives

Bank of America is another popular traditional bank among business owners. Although it’s a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, BoA has invested in its online banking experience and allows you to start opening your account online.

BoA has two business checking accounts to choose from: Fundamentals or Relationship. Both have a monthly fee ($16 and $29.95 respectively), although these fees can be waived if you meet the minimum balance requirements. BoA doesn’t charge you for electronic transactions, however, you’ll run into fees for stopping payments, receiving wire transfers, and other services.

Features:

  • Stay on top of revenue and expenses with Cash Flow Monitor

  • Send money easily with Zelle

  • Access to small business specialists and a virtual assistant

  • Fraud protection

Pros:

  • Backed with FDIC insurance

  • Options for in-person banking

  • Options for credit include loans, lines of credit, and credit cards

  • Offers digital debit cards

Cons:

  • Lacks integrations with popular business software and tools

  • Monthly fees start at $16 / month

  • Transaction fees like overdraft and non-Bank of America ATM usage can add up

  • Extra fee to add users or money management accounts

Ready to make a move?

Choosing a bank and opening a bank account is stressful. Save yourself from having to do it again soon by choosing a banking solution that can scale with your business’s needs. While Lili has no monthly fees, its limits on transfers and deposits can hold you back from doing what you need to do down the line.

Business checking built for business owners

No account fees or minimum balances; 20 checking accounts; 50 virtual and physical debit cards. Open account 100% online.

Learn more

If you’re ready for an account that grows with you and empowers you to better your everyday financial management with no monthly fee, consider Relay. You can open up an account for free today.