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6 min read

Relay vs. Capital One: Everything you need to know

By Vanessa Hojda

Writer and Content Manager

Before you, in the digital vs. traditional banking boxing match, you have two contenders: Relay and Capital One. The first is a digital banking platform. The second, a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. Which one will come out on top?

In this article, we’ll weigh in on the Relay vs. Capital One debate. We’ll shed some light on what each has to offer to help you make the best choice based on your business needs. Let's dive in! 🔦

Table of Contents

What is Relay?

If you're running a business, Relay empowers you by giving you 20/20 vision 👁️👁️ when it comes to your day-to-day cash management. It's a platform designed to keep business owners on the money.

For example, with Relay, you can organize income, expenses and cash reserves using 20 checking accounts and issue up to 50 physical or virtual Visa debit cards. This adds up to a perfect way to manage money through multi-account budgeting or with a system like Profit First. You can also delegate money management with role-based user permissions and save for tax season. No more nail-biting over financial record reconciliation—only crystal clear views into your money’s moves.

What also sets Relay apart is we don’t have monthly account fees, overdraft fees, minimum account balance requirements, or digital transaction charges. And we’re upfront about any charges we do have. (See pricing here.) The daily wins from using Relay snowball over time, driving more visibility, profits, and scale.

From funding expansion to taking the edge off risk-taking, cash plays the most essential role in your business. Cash flow is so crucial that how you organize it determines whether you’ll have a smooth or rocky business journey.

That’s why we offer an online banking and cash flow management platform tackling mission-critical business tasks like spend management, saving, and bookkeeping. 💭

What is Capital One business banking? 🏦

Capital One has two banking options for small businesses and also offers a business saving account. Let’s break these down:

  • Basic Checking: This business bank account gets users back to the basics of small business banking. The monthly service fee is $15, which you can have waived if the prior 30- or 90-day balance averages $2,000 or more. Users of the Basic Checking account can also deposit up to $5,000 in cash for free each month, with a $1 fee for every $1000 deposited over this threshold. You’ll also be entitled to unlimited digital transactions with no fees.

  • Unlimited Checking: Created for small businesses wanting to take their banking up a notch. Capital One charges a $35 monthly service fee which they’ll remove if the previous 30- or 90-day balance averages $25,000 or more. As an Unlimited Checking user, you’ll also get up to two Basic Checking accounts with no additional monthly service fees, no fee cash deposits and uncapped digital transactions.

  • Savings account: This savings account allows you to put money aside for a rainy day. The monthly service fee is $3, which Capital One will cover, provided you maintain a $300 minimum balance. You can also make up to 6 free account withdrawals per monthly statement cycle. Plus, you’ll earn a promotional interest rate, guaranteed for the first 12 months.

Overall, Capital One’s Basic Checking account provides a quick way to start managing business finances. The Unlimited Checking—which has three checking accounts in total (one unlimited, two basic)—is best suited for a fast-scaling business with growing money-related tasks. But affordability could be an issue if you don’t meet the monthly fee waiver requirements or choose the basic Checking account, which has fewer money-saving perks than the Unlimited Checking option.

Relay vs. Capital One comparison chart

Feature

Relay

Capital One***

Ideal fit for

Small businesses with 2 to 100 employees

Small businesses wanting digital banking and lending online

Entity types that can apply

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, S corporations, C corporations

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, S corporations, C corporations

Sign up online

✅ Create an account in less than 10 minutes

⛔️ Must go in-person to a bank branch

Free checking accounts

✅ 20 individual checking accounts with unique account and routing numbers

🟡 The Unlimited Business Checking includes two basic checking accounts. Account plans start at $15 per month, waived if you meet specific terms

No monthly account fees

⛔️ 

No minimum balance requirements

⛔️ The Basic Checking account has a $2000 minimum daily balance requirement, and the Unlimited Checking stands at $25,000

Unlimited Transactions

No overdraft fees

🟡 $35 on average, but accounts come with Overdraft Coverage which involves linking your business checking account

Free ACH payments

Free check deposits and incoming payments

🟡

Mobile check deposits

No fees on deposits

🟡 The Basic Checking has free cash deposits up to $5000. This figure jumps to $40,000 for the Unlimited Checking

Currency exchange for international wires

Domestic wires

✅ $5 (Free with Relay Pro)

🟡 For the Basic Checking account Incoming domestic wires cost $15 and outgoing costs $25. The Unlimited account comes with unlimited free incoming wires and five outgoing wires per month

International wires

✅ $10 (Free with Relay Pro)

 

🟡 $40 for outgoing, $50 for outgoing in U.S. dollars

Same-day ACH

✅ (Relay Pro)

 

Savings accounts

✅ Automated savings accounts that earn you 1% to 3% APY* (Annual Percentage Yield).

🟡 0.20% for the first 12 months, then switched to variable APY

Debit cards

✅ (Up to 50)

Business credit cards

⛔️

Cashback and rewards on card spend

⛔️

Accounts payable automation

✅ (Relay Pro)

✅ Capital Management solution -Automated clearing house services (ACH payments)

Collaboration permissions

✅ (7 unique user permission levels)

QuickBooks Online integration

✅ Direct integration resulting in more reliable data

🟡 Integration via a third party app

Xero integration

Gusto integration

⛔️

FDIC insured

✅*

Bank from

Web, iOS, or Android

Web, iOS, or Android

Trustpilot rating

4.5 Stars (Source)

1.3 Stars (Source

*Relay provides FDIC insurance via Thread Bank.

*** Please note the information on Capital One’s business banking services is gathered from its website and promotional materials. While we have conducted checks to ensure accuracy, the information is subject to change.

Multiple checking accounts

What sounds better: lumping your entree, main course and dessert on one heaping plate or having each meal separately? Hopefully, you picked the latter. 

The same idea applies to using multiple checking accounts to handle your cash and keep your finances tidy. Does it feel optimal to have your emergency funds ⚠️ lumped with your operating expenses 🛠 and payroll 📁? If you're managing cash with Profit First or another envelope budgeting system, you'll want multiple checking accounts for your business. How does Relay and Capital One stack up here?

Multiple checking accounts with Capital One

Capital One’s Basic Checking provides just one account for all of your banking tasks.  This doesn’t give you any clarity on how you’re earning, spending and saving your cash. With multiple checking accounts, however, you can be 💯 on top of your current cash standing, stay within budget, and save for taxes.

Capital One’s Unlimited Checking is a slightly better offer, providing up to two additional basic checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees. But why limit yourself to three accounts? That might not be enough to gain the 20/20 vision you need to really understand your cash flow.

Multiple checking accounts with Relay

With Relay, you get up to 20 checking accounts with no monthly account fees and 50 virtual or physical Visa debit cards. You can also get granular on how you control spending. For example, you can assign cards to specific accounts and set cardholders, set spending limits, and assign seven different employee permission levels. 💳

As a result, you’ll know what’s happening in your business’ finances in seconds rather than needing to do investigative work into your checking accounts and accounting software, which can take hours or days. 

Payroll services by Capital One

Another area to assess when weighing up Relay vs. Capital One is payroll services. Both Relay and Capital One offer accounts payable solutions to manage tasks like payroll and vendor payments. For instance, Capital One provides Automated Clearing House Services (ACH payments), allowing users to pay vendors and employees on time and track transactions from one platform. This service also has security features like blocking ACH debits from entering your account and creating a trusted banking partners list that your account will only accept payments from. 💰

Relay’s payroll services

While Relay doesn't offer dedicated payroll services, we integrate with payroll solutions like Gusto to provide clear payroll transaction data, alerts, and simplified accounting. For example, to prevent direct deposit transactions from bouncing, our platform notifies you if your account balance is too low to hit your insufficient current payroll bill—giving you time to rectify the shortfall before the processing date. Once the payment clears, Relay will give you a detailed transaction breakdown, including wages, taxes, and garnishments.

Other banking services offered by Capital One

Capital One provides many additional services to help business owners send cash quickly, accept payments, boost liquidity, and more. Here are a few of the most attractive services and incentives:

  • 🤝 Loans and Lines of Credit: Apply for credit lines and SBA loans from the Capital One platform to keep your liquidity in check.

  • 🏬 Merchant Services: Capital One offers diversified payment options via Worldpay with next-day payouts. You can also set up or update an online store and access reporting tools.

  • 💵 Escrow Express: This is a 24-7 self-service escrow platform that enables you to view your business bank account, create and close subaccounts, and execute transfers or allocations online.

  • ✉️ Remote deposits: Scan on your mobile app or use a remote deposit scanner to drop cash into your accounts remotely. Capital One will deposit the funds as quickly as if you were in-branch.

  • 💰 Capital management solutions: From payable-related services to automated receivables solutions, Capital One makes it simple for its users to receive and send cash quickly.

  • 🔐 Vault Services: If you’ve got cash in physical locations, Elect Capital One Vault Services will help you move cash securely with an armored car service.

  • 🗒️ Return check solutions: Capital One offers return services to deposit checks, including online pictures for same and previous-day returned checks and customizable return notifications, and redeposit instructions.

  • 💳 Business Rewards Credit Cards: Access quick cash with Capital One’s Spark business cards. Each Credit card also comes with reward points, redeemable on travel goods, and more.

  • 🔑 Security controls: Capital One offers security features like dual control authorization on accounts. You’ll set up users on an account or card and have them approve or decline each other’s transactions.

  • 📠 Remote scanning device: The Unlimited Checking account has advanced tools like a remote scanner service for check deposits and free online bill pay.

More banking platform features from Relay

Relay holds its own in the Relay vs. Capital One comparison with additional features and services tailored to growing small businesses. These services get to the crux of managing small business finances intelligently. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • 📊 Detailed transaction data: Relay empowers you to control your cash flow through enriched data. We’re talking specific vendor details for transactions, payment information, and customer stats to help you clarify purchases and reconcile accounts quicker and easier.

  • 🌎 Flexible domestic and international payment options: Get same-day ACH payments with the Relay Pro account and unlimited international and domestic transfer wires with transparent fees. Also, Relay lets you send wires in the recipient's destination currency, giving you clarity and saving you money on international exchange fees.

  • 📜 FDIC Insurance and Visa® Zero Liability Protection: While Relay itself is a technology platform, not an FDIC-insured bank, your money is safe with Relay. That's because each business is FDIC insured through our partner bank, Thread Bank. Plus, thanks for Visa's Zero Liability Protection, you're also protected in the event that your card is ever stolen.

  • 👨‍💻 Branch-free account setup: With Relay, you can complete the entire setup process online, which is especially handy if you have a remote team or executives in different states or abroad.

  • 🧾 Accounting and bookkeeping integrations: Relay’s integration with technology like QuickBooks Online, Gusto, and Xero will empower your bookkeepers and accounts to reconcile accounts accurately without breaking a sweat.

  • ✅ Easy account management: Relay makes it easy to manage multiple businesses with one login. Simply toggle between the accounts.

  • 💷 Profit First focus: Relay makes implementing the Profit First methodology a breeze, especially its nil-balance approach. Relay leans into the reality that most business owners manage their daily finances with spreadsheets, guesswork, and mental math—and equips you with the tools to flip the script. So, Relay equips you to get the lowdown on your business’ money in seconds rather than minutes or hours.

  • 🖥️ Auto transfer rules and percent-based transfers: Relay offers automation for sending money to various accounts. You can set up rules so that cash is automatically transferred out of an account once it reaches a set threshold.

  • 🔒 Security features: Set up different permissions to assignees on an account or card, control who sees what and when, set spend limits, and create and terminate accounts—all remotely.

Capital One: Wire transfer options and incidental fees

Capital One offers outgoing and incoming wire transfer options. The monthly fees vary, and so do the incidental fees, depending on your account. For example, with the Basic Business Checking, the first five outgoing domestic wires every month are free, after which they cost $15, and outgoing domestic wires are $25.

With an Unlimited Business Checking account, you’ll get free incoming domestic wires, and five of the first outgoing wires in a month are gratis. Outgoing wires over this limit cost $25.

For international wires on both accounts, Capital One bills incoming international wires at $15 and $40 for outgoing international wires. As for incidental fees, the costs can be steep, like a $35 overdraft or insufficient funds fee.

The downside of Capital One’s transfer fees isn’t just the service cost. The cloudy pricing structure makes it difficult to predict end costs. Especially when you consider currency exchange differences settle on your accounts only after the transaction is complete. These pitfalls may make Capital One’s transfer wires expensive if your business operates cross-border or has vendors overseas. 😞

Relay: No monthly incidental fees and ATM fees 🙅

Relay, on the other hand, has transparent and cost-effective pricing for wire transfers. Relay charges a $5 fee for outgoing domestic wires and a $10 fee to send an international wire transfer. Receiving a domestic or international wire transfer is free. You can also complete currency exchange in your Relay account, and there are no hidden fees, making calculating the end cost fuss-free.👍 

Relay and Capital One: Customer Support and ATM fees

Both Capital One and Relay offer extensive customer support, FAQs, and fee-free ATM access as perks.🫶 

Capital One’s customer service varies from phone, email, and in the branch.  Also, Capital One has joined forces with the MoneyPass and Allpoint ATM networks. This lets its Small Business Checking customers to use over 70,000 machines without ATM fees. However, if you want to deposit cash, you’ll need to use a Capital One ATM.

While Relay has no physical branches, we offer phone, email, and chat. You can also use over 32,000 AllPoint ATMs for cash withdrawals.

Picking the right place for business banking

Digital banking can awaken your business' financial sense. It can drive game-changing results not only in your cash flow but also in the way you run your business and prepare for financial rainy days (tax season, payroll deadlines, and more).  

But all money management solutions aren’t created equally. For best results, find a banking platform that “gets” small businesses. They should alleviate your admin load and make tracking and organizing your money easy.

More than 80% of businesses fail due to cash flow issues. Relay is here to change that. Learn how. Or, if you're still exploring, see how we measure up against other providers, like Bank of America and Chase.