Lili and Relay are two business banking platforms that offer fee-free checking accounts. But which one's the best fit for your business? While they both offer digital banking, they also differ in key ways, and we'll break down each one in detail below.
In this article:
By comparing Relay vs. Lili, this guide will help you better understand what features are essential for your business. From key features, spending and budgeting tools, and different fee structures, you’ll be equipped to pick a long-term solution for your business.
What is Relay?
Relay is an online banking platform built with the entrepreneur in mind. We’ve worked with CPAs and small business owners to develop tools and features that give you the financial clarity to build a lasting business.
Our business checking account provides insight into your revenue and spending trends with enriched data. You get access to unlimited transactions and all of them are automatically categorized based on industry codes, helping you speed up bookkeeping and understand your monthly spending. If a transaction looks unfamiliar or out of place, Relay provides the necessary vendor information, including check images and memos, to jog your memory.
Beyond our in-platform money management tools, Relay integrates with many of the tools you use today. Seamlessly connect with QuickBooks Online or Xero for your bookkeeping, Gusto for payroll, and many other money management apps via a Plaid or Yodlee connection.
Signing up for Relay online or by mobile app is easy. You can open up to 20 accounts with no monthly fees or minimum opening deposits, and issue up to 50 virtual or physical debit cards. Relay's Visa debit cards allow you to make cash withdrawals and deposits at AllPoint ATMs with no ATM fees. You can upgrade to Relay Pro for $30 per month for same-day ACH transfers, bill pay automation, and more.
What is Lili?
Lili is a banking platform built with freelancers and side hustlers in mind. Lili's platform has no monthly fees, but is only available to sole proprietorships (or single-member LLCs filing as sole proprietorships). Because of this, it is tailored for smaller operations with a low volume of transactions and simple reporting needs.
For new business owners, one of Lili’s best features is its Tax Optimizer. It helps you navigate the complexities of paying business taxes for the first time by allowing users to mark business transactions, split costs (like phone bills), and bucket expenses to track tax deductions.
The price to upgrade to Lili Pro is $4.99 a month. This unlocks free overdrafts of up to $200, cashback at select partners, automatic daily savings transfers, and access to their invoicing feature. But perhaps the best Lili Pro feature for first-time business owners is the Schedule C provided at year-end to be used for tax filing. This takes away some of the guesswork if you’re new to the process.
Differences between Relay and Lili
Want a quick summary to determine the best bank for your business? To help you understand the key differences between Relay and Lili, we’ve broken down the features and fees of both.
Relay vs. Lili feature comparison chart
Ideal fit for
Small businesses with 2 to 100 employees
Freelancers or side hustles
Entity types that can apply
Sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, S corporations, C corporations
Sole proprietorships and single member LLCs
Free checking accounts
20 individual checking accounts with unique account and routing numbers
1 individual checking account
No monthly service fees
No minimum balance requirements
No overdraft fees
✅ (Lili Pro only)
Free ACH payments
Free check deposits and incoming payments
Mobile check deposits
No fees on deposits
Currency exchange for international wires
✅ $5 (Free with Relay Pro)
✅ $10 (Free with Relay Pro)
✅ Yes (Relay Pro)
✅ Automated savings that earn you 1% to 3% APY*
✅ (Lili Pro only)
✅ (Up to 50)
✅ (one per account)
Business credit cards
Cashback and rewards on card spend
At participating partners (Lili Pro only)
Accounts payable automation
✅ (Relay Pro)
✅ (7 unique user permission levels)
QuickBooks Online integration
Web, iOS, or Android
Web, iOS, or Android
4.4 Stars (Source)
4.7 Stars (Source)
*FDIC-insured via Thread Bank.
Lili is currently only available to sole proprietorships. If you’re a partnership, corporation, or anticipate wanting to incorporate in the future, Lili won’t be a good long-term solution.
Relay is built to work with all business entity types. Whether you’re starting out as a sole proprietor, a startup looking to scale rapidly, or a long-standing corporation, our banking services work with you and will continue to work with you in spite of any changes you may make going forward.
An accounts payable management tool can save you the stress and time of digging for invoices and submitting payments by completely automating the process with customized permissions and rules. Not only that, it helps you understand the exact amount you owe so you can plan on when and how to pay bills.
While a Lili Pro account lets you generate your own invoices for accounts receivable, there is no functionality for collecting and paying bills from your suppliers. You’ll need a separate platform to manage your accounts payable.
Relay’s accounts payable automation pulls in invoices from your accounting software into the banking platform. This allows you to make bill payments in the same place you check your balances and plan your spending. For businesses with invoices approved by different teams, you can set up workflows that automatically send bills to the right people to approve.
Money sending options
As commerce becomes more globalized, you’re more likely to work with people out of state or even country. But most money-sending apps will take a percentage fee meaning with each transaction, you’re spending to send money.
Lili currently does not offer ACH payments, checks, or wire transfers — all of which limits your options for sending money. Even if you aren’t routinely using these payment methods, they’re options you should leave open if you plan on scaling up your operations.
Relay accommodates next-day ACH payments, checks, and both domestic and international wire transfers with currency conversions directly in the platform, as well as same-day ACH with Relay Pro. We even list out the processing times for clarity on how long the payment will take. The only transaction fees Relay charges are $5 for domestic wire transfers and $10 for international wire transfers — both of which can be waived if you subscribe to Relay Pro. We also don’t charge fees for incoming wires.
Having multiple business checking accounts simplifies the budgeting process. Having accounts dedicated to payroll expenses, taxes, or long-term financial goals helps you divvy up your cash to ensure you have the money to cover your costs.
A Lili business checking account only gives you access to a single account with no option of adding additional accounts or sub-accounts. However, with a Lili Pro account, you get access to a savings account with automatic daily transfers and an estimated 1.50% APY.
With a Relay Financial account, you can open up to 20 individual checking accounts, an ideal feature to start multiple bank account budgeting. Set up automatic transfers to divide your money into separate accounts daily, weekly, or monthly to make budgeting a hands-free activity.
As Lili is built for sole proprietors, collaboration isn't a large component of the platform. Lili doesn’t support multiple users, and only offers one debit card per account. If you’re hoping to give your team access or provide debit cards to anyone, Lili will not support that.
By offering up to 50 virtual or physical debit cards with optional spending limits, a Relay account will set you up for easy team spending and expense management. Our integration with Gusto also keeps payroll information and team member management in a single spot turning your banking platform into a team management tool.
Some banking platforms have transaction limits that will restrict how much you can transfer or deposit. With Lili, you are limited on:
Cash deposits - $1,000 a day or $9,000 a month,
Inbound ACH transfers - 1 per day or 2 per month, max of $1,000 a day and $5,000 per month
Mobile check deposits - 2 per day or 15 per month, max of $5,000 per check, $5,000 per day and $50,000 per month
Relay does not limit your funding options, allowing you to send and deposit money as needed. If you’re planning to inject capital into your business for growth or to get through the early stages, Lili can leave you in the lurch without the ability to deposit your money. This can also be problematic for businesses that receive most of their money through checks.
Choosing between Relay and Lili: What’s best for your business?
While Relay and Lili are both affordable business checking accounts without monthly maintenance fees, they’re better fits for different types of businesses.
A sole proprietorship that’s an online business doing freelancing, a side hustle, or is just starting to separate their personal and business finances could opt for Lili’s checking account. They would benefit from the Tax Optimizer helping them navigate tax season and wouldn’t be held back by the check deposit and funding limits. But if they’re thinking of incorporating, they would lose their eligibility to open an account and the automatically generated Schedule C is no longer an option.
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
For any other entity type or a business that’s hoping to scale up operations, Relay is the better fit long-term. By accommodating multiple payment types, having no funding limits, and an accounts payable platform that can completely automate the bill payment process, our checking account helps you save time and adapts to your needs.
Get started today with an online application that takes 10 minutes.