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Best US bank for Startups (fees, internet services, loans/credit) ?

What's your experience dealing with your US bank? I am especially interested in the following, specific topics:

  1. Fees, such as monthly maintenance fees,national & international wire transfer fees, Direct Connect (for QuickBooks integration)
  2. Non-standard online services (beyond basic banking), such as ability to send national/international wire transfers online
  3. Ability to get loans or credit cards
  4. Customer service reactivity (email, phone...)

I know some specialized,boutiquebanks for tech startups such as Silicon Valley Bank or (much smaller) Square 1 (https://www.square1financial.com/), has anyone here dealt with them and what's their feedback? Any other bank to maybe take a look at?

I am currently using Bank of the West, but although they do have good customer service and are pretty responsive, their online tools are really basic and I findtheir fees relatively high, especially when you have to go to your branch to get things done.

12 Replies

Frederic Laruelle
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Frederic Laruelle Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO at inkWire, inc.
SVB hands down They actually understand startups. Sent from my iPad
Jonathan Barronville
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Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
This is actually a question I have too. If you have any suggestions, please comment! I've used TD Bank before and have been quite happy, but I only chose TD Bank because of a few suggestions from business owners here in Boston. I know there are many smart entrepreneurs on FounderDating, so I'd really love your input. It'd be great if the bank you recommend has offices nationwide.

Thanks in advance!

- Jonathan
Ezra Goldman
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Ezra Goldman Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO at Upshift
I use Square 1, which has been pretty good so far. I know some folks have given SVB hit or miss reviews and I heard S1 reviews were quite positive despite the fact that they are smaller.
Peter Sankauskas
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Peter Sankauskas Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at CloudNative
My wife, who works with many startups loves SVB, so another vote for them.
Joseph Galarneau
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Joseph Galarneau Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder and CEO at Mezzobit, creating transparency and control for Internet data
I was on TD Bank for a couple years and just switched to SVB. Night and day, particularly with regard to online banking platforms and wire transfers. With TD, you have to actually visit a branch for an international wire and they ended up botching 50% of the wires I did last year, causing forex and vendor problems. SVB has been silky smooth thus far, even for an early stage venture like mine that hasn't yet routed a lot of cash through them. The only thing that's irksome is the lack of a retail branch in NYC.
Raphael Londner
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Raphael Londner Entrepreneur
Developer Advocate

All, thanks for your feedback, I definitely appreciate it!

Ezra, last time I talked to Square 1, they were chargingsomething like $100/year simply for maintaining the account (waived the first year). Is this still the case, and if so, do you think it's fair to charge a company a fee to keep your money (and possibly lend it to others at the same time). I haven't looked at SVB yet, but that was a bit of a turnoff for me. Also, they toldmeyou couldn't do international wire transfers over the web (which I assume you can do based on Joseph's message).

I also heard SVB has gotten so big that they don't have the level of care for their customers they used to have. Is that still the case?

Thanks again for your feedback,

Raphael.

Wesley Chung
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Wesley Chung Entrepreneur
Program Director, PLM for Digital Commerce at IBM
Raphael,

I just went through this process for my startup and decided on Bank of America. You'll have to consider your priorities, but for me they were the best option, and when my company is bigger, I might need to switch.

1. Fees
  • Business Advantage checking has waived fees if you have a minimum balance, spend a certain amount on a linked business credit card, use BoA merchant services, use their remote deposit checking machine, or (the kicker for me) run payroll regularly. Payroll is provided by Intuit Online Payroll, and the associated fees are also waived if the payroll is done by direct deposit into a BoA checking account (free for employees).
  • There are no charges for QuickBooks integration (Direct Connect).
  • Incoming wires are free (national and international). I don't know the prices for sending wires, but I think all banks will charge for this.
2. Non-standard online services
  • From what I can tell, you can initiate wire transfers from the online interface. Once you accept the terms of the service, you can set up recipients and senders and initiate.
  • Online and mobile banking (including check deposits) are also included.
3. Ability to get loans or credit cards.
  • From my understanding, getting a loan with a big bank requires 3 yrs of revenue history but once established is pretty light on the oversight. Whereas getting a loan from a local bank might be easier up front without revenue history, but they will want to look at your books more frequently (e.g. monthly) and will potentially call the loan or reduce your line of credit if they don't like the trend. For my business right now, this was less of a concern because I'm not looking to borrow yet.
  • My understanding of business (not corporate) credit cards is that they are always guaranteed personally. That is, you have to have reasonably good credit as an individual to get a business credit card. Also, I opted to pick the best incentive rewards program for me which meant that I didn't apply for a credit card with BoA. I didn't feel the need to get my credit card with the same bank I chose.
4. Customer service
  • I've actually been a BoA customer for other things (personal credit cards, etc.) for years, but anecdotally through the process of opening my business accounts, I've noticed great customer service online, by phone, and at the branch. I can't tell if it's a recent push they've made or if it's specific to the business banking, but I've been impressed so far.
Raphael Londner
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Raphael Londner Entrepreneur
Developer Advocate

Hi Wesley,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to provide such detailed information about your BoA account, this isvery interesting. Good to know you don't pay for QuickBooks DirectConnectintegration and when receiving wire transfers, this is definitely something I am going to look at.

Thanks again,

Raphael.

Christopher Remus
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Hi Raphael,

I had a similar question last fall. There's an earlier discussion thread on FD with some good additional information as well, if you haven't come across it yet. First Republic Bank was receiving some favorable reviews in that discussion and I chose them after reviewing a handful of options and can say that so far, I couldn't be happier. I've worked with Capital One and HSBC and First Republic is far and away a much better choice for me. They emphasize a very high level of personal service and have followed through in the few months I've been with them. They acknowledge their limited physical presence and go above and beyond to make that a non-issue. I'd recommend at least including them in your evaluation process. I'd be glad to refer you to one of their bankers in NYC if that would be helpful.

Good luck!

Chris
Jonathan Barronville
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Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
Thanks for the recommendations everyone!

We're currently going through the on-boarding process with an SVB relationship manager and I absolutely love everything they have to offer outside of their regular banking solutions ... I find SVB to be one of a kind in that sense.

Thanks again!

- Jonathan
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