Banks for business suck. Also, a SmallBusinessBank review

If I weren’t doing this web and marketing gig, I’d be a banker. Why a banker? Because the opportunity to make a bank that doesn’t completely suck seems well within our grasp in 2014. At least it should be.

I’ve banked at a lot of different banks over the years, but I want to stay mobile and don’t want to get tied down to a bank that exists in one particular region. But I also don’t want a “Big Bank” like Citi, Bank of America, Chase, etc. I want something small, intimate, and operates like we do at SuperPixel.

For my personal checking I use Simple (I have invites, if anyone wants one). It’s a checking account with software that looks great, functions well, and even has built in saving features. So while not attached to a savings account I can have it sock money away for me and keep it out of my “Safe to Spend” balance. For example, I wanted $1,000 saved up for a rainy day between now and June 1. It’s tucking away about $5 a day for me automatically.

When I call Simple, on the rare times I need to call, someone picks up the phone. I can email them and get a response usually in the same day. They’ve staffed up, they support their customers, they take pride in their work and use their own service. In a sense, they operate exactly like me and SuperPixel on a service level.

So it’s a bummer they don’t support small business accounts. I get that there are laws, particularly after the Patriot Act, that put a lot of pressure on banks. I get that you have to rethink your application process to verify a business entity and the executive of the account. Simple says they’re working on it. I just wish it’d come sooner than later.

What small business banking needs

I went in search of the “Simple alternative for small businesses” and came up mostly empty handed. My requirements for a bank are straightforward:

  1. No fee checking for my LLC
  2. A Visa debit card
  3. Check deposit through my iPhone/camera
  4. I don’t ever want to have to go to a bank branch or office
  5. Online bill pay to people and companies (with or without account numbers)
  6. Fast email and phone response to inquiries and issues

Everyone needs a checking account, and so does every small business. We don’t have a ton of transactions each month, so I’m after something that’s free or very low-cost (like, $2-$3 a month max). I’m stashing money in a safe place at the rate of hundreds and a few thousand dollars at a time, not millions. I get that banks need to make money, but that’s what investments are for, not fees.

I also don’t think it’s unreasonable that I should be able to sign up for and fund the account without going to an office. I should be able to deposit a check through my iPhone’s camera and a bank app. We know the technology exists.

This is not how business banking and banks see it. To them, you either have to drag your check into the bank like a pilgrim or deposit it using a “convenient check scanner”. To a bank, this is “convenient”:

  1. Have a TWAIN-compatible scanner (what is this, 1991? This means no Doxie scanners or WiFi scanners.)
  2. Connect your scanner to a PC. No Macs. (Because Macs evidently aren’t for business?)
  3. Install the bank’s software for check processing.
  4. Upon scanning a check, lock and store the check securely for up to 60 days.
  5. Wait 2-3 business days for money to appear in your account.

On what planet does that seem convenient? This is the era of PayPal and instant money transfers.

The competition – SmallBusiness Bank, PNC Bank, and EverBank

I stumbled across and was intrigued by their high interest rates, great looking site and app, but the $14.95 a month fee is too much. SuperPixel is all about keeping prices low and that’s $14.95 a month we don’t have to charge a client if we don’t have to. EverBank has a low-cost checking account for low transaction volume businesses, but it’s not open to LLCs. I have no idea why not.

I’ve used PNC Bank in the past, but it’s regional and the phone support is slow at best thanks to a series of prompts and call centers. It’s not personal, and their services for business aren’t exactly attractive from a user interaction and experience perspective. Yet, given my issues with, I’d probably recommend PNC’s free business checking. It’s just not good enough to warrant switching.

We’re currently using, a Gardner Bank subsidiary based in Kansas. It’s effectively Gardner Bank with an alternate domain name. has about 1,500 businesses to their rolls and a staff of 1. The rest is just wrapped around Gardner Bank’s existing online banking and systems.

My review of SmallBusinessBank and Gardner Bank would be not to recommend them, but they offer free checking, iPhone mobile deposits, and everything can be done online. However, of the first four transactions I tried with my debit card (branded as Gardner Bank), it failed on two of them. One because it was outside the country (okay, fine) and another because it was Yelp. That’s right. Because it was Yelp.

We pay for a handful of Yelp ads, nothing much, just a handful of impressions per month. To setup an account with Yelp you have to give it a credit or debit card number so they can bill your account after the month when they tally your total due. This seems logical, right? But to SmallBusinessBank/Gardner, this is a security issue.

Because Yelp wants to verify my card, they charge the card $0 to see if it’s legitimate. Gardner sees this and says, “Why would you ever want to charge $0? Deny.” I have confirmed this with their staff. It’s a security issue that Yelp has never seen before, and one the bank isn’t intersted in dealing with.

I will say that calling Gardner is generally easy and quick. Emailing was promised to be fast, but it’s been 9 days now since my last email to the branch manager (the 1 employee) and that message hasn’t been returned. They sent me a bunch of free checks, which I get cost money, but I’ll never write a check. That’s what the online bill pay is for, right?

To say SBB’s web and iPhone app are a comedy of user interaction and service errors is an understatement. Their website asked me three different challenge quicks over three different screens when I wanted to add a bill pay client. It’s like Windows Vista. Their bill pay is seemingly impossible to do correctly anyway. The options for their bill pay are:

  1. An individual
  2. A company with an account number

The notion there could be a company without an account number is evidently lost. I’ve paid bills to companies as “an individual” and I just hope it works.

The search for a bank continues

My search for a bank continues, but I’ve giving up for now because I’m convinced there are no good banks for small businesses with low transaction volume. And no one seems to be doing anything about it.

So if you’re reading this and thinking of starting a business. Start a bank, and tailor it to small business LLCs with the same passion and effort Simple does for individuals.

About the author

Justin Harter


  • Do you have any new updates on or another alternative? I need a small business checking with no fees (preferred). My current business checking provider will start charging fees this February and I got to find another option. I can’t even meet their minimum deposit requirements to avoid fees.

    Any advice?

    • I wish I did. I can tell you that I have my account open with $5 in it and will close it soon. I’ve switched to PNC Bank’s Free Business Checking. It may not be available in your area, but here in the midwest and east coast PNC is pretty much everywhere. However, you can’t open an account without stepping into a branch, which irritated me. And they bungled my address and after 2 weeks I still can’t access the online banking system because the PIN is “in the mail”. PNC however is removing their free accounts “sometime in 2014, with a 2015 deadline”. So I’ll be in the same boat as you again very soon. I just needed someplace better than SBB in the meantime. I haven’t found it. would be my go-to, I think, if I were a sole proprietor and not an LLC.

      I’m about to just assume all banks royally suck.

    • I spent a significant amount of energy trying to open an account at responding to requests for more and more documents and information, only to have them deny the application in the end. Their initial reason was that the company was “too large” and when I pointed out the error in that conclusion they changed the reason to “it’s owned by a holding company.” I asked where that policy was written, and was told it was an unwritten policy. Then I was told “had we let you open an account, we would have have provided you our written policy that says we can close your account anytime we want for any reason we want.” Very little indication they have even minimal respect for their customers.

  • Thanks for the update! I thought I found one (a credit union) in my area, but when I started the application process, I found out they too only accepted individual/sole proprietor and not an LLC. I am trying to avoid the “big banks” — I find they’re always out to get your money with all sorts of crazy fees (after they hook you in with their freebies)… and for a small business such as mine, I just have to keep my costs low. I’m not one of those huge businesses that can just give away all my money on all sorts of charges and fees (=

    Good luck on your search!

  • Have you heard of or had any experience with BofI (Bank of Internet)? It seems like it may be similar to, but it looks a little more legit. Not completely sure, though. I’m in the same boat as you.

    • I looked into BofI, but found at the time they had a $1,000 initial deposit requirement. While that’s not unreasonable for a free account, it was too steep at the time for me. I may review that option later on. You’re right, it’s worth investigating.

  • I just today turned down I applied a week ago for their No Bull Checking and had to wait while they requested my proof of business documents and so on. Finally received the approval paperwork this morning.

    Now, I doublechecked their site – for No Bull Checking, it says no minimum balance, and NOTHING about a deposit anywhere, even on their fees page. The 3-page approval document they sent even says Initial Deposit $0 on the first page, but on the third page asks for banking information for an initial ***$500*** deposit. I was pissed, because I’d now wasted a week waiting for them when I could’ve been shopping for an honest bank.

    While googling review sites for it after, I saw that Gardner Bank (their parent bank) charges $500 for their savings accounts, so I don’t know if wires got crossed or if they were just being flat out deceitful? But either way I’m never doing business with them.

    • There seems to be a $100 minimum deposit for the business banking account as of 7/7/2014

  • The foregoing comments regarding our not being as ‘legit’ as our competitors, or reflecting otherwise dubious honesty notwithstanding, I can tell you firsthand we take all of your comments to heart with a view to improvement and real progress.

    Our goal when we set out was none other than Justin’s. To be THE bank for truly small business (low volume) customers. I see we have much work to do.

    Nevertheless, I remain committed to our purpose and to our customers, past, present and future. If one of them is unhappy with us enough to tell the whole world, it can only mean there are too many others who have chosen for whatever reason to keep their bad experience unpublished.

    That said, a couple self indulgent equivocations, in no particular order:

    1. We are just getting up to speed on YELP. We obviously need HELP in so doing. We need more customer feedback to assess overall demand.

    2. We do worry about our billpay. Plans are underway to replace it. Please bear with us if you can till we do.

    3. We currently have a team of 4 (a 5th team member starts early March) bankers, not including IT support, and whatever support I can lend, and we are grateful for their efforts but realize our team has to grow to live up to our customer service obligations.

    4. We don’t charge for savings. Or checking. Or fees for anything (we do charge for Overdrafts), for that matter. The 500.00 is the amount a new customer must put into her/his savings account for an initial deposit, in order to make the account status “active”. Once active, the account can be drawn to zero with no fees, unless it goes dormant with 1 year of no activity. Our experience tells is this is reasonable. But it is NOT a fee or a charge.

    We are the only bank I know of allowing small business applicants to open their account totally remotely, while being stubbornly dedicated to no fees or minimum balances.

    The apps, the online channel, and the funding options will be systematically improved so that doing business with us can be as cheap, as easy and as secure as possible.

    To these goals our team and I are wholeheartedly committed.

    Ralph J. Leno
    Gardner Bank aka

    • After extensive research, including this post/thread, I decided to give SBB a try. I am extremely disappointed. My application was denied because I failed the interview questions for my identity check (which included a question about when I was 7 years old). I didn’t get a chance to submit any documents to help prove my identity. I spoke to a SBB representative named Susan who told me that many people have been failing the identity check lately and that she would call me back to give me ways that we could proceed. She ended up forgetting about me and on my callback she said that there was nothing she could do and that I could only apply again in 90 days. Which of course gives me 90 days to stop masquerading as myself and actually become a real version of me. Needless to say, I’ll be taking my business elsewhere. It’s a shame we only have two options (1) BIG, EVIL or (2) Small, Incompetent.

    • Ralph,

      You’ve just lost me as a customer also. I was on your site (can’t recall whether it was the mobile app or the website) looking to confirm a check hold date. It said the 15th. I confirmed the availability of the funds AS I WROTE THE CHECK. It said “Available balance: ” greater than the check I wrote.

      Then 2 days later, I found out from my other bank that the check bounced. I’m now out $250 in fees because your bank couldn’t figure out whether to release the funds or not. The funds you already had. From a customer that you had received checks from 3-5 times previously in the exact same amount and had NO problem clearing, yet you STILL held it for a full week.

      $250 is what you cost me. If this review costs you more than that, was letting that check bounce a good business decision? Probably not.

      Pretty disappointed. I’ll likely end up at some awful brick-and-mortar bank with fees — but at least they’ll be consistent and not provide faulty information and jeopardize my relationship with my personal bank.


    • SBB were great…until they were not-so-great.

      Easy to sign-up and had great phone support. That said, one day an investor in my start-up tried to wire money to my account. His bank returned it saying that the account was closed. I assured him this was not the case and called the bank.

      The woman on the phone said that account was indeed closed the day before. I had no written or verbal notice in advance that they were closing my account, and had no prior warning that we had any activity that they were not equipped to handle.

      Apparently, I had too many wire transfers coming into the account. I guess FOUR incoming wire transfers over a several month period is too difficult for a bank in the digital age to accomodate. When I questioned the “manager” I was told that they work for small businesses. Mind you, the grand total of these four incoming wire transfers was less than $80K. We’re not talking high finance here, simply an internet start-up with a little bit of investor capital.

      SO….they closed the account with no written or verbal notice in advance…and I had two outstanding checks. My lawyer had to call them and get them to keep the account open until these checks cleared.

      NOWHERE in the bank’s terms of service does it mention a limit on incoming wire transfers, nor does it state anywhere that they can close an account without any advance notice. Heck, they could simply CHARGE for wire transfers like every other bank in the world and this would have been a decent profit center for them. Rather, they closed a business account without notice.

      Had those checks bounced, it would have adversely affected my credit rating. Clearly not the “helping small business” type of bank they promote on their site and in their literature. Further…the investor whose wire was rejected….well he’s yet to re-invest and my company has lost out on a significant amount of startup capital as a result of Small Business Bank’s unprofessionalism and ineptitude.

      My attorneys are filing an official complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the Banker’s Bank of Kansas (with whom they are affiliated) and is contemplating filing suit for the amount of money lost for the wire that was rejected.

      I switched to Bank of America in one-day. They are pro and honest.

      STAY AWAY.

    • I do not. TD Bank doesn’t exist in the midwest and you can’t sign up without visiting a bank branch.

      • They have the best prices, good presence on the east coast (I’m currently in DC), but the reviews I’m finding online are absolutely horrific. They just opened up their tiered business accounts about 2yrs ago, but with the terrible online reviews I’m considering SBB…just seems like you don’t have much choice. Was nice of the CEO to respond to your article

        • The CEO’s response was very recent. I heard from the manager of SBB the other day. I’m going to attempt to do some processing of funds with SBB again and will report back any updates.

          • Thanks for the review of SBB, I’m thinking about setting up an account. For me, it’s ridiculous fees added annually at my brick and mortar bank. I’m done after 3.5 years banking with them. Everything was great until about 2012…

            Thank you to Mr. Leno for responding, too!

  • Banking institutions are very powerful dinosaurs, but still dinosaurs. To the modern business owner, these banks form a sort of cartel of deception that we’d love to bypass as soon as the opportunity arises.
    That opportunity has started to surface. We see it in SBB, Simple and EverBank. PNC may be trying, but the limit on the account balance without mention of what happens when you go over and the limit on transactions makes them part of the archaic cartel of dishonesty and arbitrary fees.
    Granted, none of these have got it quite right yet, but at least one of them will. I mean, the market is there for the taking.
    In my view, Simple just needs to extend their concept to small business accounts. It may be a big step for them. Maybe, handling business accounts is fraught with regulatory hurdles, but given the need, I can’t help but wonder what else there is to hold them back. Perhaps, they’re not quite aware of the need or competition.
    In the meantime, I’m giving SBB a chance. Mr. Leno’s smart and sensitive response above is ultimately what tipped things in their direction for me. So, I signed up this morning, even after the admission that the bill payer sw needs work. Let’s see how it goes… but I’m crossing my fingers, because frankly that little bank in Kansas seems to be the only one listening as of 3/5/2014.

  • I appreciate your post on this topic Justin and the discussion that has followed. I’m in the same boat, sick of the lack of a good alternative for a small business. FYI EverBank’s Small Business Checking for sole proprietors charges an additional fee of $8.95/mo for online bill pay in addition to the $9.95/mo maintenance fee if you fall below the required minimum average daily balance. That was the game changer for me in not giving it a try.

    I did not know about Simple. Looks interesting for a personal account. However I don’t see that it offers online bill pay… Is that true?

    • Thanks, Marianne. Simple offers bill pay. It’s very good and works for people, companies, or bills.

      As an aside and small update for everyone in this thread, I’ve been very happy with the outreach from Gardner and SmallBusinessBank on resolving the issues I’ve had. They tell me they’re working on some great new changes that should be rolling out soon.

      I’ve raised the Yelp issue and they’re working on getting that resolved. I’ve placed a small amount of money in the account there and am going to give it a test run again. Ultimately, I hope to switch from PNC over to SBB, as I appreciate the service and response from them. I just need the darned thing to work and work well, first.

      • @Justin

        Will sign up for an invite from Simple and check it out, thanks.

        I look forward to your updates on SBB, I may give it a try as well.

        All the best. 🙂

  • I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your post Justin. I am reviving a small web-based business I shut down a few years ago. I hated dealing with the local banks when I had the business running. Through a Google search, I hit on Wow! I was impressed but skeptical because it looked to good to be true. Then I found your review. I was deflated, but I kept reading the posts and saw the CEO, Mr. Leno actually took the time to respond AND admitted they have problems they need help working on. I was impressed! He has my business. I’m in the process of reactivating my business paperwork and will likely file an LLC this time around. Once I have the paperwork, I’m contacting Small Business Bank to open an account. Thank you Justin & Thank you Mr. Leno for taking the time to respond.

  • Justin – Thank you for posting about SBB. I hope you’ll keep us updated on your progress, not just with them, but with any small business banks you might deal with in the future. I am in the market for a small business bank and I’d like it to be SBB, but I’d love to see more reviews and comments about them before I commit.

  • I recently opened an account with as stated in the article is simply another division if you will call it that for Gardner Bank. As I had never setup an account for a small business, I did not know what to expect, however, you will need your Federal EIN. Documents for me to sign arrived via DocuSign, and I was able to either call, IM, or email for any assistance, with all communication being quickly answered. There was an error on one of the forms (human address error…it happens). I rejected that form, sent an email, and shortly another link for a corrected form arrived.

    There is a $500 initial deposit, but no further deposit minimum’s. I transferred in the $500 and a few days later it was available.

    I used the Android APP to scan and deposit several checks, which appeared in my pending balance after 3pm that day. (It would be nice to have some sort of log in the app showing the deposit)

    I have used BillPay to pay an individual via routing/account number transfer of funds, and also via email payment.

    Overall, very pleased with the bank, its’ services, and its’ support. This is a small bank, and the tools are not as polished as you would hope, however, they are more than serviceable.

    The process has quite a few steps

  • Going to sign up for SBB after reading the comment discussion here. Until Simple (which I love for personal banking) supports small business, SBB seems like the closest we’ll get to hassle free online banking.

  • I am with a few others here. Found SBB through a different article and went looking for reviews; ended up here. I was also a little down after I began reading, especially since I had such a bad experience with PNC this last week. I opened a business checking 5 days ago with them and I closed it today! Mr. Leno, thank you for your response. You have my business as well.

  • Just got my SBB account set up as of yesterday. They lowered the initial funding on the checking account to $100. I e-signed the documents and made the deposit, and my account was immediately funded via debit card, and the account was ready to go that afternoon. Thanks for the review, and Mr. Leno for his reply and listening!

  • Thanks for the info. After reading through all the post I decided to give SBB a shot today. I’ll let you know how it goes. Just spent an hour at BB&T bank trying to open a business account. Received my first payment (Income) today and had nowhere to deposit. BB&T will give you free Business Checking (Business Value 200 Checking) if you have personal accounts with them…or so I thought. I have a home loan with them but doesn’t qualify neither does my 10k credit card. I read this on their site and thought it did.>
    $10 monthly maintenance fee applies (No monthly maintenance fee for the first 95 days.)
    Avoid the monthly maintenance fee by:
    $6,000 combined average monthly balances in checking accounts (business/public fund/personal), Money Rate Savings accounts (business/public fund/personal), Business Investor’s Deposit Accounts and/or outstanding balances on both business and/or personal loans, lines of credit and credit cards

  • Bank of America has issued $230 worth of late fees for my small business in the past 4 months. I’ve spend hours on the phone to get that down to $19. Unacceptable. I actually feel foolish because I’ve let the opportunity cost grow so much.

    I began my search for a bank like yesterday so It seems like the best option at this point.

    All my book keeping is through WaveApps so before I close up with Bank of America, I’ll have to ensure SmallBusinessBank has an API that can plug into my book keeping software. I’ll keep people posted.

    Anyone have any insights on this?

    • Your mileage may vary, Ian, but I’ve noodled with iBank and some other Mac-specific banking apps and they don’t return anything but Gardner Bank and somewhere things go wrong. I can’t ever get anything to connect to SBB the way it would for most banks. Occasionally I run across an app that doesn’t even know Gardner exists.

      • Along these same lines, can anyone verify that SBB works with Quickbooks Online? They don’t show up in the search when adding an account although, as you mention, Gardner does.

        • I am with SBB for several years. Overall, their service is acceptable. It used to be very very nice, but they got little difficult recently, to my experience, probably due to they are getting bigger. I usually download the transactions to Quickbooks, but due to some software problem, you cannot download current month with previous month together. You have to download the current month individually. Also, the download does not filter out duplicates for some reason. I usually check the last date of download and avoid download the duplicate entry. Overall, there is work around, not perfect. The big thing for me to use them is their free remote deposit. It saved me many weekly trips to my local bank.

  • My account is now open at Everything went flawlessly. Thanks for all the information here. I was very impressed with the process online. I funded my account with a check from a customer of mine and deposited it with their iphone app. All other documents were completed online and uploaded via their secure site. The have a lot of security steps you have to go through…so be patient for a couple of days until it all works it self out.

  • SBB has saved my sanity. After facing yet another financial fee surprise from Bank of America I was determined to get out of paying ridiculous fees on our little business account. With SBB I have all I need – checking, debit card, remote check deposit and a real body to talk to if necessary. Their system is simple and efficient. I just love SBB.

  • Have you tried PlainsCapital Bank? They have the Business Free checking account that require $100 minimum to open the account, no monthly fee and no monthly minimum amount.

  • I went through the first questions for the bank. I was not accepted,because one of the questions did not have a correct answer. It asked me the address number on street, that I never lived with 4 answers.Three were address numbers and the other was “skip” I did not know why we would have a skip answer. It should have been, “never lived there”. So, I was kicked out. I called and they let me re apply. I did not have to wait.
    Thanks for all the answers on this blog. The quickbooks info really helped. I need to find the check scanner app now.

  • Banks are ridiculously stupid for small businesses.

    I just filed for an LLC, got my EIN, and went to open a small business account with my main bank, Bank of America. Minimum $5k monthly balance, or $15k in linked funds. Which small business can afford to have $5,000 tied up in the bank, sitting around doing nothing!? Insanity.

    Then I tried Capital One 360. To open a new account, you must have an existing brick-and-mortar checking account that you link it to. Doesn’t that entirely defeat the purpose of an online-only bank? More insanity.

    There were a few local banks listed as being good for small business with online support, but they only had branches 3-4 hours’ drive away, and you needed to go to a local brick-and-mortar location to open an
    account. What? In 2014?

    Ally Bank looked good until I found a post (and a clause in the T&C) that says that you can’t use their checking account for business. Why!? I probably have fewer transactions for my business account than I will in a personal checking account.

    SBB looks like it could be good, but I’m a little leery of the lack of staffing and support. It’s nice to have the staff-of-one CEO write back, but perhaps they need to give him a budget to hire a lot more people. 😉

  • PNC free checking is going away for us effective August 9,2014. To avoid a $12 a month fee per account you need $1500 minimum deposit, OR, a merchant services account, OR, charge $1,000 per month in “eligible” charges on a PNC business credit card. Also – not a problem for many of us but if you have a cash business any cash deposit over 5K a month is charged 50 cents for every $100.

  • Just closed my PNC Small Business Bank account because of the new fees they planned to charge my business beginning in August 2014. I went ahead and closed an old personal checking account as well. Some local banks here in KY., offer free accounts for low volume small business, but after reading Mr. Leno’s reply, I will give them a try. Thank you Mr. Leno for your comments and concern for us “micro” business folks.

  • Glad I came across this review.

    I do some freelance work and have been banking with Chase for over 5 years. It’s been way too long. Although I’ve never had any issues, the monthly maintenance fees are annoying and it’s ridiculous that these are still in place despite having several accounts active (personal, savings, joint, business, etc…).

    Simple seems like THE answer and I’m hoping they can implement joint and small business banking accounts soon.

    In the meantime, it looks like SBB may be the way to go. Thanks for everyone’s input and comments.

  • I just opened an account with SBB. Couldn’t have been smoother. I had a question…picked up a phone…and got great customer support within a minute. The next day the same customer support person called me back saying I needed an additional document.

    SUPER helpful. Also had another rep call me to follow up about something in our file. They called me! Felt like a local, small town bank…although i’m thousands of miles away.

  • @Chris – I was in the same boat. Closed my Chase account when they started charging me for not having any transactions. I opened an account at SBB thanks to this write-up, and so far things have been great. No problems at all…

    Justin – Thanks for the write-up. It, combined with all of the comments, has been extremely helpful and my deciding factor. I am very happy with my decision to go with SBB. BTW: I have also opened a Simple account and showed it to my wife – She loves it and wants to move our BoA account over.. 🙂

  • I am EXTREMELY disappointed and pissed at SBB. I tried to set up an account to fund my new business buying rental properties and was allowed to set up the account, but when the time came for the money to be wired to SBB, they returned the wire! I was called and told that the wire was over their limit to be considered a small business. The amount was for about $240,000 which, in my mind, is not that large of a business. When I mentioned that there was no mention of a limit on their website I was told that this was true and that they were changing the wording on the website to address this. When I asked what their limit was I was told that this was too high for their limit. When I pressed for an answer, the woman finally said 500. I asked $500?? She said yes. I had more than $500 in my bank account when I had a paper route! She then gave me some mumbo jumbo about the bank not wanting to “take the liability” for that large of a sum. When I asked about what liability she was referring to, she said something about fraud and that she was not at liberty to discuss the specifics. So now, after wasting my time with them, I have to find a different bank which will take my “too large” funds. If they are defining a small business as one which is funded with no more than $500, they really should rename it

    • Phil…SBB CLOSED my account without any prior notice, for having too many wire transfers. We’re talking four over a three month period totaling $80K in aggregate. CLOSED the account. No call. No email. Nothing.

      I feel your pain.

  • Thank you SO MUCH for this thread! I primarily use Paypal, but needed a “real” bank for some stuff and have been paying $12 a month to Suntrust for 2 years now. I use my account like twice a month for deposits. I get hit for a $76 overdraft fee because 84 cents overdrew my account (yes 84 cents) which then caused another overdraft, when I called to say I had checked my account before using it and there was over $50 with no pending transactions, I got the “Oh the pending transaction must have posted after you looked at it”. I am so disgusted with banks! How do they expect people to build a business when they fee us to death because we don’t have $5000 sitting around doing nothing. Its so backward!

  • @ Bryan – I realize the limit on FDIC insurance. I was making an initial deposit of $240,000, from which I would be buying houses and the final balance would be well within the limit. Even if it wasn’t, I’m the one who would be taking the risk. But that’s not the point. They were the ones who said that THEY didn’t want to take the liability. Which is confusing to me because I’m not sure what liability they would be taking.

  • Here was my experience:

    Thank you for your application to open a checking account.

    You failed to pass the ID test when you submitted your application which resulted in an automatic denial of your application. Your application has been deleted from our database.
    No exceptions can be made and you will not be allowed a second attempt at ID verification.

  • What a crappy bank. I had the same experience as the last person to post on here. Answered all the questions correctly, told the application was rejected and that’s it. Not willing to work with me to solve the problem. If they don’t want my business, should have just said so in the first place.

  • What about BBVA Compass bank? They have no fee small business checking, $100 opening deposit.

    • I 100% agree with your suggestion. I actually use BBVA Compass for my small business and love it! No monthly fee, no minimum balance, and unlimited transactions outside of the 5 in-branch withdrawals/check processing, and 2 in-branch cash deposits each month. My business doesn’t use cash. I may receive a few checks, but most of my receipts are paid online via debit/credit card processing, so those do not apply to the 5 restrictions. Also, I limit my check deposits to their mobile app, and that falls under the unlimited transactions as well. If anyone lives near a BBVA Compass, I would suggest using BBVA for their small business. I will admit that I tried them for personal checking/savings and wasn’t impressed. Oddly, their business banking is more user friendly and timely in comparison to their personal. I guess since their goal is to be a leader in small business banking they focus all of their resources, including technology developments, on business banking.

  • Reading all the above submissions we must say that we have not had any problems with Small Business Bank
    We have a savings account for our surplus funds and a checking account which we only use when we are abroad.
    Using our debit card abroad in an ATM or for a purchase has not entercountered any problems.
    We have our account now for almost 2 years to our satisfaction.
    Account opening, yes that was a headache, but if you just follow all their requirements and you submit your documents correctly, it should not be a problem.
    We did everything on line with a few phone calls as a follow up, and we must say David has been very helpful to get things done.

  • Well, after HOURS of research it looks like SBB might be the way to go. What hooked me is the letter by the CEO. I mean, who does that? Mr Leno, I sure hope you put your money where your mouth is. You certainly drummed up some business by showing that you care enough to address customer concerns. Just a suggestion: It’s been 9 months since your last post. Can you post again and give us all an update about the latest concerns and future plans for SBB. Looking forward to being your customer.
    Captain Resale

  • Small Business Bank is a complete waste of time. I had a feeling they were too good to be true and they are. About 3 weeks ago I sent in an app for their no bull business account. Just 2 days ago I was finally approved for my account and I was told that all I need to do was make a simple $100 first deposit to make the account active. After I put in my deposit I was told that I would be getting another DocuSign email later in that day with stuff I would have to sign and send back so I can do virtual terminal and card swiping. That email never came, but minutes before their bank closed I was sent an email saying that my app was rejected.

    Thinking that this was just an error I called in this morning to try and talk with John who has been my point of contact at the bank. He is also the guy that told me my account was approved and took my initial deposit to make my new account active. John did not answer his phone so I left him a detailed message and told him to give me a buzz back. After 2 hours passed with no word from John I called back into the bank and spoke with one of their other customer service reps that told me that my app was rejected due to the fact that I had too many addresses. Again, thinking this had to be wrong I asked to talk to a supervisor.

    When I got on the line with the supervisor I was given a line of bullshit that my account was not approved, and that it was only pre-approved. I was also told that my app was indeed rejected because I have too many addresses. I asked why having too many addresses even if they all checked out would get my app rejected and I was given no real answer. This has got to be the worst bank on the planet!

    I would rather keep my business account with Chase and pay their small fees for better piece of mind. I would highly suggest doing your homework and reading around more before you put in an app to the jokers over at SBB. I feel like a complete and total jackass for not doing more looking around myself before I wasted all this time for nothing. The only silver lining is that I’m getting my little deposit back. All the old says are true. You do get what you pay for, and if it sounds to good to be true it really is.

  • I have also had a similar experience with We have been using them for about two years, and customer support has been excellent. The mobile banking (check deposit) app is abysmal at best. On both of our Android devices, it frequently crashes and if you rotate the phone, it goes back a step and you have to start the whole deposit over again. Despite filing multiple bug reports over the past year, it has not gotten fixed. For a bank with no real in-person locations that we can get to, this is a major showstopper.

    Additionally, many of the checks we’ve deposited have had a 3-5 business day hold. Keep in mind that no matter what day of the week you deposit a check with a 5 business day hold, it’s going to take 7 real days. That is completely unacceptable for a small businesses. They have even applied this to checks from accounts we’ve received deposits from before, of the same amount. My own account takes 7 days to transfer to my account.

    If there were a viable alternative, we would switch tomorrow.

  • I opened an account last November with SBB. This was after a harrowingly slow to open experience w/ my local credit union (took at least 2 weeks to get that open). They’re not really setup for businesses and can only offer a barebones 100 free transactions a month, but at least its free. We’re looking @ anywhere from 100 – 300 transactions/mo/location, all ACH for the most part, more if we’re really fortunate.

    Needless to say, opening a business bank account seems to be a real hassle. We’re starting multiple, brick & mortar location-based *individual* LLCs over time.

    SBB seemed fine, so far…even depositing a check via their app was fairly straight forward (once I turned off my auto-rotate app).

    When I went to apply for another, new account @ SBB (apparently having an existing account isn’t good enough to open a new account w/o the ID tests), I failed the ID tests. Then when I complained, they sent me an email to retake it. It asked me almost the exact same questions about people I have never heard of, again. I inquired about where they get their data as it made no sense to me. I’m still waiting on a response.

    Trying to get in touch with the application manager or just having the test re-done was painful. And yet, there they were… “Where does ‘some guy I’ve never heard of’ own property?” “Who do you know in this list?” Even though I was able to identify the person I should have known from the previous attempt when it asked me where this person lived, I didn’t select the ‘right person’ because I have a strong sense of ethics. My question is… why aren’t they asking me things like how much was such-and-such loan for or do I have a mortgage with any of these companies (like *all* the major credit bureaus ask)?!

    If they won’t work with me further, I’m just going to go to PNC or 5th/3rd bank for this new one and work @ moving SBB. I saw all the bad reviews about them online, but only my business partner had failed their ID test. Now I see why….who can pass a test that is not relevant (or that hints my identity has been compromised)?!

    The most annoying part of starting a business seems to be getting your bank accounts setup to start paying the painter, payroll, buying equipment and various other nitty gritty things to start up (at least for a brick and mortar). The speed it takes to open an account and setup all of these bits and pieces has proven to me to be paramount with how quickly we can start generating revenue. Especially after signing that storefront lease and dealing with companies like Groupon/LivingSocial (who ask for ACH right out of the gate).

    its especially important with our business model as its critical we start ASAP before the spring / summer comes when things slow down.

    Anyway, if you are really interested in starting an entrepreneurial online bank, try crowd sourcing. Last I checked it only took $12M to open a new bank 🙂 I’m sure you’d have a lot of businesses clamoring for free checking (although I think there are a lot of costs behind the curtain, so to speak). Good Luck!

    • Quick update…. the following morning I received a call from their AVP who apologized and had me upload my documentation. I now have a new business checking account. Apparently they’ve had some issues w/ their ID verification software.

  • in 2010 we decided the need for a small bank that served small businesses was obvious and overdue.

    We invested in the domain name, “” as a first step.

    We believed then, as now, we could fill the demand because we felt we were very close to our small business customers since we saw them almost every day, or it seemed like we did.

    When we went live with our site in January 2012, we knew many things had to be learned about assisting small business owners with remotely opening accounts for their LLCs or Corps. But we decided that if we listened closely, we could meet their needs and grow in proficiency and knowledge.

    Here we are 3 years later, and I am writing now to admit openly that we have learned many things, and gained much knowledge, and even after many painfully felt reviews, are more than ever committed to the idea of simple, convenient, safe, and highly personal small business banking.

    Our staff regularly show me the reviews on this blog and other posting sites.

    We take each one personally. Not one of them goes ignored, nor are we indifferent in the least to the sincerity or obvious frustration with which the more negative reviews are thoughtfully written.

    However, after all of that, we do believe we are successfully and consistently, to say nothing of safely, and cheaply meeting all 6 of the Author’s criteria.
    1.No fee checking for my LLC
    2.A Visa debit card
    3.Check deposit through my iPhone/camera
    4.I don’t ever want to have to go to a bank branch or office
    5.Online bill pay to people and companies (with or without account numbers)
    6.Fast email and phone response to inquiries and issues

    Some might say we are not consistent on #6. I will not argue with that point. I take responsibility for that. It’s been a little hectic taking care of #1-#5, and I will not deny we could have done much better on #6 more often than not. That’s not an excuse, I am all too aware.

    We are to my knowledge one of the few normal community banks with a website whose sole point is to do what the Author has written long ago is a dire need for small businesses.

    To those who have struggled with our early, if sincere efforts, we heartily apologize. We did our best to not underestimate the unique challenges we are undertaking. But in many cases we did not fully anticipate how good people might react to the limitations of doing remotely what most banks only do in their bank lobbies. That again is no excuse.

    To the many thousands who have patiently put their trust and confidence in us, we can only say “THANK YOU”.

    A word about ID Testing.

    We take the identity and security of our applicants very seriously. In order to guarantee that and the convenience of not having to come to one of our bank lobbies (we would love it if they did!!), we use ID testing by trusted national vendors in order to be sure we are talking about sensitive matters with the right person.

    Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to participate in this discussion.

    Ralph Leno
    CEO, a secure website of Gardner Bank.
    Gardner, KS

  • Going to give sbb a try. I like that they are listening and working on there product to make it better.

    Can you send me a simple invite? I’d like to try them as well

    • Simple evidently isn’t doing invites right now, or at least I don’t have any. Otherwise I would!

  • I recommend avoiding

    Poor customer service and difficult to be approved for an account. They kept asking for more and more documenation which and I sent. And after sent them three forms of identification and proof of my mailing address I was still denied? Their no bull account is more like BS.

    If this is how they treat potential customers, how will they treat you once they already have your money.

    Dont waste your time

  • Thank you Justin for this post, Ralph Leno for showing up with the eyes covered and a cigarette in your mouth to take all the shots here, and thank you everyone for contributing to this thread.

    I’m going to jump into this surprisingly limited game, and close my WellsFeego accounts, and open them at SBB.

    I admit I’m nervous about:

    1. Passing the ID tests, only because according to others they don’t seem to match up with anything relevant about what you know.

    2. The random account closings.

    3. The idea that all my business banking would be tied up in one small bank.

    Knowing all that, and looking at the landscape, I’m going to take the risk due to the principle of being tired of being fee’d to death by big banks.

    I’m stunned that more banks, of all sizes, aren’t getting into this game.

    And I’m disappointed that SBB doesn’t seem to have even one (let alone two or three) competitors, so that I could make a choice here, and so that SBB would feel the competitive heat so they’d work hard to be the best.

    All that aside I’m going to take the plunge and hopefully my minor contribution to using SBB will help them grow and improve.

    I’ve got five LLCs, and their corresponding EINs, all for online based businesses. I’ll see how it goes.

    The tipping point, as mentioned by another here, is that Ralph Leno, SBB CEO, showed up. And it’s leveraged by the fact that he owned up to the issues. And that’s bolstered by the note that he and everyone else at SBB takes these things very personally.

    That’s a good sign. I know that NOBODY at WellsFeego takes anything personally. And I also know that most of us micro businesses take everything personally in our little business worlds.

    I’m going to do a few things as I join SBB with my handful of small accounts.

    One, I’m going to contribute back here with the good, bad, ugly and wonderful.

    I’m also going to do my best to let others in my networks know about SBB and what I’m doing.

    And lastly, I’m going to spread the word around about SBB.

    I’m going to engage in all these things because I believe in the good in people, and that if more people take the chance and use SBB for their little LLC businesses, then SBB will improve and grow.

    Thank you again for this truly valuable thread.



    • Hey everyone — update.

      I signed up for my small business LLC bank accounts at Gardner Bank/Small Business Bank, and I’m happy I did.

      I closed my WellsFeego accounts and moved the money over to these new accounts.

      Gardner Bank/Small Business Bank is a small business and works surprisingly well as a business bank for being a small business. I’ve had a few very minor issues setting things up and getting going partly because I was setting up more than one account at the same time.

      The service, abilities and features are very good.

      It’s also cool to call them during business hours and you pretty much talk to one of the same few people each time. I like that. I’m less of a number in a machine with Gardner Bank/Small Business Bank.

      After setting up the accounts I changed my PayPal and Stripe accounts for each and everything is working well.

      I have nothing negative to say about Gardner Bank/Small Business Bank — which by today’s standards means they’re excellent.

      Thank you Gardner Bank/Small Business Bank!



      BTW The fact that I’ll never pay another monthly service fee, or any other fee to WellsFeego makes me so happy I don’t know how to describe it!!! WellsFeego can go pound sand.

  • Great post, thanks. Was going to go with SBB after reading all this (for lack of a better option), but have just gotten an email from them saying that they do not accept international wires. May not affect most of you, but rather annoying that they don’t simply post this stuff, and we all have to play detectives. Also a huge waste of their time. So let me know when that magical small business bank appears….

  • It’s now May 7 2015, any follow-up updates on SBB?
    Is it true SBB will not send out a wire transfer to another bank?
    I’m assuming you could not pay employees/vendors via direct deposit through SBB as well? Is there any alternative for sending electronic payment, instead of the ‘bill pay’ snail-mail?

    I have been fed up using a ‘somewhat local’ credit union for personal and small business… Poor customer service is my primary reason for leaving, after 12 years…. or trying to leave, I should say…. if I can find somewhere else worth going to!

    I can’t believe the fee’s banks are charging to handle your money, when my credit union ( is earning me $30+/mo via rewards points, no fees.

    • I got my SBB account up and running earlier this month, and to answer your question, I’m paying myself (sending $$ to my personal account) via wire transfer from SBB. I figured it would be quicker than writing myself a check, so I just had to go through the steps for adding an individual using the Bill Pay system. You can set up recurring and scheduled payments, so I assume you could totally use it for payroll, though as a sole proprietor, that’s not something I have to worry about. Of course, it is always best to ask the bank staff first.

      I haven’t had any hangups yet; the application process was actually pretty quick, and I didn’t have any trouble with ID verification or paperwork. I do find the long hold times for remote deposit slightly annoying, but I really need to separate out my personal and business finances, and so far, SBB seems like the best option. I was super-stoked to see that the iPhone app makes use of the touch ID technology for logging in.

  • Currently we have several free options for business customers to send payments.

    Soon we will offer additional online and low cost options for sending guaranteed payments from your SBB account.

    Thank you as always for your trust and confidence.

    Samantha with

    • Samantha,
      Where do you guys draw the line between small business and big business? Like everyone out there, I hope that my small business grows and makes millions. I’m concerned about getting shut down as my company grows due to large deposits as some described in this post. Do you have a limit on the number and amount of deposits/withdrawals per month? Also is there any flexibility for handling large wire transfers for purchasing equipment, real estate, ect as we grow?


      • Thank you for your questions. We always appreciate the opportunity to discuss our business philosophy, since we feel it’s the only bank mission we have seen whose first priority is to provide value-based banking services to the smallest but fastest growing sector of the US economy—-the micro business sector.

        To give you some insight on how we determine “small business” status, we start with the premise that “Small Business” is a very large and well served market. many banks already serve the large banking market called “small business”. As you have hinted at by your astute question, there are many sub-groups in the Small Business markets, those made up of “big” and “little” small businesses.

        Our primary focus is first on the small business groups that we feel are ‘micro business’—-small business at the tiniest levels. in our experience, this exiting group has a few common factors:

        • the owners of the business are the business’ operators and managers
        • the customer market(s) of that business is small and few in number (many cases 1 customer market)
        • the business operations are simple
        • there are often no employees, apart from the business owners
        • many if not most operate on their own capital
        • most have revenues under $1,000,000

        Our no-fee products are for businesses we consider to be ‘micro business’, or owner-operator, or quite simply “mom and pop” businesses. Many of our customers don’t live off their business income. so we knew from the beginning paying fees to have a simple bank was not cost effective.

        Our team has developed a list of specific criteria they use to evaluate each applicant’s situation in order to confirm microbusiness status.

        This is one of the ways we give every application personal attention and service.

        We don’t charge monthly service fees of any kind for our basic business account, and don’t keep track of volumes, minimums or maximums.

        We handle all manner of routine incoming wire transfers, at a very small fee.

        Outgoing wire transfers for all checking and savings customers using our online system is for fall, 2015.

        Some additional information concerning larger small business applicants.

        Though we would love to welcome every small business, we currently don’t have products for larger small business companies with revenues over 1 million. We plan to have available by September 1, 2015, two new checking products for larger small businesses, priced at a point we believe they will find affords them a value proposition in the vast US market for business banking.

        And, though not a “no fee account” like our core product is and will continue to be, we feel these new account product options will give larger small businesses even more value because at we give every account applicant and customer receives personal service and attention whether applying for an account, or calling in for assistance or support.

        Thank you again for your interest in

  • I have set up a company to produce a small documentary film. At some point we will be doing a crowdfunding campaign for finishing funds. I’m curious if smallbusinessbank has any experience with the flood of payments that come from either Amazon payments for Kickstarter or multiple sources, (paypal, master card /visa, amex), for an indiegogo campaign. I’m concerned because at the end of the effort, although the amount should be around $25 k or lower, it will come from over a hundred sources at once. Is SBB up to speed with this type of payments? After that point the amount of transactions would slow down significantly. Samantha? Mr Leno? Thanks

    • In regards to crowd funding, we recognize that it is becoming a common business practice, and can be an efficiently valuable source of equity-project funds. We will be more than happy to work with a small or micro business customer using crowd funding to promote their businesses or products get equity for commercial or business purposes.

      Unfortunately we are currently unable to work with non-profits and businesses with political involvement, and would as a result be unable to accept crowd funding funds sources in those cases. Gardner Bank and are committed to simple value based banking for small and micro businesses, and legitimate crowd-funding efforts can often complement our low cost banking solutions.



  • Well I got a fast response directly from the bank! (thanks Samantha). NO SBB cannot deal with crowd funding payments. This bank has a VERY narrow of function. I guess if you do lots of yard sales it will work for you. Pity.

  • Guys, be sure to give DCU a look. It’s a credit union, but the business checking account deal is pretty sweet.

  • I’m opening my first business checking account for my LLC (freelance so very small). Have you looked into Radius Bank? They appear to be a well-established medium-sized bank with a flashy new website, and I think they satisfy at least the first 5 of your requirements. It looks like you have to print and mail the application form, but beyond that it’s all online.

    • Radius looks great (and is getting a lot of positive buzz re: being the “new” Ally Bank–but with options for small businesses too). Problem is that they only cover businesses in the New England area (per my phone call with them this morning).

      • Was true, but not anymore – Radius Bank recently went paperless for business, and will take applications from anywhere in the US

  • I tried signing up with but unfortunately my identity verification questions did not apply to me. It was obvious that their questions were for another individual with the same name as I. Technical difficulties aside, I was pleased with’s personal attention and customer service.

    It’s quite disturbing in the age of the internet that online businesses are limited to banking locally. The banks and credit unions in my area are either expensive (monthly fee, plus additional fees for either depositing too much, or not having enough), or are completely incompetent (I had a ‘small business specialist’ say, “What’s a C-Corp?”). is a company I’m hoping will take the lead in disrupting this market.

  • Justin, you should update the article — EverBank is $14.95/monthly fee BUT only if the daily balance is below $5,000. If you maintain a balance of $5K or more, there is no monthly fee for the account.

  • Thanks for the post and comments. SBB looked like a great option for my wife’s very small sole proprietorship, but unfortunately it looks like they cannot open accounts for these type of businesses in 23 states including ours. Have to keep looking I guess.