Bank Novo Review - Online Banking for Small Businesses
If you’re running a small business, a start-up, or are self-employed, Bank Novo could be an excellent online banking option. It’s specially tailored for business, but is it right for you?
- Small businesses and startups
- No minimum balance
- Almost no fees
If you’re running a particularly small business–as a freelancer, a solo practitioner or even an upstart–and you’re looking for a user-friendly bank that specializes in especially small businesses, you might want to look into Bank Novo. It can be difficult for a very small business to deal with a large bank, since large banks tend to prefer large businesses. But if that doesn’t describe your operation, Bank Novo is an online, user-friendly bank that wants your small business. And best of all, it’s a bank with very few fees to cut into your profits.
About Bank Novo
Bank Novo is a limited service bank, designed specifically for small businesses and freelancers. In fact, the bank’s motto is “customer first banking for the modern entrepreneur.” It’s a completely digital bank based in New York City, with a simple product menu that’s user-friendly.
Bank Novo is an independent tech company partnering with Middlesex Federal Savings, a full-service bank based in Massachusetts.
Because of its simple, targeted business model, Bank Novo’s services are very easy to use. They even rely on third-party partners to provide certain business services. The basic concept is to streamline the banking process to make it as comfortable as possible for small, independent businesses.
And because of the simple business model, the bank is extremely light on banking fees. If you’re a freelancer or a small business, the last thing you need is a bunch of fees cutting into your bottom line.
Bank Novo operates primarily as a mobile banking app. It gets 4.5 stars out of 5 in the App Store, but does not have a rating on Google Play.
Related: 6 Best Mobile Banking Apps
Available Accounts at Bank Novo
Bank Novo offers just one type of account: a free business checking account. The account requires only a small minimum balance to open, then no minimum monthly balance requirement and no monthly fees. That also means no hidden fees.
The business checking account can be used to transfer funds, mail checks, and accept incoming wires. And even though Bank Novo doesn’t have its own ATM network, all ATM fees charged by other banks will be refunded.
Some of the features that come with the Bank Novo free business checking account include:
Minimum initial deposit. There is a $50 minimum requirement to open an account, after which there is no minimum account balance required.
Make mobile deposits. You can make deposits into your account by taking a photo of the check and uploading it to your account.
Send and receive international money transfers with TransferWise. Transfer Australian, Japanese, Mexican, Swedish, Swiss, Indian, British, and Canadian currencies, as well as Euros using the TransferWise digital transfer service without having to pay large transaction fees.
Accept foreign checks. If you have international clients who pay you by check, those checks can be deposited using mobile check deposit through your mobile banking app.
Connect your account to digital wallets. You can connect PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, and Apple Pay to your checking account.
Bank Novo integrates with Xero. Connect your bank account to your Xero account and your transactions will be automatically saved every hour and reconciled to your Xero account. Xero is a global accounting software serving more than 1.8 million subscribers in over 180 countries
Paper checks. Like many online banks, Bank Novo does not offer paper checks. However, they do offer free ACH transfers and you can have physical checks processed and mailed out directly from the app.
Related: the Best Business Checking Accounts
Novo Mastercard Business Debit Card
Your business checking account comes with the Bank Novo Mastercard Business Debit Card. The card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted, which is just about everywhere in the world.
You can also use the card at ATM machines. Bank Novo doesn’t charge any ATM fees for use of the card. And even though the Bank does not participate in an ATM network, you’ll have unlimited reimbursement of fees charged by other banks for use of their machines.
The maximum ATM daily withdrawal limit is $1,000.
Learn More: Best Small Business Credit Cards
Bank Novo Deposit Products
The Bank does not offer interest-bearing deposit accounts.
Bank Novo Alternative: First Internet Bank
Bank Novo Features
Bank Novo Mobile App
This is the primary operating platform for the bank. The app can be downloaded on Google Play for Android devices 5.0 and up, and in the App Store for iOS devices, 11.0 and later. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Bank Novo Perks
As a Bank Novo customer, you’ll enjoy discounts and credits offered by third-party providers. The list of providers includes the following:
For example, you can get the $3,000 in credits toward services purchased through Google Cloud. Those services include data management, application modernization, smart analytics, artificial intelligence, security, and productivity and collaboration.
Bank Novo provides live customer support. They can be contacted directly through the app or by email during regular business hours. When you make contact, you’ll receive a response in under 60 minutes.
All Bank Novo accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor, through the company’s partner bank, Middlesex Federal Savings.
Bank Novo also employs a dedicated security team and bank-grade encryption to ensure your personal information is protected around-the-clock. Meanwhile, your debit Mastercard is protected by EMV technology, making it impossible for the card to be counterfeited.
Bank Novo Loan Programs
As a nontraditional bank, Bank Novo does not offer any loan programs.
Learn More: Best Small Business Loans
Bank Novo Fees
One of the most compelling features of Bank Novo is that they have only one fee, and that’s $27 for non-sufficient funds or returned deposited items. And even that fee is below what is typically charged by other banks. Otherwise, there are no monthly service fees, no transaction fees, and no wire fees, whether foreign or domestic.
How to Open an Account with Bank Novo
To open an account, you must be a business owner. You’ll be required to have one of the following types of business organizations:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- General Partnership
- Non-profit Organization
You can open an account with Bank Novo entirely online. One of the major advantages of applying through the bank is that your credit history will not be checked in the process. To be eligible, you must either be a U.S. citizen or legally reside within the U.S. and operate a U.S.-based business. However, one exception is that if you have a business partner who lives outside the U.S., they will be considered with a copy of their passport.
Other information required for an application include:
- A valid Social Security number. You can also apply for an account with an employer identification number (EIN).
- U.S. address
- U.S. cell phone number
- Business email address
Business documentation will be required as well, but the specific requirements will depend on your state of residence, as well as the legal entity status. For example, requirements will be different for a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, nonprofit organization or LLC. In each case, specific documentation relating to your business type and state regulations will be requested directly by the Bank.
Be aware that Bank Novo will not accept a business checking relationship if your business involves cryptocurrencies, privately owned ATMs, marijuana or cannabis, gambling, crowdfunding, or money services.
If you would like to fund your account using a check, you can either deposit it using the Bank Novo app, or by mailing a paper check to the bank. You can also fund your account through a transfer from an external bank account, Venmo or PayPal, but not with a debit card.
Required business documentation can be uploaded with your application. Bank Novo supports pdf, jpg, jpeg and png file formats.
Bank Novo FAQs
Bank Novo Pros and Cons
- No credit check when opening an account — Bank Novo does not check your credit history when you open an account.
- Open an account with just $50, then no minimum balance required — The minimum initial deposit is just $50 to open an account, and then there is no ongoing minimum balance requirement.
- Only fees are for NSFs and returned deposited items — The bank has only one fee, which is $27 for non-sufficient funds and returned deposited items.
- ATM fee reimbursement — Bank Novo does not have an ATM network, but they will reimburse ATM fees charged by other banks for use of their ATM machines.
- Discounts and credits for third-party business services — The bank provides valuable discounts and credits for third-party services for small business customers.
- Available only to business owners — Bank Novo accounts are available only to business owners.
- No paper checks — Bank Novo free checking does not come with paper checks, however, that’s becoming more common with online banks as paper checks seem to be fast becoming history.
- No overdraft protection — The bank does not offer overdraft protection.
- Does not offer loans or deposit accounts — Bank Novo is not a full-service bank and therefore does not offer interest-bearing deposit accounts or any types of loan products.
- No integration with payroll services — The app does not integrate directly with any payroll providers, which won’t matter if you don’t have any employees.
- Can't make recurring payments or direct deposits — Bank Novo cannot accommodate recurring payments or making direct deposits (though you can receive direct deposits).
Should You Open an Account with Bank Novo?
As you can probably tell from reading this review, Bank Novo is not a bank for everyone. First, they don’t allow personal accounts. The program is set up specifically for businesses, and small businesses at that. Second, they don’t offer common banking services, like interest-bearing deposit accounts or loan products, such as auto loans, personal loans, or credit cards.
But if you’re a small, independent business, like a freelancer, sole proprietor or business upstart, Bank Novo’s simplified no-fee business checking account may be exactly the type of banking relationship you’re looking for. It doesn’t come with many of the services offered by commercial banks, but it will provide you with a banking service that will enable you to receive income from your business, as well as make business-related payments. And because they charge no fee–other than $27 for overdrafts or returned deposited items, it’s an account that won’t cut into your business profits.
It must also be remembered that the absence of many of the traditional banking services, including business services offered by commercial banks, will simplify your banking relationship. As a small business owner, you probably don’t need all that complication anyway. Bank Novo can give you a simplified banking relationship at no cost.
And since it’s a new and growing nontraditional banking service, they promise to add additional services and features going forward. It’s the kind of banking organization that will grow with your business.
If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to open an account, check out the Bank Novo website.