A Fee-Free High-Interest Checking Account For Small Business Owners: Spark Business [Review]

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I have been banking with Capital One for many years now—ever since Capital One purchased ING Direct in February of 2012. Though I have always been very pleased with Capital One’s higher APYs for savings accounts (at least compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks), their ease-of-use, and their excellent customer service, I still only have those same personal savings accounts with Capital One that I started with so many years ago.

With my long history with Capital One, I decided to see how their business accounts stack up against my experience with personal banking.

I’ve been pleased to discover that the Spark Business Checking account by Capital One has a lot to recommend it for any small business owner, but especially for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Here’s what you need to know about Capital One’s business checking:

Capital One Spark Business Checking Account Features

As with its other banking products, Capital One is able to leverage the fact that it is an Internet-based banking institution to create low fee structures for its Spark Business Checking accounts.

The account provides a number of features fee-free, which makes it an excellent checking account for anyone starting a new business or who needs to run a lean operation.

The specific fee-free features you can count on include:

  • Unlimited free transactions
  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance (provided you otherwise maintain at least $2,000 in the account over a 30- to 90-day period, or if you carry two additional business products from Capital One)
  • No ATM fee at more than 39,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide
  • No cash deposit fee for up to $5,000 in deposits per month
  • Free debit card
  • Free electronic invoicing and bill pay
  • Money management, including remote check deposit, with the Spark Business mobile app
  • Earn among the highest interest in the nation for business accounts. (Rates vary, so check Capital One’s site for the current rate)

While the account does offer a great deal for no fees–which already puts it head-and-shoulders above any number of business checking accounts that charge fees left and right–it is important to know the fine print when it comes to any potential fees you might face.

Capital One Spark Business Fees

While there is no official minimum balance, if you let your account balance drop below $2,000 over a 30- to 90-day period and do not have two additional business products, you can expect to pay a $15 monthly service fee. This means there is a de facto minimum balance of $2,000, although that minimum is relatively low and it is fairly easy to avoid the fee.

In addition, small businesses that deal with a lot of cash may hit the cash deposit fee for depositing more than $5,000 in cash per month. That fee is $1 for every $1,000 over $5,000. For many businesses, this will be a non-issue, but any business that deals primarily in cash may find the dollar-per-$1,000 deposit over $5k to be onerous.

Finally, there are fees for wiring money. Incoming wires have a fee of $15, while outgoing domestic wires have a fee of $25 and outgoing foreign wires have a $40 fee.

What Works Well for Business Owners

Between the Spark Business mobile app, the 39,000 Allpoint ATMs, and the more than 700 brick-and-mortar Capital One branches, the Spark Business Checking account offers a great deal of flexibility and convenience.

You can make check deposits from your phone or tablet with the mobile app, or deposit money at an ATM or branch, or even mail in a check to a branch for deposit.

The well-designed website also makes it easy and seamless to handle your banking online, if you are not able to make it into a branch office.

In fact, until I wrote this review, I had no idea Capital One maintained any physical branches, and I have personally never had a transaction or problem that could not be handled on their excellent website or over the phone with their helpful customer service team.

In addition, Capital One does a great job of integrating with independent accounting software. Between that and the free electronic invoicing and bill pay, and you have an easy way of tracking bills and business expenditures, as well as reconcile your accounts every month.

In addition to branches, Capital One offers their cafes in cities across the U.S..

Potential Downsides of Capital One Spark Business Checking

Though the Spark Business Checking account is a solid choice for most small business owners, the fact that free cash deposits are limited to $5,000 could be limiting for certain types of businesses.

Also, though it should be relatively easy to avoid paying the $15 monthly service fee that is triggered if your balance dips below $2,000 for 30 days, I would personally prefer it if Capital One simply said there was a minimum balance of $2,000 but also stated there were easy ways to avoid the minimum balance fee.

Saying there is no minimum balance while having a de facto minimum of $2,000 seems a little disingenuous.

All told, however, the numerous benefits offered by this account far outweigh any potential downsides.

How to Open a Spark Business Checking Account

In order to open a business checking account with Capital One, you must have some kind of business entity in one of the following categories:

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
  • Corporations
  • Not-for-profits and small organizations

If you meet these criteria, you can open an account either online or in person at one of the Capital One branches.

The bank often offers intro bonus promotions, such as a higher introductory interest rate for a year. These promotions are updated frequently so be sure to ask what kinds of promotions you might be able to take advantage of when you sign up.

The Bottom Line on Capital One Spark Business Checking

Over the years, Capital One has proven itself to be a solid online option for personal banking, and it continues the excellent work with its business product offerings.

Small business owners who need a cost-effective business checking account that integrates seamlessly with their accounting software, offers convenient technology and excellent customer service, and provides unlimited transactions and fee-free invoicing and bill pay can look no further than Capital One Spark Business Checking.