Check this out: The RBS Guide for small business checking

checkinginsideMost businesses should try to keep about a month’s worth of cash in the account. The balance is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to $250,000. A normal balance might be between $5,000 and $10,000 for a start-up or small business. A small business savings account can earn more interest and is easily transferred to a checking account, so low or nonexistent interest rates are not a huge issue.

Checking accounts vary depending on the minimum balance and maximum number of transactions. None of the local banks we talked with offer the first set of checks for free, however.

We examined only the most bare-bones plan, which are probably best for start-ups and small businesses looking to get going as cheaply as possible.

Almost every local bank limits the number of monthly transactions (checks in and out, cash withdrawals and deposits, direct deposit, debit card purchases, etc.) allowed on their free business accounts and charge between $.10 and $.50 for each transaction after the monthly limit has been reached. Many also levy a fee for excessive cash processing, typically allowing a business to deposit up to $5,000 ($10,000 in some cases) in a month but charging about $.15 for every $100 thereafter. Some banks charge a fee if you dip below a certainly monthly average balance.

BizSense’s Top Banks for Small Business

Eastern Virginia Bankshares

EVB requires a $500 balance and levies only a $10 charge if the balance dips below that. (And let’s face it: If your balance falls below $500, you probably have more pressing concerns.) The bank lets you make as many withdrawals and deposits as necessary and won’t ping you for dropping off a bag full of cash worth more than $5,000. The only downside is the limited number of branches in the metro area. There is one in the West End, on West Broad Street, and there are four in Hanover County, including Ashland.

First Market Bank

If you aren’t planning on making too many deposits per month, First Market Bank is a good choice as well. The first 250 deposits are free, and there is no limit on withdrawals or debits. There is no minimum balance required, and there are no cash processing charges. Another bonus is that this is the only bank we found whose free business account bears interest (.05 percent). There are plenty of locations, including one downtown.

The full list:

Eastern Virginia Bankshares
Minimum balance: $500 daily; $10 monthly fee for dipping below
Transaction fees: None
Cash processing: None

First Market Bank
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 250 free deposits a month; $.25 for each additional deposit
Cash processing: None
*Earns .05 percent interest

Gateway Bank
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 1,500 free transactions a month; $.25 for each additional transaction
Cash processing: None

Village Bank
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 250 free transactions a month; $.25 for each additional transaction
Cash processing: None

First Community Bank
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 150 free transactions a month; $.25 for each additional transaction
Cash processing: None

Union Bank and Trust
Minimum balance: $3,000 monthly; $7 fee for dipping below
Transaction fees: None
Cash processing: None

Virginia Business Bank
Minimum balance: $2,500 monthly; $15 fee for dipping below
Transaction fees: 250 free transactions a month; $.15 for each transaction additional transaction
Cash processing: None

Central Virginia Bank
Minimum balance: $2,000 daily; $10 fee for dipping below
Transaction fees: 250 free transactions a month; $.20 cents for each additional transaction
Cash processing: None

Wachovia
Plus: branches all over
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 150 free transactions a month; $.25 cents for each additional transaction
Cash processing: $.12 cents for every $100 in cash deposits over $5,000 a month

First Citizens Bank

Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 175 free transactions a month; $.35 cents for each additional transaction
Cash processing: $1.20 for every $1,000 in cash deposits over $5,000 a month

SunTrust
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 150 free transactions a month; $.35 cents for each additional transaction
Cash processing: $1.50 for every $1,000 in cash deposits over $5,000 a month

Bank of America
Minimum balance: $3,000 daily or $8,000 monthly; $11 fee for dipping below
Transaction fees: 75 free debits a month; $.30 cents for each additional debit, 100 free deposits a month; $.30 cents for each additional deposit
Cash processing: $.20 cents per $100 in cash deposits over $10,000 a month

BB&T
Minimum balance: None
Transaction fees: 150 free items a month; $.50 for each additional transaction
Cash processing: $1.45 for every $1,000 in cash deposits over $10,000 per month

Method: BizSense called and spoke to a representative from each bank and verified the above information, which was obtained either from a previous call to the bank or the bank’s website. For a couple of banks, information on the website was slightly different than terms given by a representative, in which case information from the representative was used.

Transaction fee: Charged on each debit and/or deposit to an account. Usually includes checks in and out, cash withdrawals and deposits, direct deposits, and debit card purchases. Check with your bank of choice for exact terms; definitions may vary.

Cash processing: Total bills and coins deposited in a month.

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