Novo vs NorthOne vs SVB — Which Is the Best Checking Account for Your Small Business?

James Greene
9 min readApr 8, 2021


UPDATED: 5/25/2021

Read my review of Novo vs NorthOne, Novo vs SVB, and NorthOne vs SVB and how their small business checking accounts compare.

If you want the short answer.. sign up to Bank Novo if you’re a small business looking for the best in-class account with no fees.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, freelancer or starting a small business, managing your finances should be of top-most priority. Fortunately, there are a lot of banks and platforms that cater specifically to your needs by offering low setup costs and fees, online banking services and several other features.

Being a small business owner myself, I know how intimidating it can be to start a new financial journey. While all banks and platforms have specific offerings for startups and freelancers, it is important to figure out if what they’re offering is right for you. Let’s look at why small business owners, like you and me, need a business bank account and some of the best offerings in the US market.

NorthOne vs Novo vs SVB — OR, how about relaxing on the beach
Novo vs NorthOne vs SVB — OR, how about relaxing on the beach

Why Small Business Owners Need a Business Bank Account

Your business might seem small now, but planning for a brighter future includes keeping your business transactions separate from your personal transactions. With a business bank account, you will be able to keep track of your business expenses and income separately while also being able to take business loans if needed.

As a small business owner, having a reliable banking partner is an absolute necessity. Having a business account would show my customers that I am serious about my business’ finances and am pursuing this for the long run.

Having a separate bank account for your business also makes bookkeeping easy and tax audits easier. Of course, your business has to be incorporated as a private company before you get an account, but once you do, tracking your taxes, business expenses and earnings becomes a breeze.

Factors to Consider While Choosing a Banking Partner

Choosing a reliable banking partner is about having trust in their services and building trust with your brand. Before choosing your banking partner, consider the following factors that could impact your business finances in the long run.


Most banks offer services like a savings account, checking account, debit/credit card, checkbook, employee accounts, etc. Analyze your business needs and figure out what services you are looking for and see if your preferred bank offers these.

Online Banking

In this digital era, it is important to have access to your finances at your fingertips. With online banking, you can manage your finances, make transactions and all in all avoid unnecessary human interactions for your banking needs.

Global Reach

The internet has made the world smaller. For small businesses that have a global audience, having relevant payment options, currency exchange processes and customer support in place becomes a necessity. This can ensure that your products or services are not just visible but also accessible worldwide.

Experience in Your Industry

Certain banks are known for their services catering to specific industries. By working with similar customers, banks can easily identify pain points in the industry that they can proactively help to overcome. They also understand the market a lot better and can help your business with relevant advice.


As a small business, you might require a small business administration (SBA) loan at some point. While comparing various bank offerings, look for banks that offer lending services and compare their interest rates, fees as well.

Fees and Perks

When you have multiple banks to choose from, compare the various clauses like service charges, minimum balance, overdraft fees, transaction fees, etc. Also, look at what perks or incentives that they offer to small businesses.

These could be sign-up bonuses, APY, relationship manager, payroll processing and customer support. These small perks can be the tiebreaker when you’re confused between two banks.

Best Banks for Small Businesses

When you are looking to open a business checking account, the question arises: which bank to opt for? There are multiple options to choose from like Novo, NorthOne, SVB, BlueVine, Chase, Radius Bank and Wells Fargo. Let’s look at the top 3 among these that I have personally tried, which are Novo, NorthOne and SVB.

Novo — Small Business Banking

Novo is a banking platform that is designed to cater to freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. The platform is integrated with their banking partner, Middlesex Federal Savings, which takes care of the banking side while Novo provides the platform and interface to provide you with a smooth banking experience. With Novo, you can create a checking account easily and securely within minutes!

Pros of Novo

Easy Setup: Setting up a Novo bank account is very easy as you can easily link to any existing accounts and transfer funds between them.

Completely Online: The complete account setup process, as well as the banking process, is entirely online.

No Monthly Sees: To keep your Novo bank account running, there are no additional monthly fees or deductions.

No Minimum Balance: There is no minimum balance requirement for maintaining a Novo bank account.

Simple, Straightforward App: The Novo app makes check deposits and fund transfers very easy.

Cons of Novo

Only Electronic Checks: The Novo platform is built to be completely digital, and thus only electronic check deposits are allowed and paper checks are not accepted.

No Cash Deposits: Also, with the completely digital process, cash deposits are not allowed. So local businesses that accept cash payments won’t benefit from a Novo account.

Business Accounts Only: Only business accounts can avail of the benefits of a Novo bank account. So you need to prove that you are a freelancer or a small business.

No Physical Bank: As Novo is a completely digital platform, there is no physical venue to reach out for help or queries.

NorthOne — Banking for Small Businesses & Freelancers

NorthOne is another similar banking platform that also caters to small and medium-sized businesses. They provide a simple platform that is built to help you save time and money.

Pros of NorthOne

Low Monthly Fees: You can avail all the benefits of a NorthOne business account for the low fee of $10 per month.

Low Initial Deposit: To open a NorthOne account, you only have to make an initial deposit of $50.

Large ATM Network: NorthOne has a large ATM network with over 300,000 fee-free ATMs in thousands of locations across the country.

Allows Cash Deposits: Unlike other digital banks, NorthOne allows you to make cash deposits at their ATMs.

Unlimited Transactions: Paying the monthly fee allows you to send and receive money an unlimited number of times, without any limit on the transaction amount.

Allows Creation of Sub-accounts for Budgeting: In the NorthOne platform, you can budget your finances easily by creating sub-accounts for purposes like payroll, taxes, rent, etc.

Easy Integration with Small Business Tools: The NorthOne banking platform allows you to add other accounting software and payment options to your checking account.

Cons of NorthOne

No Physical Branches: As a digital bank, NorthOne does not have any physical branches that you can visit.

No Paper Checks: Without physical branches, it is not possible to deposit paper checks. You can still mail them via their website or app.

Deposit Hold for the First 30 Days: When your account is first opened, the deposits made on the first five business days are kept on hold for 30 days. This can be a hassle if you need these funds for any business expenses.

No Loan Options: NorthOne does not offer any lending services, which can be a necessity for most entrepreneurs.

No Immediate Phone Support: To avail of on-call support from NorthOne, there is no specific number you can call. The closest option to this is to schedule a call via the app and wait for them to call you.

Silicon Valley Bank — Startup Banking (SVB)

Silicon Valley Bank is one of the largest banks in the United States. While most of SVB’s customers and assets are in large corporations, a good section also caters to startups.

SVB mainly specializes in tech startup banking. They have a dedicated team that specializes in tech banking and financing. This is one of the main reasons why over 50% of tech and life science companies in the United States have their banking accounts with SVB. Their products cater to different sizes of startups, so you can upgrade your services as your company grows.

Pros of SVB

No Fees for up to Three Years: For early-stage startups, SVB offers a free checking account with low-interest rates to help keep them afloat for the initial years.

Unlimited Transactions: SVB allows you to make unlimited transactions from your account without charging any additional fee.

Fraud Control Services: As a reputed bank, SVB takes financial safety very seriously and has several processes and fraud control services in place that you can opt for by paying a nominal fee.

Digital Banking: The SVB mobile app allows you to manage your finances easily.

Access to the SVB Network: The SVB network is a large network for all SVB customers where there are events, webinars and other activities to facilitate networking between startups, investors and business leaders.

Cons of SVB

Account Opening Process Takes Time: It can take a few days to complete the process of opening an account with SVB, while most of the other banks allow you to create an account online within minutes.

Digital Interface Is Dated: The look and feel of SVB’s online interface are not up to date with current UI trends, making the user experience awkward.

Novo vs NorthOne

Let’s have a look at how Novo’s services stand against NorthOne’s offerings.

● With Novo as well as NorthOne, you can create an account within a few minutes.

● Both offer no annual percentage yield (APY), which means that you do not receive any interest on the amount maintained in these accounts.

● Both Novo and NorthOne provide an FDIC-insured bank account. Novo’s banking partner is Middlesex Federal Saving, while NorthOne’s banking partner is LendingClub Bank.

● Novo has no monthly fees while NorthOne charges a fee of $10 per month.

● While Novo does not have its own ATMs, any charges incurred by using other ATMs are completely reimbursed by Novo to your account. On the other hand, with NorthOne, there are thousands of NorthOne ATMs available but if you use other ATMs, you will have to pay a fee for withdrawals.

Novo vs SVB

When comparing Novo with SVB, you can see why Novo stands out as a better contender.

● SVB is one of the few digital banks that offers cash deposits. This is not the case with Novo as it is a completely digital bank.

● With Novo, you can easily create an account within minutes. The same process can take a lot longer with SVB.

● The Novo mobile and web applications are very user friendly whereas SVB’s web interface is outdated and difficult to use.

● Novo is a great platform for entrepreneurs, freelancers as well as small businesses. In contrast, SVB’s startup banking facility is targeted towards tech startups.

NorthOne vs SVB

NorthOne and SVB are also poles apart with their offerings. Let’s have a look.

● Setting up a NorthOne account takes just a few minutes, whereas, with SVB, it can take a few days to create an account.

● NorthOne allows for the creation of sub-accounts, a feature that is not available in SVB.

● SVB mainly caters to tech startups while NorthOne is ideal for any kind of small business.

Even while evaluating NorthOne and SVB, it’s hard to look past Novo and the fact that it has such minimal running costs, which is critical when you’re running a small business. The fact that you don’t need to have a minimum balance and there’s no monthly fee involved, makes Novo an extremely enticing bet for any small business.

Final Thoughts

Every startup has different needs. Gauge the pros and cons of all business banking solutions to know what fits your business needs. While some may offer no monthly fees, others may offer limitless transactions. Perks like interest rates, no minimum balance or ease of use should also be considered while choosing your banking partner.

By choosing Novo today, you can’t go wrong. With Novo, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. This saves you a lot of money that can then be invested in your business.

As Novo is a completely online platform, it has great tech features that can help you manage your finances efficiently. The app and web application provide a simple, straightforward interface that requires no additional learning before use.