If you’ve just started your own small business in Germany, choosing the right business account may not be high on your list of priorities. After all, you want to attract your first customers, you want to inspire them with your work, and you want to generate your first sales as soon as possible. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a separate account for your bookings right from the start of your business. But what is important in a business account? How do you find the right product among the large selection on the market? And how do business accounts for freelancers or small businesses differ from accounts for established companies? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about a business account.
Why do self-employed people need a business account?
As soon as you receive your first orders, income will not be too long in coming. The majority of invoices today are paid without cash. This means that your customer transfers the money to you for your service. Especially at the beginning of your self-employment, as a freelancer or small business owner, you could do without a business account. You could let your customers’ payments go through your private account. As long as the number of entries is manageable, this seems like an easy alternative to a proper business account. However, it makes it difficult for you to keep your bookkeeping clean and separate the money coming in and going out for your business from your private transactions. This makes it quite complicated to keep overview of your business performance.
If private and business entries are mixed, it is almost impossible for you to immediately identify the profit of your business. If, on the other hand, there is no money left in your business account because your customers are not remitting or because you have used up all your income, you will notice this very quickly. So you will have an improved overview of your business income and expenses if you rely on a business account. In your own interest and because bookkeeping will be easier for yourself and for your tax advisor, you should neatly separate business and private transactions and keep a private and a business account. For established companies, a business account is a matter of course. However, only corporations are obliged to maintain a business account. This primarily includes the GmbH, the Unternehmergesellschaft (haftungsbeschränkt) and the Aktiengesellschaft.
How do private and business current accounts differ?
First and foremost, you keep a checking account because you can use it to make your cash payments in and out. Payments for rent, loans and credits, cell phone, internet and telephone are debited from your private account. With a giro card, you withdraw cash from your account and use it to make cashless payments for your purchases. The expenses are usually offset by a salary, alimony payments or social benefits as income. You may receive a credit card for your checking account. With given creditworthiness, a disposition credit is granted, with which you can bridge short-term payment bottlenecks.
In principle, a business account works very similarly to a private account. You carry out cashless payment transactions, you make payments to suppliers, and you receive money from your customers for the work you have done. A overdraft can also be granted for a checking account if the bank assesses your creditworthiness positively. The big difference to a private current account is especially relevant for medium or larger companies: In recent years, many providers have specialized in serving corporate customers and offer special advice and support for this clientele.
This means that your personal advisor is always at your side when you need him. He is very familiar with the financial situation of your business and supports you especially when you need a loan. He will also advise you as your business grows over time, so when it comes to the business account, you should look for a provider with more advanced services. You should not do without the services of this advisor even as a young entrepreneur.
How do different business accounts differ?
A few years ago, as a self-employed person, you had only a manageable range of providers with business accounts. But most providers have discovered corporate customers as a lucrative and solvent customer group for themselves. Accordingly, they offer a comprehensive range of different business accounts. As a self-employed person, you can choose which account model best suits you and your company. Since costs and services of the providers differ considerably, you should inform yourself exactly about the conditions before opening an account. Think carefully about which services are important to you and what you really need. Then carry out a careful comparison of the offers. In this way, you will find the business account that optimally fits your needs with a manageable amount of time. After all, once the account for your business has been opened and your business partners have been informed about it, you will certainly not want to make a change. This is time-consuming and costs time that you would be better off spending on your customers.
|Business account||Annual fee||Booking fees||Cards and user accounts included||Special features|
|Holvi Complete||216,00 €||0,00 €||5 Mastercards and user accounts||Integrated accounting function|
|Penta Business Premium||228.00 €||0,20 €||5 Business Mastercards and user accounts||10.00 € monthly discount for companies in the process of formation|
|N26 Business||0.00 €||0,00 €||A Mastercard Business||0.1% cashback on Mastercard payments|
|Holvi unlimited||1,176.00 €||0.00 €||Unlimited number||Unlimited withdraw money|
When comparing providers, pay particular attention to what costs are incurred for carrying out transactions. Some banks limit the number of paperless transfers from your account to a certain number per month. If you need to make additional transactions, you will incur high additional fees. Additional fees may apply for document transfers. If a credit card is necessary, check how many cards the bank issues. Most providers limit thenumber of credit cards, but if you already have employees and therefore need additional credit cards, a business account with this limited service will not suffice.
The number of sub-accounts can also be an important consideration if your company is growing rapidly. Some providers only provide a single business account that is used for all bookings. Other providers allow you to set up multiple sub-accounts without charging an additional fee..
Also take a close look at the offerings of FinTechs. These are often small start-ups that want to place themselves on the market with special online banking products. In most cases, these FinTechs do not function as banks and also do not hold a license to provide traditional banking services or loans. Rather, they specialize in fast and uncomplicated processing of cashless payment transactions. Banking is usually handled exclusively online or via an app.
The price for these FinTech products can be very attractive, but there are also providers who stagger the costs for a business account according to the volume of transactions. As the volume of transfers increases, account management can quickly become quite expensive.
What are the costs for business accounts?
In principle, the bank has the right to charge a fee – the account maintenance fee – for managing your account. As a rule, this covers the execution of incoming and outgoing bookings of all kinds. However, there are also banks that charge a fee for voucher-based bookings. This can be staggered according to the number of transactions per month. There is also often a fee for the account card or for withdrawing cash from the ATM. Almost always, a fee is required for cash deposits, but some providers, for example Deutsche Bank, offer up to five free deposits here. Should you require a credit card for your corporate account, you must expect further costs. However, there are also providers who offer a credit card free with the business account, so you should compare here carefully.
Also not to be underestimated are the interest rates if you have a credit line granted. The range of business accounts is extremely diverse and there are huge differences from bank to bank in terms of pricing. Before you decide on a provider, you should therefore take a close look at thefee structure. Some banks offer different account models depending on the number of transactions or the number of sub-accounts and credit cards. So if a business account costs more than average, you can expect to find advanced features that are often needed by larger companies. This is another reason why it is recommended to look at the conditions in detail.
How do free business accounts work?
Free business accounts are hard to find on the market. Some FinTechs largely refrain from charging a fee, in exchange for offering only the most important services such as making cashless deposits and withdrawals to your account. For young founders and self-employed people at the beginning of their development, such accounts can still be aninteresting option. As long as your business operations are still manageable, freelancers or tradespeople can also open a current account for private customers, which is still offered free of charge by some providers. However, even with free accounts, you should carefully check which services are offered and for what a fee may be charged. Only a few current accounts are free of charge without conditions, so a look at the detailed conditions is important.
Can you open a business account despite a Schufa entry?
When opening a business account, the Schufa score of the applicant is usually queried. The bank uses this to check whether any irregularities in payment behavior have been detected in the past. In addition, the opening of the new account is entered in the Schufa and listed therein as long as the business relationship exists. With this measure, the bank protects itself especially if a credit is to be established for the business account. In some cases, it is possible to set up a account even without an inquiry at the Schufa. For such accounts, no credit line is granted, the account is managed on credit basis. If you want to set up a business account without a Schufa inquiry or if your Schufa entry does not allow you to open an account, you should carefully check the bank’s regulations regarding the credit-free account.
More information about business accounts without Schufa query can be found here. Business accounts without Schufa.
What should you pay special attention to before opening a business account?
If you have decided to open a business account, there are some factors to which you should pay special attention to find the best business account for you.For all individual business needs and requirements, there is a suitable business account – but you will only find this out if you illuminate in advance exactly what is particularly important to you in the business account and what you can not do without under any circumstances.
Thus, many providers of business accounts advertise with attractive additional features, which should make your everyday business life easier. One of these, for example, is a Datev interface. This serves to simplify your accounting, as the responsible tax advisor can access invoices and other important data directly through this interface, and bookings can also be exported in an uncomplicated manner. This takes away one step of your work and is therefore an important addition.
Checklist for opening a business account
Here you will find once again a brief summary of the most important things you should consider before opening a business account:
- Account maintenance fees – are there different account models, which one suits your business and what services do you really need?
- Consulting options – especially important for freelancers and self-employed people, because especially in the beginning often arise questions that a bank advisor may be able to answer better than an online FAQ.
- Credit options – also a noteworthy criterion for freelancers and self-employed, as this group often does not bring a high start-up capital. An overdraft facility, also called overdraft facility, can facilitate a lot, especially in the beginning.
- ATM availability – if you plan to make many deposits and withdrawals, it is of course important to have a suitable ATM nearby. You should also pay attention to whether and how much the bank charges for these activities.
- New customer bonus – with many providers you can save neatly in the first year or longer, as they offer special bonuses and discounts for new customers. Here it is definitely worth the exact comparison.
How to apply for a business account?
What documents you need to submit when opening the business account, depends very much on the form of your business. Many banks allow online opening. To do this, you fill out the application online and upload the requested documents. It is also possible to send it by e-mail or post. If you choose a bank with branch service, you can go to the branch and open the account with the help of your bank advisor. The documents requested include, above all, the identity card as proof of your identity and the extract from the Schufa. If there is a partnership agreement for your company, as is required for corporations, for example, the bank will also request it.
If you run your business with a business partner, he should be present when the account is opened. In this case, it must be clarified whether both partners may dispose of the account independently of each other or only jointly. After the application, the bank will set up your account. In the case of an online opening, theidentity check by PostIdent or VideoIdent procedure must still be carried out. After that, your new business account is available to you with all its functions and can be used immediately.
So there are a few things to keep in mind when opening your business account. First and foremost, it is important that your new account meets your requirements. Young founders usually have different requirements than an established business. Therefore, first think about which services are important to you. After that, you should carefully compare the banks’ offers before deciding on your favorite.
Summary – a business account makes your everyday work easier
A business account is not mandatory for you if you are self-employed or work freelance. However, it can help you to better structure your finances, keep track of everything and professionalize the appearance of your business. With the business account, you handle normal payment transactions, make deposits, withdrawals and transfers, just like with the checking account. However, you also enjoy some advantages that are not available with a private checking account. Many providers now specialize particularly in business accounts and offer expert advice on all aspects of business and setting up a business, which is of particular interest to start-ups. In addition, the account management fees often include at least one corporate credit card, which you can use together with the account. Additional features like integrated accounting software, sub-accounts, cashback and discounts, or insurance packages are bonuses that can make your day-to-day work significantly easier. A business account doesn’t have to cost you the earth, either – some providers even offer a free business account with slimmed-down features. If you’re unsure, do a comparison to find the right account for your needs.