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Get a Business Checking Account

Separate business and personal accounting is essential when you file your tax return, and it can save you money in the long run. You should get a checking account right immediately to get your business off on the right foot.

Choosing the Right Bank & Establishing a Relationship

As a local business owner, you will want to open an account at a bank that is friendly to small businesses. Find a bank that shows a commitment to small businesses, and lends to local small businesses, because there is a good chance you will need a business loan to help you grow eventually.  Establishing a good relationship with your bank early on will be a huge help when you ask for a line of credit or a loan later.  Read the SBA article on The Benefits of Making Your Banker Your Friend  

Finding Local Banks

Community Banks
Community Development Institutions (PDF - includes some non-bank institutions)
Credit Unions
All FDIC Insured Banks (includes community and traditional, but not credit unions)

Types of banks

There are many banks to choose from in Oakland and the Bay Area, and many of them serve small businesses. To help you understand the difference between the various types of banks, we offer a brief description of the major types:

Community Bank
Community banks are locally-owned and operated banks that offer all of the standard services of other banks but with a focus on the serving the specific needs of the local community. Some community banks may be focused on mortgage lending, others on small business, etc. Loans are primarily given to people and businesses in the local area, helping to build the local economy.  Learn more from the Independent Community Bankers Association

Community Development Bank
Community Development banks provide capital to help economically distressed communities through targeted lending and investing.  Like community banks, they are locally focused, while also serving specifically low-income and underserved individuals and neighborhoods.  Learn from from the Community Development Bankers Association

Credit Union
A Credit Union is a non-profit financial cooperative, owned exclusively by its members, designed to pool savings so that members can get loans at a reasonable rate. Credit unions are often locally focused because their memberships are usually based on where people live or work. Credit unions are often more focused on consumer loans rather than business loans. For more information, check out the National Credit Union Administration

Traditional Commercial Banks
Traditional commercial banks are institutions for the purpose of making profits for their owners and shareholders.  As banks continue to merge, the remaining banks become larger and have a larger geographic footprint, from local to national to international. To learn more about banks in general, check out this  Banking Basics document from the Boston Federal Reserve

Alternative lenders are focused on strengthening the local economy and creating jobs in the community; this mission means that they will spend more time looking at aspects of a business beyond credit scores that can help show that a business is a good candidate for a loan.

Documentation required

In order to obtain a bank account you will usually need the following: 
•    Business Tax ID #
•    Business name filing document, such as a Fictitious Name Certificate
•    Organizing document, such as Articles of Incorporation (if available) or bylaws
•    Corporate Resolution identifying authorized signers if officer names are not listed on Articles of Association or bylaws

It is also in the best interest of the business that two signers are required to open the account and to sign checks.


 

 
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