Low or no ATM fees is a necessity for a bank to qualify as one of the “best online banks for writers”! These four banking options for freelance writers include the pros and cons of each bank.
Before the tips, a quip:
“Modern poets talk against business, poor things, but all of us write for money. Beginners are subjected to trial by market.” ~ Robert Frost.
Writing for money can be challenging for writers — second only to figuring out how to get paid quickly and efficiently! An online bank account is versatile, convenient and a good back up for freelance writers, especially since many clients and affiliates (for bloggers who make money) pay via PayPal and direct deposit.
The best online checking accounts offer one or more ways to get at your money. They offer online access and multiple ways to deposit money into an account. It’s great if your money can earn interest while it’s sitting around, too!
If you’re not good with money – and freelance writers need to be good with money! – read The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Learn how to manage cash flow, save consistently even when you get paid irregularly, and plan for retirement.
Each of these online banks are FDIC insured up to $250,000 and allow customers online access to their accounts.
4 of the Best Online Banks for Freelance Writers
Writers, especially freelance writers, need a good checking account at a reliable bank that doesn’t charge a lot of transaction fees. An online bank is essential for depositing checks, receiving direct deposits from clients and even depositing money from Paypal into your account.
I like to keep two checking accounts at two separate banks. One is a local bank in my area with several branches, the other is an online bank.
Ally Bank has another interest-bearing online checking account. Ally offers interest based on how much money is kept in the account, but most customers will earn about half a percent.
Ally has many benefits, including no ATM fees for using another banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). This is pretty much a necessity, since Ally doesn’t have a lot of ATMs nationwide. This online bank has no monthly fees and no minimum balance. Yet, Ally gives their customers a debit card, checks and online bill payment system.
Better yet, Ally requires no money to open an online account. Even unpaid freelance writers can simply fill out the information online, in anticipation of internet banking.
Once two separate companies, ING Direct and Sharebuilder have joined forces to offer banking and investment services online. This is great for writers who want to start investing their income for the future. Just open up an ING checking or savings account and transfer money instantly into your investment account. Customers receive a debit card, and check writing privileges.
Customers must connect their ING account to another previously existing bank account when applying. This allows you to open your online account with a small deposit. On the plus side, ING offers interest checking up to 1.14% interest as of April 2011, so your money is working for you. This is important for freelance writers who sometimes suffer through financial droughts.
Originally a brokerage firm, Schwab has gotten into the banking game. Anyone can open up a free full service online checking account with Schwab as long as they also have a Schwab One brokerage account. The brokerage account and the checking account can be opened at the same time. You need a minimum of $1,000 to open the brokerage account. If you set up a monthly $100 automatic deposit you can waive the minimum deposit.
There are no minimum balance and monthly fees or ATM fees with the checking account. Schwab goes the extra mile and reimburses you for fees charged by other bank’s ATMs.
Customers get free standard checks and a debit card to use with their online checking account, as well as .25% interest rates. Customers are able to open that online checking account through the Schwab website, or download an application and send it in with a small deposit.
The First Internet Bank of Indiana has been my bank for several years now. They let customers create internet-based checking and savings accounts. I was able to send in a money order for $25 to establish my account after applying for it online. Their accounts come with debit cards and the first book of checks is free. There are no ATM fees, but you do end up paying the fees of the bank whose ATM you end up using. It’s also free to transfer money into a First IB account from another outside bank account.
I’ve been using First IB to direct deposit money from work, Paypal and websites like Elance without problems. They also offer the iScan Deposit feature, which allows customers to scan checks at home and deposit them electronically into their accounts.
For more freelance writing tips, read Managing Freelance Income – 4 Tips for Tracking Money and Time.
If you have any questions or thoughts on banking for freelance writers, please comment below.
About the Author: Hope Hammond is a freelance writer. She specializes in web content creation. She’s also working on her first book, and occasionally posts updates about it at her blog, FEBS.
Hope also wrote Writers, Stay Organized! 4 Organizational Tools for Writing, here on Quips & Tips for Successful Writers.