Relay Financial: One Year Unbiased Review

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I have opened and closed more business bank accounts than I have business dealing with. There were really just a small handful of things that I was looking for in a bank account — and I found a few passable options, but there was always a trade off of some sort.

Maybe an account did two things really well, but just completely bombed at one of them. Or maybe it checked all the boxes on paper, but when I actually got in there and started using it and having to use their online interface, it just became a clunky mess.

But now. Finally. I found a bank account that I’m really happy with. Relay or Relay Financial or is a beautiful piece of bank.

I don’t want to waste a lot of time going through features that you can easily look at on their website yourself. They have a FAQ page explaining what they do and what they don’t do. I just want to let you know quickly what they do well, why I like them, and why I found them to be the perfect fit for me. But before I go into any of that, let’s talk about perfect fit, because I wear a size large (I used to wear a size medium, but that’s neither here nor there). You probably have different needs and different preferences.

If you are handling a lot of cash and need to make cash deposits. If you like walking into a branch and talking to somebody in person. If you want to build a relationship with a bank and establish good credit so you can get a loan, this might not be the one for you. But if you want a simple and beautiful online only experience where you can deposit checks online and access all of your accounts — multiple accounts! — If you’re doing the Profit First system with your business and you need to open up multiple bank accounts that are easy to manage under one umbrella and you don’t need to maintain a certain minimum without being charged fees….

And yes, if you want to do this all without fees, then Relay is a great option and I would highly recommend it to you.

Also, for what it’s worth, I am not getting paid for this. This is not a sponsored review. I am not an affiliate. There’s nothing in this for me. I just like this bank a lot and I want you to have access to the best tools for your business. (But if somebody from Relay is reading this and they like what you see and — I don’t know — maybe some money appears in one of my bank accounts, I wouldn’t complain. Just saying).

So let me take you for a quick tour.

You will see when you log in, you can manage multiple bank accounts under one roof. I have my own LLC and I am a partner with Brerro and I am an administrator on both accounts. Let’s go a little bit deeper and take a look at Brerro’s account.

It’s a very simple interface. You have your total balance, recent transactions, and over in the sidebar is where you can do all of the fun magic stuff. Now, this is one of the biggest bell ringers for me: the ability to manage multiple accounts and to see all of them right here. Now, I’m using the Profit First method, so I have an income account, and then I divvy that up into operating expenses, profit, taxes, owners, compensation. If you’re unfamiliar with the Profit First method, I have a video all about that. In a nutshell, it’s a really simple and smart way to manage your business finances, to make sure you have money where it needs to be and to ensure profitability.

Every time we receive payment, whether I’m depositing a check or it comes in as a transfer, it goes into the Income account. From there, I can easily move the money. I can choose which account it’s coming from and which account it is going to, how much I want to move, and then I move it and it’s there — instantly. All of these sub accounts you can open with more or less the click of a button. You can easily name them whatever you want to make it easy for you to stay organized. And there’s no minimum balance requirement!

That is one thing that just drove me nuts. In my bank account search, it was so hard to find a bank that would work well with the Profit First system because each checking account would require that you hold at least a minimum of, say, $1,000. And that’s not going to work, because every two weeks I completely drained the Income account when I divide that into the other buckets. Now, a lot of you are probably solopreneurs, but if you are working with a team and you have employees, you can invite more users to your account and you can even give them access to specific checking accounts.

And you can even give them their own debit card that is tied to a specific checking account. This could be really beneficial if you say have trust issues. But seriously, if you have a staff member who is in charge of running to the store and making purchases for some materials, you have a specific materials account, they can go take their own card and do what they need to do without you having to worry about them running down the tax account or spending other money that they really shouldn’t be spending.

Now, if I haven’t said it before, Relay is completely free. But for $30 a month, you can unlock some additional features. Most of these features are related to automatically paying bills out of your account through different vendors and also syncing it with different software. But the free version does integrate with QuickBooks and Zero, and that’s actually where I learned about Relay in the first place.

Shout out to Formations Corp. They’re the team that is managing my books for my S-Corp. I hadn’t heard of Relay before, but Formations mentioned them as one of their recommended banks, and it’s because of how well the bank integrates with the software they use (and a lot of other accountants use).

For every transaction, you can easily get more human-readable details on when you deposit a check, you can leave a note on it, and it will pull a check image for you (without needing to request it from the bank and wait three days for them to process it). That’s just a nice little feature. Everything kind appears in a little slide out drawer for you to get more information on your banking activity.

Some of the other online only options that I used in the past are okay, but Relay just takes it to another level. Some of the things you could argue are silly or strictly cosmetic and relatively unimportant things, but the little things add up.

Some banking apps are just really frustrating to use, and this is not one of them.

Now it looks so nice because Relay is primarily a software company; they’re a fintech company. They’re not actually the bank themselves, which is to their advantage, because banks make bad software. Software companies are much better at making software. Relay partners with Evolve Bank and Trust. They’re pretty solid institution. They’ve been around since 1925. They’re FDIC insured all of that stuff; they’re an Inc. 5000 Top Workplaces in the US, and the top 50 financial institution as ranked by Nacha.

Previously, I had been using Novo Bank — which I would still recommend. Novo is perfectly fine if you’re just getting started and you think it’s just going to be you and your side gig for the foreseeable future. But Relay is still good for those people as well, and it has all of these tools to allow you to grow — and that is why I think they are the perfect business bank account.

You should really consider checking them out but let me know what you think. Is there another bank that you absolutely love and you’re kind of evaluating and considering making a switch or have you been a relay customer and you had a slightly different, more negative experience? Do you have any glaring questions or is there something that I went over that’s confusing or I just left out?

Shoot me a line. I would love to hear from you I’d love to hear from you about anything. Because self employment shouldn’t be by-yourself employment, and I want to be a resource to you as you are trying to figure out all of this stuff. The paperwork, the banking — all of these things probably aren’t why you decided to go to business for yourself so I am here to lend some small level of support. Because I’m figuring it out too. And if there’s anything that I can learn that might help you find a shortcut or avoid a pitfall or just offer assurance to you, that is what I want to do for you through these videos. I hope you find them helpful.

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