Relay: THE BEST Banking Platform for Profit First (Updated Review 2023)

I have jumped around between six or seven different bank accounts looking for the best solution for my business before I finally landed on Relay Financial. It checked all the boxes. And about a year ago, I posted a review on Relay. And if you watched the original review, you know that I was pleased as punch with just about everything they offered. But it’s been a while since that last video, and there’s some things that have changed that I thought I should mention…. It’s even better now.

I’m really digging the new improvements they’ve been rolling out, and I’m excited to give you a sneak peek at some new features they have in the pipeline.

The official banking platform for Profit First

One of the biggest developments that I’m most stoked about – Relay is now the official banking partner of Profit First. Relay’s ability to play nicely with the profit first method is one of the biggest things that drew me to it in the first place. You can easily open and manage multiple accounts for income, taxes, profit, operating expenses, owner expenses, or however else you have your cash management system set up. There’s no fees, there’s no monthly minimum, and it was always pretty easy to divvy up your cash from your income account into your other accounts. There’s even a nice percentage based transfer feature that saves you from having to pull out a calculator every time you’re going in and making transfers. But now, Relay is making it even easier for you to run your profit first system with automatic transfer rules (There’s even a preset called Profit First”). You just define the percentages you want to allocate to your different accounts and it will automatically transfer out and divvy up the full amount of your income account on a set schedule, daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly, what have you.

If you’ve never heard of Profit First, watch this video for a quick rundown. In a nutshell, it’s a cash management framework. Basically, it’s the envelope system for your business, helping you make sure you have enough money set aside for taxes, owner’s pay, operating expenses, etc. But that’s an oversimplification. Watch the video and then read the book by Mike Michalowicz. I highly recommend it – especially if you’re a little intimidated by managing your business finances.

In addition to the Profit First auto transfer rule and some more Profit First branding you’ll start seeing here and there. Relay is now a certified Profit First firm and in order to be that, they need to be committed to actively helping their customers achieve cash flow, clarity and long term profitability. It’s just nice to see a financial institution hitching their wagon to this framework that’s very small business centric and I expect to see more resources and helpful tools from Relay in the future.

If you’re not a Profit First diehard, that’s totally fine. You can play around with different variations of the auto transfer rule like the maximum balance rule that automatically sweeps any extra cash into a different account or accounts after your main account reaches a certain amount.

Relay already had a nice feature set that made it easy to manage your money across multiple accounts. Now with the new automatic transfer rules, you just worry about making your money; Relay will make sure your money is where it needs to be.

Cash Deposits & Check Printing

Now, one of the biggest limitations of any online only bank account is you’re typically restricted to online transfers. I’ve been getting by perfectly well with mobile check deposits, ACH transfers, Stripe, etc. But now Relay is giving you even more options to get your money in and out of your account, including cash deposits. All you have to do is take a picture of the cash you want to deposit, and then once you get a confirmation that your deposit has been received by Relay, you burn the money so it doesn’t stay in circulation and you can’t use it again….. I’m just kidding. Do not do that. If you actually want to make a cash deposit, you just use a compatible Allpoint ATM, which apparently Allpoint is the largest ATM network in the country.

And if you and your vendors really like kicking it old school, very soon you’ll be able to order paper checkbooks for your bank account. In the meantime, while you wait for that feature to officially be released and you need to make a check payment, you can do that straight from your dashboard. Under Payments, you can choose from ACH or wire transfers or check, and Relay will print and send a check to your payee on your behalf. Speaking of paying people, another improvement they’ve made, when you do send money, the transaction details will include your business information.

In the past, your payee’s bank statement would show the payment as coming from Relay or Evolve Bank and trust. Now you get all the credit and there’s no confusion. In order to bring some of these new features to fruition, Relay had to switch their partner bank from Evolve Bank & Trust to Thread Bank. Now, to be clear, Relay is a fintech company. They are not actually a bank themselves. They provide the software and the Polish user interface, while another institution, in this case, thread bank, provides the actual banking services. They maintain the ledger, they handle transfers, they insure your funds, and so on. For all intents and purposes, you interface with Relay, everything else is invisible.

Other Improvements

Smaller change, but worth noting, Relay’s debit card provider is now Visa instead of Mastercard. They added tap to pay functionality, and now you can set daily or monthly spending limits. So if you have multiple team members or you just don’t trust yourself, you can create a separate account for digital marketing or Donut Day, whatever you want to set a limit on, and then assign a card for that account, a physical card or a virtual card.

You can name the business as the card holder or a specific individual who has access to that account. And then you can set a daily or a monthly transaction limit. And now your coworker can go gas up the company truck without you having to worry about them compulsively emptying the expense account on something stupid like custom coasters or Christmas ornaments. You know who you are.

Along with all these functional updates, they’ve spruced up their form as well. Relay recently refreshed their brand and it’s actually refreshing. Here’s my old debit card with the status quo sans serif, super-minimal logo that just about every tech company adopted in the 2010s. Now they have this fun scripty font and a woodsy color scheme. It’s just nice to see companies starting to nose up out of the giant pile of vanilla ice cream and add a bit more personality to their brands. Does it make Relay a better business bank account? No. Does it make the world less boring to walk through? A little bit, yes. Thank you. Now, one thing that I have to talk about that I don’t like is the new mobile check deposit system. I still like the app.

I still like that you can manage multiple business accounts with one login. And the check deposit flow starts out the same way it once did. But the note memo field is required now. It wasn’t before. So that adds a little bit of extra friction. This is what gets me. Before, you used to just line up the check, press a button to manually take a photo, flip it over, do it again, you’re done. Now it does this whole auto capture. Too close, too far, too bright. I have to turn off the flash and then it’s too dark and I have to turn it back on. And then usually it will capture at that point after I did the whole dance. Mobile check deposit still works and it’s still a miracle of technology. I’m grateful for it. But Relay, if your engineers are watching this, please help. Honestly, that’s the only real gripe I have. I’ve been using Relay for two years now and I’m a happy customer.

I’ve already tried out six or seven different banking solutions before I got here, and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. And judging by the recent round of updates, I don’t believe Relay is going anywhere anytime soon either. It seems like they’re digging their heels in and they’re committed to making their platform as good as they possibly can.

One final thing I’ll mention that has changed since my last review is my relationship with Relay. When I originally posted that video, I was not an affiliate. I was just telling bank thirsty folks about a well I found. But since then, that video blew up and it’s been a nice little boost for my nice little channel. So I decided to capitalize on that and apply for a referral link. Relay took notice of the traffic I was sending their way and they use a lot of user generated content in their marketing. So they reached out to me and offered to pay me to make an updated review, not to shill them, but just to talk about the new features they’ve released and to share my honest opinion, which I hope you’ve trust I’ve done.

There’s a lot of great stuff. There’s some meh. And then there’s that one, “Come on, guys!” mobile deposit issue I mentioned earlier. All in all, I think it’s a great bank and I have been a happy customer with them for over two years now.

If you’d like to be a happy customer, you think Relay might be a good fit for you and your business, and you’d like to support this site, you can sign up using the link below. I’ll get a little kick back when you fund your account – just being fully transparent – and then I’ll take that money and I’ll completely blow it on making more great content to help you navigate your self employment journey.

Relay is a financial technology company, not an FDIC-insured bank. Banking services and FDIC insurance are provided through Thread Bank and Evolve Bank & Trust; Members FDIC. The Relay Visa® Debit Card is issued by Thread Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa® debit cards are accepted.

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