Overall, Lili is an interesting option for up-and-coming freelancers and independent contractors. There's a lot to like in the lack of fees, mobile functionality, and its lean, easy-to-use platform.
- Great for freelancers
- Extremely few fees
- Intuitive tax and budgeting tools
- Only one account option
- Low monthly limits on check deposits
Lili Bank is a growing fintech company that provides online banking services for freelancers.
Founded in 2018, Lili aims to give entrepreneurs the tools and services they need to take care of their financial lives.
With more and more workers going out on their own, Lili’s platform serves the needs of the self-employed with a user experience that saves both time and money.
Lili: Meet the woman behind the FinTech
Our mission at BankBonus is to help you find the best bank for your needs, and we think meeting the people behind the tech can help. Listen to the interview now!
Interview with Lilac Bar David
In this episode, Grant Sabatier chats with Lilac Bar David, the Founder and CEO of Lili.
Hear why Lilac founded the platform, how Lili aims to make life easier for freelancers, the security and backing behind the FinTech, along with insight into the platform’s features and future direction.
You won’t have to worry about weighing the pros and cons of various accounts because Lili simplifies things with one simple account offering: the Lili Account.
The Lili Account is designed with all types of freelancers in mind, from writers to chefs, to graphic designers to housekeepers.
The account aims to make clearer sense of your financial picture and help you avoid instability through insights and automation.
The Lili Account comes with a Visa business debit card, which you can use for everyday purchases, and links to your digital wallet for Apple Pay or Google Pay.
There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements.
For the most part, the Lili account is a pretty standard online checking account, with mobile-driven banking, digital deposits, and modern features like automatic transfers and push notifications.
It sets itself apart with its features designed with a freelancer’s financial life in mind.
Tax and Savings Tools
Account-holders can store money in tax and emergency buckets in preparation for upcoming tax payments or unforeseen expenses.
You can set a percentage of your balance or a specific amount to enter each bucket as frequently as you’d like, automatically.
Even small businesses should have an emergency fund stashed away, so this is a pretty cool feature.
Lili also helps you keep personal and business expenses separate, with a helpful tool that allows you to move each transaction into its corresponding category.
No Interest Earning
Deposits in your Lili Account won’t accrue interest because there is no APY-earning.
With this in mind, even if you use Lili as your main business account, you’ll likely want to look into a high-yield savings account (HSYA) for long-term savings.
In case you were wondering, most business accounts don’t offer APY earnings, so this isn’t unusual.
No Checks or Wire Transfers
If your business needs to send or receive wire transfers or write checks, you’re out of luck. You simply cannot do those things with Lili.
Check Deposit and ACH Limits
There is also a check deposit amount limit of $2,000 per check, and you can only deposit up to $6,000 worth of checks each month.
Furthermore, there is an outgoing ACH limit of $1,000 each month, which means the most you can send via electronic funds to a vendor or client is $1,000.
For well-established freelancers, these limitations could be dealbreakers.
Lili Bank Features
Lili doesn’t have any physical locations or banking features built into its website.
Everything is handled through its user-friendly mobile app, which is designed to serve all of your banking needs, including funds transfers, remote deposits, access to financial insights, and more.
Lili – Mobile Banking App
The Lili app is available on both Android and IOs and allows you to deposit checks, set up account notifications, and monitor your balance from your smartphone.
The mobile banking app has done well with its current customers and has a 4.4-star rating (out of 5) in the Google Play Store and an impressive 4.7 stars (out of 5) in the App Store.
38,000 Free ATMs
Lili is part of the MoneyPass network, so customers can get cash with their Lili debit card at its 38,000 ATMs throughout the US for free so you wont have to worry about getting hit with ATM fees.
You’ll get hit with a fee for any out-of-network ATM use along with international ATMs, but you can easily track down a MoneyPass ATM location through the mobile app.
Lili understands that freelancers and independent contractors tend to have more complicated tax situations than regular employees.
Instead of trying to keep track of things manually, Lili helps you stay ahead of the ball when tax season comes.
For example, the Lili app includes features like tax buckets, expense reports, and expense management.
With these tools, you can categorize deductible business expenses, automatically set aside funds for income tax, and stay on top of what you owe.
Early Direct Deposit
With Lili, you can get paid up to two days earlier than you would with a traditional bank when you use direct deposit.
Even though many freelancers don’t have the option for payroll direct deposit from an employer, the good news is that this feature also applies to peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, Cashapp, and Paypal.
Though most online bank accounts don’t allow for cash deposits, you’ll have the option to get cash directly into your Lili account by visiting select retailers like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and 7-Eleven.
All you have to do is head to the register, swipe your card, and hand over the cash.
The deposit will credit to your account right away. Cash deposit locations can easily be found on the Lili app or website.
Lili Bank Fees
Lili’s pricing structure is one of its greatest strengths, and it’s about as close to a free bank account as you can expect to find.
Lili has incredibly few account fees, and the ones that do exist are mostly avoidable.
Here’s a look at all the fees you won’t pay with a Lili account:
- No monthly fee
- No minimum balance fees
- No overdraft fees*
- No foreign transaction fees
- No foreign exchange rate adjustment
- No returned item or stop payment fees
- No ACH transfer fees
While you can see that the Lili Account is mostly free, there are a few fees that you might run into.
*As Lili’s form of overdraft protection, if you have overdrawn your account, you’re expected to settle the balance in a reasonable amount of time. There’s no clear deadline, but if you leave your account in the red for an extended period, your account will eventually get frozen, and the balance sent to collections.
Card Replacement Fee – $20
If you misplace your debit card, the first replacement is free. After that, there’s a $5 fee to get a new one, and if you need it ASAP, it’ll cost an additional $20 for express mail.
ATM Fees – $5 out-of-network fee
MoneyPass ATMs are completely fee-free with Lili, but if you have to use an out-of-network ATM, Lili charges a $2.50 fee. For ATMs outside of the US, the fee is $5.
Cash Deposit Fee – up to $4.95
The ability to deposit cash is a nice feature, but it’ll cost you. The fee varies based on the specific retailer that you use for your deposit, but Lili promises a maximum fee of $4.95.
An easy workaround is to opt to deposit cash into a linked account and transfer it into your Lili account.
You can open a new Lili account in as little as three minutes. Just head to the lili.co website, fill out an application, download the app, and you’re good to go.
To apply, all you’ll need is your Social Security Number. You can fund your account through direct deposit, ACH transfer, a linked bank account, or a mobile check deposit.
Also, it’s important to note that your application doesn’t require a hard credit pull, so there’s no need to worry about losing any points on your credit score when you sign up.
Lili Bank Promotions
Lili doesn’t offer any bank bonuses or rewards for signing up, but you can earn up to $500 in referrals.
As long as your account stays in good standing, you’ll get $50 each time you bring someone new in, up to a max of ten referrals.
To get the bonus, your referred friend has to open a new account through your referral link and make at least $250 in debit card transactions within 45 days.
Once all qualifying transactions have been posted, you and your buddy will get the $50 bonus within five business days.
Like most digital banking platforms, Lili keeps online and financial security at front of mind. Here are some ways that Lili keeps your account secure:
- FDIC Insurance: Lili partners with Choice Financial Group, a member-FDIC institution that provides its account. This means that all of your deposits are protected up to $250,000.
- Multi-Layer Security: Lili ensures that your sensitive information is kept safe on both the app and website with industry-standard encryption, biometric authentication, and real-time account updates.
- Debit Card Security: If your card is lost or stolen, you can instantly freeze any transactions directly from the app. If you happen to find your card before you order a new one, you can easily unfreeze it and use it as normal.
When you need support, Lili’s online help center offers a host of FAQs on both the website and app to help you troubleshoot.
If you need to talk to someone, the customer service line (855-545-4380) is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 7 pm Eastern Time, or you can choose to send an email.
Lili is still new and has pretty limited reviews on most customer service websites, so the jury is still out on the level of service that it provides.
Pros & Cons
- Great for freelancers
- Extremely few fees
- Intuitive tax and budgeting tools
- Fee-free ATM access through the MoneyPass network
- Only one account option
- Low monthly limits on check deposits and ACH transfers
- Cannot send or receive wire transfers, or write checks
- Fees for cash deposits and out-of-network ATMs
Alternatives to Lili Bank
If you’re a small business owner or building a startup, there are a couple of other online banks with similar offerings. For example:
…all specialize in online business bank accounts.
Each of these online banks offers savings accounts with APYs that sit well above the national average.
For those who need in-person branch access or who want more services than Lili and its online-only competitors offer, it’s not a bad idea to look into a more traditional business banking option such as:
Is Lili a real bank?
Lili is definitely real, but it’s not technically a bank. It’s a financial technology (fintech) company that provides bank accounts through its partner bank, Choice Financial Group.
What bank does Lili use?
Lili partners with Choice Financial Group, which is an FDIC-insured bank based out of Minnesota.
How do I put money on my Lili card?
Lili has several options for deposits. You can make mobile check deposits, cash deposits, transfer money via ACH transfer or linked bank account, receive direct payments, or use peer-to-peer payment apps.
One option that is not available is a wire transfer, so you would have to use another account and transfer the funds over to Lili.
Is Lili a business checking account?
Technically, Lili is a business bank account because it’s designed for freelancers, who are their own businesses in a sense. It also has enough functionality to serve as a personal account.
That said, the Lili Account doesn’t really make sense as a traditional business checking account, primarily due to its limits on transactions, which might be too low for a business with many expenses. You also can’t write checks.
Is Lili Bank Right For You?
Overall, Lili is an interesting option for up-and-coming freelancers and independent contractors.
There’s a lot to like in the lack of fees, mobile functionality, and its lean, easy-to-use platform. However, Lili trails behind in other areas and has limitations that count out more established entrepreneurs.
If nothing else, Lili is unique in its approach, and it’s completely free, so you don’t have anything to lose.
Whether or not it’s the right bank for you over the long-term depends on your unique needs and how much money you are bringing in.
Here’s to finding a business bank account that helps your side hustle grow into a full-time operation!