Novo is an online-only banking service for small business owners, startups, and freelancers.
It’s a relative newcomer in the online banking space and comes to the table with a tech-forward, fee-free banking experience.
Novo is technically an independent fintech company that partners with Middlesex Federal Savings Bank, which backs its accounts.
In this post, you’ll learn everything there is to know about Novo, including the services and products that the company provides, how the customer service stacks up, and more.
Novo Business Checking Account
Since Novo is a limited-service bank, don’t expect the variety of accounts and services that you might with a large, traditional bank.
In fact, Novo is one of the leanest online-only banks out there and offers only a single bank account: Business Banking.
Novo’s Business Banking account is FDIC-insured, nearly fee-free, and online only. It also comes with helpful tools for managing your money.
There are almost no traditional banking fees, and the minimum opening deposit requirement is $50.
From there, there’s no monthly maintenance fee or minimum required balance.
Let’s take a look at some of the top things that stand out with this account.
|Opening Deposit Requirement||$50|
|ATM Access||Refunds all ATM fees|
|What Sets Novo Apart||
Novo Business Checking
There are some limitations
The most significant consideration of banking with Novo is the limited options outside of its business checking account.
While the benefit of simplicity does come with a one-account business bank, the lack of ability to have a savings account, credit card, or traditional customer support might be a dealbreaker for some.
You can’t deposit cash or earn an APY with Business Banking, which means you’ll likely need to have separate bank accounts to handle those transactions.
There are also limits on how much money you can send and receive via ACH, so make sure to look into this if you frequently collect or send four- or five-figure payments.
Novo Bank Top Features
Below are some of the ways that Novo stands out:
Reimbursed ATM Fees
Novo doesn’t have any of its own ATMs or a partnership with an ATM network, but not to worry. Novo reimburses all ATM fees, so you’ll have free access to your cash, wherever you are.
Integrated Business Tools
Novo integrates seamlessly with many leading business software programs. Currently, your Novo account can link directly with:
Novo Business Debit Card
The Novo Mastercard gives you the freedom to travel worldwide without any foreign transaction fees.
You can also set up instant alerts for any transactions and link your card for digital payments with Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Whether you’re paying bills, transferring money, or making a check deposit, you can easily move money around without having to worry about transfer fees.
No checks, but you will be fine
A common concern for those new to online banks is how to make payments without physical checks.
But with their fee-free transfers, Novo has you covered: free ACH transfers, free incoming and outgoing domestic wire transfers, and the option to have Novo send out paper checks for you.
One of the best parts about working with a tech company for banking is that the online and mobile functionality tend to be a step ahead.
The Novo mobile banking app is no different and is well-reviewed by iOS and Android users, with 4.7 stars (out of 5) in the App Store and 4.4 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.
Novo Pricing & Fees
If you hate bank fees, then you’re going to like what comes next.
Novo is a free business checking account with no hidden fees or monthly fees of any kind. After your initial deposit of $50, there are no minimum balance requirements.
Here are some of the free services you can expect from Novo, which many other banks charge for:
- No Fee or Having a Low Balance
- No Monthly Service Charge Fees
- No Early Account Closing Fee
- Incoming/Outgoing ACH Transfers Are Free
- Incoming/Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfers Are Free
- No Fees on Stop Payment
- No Charge For Debit Card Replacement
- No Charge For Physical Check Bill Payments
- Bank Checks Are Free
- Paper Statements Are Free
That said, there are two fees that you could conceivably run into:
- an insufficient funds fee if you overdraft your account
- a fee for uncollected funds returns
Both fees cost $27. Fortunately, they are easily avoidable if you keep your account balance in check.
If you have concerns about the lack of an APY with a Novo account, consider this: studies suggest that within traditional banks, fees associated with a standard checking account tend to average around $100 per year. Even with an extremely high-interest rate of 1.0%, you'd need an average balance of $10,000 to cover the cost of the fees. Make no mistake — not paying fees can be just as profitable as interest.
Applications are online-only, and according to the website, take ten minutes or less to complete.
There’s currently a disclaimer that Novo’s account review process could take a little longer than normal due to increased volume, but you shouldn’t be waiting too long.
Novo doesn’t require a credit check to open an account, so there’s no need to worry about your credit score getting dinged.
You do need at least a $50 deposit to enroll, and while Novo doesn’t allow for debit or credit card funding, you can fund the account with a digital option like PayPal.
Next, let’s take a look at some of the perks you’ll have access to as a customer.
Novo Bank Promotions
Unfortunately, there are currently no active Bank Novo promotions. Check out these bonus offers instead:
|U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking||up to $1000||October 31, 2023||
|Citi® Citi Priority Relationship Tier||up to $2000 w/activities||January 9, 2024||
|U.S. Bank Business Checking||up to $800||January 8, 2024||
Even if Novo isn’t running a signup bonus right now, you’ll still cash-in as a customer by gaining access to a variety of discounts for relevant business services.
Here’s a look at what’s up for grabs:
- Stripe: $500 in fee-free card processing
- Booking.com: 6% cash back on all trips with your Novo debit card
- Google Cloud: $3,000 in Google Cloud credits
- Gusto: Free first three months of any Gusto package
- QuickBooks: 40% discount on your first 6 months of any online package
- HubSpot: 30% off your first-year subscription and 15% off after that
- Segment: $50,000 in Segment credits for your first two years
- Zendesk: Free 6 months on any Zendesk Suite Licenses
- Google Ads: $150 in credits
- Snap: $150 in Snapchat Ads credits
- GoDaddy: 30% discount on all new purchases
- Salesforce: 50% off annual Salesforce Essentials plan
- Homebase: One month of Homebase Plus for free
Novo uses industry-standard, bank-level encryption across its online and mobile platforms.
We mentioned earlier that Novo is technically not a bank. Rather, it is the customer-facing technology you use to manage your account.
As for your actual bank account, it’s backed by Middlesex Federal Savings, which is a member FDIC bank.
This means that your deposits are insured up to $250,000, so there’s peace of mind no matter what happens with Novo (or the bank).
When it comes to banking online, and banking in general, you always want to be sure that you and your money are secure. Overall, Novo feels safe to use — even though it’s an online-only tech platform.
As a tech-focused company, Novo recommends contacting customer support is through the Novo app or by sending them an email. This is pretty standard for online-only banks.
That said, if you have an account, you can give customer service a call at the phone number listed on the back of your Novo debit card.
Phone support hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm Eastern Time. There is no phone support for prospective customers — only to account holders.
On the whole, Novo’s current customers seem happy with the level of customer service they’re receiving, as is indicated in its 4-star rating (out of 5) on TrustPilot.
Pros and Cons of Novo
- Almost completely fee-free
- Easy to sign up
- Integration with business programs
- Excellent mobile app
- Only one account option
- No ability to earn interest
- Cannot deposit cash
- Some transfer limits
Alternatives to Novo
There’s no shortage of options these days in the business banking space. Both traditional and online banks support business accounts, and there’s a wide variety of benefits that you can take advantage of.
Some of the top online-only and low-cost alternatives to Novo include:
If you think you might need more account options, more access to customer support, or if your business frequently receives cash, then you might want to consider a large national bank.
However, the bigger the bank, the more likely it is that you will get hit with fees.
Check out the top banks for small businesses.
Is Novo legit?
Yes, Novo is a legitimate business banking service. Even though it is pretty new to the banking scene, Novo offers one of the best online business accounts out there right now for small businesses.
Furthermore, Novo and other online banks can provide most of the same services that you might expect from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank.
Who owns Novo?
Novo is an independently owned tech company with founder and CEO Michael Rangel at the helm.
Technically, Novo is not a bank, but its accounts are guaranteed by Middlesex Federal Savings, an FDIC-insured financial institution.
To be clear, Middlesex Federal Savings does not own Novo — the two companies are partners.
Is Novo safe?
Yes. Both your data and money should be safe when banking with Novo.
Novo accounts are backed by the FDIC, which means that all of your deposits are protected. In terms of cybersecurity, like any online bank, Novo puts the protection of your sensitive information at the forefront.
It’s always good to do your research and determine the credibility of any bank.
While it still may seem like a new concept to some, online banks like Novo are carving out a significant space in the banking industry. This is only possible because the platforms are secure.
Does Novo have Zelle?
Novo does not currently integrate with Zelle, but according to its website, it’s in the works. That said, you can still take advantage of fee-free ACH transfers directly from the Novo app.
Is Novo Right For You?
Overall, while Novo’s product offerings are as lean as it gets, there’s a lot to like in this comprehensive business checking account. In fact, it ranked among the best business checking accounts in 2020 by Money Magazine.
If you’re self-employed, own a small business, or do freelance work, you’re going to want a bank account that serves you and your professional goals.
Paying unnecessary fees and spending time transferring information between platforms can cut into your success, and that’s where a bank like Novo can come in handy.
Novo operates on a stress-free, modern business banking platform. You can stay on top of your finances, contact customer support, and take advantage of special perks and discounts all within a top-of-the-line mobile app.
However, it’s possible that Novo’s limited account options just aren’t enough. If cash deposits are a requirement, keep searching.
And, if options like a linked savings account and credit cards are important, it might be worth considering a bigger bank with a wider breadth of services.
No matter which direction you choose, make sure that your bank has the best interests of you and your business in mind.
Effective business banking is all about finding a bank that can tailor its service to the unique needs of your business.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a new banking partner, you’re now a little closer to taking that next step toward pushing your business into its next phase — we’re rooting for you!