Managing a business is no easy feat, especially when there’s no clear distinction between personal and business accounts.
The good news is that there are online-only banking platforms for businesses that let business owners manage their money through their websites and mobile apps.
Bank Novo is one such company, but is it all worth the hype? Read our Bank Novo review and decide for yourself!
Novo Review: Overview
Launched in 2018, Novo is a no-fee banking app for iOS aimed at small businesses. The concept is simple: by choosing Bank Novo, you transfer all the power of a bank branch to your phone.
The app is easy to use and secure, with no paperwork or hidden fees. Additionally, there are no minimum balance requirements. The app also offers free Novo business checking as well as debit-card access.
What is Novo?
Novo is tailor-made for small business owners looking to manage their finances online via the Bank Novo website and mobile app.
The bank does lack some of the features of a standard checking account. For example, you can’t get a hardcopy checkbook or send wire transfers, nor can you deposit cash.
However, it boasts a lot of features that entrepreneurs, freelancers, and cashless businesses find attractive, including unlimited refunds for ATM charges and an integrated invoicing tool.
A Novo business checking account also offers direct integration with top business tools. This means you can streamline your financial needs and manage several accounts in one convenient location.
Who Owns Novo?
Novo bills itself as an independent tech company. Their website clearly states that they are not run or owned by a bank.
Instead, they leave the banking to their partner, Middlesex Federal Savings, where all Novo business checking accounts are held in FDIC-insured accounts.
Bank Novo embraces an entrepreneurial spirit with innovation and transparency, factoring heavily into its mission statement. They’re passionate about banking and want it to be compelling.
Owners include bright personalities from tech to financial services, all with a common goal of changing the mode in which businesses bank. Bank Novo owners are motivated by a desire to fuel small business success.
What is Middlesex Federal Savings?
Middlesex Federal Savings is a full-service community bank based out of Massachusetts. It began in 1890 as a cooperative bank with a mandate of serving the needs of the community.
Over 130 years later, it has evolved into a prosperous bank with assets of $455 million. Middlesex Federal’s impressive track record has led to exponential growth and expansion into residential and commercial lending.
It’s Middlesex Federal Savings’ unwavering commitment to principle values of stellar customer service, along with convenience and value, that attracted the founders of Novo to them.
Novo Review: What’s Included?
Novo’s online features and perks set it apart from traditional banks and other online offerings. Here’s a look at what they offer:
- Novo Reserves
- Transfers, Deposits, and Payments
Novo’s integrated invoicing is a significant selling feature for many small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The tool lets you create and send an unlimited amount of invoices directly inside your Novo business checking account. Additionally, you can receive payments via ACH (bank-to-bank) transfer.
You can also receive payments through your Stripe account if you use the Novo Stripe integration feature.
The Novo Reserves budgeting tool lets users put aside funds in their Novo business checking account.
This approach makes it easier to pay yourself while also allocating money to different reserves. That way, you can earmark funds for a specific expense and save up for it over time.
It’s important to note that Novo Reserves is not a separate Bank Novo account but another way to allocate funds inside your existing account.
Once you set up a Reserve, you’ll need to keep track of 3 key balances to budget effectively:
The Allocated Balance refers to the total monies in your Reserve at a specific time.
The bank won’t use this money unless your Spendable Balance is too low to cover the number of purchases you make or the funds you withdraw.
The Spendable Balance is the total monies in your Novo business checking account that’s not allocated to your Reserves.
As a general rule, it’s recommended that you avoid spending more than your Spendable Balance if you’re saving your Allocated Balance for something in particular.
The Available Balance—also known as “Available Now” on the Bank Novo app—refers to the total amount stored in your Novo account.
This figure is the sum of both your Allocated Balance and your Spendable Balance.
Transfers, Deposits, and Payments
Through transfers, deposits, and payments, Novo makes moving money around a breeze.
Because your Novo business checking account isn’t meant to be your only bank account, you’ll need to be able to transfer money back and forth with ease.
There’s no minimum deposit on any of your transfers.
Novo features unlimited check deposits into your account, and those deposits are always free of charge.
The platform is set up to deposit a check in mere seconds by taking a photo.
Payments are unlimited and completely free to any account within the United States. These transactions can be done online via bank-to-bank transfer or with a paper check.
International payments are completed through the third-party application Wise.
Integrations allow you to transfer money and post updates to your channels of choice. Bank Novo currently integrates with Wise, Xero, Slack, Shopify, Stripe, and QuickBooks.
There is no limit to the number of transactions you can perform through these apps. ACH transfers typically take between 2 and 3 days to process. x
Is Bank Novo FDIC Insured?
Yes, all banking is conducted through Novo’s partner, Middlesex Federal Savings, who holds all Novo business checking accounts FDIC insured accounts.
Bank Novo Review: Is Bank Novo Legit?
Bank Novo is a legitimate banking service especially popular with freelancers and small business owners.
While a relatively new company, it has strong backing in 130-year-old Middlesex Federal Savings.
Novo has been featured in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Market Insider, and Fortune. American Banker called it one of the hottest fintech startups to keep an eye on.
Novo Cancellation Policy
To cancel your Novo business checking account, you’ll need to send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The support team will work with you to ensure you have all of your funds transferred out of your account before closing it.
Novo Review: Fees and Cost
One of Bank Novo’s most significant selling features is that there are almost zero fees.
Aside from a $50 initial deposit to open a Novo business checking account, the bank requires no minimum balance. Better yet, there are no recurring fees for users.
The downside is that you won’t earn interest on the money in your account. Its primary purpose is to allow for easier business transactions.
Bank Novo does have a fee schedule that states users will incur an “Insufficient Funds Charge” as well as an “Uncollected Funds Returned Fee.”
The fee for each of these is $27. Sending or depositing bad checks will result in the application of these fees.
Note that card networks can apply foreign transaction fees if you use your debit card while traveling abroad. However, Novo doesn’t add its own fee.
Novo Bank Review: Pros and Cons
The bank is definitely geared towards startups, small business owners, and freelancers, for whom it holds a broad appeal.
Bank Novo Pros
- Straightforward and easy to use
- Zero fees for most banking activities
- Refunds on all ATM fees around the world
- Unlimited invoicing and bill paying capabilities
- Option to send paper checks for free
- Integrated with the most popular business tools
- Perks include discounts on a wide variety of services
Bank Novo Cons
- Only available for businesses
- No cash deposits
- Can’t send domestic or international wires
Is Bank Novo Right for Me?
Since Novo requires proof of business ownership, there are some limitations on who can use the platform.
Novo’s online platform will speak to you if you’re a small business owner or a freelancer.
The service offers a lot of convenience for a minimal fee and takes the guesswork out of managing your funds. Being completely online also eliminates the need to visit a physical branch location.
Larger companies likely won’t find much benefit in what Bank Novo offers and are better suited to use a bank designed for that specific purpose.
Bank Novo Reviews by Customers
Novo has legions of loyal fans in its customer base. Here are just a few of Novo’s latest reviews:
Novo is excellent as a sole proprietor—simple, straightforward, and easy to use. It also has more features than I need with my small business. And no fees! Very satisfied.
-Samuel, on Trustpilot
We wanted a bank for our business that is online, easy to use and has all the tools a business needs to get started and grow. The most important thing is that it comes with ZERO monthly fees. It is basically a great business checking account that is completely free to use.
-Gary, on Trustpilot
Final Review: Is Bank Novo Worth It?
Bank Novo works best for small business owners who want a free business checking account without a minimum balance requirement.
It’s also ideal for freelancers who like managing their finances online, along with people who don’t rely on cash deposits on a regular basis.
On top of that, Bank Novo is a smart choice for entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to use ATMs in the United States or abroad without fretting about fees.
Finally, this app is an excellent option for those aiming to link their business checking account to the financial tools they already have for their business.