New York-based Novo is an online-only banking platform for businesses that lets you manage your money through their website and mobile apps. But is it all it 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.
Novo is tailor-made for small business owners looking to manage their finances online via the Bank Novo website and their mobile apps. While the bank lacks 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—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. Rather, 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. Innovation and transparency factor heavily into their 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.
Customers are always top of mind for the folks at Novo. They pride themselves on aligning with customer wants and needs quickly and iterating efficiently. They also show their appreciation by launching new products with regularity.
Novo Review: What’s Included?
- Novo Reserves
- Transfers, Deposits, and Payments
Novo’s integrated invoicing is a big 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. The tool also lets you allocate money to different reserves. That way, you can earmark funds for a specific expense and save up for it over time.
Novo Reserves can be easily accessed via the app’s dashboard. It’s important to note that Novo Reserves is not a distinct Bank Novo account. Rather, it’s 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:
- Allocated Balance:
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.
- Spendable Balance:
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 a recommendation that you avoid spending more than your Spendable Balance if you’re saving your Allocated Balance for something in particular.
- Available Balance:
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 applies to both your Allocated Balance and your Spendable Balance.
Novo Review: Transfers, Deposits, and Payments
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. That means you can easily move over money from your personal account if you have to pay a vendor, for example. You’ll also be able to transfer funds to your personal account on occasion so you can pay yourself a salary.
Bank Novo integrates with Xero, Slack, Shopify, Zapier, Stripe, and Transferwise. And, they’re adding more apps all the time. Integrations allow you to transfer money and post updates to your channels of choice. If you use Slack, for example, your team can view invoice due dates, as well as track payments.
Meanwhile, Shopify lets you keep track of your monthly sales figures and get updates on the status of payouts between Shopify and your Bank Novo account. Once you connect to Shopify, you’ll have access to the following:
- You’ll see your Shopify balance along with monies that are currently available to payout. Additionally, you can view money that’s en route to your bank and money that is coming available soon.
- You’ll be able to access information about how your online store is performing from one month to the next.
Novo does not currently integrate with Zelle money transfers. But, it’s in their future plans. They do, however, offer gratis transfers through ACH. These transfers are offered from within the Novo app and are unlimited. ACH transfers typically take between 2 and 3 days to process.
Send Payment Option
The Send Payment option is also a plus. When a user selects a payee, they receive a prompt that tells them to enter an amount along with a transaction type. ACH will then send the cash to the payee straight from your bank. A Novo business checking account is made more efficient still because all banking can be done via your phone, whether iPhone or Android. This makes it easier for swamped small business owners to conduct business on the go.
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.
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.
Bank Novo Review: Is Bank Novo Legit?
Bank Novo is a legitimate banking service especially popular with freelancers and small business owners. It’s 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.
Two of Bank Novo’s biggest competitors are BlueVine and NorthOne. While all 3 have online banking, FDIC insurance, and no physical branches, only Bank Novo offers ATM reimbursements.
Novo Cancellation Policy
To cancel your Novo business checking account, you’ll need to send them an email at email@example.com. Novo also reserves the right to terminate its legal contract with a user at any time and eliminate your access to their services.
Novo Review: Fees and Cost
One of Bank Novo’s biggest 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. And, users won’t incur any recurring fees whatsoever. However, you won’t earn interest on the money in your account. Its main 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. But if you stay on top of your banking, you can expect zero 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. And, because members can’t send wire transfers, you won’t incur any outgoing wire transfer fees either.
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
- Online banking that’s straightforward and easy to use.
- Zero fees for most banking activities.
- Refunds on all ATM fees around the world.
- Online banking that has unlimited invoicing and bill paying capabilities. This also includes the option to send paper checks for free if your company uses them.
- Bank Novo is integrated with the most popular business tools.
- Your account allows you access to discounts on a variety of services, as well as business software.
Bank Novo Cons
- Bank Novo is only available for businesses. To open a Novo business checking account, you will need to show proof that you operate a business or that you have freelance status.
- No cash deposits: If your payments are primarily cash, you might opt for a different style of bank.
- You can’t send domestic or international wires. However, you can send both of these wires through Novo’s TransferWise Integration.
Is Bank Novo Right for Me?
Apps bring convenience to just about everything, including your business’s finances, and the Bank Novo app is no different. If you’re a freelancer, Bank Novo functions as a virtual bookkeeping service. By opening a Novo business checking account, you get to keep all your finances in one place. Not only that, but you receive helpful tips to help you keep track of your spending in any given month.
Bank Novo Reviews by Customers
Novo has legions of loyal fans in its customer base. Users gush about its appeal for small business owners and love the ease of handling work-related finances from home. Customers also cite the simplicity of opening their accounts along with the user-friendliness of the app.
Entrepreneurs and startups also find it useful for overseas transactions. Customers also stress how helpful the customer support team along with the quick response time. All say they would recommend this service to their friends and family.
Bank Novo customers have found the app especially useful during the pandemic due to Covid-imposed lockdowns and bank closures. One user was curious as to whether Novo had any limits on wire amounts and accumulated wire amounts in any given month before making their first deposit.
Freelancers appreciate Novo’s ability to keep their personal and side-gig finances separate. And users can’t say enough about an app that prevents them from sitting behind a desk 24/7. Flexibility is one of the perks of being a freelancer, and Bank Novo supports this. Finally, lots of users connect up to Xero to access income reports and expenses come tax times.
Final Review: Is Bank Novo Worth It?
Bank Novo works best for small business owners who want a free business checking account that doesn’t have 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 a great option for those aiming to link their business checking account to the financial tools they already have for their business.