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Ask HN: Best Bank for Startups?
101 points by cbisnett 80 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments
We've been using Silicon Valley Bank for the last 4 years and while their services generally "work", they aren't the best. We've been working with SVB to setup a line-of-credit just to have in case we need it, and we recently talked with them about their Innovators card. Unfortunately their sales people cannot show you any kind of demo so that you can see how it works or what the UI looks like even. This is a tough ask as the only way to see it is to sign up for an account and start issuing cards. We also talked with Brex about their solution and even looked into Expensify's card.

Brex was able to show us a demo and as part of the trial we attached our SVB account which causes a $0.01 deposit and withdrawal. After doing this we received an email from our SVB sales rep acknowledging the transaction: "It looks like I see a penny test from Brex on June 3rd so it may be that you just set something up." I'm not sure what's buried in the SVB ToS, but SVB sales reps looking into our transactions didn't sit quite right with me. Then we told them that we decided to go with Brex because we liked the solution and not being able to get a demo from SVB made it basically a non-starter. A couple days later we get a call from a Managing Director and he tells us that the line-of-credit will need to be venture debt and backed by equity or warrants, which we're not interested in since this is only a rainy-day LoC and we've got plenty of money in our SVB account. Fast forward to today and they tell us that they won't give us the LoC anymore unless we also agree to use their Innovator card.

Basically I'm looking for other banks that are great to work with and understand how startups work and the needs they have. I've looked at Mercury, and we have an account there, but I was hesitant to move too much away from SVB because it "just worked", but obviously now I'm reconsidering. Hopefully HackerNews has some good advice and recommendations.

(I am the CEO of Mercury.com.)

Lots of people switch over from SVB to us. Happy to answer any questions you have.

We go out of our way to be transparent in pricing, have great customers service and "just work". We dont currently do LoCs though.

Also feel free to email me (my username AT mercury.com)

+1 for Mercury. Super simple signup, and great UI. Love that there's a mobile app! Real nice to have virtual cards.

Only nitpick is when my co-founders linked their bank accounts to Mercury to transfer money, Mercury displayed their personal account balances (after unlinking their accounts, their personal balances no longer showed up). I had to wire transfer since Plaid didn't work for my bank.

Displaying personal balance - Thats come up before, will try to get a fix prioritized for that.

> Displaying personal balance - Thats come up before, will try to get a fix prioritized for that.

Leaking information about a personal account when it has only been used authorized for the purposes of transfer seems to be a P0 bug to me, from a disinterested third-party point of view. If I authorize a transfer of $10k to my startup and for some reason my co-founder is able to see that my personal account balance at Bank of America is $400k, that sounds like...a massive leak of information that I didn't authorize.

Or do I have a mistaken view of what the problem is?

99% of the time Plaid functionality is used to transfer money from your previous business bank account to Mercury. In that scenario it's useful to have balance information.

Most people transfer money from personal account via another means (checks, wire etc). Though agreed that it's bad when a personal account is used and the balance is leaked to cofounders.

Ah I see, I had the typical use case wrong. Thanks for your response!

It's bad, but not a "massive leak". Few people keep much more than the FDIC limit in a commercial bank for their personal account no matter how much money they have.

Just wanna say we love using Mercury, and it's really the perfect bank for startups.

We also experienced the personal balance privacy issue where we didn't expect to see each other's balances but was too late by then.

I'd love to provide virtual cards for my business. Is it a simple process to start using them with Mercury?

Yeah, super easy. Just go to mercury.com/cards once you have an account.

We switched to Mercury only to discover you don’t support wiring money to all countries (we need South Africa support). Perhaps this (hopefully temporary) limitation could/should be included in your FAQ? In the interim we’re going to look into Pilot for team payments. Anyone here using Pilot?

If you email us we can enable support to South Africa (and most countries). We need some extra info right now to do that.

We should be able to do most (non sanctioned) countries by default soon too.

Thank you, I’ll email you directly. Your super quick response on a previous HN thread was a key reason we decided to sign up with Mercury in the first place...

Mercury has been great! Used SVB at my last company and it's a big improvement.

What's your business model? The product looks outstanding, but I, like many others here I'd imagine, am somewhat skeptical of a product that sells itself as nearly completely free for the user.

We make money on debit card usage (interchange) and deposits that sit with us. We will be adding a couple of other revenue streams this year.

We have pretty good unit economics and the bigger we get the more money we make. Agreed that you should be skeptical of anything that makes a loss on a per user basis.

Great response. If my startup weren’t in such a regulated industry, I’d be checking you guys out. Maybe next time.

How do you make money on demand deposits when interest rates are effectively zero?

What sort of interest rates do you offer for folks who are conserving cash right now? I realize interest rates are low in general, but it seems foolish to be getting literally zero from my current bank.

Currently 0. But we have a new product coming up that will help with that.

Feel free to email me if you want to be in the beta for that. Won't be widely released till August.

Happy Mercury customer checking in!

+1 for Mercury. My only feature wish is the ability to write paper checks (not send via mail). It comes up occasionally (e.g. in CA need to give paper checks to employees on the spot when terminating).

But SO much better than Wells Fargo.

Mercury has been great to us and has a vastly better UI compared to SVB.

One suggestion, there should be an option to deliver checks via UPS, FedEx at an additional cost. USPS can be hit-and-miss from time to time.

+1 for Mercury. We also switched to Mercury after 8 months with SVB. It is crazy how much difference a good UI makes and the time it saves.

same here. happy mercury customer. just disappointed the webapp wasn't build mobile friendly from the start. the UI is simple enough that it should've been working on mobile!

should've used a responsive CSS framework vs using css modules. recreated the wheel for not a lot of value.

We now have an iOS app.

I don't think CSS modules are the issue to making it responsive. We just decided to focus the design/engineering resources on making mobile apps instead of responsive web app.

Ideally we would do both though, and hopefully we can in the future.

> I don't think CSS modules are the issue to making it responsive. We just decided to focus the design/engineering resources on making mobile apps instead of responsive web app.

i agree that CSS modules aren't the issue but it def makes it easier to be responsive when you use a CSS framework. i think it would've been nice to be responsive from the start. relatively less resource intensive if written using bootstrap and maximizes customer value by making it easier for users to browse it on mobile without installing an app.

+1 for android app from someone in the Mercury Tea Room!

I'd switch to Mercury with my $250k+ bank account if there was an Android app as well

Another +1 for Mercury, simple to start and really does just work.

+1 Mercury > SVB

JP Morgan Chase. They aren't sexy. They don't have a great API. They don't have a good UI. They're slow as shit to process your paperwork. Our rep calls us every time even though I have asked him to email instead. They suck in almost every single way you can imagine. But, they also tend to function like a real bank, and outside the last few months, have treated us pretty well.

I've had this same experience with Chase on my business accounts. They're boring but attentive on the customer service side.

Mercury - https://mercurybank.com - They also have the best API available for a bank.

I assume you know this, but just to mention it:

For issuing cards, you can use Stripe nowadays. If you're doing this as part of your business (e.g. like Expensify is doing), its available to all US based businesses: https://stripe.com/issuing

The more convenient Stripe Corporate Card (which sounds like that may be your use case?) is still invite only: https://stripe.com/docs/corporate-card

(I myself am queued up for an invite on the Corporate Card, and using Chase Credit Cards in the meantime, which are okay, but not great)

We are also in the invite queue for the Stripe Corporate Card, but decided to make a switch as we didn't know how long the wait would be. Brex is working on features for expense reporting and authorization is what were were told. While I don't think it's on par with Expensify, maybe one day in the future it will be which will mean one less service for us to manage.

+1 for Mercury. We (FeaturePeek) started on SVB and it was a terrible experience. Mercury has been great

Azlo has been sensational. CS picks up on just a couple rings. THe deposits go in super fast. No overdraft charges. It's excellent.

I've been using Azlo and it's been great for my business.

Related question: what bank would you go with for a super simple euro zone llc?

The requirements are simple:

- a proper EU based IBAN

- SEPA bank transfer

- SEPA direct debit

- proper customer support

- proper web experience

- debit card

- (preferably) limited credit card support

- honest and transparent pricing

There's obviously the company's home country banks, but I'm specifically wondering about banks offering EU wide services. Either I'm not looking well enough or there isn't really a decent bank offering these services EU wide:

- Many more traditional banks don't seem to be interested in working with companies in different EU countries.

- N26 doesn't seem to do llc's.

- Revolut doesn't have a proper web client.

> Revolut doesn't have a proper web client

I believe Revolut Business is primarily web based, unlike Revolut Personal:


There is also Paysera, which offers instant SEPA transfers for EU companies:


A combination of a traditional bank that has certain duties towards business clients and a transfer service like Transferwise might be best.

An important part of certain banks like Sparkassen or state banks in Germany is the fact that they are legally bound to serve you. Private banks like N26 on the other hand can drop you at any point.

Maybe have a look at bunq. They check most (all?) of your boxes.

First Republic has phenomenally great service and absolutely terrible tech, UI, etc. It all boils down to what your needs are from your bank. FRB are not great when it comes to lines, venture debt, etc but for day-to-day banking it's nice to have a real person on the other side.

First Republic Bank

You might want to check out https://www.grasshopper.bank/, which is a fairly new startup-focused bank based in NYC

Take a look at banknovo.com

Monzo if you are UK based. Maybe US too.


AFAIK Monzo are pulling back on their US business, so probably only UK for now.

I have had SVB see transactions from Transferwise in my account and then call me up and offer a better rate on their foreign transfer services. Interesting!

You should switch to First Republic Forex account. We saved ~4% by switching from Transferwise to FRB on our international transfers.

+1 for Mercury!

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