Lili Bank vs. Relay Bank: Which One Is Right For My Small Biz?
- Lili Bank’s Pro Plan is more affordable ($9/month) with features like a tax optimizer and cash back rewards. Relay Bank’s Pro Plan is $30/month, offering more flexibility with multiple accounts and debit cards, and integration with major accounting software.
- Lili is an good option for individual business owners managing online enterprises, working as freelancers, or beginning to distinguish their personal and business finances.
- Relay is better suited for different business entities or companies looking to grow.
It can take hours, even days to research for banking software and apps that fit your small business’s exact needs. You want features that are catered to your unique business processes, a user-friendly platform, great benefits that outshine the other bank choices, and a bank that can offer personable customer service.
With so many similar small biz banks out there, it can be difficult and cumbersome to sift through them all. That’s why we decided to do the grunt work for you. Lili and Relay are both digital banks that are centered around small businesses. We will break everything down for you to help you make the best choice for your business banking.
Lili Bank is a mobile bank that is specifically built for small businesses, whether you are a freelancer or self-employed. They make important mention of no fees - no account fees, no overdraft fees, no foreign transaction fees, no deposit required, and no ATM fees. Their basic free plan includes a debit card, fee-free ATM at over 38,000 locations, and the ability to “get paid” 2 days early (take money early from an incoming paycheck).
Lili Pro, for just $9 a month, includes a Visa business debit card with cashback rewards, fee-free overdrafts up to $200, 1.5% APY on your accounts, and high deposit and spend limits. Lili Pro also includes a tax optimizer, which keeps track of your tax-write off expenses, automatic tax savings, and a Schedule C generator. Lastly, the upgraded plan includes invoicing software, receipt scan and save, and automatic business reports.
Relay Bank is also a digital bank that is built for small businesses, but also caters to accountants and bookkeepers, too. Their basic plan for small businesses, like Lili, has no account fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balances. You can create up to 20 individual checking accounts and have the option to be issued up to 50 virtual or physical Visa debit cards. You can withdraw and deposit cash at over 40,000 Allpoint ATMs, and this plan also integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero.
Relay bank has a Pro Plan for $30 a month. It is a plan that is built around those who wish to handle their accounting and bookkeeping within the same app as their bank. With this plan, you can get same day account and free outgoing wires (Compared to 1 to 2 days for their basic plan), auto-import bills from QuickBooks online or Xero, create rules for bill payments, and consolidate payments to the same vendor in a single transaction - all tasks that are meant to streamline your accounts payable.
Quick Overview of Lili Bank vs. Relay Bank
|Required Opening Deposit||$0||$0|
|Required Balance Minimum||$0||$0|
|Transaction Limit Before Fees||No limit||No limit|
|Automated Clearing House (ACH) Fees||$0||$0|
|Availability||Available only in the US||Available in the US, and also 200+ other countries if business has an operating presence in the US|
|Standout Features||Cash back rewards with a debit card, tax optimizer, built-in accounting software||Up to 20 checking accounts and 50 debit cards, flexible control over accounts, integrates with Quickbooks and Xero|
|Monthly Fees||Lili Pro has a monthly fee of $9||Relay Pro for $30 a month|
|Security||FDIC Insured||FDIC Insured|
|Card||Lili Pro includes a Visa Business Debit Card with cashback rewards, their free plan includes just a debit card||Up to 50 free debit cards under the Pro plan|
|Mobile App||Yes, available for Android and Apple, also available on desktop||Yes, available for Android and Apple, also available on desktop|
When To Use Lili Bank
- If you seek assistance with tax preparation: Lili's premium subscriptions include a Tax Optimizer. This feature enables automated tax saving, tax write-off tracking, and automatic Schedule C form completion, a service not available with Relay.
- If you're looking for savings account options: By opting for Lili's paid plans, you acquire a savings account with a 4.15% APY for balances up to $100,000, a feature absent in Relay.
- If invoicing tools are essential for you: Lili Smart and Lili Premium offer unlimited free invoicing, allowing immediate payment acceptance through various platforms such as ACH, Venmo, and Cash App, providing comprehensive invoicing solutions unlike Relay.
When to Use Relay Bank
- If your work involves teams of two or more: Relay provides the option to grant account access to team members. You can also issue up to 50 virtual and physical debit cards, each with personalized spending rules and limits. Lili, however, does not have features for team collaboration.
- If you frequently handle wire transfers: Lili does not facilitate wire transfers. In contrast, Relay allows free incoming wire transfers, charges $5 for outgoing domestic, and $10 for outgoing international wire transfers.
- If you require multiple reserve accounts: Relay enables you to establish up to 20 checking accounts (10 for sole proprietors), allowing you to designate them for specific uses like tax, payroll, or utilities. Lili restricts you to a primary account along with separate sections for tax and emergencies.
Lili Bank Features
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- Earn 4.15% APY with a Lili Pro, Smart, or Premium account
- Get started in as little as 3 minutes See More Highlights
- No account fees and no minimum balance requirement
- Earn cashback on everyday purchases with participating merchants
- Built-in tax preparation tools including a write-off tracker and automatic tax savings
- Fee-free overdraft up to $200 (for Lili Pro users)
When researching Lili’s features, there are some made apparent right away on the first page - 3 minutes to sign up! It is quick, as it doesn’t require a credit check, minimum deposit, hidden fees, or paperwork.
Lili’s core features center around business banking, accounting, tax optimizer, and invoicing software. Within each of these, there are a whole host of other features.
Within Lili’s business banking section, there are two plans available - a free one and a paid one. In the free Lili Basic plan, they note that there are no fees - no account fees, ACH bank transfer fees, or ATM fees at over 38,000 locations nationwide. The free plan also includes a Visa debit card, the ability to get paid 2 days early and choose expense categorization, and quarterly expense reports that are created for you. There is also no minimum balance requirement for your account with Lili under this plan.
Lili has a pro plan aptly called Lili Pro for $9 a month that has all of the above amenities, but also includes many added features. Under the Pro plan, your savings account accrues a 1.5% APY (Annual Percentage Yield). The Visa debit card attached to the checking account comes with cashback rewards, and there is no fee for overdrafts up to $200.
The Lili Pro plan also features a Tax Optimizer that provides you with an automated, real-time write-off tracker, automatic tax savings, and a Schedule C generator.
The last feature of the Lili Pro plan is a suite of DIY accounting programs - invoicing software, receipt scan and save, and automatic business reports.
Relay Bank Features
Like Lili Bank, Relay Bank has a free basic plan and a paid Pro plan. Their basic plan for small businesses has no account fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balance requirements. You can create up to 20 individual checking accounts according to your business’s needs and have the option to be issued up to 50 virtual or physical Visa debit cards. You can withdraw and deposit cash at over 40,000 Allpoint ATMs across the United States, and this plan also integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero.
Relay Bank has a Pro Plan for $30 a month. It comes with all of the features in the basic plan, plus you can get same day ACH and free outgoing wires (Compared to 1 to 2 days and a small fee in their basic plan), auto-import bills from QuickBooks,Xero and other accounting softwares, create rules for bill payments, approve and pay bills under one dashboard, and consolidate payments to the same vendor in a single transaction - all tasks that are meant to streamline your accounts payable.
General Comparison of Lili Bank vs. Relay Bank
As with any comparison, what’s right for one business may not be right for another one. You may be a solopreneur or have several people that work under you. You may like to have the resources and software to do your own taxes or simply outsource them to a professional. There is no one-size-fits-all. That’s why we are doing this research of comparisons - to help you make the best choice for YOUR business.
It is apparent from the information up above that Lili Bank has the cheaper Pro plan - with nearly the same features - by $21 a month, which adds up to a difference of $252 per year. Your Lili Pro plan also makes you money in your account with them with a 1.5% APY, while Relay bank has no APY at all.
Relay Bank offers more Visa debit cards if needed, while Lili offers just one. This can come in handy if you have multiple people making purchases on behalf of your business, but may not be necessary if you work by yourself. Lili’s debit card comes with cash back rewards, while Relay’s does not.
Relay also allows you to be more flexible with your accounts it seems, as they not only offer up to 20 individual checking accounts for different business categories and expenses, but also allow you to approve and pay bills in one dashboard, create single- or multi-step approval rules for bill payments, and consolidate payments to the same vendor into a single transaction. In our research, Lili only offers one account with not as many flexible choices.
Lili Pro includes a tax optimizer, while Relay does not. They both have an accounting feature, with Lili’s having built-in accounting software, while Relay seamlessly integrates with your existing accounting software if you handle your accounting elsewhere.
Both are available in the United States, boast several no-fee features, are available on both phone and desktop, and have similar accounting features.
As stated above, both Relay Bank and Lili Bank offer free basic plans with similar features and perks. They both offer Pro plans. This is where they differ the most. The Lili Pro plan is just $9 per month, while the Relay Pro plan is $30 per month. Again, this equates to a difference of $21 per month and $252 per year.
As for fees for services, both Relay and Lily offer no minimum balance, no overdraft fees, no annual fees, and no ATM fees at participating ATMs across the United States.
Availability by Region
Lily Bank and Relay Bank are both available across the entire United States. According to their website, Lili Bank is only available in the continental U.S. Relay Bank’s website states that they support business owners that are citizens and residents of over 200 countries around the world including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and many others - as long as their business has an operating presence in the United States.
When it comes to banking, one of the top concerns is security. You want to know that your money is going to be safe, even if your information is stolen. You want to know that the bank takes your security seriously, and does everything they can on the I.T. side to protect your information.
As far as both banks being insured, they are both covered by FDIC. Relay Bank checking accounts are insured up to $250,000. Relay works with an FDIC-insured bank, Thread Bank, to store your deposits. Lili accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 as well by their partner bank, Choice Financial Group Inc.
Our research showed on Relay’s website that there was no specific dedicated space or page to show what security measures they take for their customers. However, they did publish a blog to show how safe online banking is compared to traditional in-person banking, and in that blog, they have an infographic that states the following security measures are taken at Relay: liability protection on cards, multi-factor authentication, multiple checking accounts to minimize the risk of fraud, instantly freeze cards and issue new ones, and collaborate on banking securely, without needing to share login details.
Lili had an entire FAQ page dedicated to just security questions and answers. Their measures are similar to that of Relay’s and include: multi-factor authentication, manual turn-off of transactions within your account if you notice a charge you didn’t make, and are certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.
Both Relay and Lili are fully digital banking apps and are available for both Android and Apple products. They both are also compatible with desktop. You can complete any action mentioned above within the app.
Lili has a 4.4 star rating for Androids, and a 4.7 rating for Apple. Relay has an Android and Apple rating of 4.6 stars.
Both banks offer debit cards, but each one has different benefits and perks. Lili offers a debit card with the Pro plan that offers cash back rewards. Their free plan comes with a basic debit card. Relay offers up to 50 business debit cards under their Pro plan.
Currently, neither Relay nor Lili offer credit cards as part of their services.
You would assume that Lili and Relay’s customer services would be just about the same - but one offers more than the other.
At Lili, you can email or call M-F 9 AM - 7 PM EST. You can also chat with their chat bot via the app 24/7.
On the contrary, Relay offers support via email 7 days a week - they will get back to you in a few hours. They also have live chat available on the browser version of Relay. Live chat is available M-F from 9 AM - 6 PM EST and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 PM to 3 PM EST. Their phone lines are available M-F 9 AM - 5 PM EST.
There’s no contest when it comes to customer service - Relay offers a more personable approach through live chat, 24/7 email support, and offers longer hours and days.
Why Choose Lili?
Remember different banks meet different people’s needs? If you are just starting out in your freelance career or are a start-up solopreneur, then Lili is perfect for you. It has the lower monthly payment of $9 for their Pro plan, offers cash back rewards when you use the debit card, has a tax optimizer, and has built-in accounting software - all perfect for someone just starting out working for yourself.
Why Choose Relay?
If you're starting to hire other employees within your business and your spending is increasing across multiple types of vendors, Relay may be the way to go for you. With the Relay Pro plan, they offer up to 20 individual checking accounts and up to 50 different physical or virtual debit cards. If you are a bit of a larger company, you probably already have accounting software - Relay easily integrates with Quickbooks, Xero, and others.
Choosing between Lili and Relay: What’s best for your business?
While both Relay and Lili offer affordable business checking accounts with no monthly fees, they cater to different business types.
Lili is a suitable choice for sole proprietors operating online businesses, freelancing, or initiating the separation of personal and business finances. The Tax Optimizer feature aids in tax season navigation, and the check deposit and funding limits are not restrictive for smaller operations. However, if considering incorporation, eligibility for an account and automated Schedule C generation are lost.
Conversely, Relay is more fitting for other entity types or businesses aiming to expand. With the ability to handle multiple payment types, no funding limits, and a platform that fully automates the bill payment process, Relay effectively saves time and adapts to diverse business needs.
Lili Bank vs. Relay Bank User Reviews
|Trustpilot Rating||4.7 (based on 2,400-plus reviews)||4.6 (based on 1,000-plus reviews)|
|Users Like||Easy-to-navigate platform, Helpful and friendly customer service||Ability to make multiple accounts, Good customer service|
|Users Dislike||Low daily cash deposit limits, Takes a long time for mobile check deposits to clear||Intrusive application process, Slow check-clearing times|
Lili boasts a higher rating of 4.7 from over 2,400 reviews, whereas Relay holds a Trustpilot rating of 4.6, based on over 1,000 reviews. Both companies are commended for their helpful and timely customer service, despite shared criticisms regarding extended hold times for check deposits.
Several reviewers expressed dissatisfaction with Relay’s exhaustive application process. Unsuccessful applicants were uncomfortable with the extensive personal information requested, leading to concerns about data security.
Conversely, Lili users cited grievances with the platform’s low daily cash deposit limit. Businesses dealing with large cash volumes found it inconvenient to make frequent, smaller deposits.
You know what your business’s exact needs are. Both Relay and Lili offer similar features, but differ in price, perks, and account offerings. We hope that after reading this, you are educated on both and are close to making the choice of which one is right for your business. Interested in in-depth on what another mobile bank can offer you? Read our other mobile bank comparison blogs here.
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Frequently Asked Questions
It can be hard to choose between Lili and Relay, so make sure you understand the specifics of each account before you choose a bank.
Do Lili Bank and Relay Bank charge monthly maintenance fees?
No, both Lili Bank and Relay Bank offer business checking accounts without monthly maintenance fees.
How does Lili Bank assist with tax preparation?
Lili Bank offers a Tax Optimizer feature that helps you auto-save for taxes, track tax write-offs, and auto-fill your Schedule C form.
Does Relay Bank support wire transfers?
Yes, Relay Bank supports both incoming and outgoing wire transfers. Incoming wire transfers are free, while outgoing domestic and international transfers are chargeable.
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