Relay 2023 Review
Founded in 2018, Relay is a Toronto-based fintech company that offers digital business banking services. Because the company is not a bank, banking services are provided by its partner, Thread Bank, Member FDIC. Users get 20 checking accounts and 50 physical or virtual Visa® debit cards. The platform also enables users to assign role-based access and collect payment using Stripe, Square, and Shopify.
Relay Pros and Cons
|No monthly fees or balance requirements||No cash deposits|
|Mobile check deposit||Customer support is limited|
|Multiple accounts and role-based permissions||Places 6- to 7-day hold on check deposits|
Relay Business Banking Plans Overview
- Minimum opening deposit: $0
- Minimum balance requirement: None
- Monthly fees: None
- Cash deposit limits: No cash deposits
- Mobile check deposit limits: Depends on account type and user
- Card limits: N/A
- Savings account available?: No
How Does Relay Work?
Relay is a Toronto-based fintech company that provides checking accounts to U.S. corporations, LLCs, general partnerships, and sole proprietors. Banking services are provided by Relay’s partner, Thread Bank, Member FDIC. There are no account fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balances. Payments can be made via ACH and wire, with functionality for check payments coming soon. Users also get free cash deposits and withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs.
Users can have up to 20 individual checking accounts and 50 virtual or physical debit cards. This means Relay’s banking services are also tailored to accountants and bookkeepers who need to manage their clients. The platform also offers direct integrations with QuickBooks Online and Xero.
Relay Business Banking Features
Relay offers free business checking accounts without monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Likewise, there are no transaction limits, and incoming wire transfers are free. Here’s what comes with a Relay business banking account:
- Fee-free checking account: Relay customers can deposit checks in their account via the Relay mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android users. However, digital payments like ACH and wire transfers are the easiest method.
- Checkbooks: Checkbooks are not yet available through Relay, but customers will soon be able to order checkbooks through a third-party check printing service.
- Up to 20 checking accounts: Users get up to 20 checking accounts they can use to organize income for various purposes, like expenses and payroll. Accounting and payroll companies can also use this feature to manage client funds.
- Shared permissions: Relay customers can also create role-based user permissions that give account access to their accountants, bookkeepers, and other team members.
- Monthly account reconciliation: Relay can reconcile a user’s transactions at the end of each month. This functionality also makes it easy to organize necessary W-9 forms and save for tax bills throughout the year.
In addition to free banking services, customers can choose Relay’s paid offering—Relay Pro. Available for $30 per business, per month, Relay Pro comes with advanced features, including same-day ACH and free outgoing wires. Users can also automatically import bills from QuickBooks Online or Xero, and review, approve, and pay bills through a single online dashboard. This paid plan also comes with single- or multi-step approval rules for bill payments and consolidated payments for the same vendors.
How To Apply for a Relay Business Banking Account
You can apply for a Relay account online by navigating to “Sign Up” on the homepage and then providing your name, contact information, position/title, and other relevant information.
After registering, you may need to upload missing documents to complete the verification process. To do so, navigate to the Settings tab in your user dashboard and click on “User verified” under your name. Here, you can view missing documentation ad upload necessary documents.
These are some of the things you’ll need to register for a Relay business bank account:
- Email address
- Government-issued photo ID
- Social Security number or passport
- Personal contact information, including address and phone number
- Business contact information, including address and phone number
Relay Business Banking Fees
As a free digital banking service, Relay provides checking accounts with no monthly fees, minimum balances, or overdraft fees. Though the account itself is free, the platform charges outgoing domestic and international wire fees of $5 and $10, respectively. International wire conversions also come with an exchange rate fee starting at 1%. Relay also offers a paid option—Relay Pro—for $30 per business, per month.
Relay customers can contact the company via phone or email. Customer Experience team members are available seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm Eastern time. Relay also offers an online chat function Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm ET and Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 3 pm ET. The online Help Center also provides step-by-step how-to guides for relevant banking issues.
Relay has a 4.4-star rating on Trustpilot based on 664 reviews, but does not appear to have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) page. Positive reviews focus primarily on the company’s helpful customer service team, low cost, and easy ACH payments. Still, some users complain about the lack of instant payments through Zelle, slow verification of user bank accounts, and a delay in customer support response times.
Who Is Relay Best For?
Relay stands out for small business owners who need access to multiple bank accounts and debit cards for their businesses and employees. Customers who want to integrate their banking with tools like QuickBooks Online or Xero may also be satisfied with Relay. That said, the platform does not allow users to deposit cash, so it’s best reserved for e-commerce businesses and other operations that do not accept cash payments.
Relay vs. Mercury
While both Relay and Mercury are business banking fintechs, Relay is meant for use by small businesses, and Mercury is tailored to venture-backed and bootstrapped startups. Neither platform charges monthly fees, but Mercury has a more robust offering that includes both checking and savings accounts, plus credit cards, lending, and bookkeeping tools and integrations.
How Relay Stacks Up
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Relay Financial a real bank?
Relay is not a bank. Instead, Relay is a fintech company that provides business banking services through its partner Thread Bank, Member FDIC. This means that clients have access to the same features of a traditional bank account—like debit cards and ACH payments—but with added benefits like budgeting tools and customer support.
Who owns Relay Financial?
Relay Financial is owned by Yoseph West, the company’s co-founder and CEO. Yoseph previously worked with tech companies, including Hubdoc Wave (now H&R Block) and co-founded the financial analysis tool Vuru, which was ultimately acquired by Wave Accounting.
How does Relay make money?
Relay makes money by collecting a percentage of the merchant fee that Visa charges on every customer’s debit card transactions. Like other financial companies, Relay also earns interest in customer account balances. This is paid by the Federal Reserve via Thread Bank, not consumers.
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