Entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs will know that getting a business off the ground in South Africa is tough work. While government and financial institutions haven’t made it easy in the past, banks have started to make the financial side of things a little easier. 


Getting your finances right in the early stages is an obvious hurdle to get over and several major banks now offer bank accounts dedicated to the small business sector. If you’re on the lookout for a business loan or startup funding, having a business bank account gives you a competitive edge over your competitors. Just remember, your business needs to be formally registered before you apply. Company registration with the CIPC is a simple process that can be completed online.


So, to help you decide which business bank account is best, read on for the top five accounts available to SMEs.


First Business Zero Account – FNB


Designed specifically for businesses who have registered as a sole proprietorship, FNBs First Business Zero Account offers a simple, first-time business account for newcomers to the space. Application criteria include an annual turnover of R5 million or less.


Features include:


  • No monthly account fee
  • An FNB Connect SIM card
  • Simple transactions to or from a Business Call Account
  • Free business coaching with Fundaba via the FNB app


FNB does offer more business bank accounts for those who eventually want to scale up from the First Business Zero Account


Global One Account – Capitec


Capitec offers a simple transaction account for new businesses, with the option of either a debit or a credit card. The monthly fee is R5 and enables you to access your funds from a number of portals and transact in various global locations. Plus, Capitec doesn’t add a purchase fee if you’re shopping for products outside of South Africa.


Features include:


  • 24/7 customer support
  • Four free savings plans
  • Insurance


Evolve Zero Business Account – Absa


Absa offers a number of bank accounts for SMEs, with the most basic being the Evolve Zero Business Account. It offers a pay-as-you-transact account-model instead of a monthly fee and free transactions between all of your Absa accounts for businesses with an annual turnover of R10 million or less.


Features include:


  • A liquidity Plus investment account
  • Free cashflow manager
  • Access to dedicated customer support
  • Build positive credit history with the overdraft facility


BizLaunch Account – Standard Bank


With this business account, you get multiple bank cards for you and your colleagues or staff and pay a smaller fee of R210 per month if you choose bundled services. This means you pay the same amount, no matter which transactions or how many transactions you make per month. 


Features include:


  • Business debit and cheque card.
  • Tap to pay
  • Free basic travel insurance
  • Access to business credit cards
  • Dedicated customer support


Money Account – Old Mutual Finance


The Money Account offers a simple transactional account with attached savings account for only R4.95 per month. You can move money instantly between the two accounts, set up an automatic payment into the savings account and make an instant payment to other account holders.


Features include:


  • Earn rewards
  • Turn your card “off” when it’s not on you
  • Tap to pay
  • Free transfers


How to open a business bank account:


Once you’ve chosen the bank account you want to go with it’s time to apply! While every bank is slightly different, generally you will need to submit the following documents once you’re at the bank or applying via their website.


  • ID document
  • Proof of address no older than three months
  • Company registration documents if required

Read more: Register a company

While not all of these offer the cheapest business bank account fees, they’re the top-rated accounts for new starters entering the space. So at the end, which business bank account is best? That depends entirely on your business needs, budget and what matters most to you. Figure out what you want from a business bank account before starting the process to help you ask the right questions and get the right answers when the time comes. Also, if you plan to run an online store, do the research around which bank best facilitates an online payment gateway. Your banking consultant will also speak to you about getting a credit card payment machine for your business.