Lili Review - The Online Bank For Freelancers

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Last updated on May 24, 2021

As a freelancer, there’s more to money management than meets the eye. When it comes to online banking, Lili is at the top of its class.

It’s designed from the ground up for freelancers and independent contractors, with general benefits including:

  • A full suite of digital tools for managing business and personal expenses
  • The ability to accept payments from customers
  • Easy set-up process

What is Lili Bank?

Lili is an all-in-one app for freelancers providing banking, tax saving, and expense management tools. Available for both iOS and Android devices, it only takes a few minutes to complete an application and open an account.

Lili launched to the public in 2019, shortly before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many people moving toward freelance life at this time, Lili was able to grow quickly early on.

Within the first year, more than 100,000 customer accounts were opened.

Who is Lili Best For?

There’s only one answer to this question. Lili was built for freelancers spanning every industry imaginable. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Art
  • Beauty
  • Cleaning
  • Childcare
  • Design
  • Fitness
  • Writing

If you work as a freelancer or independent contractor, Lili has all the tools you need to manage your finances.

It’s best for people who meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Interested in a free bank account with no minimum balance requirements
  • Send less than $1,000 to external bank accounts every month
  • Deposit $6,000 or less in checks every month
  • Understand the benefits of an app-only banking experience
  • Interested in tools to help manage their finances

How Lili Works

Getting started with Lili is a simple process, which allows you to open a bank account within a matter of minutes.

In addition to basic information — such as your legal name, address, and date of birth — you’ll need a Social Security number.

Once you complete the application via the mobile app, you’ll quickly receive approval (as long as everything checks out) and account access.

Note: even though you can only manage your finances through the Lili app, you are able to apply for an account via its website.

Once you have access to your account, you can then use the mobile app to fund it and manage your expenses. There are several ways to fund your account, including:

  • Mobile check deposit
  • ACH transfer
  • Direct deposit
  • External bank accounts, such as PayPal and Venmo

Lili is not a financial institution, so its banking services are provided by a third-party company, Choice Financial Group. Deposits on your account are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp for up to $250,000.

You’ll also receive a Visa business debit card upon opening your account, which you can use to make both online and in-person purchases.

Key Features

Lili is anything but a barebones online bank. It’s powered by a high level of advanced, easy-to-use features that appeal to freelance professionals.

Here are some top features of every Lili bank account:

A variety of deposit and transfer options

Since you don’t have access to local brick and mortar banks, this is essential to maintaining control of your account. As noted above, you can deposit and transfer money in a variety of ways.

Mobile accessibility and account management

Not only do you have mobile access to your Lili bank account, but it’s the only way to manage your money.

Third-party software integration

Lili integrates with a variety of third-party applications, such as those that allow you to export transactions to categorize expenses.

Invoicing tools

Lili makes it easy to invoice your clients, manage payments, and follow up on past due accounts as necessary.

Tax tools

Managing taxes as a freelancer is one of the most challenging tasks. And if you slip behind, you could soon find yourself facing a large tax bill. Lili can do a lot of the tax preparation work on your behalf.

Automatic savings

If you have trouble saving money, the Lili automatic savings feature can rescue you. When you put your savings on auto-pilot, you know you’re working toward your short and long-term financial goals — and that’s what matters most.

There’s even an option for a rainy-day fund, which you can add small bits of cash (as little as $1/day) in case of emergencies.

Get paid early

With a Lili bank account, you can get paid up to two days earlier. And best yet, it doesn’t cost anything.

Lili Fees

Freelancers have enough expenses to contend with. The last thing you need is hidden bank fees.

Lili understands this, and that’s why it never charges fees.

There is no minimum opening deposit, no monthly fees, and no minimum balance requirements. You’re flexible to bank however you best see fit.

On top of this, you have unlimited fee-free transactions. This includes free mobile check deposits, free ACH transfers, and free use of all Lili’s tools.

But what about overdraft charges and other incidental fees? This may be the most exciting thing you read in this Lili review.

You’re never charged for overdrafts, stop payments, returned items, or incidental fees. Plus, there’s no charge to use your Lili debit card outside of the United States. Lili doesn’t charge a foreign exchange rate adjustment fee.

How to Sign Up with Lili

There are two ways to sign up with Lili:

  • Download the app and follow the prompts
  • On the Lili website

Since you’re only able to manage your online account through the app, it’s generally best to apply this way. Doing so allows you to become comfortable with the system from the start.

With the help of your Social Security number, it only takes a few minutes to sign up for a Lili bank account and receive approval.

At that point, you can begin to customize your experience, deposit money, and decide how to best use it in the future.

There’s nothing about the sign-up process that should throw you a curve. It’s simple, straightforward, and designed to save you time.

Pros and Cons

Just the same as any online bank account, you must become familiar with the pros and cons of Lili before signing up and using the service. This ensures that you know exactly what you’re getting, while also putting you in a position to take advantage of all its features.

Pros

  • A high-powered app allows you to bank on the go
  • Built specifically for the needs of freelancers and independent contractors
  • Unlimited fee-free transactions
  • There are no Lili fees for things such as overdraft charges
  • Fee-free ATM access through the MoneyPass network
  • Cash deposits can be made through Green Dot locations (again, no charge)
  • Get paid up to two days earlier

Cons

  • Mobile-only access (but you can apply for an account online)
  • Low monthly limits for external bank transfers and check deposits
  • You can only apply with a Social Security number, not an employer identification number (EIN)
  • Unable to send or receive wire transfers
  • Out of network ATM fees
  • No checks
  • No joint accounts

On the plus side, you can work around most of these pitfalls. For example, there are out-of-network ATM fees, but there are also tens of thousands of in-network ATMs.

Alternatives to Lili

While Lili is one of the best online bank accounts for freelancers, don’t make your decision until you first compare the features, pros, and cons to top competitors.

Start with these two:

Bank Novo

Bank Novo is a solid choice for freelancers and independent contractors, as well as small business owners. It’s built on the idea that business banking doesn’t have to be confusing, complex, or costly.

Just the same as Lili, Bank Novo has no hidden fees.

North One

North One is also built for freelancers and small businesses. It’s designed to help you save both time and money with features such as mobile check deposits, envelopes to help you plan, and the ability to send ACH or Wire payments.

Bottom Line: Is Lili Right for You?

We hope that this Lili review will help you better understand what this online bank has to offer. While it has many competitors (see above), it’s been able to quickly move to the top of the industry thanks to its ease of use and no fee structure.

Deciding whether or not Lili is right for you is based largely on your review of the features, pros, and cons, coupled with your personal/business wants and needs.

Here are some of the questions you can answer to help you decide if Lili is right for you:

  • What’s most important to you in a bank account as a freelancer or independent contractor?
  • Do you need assistance managing your finances as a freelancer, such as how you save for taxes?
  • What features are most important to you in a bank account?
  • Are you comfortable with an app-only banking experience, or do you often like to do so via the web?
  • Do you understand how Lili stacks up against the competition?

As you answer these questions, you’ll come to better understand how Lili could fit into your day-to-day professional life.

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