Lili Review: A Free Checking Account for Freelancers & Side Hustlers

If you’re a part-time freelancer, sole proprietor, or solopreneur looking for a business checking account this Lili review is for you.  

Lili has created a banking experience that just might make your solo business operations a little easier. Although there are some limitations of Lili that probably won’t work for full-time business owners, there are several that make Lili a viable option for side-hustlers.

We’ll share all you need to know about Lili so you can decide if it might be right for your business. 

Table of Contents
  1. What Is Lili? 
  2. What Features Does Lili Offer?
  3. Lili Account Options
    1. Lili Standard
    2. Lili Pro
    3. Savings Account with 1% Interest
  4. Lili Pros and Cons
    1. Lili Pros
    2. Lili Cons
  5. Who Is Lili For?
  6. Lili Alternatives
    1. Novo
    2. NorthOne
  7. Summary

What Is Lili? 

Lili isn’t a bank; instead, it’s a mobile banking fintech that was created in 2018. The app was designed specifically for freelancers, gig workers, and side hustlers. 

Although Lili isn’t a bank, Lili accounts are FDIC insured up through Choice Financial Group. 

There are no bank branch locations with Lili; you do your business banking entirely online. 

The Lili website says it takes just three minutes to open a Lili account and download the app. The only information you’ll need is:

  • Email address
  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate 

Then you’ll choose your side hustle from Lili’s drop down box list of occupations. 

From there you can click on a link to download the app and start taking advantage of Lili features that are geared toward your side hustle business. 

One of the most attractive features Lili offers is that its basic account is free. You won’t pay a monthly fee and there’s no minimum balance requirement. 

Learn more about Lili

What Features Does Lili Offer?

Here’s a summarized list of Lili’s main features. From there, we’ll go into specific features that can help make a freelancer’s business management tasks easier. 

The basics: 

  • $0 minimum balance
  • $0 minimum account opening requirement
  • $0 monthly fee (basic account)
  • Free Visa debit card (pro account also earns cash back)
  • Real time activity notifications
  • Mobile banking accounts
  • Expense categorization
  • “Buckets” for categorizing savings
  • Deposit and payment capabilities
  • Invoicing (pro account)
  • Interest earning savings account (pro account)
  • Tax help tools

You’ll also have an up-to-date snapshot of financial insights on your account that will help you keep a good eye on both income and expenses. 

Face ID and/or Thumbprint ID help keep your account secure. You can deposit checks with Lili’s mobile check deposit feature or you can deposit cash for a fee at Green Dot locations. 

You can connect Lili to your Google Wallet or Apple Pay account for quick and easy payments. And you can freeze or unfreeze your debit card right from the app. 

Referral Program

Lili has a generous referral program as well. When you refer a friend to sign up for their own Lili account using your referral code, you can earn $50. 

Note that the friend has to spend a minimum of $250 using their Lili card within the first 45 days of opening their account in order for you to receive your referral reward.

And there is a limit of 10 referral rewards per Lili customer. But $500 is nothing to sneeze at. 

Lili Account Options

When you sign up to use Lili you have two account options: Lili Standard and Lili Pro. Here’s a rundown of the features of each. 

Lili Standard

Lili Standard is free and comes with the following features. 

Visa Business Debit Card

The Visa Business debit card offers free ATM withdrawals at over 38,000 locations. The following daily spending limits apply:

  • $3,000 per day in card purchases
  • $500 per day in ATM withdrawals

Tax Savings Bucket

Lili features a tax savings bucket where you can automatically set up a percentage of all income to go into your tax bucket.

This helps you be prepared to pay Uncle Sam when tax time comes. Bonus: Lili sends an automated business income and expense report to you every quarter.

Real Time Notifications

You’ll get real-time notifications of every account activity, whether it’s a deposit notification or a purchase notification. 

Bill Pay Capabilities

You can pay bills with your Lili account either by giving companies your routing and account number or by using your debit card. 

Financial Insights

The Lili app will give you an up-to-the-minute snapshot of your income and spending habits. 

Mobile Check Deposit

You can deposit checks using the mobile app with Lili too. However, you need to have at least $200 coming into your account each month via other avenues in order to use this feature.

In other words, you’ll need to transfer $200 from your main checking account, have a Direct Deposit of $200 per month, etc. 

If you don’t have at least $200 in other deposits from the prior month, you can’t use the mobile check deposit feature during the current month. 

And there are limits on the number and amount of checks you can deposit to Lili. 

  • Max check dollar amount: $2,000
  • Total dollar amount of checks deposited each month: no more than $6,000
  • Max checks per day: 2
  • Max checks per month: 6

Learn more about Lili

Lili Pro

Lili Pro costs $4.99 per month and includes all of the features from Lili Standard, along with these additional features. 

Premium Visa Business Debit Card 

Lili Pro gets you a Premium Visa debit card that earns cash back rewards. You’ll get varying cash back percentages depending on the vendor you purchase from. 

And you’ll get cash back on both personal and business expenses. All of the cash back rewards are automatically deposited to your Lili account.

With Lili Pro you can have additional purchase power each day as well.

  • $5,000 per day in card purchases 
  • $500 per day in ATM withdrawals

BalanceUp

Lili Pro has another feature called BalanceUp. This feature allows you to overdraft up to $200 with no overdraft fees. 

Lili doesn’t charge fees for overdrafts anyway, but they have the option to return the item that caused the overdraft if you don’t have Lili Pro. With Lili Pro, they’ll pay overdrafts up to $200. 

Invoicing Capabilities

Lili Pro also has invoicing capabilities that you won’t get with Lili Standard. When you pay for a Lili Pro subscription, you can create and send unlimited invoices. 

Your clients can then pay those invoices using your routing and account number. 

Advanced Expenses Management and Categorization

Lili Pro gives you advanced options for expense management and categorization. For instance, you can allocate a percentage of expenses for work and/or for personal use.

And you can customize your expense categories as well. 

Savings Account with 1% Interest

Lili Pro has an additional benefit: a savings account feature. The savings account will pay you 1% annual interest.

Autosave is required with Lili Pro’s savings account, but you can set up your autosave with as little as $1 per day. 

Note that Lili does offer banking promotions on occasion. See the website for details. Also, check out more of the latest business bank account promotions here

As you can see, there’s a lot to love about Lili. It has a lot of features that can really benefit freelancers. Next, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using Lili. 

Learn more about Lili

Lili Pros and Cons

Lili’s fee-free account is a huge draw for freelancers and gig workers. As is the free ATM usage at MoneyPass ATMs. Here are some other Lili pros.

Lili Pros

  • Tax bucket savings feature
  • Receive Direct Deposit up to two days early
  • Income and expense tracking (customizable with Lili Pro)
  • Earn 1% on savings (with Lili Pro)
  • Cash back rewards on Visa card purchases (with Lili Pro)

However, Lili has its cons as well. 

Lili Cons

Lili has some relatively strict limits on mobile deposits and withdrawals:

  • Daily and monthly limits on mobile check deposits – $2,000 limit per check, $6,000 limit per month, with a maximum of 2 checks per day and 6 checks per month
  • Daily and monthly limits on withdrawals – you can’t transfer more than $500 per day or a maximum of $1,000 per month from your Lili account to another bank account.

You can spend the money in your Lili account on purchases via your debit card, but for those interested in saving their money in another account, you’re stuck with some pretty strict daily and monthly limits. 

You get the feeling that Lili is best suited for a lower-dollar side hustle. It seems difficult to run a full-time business from your Lili account with these limitations.

Beyond the transaction limits, there are a few other quality of life cons. Lili doesn’t yet have any integration capabilities with accounting software programs like Quickbooks or Xero or with shopping platforms like Shopify. If you’re not using those packages, this isn’t a big deal.

Finally, there are also a handful of less-than-stellar reviews on Trustpilot. It’s a very small sample size rating it 2.6 stars out of five. Most reviewers complained primarily about Lili’s lack of good customer service. 

Who Is Lili For?

Lili is for freelancers and gig workers/side hustlers who want to have a free way to help manage their business income and expenses better. 

However, it’s important that you can live within Lili’s $6,000 per month deposit and $1,000 per month external transfer limits. If you can’t, you’ll want to bank elsewhere. 

Also, remember that Lili doesn’t yet have integrations with accounting software programs like Xero or e-commerce platforms like Shopify.

If using these types of programs or platforms is an essential part of your business, you’ll want to take a look at the Lili alternatives mentioned below.  

For the reasons mentioned above, Lili is probably best suited to freelancers and side hustlers who don’t make a huge amount of cash. 

And for freelancers who can live without integrations. 

Lili Alternatives

There are a couple of banks that operate a lot like Lili and can work well for freelancers and other small business owners. Here are some of my favorite Lili alternatives. 

Novo

Novo is another fintech operation. Deposit accounts through Novo are FDIC insured through Middlesex Federal Savings.

The Novo Business Banking account has attractive features such as:  

  • $0 monthly fees
  • $0 minimum balance requirement
  • $50 minimum opening deposit
  • ATM fees: Any ATM fees are refunded; no limit

Novo, like Lili, doesn’t charge any monthly fees. And Novo does have transaction limits, however they are much more generous than what Lili offers. 

  • Check deposit limit: $20,000 per day/$40,000 per month
  • POS limit: $5,000/25 transactions per day
  • ATM withdrawal limit: $1,000

The Novo website does say that you can call customer service to get these limits increased to meet your business needs. 

Novo also has reserve accounts you can create where you can put aside money for taxes and emergencies. 

One thing Novo has that Lili doesn’t is integrations. With Novo you can integrate with Stripe, Square, Xero, Shopify, and more. This feature is nice for businesses using those services.

Learn more about Novo

NorthOne

NorthOne is a fintech company that provides FDIC insured deposit accounts via their partnership with LendingClub Bank.

Like Lili, NorthOne operates digitally with no bank branch locations. Here’s a summary of NorthOne’s business account features.

  • $10 monthly fee
  • $0 minimum balance requirement
  • $50 minimum opening deposit requirement
  • No ATM fees at over 300,000 in-network ATMs

Here is information on NorthOne’s transaction limits.

  • Unlimited debit card transactions
  • ATM withdrawal limit: Up to 5 transaction per day for a total of $2,000
  • Mobile check deposits through Ingo, which charges fees

NorthOne offers sub accounts for your business checking account that can be used to deposit money for taxes, emergencies, and more. 

And NorthOne has integrations with a number of accounting software programs and e-commerce platforms. Integrations include:

  • Quickbooks
  • Xero
  • FreshBooks
  • Stripe
  • Square
  • Shopify
  • Etsy

And others. The long list of integrations you have access to with NorthOne can be a deciding factor when choosing a business checking account. 

See our article on the best business banks for more information on Lili alternatives. 

Learn more about NorthOne

Summary

While Lili has a lot of great features, the deposit and transfer limits may be a hindrance to a lot of freelancers. 

Freelancers who work their business as a main source of income will love a lot about Lili but will likely find the transfer limits frustrating. 

However, for the part-time side hustlers, Lili has a lot to offer. That being said, reviews would caution you not to use Lili’s customer service line if you don’t have to. 

Have you ever used Lili? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section. 

Lili.co

8.5

Overall

8.5/10

Strengths

  • No minimum balance, monthly fee
  • Include free Visa debit card
  • Real time notifications, savings buckets
  • Pro version available for more features

Weaknesses

  • Low deposit and withdrawal limits
  • No integration with Quickbooks, Xero

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About Laurie Blank

Laurie Blank is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of four. She’s psyched about teaching others how to manage their money in a way that aligns with their values and has been quoted in Bankrate.

She's a licensed Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Minnesota (also licensed in Wisconsin too) and has been freelance writing for over six years.

She shares powerful insights on her blog, Great Passive Income Ideas, that will show you how you can create passive income sources of your own.

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