For a business owner, keeping track of finances can be a burden among all the other tasks and responsibilities competing each day. Because of the complexities of business tax and finance, these elements can take a lot of time and pull you away from other elements of the business.
Some banks are dedicated specifically to startups, with services designed to cater to their needs – Relay is one player in this space. Relay has created an integrated banking and accounting experience, aiming to streamline the financial management of small businesses.
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What is Relay?
Relay is a digital banking platform created specifically to serve small businesses. The platform has received a variety of funding upticks since mid-2021, allowing it to grow quickly and offer multiple services and integrations. The company has FDIC insurance through a partnership with Thread Bank.
Relay is meant for growing businesses with financial teams in place, allowing anywhere from 1 to 20 individual checking accounts to be opened for free. Within these accounts, team members and bookkeepers can be given specific permissions to carry out their roles.
The platform consists primarily of two services:
- Business checking, including up to 20 checking accounts and 50 Visa debit cards.
- Accounts payable allow all bills to be paid within the platform and automation of approval rules.
By offering both checking accounts and accounts payable capabilities, businesses can manage their end-to-end finances on one platform. Integrations with accounting software support this goal, with everything happening online through the Relay tool.
Who is Relay best for?
Relay was specifically designed for small business owners and those running a growing business to help them take their financial management to the next level. But the tool assumes a business has some financial team to manage some of its tools. A small company with no financial management may need help managing multiple elements or not need the full integration offered by Relay.
There is no requirement that businesses have an LLC or corporation status to open a checking account with Relay, nor does the account holder need to be a U.S. citizen. Citizens of over 200 countries can work with Relay. However, the business does need to operate within the United States to be eligible. While sole proprietors and single-member LLCs are supported, they may have slightly different account limits – such as being issued only 10 individual accounts rather than 20.
There is no single industry or region that is best served by Relay. Because it is a digital platform, there are no physical locations, so anyone in the United States is able to work with Relay.
The online banking platform is unable to support any business in the following areas: provisioning and exchange of cryptocurrency, sale of firearms or weapons, credit repair, privately owned ATMs, money services, unlawful internet gambling, and cannabis sales.
Pros and cons of Relay
While Relay offers many great features for startups, other elements of the digital platform will only work for some.
- No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements
- No overdraft fees, unlimited transactions, and free incoming wire transfers.
- Up to 20 business checking accounts for each business and 50 Visa debit cards that can be virtual or physical.
- Can set transaction and withdrawal limits on each Visa debit card.
- Teams can be given permission to perform certain actions without login.
- Easy-to-use mobile app and web interface to manage money.
- Existing integrations with a variety of accounting and back-office software.
- Can act as a repository for payee information.
- Automated billing can be set up, including automated workflow processes.
- Free accounts have many features available.
- Limited phone support – weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM ET.
- Deposited checks have a long hold time of up to 7 business days.
- No savings accounts that offer interest or rewards.
- Does not support Zelle.
Notable features of Relay
Bank users can choose to use the bank simply as a venue for typical business bank accounts, like a checking account or savings account, or integrate with accounts payable processes and other accounting software. Many of the tool’s features are designed to meet the same standards as other banks, but certain features stand out as specific value for Relay customers.
User permissions for financial teams
Rather than sharing bank information between individuals, members of your financial team can be given access to Relay accounts and given special permissions and roles. For example, a certain team member can be allowed to pay bills or manage bookkeeping tasks without being granted your login information.
This feature can be especially useful for larger businesses, where the owner needs more time to monitor every transaction. Financial teams can be empowered to carry out their responsibilities with no security concerns.
Visa debit card issuing and tracking
Each Relay checking account includes 50 Visa debit cards that can automatically be issued across a business. These cards can be either virtual or physical, depending on the needs of the business. Once the cards are issued, each one can have spending tracked or can be set up with daily transaction limits and withdrawal limits.
Visa debit cards have no foreign transaction fees and can be used to withdraw/deposit funds at any AllPoint+ ATM for no fee.
While Relay is able to integrate with a variety of popular tools easily. This allows a business’s bank and accounting software to work directly together. Both Quickbooks and Xero, popular bookkeeping tools, can be integrated seamlessly with transaction data from Relay.
Other back-office tools can be connected to Relay for further data management. These include:
- Gusto, for payroll and team management
- Plaid, for connection to other apps like Expensify
- Envestnet Yodlee, for a connection to tools like Freshbooks and Paypal
These integrations allow for transaction data to be pulled in from Relay, as well as for workflows and bill payments to be set up.
Bill pay automation
Customers who use the paid Relay Pro option will be able to automate the process of paying vendors. Bills can be imported automatically from tools like Quickbooks to be paid in batches. Multi-step approval workflows can also be implemented. Bills can be paid using same-day ACH as well as free domestic and international wires, including built-in currency exchange.
Relay also allows for all payees to be organized in one place, either through your database management or a securely uploaded W-9. This data, along with updated data from integrated data points, ensures that bills are not missed.
Multiple checking accounts
When a company signs up with Relay, it can open as many as 20 individual checking accounts. Each account has its own unique account number, which gives businesses the flexibility to organize finances in the best way possible. Many customers have separate accounts for payroll, taxes, suppliers, savings, and other purposes.
While each account is tied to a Visa debit card, paper checks can be requested as needed.
Mobile banking tools
As a digital-only platform, all Relay tools and capabilities are managed through the website and mobile application. Users can deposit checks, schedule payments, issue cards, manage access, and request checks, all from the mobile app on either iOS or Android.
Simple dashboards and views allow business owners to see all transactions, payee information, and other necessary information to run their financial services.
Low fee structure
Relay is notable for a low-fee model. With the pro account, domestic and international wire transfers and same-day ACH transfers, including outgoing wires, are free. Free accounts do have fees, but they are as low as $5 or $10 per transfer. There is also no monthly fee or withdrawal fee at 32,000 supporting AllPointATMS.
How much does Relay cost?
Relay offers a robust free plan that includes up to 20 checking accounts and 50 cards with no monthly or overdraft fees.
For those who want more features, Relay Pro is the single paid tier offered by the company. The price for Pro is $30 per month per business. Pro includes options such as:
- Faster, same-day ACH
- Free outgoing wires
- Auto-import of bills from Quickbooks Online and Xero
- Dashboard that allows review, approval, and payment of bills
- Single or multi-step approval rules for bill payment
- Consolidation of payments to the same vendor into one transaction
- $0 fees on all domestic and international wire transfers
How is Relay’s customer support?
Relay boasts 24/7 support, with a fully-staffed in-house team of customer experience representatives Most customers report the support to be helpful and friendly when it is used. There’s one email for support questions: [email protected].
Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 AM ET to 5 PM ET, which can be limited.
In addition to live customer service, Relay also hosts an online support center that is well-built and contains answers to many common questions.
Check out our roundup of the Best Small Business Checking Accounts
No, today, Relay is only a checking platform. The company has no saving or lending branch, but they encourage customers to share needs with their team through their support email and team.
All Relay checking accounts are insured for up to $250,000. Relay partners with an FDIC-insured bank to store deposits and ensure the safety of all funds. Visa debit cards include a zero-liability policy, so users will never be held responsible for unauthorized charges. Relay also makes it simple to freeze and unfreeze cards from the mobile app, which is protected by two-factor authentication.
Paper checks can be deposited into a Relay account using the mobile application. Paper checks can also be requested and mailed to you if needed. Relay Financial will soon allow checks to be written via the web or mobile application and sent virtually with no paper check needed.
Relay Visa debit cards can be used to withdraw or deposit cash at any ATM. If the ATM is an AllPoint+ ATM, there is no fee charged. Relay never charges a fee for these transactions, but the owners of non-AllPoint ATMs likely will charge a small fee for use. Relay also offers free cash deposits at all Allpoint+ ATMs throughout the US.
The core banking features offered by Relay are free, including having no minimum balance and very few fees. Outgoing wires will have fees of $5 (domestic) and $10 (international) plus an exchange rate fee. These fees are waived in Relay Pro, the paid model, which starts at $30 per month per business.
Relay Pro users can integrate with other software for accurate reporting and to streamline financial business processes. Quickbooks Online and Xero are available for bookkeeping integration. Other back-office tools are also able to be used, including Gusto, Plaid, and Yodlee.
During the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Friday, Relay offers live phone support to customers. Outside of this time period, there is 24/7 email support that aims to reply the same day as a request is received. Customers can also explore an extensive online support center for resources.