NB. Some links in this article are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission from purchases made off them.
At some point our passive income sites can hopefully become successful enough where we need to start thinking about setting up a business account to handle the earnings for tax purposes. What options are available for bloggers and affiliates who make money online?
Setting up a business bank account to deposit your online earnings into is totally possible in most countries in the world. However, many business bank accounts do charge monthly fees to keep them open so it is a good idea to shop around for the best rates.
However, as earnings from blogging and affiliate marketing grow, it is important to set up some kind of business account to put these earnings into, primarily for tax reporting purposes. You do not want to be sending everything to your personal account and then have to sift back through it adding up all your earnings so you can file your taxes properly.
Another thing to consider is that if you receive international traffic, you may also receive international commissions in different currencies and will need an account to pay these commissions into. Business accounts can offer these facilities but can charge hefty fees, so it is important to weigh up different options.
We will give a brief overview of the process of setting up business bank accounts in the USA and UK and also offer up TransferWise & Payoneer as potentially cheaper alternatives for those dealing with commissions in different currencies.
One of the first things you need to decide when working for yourself online is whether you want to trade as just you (sole trader/proprietorship) or set up an actual company to receive payments (Limited company or partnership).
For most bloggers starting out this is not something to worry about and it is fine to stay as a sole trader. Once you are earning significant income from your sites. perhaps over $/£1000 per month, then it might be time to start thinking about setting up a limited company but you don’t need to be bothered about this at first.
The Income School guys cover the legal side of blogging, including bank accounts and limited companies.
Setting up a Business Account in the USA
For US Residents, opening up a business bank account is normally fairly straightforward, as long as you have the correct paperwork. It cannot usually be done online though; you will need to visit the branch in person to complete the process. You will usually need the following documents:
- Proof of ID
- Proof of Address
- Articles of incorporation – not needed for sole proprietors; more complex for LLCs, partnerships etc.
- EIN – Employer Identification Number for tax purposes
- Proof of business address – often the same as your personal address for small proprietor bloggers.
The major banks in America all offer business accounts, all of them with their own terms and conditions and fees. It is a good idea to shop around the read the fine print carefully to make sure you understand all the charges that are involved.
See also Wise’s own fantastic guide on setting up a business account in the United States.
Setting Up a Business Account in the UK
The process is much the same for UK bloggers; you will need to visit the branch of a bank with the same kind of paperwork to set up a business account:
- Proof of ID
- Proof of Address – recent bank statement, utility bill, or council tax statement
- Business address, if different from personal address
- Contact details
- Companies House registration number (for limited companies and partnerships only, not sole traders)
- In some cases, may need to show proof of personal financial situation and clean credit history.
Again the big banks all offer business accounts, with differing terms and conditions and fee structures. Most of them in the UK have some kind of introductory offer where you will get fee free banking for 12-18 months, subject to certain conditions. Again it is a good idea to shop around for the best deals:
Check out Wise’s own excellent guide to opening a UK business account for more information.
Obviously these options are are for setting up a local bank account in your local country of residence and in your local currency only.
Of course many of us who work online realize it’s not always that simple, as we are often receiving online earnings from different countries and in different currencies than the one we actually reside in.
A classic example is my case, where I’m based in the UK, yet most of my affiliate earnings come in US dollars from American based companies. How do I quickly and easily get paid these earnings and transfer them into my home currency and home bank account without getting stung by high bank fees?
This is where a multi-currency online account to spend and receive in different currencies can come in handy, and there are options for this. Let’s cover these in the next few sections below.
Multi Currency Option #1 – Wise
For people that don’t want to go through all the hassle of setting up a more traditional business account with a bank, or don’t like the fees and charges that are involved, then a Wise Borderless Business Account is a terrific alternative option (Wise were formerly known as TransferWise).
It is a no nonsense, easy option to set up an account to receive domestic and international affiliate revenue. It can act as your business account and most crucially for people working online, you can send and receive money in dozens of different currencies.
It is definitely an option worth considering for more tech savvy people and is a definite step away from “old world” banking, where they just deal with one currency only and charge hefty fees for converting from other currencies.
Some major benefits of the Wise Borderless Business Account versus more traditional business accounts are:
- Applying for the account is quick and easy and can be done totally online with no bank branch visits
- Account verification is usually very easy and can often be done by depositing money into one of your accounts. Sometimes you may need to upload a form of ID but the process is easy and hassle free.
- The account is free to set up and there are no monthly fees.
- You will get a debit card to spend in different currencies as and when you need.
- In most countries you will be able to open up bank accounts in four currencies – US Dollar, British Pound, Euro and Australian Dollars – to receive international payments.
- Converting between currencies is easy and carries a very small, flat fee, much better than other banks and companies. Their exchange rates are also very good.
- You can also send the money in your business accounts back to your own personal bank account for a very small fee.
The Wise Borderless Account is available to residents of most countries. A list of countries and states where you cannot get an account can be found here. Most noticeably the service is not available to residents of Nevada. All other US states are fine.
Click here to visit the Wise Borderless Account page. Be sure to sign up for their Business Account and not their Personal one if you plan to use it primarily for business earnings.
Multi Currency Option #2 – Payoneer
Another multi currency option that works in the same way as Wise is Payoneer – another excellent free banking service that allows you to spend and receive money in multiple currencies.
Again the idea here is that Payoneer provides you with a US dollar (or other currency) bank account to receive your commissions into, from which you can then transfer your money into your own local bank account if desired. They act as a middle man between you and the person paying the affiliate commission.
The sign up process is usually very simple and quick as with Wise, with the service again being available in most countries (even more countries than Wise is). The setup steps are detailed in the video just below.
Signing up for Payoneer
Payoneer also offers more currency options as of the time of this writing. Here are the currencies currently available to receive online earnings in:
- US Dollar
- British Pound
- Japanese Yen
- Canadian Dollars (not available on Wise as of time of writing)
- Australian Dollars
- Mexican Peso
- Support hopefully coming soon for Mexican Peso & Brazilian Real.
- Chinese Yuan/Renminbi can also be received but only spent in China as regular Chinese Yuan. China still has quite strict financial capital controls on their currency.
- All coversions back into your home currency carry a small but clearly stated conversion fee; much better than you’ll often get with traditional banks.
As with Wise, once accepted for each receiving account, you’ll get local detail for each currency, so it’s as if you had a local bank account in that country.
This can work for receiving earnings from Amazon affiliates or other affiliate programs, as well as earnings from Ezoic or other ad networks. Paypal is not supported at the moment.
In terms of comparing the two, there really isn’t a lot to choose between them. Both offer a relatively easy and quick way to set up receiving accounts in multiple currencies for free, and are available to residents of most countries.
As of writing, Payoneer is available in slightly more countries and has slightly more currency options (Canadian dollar & Yuan also available) than Wise, with more currencies in the pipeline.
Wise in my opinion has a slightly slicker and cleaner interface. Other than that I really can’t see much between them using both of them, and it’s certainly a good idea to sign up for both since they carry no charge for setting up and maintaining the account.
Both offer excellent low fees for converting between currencies, and transfers are normally sent very quickly (again Wise has perhaps a very slight edge, but not much in it at all).
Some affiliate or ad networks (eg. Ezoic) are set up by default to only use Payoneer for bank transfers. Support for Wise will no doubt grow as it is also an excellent service.
See the video below comparing the two multi currency services.
Click here to sign up for the Payoneer service.