Lili is an online financial services company that brands itself as “banking designed for freelancers.” It offers a suite of mobile services that make it easy for customers to track their taxes, manage expenses, and administer the other unique financial demands that accompany self-employment.
This review looks at Lili’s features and offerings from a consumer perspective. It also offers insights into what actual freelancers, gig workers, and self-employed entrepreneurs think about the company’s services.
Pros and Cons of Lili
- No fees and do no minimum monthly balances
- No minimum deposit required to open an account
- Freelancers get unlimited monthly transactions
- Built-in tools for managing tax liabilities and business expenses
- Extensive ATM partnership network makes for easy deposits and withdrawals
- “Savings bucket” feature automatically sets money aside for covering taxes and other emergencies
- Freelancers who use direct-deposit payments can take advantage of early payments, making the money available 1-2 business days sooner than most banks
- Mobile-only platform
- Customers can only sign up with a Social Security Number, Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) are not eligible
- Lili only supports businesses structured as sole proprietorships
- Customers cannot send or receive wire transfers, and relatively low monthly limits apply to external bank transfers
- Off-network ATM withdrawal fees are high, as are deposit fees
What Does Lili Offer?
As of August 2021, Lili offers an online business checking account with mobile-only access. It is specifically designed for freelancers, self-employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and workers in the gig economy.
The checking account has some built-in features that make it function like a savings account. For example, you can open an optional “savings bucket” to help set money aside. Many people use the savings bucket in tandem with Lili’s tax tracking features to hold aside the money they need to cover their taxes.
Deposit and external transfer limits apply. For example, if you receive at least $200 in payments per month or transfer in at least that much, you can deposit up to six mobile checks each month with a maximum total value of no more than $6,000.
You can also link an external bank account to your Lili business account. However, you can transfer a maximum of $1,000 per month to the linked account.
What to Expect on the Lili Website
The Lili website offers a summary of information detailing the company’s suite of financial services. It is not possible to open a Lili account through its website. Instead, just download and install the Lili app, which will walk you through the account setup and activation process.
To complete this process, you must provide your SSN. The EIDs issued to LLCs and certain other business structures do not qualify.
One of Lili’s most appealing features is its low-cost business model. Business accounts carry no fees, and there are no minimum monthly balance or initial deposit requirements.
However, a few fees may apply, depending on how you use Lili’s services. The following fee schedule was reported in August 2021:
- Off-network ATM withdrawals cost $2.50 ($5.00 outside the United States)
- Deposits have a fee of up to $4.95, depending on the ATM network you use
- Your first debit card replacement is free, but additional ones will cost you $5 apiece
- If you use express mail services to access Lili account features, you will incur a cost of $20 per transaction
- If you wish to have hard copies of your deposited checks returned, you will pay $25 per check
One other thing to note is that Lili does not pay any interest on your account balance. However, most customers report that the savings they enjoy by banking with Lili more than offset whatever meager interest they might otherwise have earned.
What People Are Saying About Lili
As of August 2021, Lili does not have a presence on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) network. The service is fairly new, and this is typical of novel businesses, especially in the fintech industry.
As of August 2021, the Lili app has the following average ratings:
- Apple App Store: 4.7 out of 5 on 2,700+ reviews
- Google Play: 4.5 out of 5 on 3,000+ reviews
These scores indicate very strong levels of customer satisfaction with Lili’s banking services and the functionality of its mobile app.
The Bottom Line
Freelancers and gig-economy workers have unique financial services needs, and many traditional banks do not adequately meet them. Lili offers a purpose-built, low-cost alternative that makes it easy to track taxes, manage expenses, and administer payments.
Certain functionalities are somewhat limited, as Lili is only available as a mobile app and external transfers max out at $1,000 per month. However, Lili more than makes up for it with its complete suite of specialized financial management tools. It comes highly recommended to freelancers who need a banking provider that understands their unique needs.