This Lili review will focus on essential details that make this banking fintech ideal for freelancers. Needless to say, how it helps make costs low for work from home workers.
According to the Freelancing in America Survey, which was conducted by one of the most popular freelancing platforms, Upwork together with the Freelancers Union, as of 2019, 35% of workers in the United States are now freelancing. The total number of freelancers in the country increased, and at that time, was already 57 million.
The rising number of freelancers is not surprising, though, given the fact that many employers are hiring freelance workers. Needless to say, online platforms make it easier for people to find freelance gigs.
Also, freelance work entices a lot of people because most of the freelancing gigs allow you to work anytime, and anywhere. It’s very convenient and cheaper.
Although technically speaking, freelance work allows you to save extra cash because you do not spend money on transportation and food (you don’t buy from restaurants or canteen, rather, cook your own meals), overhead costs particularly on electricity, internet connection, and maintenance of the equipment you use for work has to be considered still.
Thus, most freelancers make sure to still manage to keep their costs low by making smart choices.
By the way, given the nature of a freelance job, the income is usually inconsistent as it depends on the project or work you do – unless of course, you work on a full-time freelance job.
Now, one of the things that could help you save is choosing the right financial platform. Fortunately, there are financial institutions that focus on the need for freelancers, and Lili is one of them.
Lili is a free digital checking account that was specifically designed to cater to the needs of freelancers as well as small business owners.
In the next few sections, we are going to do a review on Lili. We are going to look into the most important aspects of this digital banking platform, and see if it is indeed the right financial tool for freelancers.
In particular, this Lili review will focus on proving answers to the following very important questions:
- What is Lili?
- Who is Lili best for?
- What are the products offered by Lili?
- How to do banking with Lili?
- Is Lili safe?
- What to like about Lili?
- What not to like about Lili?
WHAT IS LILI?
Knowing what the bank or a financial platform is all about is important for you to be able to gain confidence and trust in the institution. Having that is key to a long-lasting relationship, and you know, being satisfied with your chosen banking platform.
So, before we even talk about the more technical stuff, let us talk about what Lili is all about first.
As mentioned earlier, Lili is a free digital checking account that was particularly designed to cater to the needs of freelancers and small business owners.
Based in New York City, Lili was established in November 2018 by Lilac Bar David and Liran Zelkha.
Lili believes that freelancers are redefining work, thus, they, in return are redesigning banking to help work from home workers thrive.
Lili’s mission statement is to “empower freelancers with tools and services designed to improve their work, their life, and their balance.“
Since its inception, Lili has already raised $25 million and has a variety of customers who do freelancing jobs — from artists and designers, chefs and caterers, to fitness instructors, writers, as well as video editors.
According to its founder, Bar David, Lili has seen exponential growth in demand in the past few months. She believed that the reason behind that is that more freelance workers are looking for banking solutions that fit them.
As mentioned, Lili is a free online banking solution, which means, account holders need not worry about monthly fees, ATM fees (as long as you use a partner ATM), overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, as well as minimum balance requirements.
Since Lili is a digital banking platform, you do all banking through the Lili mobile app. All accounts under Lili are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 through its partner bank, Choice Financial Group.
To know more about the Lili app, we recommend you check out this very informative video by Money at 30:
WHO IS LILI BEST FOR?
Lili is a digital banking solution that was specifically created for freelancers, and small business owners. So, obviously, these sectors will benefit from it the most.
Lili should be appealing to those freelancers and small business owners who want to maintain a digital checking account that is free from charges such as monthly fees, ATM fees (as long as you use a partner ATM), overdraft fees, and foreign transaction fees.
It will also appeal to those who want to stay away from maintaining a minimum balance requirement.
Additionally, Lili also appeals to those who are using their Social Security numbers for tax purposes, deposit below $6,000 in checks on a monthly basis; send less than $1,000 to external bank accounts on a monthly basis, as well as those who want unified tools to help them sort their expenses and save for taxes.
Of course, since it is a digital platform, it’s a great option for those who prefer online banking and does not mind not having a physical branch for in-person transactions.
WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS OFFERED BY LILI?
In the previous sections, we talked about what Lili is all about, and would benefit the most from it.
This time, in this part of our Lili review, we are going to look into what it has to offer.
As mentioned earlier, Lili is an online checking account, which means it does not offer other products but a checking account. The account, by the way, does not require a minimum balance or a minimum initial deposit.
Each Lili checking account comes with a Visa business debit card, which can be added to Apple Pay or other mobile wallets for ease of use.
Using the debit card, you can make purchases anywhere Visa is accepted, and you can also pull cash from your account through ATMs in the MoneyPass network. MoneyPass currently offers more than 32,000 ATMs across the country. Keep in mind though that ATM transactions made on ATMs outside the MoneyPass may result in a fee of $2.50. Needless to say, the out-of-network ATM provider may also charge a fee.
Unfortunately, unlike other online checking accounts, the Lili checking account does not earn interest.
However, it offers a lot of other interesting features like direct deposits of up to two days earlier, which is definitely something traditional banks do not offer. Lili also offers cash deposits through retailers (approximately 90,000 locations).
In addition, users can also connect their existing payment apps such as PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp, as well as other online platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to their Lili account to be able to receive payment directly into their bank account.
Lili app also allows you to do mobile check deposits, however, it requires at least $200 coming into your account per month to be able to enjoy this feature.
Another feature that will benefit freelancers the most is that Lili comes with reporting and tools that make it ideal for business budgeting.
Every time you use your Lili debit card, the transaction will appear in the app. By simply swiping either right or left, you get to categorize every expense as personal or business.
Lili offers reporting for expenses, taxes, as well as financial insights. All these are absolutely more than what is available in a typical checking account.
Beyond the reporting is that Lili also comes with a great tax-saving tool. It allows the user to automatically set money aside for taxes on every income received. Not only that, but you can also set aside an Emergency Bucket, which, obviously is allowing users to save money for emergencies with daily deposits of small amounts.
All of these features are available in the Lili mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS users.
HOW TO DO BANKING WITH LILI?
In this part of our Lili review, we are going to talk about how to actually bank with Lili.
Lili is an online checking account that is available for anyone for free.
To open an account, first of all, you have to download the Lili app. Once you have downloaded, you can immediately open an account in as fast as three minutes!
The account application process starts by entering your email address. You will then be asked to provide and verify your mobile phone number, which will also be used for the two-factor authentication.
Furthermore, similar to other banks, you will also be asked to provide your other personal information like your name, address, birth date, and Social Security number. Once done, you will have to agree to the terms and conditions.
Immediately after opening an account, you get to track the status of your Lili business debit card through the embossing, shipping, as well as activation process. The Lili business debit card should arrive at you within ten business days.
Once the card is with you, you can activate it in the app, and then, set your PIN to keep it safe. By the way, you can freeze and unfreeze your card through the app in case something untoward happens.
Your card may also be added to Apple Pay or other mobile wallets for easy use.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Now, to fund your account, there are a few options available.
The first is through Plaid. Plaid allows you to choose from a long list of institutions, and then log in to an account, and make a transfer. This option is a bit slow, but not outrageously long.
The second option is by setting up a direct deposit. Customers can use a provided form that comes with their Lili account and routing numbers that can be emailed using the “Send” button. What’s nice about this is that funds can be available up to two days early.
Third, you can fund your account through the Instant Debit Transfer option. All you need is to choose a transfer amount and enter your debit card details to make a fund transfer with zero clearance time. However, the downside of it is that you can only use this option once every month, and more importantly, a maximum of three times per account.
The fourth option is through mobile check deposit, however, as mentioned earlier you can only use this option if you are receiving at least $200 per month. This would be a great option if you receive at least that amount on a regular basis. Otherwise, you can’t access this feature.
Lastly, you can fund your account through cash deposits. To do a cash deposit, all you have to do is visit one of 90,000 participating locations like 7-Eleven, Walmart, Dollar Tree, CVS, Walgreens, and a lot more. For this option, though, it is important to take note that it comes with a service fee that is less than $4.95. This is not charged by Lili, though, but the retailers themselves.
Also, there is a limit for this type of transaction. Users are only allowed to add up to $1,000 per 24-hour period, and a maximum of $9,000 per month.
Now, unlike other checking accounts, the card that comes with it can also be used to withdraw cash apart from using it to purchase stuff. You may withdraw cash from over 32,000 ATMs under the MoneyPass network across the country. You may also use the Lili app to find the nearest MoneyPass ATM.
Another interesting and helpful feature that Lili offers is the ability to generate payment requests, which is definitely important among freelancers. This is similar to invoices, it’s just that it has a look of its own.
Users can enter the amount a client owes, as well as the reason for that payment. Then, Lili will create a document that comes with your banking information. It can be sent to the client either through text or email.
Of course, we have to also talk about the fees. Lili does not charge for any of the following:
- Monthly maintenance
- Funds transfer
- Stop payment
- Returned item
- Deposit item returned
- Inactive account
However, it does charge a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee per transaction, as well as a $5.00 out-of-U.S. fee per transaction.
IS LILI SAFE?
Safety and security are one of the major concerns of customers when it comes to digital banking platforms.
So, in this Lili review, we are also going to look into how safe and secured the mobile banking platform is.
Similar to almost all mobile banking platforms out there, Lili follows standard safety and security measures such as two-factor authentication to ensure that all accounts are free from possible fraud or identity theft threats.
Lili uses bank-level encryption so you get to have peace of mind. Also, as mentioned earlier, you can also freeze and unfreeze your debit card anytime you want for added security. A real-time transaction notification is also provided to ensure you are updated on what’s happening with your account.
Also, all deposits are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 for every depositor through Choice Financial Group, Lili’s bank partner.
WHAT TO LIKE ABOUT LILI?
This section will provide you with a summary of the things that makes Lili worth it.
Some of the highlights of the Lili mobile banking app include:
- No Monthly and Other Fees – Lili is an almost no-fee mobile banking app. It does not charge monthly maintenance, overdraft, fund transfer, returned item, inactive account, stop payment, and deposit item returned fees.
- Direct Deposit (Up to Two Days Early) – With Lili, direct deposits are received up to two days early.
- Tax Planning Tools – Lili comes with tax planning tools, which could greatly help freelancers and small business owners. One of the tools includes being able to save for your taxes every time you receive payment.
- Business Debit Card – Lili checking account comes with a business debit card that can be used to make a purchase and to access cash through ATMs.
- Free ATM Use – Lili offers free ATM use to over 32,000 MonayPass ATM networks.
- Multiple Options for Deposits – Unlike other mobile checking accounts, Lili provides different ways to deposit funds into your account. It could be through Plaid, direct deposit, Instant Debit Transfer, mobile check deposit (at least $200 per month), or through cash deposits (through 90,000 participating locations).
- FDIC-Insured – All Lili deposits are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 for every depositor through its bank partner, Choice Financial Group.
WHAT NOT TO LIKE ABOUT LILI?
To complete our Lili review, below are some of the things to not like about Lili:
- Manageable through App Only – Although Lili does have a website, you can only open an account, and manage your account through the Lili app.
- No Interest or Rewards – Unlike other online checking accounts, Lili checking account does not earn interest or pay rewards.
- No Physical Branches – Lili is a mobile-only banking solution, which means there is no access to a physical branch location.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LILI REVIEW
Lili is a free digital checking account that was designed to cater to the needs of freelancers as well as small business owners. It comes with notable and helpful features that freelancers and small business owners would surely love.
Although it has its share of limitations like it does not earn interest nor pay rewards, overall, Lili is still a great mobile banking solution that freelancers, as well as small business owners, can benefit a lot from. Do you agree?