3 Best Cheap and FREE LLC Services For Tight Budgets
There are dozens of companies that can help you setup an LLC online.
While it’s nice to have options if you’re looking for assistance, it’s also difficult to determine which of the many options is right for you.
For this article, we brainstormed about what we like to see regarding pricing and features, and made sure to maintain a focus on only the most reputable and trustworthy LLC services. We wanted to keep this guide relatively brief, so we decided to discuss only the top three companies in this industry:
- Inc Authority
We will not only discuss each company’s unique advantages and disadvantages but also outline which is the best LLC service depending on your specific circumstances.
Not every LLC needs the exact same set of features from their formation service, so we’ll talk about which features appeal to different types of business setups. Obviously, pricing is important to everyone, so we’ll pay especially close attention to who provides the most affordable service.
Do the free formation services offered by Incfile and Inc Authority appeal to you? Perhaps you’re intrigued by the very well-rounded services offered by ZenBusiness? Let’s get to the bottom of what separates these three companies, and which one you should use for your LLC formation.
Rocket Tip: If you want a great deal, we recommend ZenBusiness. It has excellent pricing, features and company values.
Overview: ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Inc Authority
Overall, each of these companies has their own strengths and weaknesses, but they all provide affordable LLC formation service packages. Let’s begin with a brief overview of what we learned about these three companies under the light of our philosophy points, then we’ll get into a deep dive.
If you want to use the LLC service with some of the lowest overall prices available in the industry, look no further than ZenBusiness. While the other two services in this guide will form your business free of charge (except for your state fee), ZenBusiness is a well-rounded service provider with prices low enough to be well worth considering.
The $39 package offered by ZenBusiness is a solid bargain that doesn’t have any significant strings attached ― just keep in mind that they do have their own upsells to work your way past.
Incfile has a handful of serious advantages that make them one of our top picks for LLC service, including their spectacular free pricing and overall value.
They’re also a pretty big name in the industry, and they have a ton of positive online customer feedback available for you to peruse. In short, there’s a lot to like about Incfile.
#3: Inc Authority
Just like Incfile, Inc Authority offers a business formation package that is entirely free of service fees — all you have to do is pay your state fee. In another close similarity with Incfile (and ZenBusiness, for that matter), Inc Authority also provides a full year of registered agent service with any business formation.
In addition, Inc Authority has thousands of positive customer reviews online and hardly any negative feedback to be found. They’re another great choice for LLC service.
Deep Dive: ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Inc Authority
Next, we’ll take a look at all of the reasons these companies either impress us or let us down, based on an in-depth analysis of our core philosophies.
By examining these criteria, it became clear to us that the differences between these three services aren’t always cut and dried, but can in fact include some nuance as well. That said, let’s examine what each of these companies has to offer for LLC formation service clients.
So many companies in this industry launch a seemingly never-ending assault of upsell attempts and third-party offers that it comes as a big relief whenever we find a company that doesn’t do this.
ZenBusiness does sprinkle in a few upsells, and they also have a few features that are provided by third parties. Still, their website is user-friendly, their explanations are easy to understand, and the entire process is basically seamless.
The ZenBusiness Starter package ($39 for first year, $119 after that) provides the essentials of LLC formation, along with registered agent service, an operating agreement, and a risk-free assessment with one of their in-house CPAs.
The $149/year Pro plan adds an EIN, along with a banking resolution, ongoing annual report service, and compliance assistance. They also have a Premium plan for $249/year, but it mostly adds third-party features, like a business website and domain name.
ZenBusiness is one of the newest additions to this industry, as they just opened in 2015. They have already helped form thousands of business entities in their few years though, and they state on their website that they want to form at least one million businesses by 2024.
With nearly 4,000 reviews to look through, ZenBusiness has an impressive collection of positive customer feedback. Almost every single one of their reviews is highly positive, as their clients are consistently thrilled about the value they receive from ZenBusiness.
Cost To Form An LLC
Beyond the obvious value of the $39 Starter package, we feel that their Pro plan has a strong price point too. The only exception in this area is the somewhat overpriced Premium package, but that’s easy enough to overlook when the rest of their pricing model is so affordable.
It’s not particularly difficult or time-consuming to place an order for LLC formation service with ZenBusiness, as their ordering process is logically presented. Once you’ve selected your formation package, you just need to provide them with some basic information about yourself and your business.
The only negative in this area is that they do have some upsells and third-party issues to work your way through.
ZenBusiness provides support via phone, email, or the chat application on their website. Their representatives are available from 9 am until 9 pm ET every weekday and from 11 am to 8 pm ET on Sundays. They typically respond to messages quite quickly, as they say that they respond to emails within one business day.
In our experience, their support agents are helpful and friendly, and they’ve been able answer all of our tough questions.
We have always appreciated how straightforward Incfile is regarding the majority of their products and services. The only exception we have in this area is that they do have three partnerships with third-party companies on their order form.
Specifically, their “setup business bank account” offer requires sharing your information with Bank of America, while their “business website” offer is actually provided by a company called Snapweb. Finally, they also offer a business tax consultation session with an unnamed “certified tax professional.”
The inclusion of one year of registered agent service is a great start when discussing Incfile’s features, but it’s not the end of the story. Incfile pledges to process all orders by the next business day, and their upper-tier packages include additional features that you may find valuable.
For example, their Gold package ($149 + state fee) adds an EIN, a banking resolution, a sample operating agreement, S corporation tax application (if applicable), and a custom binder. The Platinum plan ($299 + state fee) further adds a library of business contract templates, a premium version of the binder from the Gold plan, and expedited state processing.
Incfile opened for business in 2004, and they’ve helped form over 250,000 business entities since then. They share on their website that they experienced corporate growth exceeding 200% in the last year, which indicates that their popularity continues to rise.
Incfile is one of the most impressive companies in the LLC formation business when it comes to their customer feedback. Not only do they have thousands of reviews available online, but almost every single one of them is a perfect five-star rating. In nearly all cases, their clients seem to be pleased with their decision to use Incfile.
Cost To Start An LLC
As we’ve mentioned, Incfile is one of only two companies that offers LLC formation service for free, and their $149 Gold package is also fairly priced considering the features it adds. Overall, Incfile’s pricing is definitely an advantage over the vast majority of their competitors.
Forming a limited liability company with Incfile is both efficient and simple. You start by selecting which of their three formation packages you want to build your order from, and if you have any questions about the included features, Incfile has links embedded throughout the ordering process that explain each feature.
There are a few third-party “deals” offered along the way, but on the other hand Incfile steers clear of annoying upsells.
Incfile’s support team is available via phone or email, and we’ve used each of these options many times ourselves. Their response times are very fast, regardless of whether you call or email them, and their well-trained employees are almost always able to provide us with strong answers to our questions.
#3: Inc Authority
Some B.S. Involved
For the most part, Inc Authority steers clear of B.S., but one area that bothers us a bit is their refund policy. While this obviously doesn’t really matter if you’re using their free package to form your LLC, if you order paid services from them, you might be upset to find out that they never provide refunds under any circumstances.
Beyond the year of registered agent service they include with each formation package, Inc Authority will also help you apply for S corporation tax status, if applicable. Beyond that, they do offer three premium packages, but seeing as they range in price from $399 to $799 (plus state fee), they’re all enormously expensive for what you get. We only recommend Inc Authority’s free plan.
Inc Authority has formed more than 145,000 business entities since they opened their doors back in 1989. They’re not one of the industry giants, but they do have more than enough experience and expertise to get the job done right.
Customer feedback is a major strength for Inc Authority. We found more than 4,000 reviews of their services, and we were impressed to see that nearly all of those reviews are perfect scores. Their clients frequently comment about how valuable Inc Authority’s free formation package is, and also compliment their ease of use.
Cost To Set Up An LLC
As we already mentioned, Inc Authority’s free package only requires you to pay your state fee, while their $399-799 premium packages are all way too expensive to warrant purchasing.
It honestly does not get much easier to form a business than it is with Inc Authority. They make it quite simple to navigate through the order form and submit your information. We will note, however, that Inc Authority does have several third-party partnership offers and upsell attempts.
Inc Authority’s customer service is perfectly acceptable, although there isn’t anything particularly special about it. Their short hours of availability are a bit of an issue for busy entrepreneurs, as they don’t offer any support before 11 am ET on weekdays. They do stay open until 8 pm ET, but it would be nice to have the option to contact them in the morning.
Rocket Tip: If you want a great deal, we recommend ZenBusiness. It has excellent pricing, features and company values.
Deciding to form a limited liability company is one of the most important decisions you can make when getting started. However, the more difficult decision might be choosing which of the dozens of LLC formation services you want to use for assistance.
As you can see, many of these companies have plenty of advantages, and depending on your business needs, your preferences may vary.
Still, for most of our readers, the following advice holds true:
- For anyone looking for the best LLC service online, with the perfect balance of prices and features — ZenBusiness is the top choice.
- If you’re looking for the cheapest LLC service, Incfile or Inc Authority are your best bet.
To be clear, all three of these companies are worthy of your trust, and they’re all capable of forming your LLC while removing much of the stress and hassle that usually comes with the business formation process.
How We Compared These LLC Services
No matter where you’re starting an LLC, we think there are some crucial factors that you should take into consideration. Here at LLC Formation Rocket, we like to use companies that fit with our core philosophy points, which include:
First off, we’ll get to the ever-important aspect of cost. These services all have their own pricing models (like ZenBusiness and Incfile) that can either provide more value, or undermine the entire offering.
We evaluate not just the price points provided by each company, but also how those prices reflect the company’s ability to provide valuable features. This is always the most important item in our eyes, as everything else really doesn’t matter much if the company can’t provide good value.
In this industry, there are several companies that provide misleading information or try to strongarm you into purchasing features that few LLCs ever actually need. We prefer to use companies that cut through the misdirection to provide you with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
There are many welcome features that can pack a considerable amount of additional value into LLC formation service packages.
For example, it’s nice to receive a year of registered agent service, and many services will also include an LLC operating agreement to outline the operational guidelines of your business, or a federal tax ID number (EIN) which can help you pay taxes and open business bank accounts.
We place a great deal of importance on the ability of each company to provide quality customer support. Different companies have different methods of providing customer service, and we typically like to see a service with strong support via phone and email, at a minimum.
Are their representatives friendly and helpful? Do they respond quickly to our queries? These are a couple of the most important questions we ask in this regard.
We’ll take a look at every service’s ordering process by using it to form an LLC ourselves. Simply put, some of these companies make the process of forming an LLC very easy, with streamlined order forms and easily understood instructions.
On the other hand, some of them incorporate lots of upsells, or try to get your permission to sell your personal data to their affiliate companies. Sometimes, you’ll even encounter misleading advertising. Obviously, these are aspects we prefer to avoid.
Company History & Overview
How many businesses have they formed in the past? How long have they been open? Are they a trustworthy service? These are some of the crucial questions we ask when it comes to a company’s track record.
Everyone loves to read positive client feedback before making an important purchase, and we scour the internet for as many reviews as we can find for each company.
We especially focus on reviews located on third-party websites, rather than the collections of feedback found on most services’ own websites. Do they receive strong customer feedback, or more of a mixed bag? Is there a large volume of reviews, or a smaller selection?
Other Notable LLC Formation Services
We mentioned at the beginning of this guide that there are dozens of companies in the current marketplace offering LLC formation service. In this section, we would like to simply give shoutouts to several other companies that fell short of our top three, but still have enough positive attributes to be worth using.
- Northwest Registered Agent ― Back when their pricing started at $49, Northwest used to be one of our top three choices for LLC formation service. They have the best customer support team in the industry, and their expert representatives will walk you through each step of the formation process. They also include a year of registered agent service with any formation package. However, they now charge $225, which was enough to bump them from our top three.
- LegalZoom ― If you’re looking for the biggest name in the industry, LegalZoom unquestionably has the most brand power of any company providing LLC formation service. However, that name recognition comes at a price, as you’ll need to pay much more money overall for your formation than you will with any of the other choices in this guide. That said, they launch a seemingly never-ending series of upsells.
- Rocket Lawyer ― Rocket Lawyer is an enormously popular service, as they have a larger client volume than any other competing company. They offer an intriguing legal services subscription plan for $39.99 per month that includes legal documents, consults with attorneys, free or discounted LLC formation service, and more.
- Harvard Business Services ― Are you forming an LLC in Delaware? Harvard Business Services only operates in this state, which gives them some advantages. For example, they can form a Delaware business faster than anyone else we’re aware of, and they have the lowest registered agent fee in this entire industry at just $50 per year.
- Swyft Filings ― Swyft Filings is an example of a company that doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, but also doesn’t do enough to set themselves apart from the competition. Most of their LLC formation service offerings look like they’re basically the same as Incfile, but without the free year of registered agent that Incfile provides. We will mention that they have spectacular customer feedback, with thousands of positive reviews available online.
- MyCorporation ― If you’re seeking annual report service with your LLC formation, MyCorporation is one of the very few companies that offers these services bundled together. Furthermore, MyCorporation’s managed annual reports are among the best we’ve seen in this industry.
- Direct Incorporation ― We doubt Direct Incorporation will win over many of our readers with their basic LLC formation package, as it’s rather expensive compared to the competition. However, their upper-tier plans include some unique features that you won’t find elsewhere, like copyright protection, logo design, comprehensive website design service, and more.
- MyCompanyWorks ― MyCompanyWorks is a bit like Swyft Filings in that they don’t have any truly unique advantages, but they do have a well-rounded service with few faults. The biggest point in their favor is the fact that their thousands of customer reviews are nearly all positive, and we always love to see the combination of quality and quantity when it comes to client feedback.
- BizFilings ― Do you need publication service? If you’re forming an LLC in Arizona, Nebraska, or New York, you will need to publish proof of your business formation in a reputable local newspaper. BizFilings not only offers to take care of this step for you (which most competitors don’t), they also have an excellent price point of just $100 for this service.
- Incorporate.com ― Longevity is the name of the game for Incorporate.com. While their pricing is high, and they even participate in some moderately confusing advertising when it comes to their LLC service, Incorporate.com is the only company in this industry that’s been forming businesses since the 19th century ― they formed way back in 1899.
Why Shouldn’t I Just Form My Own Limited Liability Company?
If you would rather handle your own formation process, you have the right to do so. Forming your own LLC can certainly save you a few dollars compared to using an online incorporation service, and it’s obviously far cheaper than hiring a business attorney to form your LLC. However, considering how inexpensive online LLC formations can be, we think it’s worth every penny it costs, because they save a ton of time and hassle, and provide a high degree of peace of mind.
Can These Companies Help Me Keep My LLC in Good Standing?
Absolutely. Throughout this guide, we’ve discussed how these companies provide registered agent service, as well as annual report service. These are the two most important elements of ongoing compliance, in our opinion, and two of these companies provide invaluable assistance with both of them. Let’s take a quick look at how these services price these features:
- ZenBusiness: $99 for registered agent, $75 for annual reports
- Incfile: $119 for registered agent, $88 for annual reports
- Inc Authority: $99 for registered agent, annual reports not available
How Quickly Can These Services Form My New LLC?
Each of these companies has their own set of turnaround time estimates, and for Incfile and Inc Authority, they vary by state. For example, in some states, your formation can be completed as quickly as a few days, but other states require several weeks. However, ZenBusiness has different methods for estimating processing speeds, which are based on which level of service you purchase from them. The more expensive the package, the faster they’ll process your order.
What Is a “State Fee” and How Much Does It Cost?
There is a high degree of variance when it comes to state fees in this industry. The state fee is the cost of filing your formation documents with the state ― this cost is the same whether you form your own LLC, or if you hire a formation service to handle it for you. Depending on your state, this fee could be as low as $50, or it could cost you several hundred dollars.
What If I Need to Incorporate My Business? Can These Same Services Help Me Form a Corporation or Nonprofit?
All three of these companies also provide incorporation service. If you need to form a corporation or nonprofit, we suggest checking out our sister site, Incorporation Rocket. There, you can find all the information you need to know in order to be able to select the right online incorporation service for you.