LLC formation services are the modern entrepreneur’s best friend. After all, filing paperwork is annoying (if you don’t mind paperwork, then this guide probably isn’t for you), so an LLC formation service can remove some of that headache for you.
But which formation service should you use? There are dozens of options available to choose from. To put your money to good use, you’ll want to choose the perfect one.
Generally speaking, a good formation service does two things. First, they help you form your business, offering advice along the way. Second, they’ll help you maintain your new company by reminding you of due dates, state requirements, and more. Other important factors to consider are the service’s track record, their cost, and how easy it is to use their service.
In this review, we’ll give you our in-depth opinion of Incorporate.com’s LLC formation service.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the top 3 incorporation services to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes an LLC formation service “good”?
Ultimately, the “best LLC formation website” boils down to a matter of opinion. Which one is best for you depends on what you want from a service. But that said, there are certain qualities that make one formation service better than another. Whenever we evaluate an LLC formation service, here are some questions we like to ask:
- Does this service give me a good value for what I’m paying?
- Does this company have a proven record of supplying high-quality service?
- What is the quality of this company’s customer service?
- How easy is it to use this service?
- How quickly will my business be formed?
A good LLC formation service will receive high marks in these categories. We’ll consider the answers to these questions in our in-depth review below.
What is Incorporate.com?
Incorporate.com is an LLC formation service dedicated to helping small businesses get started. And when we say “dedicated,” we do mean dedicated—they’ve been in business since 1899. This makes them the oldest business service we’ve ever reviewed.
During that time, they’ve formed more than 750,000 businesses. They say they “love corporations more than anything else in the world,” so it’s no surprise they’ve lasted so long.
How does their service work?
If you choose to use Incorporate.com, you can expect a relatively straightforward 4-step process. (The hardest part is navigating through their upsells, which we’ll cover later). Here’s a quick flyby of those steps:
- Select your state and business type. In this case, you’ll want an LLC.
- Choose your package and add-ons. These can include an EIN, a corporate kit, an operating agreement, a business license compliance package, and more.
- Provide contact information for the company. Usually, each business will have one person to serve as their primary point of contact.
- Fill in other company information. For example, you’ll need to give the name of your new company, who will serve as your registered agent, and more.
Overall, it’s a fairly straightforward process. Once you have all your information submitted, Incorporate.com will file your formation documents on your behalf.
Is Incorporate.com a good option?
Incorporate.com is at the bottom of our list of business formation services and we honestly don’t recommend them.
Sure, they’ve been in business for over 100 years and they do an okay job with their customer service and processing times. But they overcharge for their packages, and some of their pricing borders on misleading, too.
What are their customers saying?
For a company that’s operated for over 100 years, Incorporate.com does not have many reviews on external websites. You can find lots of positive quotes on their website, but we don’t place a lot of stock in those.
On external reviews, Incorporate.com falls short. They really only have one positive review that we could find (out of 14 total). That review said that the registered agent service was incredibly helpful.
But there are lots of negatives to consider. Here are some of the things customers didn’t like about Incorporate.com:
- Hidden fees for services
- Nearly impossible to subscribe from services
We agree that Incorporate.com is overpriced, and it’s hard to know exactly what they’re charging you until you’ve already paid the fees. We’ll dig into this in more detail in our in-depth review below.
LegalZoom vs. Incorporate.com: What’s the difference?
On the surface, LegalZoom and Incorporate.com seem to accomplish the same purpose: helping you form your LLC. And while that’s true, the difference between them goes much deeper than that. We’ll give you our full analysis in just a moment, but here are a few key differences:
- LegalZoom has an impressive customer volume of more than 3.6 million customers. Over a million of those customers are businesses, giving them one of the most impressive client lists in the industry.
- Incorporate.com may not have as many customers as LegalZoom, but they are much older. They’re the oldest company in the industry, actually—their experience dates all the way back to 1899.
Both LegalZoom and Incorporate.com can help you create an LLC online. But to give you a better idea of which is right for you, let’s jump into the specifics below.
Who is their service best for?
We do not recommend Incorporate.com. There are much more affordable options that have much better features.
Incorporate.com: Our in-depth review
Cost to form an LLC
For a business, money is always a factor. That goes for new and established businesses alike. That’s why you should always factor in cost when considering an LLC formation service. Incorporate.com is no exception.
Maybe we should just say 1/5 stars. Their final prices are astronomical compared to their competitors.
One feature we always consider when judging cost is registered agent service. A lot of companies include six months to a year of registered agent service for free when you buy a formation package. Incorporate.com…doesn’t. In fact, they charge $235 per year for the service. That’s double what most of their competitors charge.
And that’s on top of their package fees. Those are pretty expensive, too. But before we break down their features, there’s one more thing to consider: some of the features they advertise as “included” aren’t actually included unless you add registered agent service, too. This includes their compliance dashboard and their annual report service (which actually costs $150 a year on top of the package price).
If you find that irritating, we have to agree. It’s one of the primary complaints in their customer reviews.
Last, let’s talk about their packages:
Starter: Incorporate.com’s entry-level package costs $99. That’s double what some competitors charge. Unfortunately, you don’t get double the features; this package includes filing of your formation documents and online access to those documents.
The Essentials: Incorporate.com says the surface price for this package is $249, but there’s a catch: you have to pay for the “included features” of registered agent service and annual report service. These cost $235 and $150 respectively. So, the actual cost is $634. And for that price, you get the Starter package plus an EIN, a business kit and seal, access to their compliance dashboard, and annual report service.
The Works: This package is like the above: you have to get registered agent service and annual report service to truly use this package. So that drives the sticker price of $349 to $734 total. You’ll get all of The Essentials, a custom operating agreement, and a business license research program which helps you get the licenses and permits required by your state.
Incorporate.com’s order process
Have you ever tried to order something online, only to get lost in a never-ending series of cluttered web pages? The harder it is to order a service, the less likely you are to use it. Streamlined ordering is an important component of any good formation service.
On the surface, Incorporate.com seems fairly simple to use. Their business startup wizard does make it easier to choose what business type is right for you. And they also link FAQs about the entity type to help you decide.
You can also check out their pricing page to decide which package is right for you (just remember that their compliance package and annual report services aren’t actually included in the listed price).
Despite all their little “helps” along the way, Incorporate.com loses a lot of order process points because of their upsells: there are seven upsells along the way. Add to that their odd pricing and you get a pretty annoying order process.
Customer Support Friendliness
Since online formation services are entirely virtual, they can sometimes feel a bit impersonal. But good customer support—complete with friendly, prompt customer service representatives—brings a personal touch to your experience.
Customer service is one of the few categories that we don’t really have complaints about. Incorporate.com matches the industry standard by offering phone, email, and chat support. We tested all three types, and we were pleased with them.
The chat feature got us a near-instantaneous response, and the answer we got was helpful and friendly. For email, we received an answer in just over 24 hours. That’s a little slow, but they did give us a lot of detail in that response, so we weren’t too bothered.
We had a pretty similar response with their phone service. The representative we spoke with was friendly and professional. And although they didn’t give us a ton of detail in the response, they did ask if we needed any other assistance. All in all, they won’t win a “best-in-show” for customer service, but they get the job done well.
LLC Formation Speed
Technically speaking, you can file your own LLC paperwork yourself. But you’re a busy, budding entrepreneur, so you may not have the time to spare. Hiring a formation service like Incorporate.com can save you time—provided they’re fast enough. Poor processing times could leave you wishing you’d formed on your own instead.
Some services commit to filing your documents the same day or by the next business day. Incorporate.com doesn’t make that commitment: instead, they promise to file your documents as soon as possible. So as long as you provide them with all the information they need, they’ll file as quickly as they can.
If you ever change your mind about a product you’ve purchased, you want to be able to return it, right? Unfortunately, with any business formation service, a full refund is impossible. That’s because part of the money goes to the state as their incorporation fee, and states do not refund those fees.
But occasionally, a customer changes their mind about a package they purchased. Perhaps they no longer want to subscribe to the registered agent service, or the company completes the process incorrectly. Each company has their own policy for refunds, and LegalZoom and Incorporate.com are no exception. We’ll summarize those policies here.
The refund policy at Incorporate.com is incredibly vague. For example, here’s the wording they include on their website: “If you cancel your order before we have submitted it to a federal, state, or local office, Incorporate.com will refund the total amount paid for such order less a service fee. If you cancel your order after we have already submitted it, we will use our discretion to determine what portion, if any, we will refund.” So do they ever give refunds? How large is the service fee? We’re not quite sure.
Assistance with ongoing compliance
Starting your business takes a lot of time and effort, but so does maintaining it! Each state is a little different; some require annual reports, some require you to renew your license each year, and more. Keeping track of these requirements can be confusing.
That’s why a lot of services help you with ongoing compliance. But just how much help you’ll get depends on what service you choose.
Like LegalZoom, Incorporate.com provides registered agent services and an annual report service. But there’s a big downside: these services are expensive, and they’re not included in any of their formation packages. Bought separately, the registered agent service and annual report service cost $235 and $150 respectively.