You want to start a Limited Liability Company. You have your vision, your business name, and the motivation to make your dream a reality. But you want some help getting started, so you’ve decided to hire a business formation service.
But that leads to a big decision: which service should you use? There are a lot of options available, but they’re not created equal. Two popular services are Northwest and Swyft Filings.
In this guide, we’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of these two services. Then you can pick the right service for you.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the top 3 options (ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Northwest) to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes a formation service “good?”
Ultimately, the “best” formation service 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 comparison below.
Northwest vs. Swyft Filings: What’s the difference?
On the surface, Northwest and Swyft Filings seem to accomplish the same purpose: helping you form your LLC. And while that’s true, the difference between them goes deeper than that. We’ll give you our full analysis in just a moment, but here are a few key differences:
- Northwest has the best pricing in the entire industry. You won’t find better price points anywhere else.
- Swyft Filings truly lives up to their name for how fast they process your order. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a faster service.
Both Northwest and Swyft Filings can help you start an LLC online. We honestly like both, but we do have a strong preference for Northwest. But to give you a better idea of which is right for you, let’s jump in to the specifics.
Pricing and packages
Whenever you make a purchase, you want to know that what you’re buying is truly worth the cost. The same goes for Northwest and Swyft Filings. Each service has decent price points. For example, they both have an entry-level package of $49. But the nuts and bolts of their packages are different. Let’s take a look at them:
- Basic: Northwest’s entry-level package rings in at a very competitive $49. For that price, they’ll file your formation documents for you. They also throw in a year of free registered agent service, but theirs costs $125 after the first year.
- Deluxe: The Deluxe package costs $149. For that fee, you’ll get everything in Basic, plus a Federal Tax ID and an operating agreement.
- Premium: This top-tier package from Northwest makes a jump to $199. That extra $50 gets you expedited processing.
- Basic: The simplest package from Swyft Filings also costs $49, and it’s pretty straightforward. They’ll file your business paperwork for you, and you’ll also be added to a company alerts system. The main drawback is that they don’t include registered agent service like Northwest does.
- Standard: The next package adds $100 for a total price of $149. It includes a banking resolution, a custom operating agreement, and an outline for customized meeting minutes.
- Premium: The highest-level package from Swyft costs $299, but it doesn’t really add much to the Standard package. You get instant digital delivery of your documents, a digital business kit, and an upgrade to FedEx shipping. The digital kit includes a digital seal, custom stock certificates, and a business ledger.
Swyft Filings has fair pricing options, but we don’t think they really compete with Northwest. After all, Northwest includes a year of free registered agent service with all their packages. To get the same benefit from Swyft Filings, you’d have to shell out $149 per year. When it comes right down to it, Swyft’s pricing is okay, but you get a lot of bang for your buck with Northwest.
How easy it is to use the service
Any business service is supposed to make your life easier, right? That’s why we always consider how easy it is to use a service when we evaluate them. After all, why would you bother paying someone to file your paperwork if it’s harder to hire them than it is to do it yourself?
We tested both services, and they’re both relatively straightforward. Here’s the run-down of the two:
- Choosing a package: With Northwest, all you have to do to get started is pick between their Basic, Deluxe, and Premium packages.
- Up-sells: With Northwest, there aren’t any upsells! Their order form is as simple as it gets.
- Order time: There are really only three steps to ordering an LLC formation package with Northwest—choose your package, enter your business details, and pay for your order. That’s all there is to it, so it takes very little time.
- Choosing a package: Once you designate the business type and state where you want to form, you’ll be directed to choose your package. It’s pretty simple.
- Up-sells: Swyft Filings does offer a few up-sells and third-party offers. Thankfully, they aren’t in your face, and it’s easy to navigate past them if you don’t want them.
- Order time: All told, Swyft Filings is relatively easy to use. When we tested their application form, it took us about ten to fifteen minutes to finish the form.
Both Northwest and Swyft Filings are quite easy to use. In fact, you’ll only spend about ten to fifteen minutes on your order with either service. That said, Swyft Filings has a few up-sells and third-party offers. For us, those third-party offers are the biggest drawback. If not for those extras, this category would be too close to call. But we have to give the win to Northwest.
Buying a product is one thing. But getting support for that product is just as important. After all, if a company doesn’t stand behind its product, why should you? But when a company helps you throughout the entire process—choosing a product, purchasing it, and keeping that product up-to-date—you’ll be happier with your purchase.
The same goes for business formation services. If they help you pick the package that’s right for you, assist you with the paperwork, answer your questions, and make it clear that they want to help you more than make money off you, you’ll keep using them. You might even recommend them to your friends.
In our opinion, both Swyft Filings and Northwest have good customer support teams, but we do have a strong preference. Here’s a summary of our thoughts on the customer service of both services:
- Types of support: Northwest offers support via phone and email.
- Availability: Northwest doesn’t post the exact hours for their customer support department on their website. However, when we tested their support, we received an email within 24 hours. We didn’t wait that long for our phone call, though (thankfully).
- Quality of support: Northwest fully delivers on their promise to provide next-level support. They’ll be your contact whenever you have questions, so you’ll get advice from someone who already knows your business situation, not a phone grunt.
- Types of support: Swyft Filings offers support via phone, email, and chat.
- Availability: You can contact Swyft Filings Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Quality of support: Swyft Filings truly lives up to their name when it comes to how fast they respond. When we tested their support, we received responses almost instantly, regardless of how we contacted them. Their answers were adequate, too. We didn’t get the in-depth detail that we got from Northwest, but we did get the answers we needed.
We appreciate the fact that Swyft Filings always gives you prompt, accessible support. Their responses don’t go into as much detail as some competitors, but they get the job done. We honestly prefer the personalization you get with Northwest, though. This category goes to Northwest.
Company track record
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with using a new company to form your business. But working with an established, trusted brand gives you confidence. You can trust a company that has already served thousands of happy customers.
Swyft Filings and Northwest both have excellent track records, but each service shows that track record in slightly different ways. Here’s how the two stack up:
- Years in business: Northwest is one of the oldest formation services; they joined the market in 1998.
- Businesses formed: Northwest boasts more than 2 million businesses formed.
- Customer reviews: For as well-established as Northwest is, they have very surprisingly few reviews online. They are mostly positive, though.
- Years in business: Swyft Filings joined the business formation scene in 2012, so they’re fairly new.
- Businesses formed: Swyft Filings may not be very old, but they have formed more than 10,000 businesses (and they’ve served at least 20,000 customers in other areas).
- Customer reviews: Swyft Filings has more than 20,000 reviews online, and a majority of them are either 4 or 5 stars.
This category is too tough to call: Swyft Filings and Northwest come up tied. On one hand, Northwest has more than a decade of experience on Swyft—and the number of businesses formed to go with it. But Swyft Filings blows Northwest away with how many online reviews they have. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide which you value more: longevity or customer reviews.
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.
Northwest offers two separate services for ongoing compliance assistance. One is their registered agent service, which costs $125 annually after your first year. You can also subscribe to their annual report filing service, which helps you meet all your yearly requirements.
There are two primary services for online business compliance: registered agent service and annual report service. Swyft Filings charges a bit more for these services than Northwest. You’ll pay $99 for their annual report service and $149 for registered agent service. Both will help keep your business up-to-date.
So, which service do we recommend?
Unlike some of our comparison reviews, this one doesn’t even come close. Northwest is the clear winner.
To be fair, Swyft Filings is a good company in their own right. It’s just hard to compete against Northwest—they’re one of our favorite LLC services online. Northwest won our most important category: pricing. And since they have no obvious weaknesses, it’s easy to award them the overall win.