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:
- ZenBusiness ($39 + State Fee)
- Incfile ($0 + State Fee)
- Northwest Registered Agent ($49 + State Fee)
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.
Is Incfile’s popularity appealing to you? Perhaps you’re intrigued by the lowest price available offered by ZenBusiness? Or maybe you’re looking for the best customer support as provided by Northwest? Let’s get to the bottom of what separates these three companies, and which one you should use for your LLC formation.
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 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?
Overview: ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Northwest
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.
ZenBusiness | $39
If you want to use the LLC service with some of the lowest overall prices available in the industry, look no further than ZenBusiness. They’re the only company we’ve ever heard of that provides LLC formation + such excellent features for just $39, as long as you pay your own state fee.
It’s an incredible bargain that doesn’t have any significant strings attached ― just keep in mind that they do have a their own upsells to work your way past.
Incfile | $0
Incfile has a handful of serious advantages that make them one of our top picks for LLC service, including their spectacular 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.
Northwest | $49
Northwest will form an LLC for $49 and provide a year of free registered agent service to every LLC formation customer.
While Northwest isn’t as streamlined a service as Incfile, and their website is a bit more old-fashioned, they have outstanding customer support, and they never attempt any upsells whatsoever. Northwest is the real deal.
Deep Dive: ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Northwest
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.
ZenBusiness | $39
On one hand, if you’re providing LLC formation service for just $39 like ZenBusiness does, we’re far more willing to put up with a little bit of B.S., aren’t you? On the other hand, 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 1,000 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 9am until 7pm ET every weekday, and 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.
Incfile | $0
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 Form An LLC
Other than ZenBusiness’ $39 offer, Incfile provides the lowest combined price point for LLC formation service and registered agent at $0, 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. While they don’t have the customized support of Northwest Registered Agent (more on this shortly…), they do provide reliable and consistent customer service.
Northwest | $49
With Northwest, minimal B.S. turns into zero B.S. in a big hurry. If you take a look at the manifesto on their website, you’ll find that cutting through the clutter is one of the top priorities of Northwest Registered Agent.
Beyond the year of registered agent service they include with each formation package, Northwest’s $149 Deluxe package bundles in an EIN and a custom operating agreement, but their $199 Premium package only adds same-day processing, which probably isn’t worth the extra $50 for most of our readers.
Northwest Registered Agent has been in business since 1998, and they’ve helped form around two million businesses over the years, which is an impressive figure. In addition, they say on their site that they work with 200+ new business entities each day.
There aren’t a ton of customer reviews for Northwest available online, as we were only able to track down 113 of them (91 on Google, 22 on BirdEye). Still, the quality of that feedback is very high, as a full 95 of those 113 reviews are perfect five-star scores. Their customers seem especially pleased with the support they receive from Northwest’s representatives.
Cost To Form An LLC
Northwest has a similar base price point offered by ZenBusiness for LLC formation service — just $10 more. Their $149 Deluxe package also presents customers with plenty of value, as long as you really need the extra features included. They also have a competitive $125 annual price point for registered agent service.
It honestly does not get much easier to form a business than it is with Northwest. Their order form is extremely simple and user-friendly. In fact, we’re not even sure where it would be possible to encounter any confusion when ordering LLC formation service from them. They also don’t have any third-party “deals” or upsell attempts, so they really hit a home run in this area.
There’s no exaggeration when we say Northwest has the best customer support in the business formation service industry. They’re highly knowledgeable and responsive, so customer support is a huge advantage for Northwest.
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 is your best bet.
- If you want the combination of customer support and simple packages, Northwest Registered Agent will satisfy your needs.
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. At the end of the day, we would probably choose ZenBusiness due to their unbeatable pricing, but we wouldn’t blame you at all if you prefer one of these other options.
Other Notable 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.
- 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 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.
How Do These Three Services Compare Directly?
If you’d like to compare these affordable LLC services side-by-side and two at a time, here are our comparative reviews:
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 all three of these companies provide invaluable assistance with both of them. Let’s take a quick look at how these services price these features:
- ZenBusiness: $119 for registered agent, $75 for annual reports
- Incfile: $119 for registered agent, $88 for annual reports
- Northwest: $125 for registered agent, $100 for annual reports
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 Northwest, 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 have 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.