Are you looking to form a limited liability company, corporation, or nonprofit but are stuck trying to settle on the best formation service to use?
Choosing the right service can be difficult. That’s why we’ve evaluated over a dozen of the top services, looking at metrics in a number of categories, such as pricing and turnaround time, in order to give you a clear idea of each services’ strengths and weaknesses.
Here are our results:
Incfile vs BizFilings: Verdict
Both Incfile’s and BizFilings’ LLC formation services achieved only middling scores, and both companies’ scores were significantly dragged down by reviews.
In Incfile’s case, we found quite a few negative reviews and poor averages on key review sites. In BizFilings’ case, we found a complete lack of a review history at all. We’re not exactly sure which is worse… but neither is good.
Incfile won in our overall side-by-side comparison, though, because it did sport a better website and more reasonable prices on most of its services. If both companies’ stated turnaround times were accurate, Incfile would have a definite edge on BizFilings in that category too – but the company’s poor reviews give us a lot of pause here.
|Ease of Use||5/5||4/5|
|Help & Support||3/5||3/5|
Interested in learning more about our highly-rated formation companies? Head over to our reviews of ZenBusiness, Northwest Registered Agents, and Active Filings. We consider these to be the best LLC formation services – all three scored far better in our rankings than both Incfile and BizFilings.
Still considering whether forming an LLC is the right move for your new business? Or, maybe you just have some big questions about the process as a whole? If that’s the case, you may want to check out our How to Start an LLC article.
If you want to learn more about how we came to our conclusions in our Incfile vs BizFillings formation service provider match-up, though, read on!
IncFile vs BizFilings: Pricing
Most new business owners take price into careful consideration when forming their LLC or corporation. And with good reason – when you’re just starting out, every dollar counts.
Although filing your Articles of Organization with a given state’s Secretary of State office is a fairly standardized procedure, there’s actually a huge range in prices for formation services and packages.
And not all bundles are created equal, which can make apples-to-apples price comparisons difficult.
Some formation companies offer bare-bones business formation packages that do the very minimum to ensure your business is legally recognized by the state.
Others have packages that include lots of additional services, such as banking resolution drafting, registered agent service, the provision of legal document templates, annual report services, and more.
Many of these add-ons can be really helpful…while others can be totally unnecessary.
When comparing formation companies, then, we look at both price and value. We ask, in effect, who is giving you the most bang for your buck? (Knowing the importance of price and value, we also give them a 2x weighting in our rankings.)
Here’s a quick comparison of the costs of a “basic” and “full” formation, as well as a year’s worth of registered agent service, with both Incfile and BizFilings.
These listed prices don’t include state fees, which formation companies usually will charge you for and then forward directly to the state. Formation and incorporation filing fees usually fall somewhere in the $50 to $150 range.
|Registered Agent||$119 per year||$299 per year|
What’s the difference between a basic and a full formation? Here’s how we define each:
Basic Formation: Covers the essential business entity creation. Includes – at minimum – filing of Articles of Organization and the drafting of an Operating Agreement for an LLC or corporate bylaws for a corporation.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a registered agent service, which most LLC owners will find essential.
The first thing you may notice about Incfile’s pricing is that its basic and full formation costs are the same. This is quite unusual. So what’s going on here?
Incfile has a bare-bones formation package – their Silver Package – which is actually free. With the Silver plan, you get your Articles of Organization filed, and you also get your first year of Incfile’s registered agent service for free. Only a handful of formation providers have truly free plans, so this is a big plus.
However, to get your Operating Agreement drafting through Incfile (that’s a service we consider essential to even basic formations), you’ll have to upgrade to the Gold package, which is $149. Since you also get a free year of registered agent service with the Gold package, this package also meets our “full” formation requirements.
Incfile also offers a “Platinum Package” – but it’s far too expensive and doesn’t add many crucial services.
Overall, compared to the competition, Incfile is expensive for basic formations but reasonable for full formations.
With regards to add-on services, Incfile’s prices are about in line with the industry average. They charge $99 for a business license search, $49 for a Certificate of Good standing filing, and $99 for a DBA (Doing Business As) filing.
For the cheapest possible “basic” formation with BizFilings, you can purchase their Basic formation package ($99) and tack on Operating Agreement drafting for an additional fee ($39). Your total, then, will be $138.
With that Basic package, you’ll also get a few add-on services, including access to BizComply (an online compliance management tool), a business name search, and six months’ worth of BizFilings’ registered agent service.
Most formation companies throw in a full year’s worth of free registered agent service with most of their packages, so seeing just six months here is a bit disappointing. Plus, the cost of BizFilings’ registered agent service is quite high at $199 annually – most service providers charge somewhere in the $100 – $150 per year range.
To come up with our full formation price for BizFilings, we took the price of a basic formation and added half a year’s worth of registered agent service (since only six months are free), giving us a grand total of $237.
Both BizFilings’ full and basic formation prices are not very competitive. And their add-on service prices range from average to above-average.
Pricing Winner: Incfile
Incfile’s pricing is not that great, but it’s noticeably better than BizFilings. The cost of a basic formation with each company is about the same, but Incfile offers a truly free bare-bones formation package, while BizFilings’ cheapest package will still run you $99.
Incfile’s registered agent service, at $119 per year, is also far more affordable than BizFilings’ $199 per year service. That price difference can really add up too, since you’ll need a registered agent service year after year, and in multiple states, if your business expands.
The prices of Incfile’s add-on services also tended to be on par with, or slightly cheaper than, BizFilings’.
Incfile vs BizFilings: Turnaround time
Whether you’re starting a new LLC, a c-corporation, or even a nonprofit, you probably are eager to get up and running as quickly as possible.
Formalizing your business with the state is a necessary first step that opens the door to all sorts of other important tasks, like creating a business bank account and hiring employees.
Online formation providers should, ideally, provide you with service that’s as quick as possible without compromising on quality. The whole point of filing online in the first place is to save time and effort.
If error-ridden applications or slow processing times add weeks to your formation turnaround time, then what’s the point of paying for an online provider at all?
Since turnaround time is usually quite important to new small business owners, we give it a 2x weighting in our rankings.
Here’s how Incfile and BizFilings did on some key turnaround time metrics:
|Paid internal rush option||No||Yes|
|Overall turnaround time||Fast||Slow|
While Incfile doesn’t guarantee same-day filing of formation documents, they do claim that nearly all formation packages are filed within one business day. While not perfect, that’s pretty solid – we consider same-day and one-day filings to be the gold standards for turnaround times.
Incfile also does not offer a paid internal expediting option. We see this is a plus – internal expediting has nothing to do with the state in which you’re filing. It just means a company will prioritize your application over other customers.
We don’t think you should have to pay an extra fee just to receive a reasonable processing time.
Incfile also provides a solid online tool for figuring out how long your overall application should take (it’s 2-3 weeks for most states – and most of that is due to individual states’ processing times).
BizFilings doesn’t offer any specifics on how quickly they process formations and turn documents over to the relevant state authorities. Their overall processing time estimates, though, would have us believe that their internal process is slow.
That’s because BizFilings says most customers should expect a four to six week turnaround time for LLC formations and incorporations.
That’s pretty darn slow.
BizFilings also offers an internal expediting option, which cuts that time down to one to two weeks. But you have to pay an additional $60 for this service, and this on top of BizFilings’ already expensive packages.
Turnaround time winner: BizFilings
If all of Incfile’s turnaround time claims were accurate, they would handily take the category over BizFilings.
However, in spite of their superior (stated) turnaround times, we docked Incfile some points due to a lot of their reviews mentioning delayed or error-ridden formation documents (you can see our full “Customer Satisfaction” comparison below).
Incfile vs BizFilings: Customer satisfaction
You can’t always trust everything you read, and that’s especially true of sales copy on websites. Just because a formation company makes bold, positive claims doesn’t mean they’ll actually back it up with bold, positive service.
That’s why customer reviews are so important.
We can’t form a new LLC, corporation, or nonprofit with every company we review. So we rely on customer reviews to give us an idea of the real experiences people have in dealing with a given company.
Of course, we like to see high review averages, but we also like to see large volumes of reviews. We’re far more likely to put trust in a group of ten thousand reviews than a group of ten.
We also try to look out for consistencies and patterns in comments, whether they’re positive or negative.
Here are some quick stats on both Incfile’s and BizFilings’ review records.
|Stand-out mentions||“Bad customer service”|
We were very disappointed to see that Incfile sported very poor averages on large review sites such as Trustpilot and Yelp. Indeed, a full 44% of Incfile reviewers on Trustpilot gave the company one star.
Incfile claims to have great turnaround times, but customer reviews would have you believe otherwise. We saw a lot of reviews mentioning filings that were delayed due to errors or miscommunications. A single error in an official document can set business owners back weeks – so we see any mentions of errors as a huge problem.
Many reviewers also seemed generally dissatisfied with Incfile’s customer service, although we came across several positive comments too.
Review-wise, BizFilings gives us very little to go off of.
We checked with Trustpilot, Yelp, SiteJabber, and the BBB, among many others (Incfile is registered with the Better Business Bureau… but at BizFilings didn’t have verified reviews with any of them.
On Google, the company does sport a few reviews – 17 at the time of this writing, with an excellent 4.8 out of 5 average across them. But that’s not enough for us to form a confident judgment, especially as Google reviews tend to be the least reliable.
Customer satisfaction winner: Neither
We almost never do this – but we just wouldn’t feel right calling either company a “winner” in this case.
Incfile’s review averages are quite poor. And while BizFilings does have a handful of solid reviews on Google, they have no reviews on any other sites, which gives us some pause.
We believe potential customers, then, should view the claims of both companies with a particularly skeptical eye (at least until their review averages or volumes improve).
Incfile vs BizFilings: Ease of use
As is the case with just about any other online transaction or service, we expect online formations to be quick, easy, and intuitive.
Time spent figuring out which services a company offers, and at what price, is time wasted. That’s why we like to see well-written and easily navigable websites with service prices clearly listed.
The ordering process should be straightforward and should not include any surprise fees or upselling.
And, as forming a business and deciding on add-on services can be a complicated – if not overwhelming – process, we like to see thorough, helpful articles that explain when and why you may need a given service.
Do I need a federal tax ID? What’s the difference between an S-corp and a C corp? How are different entities affected by business taxes? Are there any other business formation services I may need due to specific state requirements?
A solid website should provide you with the answers to key questions like these.
Here’s how both Incfile and BizFilings did on some major ease of use points:
|Clarity of instructions and prices||Great||Average|
Incfile scored well, across the board, on ease of use. The company boasts an excellent website that is user-friendly and very easy to navigate.
Service prices are clearly listed on formation packages and add-on services. There are some great articles on topics that are highly relevant to new business owners, such as deciding on the right business entity.
Each individual service page has a detailed explanation of the service as well as a series of related FAQs.
To top it off, Incfile’s customer dashboard (which allows you to keep track of filings and key due dates) is also very well built.
We were less impressed with BizFilings’ website. This in large part because BizFilings doesn’t exactly have its own website – rather, the BizFilings service is a subsection of the Wolters Kluwer website.
Wolters Kluwer is an information services company based in The Netherlands, and many links on the BizFilings page will take you to pages for services performed by them, rather than BizFilings.
BizFilings does list prices clearly along with its add-on services, but those services are a bit trickier to find. Their accompanying articles aren’t as in-depth or as well-written, either. Plus, we ran into several 404 errors while trying to browse various service pages.
Ease of use winner: Incfile
With a website that is better, in just about every way, than BizFilings’, Incfile is the clear winner here.
IncFile’s website is intuitive, includes excellent context info, and sports a super easy ordering process. In short, it hits every point we like to see.
Incfile vs BizFilings: Help & Support
In an ideal world, you’d never need to contact a formation company’s customer support line. For a lot of people, that’s exactly the case – most formations and incorporations are simple and go through without a hitch.
But, if something does go wrong, it’s important to have a helpful and easily accessible team of support staff at the ready.
Plus, some formation processes can be more complex than others. While context articles are great, new business owners may still have questions about which services they’ll need and which business type(s) are a good fit for them.
That’s yet another reason why having real humans – experts, ideally – to talk to is so important.
All in all, then, there are several factors we consider when looking at ease of use. Here are a few of the main questions we ask ourselves:
- Is the order process smooth and intuitive?
- Is there plenty of information available on the various services provided, so customers understand both what they need and what they’re buying?
- Are prices clearly displayed, or is a lot of digging needed to find them?
Below, we’ve listed some of the help and support features that Incfile and BizFilings do and do not offer:
|Live Chat Support||Yes||Yes|
|Extended business hours||No||No|
|Website help section||Yes||No|
Incfile has an easily accessible phone number and web chat feature, although their email address is much harder to find (they do have a web contact form you can fill out – but we prefer seeing a help or info email listed directly).
Support from Incfile is available from 9 am – 6 pm, CST, from Monday through Friday. While we appreciate seeing the (slightly) extended weekday contact window, we always prefer seeing some weekend contact hours too. Startup owners tend to be focused on their own work during the week.
Incfile impressed us with their help section, which included a search function, FAQs, contact info, and links to some of their most useful articles.
On the other hand, we can’t consider Incfile’s help and support without also taking into account the company’s poor review track record. Many reviews we read mentioned support staff being very hard to reach.
Like Incfile, BizFilings offers an easily accessible phone number and a webchat feature but does not clearly list their email address. You’ll have to fill out a form to send them an email.
BizFilings’ support lines are open from 8 am through 7 pm, Central Time, on weekdays. That’s an extra two hours per day, compared to Incfile – but, unfortunately, they also do not offer any weekend support.
BizFilings also didn’t really have a dedicated help page. Instead, various FAQs, contact info, and service explanations are spread across many pages, which, as we mentioned above in the “Ease of Use” section, are not very navigable.
Help and support winner: Incfile
Neither company wowed us in this category. Incfile has a solid help page and pretty typical support options – but they are also marred by a poor support track record, evidenced by many dozens of negative reviews.
Still, at least Incfile has a review record at all, and we did see some reviews praising their support staff. BizFilings has no reviews, average support options, and a more confusing website that lacks a concentrated help section.
Do We Recommend Incfile or BizFilings?
No, we do not.
Incfile has decent prices and a well-built website, but they’re marred by poor reviews. And even if all Incfile’s claims could be taken at face value, there are more affordable and reliable options out there.
BizFilings is expensive, has slow turnaround times, and completely lacks an online review presence. Several other service providers outperform BizFilings – by a lot – on all three of these key metrics.