Are you looking for the best online incorporation service, but you’re not sure which one is the right choice for you?
In this comparison, we’ll walk through the five main factors you need to consider when choosing between these services. Which one is the better overall option?
Key Comparison Points
- Compared pricing and features to determine overall value.
- Researched their track record.
- Assessed the quality of customer service.
- Tested their ordering process and service’s ease of use.
- Reviewed the turnaround times for incorporating online.
Overall Pricing and Value
LegalZoom: LegalZoom is one of the most popular LLC and incorporation services available, but we found that does not translate into better value for their customers. While LegalZoom does offer a $149 package to form a corporation and a $79 LLC package, the number of upsells can get overwhelming — and expensive. Furthermore, they do not include registered agent service with any of their formation packages, and it costs anywhere from $249-299 per year to add on.
BizFilings: Starting with their $99 Basic package, which includes six months of registered agent (which costs $220/year after that), their packages are all a bit on the expensive side compared to some competing formation services. The Standard and Complete packages vary in price by state, but generally don’t have enough valuable features to justify their price points.
Company Track Record & Experience
LegalZoom: LegalZoom was founded in 1999, and they’ve served 6+ million customers since then. While their focus isn’t solely on business formation services, they have helped form 2+ million businesses to date. If you look through LegalZoom customer reviews on any third-party site, you will almost always find lots of positive feedback. LegalZoom has thousands of mostly positive reviews available online, although they do have a handful of negative feedback mixed in.
BizFilings: BizFilings got their start in the online incorporation services industry in 1996. To date, BizFilings has more than 500,000 business filings under their belt. Oddly enough, we were only able to track down a total of 18 customer reviews on third-party review websites, which is such a small sample size that we’re not able to do any meaningful analysis on it.
LegalZoom: LegalZoom offers phone and email support. We reached out twice via the email form on their site, but it took them a full week to respond. The response we received was generic – thanking us for reaching out, but not answering our question.
When we contacted them via phone, our question was answered very thoroughly. The representative went into detail about our different options, and then sent us an email with their direct extension so that we could reach out directly with questions. Overall, while their customer service via phone is good, their online support could be improved.
BizFilings: BizFilings provides phone and email support, and there is also a “leave a message” feature on the left side of each page on their website. We called the listed phone number, and we were quickly able to navigate through their phone tree to speak with a real person. When we emailed, we received a response the same day after sending it early in the morning. Both their phone and email responses were professional, and answered our question thoroughly, even providing additional details that were applicable based on what we asked.
Ease of Use
LegalZoom: Unlike most competitors, LegalZoom doesn’t give you your package options to begin the application. Instead, you enter your personal info first, then navigate through a series of rather costly upsells before you select your formation package. It’s a bit convoluted, and it can result in some surprisingly high price points by the time you work your way through the order form to the package select screen.
BizFilings: Their incorporation wizard is a convenient tool that can help you figure out whether you should form an LLC or a corporation. Once you start filling out your order form, there are opportunities for upsells along the way, but they’re quite unobtrusive and never feel pushy at all. From the moment you start the application process, they automatically assign an order number to your application, so you can reference it with customer service if you need assistance.
Speed of Formation
LegalZoom: Unlike most competitors, their turnarounds are based on which package you order, rather than which state you’re forming in. With their most expensive package, you could receive your finalized business formation documents in 7-10 business days, but their cheaper packages take as long as 30 business days (six weeks).
BizFilings: BizFilings structures their processing speeds the same way LegalZoom does, as they vary depending on how much money you spend on their services. Their cheapest package has a 4-6 week turnaround, which you can cut to 7-10 days with their more expensive plans. They do also offer expedited processing, which is a $60 upcharge for them to “prioritize your order above non-expedited orders,” but this does not actually speed anything up with the state.
What Is the Biggest Advantage of Each Service?
LegalZoom’s experience is an advantage over basically every other company in this industry. LegalZoom has a client volume in the millions, and they’ve been around for 20 years, making them easy to trust.
As for BizFilings, their most significant advantage is their offering of state-specific compliance assistance. While many competitors will leave you to complete these steps on your own, BizFilings offers a complete business formation service package.
Which Company Offers More Help With Ongoing Compliance Requirements?
Both of these companies provide plenty of solutions for ongoing compliance issues. With LegalZoom, you can get registered agent service for $249-299 per year, depending on your circumstances, and their annual report service is available for just $55, which is a strong rate.
BizFilings provides six months of registered agent service with every formation package, after which their price is $220 per year. If you want annual report service from BizFilings, you’ll need to contact them, because this feature operates on a variable pricing model.
Can I Get a Refund if I Need One?
LegalZoom’s refund policy is one of the best you’ll find anywhere, because they give you 60 days from your purchase date to decide if you’re satisfied with their service. If you’re not, they’ll refund your money, with no questions asked and no processing fees.
BizFilings has a much more strict policy, as they charge a $50 processing fee for any refund requested before they start working on your paperwork, and a $75 fee after that point.
Which Is the Better Option if I Need Publication Service?
In some states, you need to publish your company’s formation in a regional newspaper. For example, Arizona and Nebraska require publication for LLCs and corporations, New York requires it for LLCs only, and Pennsylvania and Georgia have this requirement for corporations only.
BizFilings has a big advantage in this area, because LegalZoom does not offer any level of assistance with publication, whereas BizFilings offers to handle it for you entirely. Even more impressive is their $100 price point for publication service, which is one of the lowest rates we’re aware of for this feature.
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