Last Updated on May 24, 2020

  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free 1-hour tax consultation
best value
  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Proactive customer service called to discuss next steps
best value
  • No free plan, but pricing is fair and upfront
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free business name availability check
easiest
  • Affordable premium package
  • Simple entity formation
  • Highest-rated customer service
  • Personal data isn’t sold
  • Minimal upsells
fastest
  • Best known legal services company
  • Offers a full suite of business legal services
  • Lifetime customer services
  • Helped set up over 1.6 million LLCs
best known

Starting a new business means getting lost in paperwork and scratching your head as you work your way through heaps of legal jargon trying to understand what you actually need to build a strong (and legal) foundation. 

It’s no secret you’ve got a lot on your plate. 

So, outsourcing your LLC formation process is an excellent (time-saving) decision that ensures everything gets done right the first time. But… choosing which provider to use isn’t always black and white. 

With countless different price points and countless services included in each package, it’s hard to tell if you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Or wasting money on things you don’t actually need. 

So, I used five different LLC services at varying price points to help you make a smart choice when it comes to incorporating your new business. 

In this article, I cover the pros and cons of each provider, side-by-side service comparisons, and a deep dive into the top free and premium packages. There’s no clear winner but there is an obvious loser. 

Let’s get started!

LLC Formation Service Providers Overview

I used five different entity formation companies to form an LLC. These companies include:

  • Inc Authority — always free
  • IncFile — free – $299
  • ZenBusiness — $49 – $299
  • LegalZoom — $79 – $349
  • Northwest Registered Agent — always $225

While going through each one, I took note of everything from their processing time, reputation, and cost to what’s included with each plan. I documented the things I like, the things I don’t like, and even found one service I don’t recommend at all. 

Here’s a high-level, side-by-side look at each provider (in case you don’t want to read the long version – no judgment here!).

Comparing Free Entity Formation Services

When it comes to deciding which budget-friendly entity formation provider to go with, comparing their services can be tricky. To make things easier for you, I put together a list of pros and cons for each provider based on my experience with them.

1. Inc Authority

Inc Authority operates using an “always free” business model. You never pay anything aside from state fees and any add-ons you choose throughout the process.

Pros (the good stuff):

  • Their services are always free (aside from state fees)
  • Top-notch customer service and support
  • Free registered agent services for one year
  • 2-14 business day processing time
  • Five-star online reputation

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • They have to upsell you to make money
  • Customer support is limited to 8 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday
  • No tiered payment option to bundle (and discount) upgrades
  • You don’t get anything aside from basic LLC services

Overall, Inc Authority is a great option for anyone on a budget. Read the full Inc Authority review.

2. IncFile

IncFile’s basic plan is free and they have two premium tiers as well. For this comparison, we’re only looking at their Silver Package which comes at no cost to you (aside from state fees).

Pros (the good stuff):

  • Lifetime customer service and support
  • Free registered agent services for one year
  • Free 1-hour tax consultation
  • 1-7 business day processing time
  • Five-star online reputation

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • They have to upsell you to make money
  • Limited telephone customer support hours (9 am – 6 pm CST)
  • You don’t get much aside from basic LLC services

IncFile is also a great budget-friendly entity formation service. Read the full IncFile review.

A Side-by-Side Free Plan Comparison

IncFile and Inc Authority offer very similar free plans. Not much separates the two aside from the cost of their add-ons (which you may or may not need).

Furthermore, pros and cons are helpful but they don’t always provide a clear picture of the services offered. So I also put together a complete side-by-side comparison of their free plans to see which one offers the most value and how much their add-ons cost.

Comparing Premium Entity Formation Services

If you’re in the market for a premium LLC formation service, navigating the various services included with each package isn’t always easy. To make things easier for you, I put together a list of pros and cons for each provider based on my experience with them.

For this comparison, I’m looking at the top tier pricing plan for each provider.

1. IncFile

IncFile’s Platinum Package is $299 + state filing fees. A lot of things included in this package may be nice to have but aren’t necessary for staying in compliance or following state, federal, and local laws.

Pros (the good stuff):

  • Lifetime customer service and support
  • 1 business day processing time
  • Various legal documents included
  • Five-star online reputation

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • Limited telephone customer support hours (9 am – 6 pm CST)
  • It’s better to get a domain name and email services elsewhere
  • You can get a similar personalized binder on Amazon for $50

IncFile’s Platinum Package is a good deal if you need everything included but may be a waste of money if you aren’t going to use everything. Click here to read the full review.

2. ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness’s Premium Package is also $299 + state filing fees. A lot of things included in this package may be nice to have but others you can get elsewhere with better service (and lower costs).

Pros (the good stuff):

  • You can build your own plan if none of the standard ones fit your needs
  • Lifetime customer service and support
  • Various legal documents included
  • Five-star online reputation

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • No customer support on Saturdays
  • It’s better to get a domain name, website, and email services elsewhere
  • Slower processing time (2-4 business days)

ZenBusiness’s Premium package might work for you if you’re interested in packaging everything including your domain name, website, and email services in one place. But, there are far better options for these services out there. Read the full ZenBusiness review.

3. LegalZoom

LegalZoom’s Express Gold Package is $349 + state filing fees. Aside from expedited processing, this plan doesn’t seem to add much additional value and is more expensive than the other premium plans.

Pros (the good stuff):

  • Established business with a long history of forming LLCs
  • A suite of other services for new business owners
  • Lifetime customer service and support

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • Most expensive option offering the least amount of value
  • Sketchy industry reputation with mostly negative reviews
  • Registered agent services aren’t included
  • No legal documents included

I don’t recommend LegalZoom’s LLC entity formation services because they’re more expensive and offer little to no added value aside from basic formation services. Read the full LegalZoom review.

4. Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent has one no-fluff package priced at $225 + state filing fees. This stands out as one of the most valuable packages without giving you any fluff services you aren’t going to use.

Pros (the good stuff):

  • Cheapest premium package with the most value you’ll actually use
  • 1 business day processing time
  • Top-notch registered agent services
  • 24/7 customer service via chat, email, or phone
  • 100% transparency and they don’t sell your data

Cons (the bad stuff):

  • An EIN number is an additional $50
  • No domain name or website options (it’s better to get them elsewhere, anyway)

Northwest Registered Agent does a good job of cutting out the things you don’t need and including valuable things at no extra charge. This is a great option if you don’t need an EIN number (you can get one for free through the IRS) and prefer to find domain and website services elsewhere.

Read the full Northwest Registered Agent review

A Side-by-Side Premium Plan Comparison

It’s not always easy to compare premium LLC services because they each offer a wide variety of different services. Some of them aren’t useful yet others can help make your life easy down the road.

So, I put together a side-by-side comparison to look at what services are included (or not) in each package along with the annual fees for each plan.


Final Words on Choosing an LLC Formation Company

Inc Authority and IncFile are both excellent free options for any new business owner with a tight budget or anyone needing basic LLC formation services without any fluff.

But these packages don’t come with any extras and these costs can add up rather quickly, especially if you need (or want) several of them.

So if you need additional services, you may want to consider opting for a premium plan.

IncFile, ZenBusiness, and Northwest Registered Agent all offer exceptional premium packages. They each offer their own benefits and drawbacks but all are trustworthy choices with exceptional customer service.

While IncFile and ZenBusiness include the most services, many of them are things you won’t need or can get elsewhere for a lower cost with better performance (i.e. business website, domain name, email services, etc.).

On the other hand, Northwest Registered Agent is the cheapest premium option and includes the most no-fluff value out of all the services on this list. Plus, you get 1 business day processing for free.

While there’s no clear winner in either category, there is a clear loser.

LegalZoom’s plans are more expensive than the rest yet they don’t offer any additional value for your money. Plus, registered agent services aren’t included in any of their packages so you’re looking at an extra $249 a year. OUCH.

You’re much better off going with a more affordable and valuable entity formation service.

Regardless of the company you choose, congratulations on taking this GIANT step for your new business, and don’t forget to celebrate the baby steps along the way!