Are you looking for the best online incorporation service, but you’re not sure which one is the right choice for you? Incfile and Northwest Registered Agent are both services that can form a company on your behalf.
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?
Comparison Based On 5 Key Points
When we reviewed each of these service providers, we performed a stress test on each, which was based on the following five crucial factors:
- Compared pricing and features to determine the overall value of each service.
- Researched their track record based on how many companies they’ve formed, as well as how long they’ve been in business.
- Assessed the quality of customer service based on reviews, and on our own personal experiences.
- Walked through the ordering process to determine each service’s ease of use.
- Reviewed the turnaround times for corporation formations.
As you’ll see in this Northwest Registered Agent vs Incfile comparison, they’re both excellent value incorporation services and made our list of the top services online.
While it’s an extremely close call, we think Northwest has a slight edge and a better overall option because of their excellent customer support and no-nonsense approach to business incorporation.
Overall Pricing and Value
Incfile: For only $49, the lowest price we’ve seen for this combination of features, Incfile will help you form your business, while also providing a full year of registered agent service. Once the first year is over, the registered agent service will renew for $119 per year, which is a strong price point. In addition, their $149 Gold package and $299 Platinum package are both packed with valuable features that make them strong options as well, even at their higher price points.
Northwest: In comparing many of the best incorporation services available, Northwest ended up topping our list as one of the elite options. At $49, they’re dead even with Incfile as the most affordable service that provides a full year of registered agent service. Once the first year is up, the registered agent service will renew at $125 per year.
It’s a tie!
This category couldn’t be much closer, because these two companies are the best in the business, and their price points are very similar.
The only real difference is that Northwest’s top-tier Premium package is cheaper than Incfile’s comparable Platinum package, but Incfile includes a couple of extra features that help to justify that higher price tag. All told, this category is a tie.
Company Track Record & Experience
Incfile: Incfile was founded in 2004, and they’ve formed over 250,000 businesses since then. Customer reviews are a major strength for them, as they have thousands of positive reviews across the web, and just a small handful of negative feedback.
Northwest: Northwest was founded in 1998 and has helped form around two million businesses. They share on their site that they are currently working with over 200 new LLCs and corporations each day. While there aren’t too many reviews online for the company, most of the ones we found were very positive, and aligned with the mission and values promised by Northwest.
It’s a tie!
Northwest definitely wins when it comes to experience, as they’ve handled a far larger volume of customers than Incfile has. However, Incfile has thousands of positive reviews, compared to just a few dozen for Northwest. We’ll call this category a tie, but if you have a preference between experience and reputation, you may prefer one over the other.
Customer Service Comparison
Incfile: Incfile offers phone and email support, which we tested. When we used their phone support, our call was answered quickly and our question was answered, but not elaborated upon. We also emailed them with the same question after-hours and our email was answered by 10 a.m. the next day, with more details than we received over the phone.
Northwest: Northwest offers phone and email support. We first tested their email support, and while it took nearly 24 hours to receive an email back, the response was detailed, and the rep went beyond simply answering our question and checking off an email response. We also called and received similarly impressive service. The representative who answered the phone took the time to ask for details so that he could give us the most accurate answer.
Winner = Northwest
While Incfile certainly also has a rock-solid customer support department staffed by knowledgeable professionals, they can’t quite compete with Northwest’s Corporate Guide system. Northwest’s customer service is highly customized and convenient.
Ease of Use
Incfile: As you walk through the process of signing up for Incfile, your steps are personalized based on the state you live in and the type of business you wish to establish. There are even little question marks and hyperlinks throughout the application to learn more about a specific question or entry on the form. There are a few upsells and third-party offers to navigate through, but if you opt into any of them, your total price is immediately updated on the screen. There are never any surprises with Incfile.
Northwest: The application process with Northwest is streamlined and easy to follow. You simply select your package, enter your personal info and business details, and pay for the order. It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. They don’t even have any upsell attempts, nor do they try to share your personal info under the guise of “special offers” from third parties.
Winner = Northwest
Both Incfile and Northwest make the process of forming a company about as easy as possible. However, Incfile’s inclusion of third-party partnership offers is a slight misstep that gives Northwest the advantage in this category.
Speed of Formation
Incfile: Incfile guarantees that every formation will be processed and forwarded to your state of formation within one business day. Many competitors make you pay an additional fee to get next-day processing. If you need your business formed in a hurry, Incfile offers the ability to order expedited state processing for an additional fee (determined by your state), or you can purchase their Platinum package which includes expedited service.
Northwest: When you select your state from the dropdown menu of the application, an estimated turnaround time will display on the screen. Most states have expedited service available for an additional fee, so you’ll see two turnaround times on the order form. It’s worth noting that they only include their same-day processing feature in their most expensive package.
Winner = Incfile
We nearly called this category a tie, but Incfile’s expedited filing estimates are just a bit faster than Northwest’s in some states. For example, in Georgia, Northwest has a standard filing time of 16 days and an expedited speed of six days, whereas Incfile has a standard turnaround of 15 days and an expedited turnaround of just two days.
How do we pick a winner when we’re comparing two of the best services in the entire online incorporation industry? Furthermore, this comparison had two tie categories, along with some noteworthy advantages for each Incfile and Northwest Registered Agent.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference, but if we’re forced to choose one or the other, we’ll take Northwest because their customer support is on such an elite level.
Still, though, you absolutely cannot go wrong with either of these companies, and we’re 100% confident that you’ll be a satisfied customer with either one.
What Is the Biggest Advantage of Each Service?
Incfile’s main advantage over Northwest Registered Agent is the fact that Incfile has a much larger volume of customer feedback. While both of these companies receive high-quality reviews from their clients, Northwest has just over 100 reviews available online, whereas Incfile has thousands.
Northwest has some advantages of their own though, the most significant of which is their customer support system. Northwest has a level of personalization with their customer service that is rarely seen in this industry, especially from a company with such reasonable price points.
Which Is the Best Package From These Services?
Both of these companies have excellent formation packages, making this question a tough one to answer. If we have to choose one though, we would go with Northwest’s Basic package for $49 plus state fee. While the actual features are basically no different than those you’ll find in Incfile’s comparable Silver package, every Northwest customer receives access to their industry-best support network.
In addition, Northwest is the only major national service provider that scans every document they receive as your registered agent, while Incfile only scans the government forms they’re legally required to.
Which Company Offers More Help With Ongoing Compliance Requirements?
Incfile and Northwest Registered Agent both offer plenty of solutions to help keep your company in good standing down the road, and their prices are quite comparable as well.
As we’ve mentioned, they both provide one full year of registered agent service with any package, and they both have reasonable price points after that as well ― Incfile charges $119 per year, while Northwest has a price point of $125. These companies both offer annual report service as well, which costs $88 per year with Incfile, or $100 per year with Northwest.
Can I Get a Refund if I Need One?
Northwest Registered Agent has a far superior refund policy compared to Incfile. With Northwest, you have 60 days to decide whether you’re satisfied with their services or not. If you’re less than pleased for any reason, you just need to request a refund, and they will grant it less a $25 processing fee.
Incfile is much more strict with their refund policy, as they only allow refund requests if they have not yet sent your money to the state, which they say typically occurs within 24 hours of placing your order. After that, their refund window is closed.
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.
While neither of these companies offer to handle publication requirements on your behalf, Northwest does at least provide a set of step-by-step instructions to help you complete your own publication step. It’s not as good as offering publication service, but it’s better than nothing (which is what you’ll get in this regard from Incfile).
That said if you’d like to use a service that offers publication services as well as business formation, look into ZenBusiness.
Do Either of These Services Go Overboard With Upsells or Third-Party Partnerships?
Northwest Registered Agent is one of the best services in this industry regarding upsells and third-party partnership offers, as they avoid both of these annoying factors nearly entirely. Unfortunately, the story isn’t quite as positive for Incfile.
While they don’t have many upsells either, Incfile does have several third-party offers as you navigate their order form. It’s not too big of a deal, but just keep in mind that their offers of a bank account and a website builder package both require sharing your information with other companies.
Am I Required to Use a Formation Service?
If you would rather form your own business entity, you have that right ― there is no legal requirement to use a professional formation service. In fact, we have our own how-to guides for forming LLCs and corporations that you can use. Before you get started along the DIY route though, we would like to mention that forming your own business isn’t always easy.
With LLCs, the process for forming one varies depending on which state you’re in, so it’s not always clear what you’re supposed to do. As for corporations, this is a complicated enough business structure that we don’t usually recommend forming your own unless you’re already comfortable with the incorporation process.