Are you looking for the best online incorporation service, but you’re not sure which one is the right choice for you? LegalZoom and BizFilings are both services that can form an LLC or corporation 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 the Five Key Points
In our review of each online incorporation service, we performed a “stress test” on each based on five key factors:
- Compared pricing and features to determine the overall value of each service.
- Researched their track record based on how many businesses they’ve formed.
- Assessed the quality of customer service based on customer reviews, as well as our own personal experience.
- Walked through the ordering process to determine each service’s ease of use.
- Reviewed the turnaround times for LLC and corporation formations.
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 an affordable $79 starting package to form an LLC and a $149 package to form a corporation, 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 $159 per year to add on.
BizFilings: Starting with their $99 Basic package, which includes six months of registered agent (which costs $164/year after that), their packages are all more expensive overall than 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.
Winner = BizFilings
Neither of these companies exactly blows us away with their high value-per-dollar ratios, but in general BizFilings does a better job putting together valuable formation packages. LegalZoom has a lower starting price point for LLC formations, but their packages lack registered agent service, and BizFilings undercuts their prices for corporations by quite a bit.
Company Track Record & Experience
LegalZoom: LegalZoom was founded in 1999, and they’ve served 3.6 million customers since then. While their focus isn’t solely on business formation services, they have helped form over one million businesses to date. If you look through LegalZoom customer reviews on any third-party site, you will almost always find a large number of one-star ratings and equally as many five-star reviews, resulting in a decidedly more mixed bag of feedback than many competitors have.
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 three 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.
Winner = LegalZoom
LegalZoom has the experience advantage, and neither of these companies has a stellar reputation for customer reviews, so LegalZoom gets a relatively easy win in this category.
Customer Service Comparison
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 in-person customer service is great, 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. The best part of their customer support is how long their hours of availability are. You can reach BizFilings representatives from 7am-9pm ET every weekday, which is a much longer window than most competitors provide for support.
Winner = BizFilings
The long response times and rather unhelpful support provided by LegalZoom’s email option were enough to tip the scales in BizFilings’ favor in this category. It should be noted though that both of these companies generally provide solid customer support, but BizFilings is a bit easier to get ahold of.
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.
Winner = BizFilings
We’re not big fans of the way LegalZoom structures the application process, making you choose your add-on features before you even decide which formation package you’re adding them onto. Given that detail, and BizFilings’ inclusion of a handy incorporation wizard tool, this category is another win for BizFilings.
Speed of Formation
LegalZoom: LegalZoom doesn’t specifically explain their own turnaround time for processing and filing your paperwork with the state, but they do offer an estimated total turnaround time. 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 seven business days, but their cheaper packages take as long as 30 business days (six weeks).
BizFilings: BizFilings doesn’t have conveniently listed estimates for their turnaround times listed on their website. They do offer expedited processing of their own, 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. They have official state expediting fees tied in with that expediting option, but again, there’s no indication of how much this option will actually speed up your turnaround time.
Winner = LegalZoom
We’re not particularly excited about either of these companies when it comes to turnaround times, but at least LegalZoom provides estimates for how long they expect the process to take.
This was a close battle between two of the industry giants in the online incorporation world, as LegalZoom and BizFilings each have some distinct advantages over the other. LegalZoom has more experience, and they provide estimated turnaround times for your formation, which BizFilings does not.
However, BizFilings wins where it counts. They have better pricing models that provide more value to their customers than LegalZoom does, and they also have superior customer support and ease of use. This was by no means a blowout for BizFilings, and if you personally prefer LegalZoom, they’re also a solid company with some advantages of their own.