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ACE small business loans review

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This Georgia CDFI specializes in startup financing, but comes with an upfront fee.

finder.com’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0

★★★★★

  • Best for Georgia other businesses that have struggle to qualify for a loan.
  • Pick something else if you don’t have collateral.

$15,000

Min. Amount

$50,000

Max. Amount

Details

Product NameACE small business loans
Min. Amount$15,000
Max. Amount$50,000
Loan Term3 to 72 months
Min. Credit Score600
APRVaries
RequirementsGeorgia resident, 600+ credit score, history of on-time repayments, outside source of income for businesses less than six months old, eligible industry

Expert review

Anna Serio

Review by


Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 950 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.

Expert review

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, or ACE is ideal for North Georgia and Atlanta entrepreneurs who have struggled to get funding in the past. It has relatively lax credit criteria and doesn’t have minimum revenue or time-in-business requirements at all.

But you need to back your loan with collateral, and it doesn’t disclose rates online. You also have to pay a $50 application fee to even see the application — something that might be a red flag if it weren’t certified by the US Department of Treasury.

Not sure ACE is right for you? Compare other business loan options below.

First, do I qualify?

You must meet the following requirements at a minimum to be eligible for a small business loan from ACE.

  • 600 credit score or higher
  • Based in North Georgia or Metro Atlanta
  • Outside source of income for startup owners
  • Eligible industry 
  • Able to back loan with collateral
  • History of good standing on all debts

In addition to backing the loan with collateral, all owners with more than a 20% stake in the business are required to back the loan with a personal guaranty. This means you’re responsible for repaying the debt if your business folds. Keep in mind that you might have to meet additional requirements to receive this loan.

What is ACE?

ACE is a Georgia-based Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). CDFIs offer affordable financing and banking services with the aim of to develop its surrounding community.

Nearly 90% of its borrowers come from a financially underserved population, and around 80% are located in the Metro Atlanta area. It also makes a point to work with underrepresented populations in the business community, such as black, hispanic and women entrepreneurs.

What makes ACE small business loans unique?

With no revenue or time-in-business requirements, ACE one of the few business loan options available to startups in the area. In fact, it specializes in serving entrepreneurs, making it a great place to go if you need help getting your business off the ground.

Signing up with ACE is about more than just getting a business loan. Like a lot of other CDFIs, it offers a wide range of tools to help its customers and community businesses succeed.

It business advisory programs and an online business center with interactive tools and templates. And it also runs a women’s business center that offers one-on-one coaching, workshops, webinars and more to female entrepreneurs.

How do ACE loans work?

ACE has suspended its regular loan program and is instead processing applications for a range of different business loan and assistance programs available to businesses during COVID-19. This included loans through the Paycheck Protection Program as well as loan programs for Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb County businesses

The only program accepting applications is the DeKalb County Small Business Loan Program as of August 2020. But it’s possible more loan programs will become available in the near future. If you don’t see a loan program you can qualify for, check in regularly for updates.

How the DeKalb County Small Business Loan Program works

The DeKalb county Small Business Loan program offers low-cost financing to small businesses in DeKalb county Georgia —including startups. Here’s how the loan breaks down:

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 – $35,000
  • Rates: 5%
  • Terms: 7 – 10 years

To qualify for this program, your business must be one a for-profit business that meets of the following criteria:

  • At least two years in business or an eligible startup
  • 560 credit score or higher
  • Financial statements and tax returns for past two years
  • Sole proprietorship, partnership, S-corp or C-corp

To qualify as a startup, the owner must demonstrate that they have some kind of expertise working in the industry. And the loan must either help create jobs or retain jobs.

Pros

  • Startup funding available
  • Fair credit OK
  • No hard revenue requirements

Cons

  • Doesn’t disclose rates online
  • $50 application fee before you can apply
  • Requires collateral

Compare other business loan options

Data indicated here is updated regularly

Name Product Filter Values Loan amount APR Requirements
First Down Funding business loans
$5,000 – $300,000
Fee Based
At least 1 year in business, an annual revenue of $100,000+, and a minimum credit score of 400
Alternative financing up to $300K with highly competitive rates.
Lendio business loans
$500 – $5,000,000
Starting at 6%
Operate business in US or Canada, have a business bank account, 560+ personal credit score
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 300 legit business lenders.
ROK Financial business loans
$10,000 – $5,000,000
Starting at 6%
Eligibility criteria 3+ months in business, $15,000+ in monthly gross sales or $180,000+ in annual sales
A connection service for all types of businesses — even startups.
OnDeck small business loans
$5,000 – $250,000
As low as 11.89%
600+ personal credit score, 1 year in business, $100,000+ annual revenue
A leading online business lender offering flexible financing at competitive fixed rates.
Rapid Finance small business loans
$5,000 – $1,000,000
Fee based
Steady flow of credit card sales, bad credit OK
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Compare up to 4 providers

How do I apply?

ACE requires all applicants for loans under $50,000 to apply online. If you need more than that, you can reach out to a loan specialist to get started in person.

Here’s how to fill out the online application:

  1. Go to the ACE website.
  2. Click Apply for a Loan.
  3. Under Small Business Loans, click Apply Now.
  4. Click Register to create an account and log in.
  5. Under Small Business Loans, click Begin Application.
  6. Enter your credit or debit card information to pay the $50 application fee.
  7. Complete the application, reviewing your answers before you hit submit.
  8. Submit your required documents by fax, email, mail or in person.
  9. If approved, review and sign your final offer.

How long it takes to receive your funds varies depending on your application. If you mail in your documents, it might take longer than if you use other methods.

What documents do I need to apply?

It depends on your application. However, ACE typically requires the following documents at a minimum:

  • Personal tax returns
  • Business tax returns
  • Personal bank statements
  • Business bank statements
  • Business income statements and balance sheets
  • Business debt schedule
  • Business financial statement

Startups might also need to provide the following documents:

  • Pay stubs or other proof of income
  • Business plan
  • Financial projections
  • Startup budget
  • Proof of equity

How do repayments work?

You can find the exact terms of your loan’s repayments on your contract, including how much you owe and when they’re due. ACE doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so you can save on interest if you make extra repayments or pay your loan off early. Consider asking if you can sign up for autopay — that way you won’t have to make manual repayments each month.

If you have any questions about your loan or you’re worried you’ll miss a repayment, reach out to customer service as soon as possible by calling 678-335-5600.

3 alternatives to ACE

Here’s how other similar lenders stack up to ACE.

Kiva

Kiva is a microlender that specializes in funding community-based small businesses across the country. It offers interest-free microloans from $25 to $15,000 with terms of 1 to 3 years. It’s one of the least expensive options for a startup.

But there’s a catch. You have to raise funds from at least five members of your community in 15 days before you can get approved. And it can take as long as 45 days to get your money.

Grameen America

Grameen America is a nonprofit lender that specializes in financing women entrepreneurs with incomes under the poverty line — though any small business can apply. It offers business loans from $2,000 to $15,000 with rates from 15% to 18% with few hard requirements other than living near a branch. But there’s no online application and it’s hard to get in touch unless you visit in person.

SBG Funding

SBG Funding could be a better solution if you’re not interested in all the extras you’ll find with a nonprofit lender. This online lender specializes in new businesses, is available in more areas and offers lower starting rates than ACE.

You can borrow from $5,000 to $5,000,000 at rates from 5% to 35%. And terms run from 6 to 60 months. Your business must be. around for at least six months, have at least $150,000 in annual revenue to qualify. And it accepts credit scores as low as 500.

Find out more about how ACE compares to other lenders with our guide to business loans. Or visit our CDFI directory to find another community-based lender near you.

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We rate business loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.

Read the full methodology of how we rate business loan providers to get a better picture of what goes into each star rating.

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