Benchmark Community Bank loans review
Award-winning customer service and a lending program for startups set this VA lender apart.
Bottom line: This Southside Virginia institution offers the basics to startups and other small businesses in the market for financing.
Startup loans, operating capital, asset acquisition or business expansion financing, business vehicle and equipment loans, business debt restructuring, commercial real estate loans, commercial construction loans, business lines of credit, personal loans, auto loans, student loans, mortgages, home equity loans
Types of loans available
Southside Virginia and North Carolina
|Types of loans available||Startup loans, operating capital, asset acquisition or business expansion financing, business vehicle and equipment loans, business debt restructuring, commercial real estate loans, commercial construction loans, business lines of credit, personal loans, auto loans, student loans, mortgages, home equity loans|
|Area serviced||Southside Virginia and North Carolina|
|Number of branches||17|
|Branch hours||Varies by branch, usually 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday|
|Customer service hours||Not stated|
|Customer service options||Phone, email|
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 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.
Benchmark Community Bank is known for its relationship-oriented approach to lending. In fact, local media have given it several awards for its quality customer service. Its startup financing program is also unusual — it combines personal loans with expert advice on managing a new business’s finances.
But it’s not ideal if you’re looking for a bank with a user-friendly online experience. Its website can be a little difficult to use. And it only offers online applications for mortgages and student loans through Sallie Mae.
What is Benchmark Community Bank?
Benchmark Community Bank is a local-owned financial institution that serves small businesses and individuals in Southside Virginia and North Carolina. Like many local lenders, it goes beyond your typical bank when it comes to supporting the community.
It funded over $40 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans during the coronavirus outbreak and offers scholarships to local students heading to college. And it won a spot in American Banker's list of 200 community banks 14 years in a row — as well as accolades from local media, like the Gazette-Virginian and South Hill Enterprise.
Types of loans available at Benchmark Community Bank
You can find the following types of financing programs for small businesses and individuals at this Southside Virginia bank.
- Startup loans. Personal loans or home equity financing tailored to entrepreneurs launching a new business. You'll also get expert guidance on how to manage your new business's finances.
- Operating capital financing. A loan to cover gaps in cashflow costs so you can keep your business running smoothly.
- Asset acquisition or business expansion financing. Loans and potentially other types of financing to open a new location or stock up on inventory to help your business grow.
- Vehicle and equipment loans. Typically fixed-term loans with loan amounts and terms determined by the value and useful lifespan of the purchase.
- Business lines of credit. Access to cash for small working capital costs or as a safety net for unexpected expenses.
- Business debt restructuring. A new loan to consolidate your current business debts — ideally at a lower rate and more favorable terms than you're already paying.
- Business construction loans. Financing to pay for building a new storefront, office or another facility for business operations.
- Commercial real estate loans. Mortgages to buy real estate property for business use.
- Personal loans. Funding for a large, one-time expense like a medical procedure, or consolidating debt.
- Student loans. Benchmark partners with Sallie Mae to offer customers a range of student loans — including options for undergraduates, graduates and parents of college students.
- Auto loans. Financing for new and used vehicles, with options for low or no down payment and guidance through the car-buying process.
- Home loans. Mortgages to buy a new home and home equity financing to tap into the value of your home to fund a personal expense. Its home loan center is also where agriculture businesses can go to find financing for land or facilities.
How borrowing works
Benchmark generally only offers in-person applications — with the exception of mortgages and home loans, which are available online. During the meeting, a loan officer will answer your questions and give you an overview of the process and your options before getting started.
Before you sign up, you can use one of the calculators on Benchmark's website to see how much your loan might cost you each month and in total.
How to get started
You can get started by filling out a quick form on Benchmark's website expressing your interest in a loan — or directly contact your local branch. Filling out the form might be a good choice for businesses that haven't worked with the bank before, since it gives Benchmark the opportunity to match you with a loan officer that has expertise in your industry or financing needs. Here's how to do it.
- Go to the Benchmark Community Bank website.
- Click or tap Borrowing solutions in the main menu and select Business loans.
- Click or tap Contact a business banker.
- Select Business banker to be redirected to your email account with the contact address already filled in.
Write an email introducing yourself, your business and briefly describe the type of financing you need. From there, you should be redirected to set up an appointment.
- Financial available to startups
- Mobile app
- Online applications for car loans and mortgages
- No branches open Saturdays
- Most branches open 30 minutes outside regular business hours per week
See more business loans
Check out how Benchmark Community Bank compares against online lenders by selecting a few pieces of information about your business.
Benchmark Community Bank reviews and complaints
|BBB customer complaints||1 customer complaints|
|Yelp||5 out of 5 stars, based on 1 customer reviews|
|Glassdoor||5 out of 5 stars, based on 1 customer reviews|
|Indeed||4.3 out of 5 stars, based on 7 customer reviews|
|Customer reviews verified as of||30 November 2020|
Benchmark Community Bank doesn't have enough reviews to assess what kind of experience you can expect as a customer. One Yelper left a stellar review about the quality of service — though they complain that online banking can be difficult to navigate. Often, you can get a better idea of what to expect from a local lender by talking to other business owners who have borrowed from it before.
What do employees say?
Benchmark employees are mostly positive about their experience with this bank. Several mention that they're encouraged to form strong customer relationships — a good sign if you're looking for a bank to see your business through the foreseeable future. But a few also mentioned that pay was low, which can be a sign of high employee turnover.
More products available at Benchmark
If you choose to borrow from Benchmark, moving other accounts over to the bank can speed up your application and make repayments go more smoothly. Consider these other financial products for your business and yourself.
- Check recovery service
- Checking and savings accounts
- Credit cards
- Direct deposit payroll services
- Merchant services and credit card processing
Benchmark Community Bank history
Benchmark Community Bank was founded in 1971 in Kenbridge, Virginia as Lunenburg County Bank. By 1989, it had expanded to Farmville, South Hill and Victoria and decided to change its name to Benchmark Community Bank. It has continued to expand — apparently without buying out other local banks. And it doesn't appear to have any mergers or acquisitions planned for the near future.
To compare Benchmark Community Bank against even more lenders, check out our guide to business loans.