The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on small businesses in America. If you were forced to shutter your doors temporarily and are struggling to qualify for financing, read our guide to COVID-19 small business loans and grants to explore your options.
Our team of experts reviewed over 130 business lenders — including options for SBA loans, term loans, lines of credit, merchant cash advances and more — to help you find the best one for your unique needs.
We then analyzed each business lender and chose those that offered:
Affordable rates and fees
Fast funding speed
Wide range of lending limits
Simple application process
To better serve your business’s needs, we chose lenders based on the specific loan or service they offer, rather than lender type. Because of this, many of our top picks have changed, but these still represent the best options to fund your business — whether it’s for the short or long term.
What loans are available to businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak?
If you’ve been forced to close due to COVID-19, you’ll want to check out our guides to financing options offered by the SBA and private lenders specifically for businesses impacted by the coronavirus:
SmartBiz speeds up the SBA application process by streamlining the information you need to provide. By working with multiple banks and online lenders, it may take just a few weeks to get funding — rather than the normal multi-month waiting period. Prequalification takes a few minutes, and the rates its lenders offer start low. But you'll need to borrow at least $30,000, and the process isn't free. Smartbiz will charge a referral and packaging fee if you're approved for a loan.
Bluevine's low starting APR and lack of fees makes it a good choice for small businesses and startups that need frequent access to funds. Its lines of credit are revolving, so you'll be able to borrow and repay as needed. But repayments can be weekly — which can strain your budget during seasonal periods.
Lendio is a good option when you don't know where to start. It has a network of over 75 lenders that offer a wide array of business loans, including SBA loans. You can even qualify with bad personal credit. But it's not free — once your loan is finalized, you'll have to pay an origination fee to Lendio. And you may receive marketing calls and emails from lenders long after you've taken out a loan.
Fundbox offers a mix of invoice financing and a line of credit to businesses that have a steady stream of revenue. And it considers the financial health of your business instead of your personal credit score when determining approval. Applying online takes just minutes by connecting your bank account and accounting software. You can finance up to 100% of an unpaid invoice — with a minimum monthly rate of 4.66%. But it comes with weekly repayments and steep late fees, meaning it's not ideal for seasonal businesses.
As a peer-to-peer lender, LendingClub is able to offer faster financing than a bank without the strict requirements. Your business only needs to be around for a year and bring in $50,000 annually to qualify. And it's willing to work with business owners with fair credit. However, its high origination fee and maximum APR can make it expensive for businesses that just barely meet these requirements.
Regions Bank offers some of the most competitive APRs out there. And it's the only lender on this list that reviews your account every six months to see if you can qualify for a lower rate thanks to on-time repayments. There are no origination or prepayment fees, and you'll have access to up to $1 million in financing. But loan terms only go up to five years, which could make repayments difficult to afford on a high-dollar loan.
Qualify for lower rates with on-time payments
Fair credit OK
No origination fees or prepayment penalties
Terms only go up to five years
Customer service asks for your Social Security number when you call
Kiva's interest-free microloans are ideal for entrepreneurs looking to turn an idea into reality. It doesn't have any time-in-business requirements, and you can borrow up to $15,000 without paying any fees. But its loans are crowdfunded, so if you don't have a large social network willing to make contributions, it could take up to 45 days to raise funds.
UPDATE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiva has announced it will loosen its eligibility requirements and extend its maximum loan amount by $5,000 – to a total of $15,000. Additionally, borrowers will be granted a six-month grace period before payments are due.
SBG Funding has a high annual revenue requirement — but for startups that are at least six months old, it's still one of the better deals. Not only does it accept businesses in high-risk industries, but it's also willing to work with business owners with a personal credit score of just 500. However, it's not transparent about fees. And you could get stuck with weekly repayments.
PNC Bank has a wide variety of business loans to suit your funding needs — from secured and unsecured term loans and lines of credit to SBA loans and auto financing. You can apply online if you're a current PNC Bank business customer — rare for a traditional bank. But your business needs to be up and running for at least three years and based in an eligible state to qualify.
If you aren't attached to an online application and have assets to secure your loan, Lake Michigan FCU is one of the top credit unions out there for business financing. Its APR maxes out at an extremely low 7%, and funding is available to businesses across the US. However, the maximum amount your business can borrow is capped at $50,000 — you'll be able to borrow much more with other lenders.
Rapid Finance considers the overall health of your business when you apply for a merchant cash advance. And while it does have a small origination fee of 2.5%, its factor rate is one of the lowest out there — ranging from 1.09 to 1.3. Provided your business has a large volume of credit card sales, you could quickly cover gaps in your cash flow. However, like all merchant cash advance services, it may require daily repayments.
Competitive factor rate of 1.09 to 1.3
Get funds in just 1 business day
Bad credit OK
Short maximum loan term of 18 months
May require daily repayments
Min. Loan Amount
Max. Loan Amount
9% to 30%
Interest Rate Type
Min. Credit Score
Maximum Loan Term
As fast as 1 business day
Top types of loans for small businesses
Click on one of the following loans to find out which type of financing works best for your small business.
How it works: Your business takes out a lump sum to cover a one-time expense. Pay it back in monthly repayments plus interest and fees. Term loans typically don’t come with many restrictions as long as you use them for business purposes.
How much you can borrow: You can generally borrow up to $500,000 and pay it off between one and ten years — sometimes even longer.
Best for: Covering one-time expenses like hiring new staff, buying office supplies or technology or other costs that your business doesn’t need to cover regularly.
Compared fixed-term business loans
How it works: Similar to a credit card, opening a line of credit gives your business access to cash when it needs money. You only pay interest on what you borrow and have a certain time frame to pay it off. Lines of credit are generally renewable.
How much you can borrow: Your business can typically get access to between $2,000 and $500,000 with repayment periods of six months to a couple years.
Best for: Covering recurring expenses, picking up the slack during an off season or paying for ongoing projects where costs are difficult to predict.
How it works: The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees business term loans, lines of credit and more for businesses that have had trouble getting funds elsewhere. Interest rates are relatively low, but the application process is more involved.
How much you can borrow: You can generally borrow between $30,000 and $5 million and have as much as 25 years to pay it off.
Best for: Small businesses that have trouble qualifying for a large amount of financing.
Over-prepare. Know your business’s finances backward and forward. Get all of your documentation together ahead of time and have it on hand. Remember, you want to appear the most qualified.
Have a business plan that tells your story. Even if your lender doesn’t require it, a solid business plan means you’re on top of your business’s finances and future projections. Business plans make it easier to understand the types of financing you need, how much and what you might qualify for.
Go for big lenders for big loans. Big banks are less likely to approve borrowers who need small amounts of financing. Its best to save banks and other big lenders for larger projects like real estate or buying large amounts of equipment.
Take advantage of risk-free prequalification. The best way to get an idea of what rates you might qualify for is by prequalifying or calling your lender. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll get those rates, but it’s a smaller ballpark than the advertised APR and term range. And you can more accurately weed out lenders that won’t accept you in the first place.
How long does it take to get a business loan?
The short answer: It depends on the type of loan you want and the lender you ultimately decide on.
Online lenders can get you funding in as quick as one day. Bank loans typically take at least a couple of weeks. SBA loans can take a few months or more.
What do lenders look for in a business?
Finding a competitive deal on a business loan doesn’t just depend on finding a lender that offers low rates and the right type of financing. No matter where you apply, your business is more likely to qualify for competitive terms if you and your business meet the following criteria.
Your business is at least one year old. Lenders like to see that your business has a track record of steady revenue coming in to reassure them that you can afford to pay off your loan.
You have strong personal credit. While business credit scores do sometimes come into play, your personal credit score typically plays a more important role in your loan application.
You’re personally invested. Some lenders require that owners invest a certain amount of their personal funds in the business. Even if it doesn’t, a personal investment is a vote of confidence that many lenders take into account.
You’re willing to put up collateral. Many small business lenders require business owners to put a lien on their personal assets up as collateral. Securing your loan takes some of the risk off of the lender and can help you qualify for more competitive rates.
Business financing alternatives
Sometimes a business loan isn’t the best way to fund your business. If you’re new, have low revenue or poor credit, you might not be able to get the most competitive rate. Instead, you might want to consider one of the following options:
Personal loans.A personal loan is a popular choice for entrepreneurs trying to fund a startup. They typically max out at $100,000 and often require good credit, so they’re not right for all business owners and needs.
Crowdfunding. You might not need to take on debt or pay anyone back at all if your business needs to fund a project that’s easy to communicate in a short video. Crowdfundingcan help you raise the money from your fans or investors.
Equity investments. Get funding for your business that you never have to pay back in exchange for partial ownership in your company by brining on an investor.
Business credit cards. For small expenses or working capital, a business credit card is sometimes a lot easier to manage than a loan. Plus, many business credit cards come with 0% APR promotional periods, giving you a window to make a big purchase and pay it off without interest over a few months or a year.
There is no one best business loan for everyone. But there are better lenders for specific business needs.
Anna Serio is a trusted loans expert who's published more than 800 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 CNBC, Business Insider and The Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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