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Best small business loans: 10+ for entrepreneurs to start or grow your business

Compare business loans with rates starting as low as 5.25%.

When you’re an entrepreneur, a business loan can help you open that site or storefront, add to your inventory or free up cash flow on the way to Main Street.

And you’ve got choices beyond your local bank — modern fintechs are built to support borrowers with tailored lending, and government-backed loans can help those newer to the market. There are also providers with financing programs catered for startups with less rigid requirements.

10 best small business loans

Best overall: SmartBiz

SmartBiz business loans

Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5 ★★★★★

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 multimonth 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 charges a 2% referral fee and 2% packaging fee if you're approved.

Best small business loan marketplace: Lendio

Lendio business loans

Finder Rating: 4.75 / 5 ★★★★★

Lendio can be a good place to start if you want to save time searching for a lender that fits your needs. You complete an online form with your information to sort through potential lenders that suit your circumstances. Lendio's network includes more than 75 lenders that offer a wide array of business loans, including SBA loans. For some loans, you may even qualify with a credit score around 560. But you may receive marketing calls and emails from lenders, even after you take out a loan.

Best for startups: Finance Factory

Finance Factory business loans

Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

Finance Factory is an online lender marketplace with multiple financing options for startups. Entrepreneurs can also find services to roll over a retirement account into a new venture and personal loans to fund a new business. While it's not a direct lender, it's uniquely transparent about terms and rates — which are lower than average. But some financing options may require good to excellent credit, and funding can take a few weeks.

Best for emergency line of credit: OnDeck

OnDeck short-term loans

Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

OnDeck offers short-term loans to businesses looking for quick funding and who might not qualify for a bank loan. Its line of credit requires very little documentation to apply and funding can be as soon as the same business day. Requirements are in line with other providers, requiring one year in business and $100,000 in annual revenue. And the credit score requirement is at a low 625, so borrowers with fair credit have a shot. There are no prepayment penalties or draw fees on the line of credit (LOC), but repayments are weekly.

Best merchant cash advance: Credibly

Credibly business loans

Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5 ★★★★★

With factor rates starting at 1.09, Credibly is among the least expensive merchant cash advances out there. It's also more transparent about its rates and fees than similar providers, and you can access your funds as soon as the day you're approved. While its $15,000 monthly minimum revenue requirement is higher than other competitors like Fora Financial, it's not restricted to credit card sales. But like other merchant cash advances, it's still an expensive product.

Best line of credit: BlueVine

BlueVine business loans

Finder Rating: 4.45 / 5 ★★★★★

BlueVine's low starting APR and lack of fees make it a good choice for small businesses and startups that need frequent access to funds. After you're approved, you can pay a $15 wire transfer fee to accelerate your funds in a few hours. Otherwise, withdrawals take one to three business days to process. Its lines of credit are revolving, so you're able to borrow and repay as needed. But repayments are weekly if you go with the line of credit — which may strain your budget during slow seasonal periods.

Best microloan: Kiva

Kiva business loans

Finder Rating: 3.7 / 5 ★★★★★

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 fees. Borrowers are also granted a six-month grace period before payments are due. But know that Kiva is a nonprofit crowdfunding platform — so if you don't have a large social network willing to make contributions, you may not get anything. Loans that aren't fully funded aren't dispersed.

Best bank loan: Bank of America

Bank of America business loans

Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5 ★★★★★

Bank of America offers a wide range of secured and unsecured loans and lines of credit for most business needs. It even offers business auto loans — which can be hard to find at large banks. This nationwide lender has some of the lowest starting rates out there for unsecured financing. But, as with most big banks, it can be difficult to qualify. Especially if you aren't already a customer. Smaller businesses might have more luck with a community bank.

Best for high-risk industries: United Capital Source

United Capital Source business term loans

Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5 ★★★★★

If you own a newer business, work in a high-risk industry or have poor credit, United Capital Source could be a helpful stop. It's an alternative business loan connection service that helps borrowers who struggle to qualify for traditional lending options. Search for a business line of credit, merchant cash advance, SBA loan or invoice and receivables factoring. It's cannabis-business friendly, it accepts bad credit borrowers and customer reviews are high on average. You must have been in business for at least a year, which means startups must look elsewhere.

Best equipment financing: National Funding

National Funding business loans

Finder Rating: 4.65 / 5 ★★★★★

National Funding offers customized loans directly and with its lending partners. It offers equipment financing and leasing of up to $150,000 for new or used equipment. It guarantees you won't find a lower monthly payment elsewhere, or it pays $1,000 toward the equipment lease. And there's no down payment requirement. National Funding advertises fast approvals and funding in as soon as 24 hours, with early payment discounts and excellent customer reviews.

Methodology: How we choose the best business loans

Our lending experts analyze dozens of business loan providers on the market to narrow down the best for business owners and startups. We search for lenders that suit a range of lending needs, regarding highly lenders that offer loans of $100,000 or less, because most small business loans fall into that range.

We weigh lenders against 12 key metrics:

  • Rates
  • Fees
  • Application process
  • Lender reputation
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Credit score minimums
  • Products offered
  • Willingness to work with risky industries
  • Minimum and maximum loan amounts
  • Customer service reviews
  • Funding turnaround times
  • Extra features

What are the benefits of a small business loan?

A business loan is a form of financing that’s designed to help you start, grow or operate your small business, offering access to capital to cover payroll, purchase real estate, invest in equipment or other business needs.

You can find business loans through traditional banks and credit unions, online lenders and marketplaces and even fintech lending companies, with benefits that include:

  • Simple loans that you pay back over time
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Online applications and funding

Types of small business loans

Small business loans aren’t only SBA loans issued by the US Small Business Administration, which are partially backed by the federal government.

You’ll find many other types of small business loans offered by private lenders for different purposes. There’s financing suited for specific needs such as microloans, lines of credit or equipment financing.

How to get the best small business loan

While small business loan requirements depend on the financing you need, you’ll get the lowest rates and strongest terms by meeting general requirements that include:

  • Good credit. If you don’t have a score of at least 670, consider bringing a cosigner along for better approval odds.
  • At least $100,000 in revenue. If your business is new or still in the startup phase, look into our top editorial picks for startup business loans.
  • At least 1 year in business. Startup loans may come with less rigid or even no requirements around specific time in business.
  • A low-risk industry. High-risk industries in adult entertainment, cannabis and gambling may struggle to find financing.
  • Collateral requirements. If you’re looking for a secured business loan, know what collateral you’ll use to secure it. For example, with equipment financing, the loan is secured by the asset you’re financing.
  • Personal and business documentation. Lenders will ask for tax returns, profit and loss statements and much more when applying. Know what you’ll need to have on hand before applying.

Business loan documentation checklist

Prepare to submit personal and business documents when applying for a small business loan, including:

  • Business and personal tax returns for your business and all owners
  • Government-issued identification and Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Profit and loss statements and balance sheets for up to three years
  • Business and personal bank statements
  • Business plan and future projections
  • Personal credit score requirement — typically 670+

What is the largest small business loan I can get?

How much of a loan you can qualify for depends on factors like your business’s revenue, debts and what you’re financing. Generally, your loan amount is based on the value of a self-liquidating asset that you’re using the funds to purchase.

  • SBA loan — from $500 to $5,000,000, depending on the program
  • Lines of credit — highs of $250,000 to $500,000
  • Equipment financing — value typically equal to the equipment’s value

Business loan alternatives

If you own a newer business, haven’t yet reached $100,000 in revenue or have poor credit, you may not qualify for the lowest rates. Look to other financing options to grow your business.

Personal loans

For entrepreneurs looking to fund a startup, a personal loan is a popular choice. These loans typically max out at $50,000, though sometimes reach $100,000. The best personal loans 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. Friends, fans or investors can help you raise money through crowdfunding. But keep up with regulations that are developing around it.

For example, all crowdfunding transactions must be done online through a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered intermediary, and you can’t raise more than $5 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period, as stated by the U.S. SEC.

Equity investments

Finance business needs by bringing on an investor. An investor allows you to get funding for your business that you never have to pay back in exchange for partial ownership in your company. But make sure you have a lawyer on retainer to avoid getting in legal trouble with the SEC.

Business credit cards

For small expenses or working capital, a business credit card can be 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.

Invoice financing

This alternative type of financing is an advance on unpaid accounts receivables — also called accounts receivable financing. It’s an asset-based loan to help give your business cash flow while you wait for invoices to be paid. However, invoice financing is an advance, so it can get expensive.

Inventory financing

Got orders but not enough inventory? Typically, inventory financing is a line of credit that you use to purchase product, and the inventory is collateral on the loan. However, if you need to buy perishables like produce, you can find inventory financing options for which the inventory doesn’t secure the loan.

Merchant cash advance

Considered an alternative borrowing option, a merchant cash advance is a lump sum loan based on a percentage of your business’s card sales. It’s often for emergencies, used to cover expenses in a pinch or during slow seasons. Merchant cash advances don’t charge traditional interest. Instead, you’re charged a fee called a factor rate expressed as a decimal — usually between 1.09 to 1.5 — and the factor is multiplied by the amount borrowed.

This type of financing can get expensive and many providers require weekly repayments.

Grants and others resources for small businesses

Whether you’re just starting out or need help with crafting a business plan, check out these no- or low-cost resources:

  • Small Business Development Centers — SBDCs are the US’s network of small business development centers, all sharing the goal of helping small businesses grow. With over 1,000 local centers, SBDCs offer no-cost consulting to assist entrepreneurs in growing or starting a business.
  • USA.gov — Search for grants, training programs or financing options in your state through this government site.
  • Federal grants for tech businesses — Tech-centered businesses may be eligible for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) program grant. Each grant is suited for tech businesses or those with scientific research.

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