Must read: In June 2018, Bolstr’s lending platform was acquired by KeyBank in the hopes of helping small businesses get SBA and traditional financing more efficiently. Though KeyBank didn’t buy the company itself, Bolstr no longer operates as a peer-to-peer lender like it used to.
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 Fundera, Business.com, and ValueWalk feature her professional advice, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
Bolstr is a peer-to-peer business lender. A lot of reviewers refer to Bolstr as a crowdfunding site, but that’s not quite accurate. As a peer-to-peer lender, only investors can provide funding. You have to pay it back with interest — unlike with crowdfunding where you get to keep it all, save for an occasional platform fee.
On Bolstr’s website, you’ll set up a profile and a campaign goal and investors commit to funding a part of your loan. Your campaign is live for 30 days. If you don’t reach your goal in that time, it’s considered unsuccessful and you receive none of the funds. Many campaigns reach their goals in .
How repayment works
Bolstr provides fixed-term business loans that are funded by and paid back directly to multiple investors. It refers to these as “revenue share loans.” You’ll repay your loan plus interest with a percentage of your monthly sales. This can make your loan appear more affordable, but could cost you extra in the long run by lengthening your term.
What are the benefits of Bolstr business loans?
Fast turnaround. You can get funding within a week — slower than many online lenders but still much faster than banks or credit unions. Online reviewers were pleased with how quickly they were able to receive their funds.
Easy to use. Bolstr’s website is clean, intuitive and makes it easy to keep track of your funds.
Repay with small percentage of monthly sales. Unlike a merchant cash advance, you don’t have to make repayments each time you make a sale.
What to watch out for
Pay it back based on monthly sales. The monthly percentage repayment has its downside: It could hurt your business if you have a poor month.
Hard to get in touch. It’s difficult to find essential information like eligibility requirements online and we had trouble reaching its customer service line after several attempts.
Minimum monthly repayments. You’ll have to find this information in the investor section on their website.
Compare more business loans from top providers
Updated April 9th, 2020
What do customers have to say about Bolstr?
Not much. Bolstr doesn’t have a Better Business Bureau page and only 9 people rated it on Trustpilot, giving it a collective 6.5 out of 10. Borrowers were mostly happy with their experience, calling it quick and efficient and praising its customer service.
Two investors who invested in loans were not pleased, complaining that Bolstr was unresponsive when they had trouble receiving repayment funds from borrowers.
Am I eligible?
While Bolstr doesn’t advertise any specific eligibility requirements, to get the best deal on a loan you generally need to be in business for at least six months to a year, have a good personal credit score and have a business that annually generates at least $50,000 in revenue.
You’ll also typically need to be a US citizen or permanent resident over the age of majority in your state — 18 in most.
How do I apply?
Go to Bolstr’s website and click Log In.
Click Don’t Have an Account?
Fill out the required fields and hit Continue.
Enter your personal contact information, read and agree to the terms and conditions and click Get Quote.
Fill out the application, uploading your personal tax documents, linking to your personal and business bank accounts as well as your accounting software. The application shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete.
Look over the loan terms and rates you qualify for after you hear back from them.
Wait up to 30 days for investors to fund your loan (typically it only takes three to five days).
Once you’ve met your goal, Bolstr automatically transfers your funds into a third-party bank account that you can access after you read and electronically sign agreements with each of your investors.
What information do I need to apply?
Have the following information on hand before you apply:
Logins for your business accounting software.
Login credentials for business and personal bank accounts.
Your EIN and the address you listed on last year’s taxes.
Two years of personal tax returns.
Step-by-step application with screenshots
I got a business loan through Bolstr. Now what?
Bolstr automatically deducts repayments of between 1% and 6% from your monthly sales. Keep an eye on your bank account to make sure deductions are accurate. You can contact customer service by calling 312-224-8749 or emailing email@example.com.
Investing through Bolstr
Bolstr’s website makes it easy for accredited investors to build up and keep track of an investment portfolio. You can open up an account online, search the online marketplace for businesses you’d like to invest in and commit to a certain amount. You can easily monitor your investment’s performance and automatically get a minimum monthly payment automatically deposited into your bank account.
The upside is that you can get returns relatively quickly — typically between 24 to 36 months. Loans are also secured by a personal guarantee, meaning that your investment is less of a risk. The downside is you have to pay a 1% servicing fee each month until you’re fully repaid.
Bolstr’s unconventional approach to lending and repayment may work best for a business with unpredictable monthly sales. You might have difficulty getting in touch with its customer service team if you have trouble with your loan or questions — we weren’t able to successfully contact them after multiple attempts.
Generally, yes. Bolstr’s application uses 256-bit encryption (standard for banks and other financial institutions). It doesn’t share your information with nonaffiliated companies — but it may use your data for direct marketing. Security breaches are not impossible. If you would like to be notified by email of any security breaches, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Probably not. While Bolstr doesn’t clearly state eligibility requirements anywhere on its site, users have observed that it tends to have high standards. Since it uses an automated underwriting process, your credit history and score could hold more weight than it might with other types of lenders. Learn more about bad credit business loans to compare your options.
Bolstr sends two micro deposits to your linked accounts, of different amounts. Once you receive these micro deposits, log in to your Bolstr account, click on Settings and select My Linked Accounts. Enter the amounts that were deposited into your bank account and click Verify.
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