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When it comes to funding your business, there are a lot more options out there than your standard bank loan. Finding the right choice for your business involves deciding what type of financing you need, how much you can afford in costs and how long you need to repay it.
- Min. Loan Amount: $5,000
- Max. Loan Amount: $500,000
- Requirements: Annual business revenue of at least $42,000, at least 9 months in business, personal credit score of 550+.
- Simple online application
- Quick approval decisions
- Fast funding
Our top pick: LoanBuilder, A PayPal Service Business Loans
Customizable loans with no origination fee for business owners in a hurry.
- Min. Loan Amount: $5,000
- Max. Loan Amount: $500,000
- Requirements: Annual business revenue of at least $42,000, at least 9 months in business, personal credit score of 550+.
What do you want to learn about first?
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Business loans work by providing your company with funding to grow, cover cashflow gaps and other expenses.
With a traditional business loan, you can typically borrow from $5,000 to $5 million at rates starting at 5%. You repay the funds plus interest and fees in monthly installments, often over over five to 20 years.
Some business lenders require collateral, while others offer approval on your creditworthiness, revenue and other factors. If you can’t qualify for a business loan, there are alternatives.
Small business loan types
There are several different types of business financing out there, each offering different terms and benefits. Which one is best for your business depends on its specific situation.
|Loan type||Best for||How it works||Typical loan amount||Typical cost|
|Term loan||Covering a large, one-time expense.||Borrow a lump sum and pay it back plus interest and fees in fixed installments, usually between 5 to 20 years.||$5,000 to $5 million||4% to 99% APR||Read review|
|Line of credit||Working capital.||Qualify for access to a specific amount of funds, which your business draws from when needed.||$5,000 to $5 million||8% to 80% APR||Read review|
|SBA loans||Large amounts of funding for nontraditional businesses, startups.||Apply for a term loan, line of credit, commercial loan and more, partly backed by the Small Business Administration.||$5,000 to $5 million||APRs starting at 6.25%||Read review|
|Equipment financing||Buying new equipment.||Borrow up to 100% of your equipment cost and pay it back in installments, plus interest and fees. Your equipment is often used as collateral.||85% to 100% of equipment value||8% to 30% APR||Read review|
|Vehicle financing||Buying a car, truck or other type of vehicle.||Take out a fixed-term loan to cover the cost of new vehicles for business use, usually using the vehicles as collateral.||$10,000 to $10 million||8% to 30% APR||Read review|
|Invoice factoring||Getting an advance on unpaid invoices.||Sell your business’s unpaid invoices to a third party at a discount.||80% to 95% up front and up to 99% of invoice value after your clients pay your lender||Discount rate of 0.5% to 6% of invoice value||Read review|
|Invoice financing||Borrowing against unpaid invoices.||Take out a term loan backed by your business’s unpaid invoices as collateral.||80% of invoice value||Fee of 2% to 5% of invoice value||Read review|
|Merchant cash advance||Accessing future revenue from consumer sales.||Get an advance on your future sales and pay it back plus a fee with a percentage of daily revenue.||$2,500 to $250,000||Fee of 0.14 to 0.30 times your loan amount||Read review|
Guides to other business loan optionsBack to top
How to get a business loan in 7 steps
Small business loans work by giving your business access to funds to expand or cover day-to-day costs. Here’s what you can expect to happen when you apply for a small business loan.
How much do business loans cost?
Fixed-term business loans come with interest and fees:
- Interest. A percentage of your loan balance that your lender applies daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your terms.
- Fees. One-time fixed costs, typically a percentage of the amount you borrow or a flat rate. Term loans also often come with an origination fee, usually from 2% to 5% of the loan amount.
The APR is an expression of a term loan’s interest and fees. It’s the easiest way to understand how much your loan is going to cost you over time.
Business loan rates can range from 6% to 60% APR depending on a variety of factors. These include the type of loan, your time in business, industry, owner credit scores, monthly revenue and lender. They’re typically higher than what you’d get with a personal loan or mortgage — even if it’s secured.
With merchant cash advances, you’ll run into something called a factor rate, which is a number your lender multiples your loan amount by to come up with the amount you’re on the hook to pay back. Rates range from 1.14 to 1.18 but can get as high as 1.30.
Alternative business loans that typically serve high-risk industries and owners with bad credit can come higher costs. The pricing usually works like a factor rate — lenders often express it as cents on the dollar.
Not every business loan comes with an APR. Invoice factoring, for instance, typically charges something called a discount fee, often 0.5% to 6% of the value of your invoices. It can be a fixed rate, but the longer your clients take to pay off an invoice, the more you’ll likely pay.
How much of a business loan can I get?
Business loans typically start at around $5,000 and can top $5 million. How much you can borrow depends on several factors:
- Minimum and maximum amounts offered by the lender
- Monthly and annual revenue
- Monthly debt obligations
- Personal and business credit score
- What you need the funding for
Just some of the top providers we compare
How can I find the best loan for my business?
Ask yourself questions about borrowing and repayment when comparing business loan providers:
- Can my business qualify? Most lenders list basic eligibility requirements online. Otherwise, speak with a representative to learn if your business can qualify.
- Can I borrow as much as I need? If your financing needs don’t fall into the lender’s range of loan amounts, you might want to move on.
- When do I need the funding? Consider the turnaround time. Do you need money today or can you wait several months?
- How long can I take to pay it back? If you’re applying for a loan with interest, your loan term affects both your immediate and long-term costs.
- Can I afford repayments? Use our business loan calculator to find out how much you might potentially owe. Make sure to consider whether repayments are daily, monthly or weekly.
- How do the rates compare? Once you’ve narrowed down your options, compare rates from several similar lenders to get the best deal.
- What’s the overall cost? With term loans, the fastest way to compare business loans is to look at the APR — as long as the lenders offer similar loan terms.
- What do other customers say? Customer reviews can give you an idea of what your experience might be like. Check out their ratings on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot.
Where can I get a small business loan?
It used to be that banks and credit unions were your two main options for business loans. That’s no longer the case. Let’s take a look at some common business loan providers in 2019.
Borrowing online is significantly easier than borrowing from a bank: There’s less paperwork and a shorter application. It’s now also easier to qualify for an online business loan as a small business.
Here’s a few types of loan providers you might find online:
- Direct online lenders. These lenders fund your loan themselves and often handle all aspects of the application process in-house.
- Peer-to-peer (p2p) platforms. These online platforms act as liaisons between borrowers and investor funding. The platform sets the terms and conditions and is your point of contact if you have questions about the process.
- Online connection services. Also called marketplaces, these free websites help you prequalify with multiple lenders by filling out one form. They’re typically free for business owners.
- Business loan brokers. Hiring a business loan broker works a lot like using an online marketplace. The difference is that you have a chance to sit down in-person and discuss your options. And you’ll have to pay a broker fee.
Banks and credit unions
Bank loans could be a good option for established businesses pulling in at least $1 million in annual revenue and need large amounts of funding — say, over $100,000.
Credit unions might be nonprofits, but they actually reject more applicants than any other type of lender, according to the 2016 Small Business Credit Survey by the Federal Reserve.
Must read: Can I get a startup business loan?
Yes, but it won’t be easy to get a traditional business loan. Even if you’ve already opened your business’s doors, you might not find many loan options if it’s younger than six months.
Startup loans tend to be more expensive and have shorter terms. They also typically come in smaller amounts than your average business term loan.
While some microlenders and the SBA 7(a) loan program offer startup loans, you might have better luck looking into other types of financing, like angel investors.
Benefits of getting a business loan
Getting a loan can help your business in more ways than one. These include:
- Get money to grow. You need money to make money. Done right, a business loan can more than pay for itself by funding revenue-growing projects or bring on new staff.
- Soften the blow of slow months. Lines of credit and other cashflow funding allow you to keep up your regular expenses when things naturally slow down.
- Access the value of business assets. Getting a secured business loan allows you to cash in on items you already own to help expand, get working capital and more.
- Build your credit. A business loan can help build your personal and business credit score if it requires a personal guarantee. This can help you qualify for more funding in the future.
3 questions to ask to qualify for a loan
Business loan requirements vary by lender, loan type and how much you want to borrow. To find out if you meet most business loan requirements, ask yourself the following questions:
How long have I been in business? For a bank loan, you often need to be around for at least two years, while many online lenders are willing to work with a business that’s been around at least six months.
- What’s my personal credit score? While it’s possible to find alternative loans for business owners with bad credit, most lenders require a minimum FICO score of 660 to 680.
- What’s the monthly and annual revenue? Some lenders want your business to bring in at least $10,000 a month, while others care more that your business makes at least $50,000 a year.
Why was my business loan application rejected?
The main reason businesses get rejected for loans have to dow with its ability to repay. These include:
- Weak business performance
- Not enough collateral
- Low credit score
- Too much debt
- Short credit history
If you’re looking for funding to expand, you might want to waiting until your business is more established before reapplying. Taking steps to improve or strengthen your credit report could also help your chances of approval. Or, consider applying for a secured rather than an unsecured business loan.
Where can I get an SBA loan?
The Small Business Administration doesn’t actually fund loans itself. You’ll have to go to a lender that offers SBA financing to apply. You can find SBA loans online through sites like SmartBiz, though the SBA’s top lenders tend to be banks.
Whether you apply online or through a bank, SBA loan applications are typically more involved than other types of business financing. And since they involve taxpayer money, and you can get disqualified for reasons that other lenders don’t even consider, like having a criminal record.
What types of documents will I need?
It depends on your lender and your business’s financials. Online lenders typically ask to see fewer documents than banks do. Younger businesses often need to provide more documents than businesses that have been around the block a few times.
However, there are some common documents almost every lender may request:
- Government-issued ID. The federal government requires lenders to verify the identification of all applicants. Typically, lenders do this by requesting to see a driver’s license, passport or other official ID.
- Business bank statements. Lenders often like to look at the past two to six months of your business’s most recent bank statements to get an idea of its current cash flow.
- Tax returns. Your taxes give lenders an idea of how much your business makes annually. Some lenders only ask for business tax returns, while others like to see your personal return as well.
- Business plan. More common with banks and credit unions, some online lenders also ask for a business plan — or at least financial projections.
- Profit and loss statement. Also called an income statement, your P&L breaks down your company’s net revenue and helps your lender verify how much debt your business can afford to take on.
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Business loan alternatives
Don’t think you’ll qualify for a business loan? Explore alternative options for borrowing.
|Alternative||Best for||How it works|
|Personal loan||Entrepreneurs and business owners with good credit and high income||Take out a term loan in your name based on your personal creditworthiness.||Read more|
|Business grants||Nonprofits, tech industry
Businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans
Businesses located in economically disadvantaged areas
|Complete an application for funding from the government or a private organization. You don’t have to pay it back, but grants tend to be smaller than loans and more difficult to qualify for.||Read more|
|Investor financing||Startups and potentially highly profitable businesses with a plan to expand||Sell a percentage of your business’s ownership — it’s equity — to venture capitalists in exchange for upfront financing.||Read more|
|Crowdfunding||Businesses and entrepreneurs with a strong social media presence||Set up a campaign asking for small donations from your friends, family and social network. Many platforms take a percentage of the funds you raise as a fee.||Read more|
|Friends and family||Business owners and entrepreneurs with friends and family interested in investing||Set up an informal agreement or use services like Loanable to make a formal business loan agreement outlining the terms and conditions for paying back a family loan.||Read more|
|Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS)||Startups||Invest your retirement savings in a new business without paying the usual taxes or fees that come with accessing your 401(k) or IRA early.||Read more|
Small business loan glossary
A to H
Accounts receivable. Money that a company is owed by its clients, usually in the form of outstanding invoices. This count as an asset.
Accounts payable. Money that a company owes a supplier, vendor or other source when it purchased goods or services on credit. These count as a liability.
Asset. Anything of value that a person or business owns or buys as well as money they are owed (accounts receivable).
Bridge financing. A high-interest short-term loan, usually two weeks to three years, to cover gaps in longer-term financing. Typically used to cover the initial costs of a project or change to a business that hasn’t yet been finalized.
Business assets. Generally, business assets refer to property or equipment that a business owns, including inventory, real estate, securities and accounts receivable.
Commercial and industrial (C&I) loan. Usually a short-term secured loan only available to businesses to provide either working capital or to fund a major expense like acquiring another business, maintaining property and real estate or undertaking a new project.
Daily holdback. When a creditor takes a percentage of a business’s daily sales as repayment for a cash advance.
Cash flow. The amount of money going into a business, minus the amount of money going out. Positive cash flow means that you have enough money to cover your expenses. When you get into negative territory, you might need a working capital loan to keep afloat.
Debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR). Also, debt coverage ratio. A business’s cash flow (usually the net operating income) divided by debt service payments (loan repayments and leases). Used by creditors to determine how able a business is to repay a loan (similar to a debt-to-income ratio).
Gross profit. The total amount a business made, minus the cost of producing goods or delivering a service.
I to P
Lien. A legal agreement that allows a creditor to take certain assets if the borrower is unable to repay a loan. A form of collateral.
Microloan. A small loan — typically less than $35,000 — that can help cover small expenses when a business is getting off the ground.
Net income. The difference between how much a business makes and how much it costs to run.
Net operating income. The difference between a business’s profits and its expenses, taxes and interest.
Payback period. The estimated amount of time it will take for a business to repay a cash advance — similar to a loan term.
Personal guarantee. A promise to repay a loan if the business is unable to, usually backed by your personal assets.
Q to Z
Split withholding. When a credit card processor automatically sends a portion of a sale to a creditor and another portion to a business.
Working capital. Money used to cover the cost of a business’s day-to-day operations.
Frequently asked questions
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