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ForwardLine business loans review

Short-term funding with discounts for repeat borrowers — but it’s not transparent about costs.

finder.com’s rating: 4.45 / 5.0

★★★★★

Bottom line: This small business lender accepts poor credit with relatively low revenue requirements. But it doesn’t disclose costs and comes with daily or weekly repayments. Read our full review or get our 30-second take.

Details

Min. Amount$5,000
Max. Amount$150,000
Loan Term6 to 15 months
Min. Credit Score500
APRNot stated
Requirements500+ personal credit score, 3+ years in business, annual revenue of $75,000 or higher, 3+ months of business bank account statements.

Pros

  • Bad credit OK
  • Lower rates for repeat borrowers
  • Connects unqualified borrowers with other lenders

Cons

  • Low maximum loan of $150,000
  • Doesn’t disclose rates or fees
  • Daily or weekly repayments

Our take on ForwardLine short-term loans

ForwardLine is a short-term lender that specializes in financing for merchants with low revenue or bad credit. It’s one of a handful of business lenders I’ve reviewed that accepts credit scores as low as 500. And its annual revenue requirement of $75,000 is low for a lender that requires at least three years in business. If you can’t qualify, ForwardLine can also potentially connect you with a partner lender.

But it’s not for every small business. Its $150,000 maximum loan amount is low compared to other online lenders, which typically offer at least $500,000. ForwardLine also doesn’t disclose a range of rates and fees — but these often top 100% APR on similar products I’ve reviewed. And it requires daily or weekly payments by ACH or from credit card sales, which can be inflexible for some businesses.

Expect low loan amounts and short terms

ForwardLine offers small, short-term loans designed for businesses that are too small to qualify for a bank loan. 

  • You can borrow up to 10% of your annual revenue
  • The maximum loan amount is $150,000unless you borrow from a partner
  • Terms run from 6 to 15 months

ForwardLine doesn’t disclose rates or fees. But this product looks a lot like a merchant cash advance: It bases loan amounts on revenue and can collect repayment directly from your credit card sales.

Merchant cash advances often come with a fixed fee instead of interest and are one of the most expensive forms of business financing. Usually fees range from 10% to 300% of the amount you borrow on a merchant cash advance.

How ForwardLine compares to other bad-credit options

Here’s how ForwardLine compares to two more providers that offer business financing to business owners with bad credit.

★★★★★


Finder Rating: 4.45 / 5

Find out more

Loan amount

$5,000 to $150,000

APR

Not stated

Loan term

6 to 15 months

Requirements

500+ personal credit score, 3+ years in business, annual revenue of $75,000 or higher, 3+ months of business bank account statements.

★★★★★


Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

Check eligibility

Loan amount

$5,000 to $400,000

APR

Not applicable

Loan term

3 to 18 months

Requirements

6+ months in business, $15K+ in monthly deposits, 500+ credit score

ForwardLine reviews are mostly positive

BBB accredited Yes
BBB rating A+
BBB customer reviews 2.14 out of 5 stars, based on 7 customer reviews
BBB customer complaints 7 customer complaints
Trustpilot Score 4.7 out of 5 stars, based on 206 customer reviews
Customer reviews verified as of 28 September 2020

ForwardLine customer reviews highlight its high-quality customer service, along with the quick and easy application process. The few complaints against the company involve the loan’s cost — some customers felt they weren’t properly informed until after they got the loan. 

Some customers also left negative reviews on how ForwardLine handled loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several borrowers felt misled about payment relief options offered by ForwardLine’s customer service team.

ForwardLine's main requirement is three years in business

Your business must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for a short-term loan.

  • At least three years in business
  • At least $75,000 in annual revenue
  • Personal credit score of 500 or higher

ForwardLine has raised the minimum time in business and revenue requirements since I first wrote this review. Many business loan providers made similar changes in response to COVID-19, and there’s a chance it will make more changes as the economy recovers. Check with ForwardLine for the most up-to-date eligibility criteria.

Apply online or over the phone in a few minutes

The simplest way to apply for a ForwardLine short-term loan is by filling out a quick online form on the ForwardLine website. Or, you can apply over the phone by calling 866-623-4900.

You can get an estimate of the loan amount, rates and terms you’d receive without affecting your credit by filling out a quick online form. If you like your offer, you can complete the application by uploading documents. You’ll need at least three months of bank statements and a copy of your state-issued ID.

Typically you can receive funds within 24 hours of signing your closing documents. If you need more funding, you can apply for more financing after you’ve paid off half the balance of your current loan.

Small loans and flexible requirements set this lender apart

ForwardLine’s focus on the smallest consumer-facing companies is what makes it stand out from other similar providers. Business owners that have struggled to find financing due to their size or credit score might benefit from this lender's low loan amounts and credit requirements.

But it isn’t for everyone. Businesses that need over $150,000 should look elsewhere for financing. And businesses that serve other businesses or rely on government contracts may want to consider lenders with products tailored to their specific needs — like FundBox.

ForwardLine is a legitimate lender

ForwardLine may be small, but it’s a legitimate online business loan provider. It’s funded over 20,000 small businesses since it opened its doors in 2003. And it’s licensed to lend in the states it serves that require licensing — such as California. 

Like most online lenders it partners with FinWise bank, a member of the FDIC, to issue loans where it can’t legally issue the loans itself. But it doesn’t provide a list of its partners. If ForwardLine connects you with another lender, read reviews and visit its website before you apply.

Compare more business loans to see how ForwardLine holds up to other options.

Business loan ratings

★★★★★ Excellent
★★★★★ Good
★★★★★ Average
★★★★★ Subpar
★★★★★ Poor

We rate business loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.

Read the full methodology of how we rate business loan providers to get a better picture of what goes into each star rating.

Review by


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.

Expert review

ForwardLine is an online lender that specializes in short-term business loans to businesses that have been around for a few years. It could be a good deal for businesses that often rely on short-term financing. It offers lower rates to returning customers — and $250 cash back for those that refer another business.

It claims to have a high approval rate and the ability to find ways to work with businesses during an economic downturn. But it’s not transparent about the costs. If you want to know what you’re getting into before preapproval, consider another lender that’s more upfront about rates and fees.

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