Mountain America Credit Union business loans review
Unsecured funding ideal for ongoing projects and working capital.
- Best for unsecured, flexible business loans.
- Pick something else if you want to high-dollar financing.
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.
Mountain America Credit Union (MACU) offers a wide range of business loans, from small-dollar unsecured financing to hard-to-find business acquisition loans. But it’s best known for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, which are low-cost financing backed by the government.
Credit union analytics company Callahan & Associates has ranked it as the it top SBA lender in the country for the last 16 years. And it’s also the top credit union to issue Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the coronavirus outbreak.
But it’s best for businesses in the Salt Lake City area. Under normal circumstances it only processes applications in person at a branch. And during the coronavirus outbreak, it still doesn’t offer online applications.
How much will this loan cost me?
MACU business loans come with variable rates that range from prime + 6% to 6.5% APR. The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate is 3.25% as of July 2020, meaning that rates currently range from 9.25% to 9.75% — relatively low for a business loan.
While MACU advertises it as a business loan, it's more like a combination of a loan and line of credit with terms up to 84 months. It works like a revolving line of credit for the first 24 months with interest-only repayments. Then you repay the remaining balance like a loan over the remaining 60 months. Credit limits range from $10,000 to $50,000.
Use the calculator below to see how much a loan might cost you based on the balance you expect to rack up after the first two years.
Business loan calculator
See how much you'll pay
|Loan terms (in years)|
How it works
The rate you get is based on your business's creditworthiness. Being profitable, having several years of experience and a personal a credit score over 740 will likely help you land the lowest rate. But the difference between the lowest and highest rate is 0.5%. If you qualify, you'll get close to the lowest rate.
However, variable rates are subject to change, and are likely to increase during the life of a new loan. Prime rates are currently at historic lows and are expected to rise when the economy recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.
Watch out for interest-only repayments
Another factor that affects the cost of your loan is whether you only make the minimum payments during the first two years. While paying just the interest reduces your monthly payments for those first two years, that means you won't make a dent into the loan balance. It's best to pay as much as you can afford from the very beginning to drop the balance.
What do I need to qualify?
MACU doesn't disclose the requirements for its business loans. But you'll need to become a business member to qualify for a loan. You can qualify for membership if your business meets one of the following criteria:
- Located in Salt Lake County, Utah
- Business signs up as a select employer group
- Owners are personal MACU members
To become a personal member, you must either be a resident of an eligible county in Utah, live with or be a family member of a current MACU member or volunteer for an eligible organization. Generally, you won't meet this criteria unless you live in a state where MACU has branches: Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico or Utah.
What information do I need to apply?
MACU doesn't disclose what information you need during the application process — you can ask about what you need when you call in to schedule an appointment. Typically for small business loans you'll need to provide a government-issued ID, business and personal tax statements and documents showing your business financials — like a profit and loss statements.
What industries does MACU work with?
MACU also doesn't explicitly exclude any industries from applying for a business loan. But you might have trouble qualifying if your business has struggled to get a loan in the past because of its industry. You can compare options that might be a better fit for your business by visiting our guide to loans for high-risk industries.
What other types of financing does MACU offer?
In addition to unsecured business loans, MACU also offers the following types of financing:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. MACU has been ranked a top lender for this COVID-19 loan program. It offers loans up to $10 million with rates fixed at 1% — with the option of up to 100% forgiveness if you spend most of the funds on payroll expenses.
- Secured lines of credit. A revolving line of credit backed by your business's assets with limits starting at $50,000 and rates from prime + 2.0% to 2.5%.
- Equipment loans. Business loans secured with your equipment starting at $10,000 with terms as long as 120 months.
- Business acquisition and franchise loans. Financing to buy out another company or start a franchise with rates terms and loan amounts tailored to your specific needs.
- Commercial real estate financing. Finance up to 70% of the value of most properties — or 60% to 65% on special properties.
- Construction loans. Funding for large commercial building projects from $250,000 to $2 million with 25-year amortization, a 10-year call and a 5-year rate adjustment after the construction project is finished.
Some of these loans may be through a government-backed SBA program — but MACU doesn't specify which are.
Pros and cons
MACU business loans can be a great option for small businesses looking for working capital. But consider the drawbacks before you apply.
- Combines line of credit with term loan
- Interest-only repayments for first 24 months
- Low competitive rates of prime + 6% to 6.5%
- No unsecured loans over $50,000
- No online application
- F-rating from the Better Business Bureau over failure to respond to complaints
See other top business loan options
If you need more than $50,000, or just want to compare more lenders, enter in a few pieces of information about your business to explore options that might fit your business's needs.
Is MACU legit?
Yes, MACU is a legitimate credit union and business lender. It's a member of the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) and an equal housing lender, meaning that it meets federal standards. It's also an SBA lender, which means that some of its business loans are backed by the federal government.
MACU reviews and complaints
|BBB customer reviews||1 out of 5 stars, based on 6 customer reviews|
|Trustpilot Score||3.1 out of 5 stars, based on 3 customer reviews|
|Customer reviews verified as of||12 October 2020|
MACU barely has any customer reviews online — not uncommon for credit unions that only serve small areas. The few that are there are mixed. Some customers state they're pleased with the customer service received. But several complain about how long the process took to get a loan and the quality of customer service.
While customer service response times have slowed to a crawl across the board during the coronavirus outbreak, MACU's appear to be slow year-round. When we attempted to get in contact, its live chat feature was close to useless. It estimated a 26-minute wait, but we still weren't connected after an hour.
What business owners say about getting a PPP loan with MACU
Small businesses really valued working with MACU. It has helped over 7,000 businesses qualify for this government-backed emergency loan program that was designed for businesses affected by the coronavirus. It focuses on small businesses, too — the average loan was around $50,000. Here's what two business owners have to say about their MACU experience
"I don't think for one minute we would have gotten the type of support, communication, and expediency that we got through Mountain America if we had gone through a traditional bank. This, among many other reasons, is why we have chosen to give our banking business to Mountain America over a regional or national bank.
We have a close relationship with everyone we work with; we receive incredible support whenever it's needed, and they are in our court, always ready to help in any way possible."
— Jason Olsen, president at Prestman Auto
"The PPP loan process with Mountain America went as smooth as a loan process could possibly go. It is nice to have a representative here locally who knows us. Working with Mountain America doesn't have that big bank feel; it feels like working with a small business."
— Kathleen Wise, owner of Joe Momma's Breakfast Eatery
How do I apply?
You can apply for an MACU loan by setting up an appointment to visit a branch or calling 888-848-8376. Here's how to get started.
- Go to the Mountain America Credit Union website.
- Select Business, then click Find a branch.
- Enter in your city, state or ZIP code and select Search.
- Call the branch you would like to go to.
- Click Schedule appointment.
- Follow the prompts to make your appointment.
What happens after I apply?
From there, a loan officer walks you through the application process and request any required documents. While it doesn't give an estimated turnaround time, in-person loans tend to take a few weeks to process, at least. If you're applying for an SBA loan, it might take as long as a few months.
How do repayments work?
MACU business loans come with monthly repayments. You have the option to make interest-only repayments during the first 24 months of your loan term. After that, you'll pay off the balance in installments over the remaining 60 months.
While only paying interest reduces your monthly cost during that time, you'll have higher monthly repayments when it turns into a loan. Instead, consider paying off as much of the balance as soon as you can.
MACU's unsecured business loans are ideal for covering a long-term project with unpredictable costs, thanks to the revolving period during the first 24 months. And it's a top-ranked SBA lender — at least compared to other credit unions. If you want a loans officer to walk you through the application, this could be the credit union for you.
But if you want something faster — or don't qualify for membership — visit our guide to credit union business loans to compare other similar options.