Start Up Loans business loans review

Kickstart your new business with a government-backed startup loan of up to £25,000 at a fixed rate of 6%.

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SUL business loans comparison

SUL business loans

Name Product Finder Score Loan type Loan amounts Loan terms Turnover/trading criteria Key benefit
The Start Up Loans Company Start Up Loan
Fixed rate Unsecured loan
£500 to £25,000
1 year to 5 years
No specified minimum turnover,
max 2 years trading

Other popular business loans

Name Product Finder Score Loan type Loan amounts Loan terms Turnover/trading criteria Key benefit
Portman Finance Business Loan
Fixed or variable rate Asset finance loan
£10,000 to £2,000,000
3 to 72 months
£100,000 annual turnover,
1 year trading
Representative example: Borrow £30,000 over 3 years at a rate of 7.26% p.a. (fixed). Total payable £36,537.84 in 36 monthly repayments of £1014.94.
Funding Options Unsecured Loan
Unsecured loan
£1,000 to £20,000,000
12 to 72 months
£5,000 per month annual turnover,
6 months trading
Representative example: Borrow £50,000 over 24 months at a rate of 7.63% APR. Monthly repayment of £2,252.94 and the total amount payable is £54,070.56.

SUL business loans overview

Established in 2012, Start Up Loans (SUL) is a government-backed subsidiary of the British Business Bank. Working with a national network of delivery partners, its goal is to ensure new businesses have access to affordable funding and mentoring. SUL loans are available to individuals to start a new business or expand an existing enterprise.

In addition to getting the business loan, successful applicants will have access to a year of free business mentoring.

How does SUL work?

With an SUL loan, up to four partners can each apply for a maximum of £25,000, so potentially £100,000 is available per business. Loans are unsecured, meaning no assets are needed as collateral.

Key features of an SUL loan

Loan typeFixed rate Unsecured loan
Credit limits£500 to £25,000
Loan terms1 year to 5 years
Loan rate typeFixed
Personal guaranteeA personal guarantee may be required
Repayment holiday
Multiple loans allowed at the same time
Option to top up a loan
Arrangement fee
Early repayment fee
More Info

Up to four partners in a business can choose to borrow between £500 and £25,000, meaning a maximum borrowing potential of £100,000 per business. Interest rates are currently fixed at 6%, meaning repayments will remain the same over the term of the loan.

Am I eligible for Start Up Loan funding?

It’s important to be certain that the repayment terms are realistic and achievable before applying for an SUL loan. You will also need to meet the following criteria:

Maximum trading requirement2 years
Business typesLimited Company,Sole Trader,Partnership
Additional eligibility infoYour business must have been trading for less than 24 months to apply. Start Up Loans are not available to fund debt repayment, training/qualifications/education programmes or investment opportunities that don't form part of an on-going sustainable business.
More Info

The director that applies will need to be aged 18 or above, resident in the UK with the right to work in the UK, and will need to pass credit checks.

In addition to these criteria, your business type and loan purpose, ie how you intend to spend the funding, will need to comply with eligibility criteria set by the scheme. Detailed information on excluded business types, and excluded loan purposes can be found on the SUL website.

How can I apply?

If you’ve decided that an SUL loan is the right choice for your business, you can start your application online. You will need to provide a business plan, cash flow forecast and personal survival budget.

  1. Prepare. You will need to provide a business plan and a cash flow statement for your application. Help and advice resources, as well as support on live chat, can be accessed on the SUL website.
  2. Register. Complete the online registration form and choose a delivery partner to support you with your application.
  3. Apply. Provide information about the business, how much you want to borrow and how you intend to use the loan.
  4. Agree. Once approved, you will need to sign a Loan Agreement. After this is returned to SUL you will receive your loan and have access to twelve months of free business mentoring.

Help and advice is provided throughout the application process.

Start Up Loans customer reviews

Start Up Loans has received fairly negative reviews from its customers, according to customer review site TrustPilot.

It currently has a TrustPilot rating of 2.4 out of 5, based on 158 reviews (updated May 2022). Many of its reviewing customers (63% to be exact) have complained about the poor communication they had received and some quite a few stated that they had been rejected, even if they had a clean credit report. This can sometimes be the case, not all loan applications are accepted, even if you meet the eligibility criteria but, it is quite unique to see this many complaints regarding this.

On the other side of the coin, 33% of Start Up Loans customers rated the subsidiary of British Business Bank as “Excellent” or 5 out of 5 stars.

It seems to be, those customers who had detailed business plans and relevant documents were more likely to receive a loan. In particular, one customer commented: “I have found this entire process to be faultless. I was doubtful given some of the reviews as my credit score is not the best.”

Alternative sources of funding

It’s a good idea to explore all of your options when looking into raising funding for your small business. There are a range of different routes to consider.

  • Get funding from investors. If they see potential in your business or idea they may offer to purchase a portion of your company in exchange for financing.
  • Crowdfunding. Get the word out using social media, crowdfunding sites or by investing in marketing. Family, friends, fans and even strangers who share your passion may want to contribute funds.
  • Apply to a government scheme. Various government schemes exist that offer support to new and small businesses. Learn more about government support for businesses.

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Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Chris Lilly is Head of publishing at He's a specialist in personal finance, from day-to-day banking to investing to borrowing, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their money. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more. See full bio

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