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VA business loan alternatives

The SBA Veteran's Advantage program has expired. Here are the next-best options for veteran-owned businesses.

This article was reviewed by Doug Noll, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning lawyer, mediator and author with over 40 years of experience in the legal field.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) used to offer reduced fees on 7(a) loans and Express loans to veteran-owned businesses. But this Veteran's Advantage (VA) small business loan program expired in 2018.

In fact, there are no SBA loans specifically for veterans currently available. But a few small business loans that offer the next best thing.

Our team of experts reviewed over 220 business loan providers before selecting these six choices. We focused on lenders offering special deals to veteran-owned businesses, though some were just a good choice for any business owner.

6 alternatives to VA business loans

We've kept this list up to date by removing lenders like BlueVine that currently are only offering Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Lendio business loans logo

★★★★★

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Best marketplace: Lendio business loans

560
Min. Credit Score
6%
Starting APR
$5,000,000
Max Loan Amount

Lendio is a connection service that helps business owners find the right lender for their needs — including alternatives to the SBA Patriot Express Program. Its wide range of lenders sets it apart from similar connection services like LendingTree and National Business Loans, and you may be able to score rates as low as 6%.

  • Over 300 lenders in its network
  • APR starts at 6%
  • Wide range of loan options
  • Recent warning from the FTC
  • Potential origination fee
Min. Loan Amount $500
Max. Loan Amount $5,000,000
APR Starting at 6%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min. Credit Score 560
Minimum Loan Term 12 months
Maximum Loan Term 300 months

Best Patriot Express alternative: StreetShares small business loans

640
Min. Credit Score
8%
Starting APR
$250,000
Max Loan Amount

StreetShares designed its Patriot Express line of credit as an alternative to the now-defunct Patriot Express SBA loan program. While its rates run higher than an SBA loan, it’s faster and easier to qualify. Veteran business owners can also access free training, find a mentor and even apply for grants through the StreetShares Foundation. However, the maximum loan amount is relatively low, and you should expect to pay an origination fee up to 4.95% when you borrow.

  • Transparent about costs
  • Excellent customer service
  • Access to training for veterans
  • High origination fee of 3.95% or 4.95%
  • More expensive than an SBA loan
  • Low maximum loan amount of $250,000
Min. Loan Amount $2,000
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
APR Starting at 8%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 640
Minimum Loan Term 3 months
Maximum Loan Term 36 months

Best microloan: Kiva business loans

None
Min. Credit Score
0%
Starting APR
$15,000
Max Loan Amount

Kiva offers microloans by allowing you to create and manage a crowdfunding campaign. While this means you will need to rely on your social network to get traction, you won’t have to pay any fees to Kiva. Its maximum loan amount is low, but its lack of strict requirements means that you could qualify for funding even if you have bad credit.

  • 0% APR
  • Open to new startups
  • Bad credit OK
  • Low maximum loan amount of $15,000
  • May take up to 45 days
  • Funding depends on social network
Min. Loan Amount $25
Max. Loan Amount $15,000
APR 0%
Interest Rate Type N/A
Minimum Loan Term 1 months
Maximum Loan Term 3 months

Best credit union: Navy Federal Credit Union unsecured business loans

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
11%
Starting APR
$25,000
Max Loan Amount

Navy Federal Credit Union is built for veterans. Its maximum APR is set at 18%, and it has plenty of loan options to meet your business’s needs. But it isn’t fast — although you can apply online — and its maximum unsecured loan amount is set at a very low $25,000.

  • APR capped at 18%
  • Wide variety of loan options available
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Must have Navy FCU business account
  • Low maximum loan amount of $25,000
  • No preapproval
Min. Loan Amount $2,500
Max. Loan Amount $25,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Maximum Loan Term 60 months

Best bank: PNC Bank business loans

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
8.18%
Starting APR
$100,000
Max Loan Amount

PNC Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender, which means it has a more streamlined SBA loan application process. As a regional bank, it might be easier to qualify with than larger counterparts like Bank of America. But you’ll have to contact a PNC Bank loan specialist to get started — there’s no online application.

  • SBA Preferred Lender
  • No guarantee fee
  • Variety of other financing options
  • No specific information on costs
  • Can’t apply online
Min. Loan Amount $20,000
Max. Loan Amount $100,000
APR 8.18% to 15.57%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Minimum Loan Term 24 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months

Best line of credit: OnDeck business lines of credit

600
Min. Credit Score

Starting APR
$100,000
Max Loan Amount

OnDeck doesn’t have a specific program for veterans. But this provider has flexible requirements and a fast, online application that makes applying simple. Its relatively low credit requirement also makes it easier to qualify after a stint of active duty service. But be prepared for daily or weekly repayments.

  • No origination or draw fees
  • Quick funding available
  • Low starting APR of 4.8%
  • High monthly revenue requirement of $40,000
  • Must have at least three years in business
  • Loan terms capped at 12 months
Min. Loan Amount $5,000
Max. Loan Amount $100,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Maximum Loan Term 12 months
Turnaround Time Next business day

More business loans for veterans and service members

Veteran-owned businesses can benefit the most from these types of business loans.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans (MREIDLs) are SBA disaster loans designed for businesses that have suffered because an owner was called to active duty. You can borrow up to $2 million at a 4% rate with terms up to 30 years.

To qualify, your business must have no other means to financially recover from the loss of revenue due to your active-duty status. And you can only apply up to a year after returning from active duty.

Unlike other SBA loans, the Small Business Administration fully funds these loans. You can apply online through the SBA Disaster Assistance website.

Other SBA loans

The second stimulus bill reduced or eliminated fees on 7(a), Express loans and 504 loans until October 2021. Since VA business loans were essentially 7(a) and Express loans with reduced fees, applying for an SBA loan now might get you a similarly competitive deal.

The bill also increased the amount the SBA will guarantee on 7(a) and Express loan programs. And it extended an SBA loan debt relief program. The government will cover interest and principal payments for the first six months of a loan issued between February 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.

Can I still get a Patriot Express loan?

No, the SBA stopped offering Patriot Express loans in 2001. But the standard SBA 7(a) loan program is still up and running — and might offer a better deal than you’d find elsewhere if you can qualify.

Online loans for veterans

Some online providers like StreetShares specialize in financing for veterans who can’t qualify for SBA funding. Online lenders tend to focus on factors beyond your personal credit score and business revenue to offer a better deal.

While online rates and fees are often higher than SBA or bank loans, you can access a wider range of financing and get your money as soon as the next business day.

Veteran franchise financing

Several corporations like UPS and 7-Eleven offer special financing options for veterans who want to open a franchise. With 7-Eleven, for example, you can get a significantly reduced franchising fee and unique financing options that are only available to veterans.

Microloans for veterans

Your business can also apply for highly discounted financing with nonprofits like the Veteran Business Fund. These loans typically can’t cover all of your business’s financing needs, but they can come with interest as low as 0%. Nonprofits sometimes also offer help in getting additional financing from the SBA and other veteran-friendly lenders.

Does the VA offer business loans for veterans?

No, the VA doesn’t offer business funding for veterans. VA business loans typically refer to the Veterans Advantage SBA loan program — which happens to share initials with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Select a few pieces of information about the loan you’re looking for, your business and your personal credit to get even more options.

More resources available to veterans

Several government and private organizations offer resources for veteran-owned companies, ranging from grants to training programs.

  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. The SBA sets aside 3% of government contracts as part of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program.
  • VetToCEO. Training specifically designed to help former service members navigate the process of setting up and operating a business.
  • Global Good Fund. A leadership development program that pairs veterans with coaches and mentors, and helps them access funding.
  • Boots to Business. An intensive training program that gives veterans the fundamentals of starting a business, run by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center. This SBA organization runs a variety of specialized business courses for veterans, like how to write a business plan.
  • Dog Tag Inc. A five-month fellowship program for veterans with service-connected disabilities and their spouses that gives you first-hand experience operating a business.
  • Franchise discounts. If you’re thinking of opening a franchise, ask if the company offers a discount on the fee — many like UPS, Little Caesars and 7-Eleven do.
  • Grants. Companies like StreetShares offer grants to veteran-owned small businesses, or you can check out local government grants or Grants.gov for veteran-specific funds.

Bottom line

Whether starting a business or expanding your existing one, you can find opportunities that support veterans and military personnel with the financial support and capital you deserve. You can learn more about how business loans work and find even more lenders with our guide.

Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about business loans for veterans.

Do veteran-owned businesses get tax breaks?

Your business might qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit if it employs veterans, but there are no federal tax breaks for veteran-owned businesses.

But your state might offer tax breaks depending on the type of business you have. For example, veteran-owned franchises in Texas might not have to pay taxes for the first five years of operation.

How do I get my business certified as veteran-owned?

You can get your business certified as veteran-owned through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Generally, this involves providing proof that you’re a veteran, like a Department of Defense Form 214 or a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Find other business lenders that support our troops

Want more options? The Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is one of the most prominent federal resources available.

Name Product Filter Values Min. Amount Max. Amount Requirements
Fora Financial business loans
$5,000
$500,000
6+ months in business, $12,000+ monthly revenue, no open bankruptcies
Get qualified for funding in minutes for up to $500,000 without affecting your credit score. Best for companies with at least six figures in annual revenue.
Lendio business loans
$500
$5,000,000
Operate business in US or Canada, have a business bank account, 560+ personal credit score
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 300 legit business lenders.
National Funding business loans
$5,000
$500,000
Be in business at least one year and make at least $150,000 in annual sales. Other loan types have additional requirements.
Working capital loans and equipment financing, some high-risk industries may be eligible.
Fundbox lines of credit
$1,000
$150,000
6 + months in business, $100,000+ in annual revenue, 600+ credit score
Get flat rate, short-term financing based on the financial health of your business, not your credit score.
Bitty Advance business cash advances
$2,000
$25,000
$5,000 monthly bank revenue, 6+ months in business, business bank account open 3+ months, 450+ credit score
With APRs in the triple digits, this is best saved as a last resort.
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