When it comes to small business loans, it is important that you first identify what it is you need additional funding for, and how much you can afford to take out.
For example, small business loans can be a great way for businesses to buy equipment, pay employee salaries, or even maintain cash flow, but if you take out too much, you may not be able to afford repayment.
We created this small business loans guide to help you find the best small business loan for your needs.
In this guide, you will be able to compare small business lenders, use our calculator to determine your total loan amount, and find answers to frequently asked questions.
On this page:
- Compare Small Business Loans
- Calculate Your Total Small Business Loan Cost
- Small Business Loan Lender Reviews
- Small Business Loans FAQ
Compare Small Business Loan Options
Instantly view loan options from $2,000 to $1,000,000 using our small business loan comparison tool.
Easily select your desired loan amount, age of your business, annual revenue, and personal credit score to compare small business loan rates from companies that meet your selected criteria.
Small Business Loan Calculator
One of the best ways to figure out if a small business loan is right for you is to determine what your monthly payment will be and how much the loan will cost you over its life. Our small business loan calculator will allow you to see your monthly payments, total interest, and total loan cost based on the information you fill out below.
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Small Business Loan Lender Reviews
OnDeck is an online lender that was founded in 2007. They are based in New York City. OnDeck focusses on providing some of the best small business loans. Their loan amounts range from $5,000 to $500,000 with loan terms from 3 months to 36 months. OnDeck is a great solution for businesses who need cash quickly as they have a quick online or phone application that takes just 10 minutes to complete and you can often get a funding decision and receive the money in your bank account within 24 hours.
Some benefits of using OnDeck is that they offer both term loans, as well as lines of credit and have looser lending qualifications than a traditional lender or bank. To borrow money from OnDeck, you must personally guarantee the loan and your credit has to be between 500 and 600 - though most OnDeck borrowers have credit scores above 660. While your business needs to have at least $100,000 in annual revenue, OnDeck tends to lend to larger businesses with revenue of around $450,000 per year which have been in business for over seven years.
One of the biggest drawbacks of OnDeck is that they have high interest rates. They offer fixed interest rates that start at 8.5% and go up to 99% on their term loans and their lines of credit rates start at 14% and go up to 40%. This includes their origination fee, as well as a $20 monthly maintenance fee on lines of credit.
More specifically, there are three different possible origination fees depending on how many loans are taken out with ondeck. The first loans comes with a 2.5 to 4.0 percent origination fee. The second loan comes with a 1.25 to 3.0 percent origination fee. And the third loans may come with an origination fee ranging from 0 to 3.0 percent.
Another key drawback is that OnDeck has a more frequent repayment schedule than with other small business loans. They take money either on a daily or weekly basis from your business bank account - which might not be a good fit for your business if you have problems with cash flow. While OnDeck does not have pre-payment fees, their fee scheme means that there is little benefit to borrowers when they repay their loans early.
Kabbage is an alternative online lender that was founded in 2008 and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. They provide quick access to funding for small businesses. After filling out an easy online application that only takes a few minutes to complete, you can get between $2,000 to $150,000 in funding as soon as the same day. Kabbage offers lines of credit rather than term loans and is best for businesses that prefer a short repayment period since Kabbage only offers repayment periods of between 6 and 12 months.
Kabbage is also a great choice for those who don't have perfect credit. They work with borrowers of all credit profiles, with no minimum FICO requirement, and use alternative underwriting criteria such as the business’ accounting, banking, and e-commerce information in order to make their lending decisions. In order to apply for their small business loans, at minimum you need to connect your business checking account, but you can also add a wide variety of other data sources like a payment platform or bookkeeping software. You can also upload information from accounts like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, QuickBooks, or Square. Kabbage takes into account things like how many years you've been in business and your average monthly revenue.
One of the downsides of Kabbage is that they have relatively high fee structure – they don’t use traditional ‘interest rates.’ Their fixed fees start from 7% and go to 69% APR. Also, Kabbage’s fee structure is quite complicated. Each month you have to pay back a certain percentage of the principal, as well as a portion of the loan fee. You pay the biggest chunk within the first two months of a six-month loan and within the first six months of a twelve-month loan after taking out your money from the line of credit. While Kabbage doesn’t have pre-payment fees, there is little incentive to repay your loan quickly.
Another downside of Kabbage is that they do not have longer term loans which means that Kabbage funding is not ideal for longer-term purchases.
LendingClub was founded in 2006 and is based in San Francisco. They are a popular peer-to-peer online lender who is better known for their personal loans than their small business loans. They connect people or businesses who are looking for loans with investors who are willing to fund their loans.
LendingClub offers two financing options for small businesses: a term loan or a line of credit. With their term loans, you can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $300,000 at a fixed interest rate of anywhere from 10% to 35.5%. Their term lengths are anywhere from 1 to 5 years and you can get your funding within as little as two days. The borrowing amount and interest rate range for their line of credit is the same, but when you take money out of the line of credit it must be repaid in up to 25 months.
LendingClub is a better choice than some of the other online lenders because their interest rates are lower than some other options out there, but they still aren’t as low as you might get from a traditional bank if you have good credit. Their requirements are more flexible than traditional banks with a minimum credit score of 600 and a requirement that you provide collateral on loans only if you borrow over $100,000.
When they do require collateral, they put a lien on your business assets instead of your personal assets like some other lenders do. But LendingClub does require that businesses be in operation for 24 months before applying for a loan and that they have at least $75,000 in annual sales.
Additionally, Lending Club charges an origination fee ranging from 1.99 to 6.99 percent. However, there is no pre-payment fee if you repay your loan early.
Some drawbacks of LendingClub is that their rates are relatively high in comparison to banks or SBA loans. They’re also not as fast at funding loans as some other online lenders.
Funding Circle was founded in 2010 and is based in San Francisco. It’s relatively unique among online lenders because it is a peer-to-peer lending platform that focuses on small businesses. They lend money by connecting investors wanting to purchase loans to qualified small businesses.
Funding Circle offers faster funding than you would get from traditional banks and slightly better terms than some other online small business lenders. Their loans take just 10 minutes to apply for online and you can get a decision within 3-5 business days and you usually receive the funding within 10 days. While their fixed interest rates are higher than traditional banks, they are lower than other alternative lenders with an APR range from 4.99% to 27.79%.
While Funding Circle doesn’t have a minimum annual revenue requirement, each lender on the platform will have different cutoffs. The average credit score of borrowers also tends to be around 700, but you need at least a score of 620 in order to qualify. The average Funding Circle borrower has been in business for around 10 years, has around 10 employees and annual revenues of over $2 million.
The average amount that Funding Circle disperses for loans is $120,000 and the average loan is for 36 months. Funding Circle provides loan amounts anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 with terms of anywhere from 6 months to 5 years.
There are no pre-payment fees, and there is no complicated fee structure that penalizes those who repay sooner. Funding Circle charges an origination fee ranging from 0.99 to 6.99 percent. Late payment fees amount to 10 percent of the missed payment amount.
One of the downsides of Funding Circle is that it is more difficult for some small businesses to qualify for their loans since they look for small businesses that have a long track record, high annual revenues and good credit. They also require both a lien against non-titled business assets and a personal guarantee on the loan.
Fundation is an online lender that was founded in 2011 and is based in New York City. Fundation focusses on providing loans and lines of credit to established small businesses who want flexible terms. Fundation requires that you have been in business for at least one year, have at least $100,000 in revenue, and at least two other employees working for your business other than the business owner.
They also have an alternative underwriting scheme where they take a broad look at both the business and borrower before they decide whether or not to lend you money. They're interested in knowing how you intend to use the money and ask detailed questions about your company on the application in order to get a full picture of your company’s potential.
Fundation provides loans of between $20,000 and $500,000 and lines of credit between $20,000 and $100,000, and charges fixed interest rates of between 7.99% and 29.99%. Their loan terms start at 1 year and can go as high as 4 years and it usually takes them 1 to 3 days to fund your loan if you’re approved. When you borrow money from a line of credit, you have 18 months to repay it.
There are several fees to keep in mind. Term loans come with an origination fee of up to 5.00 percent, and lines of credit are hampered by a $500 closing fee and a 2.00 percent draw fee per withdrawal.
One benefit of Fundation is that after nine months they give you an opportunity to refinance your loan and potentially borrow more. They also offer no pre-payment penalties.
Some of the downsides of Fundation is that they are not a good fit for start-ups without employees or very small businesses. Another downside is that they ask for both a personal guarantee from borrowers and a lien on business collateral. They also require frequent loan repayments. Fundation deducts loan payments from your account twice per month, something which can negatively impact your company if you experience problems with cash flow. Line of credit payments are only deducted once per month.
Bluevine is an online lender that provides lines of credits and invoice factoring for small businesses. They were started in 2013 and are based in Redwood City, California. They offer lines of credit of up to as much as $150,000 with repayments expected over 6 to 12 months. They also offer something known as invoice factoring. Essentially, BlueVine will give you an immediate advance on your invoices so you don’t have to wait for your customers to pay you. They offer invoice factoring credit lines of up to $2.5 million and focus on invoices which are due in 90 days or less.
One benefits of their lines of credit and invoice factoring is that they don’t charge maintenance fees, unused credit fees, or pre-payment fees. Their lines of credit charge as low as 16% and you can access the funds at the click of a button online.
You can get funding within 24 hours and then draw on those funds whenever you need them. As you repay your line of credit, the available credit replenishes -- allowing you to use it again.
One of the benefits of their invoice factoring process is that it syncs with your own accounting software, making borrowing seamless. The money is also available immediately unlike other invoice factoring services that distribute cash once a month. The fee for invoice factoring is generally 60% to 17.5% of the invoice and a $15 wire fee. You also don’t need to fill out a lot of paper work in order to get started and they make a decision within 24 hours.
For invoice factoring, they look for a credit score above 530 and for their lines of credit, they look for credit scores above 600.
While invoice factoring might seem like a great solution to access fast money, it charges a very high interest rate since they take 17.5% to 60% of your invoice when you borrow that money for only 90 days. Over a year, that would add up to a 40% to 60% APR. You are much better off getting a line of credit from BlueVine or another lender than using their invoice factoring. The one benefit of invoice factoring is that it does allow you to access more money than a loan.
Fundbox is an online small business lender that was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. They use alternative underwriting criteria in order to decide whether to lend to your business. Rather than requiring that you use your personal credit, they look at your business health and set your interest rate and decide how much to lend to you based on that. They offer a line of credit with a unique repayment arrangement.
Rather than pay an interest rate, you pay a weekly fee on the money that you borrow. They allow you to borrow for term lengths of between 12 weeks and 24 weeks. They charge as low as 15% over 12 week terms and 59% over 24 week terms. Once you repay part of your line of credit, that money can be borrowed again.
Fundbox’s online application is quick and easy. If you’re approved, they can transfer you funds as soon as the next business day. Fundbox also connects with your accounting software in order to more quickly approve you for a loan, making the application process much easier and allowing them to easily judge the health of your company in order to make a funding decision.
Fundbox does not charge origination, maintenance, or inactivity fees. You only pay fees on as much as you borrow. One of the benefits for Fundbox is that, unlike other lenders with unique repayment terms, they don’t frontload their fees so that repaying your loan early doesn’t make sense. Instead, they divide the fees evenly across your term length which means you can save if you pay off the money you borrowed early.
While Fundbox has some benefits like the fact that they don’t frontload their repayment fees, and the fact that they have few fees, they could be more expensive than other types of business financing you might qualify for. While their rates sound low, you have to remember that those rates are over just 12 weeks or 24 weeks, whereas the APR of other lenders is averaged over a whole year. So, that 15% fee is actually 18.64% over a year and that 59% fee is actually 19.47% over a year. Still, Fundbox might be a cheaper solution for a business owner with bad credit but a thriving business.
Credibility Capital is an online small business lender that was founded in 2013 and is based in New York City. Credibility Capital aims to work with high quality small businesses and lends in all states except Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont.
They offer small business loans in the amounts of $10,000 to $350,000 and offer term lengths of 1, 2, and 3 years. Their rates start as low as 10% and go as high as 25%. They have no prepayment fees, but they do charge a 3% to 5% origination fee bringing the loan’s APR to between 10% and 25%.
They require that the businesses that they lend to have been in business for at least 18 months. They also require that the business owner has strong personal credit and hasn’t had a commercial or personal bankruptcy in the last 5 years. They prefer your credit score to be over 640 and require that you provide a personal guarantee and a lien in order to get a loan.
Applying for a Credibility Capital loan is fairly straightforward and simple. You provide them with some basic information about yourself and your business and one of their loan specialists will contact you to complete your application. You can generally get your funding in as little as a week.
While Credibility Capital offers access to more capital than many other small business lenders, it comes at a price. While their rates are reasonable, Credibility Capital charges a one-time origination fee ranging from 3 to 5 percent depending on loan size. However, there is no prepayment penalty.
If you have great credit and a strong business, you might be able to get a loan for less with another online lender. Also, if your business is newer or you don’t a have great personal credit, then you’re less likely to qualify for a loan with Credibility Capital. The fact that they do a soft credit check to pre-qualify you, however, means that you can’t lose anything by applying for a quick online quote.
Founded in 2013 by two veterans, StreetShares is a peer-to-peer, veteran-focused (though military affiliation is not required) small business funding service that provides capital to existing business owners.
Aside from their support for America’s heroes, one of the most attractive characteristics of StreetShares is speed, as applications can be completed quickly online, and if approved, loans are typically funded within two days. Additionally, the lender also provides a variety of products to suit the unique needs of business owners.
StreetShares has two specific lending products (three if you count contract financing): term loans and lines of credit. Term loans are available for anywhere between $2,000 and $250,000, with terms ranging from three to 36 months. The Patriot Express line of credit offers borrowers access to $5,000 to $250,000 with the same terms. Both products offer interest rates between 7% and 14%, making them some of the more affordable alternative lenders. Additionally, there are no prepayment penalties, no application fees, and no up-front fees.
StreetShares does charge an origination fee of 3.95% or 4.95%, which is added to the principal and amortized. It’s not exceptionally high—some fees can exceed 6%—but it’s also not the lowest in the market, as other peer-to-peer lenders, like Lending Club, have origination fees as low as 1.99% for qualified borrowers.
To qualify for a loan or line of credit through StreetShares, applicants must be in business for at least 12 months, have a minimum gross annual revenue of $25,000, and have a minimum FICO score that is at least in the mid to low 600s.
Since StreetShares requires that applicants be in business for two years and turn a profit, this lender is not an option for those who are in the startup phase or who have been unable to meet the revenue requirements.
Small Business Loans FAQ
How Do You Qualify for a Small Business Loan?
The qualification requirements to get a small business loan depend on the lender, but lets take a look at some common criteria.
Ask the Expert: Zachary Lezberg, Founder of Small Business Expo
What are some typical qualification requirements for small business
In my experience with exhibitors and sponsors that provide typical business loans, there is a wide range of loans you can receive with differing requirements. Some lenders require a personal guarantee. This means that you personally are on the hook to pay back that loan in full. Others simply require bank references, financial statements (two to three years), and other documents.
Usually, lenders prefer to see businesses that have a track record of growth - preferably being in business for at least two years with financials to support. Further, business revenue will typically come into play depending on the size of the loan they are requesting, while the number of employees is typically just part of their operating costs, which is illustrated in the financials.
Do you have any other small business tips to keep in mind?
Be honest! Don't fudge your numbers. Lenders are smart and see right through it. Be fiscally responsible. Apply for lending when you don't need it. It's always great to have in your back pocket if you ever need the funds for growth - the best time to apply for a loan is when you are doing well and don't need the money!
Most banks and credit unions will expect you to have excellent credit and will only lend to you if your credit is above 600 or 700. Online small business lenders are far more likely to lend to people who have personal credit scores that are below 600.
Many lenders have requirements around how long you have been in business with the lowest cutoff often being 2 years. This is a requirement for some because lenders are wary of lending to companies without a track record.
Some small business lenders have requirements about how much revenue your company earns annually. This amount will vary lender to lender.
Number of Employees
Some lenders prefer to lend to companies that have a certain number of employees.
How Do You Get a Small Business Loan?
To apply for a small business loan, you need to have your personal information and your business information on hand.
You may also need to provide:
- Personal and business bank statements
- Balance and income statements
- Personal and business tax returns
- Resume of your business experience
- Financial projections for your company
- Drivers license
- Business licenses
- Business plan
Traditional banks will oftentimes require you to fill out a written application, although some allow you to apply online.
When you apply with an online small business lender, the application is often shorter and easier to complete and they require less information and fewer documents. Documents can be scanned and uploaded online, allowing for potentially quicker approval processes.
How to Improve Your Chances of Approval?
There are a lot of things that you can do in order to improve your chances of getting approved for a small business loan.
Ask the Expert: Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation
Do you have any advice for small business owners that are looking to improve their chances of getting approved for a small business loan?
A clear business plan certainly increases chances for approval. Lenders are not looking for certainty, but a well-thought out strategy is critical. Be real and drive home the current and future value of your business without seeming like you are naively presenting only the positive aspects of your business model.
Also, having taken out credit and paid that loan back is important. Having no debt is not necessarily the answer. Rather, having debt and showing a good ability to make those payments is critical to success as a small business owner and also to demonstrate creditworthiness to those looking to give a loan. It's important to keep in mind that lenders WANT to lend money. They want to be involved with business growth, if not for the long-term relationship, but also for the interest and revenue from multiple accounts, etc.
Any other tips on how to build and preserve a business?
Listen. As you grow in business, it is more important to listen to customer feedback and the market than to simply invest more in marketing to push what you think the customers want.
Also, work hard and show that to your team. When leadership is committed and hardworking, it makes all the difference. Finally, focus on ROI. Decide what is working and what is not, and the best way to do that is to have a good sense of your ROI on expenditures.
Building your business credit is one way to improve your chances of approval. You can do this by taking out credit in your business’ name right after you start your business. While you’ll have to co-sign for a business credit card, having one will start the process of establishing your business credit history.
Create a Clear Business Plan
Another way to improve your chances of qualifying for small business loans is to have a clear business plan. Having all of your historic and projected financial information available to share with a potential lender can speed up the process. This makes you look professional and allows the lender to better understand your business’ needs and potential.
A good business plan can include:
- Description of your company
- Biographies of the management team
- Analysis of your industry
- Description of the service or product that you provide
- Plan for your operations
- Promotional and marketing strategy
- SWOT analysis
Compare Your Options
Make sure to compare small business loans. If a traditional bank or credit union turn you down, it doesn't mean you can't get approved somewhere else. While online small business lenders are great options, remember that you’ll have to pay a premium in the form of higher interest rates if you have bad credit or present increased risk.
Are Small Business Administration Loans a Good Option?
To help make lending easier and more affordable, the Small Business Administration (SBA) started backing loans.
SBA loans are business loans that are partially backed by the SBA in order to help reduce lending costs to businesses. That means that the SBA insures between 50% and 85% of the total loan amount on behalf of lenders that give them out. For that reason, there is less risk on banks, allowing them to provide funds to small businesses at lower interest-rates and with better terms.
Ask the Expert: Steven Cohen, President of the Excelsior Growth Fund
What are your thoughts on small business administration loans?
SBA loans are a great way for businesses that are starting or expanding to access affordable loans. SBA microloans up to $50,000 can provide support for almost any business purpose. Larger SBA loans up to $5.5 million are also available and come with the support of a government guarantee, which makes them perfect for small businesses that might have difficulty getting more traditional financing.
The SBA has a great tool called Lender Match that makes it easy to find a SBA lender in your area.
Do you have any other small business tips to remember?
At Excelsior Growth Fund, we always encourage small business owners to understand the true cost of financing and what the APR, or annual percentage rate, will be on a loan before borrowing. Today's small business owner has access to hundreds of loan options that range from local banks to online lenders. Always read the fine print and ensure that you can handle the monthly (or daily) payment terms and that the APR is not predatory.
Types of SBA Loans
There are three types of SBA loans.
- SBA 7(a) loan - Borrowing for working capital
- SBA 504 loan - Borrowing to finance the purchase of a fixed asset like real estate or machinery
- SBA Express - Designed to help businesses who need money fast
Qualifying for SBA Loans
The one challenge small businesses often have with these loans is that they can be very difficult to qualify for since they have higher qualification standards than other small business loans. Despite this, SBA loans are one of the best ways to fund your company's growth since they will offer you quite low rates in comparison to other options.
SBA Loan Details
While the lenders decide on the final interest rate on an SBA loan, they have to stick to the SBA formula which allows banks to charge the prime rate plus an additional markup.
Repayment options depend on what you are borrowing the money for.
- Working capital - Up to 7 years
- Buy new equipment - Up to 10 years
- Buy real estate - Up to 25 years
SBA loans require personal guarantees from every person who is an owner in the business that has a 20% stake or more.
Where Should You Look for an SBA Loan?
SBA loans tend to be offered by larger institutions like traditional banks or credit unions as they can afford to lend money at lower interest rates. They also are more likely to have the infrastructure necessary to facilitate the more onerous SBA loan application and approval process.
There are a few online small business lenders who also offer SBA loans. One popular online option for finding an SBA lender is SmartBiz, but they don’t offer the loans themselves. Instead, they connect applicants with a marketplace of banks who provide SBA loans. The benefit of using their service is that they match you with an SBA lender who is the most likely to approve your SBA loan application.
SBA Loan Application Process
The application is quite exhaustive and asks questions about your experience operating a business. You will be required to submit past tax returns and your credit information. You will likely have to put some kind of collateral down for the loan in order to get a better interest rate such as your home or business assets.