Your small business or startup idea could change your life as well as the lives of your customers – but you need the capital to get it off the ground. Small business loans are vital if you want to effectively develop a new business idea or expand an existing firm.
But with so many different small business loan providers and types of loans, it can be exceptionally challenging to choose the right one. Knowing the differences between the various types of loans and lenders is an important part of making the best choice for your business when borrowing money.
Best Small Business Loans
- BlueVine – Best Overall Small Business Lender
- SmartBiz – Best for SBA Loans
- Kabbage – Best for Ease of Approval
- TD Bank – Best for Traditional Bank Loan
- Biz2Credit – Best for Businesses with Bad Credit
Type of Loan
Personal Credit Score Requirements
Business History Requirements
Line of credit
Starting at 4.8%
Six to 12 months
Starting at 6.25%
Up to 10 years
Line of credit
Six to 18 months
One to five years
Working capital, term loan
Term loans starting at 7.99%
One to three years
575 for working capital; 660 for term loan
Six months for working capital; 18 months for term loan
BlueVine is our overall choice for small businesses looking for a loan. It offers lines of credit with limits of up to $250,000 and rates as low as 4.8% with repayment terms lasting between six to 12 months. The lender has a fast and easy online application process and it’s possible to get approved in as quickly as five minutes. Once approved, you could have the money in your account in as quickly as a couple of hours.
To qualify for a line of credit, you’ll need a FICO score of least 600, be in business for at least six months, and have a minimum of $10,000 in monthly revenue. You’ll also need a bank connection or year-to-date bank statements and be incorporated or operating in an eligible* U.S. state. BlueVine also offers their own business checking services which provide you with FDIC-insured accounts that pays 1.2% on balances up to $100,000 as long as you meet certain requirements. Because of its short business history requirement, BlueVine is a great choice for startup business loans, especially for those who need bad credit loans.
If you don’t qualify for a line of credit, you can also use FundThrough’s invoice factor service, which allows you to get cash advances on your business’s outstanding invoices. FundThrough is BlueVine’s partner.
With BlueVine’s line of credit, you’ll only pay interest on what you borrow and be able to pay down your balance with no prepayment penalties. Once you begin borrowing against your credit, payments are automatically debited from your account each week or month over six to 12 months. And as you pay off your balance, your available credit line will be automatically replenished.
*BlueVine doesn’t operate in Nevada, North Dakota, or South Dakota
Why we chose it:
We like BlueVine because it offers a convenient application process, fast approvals, and flexible revolving credit that lets you borrow only what you need. Unless you have a specific purpose for needing a business term loan, BlueVine’s line of credit is practical and affordable for most small businesses. To learn more about its services and pricing, read our complete review on BlueVine.
- Quick online application process and approvals
- Revolving line of credit lets you borrow what you need
- Business checking and invoice factoring services available
- No business term loan options
- Businesses with bad credit might not qualify
SmartBiz is a marketplace lender that provides qualified small businesses a convenient one-stop shop to get offers for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. You’ll only need to complete an online application in order to be considered by the network of banks with which SmartBiz is affiliated. With an SBA 7(a) loan through SmartBiz, you’ll be able to borrow between $30,000 and $350,000 for working capital.
SBA 7(a) loans through SmartBiz offer significantly better rates and longer terms as compared to other kinds of business loans. Rates vary from 6% to 7%, though with fees the real APR can reach above 10%. However, this still compares favorably with offerings from non-bank lenders, which can charge many multiples of SmartBiz’s rates. SBA 7(a) loans also have term lengths that can last as long as 10 years, which is much longer than non-bank lenders.
Getting approved for these rates, however, requires passing a stringent and lengthy application process. You’ll need to have been in business for more than two years, have a personal credit score of at least 650, and be able to document the cash flow needed to cover the debt repayments. There are other requirements as well, such as not having any bankruptcies in the last three years, which can be found on the SBA website. Additionally, SBA 7(a) loans through SmartBiz typically require a one-time application fee of up to $3,000, an SBA guarantee fee, as well as closing costs of around $450.
In terms of timing, an SBA loan can take several months to get approval. SmartBiz, however, claims that they can help reduce the application time using its platform’s technology. Once approval happens, it takes at least seven days to get the money into your account.
Why we chose it:
SmartBiz is an excellent choice for businesses who qualify for SBA loans. With one convenient application, you’ll save time while being connected to an extensive range of banks in SmartBiz’s network, which helps ensure you get the best rate.
- One application connects you with a range of lenders
- Loans backed by the SBA have excellent rates and long repayment terms
- Application and approval process are lengthy
- Financial qualifications needed to get approval are exacting
Kabbage makes it easy to get lines of credit of between $1,000 to $150,000 with a simple online application that connects to your business accounts and looks at your financial information in real time. Kabbage, which is backed by American Express, claims you can be approved in minutes if you meet eligibility requirements.
To get there, you’ll need to have been in business for at least a year, have a business checking account, and meet an undisclosed minimum credit analysis that looks at credit reports for both the owner and the business. Kabbage requires online access to your business accounts and related services, but it ensures your data will remain protected and secure due to its “read-only access” and encryption tools.
After you’ve been approved, it can take up to three days for funds to hit your account. That time might be reduced, though, if you sign up for Kabbage’s business checking account, which has no monthly maintenance fees, mobile deposits, and pays up to 1.10% APY on balances up to $100,000.
There are minimum amounts Kabbage takes each time you make a draw. Each draw from your line of credit must be paid back in a separate six-, 12-, or 18-month installment plan. There are minimums you must draw as well: for six-month term draw, you must draw at least $500; for 12 months you must draw $10,000; and for 18 months you have to draw $20,000. There are also loan fees that are incurred each month that you have an outstanding balance, though there are no origination fees, annual fees, monthly maintenance fees, or documentation fees.
Why we chose it:
Through its innovative system that analyzes your business accounts online, Kabbage has accelerated the approval process for small business loans. If you’re looking for a fast and uncomplicated way to get a line of credit, then it’s worth taking a look at Kabbage.
- Approval can be quick
- Backed by American Express, an established financial player
- Fewer fees than competitors
- Must give Kabbage extensive electronic access to your data
- Longer repayment terms require you to borrow larger amounts
TD Bank offers both term loans and lines of credit, as well as commercial mortgages. Their term loans are available in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $1 million with fixed rates and flexible lengths of one to five years. Since TD Bank is a preferred SBA lender, it also provides SBA loans, which provide longer-term financing, shorter approval turnaround times, capital preservation, and faster access to loan proceeds. You’ll also be able to get lines of credit from TD Bank with limits between $25,000 and $500,000, variable interest rates, and automatic monthly payments.
Interest rates and fees aren’t disclosed publicly, which means that your rate will depend on how TD Bank judges your credit risk, among other factors. One of the significant drawbacks of TD Bank is its limited operational range, since it only provides small business loans in 15 East Coast US states and Washington, DC. You can learn more about the locations they provide loans on its website.
Why we chose it:
We think that TD Bank is a great choice since it offers both term loans and lines of credit that target small businesses, and you’ll have access to SBA loans. Despite having the drawbacks of a traditional bank in terms of demanding qualifications and a relatively long approval process, TD Bank should prove to be a reliable lender.
- Wide variety of loan options
- Security of a traditional bank lender with brick-and-mortar locations
- Lengthy approval process
- Stringent standards mean some business won’t qualify
If your business lacks stellar credit or is newly established, then Biz2Credit’s loan products, particularly their working capital loans, are worth looking at. A working capital loan is a type of term loan that’s paid back from business receipts and intended to be used to finance day-to-day operational expenses, such as rent, wages, inventory purchases, or debt payments. Biz2Credit offers working capital loans between $25,000 and $2 million.
One of the advantages of Biz2Credit is that application only takes a few minutes and approval can be swift, in as soon as 24 hours. To qualify for Biz2Credit’s working capital loan, you’ll only need a credit score of 575 and a six-month business history, though there is an annual revenue requirement of $250,000. Due to the relatively short business establishment requirement, Biz2Credit is an excellent place to get startup business loans.
While Biz2Credit doesn’t disclose its working capital loan rates, you can expect that they’ll be higher than what you would get from a traditional bank. Repayments come from business receipts and aren’t on a fixed term. Instead you’ll need to make regular payments anywhere between daily to bi-weekly.
Biz2Credit also offers business term loans that range in amounts from $25,000 to $500,000 with rates that start at 7.99%. Payment plans range from 12 to 36 months and can be made either via weekly or biweekly payments. Getting approval for these loans, which can be used for all business purposes, is more difficult, with a 660 credit score and an 18-month business history requirement. But you can get these loans quickly, as approval can come within 24 hours and funding within three days of submitting your application. Also, if you’re looking for a commercial real estate loan, Biz2Credit has mortgage products.
Why we chose it:
We recommend Biz2Credit’s working capital and term loans for small businesses with bad credit or a lack of business history. You are able to get access to significant sums of credit quickly, so it is worth considering as an alternative to traditional bank loans.
- Lower credit requirements than other lenders
- Approval in as little as 24 hours
- Access to significant sums
- Rates higher than traditional bank or SBA loans
- Working capital loans require frequent repayment
Choosing the Best Small Business Loan
Choosing a small business loan can be a daunting task. Not only are there different types of loans available, you’ll also have to choose between different providers that have various advantages and drawbacks. There are significant differences between banks and various alternative lenders. Plus, you may want to choose one of two popular kinds of small business loans: term loans or lines of credit. There are also other credit products like equipment financing and working capital loans.
Loan Provider Options
The first thing to consider is where you go to get your loan. The traditional place for small businesses to get a loan is to apply at a bank. If you don’t think you’ll qualify for a bank loan, either because of poor credit, lack of business history, or other factors like a previous bankruptcy, then you should take a look at alternative lenders, which include what are commonly called marketplace lenders.
You’ll generally receive the best rates, fewer fees, longer repayment terms, and more flexible pay back options with a business term loan from a bank. However, qualifying for these kinds of loans is difficult and you’ll need good credit and a track record of profitable business in order to be accepted.
Marketplace lending is broadly defined to include any practice of pairing borrowers and lenders through the use of an online platform without a traditional bank intermediary. These are non-bank entities that make a variety of different types of loans to small businesses, such as term loans, merchant cash advances, and business lines of credit. They source their funding from lenders who have a higher risk tolerance than other lenders and can operate without the same legal restrictions that deposit-taking banks must follow.
As a result, it’s often easier to qualify for a loan from an alternative provider and quicker to source funds from them. The trade-off is that you’ll pay higher interest rates, fees, and have shorter repayment terms. Alternative lenders also might have onerous repayment schedules, with payments due as frequently as daily or weekly.
If you are in a position where you don’t qualify for a traditional bank, then you should consider one of the best bad credit business lenders. You might also find that even if you do qualify for a loan from a bank, a shorter-term loan from an alternative lender is more suitable for your situation. This could be because having quick access to cash is more important than securing a low interest rate, for example.
Type of Loan: Term Loan or Line of Credit?
The next thing to consider is the type of loan you want. There are a variety of term loans, usually based on term length, and lines of credit, which may be secured or unsecured. Each type of small business loan has its pros and cons.
Term loans provide borrowers with a lump sum cash payment up front that must be repaid on a set schedule. You’ll be able to use the loan for operational expenses like marketing, hiring, buying new equipment, or to refinance existing business debt not secured by real estate, such as cash advances, business loans, and equipment leases. You’ll generally have a set interest rate and pre-arranged regular repayment schedule. Depending on the terms, you may or may not be able to pay it back early and avoid interest charges.
One common type of small business term loan is an SBA loan, which is backed by the Small Business Administration, a U.S. federal government entity whose purpose is to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. These loans generally have better rates than non-SBA loans.
Lines of Credit
The other main type of business loan is a line of credit, which is a flexible loan that works like a credit card. You can draw money from a line of credit up to your limit. Interest is only paid on the amount of money that you borrow, making it less costly than term loans and useful for dealing with unforeseen cash flow challenges or unexpected purchases. The money can usually be accessed via a business checking account or credit card.
Lines of credit can be secured, meaning the credit is guaranteed with property that can be seized by the lender if you fail to repay, or unsecured. Secured lines of credit tend to be easier to obtain and have lower interest rates.
Whether a term loan or a line of credit is the right choice will depend on your circumstances. If you’re unsure, speak with a small business advisor or a lending provider.
Other Types of Small Business Loans
In addition to term loans and lines of credit, there are other types of loans not considered in this article, but which may be valuable to you depending on your circumstances. These include:
- Working capital loans: Short-term loans used to fund day-to-day operations that paid back from business receipts.
- Equipment financing: Similar to a car loan, the new equipment being purchased acts as collateral for the loan.
- Invoice financing: Money is borrowed against unpaid customer invoices, allowing you to access some of that money immediately. Invoice factoring is a similar option.
- Merchant cash advance: Merchant cash advances involve borrowing money in return for a share of future profits from credit card sales.
- Business credit cards: A business credit card functions more or less the same as a personal one. Can be difficult to obtain with bad credit.
Methodology for the Best Small Business Loan
The small business loan products in this guide are designed to help you find the loan that is the best fit for your business. Since every situation is different, here are the criteria upon which we based our rankings. Note that while we didn’t directly judge the products based on the type of loan or the provider itself, but rather on criteria that we applied equally to all products.
- Interest rate and fees: When available, we looked at the interest rates and fees of the loan products.
- Ease of application: We considered the complexity of the loan application as well as how long it normally takes to complete.
- Speed of approval: We looked at how long the loan approval process, after the application is complete.
- Ease for approval: We considered the requirements that the lenders have for their loans, such as minimum credit scores or business history requirements
- Repayment terms: We looked at the loan term length, payment frequency, and any distinctive features, such as payment by invoices or business receipts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Small Business Loans
Bottom Line on Small Business Loans
Getting a small business loan can make all the difference in the success of your enterprise. Understanding what kind of loan you need is the first step to getting a loan that will help propel your business forward. BlueVine is one of the best lenders for a small business loan because of its flexible loan options, quick approval process, and easy application process.