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The Best Business Loan and Financing Options of 2020

By Simone Johnson,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Oct 30, 2020

Many small businesses need funding to get started. Learn about the different financing options to decide which would work best for your small business.
Merchant Cash Advance
2 years in business required
Advances of $5,000 to $250,000
Must have $5,000 in credit sales
Featured Sponsor
Time in business: +2 Years
$10K in monthly revenue
Amounts: $10,000 - $4,000,000
Best for Working Capital
Approval time of 12-24 hours
Funding up to $1M
High approval rate
Best for Invoice Financing
Financing up to $2M
A/R lines of credit
Starting rate of 8.99%
Best Small Business Lender
Loans up to $500,000
One-page application
Early payoff discounts
Balboa Capital
Best Alternative Small Business Lender
Read Review
Loans up to $250,000
Same-day funding
No hidden fees
Crest Capital
Best for Equipment Financing
Read Review
Partners you with other lenders
Relaxed qualifications and terms
Equipment financing up to $1M
Many small businesses need funding to get started. Learn about the different financing options to decide which would work best for your small business.
Updated 10/30/20

We've updated our FAQs with information about payback term and the importance of your credit profile when you apply for a loan.

 

Having access to capital when you need it is critical for small businesses. With so many lending options available to small businesses, we considered more than 100 lenders to determine which ones are best for various needs. We evaluated lenders on factors such as the types of loans they offer, their rates and terms, loan requirements, and customer support. Below are our choices for the best alternative lenders, as well as a detailed guide on what you should look for when trying to land a loan.

 

Find the Right Business Loan Options for Your Business

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
130
Considered
18
Researched
6
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Rapid Finance Noble Funding Fora Financial Balboa Capital Crest Capital SBG Funding
Collateral

Collateral option

Accounts receivable function as collateral; banks will also place UCC-1 filing on your corporate assets

No collateral needed; loan is unsecured

No collateral needed

No collateral needed

No collateral needed; loan is unsecured

Time to funding

Within a  day

Two or three days

Within 72 hours

Same-day funding

Same-day funding

12 to 48 hours

Term length

3 to 60 months

One low interest rate up to 90 days past invoice date Up to 15 months

3 to 24 months

24 to 84 months

6 to 18 months

Credit requirements

No credit impact

Score of 550 to 800

Approval not solely based on credit

All credit considered

At least a 700 Equifax score

Score above 500

Our Reviews

Rapid Finance: Best for Merchant Cash Advances

Rapid Finance can provide merchant cash advances on up to 250% of your company's monthly credit card sales.
It doesn't have any additional costs, such as an origination or documentation fee.
You must have been in business for at least three months to qualify.
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Rapid Finance can provide merchant cash advances on up to 250% of your company's monthly credit card sales. It provides one of the most compelling merchant cash advance offerings of any company we reviewed. It has relaxed terms, granting loans to companies that have been established for two years and have at least $5,000 in credit card sales each month.
Read Review

Biz2Credit: Featured Sponsor

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Biz2Credit has been providing small business funding since 2007. Using the lender's online platform, small business owners can find the funding options that suit them best and fill out an application in minutes. The platform uses data, cash flow insights and other Biz2Credit technology to make funding decisions in as quick as 24 hours. Once approved, funds can be transferred within 72 hours. Working capital, term loans and CRE loans are among the numerous funding options Biz2Credit offers. To qualify for a loan, businesses should be in operation for at least two years, have at least $10,000 in monthly revenue and have a minimum credit score of 575.

SBG Funding: Best for Working Capital

SBG is ideal for small businesses looking for quick funds to cover business expenses.
It tailors its approvals to each applicant.
SBG Funding requires small business to have at least $10,000 in monthly revenue to qualify for funding.
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SBG Funding offers working capital loans with simple qualifications and appealing rates. It provides loans ranging from six months to five years, and it has a solid online reputation. Its standout aspect is its lenient credit requirements: SBG says it grants loans to applicants with credit scores as low as 500. The company is more concerned with your monthly income and profitability than your credit. This makes it an ideal lender for business owners with rocky credit history.
Read Review

Noble Funding: Best for Invoice Financing

Noble works with you to get the right loan for your business's size or another type of loan that Noble can facilitate or offer.
Personal credit scores don't factor heavily into the approval decision.
In order to apply for a short-term loan, business owners must have at least a 51% percent ownership share.
Noble Funding is an alternative lender and broker organization – it provides some loans and arranges loans with other industry leaders. It can arrange two invoice financing options: invoice factoring and A/R lines of credit. The company will assess your business's financial situation and then recommend which type of financing is ideal. It has a favorable fee and can pair you with a lender that's ideal for your business. In addition to invoice financing, Noble Funding can arrange various other types of loans, like term loans, cash advances and unsecured business loans.
Read Review

Fora Financial: Best Small Business Lender

Fora does not charge any prepayment penalties.
It serves all major industries, from construction to medicine.
Fora recommends that borrowers have $12,000 per month in gross sales, which can be a difficult standard for small businesses to reach.
Fora Financial is a solid funding option for small business owners. Interested business owners can take out term loans and merchant cash advances. What separates Fora from the crowd is its fixed interest model. Business owners pay a set total amount based on their financial stability as opposed to a fluctuating interest rate. It's also possible to pay off Fora's loan at any time with no prepayment penalties.
Read Review

Balboa Capital: Best Alternative Small Business Lender

There are no upfront costs or hidden fees.
The online application is simple, and no collateral is necessary.
Balboa Capital charges an origination fee.
Balboa Capital provides a wide range of small business loans, including term loans, equipment leasing, vendor financing, franchise financing and business cash advances. Both its term loans and business cash advances are ideal for small businesses. Business owners interested in term loans can get up to $250,000 on terms of 3-24 months. It has a simple online application process.
Read Review

Crest Capital: Best for Equipment Financing

Crest can provide financing for equipment you've already selected.
It can partner you with one of its vendors so you can get the equipment you need.
This lender requires a lot of additional documentation.
Crest Capital provides equipment financing of up to $500,000 for small businesses. The company has been lending to small businesses since the late '80s and has an online reputation of reliability. Crest can provide financing for equipment you've already selected, or it can partner you with one of its vendors so you can get the equipment you need. It has relaxed qualifications and attractive terms.
Read Review

Rates and Terms

Small business loans always charge some form of interest, which can be either a fixed or fluctuating rate depending on your agreement. Many alternative lenders set a fixed payback amount at the beginning of the loan. This means you make weekly or monthly fixed payments to your small business lender toward both the interest and the principal of your loan. Sometimes, rates are adjustable, meaning they can fluctuate over the time of the loan.

Depending on your agreement, lenders charge either simple or annual percentage rates. While a simple interest rate would be the percentage of interest paid off on the total loan, an APR is an annualized interest rate that accounts for fees as well. The total cost to you is based on your agreement and the type of interest rate or repayment term you have, so it's important to analyze how much the loan will cost you in total (not just per month) before you sign.

In addition to a few different kinds of interest rates, loan companies may charge a returned-item or origination fee. As with any business agreement, make sure you read the fine print and understand the fees you'll be charged.

Some lenders also require collateral, which can take many forms. Banks and alternative lenders often require business or personal assets to back a loan. These assets can be liquidated in the event of a default. When you provide collateral, you enter into a secured loan. Unsecured business loans don't require collateral, but they sometimes require a personal guarantee. The personal guarantee is a legally binding statement that says you personally will pay back the loan if your business defaults on its payments.

Buying Guide

What to Look for in a Business Loan or Financing Option

When you research your financing options, consider these factors to narrow down your selection.

Loan Process

A laborious loan process, with an extensive application and a long turnaround for approval or denial, can be a real turnoff when you need financing. The lender collects information on how much you make and your existing debts to assess whether you will be able to pay back the loan, but some lenders' processes are more lenient and quicker than others. You want an application process that is easy to understand and straightforward.

Term

This is how long the loan contract is or the amount of time the loan will last if you make the proper payments. It is critical to know how long it will take you to pay back the loan and any interest you'll incur.

Qualifications

You must understand the conditions and expectations lenders have for their borrowers before you choose one. The eligibility criteria usually depends on the lender, but your credit score and repayment ability are usually critical factors. If you haven't been in business a long time, a lender may look into your personal credit score.

Collateral

Collateral is an asset you use to secure a loan. By agreeing to the determined collateral, you agree to give the property or other asset to the lender if you can't pay back the loan. A secured business loan requires collateral; an unsecured loan does not.

Time to Deposit

This is how long it takes for you to receive the funds from the loan. If you need business financing, you should know how long the waiting period is so you can plan accordingly.

Special Documentation

Lenders often want to see more than just your credit score. Most want to see additional documents like your tax returns or your bank and credit card processing statements. Some ask for more documentation than others, but doing your research on what your preferred lender requires before you apply will help your loan approval process go faster. 

How to Qualify for the Right Loan for Your Business

Qualifying for a loan basically means proving to the lender that, based on your revenue and credit, your business is healthy enough to pay back the money you're asking for with interest. Individual requirements and qualifications depend largely on the type of lender you work with. Traditional banks, for example, have higher requirements and standards than alternative lenders. However, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind when looking for a loan from any source. Lenders generally have benchmarks for credit scores and revenue. This verifies that you have a history of paying back loans and currently have a business that can support monthly payments. In general, the less stable your business, the higher the interest rate. 

Some alternative lenders will give you a loan without checking your credit score. Instead, they'll want a detailed picture of your business's cash flow so they know you can pay back your loan based on how much money you take in each month. Others give credit scores much more weight. While revenue benchmarks vary widely among lenders, credit scores are easier to quantify. You need a credit score of at least 500 or 600 to secure a loan from some companies. In general, the higher your credit score and revenue, the lower the interest rates. 

What documentation and financial statements do you need to prepare for a loan application?

The required financial documentation also depends on what type of lender you're dealing with. Almost all lenders at least want to look at your recent bank statements, so make sure you have the last six months of statements at the ready before you apply. Some lenders want to see your tax returns or business plan. The financial documentation required for a loan varies so widely that it's a good idea to ask your loan specialist upfront – especially if you're looking for quick funding. They'll be able to tell you exactly what the lender requires in your situation.

Ready to choose a business loan or other financing option? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest business loan to get?

The easiest business loan to secure is one that has minimal requirements for your annual revenue, time in business and credit score. This makes it possible for startups to meet a lender's qualifications. Straightforward and simple application processes also make getting a loan easier.

Do startup business loans require personal guarantees?

Some lenders require collateral, while others ensure your loan is covered by requiring personal guarantees. It is rare to find a small business loan that doesn't require some level of insurance. Personal guarantees are usually required, especially if the startup loan is unsecured. This is a lender's way of making sure your debt gets paid back, even if it's not directly through your business.

Do business loan providers look at personal credit?

It is common for lenders to check your personal credit, especially if you are a new business owner. When you are just starting a company, you don't have a financial history for your business, which means you don't have any business credit. So, a lender's only option to determine whether you qualify would be to check your personal financial history.

What credit score is needed for a small business loan?

It really depends on the lender. For some, a credit score of 550 will suffice, while others require a score of at least 600. Remember that the lower your credit score is, the higher the interest rate you can expect to pay.

Can you get a startup business loan with bad credit?

It can be hard to get a loan or financing with bad credit, so if this is your situation, look into lenders that consider more than just your credit score. Credit score will always hold some weight, but if there are other attributes of your financial history and behavior that make you look trustworthy, it's possible to get approved for a startup loan from certain lenders.

What assets can be used to secure a business loan?

There is a wide range of assets you can use to secure a business loan. Real estate, land, equipment, inventory and accounts receivable are all types of assets you can use as collateral.

What are the repayment terms for SBA loans?

There are different types of SBA loans, and once you qualify, your repayment plan options are based on the terms of the loan. If you have a loan with a fixed interest rate, you'll pay the same amount each payment date. If you have a loan with a variable interest rate, the amount you pay may change; for example, if you have a cash advance or your loan is based on a prime rate. If that rate goes up, so, too, does the amount you pay.

Repayments can be made on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis depending on the terms you agreed on with your lender. The preferred payment method is an automatic payment that pulls money directly from your account. This ensures that payments are made regularly and on time.

How do you choose the right loan for your business?

Small business loans come in many varieties, and shopping for one requires you to focus on more than just the interest rate.

Before you decide on the type of loan to pursue, you'll need to know which ones you'll actually get approved for. A quick look at your credit score and debt-to-equity ratio will clue you in. Some lenders require a high credit score, while others are willing to lend to subprime borrowers. Having a good idea of your credit score will help you narrow down the list.

You must also weigh the cost to borrow, including the interest rate, fees and any prepayment penalties. The terms – the length of time you have to pay it back – and any application fees should also factor into your decision. By doing some homework, you can make sure you are applying for a loan that makes sense for your unique business. 

What documentation do you need to qualify for a business loan?

When considering you for a business loan, lenders may require some documentation that is unique to them, but there are some key documents that every financial institution requires for the underwriting process. These include your business financial statements, such as a balance sheet, income statement or profit-and-loss statement, and your statement of shareholder equity.

Lenders may require three months' worth of your checking account statements. You'll also need to provide your income taxes for the last three years, paperwork pertaining to any businesses you have a financial stake in, and your business license or certification. If you're renting office space or equipment as part of your operations, you'll want to have those leases easily accessible as well.

What type of loan is a small business loan?

Small business loans have varying interest rates and terms. Here are three of the most common options.

  • Business line of credit: This is a popular choice among business owners who need flexibility. Instead of receiving a lump sum, you draw money as you need it.

  • Business term loan: Typically provided by banks and credit unions, this type of loan is usually funded in a lump sum, and you have a predetermined amount of time to pay it back. The interest rate is typically fixed.

  • Small Business Administration loan: These are geared toward small business owners who are just starting out or in need of funding. Because the SBA backs most of the loan, banks, credit unions and lenders are more willing to extend money to small business owners who may not be eligible for term loans.

Can you get a business loan if you have bad credit?

Banks and credit unions extend loans to business owners with excellent credit scores. Unwilling to take on the risk of not being paid back, they typically won't look at you if your score is under 680. That doesn't mean you can't get a business loan if you have bad credit, though. There's a whole industry of alternative lenders waiting to serve you.

Small business owners with bad credit can get loans with terms of three years or less from alternative lenders, but the interest on these loans will be higher for borrowers with poor credit scores. Hard money loans are another option if you're willing to put up collateral. Instead of judging you on your credit score, these lenders require an asset – usually real estate – to back the loan.

How important is your credit profile in applying for a small business loan?

Credit score has a big impact on small business loans. It dictates the interest you pay and whether you're even eligible. In many cases, you need a good credit score to be approved for a small business loan. According to credit rating agency Experian, a credit score of 700 or above is considered good; a score of 800 or higher is excellent. You can still get a business loan with a score in the mid-600s, but it won't be easy, and you'll pay more in interest. Experian said the average credit score is between 600 and 750.

What payback terms can you get for your small business startup loan?

The payback term is the amount of time you have to pay back a loan. Depending on the type of loan, the payback terms could be as short as six months or as long as 25 years. For example, Small Business Administration loans have terms from five to 25 years. Your funding needs will dictate the terms. Short-term loans last no more than two years, while a long-term loan has an average span of five years.

Community Expert Insight

For Kyndra McCrary, chef and owner of Swift Cafe in Los Angeles, finding the right loan amount and a flexible lender who met her at her level was important during her loan search. She found those qualities in OnDeck and used it to fund her business. 

"It was more customized," McCrary told business.com. "And the terms and rates were more lenient." 

When working with OnDeck, she found the company took time to understand her limits and goals as a small business owner and worked to accommodate her, which McCrary believes is an essential feature of a quality lender. 

"I felt like it was more of a tailored situation," she said about OnDeck. "They worked more to meet the payments and terms that fit our timeframe."  

This is the same reason Ryan Reiffert, owner of Law Offices of Ryan Reiffert PLLC, recommends using a community bank. In his experience, he's found it to be a better choice for small business owners because you can form a more hands-on relationship with your lender, which helps them better understand your needs.  

"These people can really take the time to get to know you and get to know your business a lot better than the big boys," Reiffert said.  

During McCrary's research, she also came across lenders that were inconsistent between the information on their websites and what their representatives said when she spoke to them. Transparency and uniformity in information is an important consideration when you're looking into financing options, she said. It's essential to moving the loan application process along smoothly and building trust. This is why McCrary found OnDeck to be such a helpful service.  

"They were truthful, and I went to them more than once and they were honest with their information," she said.  

Before McCrary found OnDeck, she narrowed her loan options down based on interest rates and terms that worked for her. She considered what she needed as a business owner and which small business lender would best serve those needs.  

Brian Cairns, CEO of ProStrategix Consulting, found that long-term, low-interest loans worked best for his company and stood out to him in business financing options. He said he used and highly recommends loans backed by the Small Business Administration – if you can qualify. 

"These are the most stringent with qualifying requirements," Cairns said. "If you do not qualify for an SBA loan, commercial loans from smaller banks and alternative lenders are a good fallback."

State of the Industry

There are a few different kinds of alternative lenders that provide small businesses with funding for growth, each with its own requirements and qualifications. While traditional banks can be great funding resources, they are often the hardest to get financing from. They have strict underwriting processes and require a lot of financial documentation for a loan. You'll also have to put up collateral for loans from traditional banks. Wells Fargo is the only traditional lender we looked at that offers unsecured loans. In May 2018, big banks only approved roughly 25% of the small business loan applications they received, according to Biz2Credit

In the same month, Biz2Credit found that alternative lenders approved around 56% of their applicants. Alternative lenders provide a wider range of loans and qualifications, such as unsecured loans and short-term funding. Interest rates with these lenders will likely be higher than with traditional banks, but if your business can't meet the standards of a traditional lender, alternative lenders can be a great option. They often provide instant quotes and prequalified information online without a hard credit inquiry, letting you see what amount you would qualify for without committing to a loan. 

In addition to traditional banks and alternative lenders, small businesses can get funding through the Small Business Administration. The SBA has a lending program that provides various types of loans for small businesses. These loans are financed by banks, like Chase or TD Bank, and the SBA incentivizes these institutions to lend to you by guaranteeing a certain percentage of the loan. As with traditional banks, getting an SBA loan may be a longer, more difficult process than going with an alternative lender, but it's a great way to get funding from a reliable source. 

Regardless of the lender you choose, there are a few types of small business loans you should know about before you decide:

  • Term loans are more traditional loans for small businesses.
  • Revolving lines of credit generally have no defined terms and can be drawn on, paid off, and drawn on again.
  • Working capital loans are generally short-term loans to help manage cash flow.
  • Invoice financing is a way to get an advance on outstanding invoices. Lenders will generally provide factoring services or provide a line of credit backed by your accounts receivable for a loan.
  • Merchant cash advances are cash advances that you pay back with your daily credit card sales; these loans are good for quick funding needs.
  • Equipment financing loans are tied specifically to vehicle, equipment and software purchases.

Understanding the different types of loans and your business's needs can help you make the right decision when it comes time to partner with a company.

Our Methodology

To find our best picks, we analyzed more than 130 lenders. We compiled this initial list by finding industry leaders, looking at requests we'd received from lenders wanting to be considered, researching other review websites, and revisiting our former best picks. We started by considering each company's loans, website, experience, online reputation and whether it caters to small businesses. From this stage, we narrowed our list down to roughly 30 lenders. 

We took a deeper look at these 30 lenders, determining their loan amounts, specific loan options, online transparency and deposit times. This brought our list down to about 18 companies, each of which earned a review on business.com. We looked at each company's loan process, requirements, individual rates, term lengths and customer reviews. We called some companies' sales teams to find out more about their loans. 

After this stage, we compiled potential best picks – about six lenders – and took an even deeper dive into each company's service. We posed as small business owners and called each company's sales team to test its customer service and learn more about its loans. We verified online information and asked for other information that wasn't available online. We looked at additional fees, repayment structure, other considerations and requirements for a loan, and restricted industries. Our best picks withstood each round of research and held up as the best lenders in the industry.

What to Expect in 2020

In 2020, the number of companies that offer online and mobile lending is expected to grow. Since digital options provide extensive financing opportunities and faster approval, they are expected to be increasingly popular choices compared to traditional banks and credit unions.

In recent years, large companies like PayPal and Amazon have joined and made a big impact on the small business lending market. By 2019, PayPal had provided $10 billion and Amazon over $1 billion in loans to American small business owners. Along with Square, they have become top loan options for small businesses.

Digital lenders' use of personalized offers makes them more attractive to small business owners. Brands have learned to target consumers based on their specific interests, and we expect more lenders to follow suit. To provide entrepreneurs with the specialized funding they need at the right time, we predict digital lenders, like PayPal and Amazon, will increase their personalized offers to small businesses.

Peer-to-peer lending is also projected to increase among small businesses. With peer-to-peer lending, interest rates and loan offers are based on a business's earning potential rather than its credit score. As peer-to-peer loans become more common, the camaraderie within small business groups is likely to strengthen and grow. Transparency Market Research predicts the global peer-to-peer lending market will reach $897.85 billion by 2024.

Simone Johnson
Simone Johnson,
business.com Writer
See Simone Johnson's Profile
Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.

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