Reviews, Small Business

Review: American Business Lending Small Business Loan

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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American Business Lending is a Preferred SBA non-bank lender offering SBA small business loans. SBA Loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Since the government may guarantee up to 85% of this small business loan, the lender is able to qualify business owners with more lenient standards and offer a lower interest rate than traditional loans.

You can borrow $300,000 to $5,000,000 for commercial financing. This loan can be used for expansion, refinancing, business acquisitions, start-ups, franchises, furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory and working capital.

Loan interest on the American Business Lending SBA Loan is the prime rate + up to 2.75%. The Wall Street Journal prime rate at the time of publication is 3.50, so you can expect an interest cap of 6.25%. However, interest on this loan is floating, which is another way of saying variable. Interest rates will adjust quarterly based on the prime rate.

The loan term is 7 to 25 years. Collateral may be required. There’s a minimum 10% down payment. You may be able to avoid a down payment if you’re getting a loan for a refinance.

The American Business Lending Loan Process

There are four steps to the loan process. First, you’ll get assigned a loan officer. They’ll help you choose which loan product is the best for you and then you put in an application. During the application process you’ll turn in a few documents to qualify you for the loan including:

  • Financial statements
  • Federal tax returns for your business from the last 3 years
  • A business plan or projections for the next two years if your business is a start-up
  • A purchase agreement if you’re buying real estate or business assets
  • The franchise agreement if you run a franchise business
  • A copy of the note being refinanced if you’re refinancing a loan

From there, your application goes into underwriting where your loan request will be reviewed. An underwriter will possibly follow up with questions to qualify you. You get a credit decision within 72 hours of turning in your complete loan application.

Once approved, you’re given a commitment letter, which includes: your interest rate, loan amount, collateral required and other loan terms. You’ll have to pay a good faith deposit, which will later be used to cover the closing costs, credit reports and other fees associated with taking out a loan. After signing the commitment letter and turning in your good faith deposit, you can expect your loan to close within 30 to 45 days.

Since we just mentioned closing fees, now’s a good time to go into how much this is going to cost you.

Fees and Gotchas

American Business Lending charges a $1,500 fee for packaging the loan on top of the SBA guarantee fee charged by the Small Business Administration and other closing costs.

The Small Business Administration fee is charged to the lender and the lender can choose to eat the cost or charge it back to you. In this case, American Business Lending will charge you. The SBA guarantee fee for this loan will range from 3% to 3.75% of the guaranteed portion depending on how much you borrow.

Aside from packaging and the guarantee fee, there’s a prepayment penalty to consider. If you take out a loan that has a term less than 15 years, there’s no penalty for paying early.

If you have a loan term of 15 years or more you can prepay up to 25% of the principal during the first 3 years without penalty. Payments you make above 25% will cost you 5% of the principal the first year, 3% the second year and 1% the third year.

Pros and Cons

We’ve gone over the basics. Let’s head into the pros and cons of this loan:

Pro: Competitive interest. Loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration have an interest cap. The prime rate has been at a low, so even though interest is variable it’s still a good deal for now.

Con: Fees. This lender is transparent with most fees there’s just many fees to consider. Particularly the closing costs and early prepayment fee. American Business Lending doesn’t say how much closing costs are exactly but you will be charged to cover appraisals and environmental reports, loan closing attorney’s fees, credit reports and lien searches. You may also get penalized if you’re able to repay this loan early.

Pro: Loan size. American Business Lending gives you the flexibility to take out a large loan amount and you can borrow for a longer time span than you can for other non-SBA business loans. We’ll cover a non-SBA business loan below so you can see the difference in loan amounts and terms.

Con: Loan size. The loan size is a plus for business owners who want to borrow over $300,000, but a negative if you’re looking for a smaller loan amount. Other SBA Loan products like the SBA Express Loan allow you to borrow $50,000 through an expedited process. American Business Lending doesn’t appear to have this option.

Pro: Experience with SBA loans. One of the downsides of SBA Loans is the application process. You have to qualify with the lender and also have your paperwork approved by the Small Business Association. According to the American Business Lending site, it’s a preferred SBA lender and the loan officers are experienced in processing these loans. Ideally, this experience will make the process less burdensome.

Con: Long wait time for funds. Applying and closing this loan will take awhile. Getting a credit approval will take 3 days. Then closing will take up to 45 days after you sign off on the contract. If anything should hold up the process like an appraisal you could be waiting for a few months until you get your hands on the loan.

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Alternatives to American Business Lending

In our comparison section, we’re going to put the American Business Lending SBA Loan against two competitors including one that also offers the SBA Loan and another lender that doesn’t offer SBA Loans.

SmartBiz has an SBA Loan process that’s handled completely online. You can borrow $30,000 to $350,000 for 10 years. Interest ranges from variable 6.25% to 7.25%. Interest is higher at SmartBiz because the Small Business Administration sets a higher interest cap for smaller loans that have shorter loan terms.

You can pre-qualify for a SmartBiz loan within 5 minutes and get funding within 7 days of completing your application. SmartBiz doesn’t have a prepayment fee. The packaging fee is 4% in addition to closing costs. For loans above $150,000, there’s a 2.25% SBA guarantee fee.

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Funding Circle can get you funds quickly and with a competitive interest rate, if you have a good to excellent credit score. You can borrow $25,000 to $500,000. This is comparable to the amount you can borrow from American Business Lending. However, the loan terms are shorter.

You have between 1 and 5 years to repay your loan. If you’re taking out a six-figure loan a short repayment window could be a challenge. Interest is from 5.49% to 21.29% APR. There’s an origination fee of 1.49% to 4.99%.

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Who Will Benefit the Most From an American Business Lending Loan?

SBA Loans open the door to financing for small business owners who can’t qualify for traditional financing. So, an American Business Lending SBA Loan could be a good choice if you need to borrow a large sum with a low-rate.

Instead of a percentage package fee like SmartBiz, American Business Lending has a flat $1,500 fee, which can save you money and gives it an edge. One the other hand, SmartBiz has a quick and streamlined application process that is more convenient for smaller loans.

One question you should ask a loan officer at American Business Lending and SmartBiz before borrowing is how much the closing costs will be beyond the packaging and guarantee fees for the loan you choose.

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Reviews, Small Business

Review: National Funding Small Business Loan

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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National Funding is a lender that provides businesses funding for things like day-to-day operations, inventory, expansion, and equipment. The goal of National Funding is to offer an alternative to traditional small business loans that take a long time to get approved for and require never-ending paperwork.

National Funding Small Business Loan Details

National Funding loans are unsecured. An unsecured loan is one that doesn’t require assets as collateral or security in case you default. The loan cap is $500,000. You must have a credit score of at least 500 to qualify. Your business also needs to make over $100,000 in revenue.

Interest on the National Funding small business loan varies. We called into National Funding to find out the range of interest rates. The representative wasn’t able to offer specific rates because interest is unique to each business. If you’re interested in this loan, you’ll need to provide information on your business to find out how much it’ll cost you.

The loan application process is short and has minimal paperwork. You can get funding faster at National Funding than you can with a typical brick-and-mortar bank. National Funding can approve you and fund a loan within 24 hours.

Unique Payment Plan for National Funding Loans

This small business loan offers a unique repayment option for borrowers. Since National Funding understands making large loan payments can be difficult for small businesses, borrowers can choose a smaller, daily payment plan instead. Payments are fixed and automatically draw from your account each weekday.

Other National Funding Products

National Funding has two other products for businesses including equipment financing and merchant cash advances. You can lease or finance equipment up to $150,000. National Funding offers same day approvals for equipment financing with no money down. You may also be able to defer payment for 60 to 90 days.

A merchant cash advance is where you borrow cash upfront then pay a percent of your credit card sales each day plus a fee until you repay it in full. National Funding offers merchant cash advances up to $250,000. No collateral required and you can get funding within 24 hours.

Fees and Gotchas

Transparency with terms and fees is an area where National Funding falls short. The only fee we were able to get from a representative is a 2% processing fee for the small business loan. But, again, fees will vary because each loan product is tailored to your business. National Funding has a no-obligation application that you can fill out for more details. 

Pros and Cons

The benefit of this small business loan is you can get a large amount of unsecured money while avoiding the hassles of borrowing from a traditional bank. Since each loan is customized, it’s possible that you and the lender can create a loan that suits your business perfectly. At the same time, the ambiguity of tailor-made loans leads us to some cons.

Since each loan is unique, the terms are unclear. Hardly any information is readily available on the average interest rate, loan term length or fees for this small business loan. Of course, these are all important details you need to know to make an informed decision while shopping around for funding.

The cost of the equipment financing and the merchant cash advance products are also not clear. A merchant cash advance is often expensive. Plus, it takes a bite out of your credit card revenue each day, giving you less control of your own cash flow. A small business loan with a competitive interest rate is almost always a better option than a merchant cash advance.

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Alternatives to the National Funding Small Business Loan

Funding Circle and Lending Club are two alternative lenders that have small business loans with more transparent terms.

Funding Circle offers loan terms of 12 to 60 months. Interest ranges from 5.49% to 22.79% APR. You can borrow from $25,000 to $500,000. The origination fee is 0.99% to 4.99%. You can get approved quickly and get funds in under 10 days. There are no prepayment penalty fees. Funding Circle takes into account factors like your credit score, cash flow, and customer reviews to approve your application.

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Lending Club has loan terms from 12 to 60 months. Interest ranges from 5.90% to 25.90%. You can borrow up to $300,000. The origination fee is 0.99% to 6.99%. The application is online and you can complete it within 5 minutes. Collateral is only required for loans above $100,000. There are fixed monthly payments and no prepayment penalties.

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Who Will Benefit Most from a National Funding Small Business Loan?

The vague terms of National Funding products could be red flags. So, exhaust all other options including loans from alternative lenders and loans backed by the Small Business Administration before considering National Funding. If you do choose this loan, go through the contract terms with a fine-tooth comb and ask pointed questions to your loan officer about fees to avoid any surprises.

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Reviews, Small Business

Review: Celtic Bank Small Business Loan

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Celtic Bank Small Business Loan

Celtic Bank offers SBA business loans which are loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Only SBA approved lenders can provide these loan products. The purpose of this program is to make small business financing attainable and affordable for owners.

The SBA guarantees a percent of the loan to reduce financial risk for the lender. Because there’s less risk, these loans have qualifying criteria that are more relaxed than a typical small business loan. You can get approved for a loan that has low-interest even if you have an average or fair credit score. Plus, SBA Loans allow you to borrow more money for a longer period of time than other small business loans.

Celtic Bank SBA 7(a) Small Business Loans

There are several types of SBA Loans, but the most common one is the SBA 7(a) Loan. You can use this loan for capital, refinances, business acquisition, construction, equipment or inventory. Interest rates for at Celtic Bank range from 5.50% to 6% APR. The maximum loan amount you can borrow is $5 million. Loan terms are up to 25 years. SBA Loans require collateral for security in case you can’t make loan payments.

Of course, since the SBA Loan involves the government you and your business need to meet a few requirements to qualify. You may be eligible for this loan if you meet these standards:

  • Operate a for-profit business.
  • Have reasonable equity in the business.
  • Have a demonstrated need for funding.
  • Have no other delinquent government debt.

For a full list of what qualifies or disqualifies a business from an SBA Loan check out the Small Business Administration program eligibility page.

Celtic Bank Express SBA Loans

Application and funding for the SBA 7(a) loan can take several weeks. If you need quick cash, Celtic Bank offers the SBA Express as well. It’s a loan for working capital that has an accelerated application process. You can borrow from $20,000 to $150,000. The loan term is up to 10 years. There are no prepayment penalties. If you choose the SBA Express Loan you can get pre-approved within 24 hours.

Applying for the Celtic Bank Small Business Loan

To apply for a Celtic Bank loan, first you go through a short pre-application online that asks basic questions about your business. Once you complete the questionnaire, Celtic Bank will list loan options that you may qualify for. There’s an online application, but you may also have to send in a few documents outside of the online form to complete the process.

Find Other Small Business Loan Offers Here

Fees and Gotchas

The SBA charges a guarantee fee for the SBA 7(a) Loan. The fee is initially charged to the lender. The lender can choose to pass on the fee to you. There’s no fee if you borrow less than $150,000. If you borrow more than $150,000, the fee ranges from 0.25% to 3.5%.

On top of the guarantee fee, Celtic Bank may charge a closing or processing fee. However, Celtic Bank doesn’t list these fees on its website. And we had trouble getting in touch with a loan officer. Before committing to this loan, you need to ask for more information on the fees.

Pros and Cons

A pro of going with Celtic Bank for your small business loan is the loan size. If you need to borrow a large sum at low-interest, this SBA Loan offers rates and terms you may have trouble finding with another lender. Celtic Bank is also one of 10 approved banks that give out the most SBA Loans in the U.S., which suggests loan officers are very familiar with SBA Loan procedure.

On to the negatives: Celtic Bank is less transparent with terms and fees than other lenders. You won’t get access to much information unless you submit an email address on the site and complete the questionnaire. Calling into the bank and reaching someone is hit or miss. The application process is not entirely online which you may find less convenient than other options.

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Alternatives to Celtic Bank Small Business Loans

SmartBiz offers SBA Loans as well with a fully online application and transparent terms. The loan cap at SmartBiz is lower than the one at Celtic Bank. You can borrow up to $350,000. The loan term is 10 years. Interest ranges from variable 6.25% to 7.25% APR. There’s no prepayment penalty fee. You can get funding within 7 days. SmartBiz charges a 4% referral and packaging fee. If your loan is over $150,000, there’s also a 2.25% SBA guarantee fee.

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Funding Circle is an example of an online small business lender that doesn’t offer SBA Loans. So, let’s see what an alternative lender has to offer. You can borrow $25,000 to $500,000 from Funding Circle. The loan terms are 1 to 5 years (considerably shorter than the Celtic Bank loan). Interest is from 5.49% to 22.79% APR. There’s an origination fee of 0.99% to 4.99%.

Funding Circle

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Who Will Benefit the Most From a Celtic Bank Small Business Loan?

You’ll benefit from a Celtic Bank small business loan if you need to borrow a large amount for your business. Or you need to get your hands on money quickly. If you do choose to explore Celtic Bank as an option for your small business, make sure you reach someone to discuss all the fees associated with the loan.

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Reviews, Small Business

Review: LiftForward Business Loan

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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LiftForward is an alternative lender that offers small and mid-sized businesses quick access to funding. It specializes in working capital, purchase order and asset-backed loans. LiftForward will also refinance merchant cash advances also known as MCA. (A merchant cash advance is when you receive cash upfront for your business and agree to repay the cash back and fees with a percentage of your credit card sales.)

According to LiftForward, you can submit an application in less than 10 minutes. Then within 24 hours someone from underwriting will contact you to go over loan options. The goal is to have your application approved and the loan fully funded within 48 hours. Depending on your credentials, LiftForward may even be able to give you $50,000 in funding the same day.

Now, if you’re shopping for a business loan, you’ve probably noticed there are many online lenders offering alternatives to the average brick-and-mortar loan. In this post, we’ll go over the details of LiftForward and compare it to other options to help you decide if it’s the right one for you.

[5 Best Small Business Credit Cards]

LiftForward Loan Details

LiftForward offers loans from $10,000 to $1 million dollars and loan terms from six to 36 months. According to a LiftForward representative, interest rates range from 16% to 36%. Although, the website states a different range of 0.67% to 3.00% interest per month which works out to be about 8% to 42% annually.

As far as qualifying criteria, LiftForward is fairly flexible. Your personal credit score must be at least 600. However, LiftForward is willing to work around your credit score if you can show business strength.

Aside from your personal credit score, LiftForward will consider the number of years you’ve been in business, your business credit score and revenue. Having at least two years in business is preferable, but LiftForward is willing to approve a newer business if you have a track record of success. After your first loan, you can keep requesting financing through the account you create without applying again. 

Fees and Gotchas

According to LiftForward, there’s an origination fee that ranges from 1% to 5% and the total cost of your loan will include that fee plus your interest. Here’s an example scenario: If you borrow $10,000 for 36 months with a 2% origination fee the total loan is $10,200.  With interest rates from 0.67% to 3.00% per month, the total cost of the loan will range from $11,517.91 to $16,929.58.

[4 Things You Need to Know About a Small Business Before Opening One]

Pros and Cons

Pros

So, what are the pros of LiftForward? The top benefit is the speed and ease at which you can get your hands on money. Plus, LiftForward will let you borrow a large sum. The application is completely online which is convenient. In addition, LiftForward has flexible qualification criteria. An underwriter will call you and together you can come up with a loan option that’s tailored to your business needs. As your business grows you can also borrow more money.

Lastly, merchant cash advance fees can get very expensive. If you qualify for a reasonable rate with LiftForward, a refinance to a business loan can save you money.

Cons

As for the drawbacks of LiftForward, let’s face it, there are a lot of lenders online with easy application processes and many of them also have more competitive interest for a business loan. So, ultimately, the convenience factor doesn’t make LiftForward stand out of the crowd.

Obtaining loan details like the rates, qualification criteria and fees for the LiftForward loan takes some extra effort. The information on the website differs from the information you’ll receive if you call in for rates and fees, so you should verify your rate in writing before accepting an offer. 

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Alternatives to LiftForward Business Loans

Funding Circle and SmartBiz are two competitors where you may be able to score a lower interest rate and lower fees if you have a strong business and good credit history.

Funding Circle offers loan terms of 12 to 60 months. Interest rates range from 5.49% to 22.79% APR. You can borrow from $25,000 to $500,000. The origination fee is 0.99% to 4.99%. You can get approved within 10 minutes and get funding within 2 weeks. Funding Circle provides loans to help you meet business goals like expanding, hiring new people or purchasing equipment.
SmartBiz is another loan option for business owners and it happens to offer the SBA loan. An SBA loan is unique because the Small Business Administration backs it; this allows for special benefits like lower interest rates and longer loan terms. You can borrow from $30,000 to $350,000 for 10 years. Interest rates range from 6% to 7%.

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SmartBiz charges a 4% referral fee. If you borrow over $151,000 there’s also a 2.25% SBA guarantee fee. To qualify for a SmartBiz loan, you can’t have any adverse credit history. You have to be in business for at least 2 years and have enough cash flow to cover your payments. Pre-qualification takes a few minutes and you can get money in 7 days. 

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Who Will Benefit Most from a LiftForward Loan?

LiftForward may be on your shopping list, but it shouldn’t be at the top. Sure, the money is quick and the qualification criteria accommodating, but these are also signs of high interest. Take the time to shop around for the very best deal before you settle on this business loan.

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Reviews, Small Business

Review: Chase Small Business Loan

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Review: Chase Small Business Loan

The information related to the Chase Ink Plus Business credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

If you’re shopping for a small business loan, Chase offers two products, the Chase Business Term Loan and the Chase Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan. The Chase Business Term Loan is like any other typical small business loan offered by a bank.

The Chase SBA loan is a little different. If you meet eligibility criteria, part of the loan Chase issues to you is guaranteed by the SBA. Lenders assume less risk when the government backs a loan. As a result, SBA loans may have higher borrowing limits, longer loan terms, and lower down payments than other small business loans.

Here we’ll cover both Chase loan options in more detail.

Chase Business Term Loan

The Chase Business Term Loan has terms from 12 to 84 months. The least amount you can borrow is $5,000. Chase doesn’t publicize interest rates or fees for its small business loans. You have to call into a local branch and give a loan agent your business specs to shop for rates.

For an example, we reached out to Chase requesting a $10,000 loan to buy office equipment for a consulting business. We were quoted 5 to 8% APR, with no down payment and a $75 closing fee. According to the Chase representative, closing costs are determined using a tier system based on business volatility. An unpredictable business like a restaurant is given a higher closing fee. Once approved for the $10,000 loan, we could expect funds to be disbursed into our bank account within a week.

Chase considers factors like the type of business you have, your credit history, tax returns, and cash flow to approve you for the Business Term Loan. 

Chase SBA Financing

There are a few types of Chase SBA loans, but the SBA 7(a) loan is the one most commonly used by business owners to expand a business or manage cash flow. The Chase SBA 7(a) loan has fixed and variable interest rate options. SBA loan rates are competitive because there’s a limit on how much lenders can charge in interest. You can borrow up to $5 million.

The Small Business Administration will guarantee up to 75% of the Chase SBA loan (with a $3.75 million cap). Loan terms are available for up to 25 years depending on how you plan to use the funds.

Here’s the breakdown of available terms:

  • Up to 7 years for working capital (i.e. day-to-day operations)
  • Up to 10 years for equipment
  • Up to 25 years for real estate

Applying for a Chase Small Business Loan

You have to apply at a branch whether you choose the Chase Business Term Loan or Chase SBA Loan.

Of course, the SBA loan application process is longer and much more involved since it’s part of a government program. You have to get approved by Chase and meet Small Business Administration requirements. At the very least, to get approved for an SBA loan, you must:

  • Meet the business size criteria set by SBA
  • Be a for-profit business
  • Do business in the U.S.
  • Have reasonable invested equity in your business
  • Be able to prove a need
  • Use the funds for sound purposes
  • Not be delinquent on other government loans
  • Use other resources, like your own cash, before seeking help

There are several more requirements necessary to qualify for an SBA loan. For a full list visit the Small Business Administration website.

 

Fees and Gotchas

As mentioned, Chase charges a closing fee. But there’s no prepayment penalty if you pay the loan off early. If you get approved for a Chase SBA loan, you may also have to pay a guarantee fee if you borrow more than $150,000. The guarantee fee is between 0.25 to 3.5% depending on the loan term and how much of your loan is guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. 

Pros and Cons

Pro: If you’re a business owner who prefers one-on-one interaction with a banker, you’ll appreciate the Chase loan process. You have to speak directly with an agent each step of the way.

Pro: Chase will send funds directly to a bank account, which may give you access to money faster.

Pro: Most small business loans that aren’t government backed have short loan terms from 2 to 5 years. The Chase Business Term Loan allows you to borrow for up to 7 years.

Pro: Chase is among the top five banks in the country that give out the most SBA loans. If you’ve been turned down for a small business loan in the past, the Chase SBA loan is worth considering.

Con: Finding an agent on the phone to go over the details of both small business loan options is difficult and applying for a loan in person can be stressful.

Con: Interest rates, closing fees, and other information isn’t readily available. You won’t know exactly how much a loan will cost you until you track down an agent to set up an appointment.

Alternatives to Chase Small Business Loans

Wells Fargo is another traditional brick-and-mortar bank that offers a business term loan option. Wells Fargo’s is called, Wells Fargo BusinessLoan. You can borrow from $10,000 to $100,000. It’s unsecured which means you don’t have to put up your own collateral. Terms range from 2, 3, 4 and 5 years. The loan has a $150 documentation fee, but no prepayment fees. Unsecured interest loan rates start at 8.50% APR. Wells Fargo is also a top lender of the SBA loan, so it’s another option if you have trouble qualifying for business funding on your own.

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Funding Circle is an example of an alternative lender that offers pre-approvals online with transparent terms. You can borrow from $25,000 to $500,000. Loan terms are 1 to 5 years. Interest rates range from 5.49% to 18.29%. There’s an origination fee of 0.99% to 4.99% and no prepayment penalty. 

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Who Will Benefit the Most From a Chase Small Business Loan?

You’ll benefit from a Chase Business Term Loan if you’ve been in business for at least a year and you’re turning a profit. Chase will allow you to borrow money for a longer period than both alternatives we discussed above and your loan can be funded fairly quickly.

Applying in person may be a turnoff for some business owners. But, if you’re interested in an SBA loan, choosing Chase may be worth your while because it has a record of funding a high volume of SBA loans.

SBA loan eligibility – https://www.sba.gov/content/7a-loan-program-eligibility

Top 100 SBA lenders – https://www.sba.gov/lenders-top-100

SBA fees – https://www.sba.gov/content/7a-loan-amounts-fees-interest-rates

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Reviews, Small Business

BlueVine Review: Cash Advances for Business Invoices

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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If you’re a small business owner, freelancer or solopreneur, you probably experience the stress of sitting on unpaid invoices from time to time. In a perfect world, you would get paid for delivering your products and services right away. But, in reality, you have to patiently wait for the money to roll in. During this time, your business may suffer from low cash flow and your own bills can begin to pile up. Well, BlueVine has a solution. The company offers fast cash advances to cover your invoices.

The BlueVine Cash Advance in Detail

Credit lines are available from $5,000 to $250,000. Once approved for a credit line, you can choose which invoices you want to get advances on (up to your credit limit). BlueVine can give you an immediate advance in as little as 24 hours after you sign up and make the first request. Subsequent requests for advances can be funded within an hour.

BlueVine gives you 85% of the invoice upfront. You get the rest of the invoice amount (minus fees) after your customer pays. The standard rate is 1% per week with a minimum of 3 weeks.

Let’s take a look at an example scenario. Say your customer owes you $3,000, the invoice is due in 3 weeks and they pay on time:

  • BlueVine will give you $2,550 of the invoice upfront (85% of $3,000)
  • The weekly fee is $30 and $90 for 3 weeks (1% of $3,000)
  • When your customer pays the invoice you’ll get a remaining $360 balance back

How BlueVine Works

Once you open a free account, you can sync accounting software, like Xero, FreshBooks and QuickBooks, to your BlueVine dashboard and each of your open invoices will populate. If you don’t use an accounting software, you can also enter invoices directly in BlueVine.

From there, you can click on which invoices you want to be paid through a cash advance. BlueVine does set the following guidelines for invoices that can be funded:

  • The invoice has to be more than $500
  • The due date on the invoice must be at least 1 week away
  • The payment term must be shorter than 12 weeks
  • The customer has to be a business (and not a consumer)
  • The customer must be in the U.S. or Canada
  • The product or service must be completed, delivered and accepted by your customer

BlueVine assigns you a P.O. Box and a bank account in your name. Customers either mail payments or deposit money into your account. The money received goes towards repaying your advance and then you’re given the remaining 15% balance minus fees, like we discussed above.

[4 Things to Know About a Small Business Before You Open One]

Qualifying for BlueVine Invoice Financing

BlueVine will consider your business cash flow, the strength of your debtors and your credit history to qualify you for funding. BlueVine doesn’t require perfect credit, but your credit score can’t be lower than 530. Both sole proprietors and freelancers are eligible for funding. Your business doesn’t have to be of a certain age to qualify and there’s no sales volume requirement.

Fees and Gotchas

BlueVine has very transparent fees and offers you flexibility with its funding model. Opening an account is free with no strings attached. You don’t have to sign a long-term contract or pay termination fees if you decide to no longer use the service. There’s also no origination fees or prepayment penalties.

You can get funds transferred to you by ACH or bank wire. ACH transfers are free, but bank wires cost $15. BlueVine also offers the opportunity to cut your rate. As you build history using the service, you may qualify for a 20 to 30% discount on the standard rate.

[9 Best Small Business Loan]

Pros and Cons

There are several benefits to using BlueVine. The application is completely online and you can get access to funds quickly. BlueVine is a viable option if you prefer not to take out a loan to resolve cash flow problems or to grow your business. Unlike other small business loans, a BlueVine advance gives you the freedom to ask for exactly what you need.

What are the drawbacks to the service? Although it’s convenient, it’s not the right solution for chronically late paying clients. You’ll end up paying more and more out-of-pocket the longer they take to pay up. In addition, this service is for B2B operations. If you sell products or services to consumers and not businesses, at this present time you won’t qualify for funding.

Finally, consistently relying on cash advances for your invoices can create a never-ending cycle of debt. Although it’s convenient for one-off situations when you’re in a bind, you shouldn’t depend on cash advances to fund your entire business.

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Alternatives to the BlueVine Cash Advance

Fundbox offers another invoice financing solution, but the process is different and the terms are a little more complex. Instead of charging a standard rate like BlueVine, it tacks on a clearing fee which includes the cost of a cash advance and ACH transfer. The repayment schedule is 12 equal weekly payments. Fundbox has no subscription, origination or prepayment penalty fees. To get an idea of how much Fundbox will cost you in comparison to BlueVine check out the site pricing calculator.

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For an alternative business loan option, Funding Circle offers loans from $25,000 to $500,000. Terms are available from 1 to 5 years. Rates start at 5.49%. The origination fee is 0.99% to 4.99%. There are no prepayment fees and you can get funding in less than 10 days. 

Funding Circle

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Who Will Benefit the Most From BlueVine?

The concept of BlueVine is clever because you can get a cash advance for 85% of the exact amount that’s owed to you. You’ll benefit the most from this service if you trust your customers will pay in a relatively timely manner. Still, proceed with caution. This is not ideal for trouble clients that take forever to pay because you’ll end up sacrificing most of your income to advance fees.

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News, Small Business

4 Things You Need to Know About a Small Business Before Opening One

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The allure of being your own boss — it’s something we can all dream about, right? Although you probably already know that opening a small business takes a lot of hard work, determination and late hours, there are bound to be a few things you might not have considered.

MagnifyMoney’s co-founder Nick Clements spent years working for banks that made loans and issued credit cards to small business owners before launching his own small business. Here are some of the most important things he discovered along the way.

1. Your Small Business Isn’t Borrowing — You Are

Most people who launch small businesses do so by taking out loans to pay for things, or by opening new credit cards specifically for that business. It’s important to realize that as the owner, you’ll most likely be taking personal liability for whatever you borrow for your business, as well. “In other words, if your business goes bankrupt, you will still be personally responsible for the debt,” says Clements. With that in mind, he warns new small business owners against separating the idea of spending on a small business credit card or taking out a loan from a marketplace lender from their own personal expenses. “If you think this debt will not affect your personal financial situation, it will,” he said. “So long as you are making payments on time, the debt from your small business credit card likely will not appear on your personal credit report. However, most credit card companies will start reporting the debt on your personal credit report as soon as you start missing payments.”

[Personal Credit Card vs. Small Business Credit Card for Your Business]

2. Small Business Loans Have Less Protection

The CARD Act of 2009 created many consumer protections for credit card use, but the same isn’t true for small businesses. “Many of the protections found in The CARD Act only apply to consumer credit cards,” said Clements. “So if you take out a small business credit card, you will not have those same protections.”

The biggest risk of a small business credit card is that the interest rate on your existing balance can be increased. That was banned for consumer cards, but can still happen on small business cards. You also need to be careful if you are shopping for a loan. Small business lenders do not have to report an annualized interest rate in the way that consumer lenders do, and some products offered by small business lenders can have complicated pricing structures. “Unless you annualize the interest rate, you cannot compare,” says Clements. “For example, you could be offered a 4% fee on a cash advance product. However, if the full repayment is due within 30 days, that means your annualized interest rate could be 48% or higher.”

[9 Best Small Business Loans]

3. Your Personal Credit Score Will Affect Your Business

Your ability to get approved for small business credit cards and loans will largely be determined by your personal credit score, so be sure to stay on top of that in the weeks and months leading up your small business launch, as well as after. “If you are so focused on building your business that you forget to make some payments on your own accounts, you will be doing harm to your business as well,” said Clements. “Both small business credit card companies and marketplace lenders still heavily use FICO and other individual credit scores when making a lending decision.” 

4. Borrowing Shouldn’t Delay Difficult Decisions

When you’re a small business owner, you will occasionally have to make some hard decisions, and the ability to borrow money to stay afloat can sometimes interfere with making the smart choice. “If your small business is having difficulties, you will often find people willing to lend you a lot of money at high interest rates,” says Clements. “Although it might feel easier to borrow the money and keep going, you are only building a bigger problem for yourself.” Instead, Clements suggests taking a serious look at whether it’s time to reduce costs, or even exit the business completely. “Again, remember that you will likely be personally liable for any money you borrow,” he cautions.

At the end of the day, opening a small business comes with a lot of risks, but there are just as many rewards. Keeping the above things in mind, you can move forward knowing you’re making smart financial decisions — both for your business and for yourself.

[Compare Small Business Loans Here.]

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Reviews, Small Business

Review: Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Review: Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

Wells Fargo offers its Business Platinum Card to small business owners who have annual sales of less than $2 million. Credit lines are available up to $50,000 and you can get employee cards at no cost. There are also two rewards program options you can sign up to join.

Credit card interest is set according to the current Prime Rate; interest for new purchases ranges from the Prime Rate + 6.99% to the Prime Rate + 15.99%. As of this writing, the Prime Rate is currently sitting at 3.25% so you can expect between 10.24% to 19.24% in interest.

Interest is variable which is true for most business cards, so be sure to pay close attention to the interest rate on your statement if you carry a balance. A representative at Wells Fargo confirmed you will receive a notification on your statement if your interest should change. However, credit card issuers aren’t required to give you prior notice if interest increases.

Reward Program Details

The optional rewards program is free the first year but costs an additional $50 per year afterward. You can either choose to earn 1 point per $1 on every purchase or 1% cash back. There’s no limit to how much you can earn.

If you choose the point option, you’ll receive an extra 1,000 bonus points each billing cycle you spend more than $1,000. You can redeem points online for gift cards, cash rewards, airline tickets, brand name products or charitable donations. Points expire after 3 years.

If you choose the cash back option, the 1% can be credited to your account each quarter or cash can be deposited into a Wells Fargo checking or savings account. You’ll also earn an extra $10 every time you spend $1,000 in a month.

Credit Card Benefits and Features

The Wells Fargo Business Platinum comes with chip technology for security and for use worldwide. On top of the rewards program, cardholders can access discounts on merchandise and other products through Visa SavingsEdge and the Visa Business Partners Advantage Program.

Like most business cards, Wells Fargo comes with tools to manage your finances online. Most notably, there’s a Business Spending Report app to monitor expenses and Business Bill Pay. You can also link your business card to a checking account to avoid overdraft.

There’s Zero Liability Protection which covers you if unauthorized purchases are made on your account and Fraud Monitoring to prevent unauthorized card use altogether. Visa Purchase Security will replace or reimburse you for damage or theft of items you purchase. You may also qualify for extended product warranties up to an additional year.

For travel, the Wells Fargo Business Platinum card offers $250,000 in Travel Accident Insurance and Travel Emergency Assistance. There’s also Auto Rental Insurance available that will cover collision and theft.

Fine Print and Fees

There’s no annual fee for this card other than the $50 annual fee for the rewards program. The only other major fine print detail is the reward expiration date. Either you use points or you lose them within 3 years.

As far as fees, the over limit fee is $39. The return payment fee is $29 for each card that’s impacted. The late fee depends on your previous statement balance. If your previous statement balance is less than $100 the fee is $25. If your previous balance is $100 or greater the fee is $39. However, if you’re late two or more times in the past 12 billing cycles the late fee is $50. Wells Fargo does offer a grace period of 21-days for payments.  The international transaction fee is 3%.

Pros and Cons

The pros of this card are worldwide acceptance and the coverage that protect things you purchase. You can obtain many employee cards for free and you’re given some leeway with a 21-day grace period. Plus, you can connect your card to your Wells Fargo savings and checking accounts to create a one-stop shop to manage your finances.

The disadvantage is the rewards program. First, you have to pay to join it and it doesn’t give you an opportunity to make more than just 1 point per dollar or 1% cash back. In addition, the card fee schedule is costly especially if you miss payments. It’s in your best interest to use auto-pay or pay off your card in full each month to avoid fees and interest altogether.

Alternatives to the Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard

The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard offers 1% cash back for all purchases, 2% cash back at restaurants and 3% cash back at gas stations and office supply stores. For the 2% and 3% reward tiers, there’s a cap of $250,000. There’s no annual fee and there’s a 0% APR special on purchases for 9 months. Standard interest is 11.24% to 21.24%.

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SimplyCash Business Card from American Express

The SimplyCash Business Card from American Express offers 5% cash back on office supply store purchases and on wireless telephone services. Then 3% cash back on a category of your choosing including airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants, gas stations, advertising or shipping services, up to $25,000 per year. All other purchases you receive 1% cash back. There’s no annual fee. Standard APR is 12.24%, 17.24% or 19.24% depending on your creditworthiness. There’s a 0% APR intro special on purchases for the first 9 months.

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Who Will Benefit the Most From the Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

This card will benefit anyone who also banks with Wells Fargo. You can connect your card to your other accounts to avoid bank overdraft and manage your money in one place. However, the spending incentives are limited and it costs money to opt-in. If you spend a lot of money each month running your business, you can earn more for your spending with a different card and for free.

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Reviews, Small Business

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard currently offers 0% APR for the first 9 months. Standard APR is variable 11.24% to 21.24% depending on your creditworthiness and applies to all balance transfers and new purchases once the special ends.

Of course the major selling point of this business card is its rewards program, which has three tiers. You can earn 3% cash back on gas station and office supply store purchases, and 2% cash back at restaurants. The 3% and 2% reward tiers cap at $250,000 annually. On all other purchases you make 1% cash back. Cash back can be redeemed for statement credit or transferred into a qualifying Bank of America savings or checking account.

BoA Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard Perks

This offer includes free cards with predetermined spending limits for each of your employees. You can download your transactions to QuickBooks to easily manage your expenses. There’s also an online services dashboard where you can print financial reports.

In addition, the card includes other benefits to safeguard your money. There’s zero liability protection for unauthorized transactions. And if past employees make unauthorized purchases you’re covered up to $100,000 per person. Extended warranty of up to a year is available for items you purchase. Purchase protection will cover stuff you buy in case of loss, damage, theft or fire for up to 90 days.

While travelling you can take advantage of rental collision coverage plus travel accident insurance. You may also qualify for emergency ticket replacements and you gain access to assistance for lost-luggage.

Fine Print and Fees

There’s no annual fee. The balance transfer fee is 4% and the foreign transaction fee is 3%. There’s a $39 fee for returned payments. Late fees are charged depending on the balance owed based on the following schedule:

  • $19 – If your balance is less than or equal to $100
  • $29 – If your balance is $100.01 to $1,000
  • $39 – If your balance is $1000.01 to $5,000
  • $49 – If your balance is greater than $5,000

You should pay attention to the fine print in the rewards program to make sure you’re shopping in the right places to get money back. The 2% restaurant cash back deal only works at restaurant, taverns, lounges or fast food places. It doesn’t count for bakeries or coffee shops. Additionally, qualifying office supply stores (for 3% cash back) exclude warehouses, department stores and drug stores. Plan out your shopping trips accordingly to reap the most reward.

Pros and Cons

The pros of this card are the intro deal and reasonable interest. Usually the lowest interest rates are reserved for candidates with the very best credit scores. But if you fall into that category, 11.24% APR is lower interest than other business credit cards offer. Extras like free cards for employees, QuickBook integration, purchase protections and warranties are added benefits that make this card a viable option for any business.

For the cons, you can find a longer interest free promo elsewhere and other business cards even include balance transfers in the special. We’ll discuss them in the next section. Lastly, although this rewards program offers a generous cash back percentage, it’s a little bit limiting in the categories you in which you can earn money back.

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An Alternative to the BoA Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard

The SimplyCash Business Card from American Express offers high cash back for wireless services and more options. Let’s face it; wireless for a small business can be costly so you may benefit more from a cash back plan where it’s included.

SimplyCash Business Card from American Express

The SimplyCash Business Card from American Express allows you to make 5% cash back on office supply store purchases and on wireless telephone services. You choose which category you want to receive 3% cash back in including airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants, gas stations, advertising or shipping services. The 5% and 3% cash back deal applies to purchases up to $25,000 per year. All other purchases you receive 1% cash back.

There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Standard APR is 12.24%, 17.24% or 19.24% depending on your creditworthiness. There’s a 0% APR intro deal on purchases for the first 9 months.

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Who Will Benefit the Most From the BoA Cash Rewards for Business?

Overall the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard offer is worth reviewing because of the competitive interest and nearly unlimited opportunity to earn cash back in the higher rewards tiers. However, if you spend big bucks on wireless service or you want the ability to personalize your rewards program, you should consider the SimplyCash Business Card as well. Although keep in mind not all merchants accept American Express, which may influence your decision.

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Reviews, Small Business

ForwardLine Small Business Loan Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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While most “traditional” small business loans are based on factors such as credit, cash flow, and number of years in business, ForwardLine does things a little differently.

It’s a unique small business lender because the loans largely predicated on monthly credit card sales. Unfortunately, this disqualifies businesses that don’t process cards, but it provides an interesting opportunity for those that do.

Details of ForwardLine’s Merchant Loan

ForwardLine calls its small business loan a merchant loan because it’s based on credit card sales volume.

However, this loan is not a merchant cash advance (MCA). The difference is MCA’s are based on the future credit card sales of a company. A percentage of those sales are taken as payment on an ongoing basis until the loan is paid back. For that reason, there’s no repayment term for an MCA; lenders are essentially betting that companies will continue to be profitable. If they’re not, then payments can’t be made.

With a merchant loan, you have a repayment term and a fixed monthly payment amount. Payments are taken from your business bank account. Additionally, you aren’t required to change credit card processors, whereas with an MCA, you are.

However, if you want to pay by a percentage of your credit card sales through the merchant loan, you can. You choose the repayment option at the time of funding.

Let’s get down to the details. You can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $2,000,000 on terms of 6, 9, and 12 months. In some cases, businesses can qualify for a longer term up to 15 months, but the 12-month term is the most popular.

The fixed fee for these loans starts at an interest rate of 8.99%. Shorter terms have lower rates. How does this translate into an APR? A loan with a fixed fee for 12.99% on a term of 12 months would be around 26% APR.

It’s worth mentioning that ForwardLine guarantees it has the lowest rates you can find, and if it can’t match a similar offer, it will give you $100. It’s also a direct lender – you won’t deal with any brokerages or middlemen during the funding process.

Pros and Cons of a Merchant Loan With ForwardLine

Pro: ForwardLine says it focuses on shorter repayment terms to avoid “unnecessarily long” ones. Since loans start at $5,000, this seems reasonable, but some businesses may not be able to pay back larger amounts in such a short amount of time ($100,000 over 12 months, for example). This is both a pro and a con; the plus side is, you’ll pay less in interest over the life of the loan with a shorter term, and ForwardLine offers a discount for early repayment.

Con: The biggest con is you need $3,000 in monthly credit card sales to qualify for a merchant loan. If you don’t process credit cards at all, or tend to do so on a less frequent basis, you won’t be able to obtain this type of loan.

Pro: ForwardLine guarantees having the lowest interest rates and backs that guarantee up with $100 if you’re able to find a better deal.

Con: ForwardLine focuses on the amount of stability a business shows rather than typical factors like cash flow and credit. That could mean your chances of getting approved for a loan are lower if you own a seasonal business that isn’t doing a ton of sales right now.

Pro: ForwardLine has been around for over a decade and has an A+ rating with the BBB. It was the first lender to ever make a merchant loan back in 2003. It offers same day approvals and next day funding if you need the cash quickly. The online form only takes about 3 minutes to fill out. On average, approvals take about one business day.

Con: There is a flat $275 origination fee on loans less than $15,000. The fee is $550 for loans above that amount. However, most small business loans have origination fees ranging from 3% to 5%.

Who Benefits the Most From a Merchant Loan With ForwardLine?

Businesses that have a greater amount of credit card sales will benefit from this type of arrangement. Typically, that means those in the retail industry, though it can apply to service-based, hospitality, and food industries as well.

In an interview, CEO Craig Coleman stated the average business ForwardLine lends to have between 6 and 12 employees, approximately $1 million in annual sales, and an average of 12 years in business.

You can choose to use the funds for expansion, debt consolidation, working capital, an equipment purchase, or to help with cash flow.

Eligibility Requirements

It doesn’t take much to qualify for a merchant loan with ForwardLine. You must have one year or more in operating history, and process $3,000 in credit card sales per month.

Loans aren’t offered in Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, or the District of Columbia.

There’s no minimum credit score specified, and ForwardLine states on its site that it’s not a FICO driven lender. The stability of your business matters much more, and a large part of that is your sales history.

Consequently, the biggest factor for how much money you’re eligible for is based on your credit card sales. To give you an idea of how much you might qualify for, ForwardLine’s website states, “The maximum financing amount we fund is typically 2x your average monthly credit card sales.” Look through your last 3 to 6 months of credit card statements to get a good average, or 12 months if you’re a seasonal business.

How much interest you’re charged also depends on your industry and time in business. ForwardLine doesn’t have too many industry restrictions, but wholesalers generally don’t qualify because their sales aren’t consistent.

Application Process and Documents Needed

If you’d like a quote, ForwardLine has a short and simple form that takes about 3 minutes to complete online. If you have over $3,000 in monthly credit card volume and have been in business longer than a year, you’re already pre-qualified for a loan.

After submitting your form for a quote, you’ll get a credit decision within 10 minutes. If approved, you’ll hear back from a representative as they need to verify the information you provided.

At the very least, you should have your last 4 months of bank or credit card statements ready, as next day funding is available provided you can submit all the requested documentation. You’ll also need your driver’s license and a voided check to complete the process.

The Fine Print

ForwardLine doesn’t charge any late fees, although there is an origination fee of $275 on loan amounts below $15,000, and $550 for loan amounts above $15,000.

Additionally, specific collateral isn’t needed to secure the loan.

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Other Alternative Lenders

ForwardLine is unique as not many other lenders give you the option of repaying your loan through credit card sales or your bank account on a daily basis. Other lenders require monthly, biweekly, weekly, or daily payments solely made through your bank account.

If you’d rather go with a traditional small business loan, there are plenty of other lenders out there to apply with.

Bond Street offers loans from $50,000 to $500,000 on terms of 1 to 3 years, with APRs starting at 8%. You need 2 or more years of operating history and $200,000 or more in annual revenue to qualify. Bond Street doesn’t loan in South Dakota, Nevada, Vermont, or North Dakota. The minimum credit score you need to qualify is 660.

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Swift Capital has loans on shorter terms. You can borrow $5,000 to $300,000 on 3 to 12 months with pricing as low as 9.9%. You can get funded in 1 hour if you request $10,000 or less. Swift also promises to have the lowest rates on comparable loans or you’ll receive $500. Daily and weekly repayment options are available. To qualify, you need at least one year in business and $5,000 in monthly revenue.

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The Bottom Line

As a small business owner, your time is valuable. You want to find the most affordable loan that will allow you to expand and profit. While small business loans are more expensive than traditional bank loans, the convenience and speed of the funding process makes online lenders attractive. Just don’t pull the trigger too early. Spend at least a few hours calling or applying with several lenders to see who can offer you the best terms and rates. As long as you shop around within a 45 day period, all the credit inquiries that occur during that time frame will count as one single inquiry.

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