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Reviews, Small Business

ForwardLine Small Business Loan Review

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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 $1,000,000 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 $500,000 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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at [email protected]

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Reviews

Review of Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Get rewarded for your spending with the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account. The account earns unlimited 3% cash back earned from online or in-app purchases, but unlike most cashback programs, this one prevents you from enjoying your earned rewards immediately. The catch: You can only access and redeem your cashback rewards if your account is in good standing a year after registration. In addition, there is a $7.95 monthly fee, although it’s simple to get around the fee.

While you wait for your account registration anniversary, you can use this account’s other features to your advantage. For one, Green Dot Bank can get you your paycheck up to two days in advance through direct deposit. You can also use the 3%* APY Green Dot Bank High-Yield Savings Account to stash and grow your money.

Green Dot doesn’t have any branch locations of its own, so it relies heavily on its app and participating stores to offer its services to customers. This makes it slightly tricky for users who need quick and easy ATM access.

Read on to learn more about the FDIC-insured Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account and its rewards requirements, fees and fine print.

How does the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account work?

 

The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account’s biggest draw is the unlimited 3% cash back earned from online or in-app purchases. There’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn, so long as you’re using your card for online and in-app purchases (there’s more on how Green Dot identifies those purchases in a section below)

Getting access to your cash back is a little trickier, however. While you’ll see the cash back earned on each purchase reflected almost immediately, you’ll have to wait for each anniversary of your account registration to redeem the funds. On each anniversary date, you can transfer your cash back rewards into your Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account. Your registration date is the date you actually register your card no matter where you got it, either at a store or online.

On your registration anniversary, your account must be in good standing. This means it must have a positive balance and cannot be blocked or flagged for any reason. If you have a negative balance, you must bring it to a positive balance before you can redeem your rewards.

Depositing cash into your Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account is also a little unorthodox, as Green Dot doesn’t have any of its own branches or ATMs. To deposit cash, you need to visit a Green Dot participating retailer, including CVS pharmacies and Walmart stores. Cash deposits are free when you initiate the deposit on the Green Dot app and complete them at a retail store. You can also initiate a cash deposit by swiping your Green Dot debit card at a participating retailer, who may charge a cash deposit fee of their own.

As for withdrawals, you can locate free ATMs through the bank’s app. Otherwise, you’ll face an out-of-network ATM fee, in addition to a potential ATM owner surcharge.

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account features

  • Earns unlimited 3% cash back on eligible online or in-app purchases
  • Get your paycheck up to two days earlier with ASAP Direct Deposit™
  • Links to 3%* APY Green Dot Bank High-Yield Savings Account
  • No overdraft fees

Along with its competitive cash back rate, another big perk of banking with Green Dot Bank is that you can get your direct deposit paychecks up to two days in advance. Typically, employers deposit paychecks into employees’ banks two days before actual payday. So instead of letting your paycheck sit in the Automated Clearing House (ACH) limbo, where payments like these are processed, Green Dot deposits your paycheck on the same day the bank receives it. Exact timing and availability of your direct deposit will depend on when your employer submits your payment information and deposit verification.

Also included with the Green Dot app is the Green Dot Bank High-Yield Savings Account. There is no fee, and the account earns 3%* APY on balances up to $10,000. Once you’ve redeemed your cash back rewards and deposited them into your Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account, you can then transfer those funds into your High-Yield Savings Account for better savings.

As you’ll read below, the Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account is rife with fees, depending on how you use your account and manage your money. But a certain perk of the account is its lack of overdraft fees. So when you make a purchase that your balance cannot cover, Green Dot will decline the transaction, but they won’t charge a fee like most other banks do.

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account fees and fine print

Unlimited Cash Back fees
Unlimited Bank Account purchase — online $0
Unlimited Bank Account purchase — in store$1.95 or less
Monthly fee$7.95, waived when you spend $1,000 or more in the previous monthly period
Deposit cash with Green Dot app & participating locations$0
Direct deposit$0
Out-of-network ATM withdrawal$3 per transaction
Teller cash withdrawal$3 per transaction
Out-of-network ATM balance inquiry$0.50
Foreign transactions3% of total transaction amount
Paper checks (pack of 12 checks)$5.95

There are quite a few fees to keep an eye out for when you have a Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account. For starters, note that there is a fee when you open the account in a store. You can easily avoid this fee by opening the account online instead.

The account charges a $7.95 monthly fee. This can be waived when you spend at least $1,000 in the previous monthly period. This excludes transactions like ACH payments or prepaid card purchases. This may be easier if you do much of your shopping online, since you’re more likely to reach the minimum balance. If you’re betting the cash back you earn will offset this monthly fee, you’d have to spend $3,180 in a year to earn enough to pay off a year’s worth of the monthly fee. Plus, you’d have to wait for each anniversary to take advantage of that cash back bonus.

It also helps to keep your account activity online. You can initiate the deposit through the Green Dot app then depositing cash at a participating retailer at no charge. However, if you want to deposit cash without the app by swiping the debit card at a participating retailer, then the retailer may charge a service fee for cash deposits. Note that direct deposits are free.

As for the fine print, there is some room for error when it comes to determining which purchases are eligible for the 3% cashback. Green Dot identifies online and in-app purchases through unique merchant category codes (MCC) and “other identifying information,” according to the Green Dot website.

However, Green Dot acknowledges that sometimes online or in-app merchants use an MCC that does not properly identify themselves as online or in-app. On Green Dot’s part, the bank states that it “does not determine which MCC a merchant chooses to classify itself as and has no way of changing a merchant’s identifying information.” So if merchant misidentification is the case, your purchase won’t register as online or in-app and won’t earn 3% cash back.

Cash back also does not apply to airline tickets or to products and services that are redeemable for cash, such as gift cards, online funding of accounts, credit card cash advances, P2P funding, prepaid cards, money orders and traveler’s checks.

Opening an Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account

You can open an Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account either online or in-store at Green Dot participating retailers. When you open an account online, you’ll need to provide your full name, address, email address, phone number, Social Security number and date of birth. If you open an account in store, you’ll need to register your new debit card online or through the Green Dot app. There, you’ll need to provide your personal information.

Who is the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account best for?

The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account seems to be a better option for those who aren’t chasing a quick reward. Green Dot requires you to wait a year after account registration to redeem your cash back rewards, which may not be much of a reward for some. It’s more of an added perk than a real primetime feature since you have to wait so long.

The Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account may also be better for those who are tech savvy enough to manage their accounts largely online and in the app. Accounts are more easily opened and registered online and even cash deposits work best when done through the app.

That said, this account could be a potential hassle who want the ease and speed of ATM access. Green Dot requires you to visit a participating store to deposit cash, whether you use the app or not. For many, navigating a physical store just isn’t as convenient. When it comes to withdrawals, it may be difficult to find a free ATM nearby in order to avoid the out-of-network ATM fee.

In all, the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account seems to hold a lot of promise. But there’s a few hoops to jump through to earn rewards and use the account efficiently that detract from the eye-catching 3% cash back.

*Rate accurate as of August 21, 2019

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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Reviews

Fitness Bank Savings Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Fitness Bank’s savings account option

Fitness Savings Account

This unconventional savings product offers customers the chance to earn an outstanding APY when they are physically active. The daily average number of steps you took in the previous month determines the APY you earn on your account balance. The table below outlines the five earning tiers that this bank currently offers:
APY Tiers*Minimum Balance to Earn APYSteps Required
0.50%$1000-4,999
1.25%$1005,000-7,499
1.75%$1007,500-9,999
2.50%$10010,000-12,499
3.00%$10012,500+

If you are a US citizen age 65 or older, you qualify for a different rate schedule:

APY Tiers*Minimum Balance to Earn APYSteps Required
1.25%$1000-4,999
1.75%$1005,000-7,499
2.50%$1007,500-9,999
3.00%$10010,000+
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum daily balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, waived by maintaining the minimum daily balance.
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: $40

These rates truly are outstanding if you live an active lifestyle. The first month, everyone gets highest APY regardless of number of steps they take. After that, your APY will be assigned based on your daily average number of steps over the course of the prior month. Needless to say, if you don’t live a very active lifestyle, or if you have a health condition that would prevent you from meeting the step requirements, this may not be the best account for you.

This bank charges a $10 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain a minimum average daily balance of $100. If you’re not confident you can maintain this minimum, you may want to look at a checking account rather than a savings account — keep in mind, however, that Fitness Bank only offers a savings account. If you meet the minimum balance requirement, the monthly maintenance fee will be waived.

This savings account does not come with an ATM card or checks. You are limited to six certain withdrawals and/or transactions per month, per Regulation D, which is enforced by the federal government, although banks do have some flexibility in allowing more than six per month in certain cases. At Fitness Bank, if you make more than six withdrawals per month you will be charged a $10 fee for each additional withdrawal.

If you want to go above and beyond achieving the highest APY available from this account, you can join one of Fitness Bank’s challenges. Every month, there is a step challenge where you can compete with all other participating Fitness Bank members to get the highest number of average daily steps. Top competitors will be awarded with prizes at the end of the month. You can also set up challenges just for your family or friend group, or for a group of employees participating in a workplace challenge.

How to get Fitness Bank’s savings account

Opening a savings account at Fitness Bank is a straightforward process. The bank boasts account setup will take you less than two minutes.

You’ll fill out a quick online application, supplying basic information like your name, address and Social Security number, along with documentation of your driver’s license or passport. Then you’ll need to provide funding information, namely your bank account number, credit card or debit card.

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How Fitness Bank’s savings account compares

This bank offers phenomenal rates. At the time of writing, they offer the highest savings account rate in the market — if you can rack up the steps needed to earn it. In addition, you will have to be comfortable doing your banking 100% online with this savings account. You will not receive a checkbook or ATM card – all of your withdrawals and deposits will be completed via electronic transfer. If you’d prefer ATM access or the ability to visit a physical branch, Fitness Bank is not the right match for you.

The minimum deposit required to open and maintain an account without incurring a monthly maintenance fee isn’t outrageous. But you can find savings accounts offering somewhat competitive rates without these requirements. And to repeat, you’ll have to meet the step requirements; if that challenge goes unfulfilled, the advantages of saving with Fitness Bank wane. Its rates get progressively less competitive the fewer steps you take.

Overall review of Fitness Bank’s banking products

This bank offers a unique financial product aimed at promoting wellness. Its minimum balance and deposit requirements are fairly average for the industry, as are its fees. While its offerings are fair and get more generous as you take more steps, you will likely find better rates elsewhere if you cannot realistically meet these specific fitness standards. If you can, though, you’re in for some of the best rates on the market.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here