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Reviews, Small Business

SmartBiz Small Business Loan 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.

SmartBiz Small Business Loan Review

As a small business owner, you more than likely know how difficult it is to obtain an SBA loan. Besides the fact there’s tons of paperwork involved, it can take three to four months just to receive an answer.

smartbiz offers SBA Loans (it’s an SBA approved financial institution), but at a much faster pace. Since it automates everything during the application process (documents can be uploaded), you may actually be able to receive your funds within 7 business days.

SmartBiz is the best of both worlds when it comes to online small business lenders. You get the low rates and long term of an SBA loan, and the funding process is on par with other lenders so long as you work to submit documentation quickly.

If you want to benefit from an SBA loan in a more efficient way, let’s see how SmartBiz can help.

SmartBiz Small Business SBA Loan Details

SmartBiz SBA Loans range from $30,000 to $350,000 on terms of 60 to 120 months. Its variable APR ranges from 6.75% to 9.99%.

Interest rates are tiered depending on your loan amount. For example, loans between $30,000 – $50,000 have interest rates of 8.25%, $50,000 – $350,000 interest rates are 7.25%, and loans from $500,000 to $5,000,000 interest rates are 6.00% – 8.25%. These are true as of date of publish.

You must know how you’re going to use the funds from SmartBiz, as the purpose of your loan influences how much money you can receive:

  • Loans of $5,000 to $25,000 can be used for working capital (and so can all the other amounts)
  • Loans of $26,000 to $150,000 can be used for acquiring another business and refinancing existing, high-interest debt
  • Loans of $151,000 to $250,000 can be used to refinance business debt secured by real estate, or to buy real estate
  • Finally, loans of $251,000 to $350,000 can be used to refinance debt not secured by real estate

SmartBiz has a detailed repayment calculator on its home page in case you’d like to see what your estimated payments might be. For example, if you borrow $150,000 on a 10 year loan at an APR of 6.96%, your monthly payment will be $1,665.31. Overall, you’ll receive $143,683 since you have to account for closing costs and fees.

The Pros and Cons of a SmartBiz Small Business SBA Loan

Pro: SmartBiz’s APRs are the lowest of any online lender, which makes the loan more affordable.

Con: However, it’s one of the only online lenders to have a variable APR. That means the rate is subject to change with the prime rate. That might not be cause for alarm, though. Even if rates rise, chances are the APR will remain the lowest – some lenders have APRs of up to 40%.

Pro: Similar to the APRs, the 10 year repayment term is the longest of any online lender. This also makes the monthly payment much more affordable.

Con: By the same token, “dragging” the repayment period out can make for a more expensive loan, even if the APRs are low. Generally, the longer your term, the more interest you’ll pay on the loan. From our example of borrowing $150,000, 120 payments of $1,665.31 results in a total amount of $199,837.20. That’s almost $50,000 more. Thankfully, there’s no prepayment penalty.

Pro: If you’re looking for an SBA loan, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of all the paperwork, and how time consuming it is, SmartBiz is a great alternative. You can pre-qualify for a loan in 5 minutes and get pre-approved for a loan within 30 minutes.

Con: The use of your loan factors into how much funding you can receive. Other lenders aren’t as strict with how you use the funding.

Pro: If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan with SmartBiz, it works with other 3rd party lenders that may be able to help you.

Con: While the rates and terms are great, the fees aren’t. There’s a 0.00% - 4.00% origination fee, bank closing costs, and a guarantee fee for loans over $150,000.

What Businesses Are Eligible For a Loan With SmartBiz?

SmartBiz says the following characteristics are typical of the businesses it lends to:

  • Operating history of 2+ years
  • Industries served: manufacturing, retail, product, medical, contractor, service, and more
  • Has $50,000 to $5,000,000 in annual revenue
  • Owners are at least 21 years old and are US citizens
  • Minimum credit score of 600 needed
  • Need enough cash flow to handle payments (most important)
  • You can’t have any outstanding judgments, liens, bankruptcies, etc.
  • You also can’t have any criminal record other than minor vehicle violations

SmartBiz also lends to franchises. Overall, it’s looking to lend to well-established small businesses that have 1 – 40 employees, very good cash flow, and are profitable.

We recently received an email from a reader that applied to SmartBiz and was told she needed a 150+ Business FICO score in order to be approved.

Application Process and Documents Needed

As SmartBiz’s loans are SBA approved, a little more paperwork is required than with your typical online lender. However, it’s still much less when compared to what a bank would ask you for. They don’t look in every nook and cranny of your financials, but have the following documents and information ready during the application process:

  • Past personal tax returns
  • Personal financial information (bank statements are key)
  • Previous government loan history for your business
  • Past business tax returns
  • Balance sheet
  • Income statement
  • Management team information
  • Type of business, date of inception, and documentation proving the formation of the business
  • A subordination release signed by your landlord if you want to borrow more than $26,000

Note that larger loans are going to need more documentation. While SmartBiz can have you funded within a week, the process can take up to 3 weeks if you’re slow with submitting any requested documents. The quicker you work, the faster the process moves. It’s better to be prepared ahead of time.

The Fine Print

SmartBiz’s loans don’t have a prepayment penalty, but there is a 4% origination fee associated with the loan.

The biggest drawback is the guarantee fee, which is paid to the SBA. Thankfully, they did away with the fee for loans $150,000 or less, but it’s 2.25% of the loan amount for loans $151,000 and up.

Loans less than $25,000 don’t require any collateral, but loans over $25,000 require a UCC lien on business assets. A personal guarantee is also required from all individuals who own 20% or more of the business.

SmartBiz estimates closing costs are around $23 for loans $25,000 or less, and $317 for loans over $26,000.

Which Businesses Benefit the Most from a SmartBiz SBA Loan?

Businesses that have been around for two or more years, that are on the smaller side of the small business spectrum (need less than $350,000 in funds), and that want to grow and expand will benefit the most from a SmartBiz SBA loan.

Businesses should be in good financial shape overall and not hurting for money. They also shouldn’t be struggling to manage cash flow.

Smartbiz

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Other Alternative Small Business Lenders

When it comes to getting an SBA loan, SmartBiz is your best bet. It’s the first lender to offer SBA loans online. No other lenders come close to the low rates and 10 year repayment term it offers.

However, SmartBiz does have some stricter eligibility requirements, so if you get denied there, try these alternative small business lenders.

If you have a branch nearby, you might want to check out Wells Fargo’s small business loan. You can borrow between $10,000 and $100,000 on terms of 2 to 5 years, and the APR ranges from 6.50% to 22.99%.

Since this is a bank loan, the process and requirements are similar. Wells Fargo places a strong emphasis on cash flow, there’s a once a month payment, and you need decent credit (most likely over 600) to qualify. There’s an opening fee of $150 which can be waived if you sign up for a Wells Fargo account.

Wells Fargo Bank

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FundingCircle offers loans from $25,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms of 6 to 60 months. APRs range from 4.99% to 22.99%, and the origination fee ranges from 3.49% - 6.99%. You need two years of operating history, $150,000 in annual revenue, and minimum credit score of 620 to qualifya.

FundingCircle

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Lastly, in case you don’t qualify for the other two, Lending Club allows you to borrow up to $300,000 on terms of 6 to 60 months with APRs ranging from 9.77% to 35.98%. Origination fees range from 3.49% - 7.99%, and your business only needs $75,000 in annual sales, and two years in business to qualify. Fair or better personal credit is needed.

LendingClub

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Shop Around to Keep Costs Low

Even though SmartBiz SBA loans offer some of the best rates and terms available for online lenders, it does come with its share of fees and costs. You should shop around and compare the overall cost of the loans you get approved for to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Doing so within a 30 day window will have less of an impact on your credit score.

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