8 Best Semi Truck Financing Options of 2021

Your choice of loans for commercial trucks depends on the vehicle, your credit and your business’s history.
Ryan LaneMar 10, 2021

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You can get semi truck financing from many lenders, including some that focus entirely on big rig lending. Like any small-business loan, the best commercial truck loan will be the least expensive one you can qualify for — whether you need a single Sprinter or a fleet of flatbeds.

Here are banks and alternative lenders that offer semi truck financing, as well as details on how to qualify and when to consider leasing vehicles instead.

Banks that offer semi truck financing

Bank small-business loans typically have low costs, but approvals can be time-consuming and tough — especially for a business like trucking that has seen increased risk in recent years. Consider these banks if your credit is good (a score in at least the high 600s) and your company has been around for multiple years.

1. Wells Fargo commercial truck loan

Best for: Multiple funding options.

Wells Fargo has a commercial vehicle program that offers multiple types of semi truck financing, including term loans, equipment lines of credit and standard and open-ended leases, allowing you to find the option that best fits your business’s needs.

Loans are available for trucks, trailers and specialty vehicles, such as tow trucks or cranes. Repayment terms depend on the vehicle. For example, truck loans can last from 12 to 84 months, while terms for a speciality vehicle are 36 to 84 months.

2. U.S. Bank truck loan

Best for: Faster bank approvals.

U.S. Bank truck loans are part of the bank’s equipment financing program, which is common among lenders. Loans can be up to $500,000. But there’s also a faster process for funding up to $150,000, making U.S. Bank a good choice for companies that want to work with a bank, but avoid the usual paperwork that comes with it.

You can get preapproved for up to $500,000, if you’ve yet to find the specific truck you need to finance and want to shop with financing in place. Terms range from 24 to over 60 months.

3. Bank of America commercial truck loans

Best for: Low-cost truck loans.

Bank of America offers semi truck financing with its equipment loan program starting at an annual percentage rate of 3%. You’ll need at least two years in business and $250,000 in annual revenue to qualify.

Loans range from $25,000 to $750,000, with terms lasting up to 60 months. Vehicles must weigh more than 2.5 tons. Bank of America offers a business auto loan for lighter trucks.

Alternative semi truck financing lenders

Alternative online lenders also offer commercial truck financing, and if your finances are strong, their rates may be comparable to banks. The added benefit of alternative lenders is fast funding. If you need to purchase or fix a semi truck in a hurry, look at these options.

1. Balboa Capital

Best for: Same-day funding.

Balboa Capital is an alternative lender that offers same-day funding for semi truck loans up to $250,000. Box trucks, refrigerator trucks and other light- and heavy-duty vehicles are eligible.

You must be in business for at least a year with a minimum annual revenue of $100,000 to qualify. Balboa Capital says a "decent" FICO credit score is required, but doesn't specify a number. A score above 630 may be a good target, as that range can be considered "fair," though Balboa also says it considers all scores.

2. First Capital Business Finance

Best for: Startup trucking companies.

First Capital offers multiple commercial and semi truck financing and leasing programs — many of which have flexible requirements. For example, funding is available if your company is a startup or doesn’t have a commercial driver’s license.

First Capital also offers loans if your credit score is as low as 540, but with more mileage and vehicle restrictions than its other options. If you’re able to make a down payment of at least 10%, you can get financing with no minimum credit score.

Direct commercial truck loans

If you want to work with a company with deep expertise in the trucking business, these direct lenders offer decades of experience. They may be more flexible compared with other financial institutions because they lend their own money. But compare rates to make sure you're getting the best deal.

1. CAG Truck Capital

Best for: Borrowers with challenging credit histories.

CAG Truck Capital has offered truck loans for over 30 years, financing all types of commercial trucks, including sleepers and private sales. It also offers engine overhaul financing, if your current big rig is in need of major work.

CAG says it specializes in lending to borrowers with bad credit, including those with previous bankruptcies or current tax liens. Annual percentage rates start at 10%.

2. Commercial Fleet Financing

Best for: No personal guarantee.

Commercial Fleet Financing has been in business for 25 years, offering financing for semi trucks, trailers and other light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

CFF says it can make credit decisions within two hours and fund within 24, offering a quick turnaround if you need funding fast. Depending on your time in business, CFF doesn't require a personal guarantee as business collateral, protecting your personal assets if your trucking company is unable to repay the debt.

3. Truck Lenders USA

Best for: Borrowers with fair credit.

Truck Lenders USA has been in business since 1977 and offers financing for all types of trucks that are less than 7 years old. Loans start at $15,000.

Truck Lenders USA says it can approve applications within hours, but it has tougher requirements than some other direct lenders. For example, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 675 and at least two years in business to qualify.

How do you finance a commercial truck?

  1. Determine your down payment. Knowing how much you can afford is a good start when buying any vehicle. It’s especially important for a semi truck that could cost six figures — even if you buy used. For example, if a lender requires a 20% down payment on a $100,000 big rig, you would need $20,000 on hand plus money for taxes, registration and other fees. Some lenders may offer no-money-down options, but you’ll need good credit to be eligible and will pay more overall by financing the entire purchase.

  2. Find the truck you want — and lenders that will fund it. Your business will determine the vehicle you need, whether that’s a box truck for a delivery company or an excavator for a construction firm. That choice will have a direct impact on financing options. For example, some lenders may have vehicle age or mileage requirements. Others may not finance sleeper cab trucks or private party purchases. Do you need multiple trucks? A lender’s maximum funding amount may limit your options.

  3. Compare loans. You can use multiple types of business loans to finance a semi truck — including those not specifically designed for big rigs. For example, a business line of credit could provide you with fast cash to fix up a truck. But opting for a commercial truck loan won’t tie up working capital you need for other business costs, like paying drivers. Plus, the vehicle itself offers built-in collateral for lenders, so it may be easier to qualify for semi truck financing than other options.

  4. Gather paperwork and apply. Commercial truck lenders will have different application processes and requirements. Be prepared with details about your company (annual revenue, type of business), the vehicle you want to finance (type of truck, its mileage and age, the seller) and yourself (credit score, whether you have a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, and for how long). Shop around, even if you’re in a rush. Online and direct lenders can offer fast approvals so you have time to compare annual percentage rates.

Can you finance a semi truck with bad credit?

If you have bad credit, you may still be able to finance a semi truck with an alternative or direct lender. Because the truck itself serves as collateral, these lenders may be more open to approving borrowers with poor credit histories, past delinquencies or bankruptcies.

But keep in mind that the lender will own the title on your truck and could repossess it if you don’t pay. Make sure you’ll be able to afford the payments on your new loan and all the other costs that will come with the truck, like fuel, maintenance, tires and insurance.

Like other bad credit business loans, commercial truck financing will likely be more expensive. You may be able to opt for a longer loan term to help manage costs or seasonal payment plans that can fit into your cash flow.

Should you finance or lease a commercial truck?

If you’re in the market for a semi truck, financing is often a better option than leasing. Big rigs may cover a million miles before they require serious work. That means they’re likely to remain productive long past a five- or seven-year loan repayment term.

Still, commercial truck leasing can make sense in the following instances:

  • You’re a startup. Failure isn’t uncommon among trucking businesses and small operations, which make up most of the nation's carriers and were hit hard by pandemic shutdowns last year. That may make qualifying for a commercial truck loan even more difficult if your business lacks a track record. But you also may want to make sure your company can succeed before sinking a lot of equity into a truck via a hefty down payment or high monthly bills.

  • You need to free up cash. A commercial truck loan may take up a good chunk of your working capital, while leasing can open up funding to funnel elsewhere. Leases typically come with lower upfront costs — you may even be able to spread the sales tax over the lease’s term, depending on where you live — and smaller monthly payments.

  • You’re worried about longevity. Long-haulers have long shelf lives. But vehicles like delivery vans may face more wear and tear driving in congested city traffic or from starting and stopping often. Similarly, specialty trucks with complex parts may need more frequent repairs, or if your trucks are consumer-facing, you may want consistently new models to make a good impression.