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SBA Express Loans: What They Are and How to Apply

SBA Express loans offer faster funding than other government-guaranteed loans but have smaller borrowing maximums.
By Ryan Lane
Last updated on October 25, 2022
Edited bySally Lauckner

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SBA Express loans are part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program. You can take out up to $500,000 in these small-business loans from participating lenders as either a term loan or line of credit.
Like other SBA loans, Express loans are a great funding choice because they offer competitive interest rates and flexible terms. If you need less than $500,000, can meet the SBA’s eligibility criteria and want fast financing, you might consider applying for an Express loan.

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What is an SBA Express loan?

An SBA Express loan is a small-business loan that is partially guaranteed by the SBA and issued by banks and other approved lenders. These loans are part of the SBA 7(a) program but have lower borrowing maximums and faster funding times than standard 7(a) loans.
SBA Express loans can be used for a range of purposes, including working capital, business expansion or renovation, equipment purchases, real estate purchases and debt refinancing.
Here are the key details:
Loan types
Term loan, line of credit.
Maximum SBA guarantee
50%.
Loan amount
Up to $500,000.
Repayment terms
  • Up to 10 years for working capital, equipment and inventory purchases.
  • Up to 25 years for real estate purchases.
  • Up to seven years for revolving lines of credit.
Interest rates
  • Set by the lender, but subject to SBA maximums.
  • For loans of $50,000 or less, can’t be more than the prime rate + 6.5%.
  • For loans above $50,000, can’t be more than the prime rate + 4.5%.
  • Current rates range from
    12.25
    % to
    14.25
    %.
Fees
  • One-time guarantee fee that varies based on the size of the loan.
  • Fees range from 2% to 3% of the amount the government guarantees if the Express loan defaults.
  • Guarantee fees are waived for eligible veteran-owned businesses.
  • Lender may charge additional fees for packaging and servicing.
Funding speed
  • Varies based on the lender.
  • Lender-approved applications will receive a response from the SBA within 36 hours.

SBA Export Express loan

The SBA also offers a variation of the standard Express loan — the Export Express loan. These loans are available for export businesses only and have a few additional differences from the standard Express loan:
  • Maximum SBA guarantee. The SBA will guarantee up to 90% for loans of $350,000 or less and 75% for loans of more than $350,000.
  • Funding speed. The time it takes to get your SBA loan still varies by lender, but the SBA will provide a response to lender-approved applications within 24 hours.

SBA Express loan vs. 7(a) loan

Express loans have the same basic features as 7(a) loans, and you can use both for working capital, equipment financing, refinancing debt and other business needs. But Express loans differ from 7(a) loans in the following ways:
  • Borrowing maximums are lower. The SBA Express loan maximum is $500,000, whereas you may be able to borrow up to $5 million with the 7(a) loan.
  • Rates may be higher. Both Express loan and 7(a) loan rates are tied to the prime rate. But the amount a lender can charge above that rate is greater for Express loans than for 7(a) loans. The maximum SBA 7(a) rate is currently
    12.5
    % versus
    14.25
    % for an Express loan.
  • Decisions are made faster. Getting approved for a federally backed loan can take time. The SBA speeds up this time frame for Express loans, providing a simpler process for lenders and responses within 36 hours, compared with five to 10 business days for 7(a) loans.
  • Less of the loan is guaranteed. If you default on an SBA loan, the government pays the lender up to 85% of the outstanding balance for 7(a) loans. This guarantee is only 50% for standard Express loans.

SBA Express loan requirements

Your business must meet the following requirements for the SBA to approve it for an Express loan:
  • Meet the SBA’s definition of a small business.
  • Be a for-profit business operating in the United States or its territories.
  • Have reasonable owner equity to invest.
  • Have already put financial resources, such as personal assets, toward the business.
You'll also have to meet the individual lender’s financial requirements. These can vary, but a minimum FICO score of 650, strong annual revenue and at least two years in business will likely be necessary to get an Express loan. You may need to put up collateral to borrow more than $25,000.
The SBA also requires that borrowers who own 20% or more of the business to sign a personal guarantee.

How to get an SBA Express loan

Express loans are available through approved SBA lenders such as Chase and Citizens Bank. You'll need to apply directly with a participating financial institution to get an SBA Express loan.
The best lender for an SBA Express loan is the one that offers you the lowest interest rate. You’ll want to shop around — and compare multiple types of small-business loans — to find the right fit for your company.

How to apply for an SBA Express loan

The SBA loan application process varies based on the lender you choose. In general, however, you’ll need to provide some, if not all, of the following:
  • SBA Form 1919, Borrower Information Form.
  • SBA Form 912, Statement of Personal History.
  • Personal financial statement (you can use SBA Form 413).
  • SBA Form 148, Unconditional Guarantee (or the lender’s equivalent).
  • Business financial statements, such as income statements, balance sheets and cash flow projections.
  • Income tax returns.
  • Detailed schedule of collateral.
  • Existing debt schedule, if applicable.
  • Business certificates or licenses.
  • Loan application history.
  • Resumes for each business owner.
  • Business overview and history.
  • Business lease.
Veteran-owned businesses will also need to include documentation to show that their company is 51% owned and operated by a veteran or their spouse in order to waive the loan’s guarantee fees.
Once you’ve submitted your application, the lender will review it and make a decision. If you’re approved, the application will be sent to the SBA for a final review. The SBA aims to make decisions on Express loans within 36 hours and within 24 hours for Export Express loans.

Frequently Asked Questions