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SBA Express Loan: What It Is and How to Apply

SBA Express loans offer faster funding than other government-guaranteed loans but have smaller borrowing maximums.
By Ryan Lane, Randa Kriss
Last updated on October 2, 2023
Edited bySally Lauckner

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⏰ Estimated read time: 8 minutes

What is an SBA Express loan?

An SBA Express loan is a small-business loan that is partially guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration 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.
Like other SBA loans, Express loans are a great funding choice for small businesses because they offer competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms.

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

SBA Express loan terms and rates

With SBA Express loans, you can take out up to $500,000 from participating lenders as either a term loan or line of credit. These small-business 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 10 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 of $50,001 to $250,000, can’t be more than the prime rate + 6%.
  • For loans of $250,001 to $350,000, can’t be more than the prime rate + 4.5%.
  • For loans of $350,001 or more, can’t be more than the prime rate + 3%.
Fees
  • One-time guarantee fee that varies based on the size of the loan.
  • There are no guarantee fees for the 2024 fiscal year (which runs from Oct. 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2024).
  • Guarantee fees are always waived for eligible veteran-owned businesses.
  • Lender may charge additional fees for packaging and servicing.
Collateral
  • For loans of $50,000 or less, lenders are not required to take collateral.
  • For loans of over $50,000, lenders should follow their policies for similarly-sized non-SBA commercial loans.
Funding speed
  • Varies based on the lender.

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.
  • Shorter repayment period for lines of credit. Whereas the standard Express line of credit offers repayment terms up to 10 years, the Export Express line of credit only offers up to seven years.
  • Funding speed. The time it takes to get your SBA loan still varies by lender.
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Max loan amount

$250,000

Max loan amount

$250,000

Max loan amount

$500,000

Min. credit score

625

Min. credit score

625

Min. credit score

660

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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:
SBA Express loan
SBA 7(a) loan
Lowering borrowing maximum (up to $500,000).
Higher borrowing maximum (up to $5 million).
Faster approval time. SBA Express lenders have the authority to approve, process and close loans without the SBA’s review.
Slower approval time. Lender-approved applications receive a response from the SBA within five to 10 business days.
Less of the loan is guaranteed. SBA guarantees up to 50% for standard Express loans.
More of the loan is guaranteed. SBA offers guarantees of up to 85% for 7(a) loans.

SBA Express loan requirements

Your business must meet the following SBA loan requirements to qualify 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.
  • Be unable to access the desired credit from non-government sources.
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 SBA Express loan. You may need to put up collateral to borrow more than $50,000.
The SBA also requires that borrowers who own 20% or more of the business sign a personal guarantee.

Pros and cons of SBA Express loans

Pros
Cons
  • Can choose between term loan and line of credit.
  • Loan amounts max out at $500,000.
  • Competitive interest rates and long repayment terms.
  • Can still be difficult to meet minimum eligibility requirements.
  • Faster turnaround times than other SBA loans.
  • May still take a total of 30 days or more to receive funding.
  • Government guarantee makes it somewhat easier to qualify compared to conventional business bank loans.

How to apply for an SBA Express loan

1. Evaluate your financing needs

Think about how much funding you need and how you plan to use it. Although SBA Express loans can be used for a wide variety of purposes, there are some restrictions. You can only refinance existing business debt under certain conditions, for example.
These loans are also only available in amounts up to $500,000. If you think you need more money, you’ll want to consider an alternative financing option.

2. Check your qualifications

Generally, you should have a minimum credit score of 650, strong cash flow and at least two years in business to qualify for an SBA Express loan. You’ll also have to meet the SBA’s standard eligibility criteria and demonstrate your need for financing.
You should review these business loan requirements ahead of time to get a better sense of where you stand before continuing through the loan process.

3. Compare lenders

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 might start your search by reaching out to a lender with which you have an existing relationship, as this institution is more likely to prioritize your application.
You should also look out for SBA Preferred Lenders, as these banks have extensive experience administering loans. Preferred Lenders can also approve credit applications without sending them to the SBA, thereby expediting the underwriting process.
Ultimately, you’ll want to shop around — and compare multiple options — to find the right fit for your company.

4. Gather documentation and apply

The SBA loan application process will vary 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.

5. Wait and receive funding

Once you’ve submitted your application, the lender will review it and make a decision. Although Express loans often fund faster than other SBA financing options, it may still take several weeks to complete the entire funding process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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