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Best SBA Lenders of 2024

The best SBA loan lenders can typically make final credit decisions on your application because they are members of the SBA’s preferred lenders program.
By Randa Kriss
Last updated on March 13, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner

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⏰ Estimated read time: 10 minutes

Most SBA loans are issued by banks, credit unions and other financial institutions, not the government. The best lenders have substantial experience with these small-business loans, so you get effective help during the application process and hopefully increase your chances of approval.
Here are the best SBA lenders by loan program, as well as tips on how to find the right SBA lender for your business.

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Best SBA 7(a) lenders

Many national, regional and local banks are SBA 7(a) lenders, including big-name institutions like Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo. You’ll want to find an SBA 7(a) lender that works with small businesses in your area and offers competitive interest rates and loan terms.
The best SBA 7(a) lenders will have an established history of issuing these loans with the streamlined application process and dedicated loan specialists. These lenders are often members of the SBA preferred lenders program, or PLP.
SBA preferred lenders can make final credit decisions without sending applications to the SBA, allowing them to speed up the loan approval timeline. As an example, SBA preferred lender Citizens Bank approves and closes SBA loans in about 45 days, which is much faster than the typical 60- to 90-day timeline.
In the current 2024 fiscal year, preferred lenders approved 14,550 SBA 7(a) loans, worth more than $8.9 billion.
Here are some of the best SBA 7(a) lenders based on their loan processing volume, loan approvals and availability.

Huntington National Bank

To date, Huntington National Bank has approved the most 7(a) loans of any SBA lender in fiscal year 2024, with over 3,000 loans for a total of over $550 million .
The bank offers loans of up to $5 million, down payments as low as 10% and dedicated SBA specialists who work directly with borrowers to help them start and complete the application process.
Huntington Bank is also an SBA Express loan lender. A subset of the SBA 7(a) loan program, SBA Express loans offer a faster turnaround time but smaller loan amounts.
Additionally, Huntington administers the Lift Local Business Program, which supports minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses. Through the program, small-business owners can receive financial education courses and other resources, as well as SBA loan assistance.
SBA loans from this program have amounts from $1,000 to $150,000, no origination fees, lower credit score requirements and Huntington pays the government fees for the borrower.

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Newtek Bank

This fiscal year, Newtek is the most active SBA lender by loan volume. So far in fiscal year 2024, Newtek has issued more than 1,340 7(a) loans for a total of nearly $690 million. The company markets itself as a business and financial solution provider, offering banking, business loans, payment systems, web solutions, insurance and more.
Through the SBA 7(a) program, Newtek lends to for-profit, U.S.-based businesses with two to three years of tax returns and the ability to repay loans through business revenue. In addition, when applying for one of these government small-business loans through Newtek, you’ll work with the same lending specialist throughout the process and Newtek will complete all required documents and forms for you.

Live Oak Banking Company

Live Oak Banking Company is the second-most active SBA 7(a) lender by dollar amount, approving over $660 million in loans so far in the current 2024 fiscal year.
Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, Live Oak Bank offers an online-based, streamlined application to small businesses across the U.S. and is part of the SBA PLP.
Live Oak offers SBA 7(a) loans of up to $5 million with up to 90% bank financing and typically a 10% down payment. The bank accepts a minimum credit score of 650.
Additionally, Live Oak is an SBA 504 lender, providing loans of up to $15 million. Using its combination debt financing solution, the bank is able to fund larger 504 projects compared to other lenders.

BayFirst National Bank

As an SBA preferred lender, BayFirst National Bank has approved the second-highest number of 7(a) loans so far in fiscal year 2024. To date, BayFirst has funded 1,640 7(a) loans for a total of over $240 million.
BayFirst is located in St. Petersburg, Florida and funds loans through CreditBench which is the name of Bayfirst’s SBA loan division.There is no minimum loan amount and the maximum is $5 million.
The bank offers a fast funding program called BOLT with loan amounts up to $150,000 and funding within days instead of weeks. An in-house team handles these SBA loans and borrowers with good credit can potentially be prequalified in hours. Also, another program with expedited funding is available for loans up to $350,000.

TD Bank

In fiscal year 2024, TD Bank ranks third in SBA 7(a) approval count with 1,413 loans totaling over $191 million.
TD Bank’s main office is located in Wilmington, Delaware and offers small business banking products and services to clients located in 16 states primarily on the East Coast.
Business loans and lines of credit include the SBA 7(a) with maximum loan amounts of $5 million and 504 loan programs with the potential for even higher loan amounts. Also, the SBA Express Loan is available with loan amounts up to $350,000.

Readycap Lending

Readycap Lending, LLC — a subsidiary of Ready Capital and a non-bank preferred lender — has approved close to 1,200 loans under the 7(a) program so far in fiscal year 2024 for over $330 million, making it a top 5 lender by loan approval amount.
Readycap provides SBA 7(a) loans in amounts from $350,000 to $7 million — the $5 million SBA maximum plus an additional $2 million. Funding can be used for business acquisition and expansion, equipment purchase, working capital or to refinance existing business debt.
Under the 7(a) loan program, Readycap also funds commercial real estate loans that can be used for the purchase of buildings, new construction, renovation and other purposes.

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank is a top five lender by loan approval count with over 1,190 loans funded totaling over $213 million so far in fiscal year 2024.
U.S. Bank is a national bank, offering SBA 7(a) loans up to $5 million for the expansion or acquisition of a small business. When these loans are used for commercial real estate purposes, U.S. Bank can directly fund an additional $2 million.
SBA 504 loans are also offered by U.S. Bank with loan amounts up to $12.375 million with terms of 25 years for real estate loans and 10 years for equipment loans.

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Best SBA 504 lenders

Unlike SBA 7(a) loans, SBA 504 loans are funded in three parts. Typically, 50% is funded by a bank or credit union, 40% is funded by a CDC and the final 10% is funded as a down payment, or equity injection, by the business owner.
Many banks, credit unions, and other private financial institutions that offer SBA 7(a) loans are also SBA 504 lenders. Again, like 7(a) loans, some of the biggest national banks offer 504 loans, including Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.
These institutions provide the “bank” portion of the loan and can often help you find a local CDC in your area to fund that portion of the loan.
In the current 2024 fiscal year, CDCs in the U.S. have approved close to 2,500 loans under the SBA CDC/504 loan program for just under $2.7 billion. If you want to find a CDC to work with first, you can use the search tool on the SBA website to find a CDC lender near you.
You might also be able to find a list of CDCs ranked and published by your local SBA office or released in a local business publication.

Best SBA microloan lenders

SBA microloans are distributed by non-bank, intermediary lenders — nonprofit community-based organizations that have been approved by the SBA.
Unlike other SBA lenders, microloan intermediaries receive funds directly from the SBA. Then, these lenders manage their own programs and issue SBA microloans to eligible borrowers.
The best SBA microloan lenders largely vary based on region similar to the way CDC lenders work. As of March 2024, there are nearly 160 active microloan intermediaries serving all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. You can find an intermediary in your state using the microloan list of lenders search tool on the SBA website.

How to choose an SBA lender

Follow these tips to find and choose the best SBA lender for your needs.

Start with a financial institution you know

Banks and credit unions often prioritize borrowers they have an existing relationship with, so contacting a financial institution where you have a business account (or have worked with before) can be a great place to begin your search.
If you’re a customer at your local bank, even better. According to a 2023 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, although the majority of growth in small-business lending has traditionally come from larger banks, smaller banks actually lend a higher share of their assets to small businesses.
Similarly, Biz2Credit’s monthly Small Business Lending Index report consistently shows that small banks approve business loans at a higher rate than their larger competitors, 19.7% compared to 13.0% as of November 2023.

Connect with lenders through the SBA lender match system

Through the SBA website, you’ll answer a few brief questions about your business and in two business days you’ll receive an email with possible lender matches. Then, you can contact the lenders for more information, or the lenders may reach out to you directly.

Make sure it’s a good fit

Before choosing a lender, ask about interest rates, loan amounts, repayment terms and prepayment penalties, as well as its SBA loan requirements, such as minimum credit score and time in business criteria.
It can also be helpful to ask about how the application process works. Does the lender assign a loan specialist to assist you throughout the process? What is the timeline for applications and approvals — is it faster than the typical 60 to 90 days? Is the lender an SBA preferred lender?
This information can help you get a better sense of whether a particular SBA lender is right for your business.

Find the right business loan

The best business loan is generally the one with the lowest rates and most ideal terms. But other factors — like time to fund and your business’s qualifications — can help determine which option you should choose. NerdWallet recommends comparing small-business loans to find the right fit for your business.

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