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Personal Business Loans: What You Need to Know

A personal loan for business may be an option when other forms of business financing don't work. Learn where to find a personal loan and the pros and cons.

By Jackie Veling 

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Small-business owners have plenty of hurdles to clear, and one of the highest is finding startup financing. If your business is too new to qualify for a traditional business loan, an unsecured personal loan may make sense as long as you receive an affordable rate.

Personal Business Loans: What You Need to Know

Our pick for

Borrowers with fair credit

BestEgg
Get rate

on Best Egg's website

Best Egg

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
BestEgg

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on Best Egg's website

RocketLoans
Get rate

on Rocket Loans' website

Rocket Loans

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RocketLoans

Est. APR

7.73-29.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$45,000

Min. credit score

640
Get rate

on Rocket Loans' website

Prosper
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Prosper

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Prosper

Est. APR

6.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Our pick for

Borrowers with good to excellent credit

SoFi
Get rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi

Est. APR

7.99-23.43%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on SoFi's website

Lightstream
Get rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

6.99-23.99%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660
Get rate

on LightStream's website

Laurel Road Personal Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Laurel Road Personal Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Laurel Road Personal Loan

Est. APR

8.99-24.25%

Loan amount

$5,000-$45,000

Min. credit score

660
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Lending Club
Get rate

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Est. APR

8.30-36.00%

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on LendingClub's website

Our pick for

Borrowers with bad credit

Upstart
Get rate

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

6.50-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on Upstart's website

Upgrade
Get rate

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

8.49-35.97%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get rate

on Upgrade's website

Universal Credit
Get rate

on Universal Credit's website

Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

11.69-35.93%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get rate

on Universal Credit's website

Can you get a personal loan for your business?

A personal loan is money borrowed from a bank, credit union or online lender that can be used for any number of purposes, including to fund a business.

Most personal loans are unsecured, which means they don’t require collateral, and you pay them back in fixed monthly payments — typically over one to seven years.

Benefits of using a personal loan to start a business

Flexibility: As long as your lender has no restrictions against using a personal loan for your business, you can use the money however you want, including to purchase equipment and inventory, stock up on office supplies, kick-start your marketing efforts or cover other costs.

Low rates: Depending mostly on your credit score, personal loans can have lower annual percentage rates than other financing products — such as credit cards — saving you money over the lifetime of the loan. They also have fixed payments that ensure your loan is paid back within a certain time frame so you'll avoid compound interest, or interest on top of the original interest.

Easier to qualify: If you’re just starting your business, you may have more luck qualifying for a personal loan than a business loan. When underwriting business loans, lenders look at your company’s revenue and time in business, along with your personal credit score. For a first-time business owner seeking to fund a new business idea, you won’t have some of the history that small-business lenders are looking for.

Personal loans are underwritten based primarily on your credit score and your income. That means you can include other income sources — maybe you still have your 9-to-5 job, or maybe you have rental properties — to supplement the initial trickle of income you’ll earn from your new venture.

Fast funding: The majority of personal loans are funded within one week of approval, though if you choose to apply with an online lender, you’ll likely receive funds by the next or even same business day. This may be faster than some business loans. For example, the process of applying for and receiving a traditional SBA loan can take 30 days to a few months.

Drawbacks of using a personal loan to start a business

May not receive a full tax deduction: Interest paid on a personal loan is typically not tax deductible, unlike interest paid on business loans. However, there’s an exception for when you use a personal loan to cover business expenses. To get the full deduction, you’ll need to make sure no portion of the loan is used for another type of expense.

Personal credit or assets could be at risk: If you take out an unsecured personal loan and fail to repay it, your credit may take a hit. This will make it harder to access affordable financing in the future. If you take out a secured personal loan and tie it to an asset like your car or home, the lender can seize that asset if you default.

Small loan size: Personal loans tend to have smaller loan amounts — ranging from about $1,000 to $50,000 for most lenders — than business loans. For a small startup, the size might be just right, but if you own a more established company or plan on making big purchases, you’ll want to look for loans that offer more financing.

Shorter repayment terms: Most personal loan terms range from one to seven years, so if you need a longer repayment term, you’re better off looking at other small-business financing options. SBA loans tend to have the longest repayment terms, ranging from 10 to 25 years.

Alternatives to personal loans for business

Small-business loan: If you're an established business and want to explore other options, NerdWallet has a list of the best small-business loans. These loans are typically issued only for businesses with a year or more of history and revenue.

Business line of credit: A business line of credit is a type of small-business loan but with more flexibility. It works like a credit card, letting you borrow up to a certain limit and then paying interest only on what you borrow, so it’s ideal for business owners who aren’t sure of the scope of their financial need.

Business credit card: A business credit card offers revolving credit that’s ideal for short-term expenses and may be easier to qualify for than a small-business loan. Business credit cards also offer rewards, like cash back or travel points, and can help keep your business and personal finances separate.

Last updated on December 22, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Personal Business Loans: What You Need to Know

Frequently asked questions

Further reading

How to Get a Personal Loan in 6 Steps

By Chanell Alexander & Ronita Choudhuri-Wade