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Emergency Business Loans: Best Options for Fast Cash

The right emergency business loan largely depends on why you need funding. Online lenders can provide the fastest access to capital.
By Steve Nicastro, Randa Kriss
Last updated on October 4, 2022
Edited bySally Lauckner

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An emergency business loan provides short-term financing to help you recover from a disaster, unexpected expenses or other economic difficulties. These small-business loans are typically available from online lenders, as they offer the fastest access to capital.
The federal government may also offer emergency business loans — however, these loans are only available to businesses located in regions that have been affected by declared disasters, such as a global pandemic or severe hurricane.
Below, compare our picks of the best emergency business loans and find more information about how to choose the right option for your needs.

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.

Here are 6 emergency business loan options

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Make selection

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Max loan amount
Min. credit score
Next steps

OnDeck - Line of credit

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5.0/5

Best for Emergency business loans for working capital

$100,000625

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Bluevine - Line of credit

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5.0/5

Best for Same-day emergency business loans

$250,000625

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Fundbox - Line of credit

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5.0/5

Best for Emergency business lines of credit

$150,000600

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Funding Circle - Online term loan

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5.0/5

Best for Emergency business loans for established businesses

$500,000660

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OnDeck - Online term loan

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5.0/5

Best for Emergency short-term business loan

$250,000625

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Fora Financial - Online term loan

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4.5/5

Best for Emergency business loans for bad credit

$1,400,000500

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Here are 6 emergency business loan options

Best for Emergency business loans for working capital

OnDeck

Max Amount

$100,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Same-day emergency business loans

Bluevine

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Emergency business lines of credit

Fundbox

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Emergency business loans for established businesses

Funding Circle

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

660

Best for Emergency short-term business loan

OnDeck

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Emergency business loans for bad credit

Fora Financial

Max Amount

$1,400,000

Min. Credit Score

500

Our pick for

Emergency business loans for working capital

OnDeck - Line of credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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Max Loan Amount
$100,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
29.90-65.90%
OnDeck offers a fast line of credit for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who need to manage cash flow or buy inventory.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$100,000

Min. Credit score

625

Apr range

29.90-65.90%

Based on loans originated in the half-year ending March 31, 2022

OnDeck offers a fast line of credit for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who need to manage cash flow or buy inventory.
5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Same-day emergency business loans

Bluevine - Line of credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
20.00-50.00%
Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

625

Apr range

20.00-50.00%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.
5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Emergency business lines of credit

Fundbox - Line of credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$150,000
Min. credit score
600
Est. APR
10.10-79.80%
Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash-flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$150,000

Min. Credit score

600

Apr range

10.10-79.80%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash-flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.
5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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Our pick for

Emergency business loans for established businesses

Funding Circle - Online term loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
660
Est. APR
5.99-16.49%
Funding Circle is an option for established businesses that are financing an expansion or refinancing debt.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

660

Apr range

5.99-16.49%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

Funding Circle is an option for established businesses that are financing an expansion or refinancing debt.
5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Emergency short-term business loan

OnDeck - Online term loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
29.90-97.30%
OnDeck offers a fast term loan for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who want to expand.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

625

Apr range

29.90-97.30%

Based on loans originated in the half-year ending March 31, 2022

OnDeck offers a fast term loan for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who want to expand.
5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Emergency business loans for bad credit

Fora Financial - Online term loan

4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$1,400,000
Min. credit score
500
Fora Financial can be a good fit for borrowers who may fall short of qualifying for traditional bank financing, or young but established small businesses looking for speedy financing.

Max loan

$1,400,000

Min. Credit score

500

Fora Financial can be a good fit for borrowers who may fall short of qualifying for traditional bank financing, or young but established small businesses looking for speedy financing.
4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

How Much Do You Need?

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Types of emergency business loans

Emergency business loans can be structured in a variety of ways. The right option for you will depend on a range of factors, such as why you need funding, how fast you need it and your business’s qualifications.

Business term loans

A business term loan is a lump sum of capital that you pay back on a fixed schedule, with interest, over a predetermined period. A term loan is a good option for emergency financing when you need to pay for a one-time, specific expense, such as replacing broken equipment or damaged pipes.
Business term loans are available from both traditional and online lenders. Banks and credit unions can typically offer loans with the lowest rates and longest repayment terms, however, they may not always be your most suitable option for emergency funding.
Not only can bank loans be difficult to qualify for, but they’re also notoriously slow to fund and require long, document-heavy applications. If you need an emergency business loan quickly, some online lenders can fund applications within the same day — and most within a few business days.
Online lenders generally have simple, streamlined application processes and more flexible qualification requirements. As a result, online emergency business loans will have shorter repayment terms and higher interest rates.
In some cases, you may be willing to pay a little more for faster access to the funds you need. You should always make sure, however, that you’re not taking on high interest debt that will actually make it more difficult for your business to recover in the long run.

Business lines of credit

A business line of credit allows you to draw from a set limit of funds and only pay interest on the portion of money you borrow. Business lines of credit are one of the most flexible types of business financing — making them a good option for emergency working capital needs.
Like term loans, business lines of credit are available from both traditional and online lenders. Banks will typically have the lowest interest rates on credit lines, but online lenders can offer fast funding and flexible eligibility criteria.
Business lines of credit may have lower maximum funding amounts than term loans — but often have revolving terms. This means you can continue to draw on the line as long as you make your payments on time and don’t exceed your credit limit.

Invoice factoring

Invoice factoring can help business owners who need emergency funding by giving them access to capital tied up in unpaid invoices.
With invoice factoring, you sell your outstanding invoices to a factoring company at a discount. The company pays you a percentage of the invoice upfront and assumes responsibility for collecting the payment from your customer. Once your customer repays the factoring company, you receive the remaining invoice amount, minus the company’s fees.
Invoice factoring is generally available from online lenders or fintech companies. Because factoring companies prioritize the value of your invoices and your customers’ payment history, this emergency business loan may be easy to qualify for and fast to fund, but can be expensive — especially if your customers are late to repay their invoices.

Merchant cash advances

With a merchant cash advance, or MCA, a company provides you with a lump sum of cash that you repay using a percentage of your debit and credit card sales, plus fees. In many cases, your MCA provider will automatically take a daily or weekly percentage of your sales until the advance is repaid.
Merchant cash advances are typically fast to fund — sometimes as quickly as 24 hours — and easy to qualify for. Many MCA providers can work with startups and businesses with bad credit and require minimal documentation during the application process.
MCAs are also one of the most expensive types of business financing. These products can have annual percentage rates that reach as high as 350% — making it difficult for business owners to repay what they’ve borrowed.
Generally, you should consider all other loan options before a merchant cash advance — especially if your business is already trying to deal with an emergency.

SBA disaster loans

The federal government offers emergency business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA disaster loan program includes four types of loans to accommodate different scenarios:
  • Home and personal property loans. Replace or repair your home or personal property after a disaster.
  • Business physical disaster loans. Replace or repair business property, such as machinery, equipment, fixtures or inventory, after a disaster.
  • Economic injury disaster loans. Help businesses meet financial obligations and operating expenses that they could typically meet if not for a disaster.
  • Military reservist injury loans. Help businesses meet operating expenses because an essential employee was called to active duty.
With the exception of the military reservist injury loan, you can only apply for an SBA disaster loan if your business is located in a declared disaster zone.
If you can qualify, these government emergency business loans offer low interest rates and long repayment terms. You can apply online through the SBA website, but keep in mind that the process make take several weeks.

How to apply for an emergency business loan

Evaluate your financing needs

If your business has experienced a crisis or needs funding to deal with an emergency, you’ll want to take extra time to understand your financial situation. You should think about how much financing you need, how much debt you can afford and consider what type of loan would be best for your situation.
It may also be helpful to draft a plan that details exactly how you plan to use your capital — that way, you know how these funds will help address your immediate needs and how your business can continue on into the future.

Check your qualifications

Although business loan requirements vary by lender, you should consider common underwriting criteria — time in business, annual revenue, personal credit score — to know where you stand before applying. You might also think about your cash flow and available collateral.
If you’re considering an SBA disaster loan, you should confirm that your business falls into the declared disaster loan — and check that you meet any additional SBA loan qualifications.

Research and compare lenders

As you look for emergency business loans, you should compare several lenders to find the one that can best meet your needs. You’ll want to consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, loan amounts, funding speed, application process and reputation.
Although speed may be a priority in an emergency situation, keep in mind that fast business loans can often result in higher interest rates. You’ll want to make sure that you can afford any debt that you take on.
You should also be wary of any lenders that push the speed of their process without transparency, or who guarantee approval. These may be predatory lenders who are trying to take advantage of your need for emergency funds.
It can be helpful to read reviews of lenders online or talk to former customers to verify a lender’s reputation.

Complete and submit your application

Your application process will vary based on the lender you choose. If you opt for an online lender, however, the process should be fairly straightforward.
You’ll complete a simple application and provide basic documentation, such as:
  • Business and personal bank statements.
  • Business and personal tax returns.
  • Business financial statements.
The lender will likely require you to sign a personal guarantee as well.

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.
Last updated on October 4, 2022

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