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7 Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans of February 2023

The VA doesn’t offer veteran business loans, but commercial lenders, nonprofit organizations and the U.S. Small Business Administration do.
By Randa Kriss
Last updated on January 10, 2023

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Veteran business owners can turn to a variety of sources for small-business loans, including community financial institutions, traditional banks and online lenders. 
You can also get veteran business loans from the government — just not from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA doesn’t offer business loans, but the U.S. Small Business Administration does. Its initiatives like the Veterans Advantage program, which waives upfront fees on certain loans for veterans, can make an SBA loan a strong choice for some vets.
Ultimately, the best veteran business loan for you will offer terms that meet your needs, whether that's hiring employees, purchasing equipment or covering other costs. Here are our picks, plus information on VA loans, counseling, training and other financing resources.

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 7 small-business loans for veterans

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

SBA 7(a) loan

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Best for SBA loans for veterans

$5,000,000650

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SBA Express loan

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Best for Discounted SBA loans for veterans

$500,000650

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PNC Bank - Line of credit

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Best for Bank business loans for veterans

$100,000720

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Credibility Capital - Online term loan

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4.5/5

Best for Veteran loans for established businesses

$500,000650

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OnDeck - Online term loan

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5.0/5

Best for Fast small-business loans for veterans

$250,000625

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Bluevine - Line of credit

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5.0/5

Best for Business loans for veterans with bad credit

$250,000625

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Fundbox - Line of credit

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5.0/5

Best for Startup business loans for veterans

$150,000600

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Here are 7 small-business loans for veterans

Best for SBA loans for veterans

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$5,000,000

Min. Credit Score

650

Best for Discounted SBA loans for veterans

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

650

Best for Bank business loans for veterans

PNC Bank

Max Amount

$100,000

Min. Credit Score

720

Best for Veteran loans for established businesses

Credibility Capital

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

650

Best for Fast small-business loans for veterans

OnDeck

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Business loans for veterans with bad credit

Bluevine

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Startup business loans for veterans

Fundbox

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Our pick for

SBA loans for veterans

Although the SBA doesn’t offer veterans discounted fees for standard 7(a) financing, these loans are a good option for long-term financing with low-interest rates.

SBA 7(a) loan

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Max Loan Amount
$5,000,000
Min. credit score
650
Est. APR
9.75-12.25%
7(a) program participants include specialized lenders like Live Oak Bank and big-name traditional banks like Wells Fargo.
Lowest interest rate

Max loan

$5,000,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

9.75-12.25%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

7(a) program participants include specialized lenders like Live Oak Bank and big-name traditional banks like Wells Fargo.
Read Review

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Our pick for

Discounted SBA loans for veterans

Businesses can borrow up to $500,000 through the SBA’s Express loan program. Upfront guarantee fees are waived for veteran-owned businesses that qualify.

SBA Express loan

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Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
650
Est. APR
12.00-14.00%
SBA Express loans are available up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

12.00-14.00%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

SBA Express loans are available up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit.
Read Review

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Our pick for

Bank business loans for veterans

PNC offers business lines of credit up to $100,000 that are well-suited for experienced business owners with strong credit.

PNC Bank - Line of credit

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Max Loan Amount
$100,000
Min. credit score
720
Est. APR
14.99-16.99%
PNC offers a revolving line of credit that works similarly to a credit card, but you’ll need excellent credit and multiple years in business to qualify.

Max loan

$100,000

Min. Credit score

720

Apr range

14.99-16.99%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

PNC offers a revolving line of credit that works similarly to a credit card, but you’ll need excellent credit and multiple years in business to qualify.
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Our pick for

Veteran loans for established businesses

Credibility Capital can offer low interest rates compared to other online lenders, but you’ll need a couple of years in business to qualify.

Credibility Capital - Online term loan

4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
650
Est. APR
9.49-15.49%
Credibility Capital offers low-cost business loans that work best for small-business owners with strong credit.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

9.49-15.49%

Depending on your creditworthiness and your business's financials

Credibility Capital offers low-cost business loans that work best for small-business owners with strong credit.
4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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Our pick for

Fast small-business loans for veterans

OnDeck provides short-term business loans up to $250,000. If approved, you may be able to receive funding as fast as the same day.

OnDeck - Online term loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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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

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Our pick for

Business loans for veterans with bad credit

With Bluevine, you can get a business line of credit up to $250,000. You may be able to qualify with a credit score of 625 or higher.

Bluevine - Line of credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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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

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Our pick for

Startup business loans for veterans

Fundbox offers quick funding up to $150,000. You may be able to qualify for a loan from Fundbox with a minimum of six months in business.

Fundbox - Line of credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Read Review

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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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How Much Do You Need?

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Are VA loans available to businesses?

The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, does not guarantee business loans the way it guarantees mortgages through the VA loan program.
However, the term “VA business loans” may refer to the SBA’s Veterans Advantage program. The VA program waives upfront guarantee fees for veterans and their spouses on SBA Express loans.
After the program launched in 2014, it was renewed in subsequent years and made permanent by the 2020 CARES Act for SBA Express loans. The Veterans Advantage program also used to offer reduced or eliminated fees on SBA 7(a) loans for veteran-owned businesses, but Congress hasn’t authorized those discounts since the 2018 fiscal year.

Who qualifies for a veteran small-business loan?

Typically, to qualify for a veteran business loan, your business must be majority owned by a veteran or their spouse.
For example, to be eligible for the Veterans Advantage program, your business must be at least 51% owned by someone in one of the following categories:
  • Active-duty military service members participating in the Transition Assistance Program.
  • Honorably discharged or service-disabled veterans.
  • Reservists and active National Guard members.
  • Current spouse of a veteran, active-duty service member, reservist or guard member.
  • Widowed spouse of a service member who died in service or from a service-related disability.
You’ll also need to meet general small-business loan qualifications, such as credit score, revenue and time in business. The exact veteran business loan requirements will vary by lender.

Veteran business loan options

Veteran business loans are available through commercial lenders, nonprofit organizations and the SBA.
While some popular loan programs for veterans have been discontinued, such as the SBA’s Patriot Express loans, there are plenty of other options for veterans and their families.

SBA Express loans

Veterans can borrow up to $500,000 through the SBA’s Express loan program. Upfront guarantee fees, typically 2% to 3% of the loan, are waived for veterans, reservists, national guard members and spouses who qualify.
SBA Express loans have a quicker turnaround time than other SBA loans — 36 hours compared with several weeks or months — but the underwriting criteria can be strict. You’ll likely need a minimum FICO score of 650, strong annual revenue and at least two years in business to get an Express loan.

SBA 7(a) loans

Although the SBA 7(a) loan program does not offer any specific benefits for veterans, these loans are a great option for established businesses looking for long-term financing — with larger loan amounts than the Express program offers (up to $5 million).
SBA 7(a) loans are issued by banks, credit unions and online lenders and partially guaranteed by the SBA. Like the Express loan program, you’ll need strong credit and solid business financials to qualify for a 7(a) loan.

Bank business loans

Small-business loans from banks typically have the lowest interest rates, but they are difficult to access. Many banks require that you have several years in business, a credit score in the 700s and strong revenue to qualify for financing.
If you think your business may be eligible for a bank loan, look for military discounts. Chase business loans, for example, waive the annual fee for the first year on a business line of credit for veteran-owned businesses that qualify. Chase business checking also waives its $15 monthly fee for veterans.
USAA piloted a business loan program in 2018 in collaboration with the online lending platform StreetShares, but stopped offering loans after the pilot ended.

Online loans

If you just launched your business, or have a lower credit score (below 690), you might look into online lenders. These lenders tend to have more flexible qualification requirements but higher interest rates.
They offer a variety of products, such as term loans, lines of credit, equipment financing and invoice factoring — and can sometimes provide funding as fast as the same business day.

Microloans

Nonprofit organizations often focus on funding traditionally underserved businesses in their area, offering smaller loan amounts of up to $50,000.
For example, PeopleFund, a microlender and community development financial institution in Texas, offers fast working capital loans of up to $25,000, as well as other financing options. PeopleFund provides discounts on interest rates for veterans and says 14% of its borrowers are vets.
If you’re a new business or have bad credit, you may still be able to qualify for a microloan.

Are there startup business loans for veterans?

Lenders generally prefer to do business with established companies that have strong cash flow. This often disqualifies startups with less than a year of operating history and little revenue.
However, veterans and other new business owners aren't completely out of luck.
The SBA microloan program and Community Advantage loan program both cater to startups and businesses in underserved communities. These loans are issued by certified development companies and nonprofit organizations, which often focus on working with businesses owned by veterans, women and minority groups.
If you have good personal credit, alternative options for your startup also include:
  • Business credit cards typically provide up to $50,000 in revolving credit, meaning you can borrow and repay from the credit card as needed, and pay interest only on withdrawn funds.
  • Personal loans for business offer a lump sum of cash, with a fixed interest rate and repayment terms. But you’ll be on the hook for repayment, not your business.
Both options are unsecured, meaning you won’t have to put down collateral — an asset, such as real estate or inventory — to qualify.

Other resources for veteran-owned businesses

Government and nonprofit organizations offer financial resources, grant programs, business training and other assistance for veteran-owned businesses. Here are some of the available resources:
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers. These centers offer workshops, training, counseling and other services to help veteran business owners start, grow and expand their businesses. There are VBOCs across the country — and these organizations can help connect businesses with SBA partners, including community lenders and other resources.
  • Veteran entrepreneurship training programs. The SBA works with nonprofit organizations and universities across the U.S. to provide in-depth business training programs for veterans and their spouses. These initiatives include the well-known Boots to Business program, as well as the Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program, which offers training to service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a small business.
  • Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Although the VA doesn’t offer business loans, the OSDBU is a part of the agency that provides a variety of resources for veteran entrepreneurs. Through the OSBDU website, you can find upcoming webinars and training sessions and get verified to participate in the Veterans First Contracting Program.
  • Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The MREIDL can provide up to $2 million if you have an essential employee who is a military reservist and gets called to active duty. This program is for covering regular business operating costs, not starting or expanding a business.
  • SBA 8(a) program. The SBA offers this business development program to eligible businesses, which can include those owned by veterans. The SBA 8(a) program provides small businesses with a certification that can improve their chances of winning government contracts, as well as help navigating the bidding process.
  • Second Service Foundation. The Second Service Foundation, formerly the StreetShares Foundation, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting military entrepreneurs. The organization offers an annual grant program — the Military Entrepreneur Challenge — as well as networking events, coaching, training and other resources for business owners.
  • Small-business grants for veterans. Government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies all offer small-business grants for veterans. You can search Grants.gov to find all active government grants for businesses, or use a free website like GrantWatch to filter specifically for grants for vets.

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 January 10, 2023

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