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10 Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans of March 2024

By Randa Kriss
Last updated on February 29, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner
Fact checked and reviewed

⏰ Estimated read time: 10 minutes

The VA doesn’t offer veteran business loans, but traditional and alternative lenders, nonprofit organizations and the U.S. Small Business Administration do.

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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.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t offer business loans to veterans, but there are initiatives available through the U.S. Small Business Administration that 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 business 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 10 small-business loans for veterans

LenderNerdWallet RatingMax loan amountMin. credit scoreNext 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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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 Established veteran businesses with bad credit

$250,000625

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Fundbox - Line of credit

5.0/5

Best for Startup loans for veterans

$150,000600

National Funding - Online Term Loan

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4.0/5

Best for Business loans for veterans with bad credit

$500,000600

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SBA Microloan

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Best for Microloans for veterans

$50,000620

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Chase - Business line of credit

Best for Bank lines of credit for veterans

$500,000700

Bank of America Business Advantage Secured Term Loan

4.5/5

Best for Secured loans for veterans

Undisclosed700

Accion Opportunity Fund - Small Business Working Capital Loan

4.0/5

Best for Business loans for women and minority veterans

$250,000570

Here are 10 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 Fast small-business loans for veterans

OnDeck

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Established veteran businesses with bad credit

Bluevine

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Startup loans for veterans

Fundbox

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Business loans for veterans with bad credit

National Funding

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Microloans for veterans

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$50,000

Min. Credit Score

620

Best for Bank lines of credit for veterans

Chase

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

700

Best for Secured loans for veterans

Bank of America

Max Amount

Undisclosed

Min. Credit Score

700

Best for Business loans for women and minority veterans

Accion

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

570

I'M INTERESTED IN:

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
11.50-15.00%
7(a) loans are issued by private lenders and backed by the SBA. They offer long repayment terms and low interest rates.
Lowest interest rate

Max loan

$5,000,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

11.50-15.00%

7(a) loans are issued by private lenders and backed by the SBA. They offer long repayment terms and low interest rates.

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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
11.50-15.00%
SBA Express loans are available in amounts up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit. These loans typically fund faster than standard 7(a) loans.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

11.50-15.00%

SBA Express loans are available in amounts up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit. These loans typically fund faster than standard 7(a) loans.

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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

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Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
35.40-99.90%
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

35.40-99.90%

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

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Our pick for

Established veteran businesses with bad credit

Bluevine offers business lines of credit up to $250,000, but you'll need at least a couple of years in business and an annual revenue of $480,000 or higher.

Bluevine - Line of credit

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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%

Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.

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Our pick for

Startup 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

Max Loan Amount
$150,000
Min. credit score
600
Est. APR
36.00-99.00%
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

36.00-99.00%

Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.

Our pick for

Business loans for veterans with bad credit

National Funding offers term loans between $5,000 and $500,000. You may be able to qualify with a credit score of 600 or higher.

National Funding - Online Term Loan

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Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
600
Borrowers who can't qualify for more traditional loan options might consider National Funding for fast access to capital.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

600

Borrowers who can't qualify for more traditional loan options might consider National Funding for fast access to capital.

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Our pick for

Microloans for veterans

SBA microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000 and issued by participating community lenders. They have more flexible requirements than other types of SBA loans.

SBA Microloan

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Max Loan Amount
$50,000
Min. credit score
620
Est. APR
8.00-13.00%
SBA microloans are small-sized loans funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and issued through approved intermediaries, typically nonprofit and community lenders.

Max loan

$50,000

Min. Credit score

620

Apr range

8.00-13.00%

SBA microloans are small-sized loans funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and issued through approved intermediaries, typically nonprofit and community lenders.

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Our pick for

Bank lines of credit for veterans

Chase offers business lines of credit up to $500,000 that can be a good option for experienced business owners with strong credit. Chase waives the annual fee for the first year for veteran-owned businesses.

Chase - Business line of credit

Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
700
Chase offers a revolving credit line that allows you to withdraw funds as needed, but you’ll typically need strong credit and at least two years in business.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

700

Chase offers a revolving credit line that allows you to withdraw funds as needed, but you’ll typically need strong credit and at least two years in business.

Our pick for

Secured loans for veterans

Bank of America offers secured term loans with a 25% discount on loan administration or origination fees for eligible veterans.

Bank of America Business Advantage Secured Term Loan

Max Loan Amount
Undisclosed
Min. credit score
700
Bank of America offers secured business loans with repayment terms up to four or five years — depending on the type of collateral you provide.

Max loan

Undisclosed

Min. Credit score

700

Bank of America offers secured business loans with repayment terms up to four or five years — depending on the type of collateral you provide.

Our pick for

Business loans for women and minority veterans

Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit lender, provides loans to traditionally underserved business owners who may not qualify for other funding options.

Accion Opportunity Fund - Small Business Working Capital Loan

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
570
Est. APR
8.49-29.67%
Accion is a good option for businesses that haven't been able to secure traditional financing. The lender targets its funding efforts toward minority, women and low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs.

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

570

Apr range

8.49-29.67%

Accion is a good option for businesses that haven't been able to secure traditional financing. The lender targets its funding efforts toward minority, women and low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs.

How Much Do You Need?

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Veteran business loan options

Veteran business loans are available through banks, alternative lenders, nonprofit organizations and the SBA.

SBA loans for veterans

SBA loans are issued by banks, credit unions and online lenders. And while they’re partially guaranteed by the SBA — which can make them easier to qualify for — you’ll still need strong credit and solid business financials to qualify.

SBA Express loans

Veterans can borrow up to $500,000 through the SBA’s Express loan program. Upfront guarantee fees are waived for veterans, reservists, national guard members and spouses who qualify.
SBA Express loans also have a quicker turnaround time than other SBA loans 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.

Military reservist loan

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) is a program through the SBA that can provide financial assistance if you have an essential employee who is a military reservist and gets called to active duty. The maximum loan amount is $2 million and funds can be used to cover regular business operating costs. The loan amount is limited to the actual economic incurred and it can’t be used to start or expand a business.

SBA Standard 7(a) loans

Although the SBA 7(a) loan program does not offer any specific benefits for veterans, these loans are a great option if you need a larger loan amount than the Express program offers. SBA 7(a) loans can have maximum loan amounts as high as $5 million and loan terms as long as 25 years, in some cases.

SBA Community Advantage loan

The SBA Community Advantage loan program, which was designed to provide funding to underserved business owners, including veterans, was discontinued on Sept. 30, 2023. However, lenders that were involved in the program can continue to prioritize funding for veteran borrowers (and others) by contacting the SBA to become a Community Advantage Small Business Lending Company.

Patriot Express loan

The Patriot Express program is a now-defunct SBA program that offered streamlined paperwork and enhanced guarantee and interest rates on loans to veterans, reservists and their spouses who were seeking business funding. The program was discontinued in December 2013.

Bank business loans

Small-business loans from banks typically have the lowest interest rates and best terms, but they can be difficult to access. Many banks require that you have several years in business, a credit score in the 700s (although high 600s may be considered) and strong revenue to qualify for financing.
If you think your business may be eligible for a bank loan, look for institutions that offer military discounts:
  • Huntington Bank has a business loan program available to veterans where the origination fee is waived and the bank pays the SBA fees for the borrower.
  • Chase Bank waives the annual fee for the first year on a Chase business line of credit for veteran-owned businesses.
  • Bank of America offers veterans a 25% discount on loan administration or origination fees for certain small business loans, including secured business loans and commercial real estate loans.

Credit unions

Credit unions can be an option for veterans looking for business financing. Similar to banks, credit unions offer competitive interest rates and terms to their members. However, you’ll also typically need to be an established business with good credit and financials.
Navy Federal Credit Union and Service Credit Union are two options that cater specifically to veterans and active military members. Navy Federal offers a range of small business loans, including lines of credit, term loans, commercial real estate loans and business auto loans.
Service Credit Union offers SBA loans, lines of credit, equipment financing, commercial mortgages and commercial vehicle loans.
Credit unions located in your local community may also be an option for business loans.

CDFIs

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that support targeted underserved communities with loan capital, which for some may include U.S. veterans. Underwriting requirements at CDFIs can be more flexible than banks or online loans.
Some CDFIs that support veteran entrepreneurs can be found through the online platform Veteran Loan Fund. In addition to being matched to a lender, you may also be able to access below-market-rate loan funding and free business coaching. For example, Colorado Enterprise Fund, Inc.'s VALOR Program offers discounted rates for veterans on loans between $5,000 and $500,000.

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 VA loans available to businesses?

Although the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, guarantees mortgages through the VA home loan program, it doesn’t have any such program for business loans.
Similarly, the SBA doesn’t offer specific VA business loans either. The SBA Veterans Advantage program, which launched in 2014, offered certain concessions to veterans applying for specific SBA loans. Currently, fee relief is available to veterans who are approved for SBA Express loans. Under the 2020 CARES Act, the upfront guarantee fee for this specific SBA loan program is permanently fully waived for veteran-owned businesses.

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 with new businesses still have options.
The SBA microloan program caters 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 typically unsecured, meaning you won’t have to put down collateral — an asset, such as real estate or inventory — to qualify.

What qualifies as a veteran-owned business?

To qualify as a veteran-owned business, your business must typically be 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.

How to apply for a veteran small-business loan

The loan application process will vary from lender to lender. In general, you may need to provide basic information such as:
  • Military identification.
  • Background information about your business.
  • Business financial documents such as profit and loss statements, tax returns or bank statements.
If you’re applying for a small-business loan that offers discounts for veterans, like the SBA Express loan program, you’ll likely need to provide documentation to show that the business is at least 51% owned by a veteran or their spouse.
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.

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 and Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship programs, 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. To get verified to participate in the VA’s Vets First program, visit the Veteran Small Business Certification portal managed by the SBA.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 February 29, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates small-business loan products from both traditional and online lenders.
We collect over 30 data points on each lender, taking into account features we consider to be small-business friendly, including: transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to business credit bureaus and responsible lending practices.
Each small-business loan option on this list meets the following criteria:
- Maximum loan amount of at least $50,000. - Transparent rates and repayment terms. - Funding available within two weeks of applying. - Personal credit score requirements of 700 or below. - No more than two years in business required.

Wondering if you qualify?

It’s possible to get a business loan even if you have bad credit. Bad-credit business loans are available from alternative sources, like online or nonprofit lenders.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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