A business line of credit provides flexibility that a regular business loan doesn’t. With a business line of credit, you can borrow up to a certain limit — say, $100,000 — and pay interest only on the money borrowed. You then draw and repay funds as you wish, as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit.
Need to manage cash flow? Buy inventory? Pay for a surprise expense? Then a business line of credit makes sense.
Business lines of credit are typically unsecured debt, which means you don’t have to provide collateral — assets, such as real estate, that the lender can sell if you default. The concept is similar to a business credit card, but getting a cash advance from a credit card is typically pricier.
Lines of credit also differ from traditional business loans, which give you a lump sum of cash that you repay over a fixed period. Business loans are a better option for longer-term investments.
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS IF YOU NEED:
- If you’ve been in business less than one year.
- If you want the lowest rates.
- If you want funding fast.
Business line of credit up to $100,000
BlueVine, StreetShares, Kabbage and OnDeck all provide business lines of credit up to $100,000. If you’ve been in business less than a year, look at BlueVine. If you’re looking for the lowest annual percentage rate, try StreetShares. For the fastest funding, consider Kabbage or OnDeck.
BlueVine is a solid option if your company is getting started. You can qualify after just six months in business. You’ll make weekly repayments on the credit line over six months, with an APR of between 16% and 62%. You can be approved and funded within 24 hours. BlueVine requires that your business makes a minimum of $60,000 in annual revenue and that you have a personal credit score of at least 600.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000.
- APR: 16% to 62%.
- Loan term: Repaid over six months.
- Funding time: As fast as 24 hours.
- Read our BlueVine review.
StreetShares offers the lowest APR range, from 9% to 40%, and it requires minimum revenue of only $25,000. This makes the lender a good choice for businesses that have been in operation for a year or more, with owners who have personal credit scores of 600 or higher.
An important caveat: StreetShares offers lines of credit up to $100,000, but your maximum credit limit cannot exceed 20% of your annual business revenue. For example, a business with $100,000 in annual revenue could be approved for up to $20,000.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000.
- APR: 9% to 40%.
- Loan term: Three to 36 months.
- Funding time: One to five days.
- Read our StreetShares review.
For the fastest funding, Kabbage and OnDeck are best. Kabbage is the best option if you have bad personal credit, because it doesn’t require a minimum credit score for borrowers. Your business needs a minimum of $50,000 in annual revenue and one year in operation to qualify. However, it’s the more expensive option, with APRs from 24% to 99%. If you’ve been in business for at least nine months, have a credit score of 600-plus and annual revenue of at least $75,000, you might qualify for funding from OnDeck, which has APRs starting at 13%, which is lower than Kabbage’s starting APR.
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000.
- APR: 24% to 99%.
- Loan term: Six or 12 months.
- Funding time: A few minutes to several days.
- Read our Kabbage review.
- Loan amount: Up to $100,000.
- APR: 13% to 40%.
- Loan term: Repaid weekly.
- Funding time: As quickly as 24 hours but typically a few days.
- Read our OnDeck review.
Business line of credit up to $300,000
Lending Club’s business line of credit is a good option when you want competitive rates and have a personal credit score of at least 600. To qualify, you also need a minimum $75,000 in annual revenue and at least two years of business history. The lender offers APRs of between 8% and 35%, which include a 1% to 2% draw fee each time you borrow from the line.
Like some of the other options listed here, Lending Club’s fee-free line of credit works well if you need cash for an emergency. You must repay draws on your line of credit over a maximum of 25 months. You can pay sooner, without prepayment penalties, to save on interest.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000.
- APR: 8% to 35%.
- Loan term: Repaid up to 25 months.
- Approval time: Less than a week for funding.
- Read our Lending Club review.
Business line of credit: Summary of options
FIND AND COMPARE SMALL-BUSINESS FINANCING
To size up other types of small-business financing, check out NerdWallet’s loan comparison tool. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.
Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Steven.N@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.
Updated Feb. 7, 2016.