In most cases, your decision will depend on your business needs, your budget and the state of your personal and business finances.
Here’s a quick summary of your financing options:
Equipment loans: Compare your options(Scroll right to see all the lenders)
Where to find equipment loans
You typically would get the most favorable interest rates and terms from traditional banks, but they have strict credit standards. Online small-business lenders offer another option, especially if you’re hoping to acquire equipment fairly quickly or if your personal and business finances aren’t in excellent shape.
No matter the source of your loan, be sure to match its term with the expected life span of your new equipment. If you’re buying commercial kitchen equipment that you expect to use for five years, get a loan with a five-year term. A shorter term may have you scrambling to make payments, and a longer term will have you paying off the equipment even after you stop using it.
In many cases, your buying decision depends on the cost of the equipment. For this roundup, we explore online equipment loans for two sets of options based on cost.
Best overall option for equipment loans
Currency Capital is an online lending platform that mostly focuses on equipment loans, unlike other business lenders that provide general business financing. It provides higher financing amounts at lower rates than several other online lenders.
Currency Capital lends up to $2 million in equipment financing with annual percentage rates starting at 6%. It works with multiple lenders to provide quick approval and funding.
Unlike other general business lenders, Currency works with the equipment vendor to disburse the payment and then services the loan.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $2 million
- APR: 6% to 24%
- Loan term: 1 to 5 years
- Funding time: As fast as same day to 2 weeks
- Read our Currency Capital review.
Equipment loans for items under $50,000
If you’re buying a piece of equipment that costs less than $50,000, StreetShares, OnDeck or Credibility Capital may be right for you.
For a low-cost option: If your personal credit score starts at 600 and your business generates at least $25,000 in revenue, StreetShares offers loans with APRs starting at 9%.
Equipment loans make up 25% of the lender’s financing, according to the company.
If your credit score is low: OnDeck can be a smart option when your choices are limited because of wobbly finances or bad credit. The lender requires a minimum personal credit score of 500.
In return for speed and less stringent qualifications, an OnDeck loan costs more than a StreetShares loan.
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000
- APR: 9% to 40%
- Loan term: 3 to 36 months
- Funding time: 1 to 5 days
- Read our StreetShares review
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $500,000
- APR: 9% to 99%
- Loan term: Repaid daily or weekly for 3 to 36 months
- Funding time: As fast as 24 hours but typically a few days
- Read our OnDeck review
For strong-credit borrowers: Credibility Capital offers short-term financing with competitive APRs ranging from 10% to 25%.
Equipment loans make up about 20% of Credibility Capital’s lending.
- Loan amount: $10,000 to $350,000
- APR: 10% to 25%
- Loan term: 1, 2 or 3 years
- Funding time: 7 days on average
- Read our Credibility Capital review
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Equipment loans for items $50,000 and over
If the equipment you need costs $50,000 or more, such as specialized machinery for an auto repair shop or a construction company, go with financing that has a longer term and the lowest APR you can qualify for. Bank loans are typically your best bet, but strict requirements and long processing times may be obstacles.
For fast SBA loans: SmartBiz offers U.S. Small Business Administration loans, which are generally the least expensive small-business financing available.
Due to its online platform, SmartBiz typically can process applications in several weeks, compared with three months or longer at banks.
- Loan amount: $30,000 to $350,000
- APR: 8.5% to 9.21%
- Loan term: 10 years
- Funding time: As quickly as 7 days but typically several weeks
- Read our SmartBiz review
For faster processing and higher loan amounts: Funding Circle is a good option if you don’t have time to wait for an SBA loan; on average, funding time is 10 days.
Plus, the lender’s maximum loan amount is $500,000, compared with SmartBiz’s $350,000.
Bond Street offers one-, two- or three-year terms for loans up to $ 1 million.
- Loan amount: $25,000 to $500,000
- APR: 7.4% to 36%
- Loan term: 1 to 5 years
- Funding time: Average of 10 days
- Read our Funding Circle review
- Loan amount: $10,000 to $1 million
- APR: 8% to 25%
- Loan term: One to three years
- Approval time: Average of three to four days
- Read our Bond Street review
If you want to crowdfund some of your financing: Able Lending provides a platform to recruit your friends and family as backers for your loan. You can opt for a loan that combines your backers’ contributions with Able’s or one that the lender backs in full.
- Loan amount: $25,000 to $1 million
- APR: 8% to 25%
- Loan term: 1 to 5 years
- Funding time: Up to 7 days for Able-funded loans; up to 1 to 2 days after full backer contribution for Able Growth loans
- Read our Able Lending review
Many vendors offer financing options, including lease deals.
Equipment leasing can help reduce costs and maximize an investment, says Steve Hall, vice president for small-business development at the nonprofit Accion Chicago. For instance, a piece of equipment becomes less valuable and productive as it gets older, so leasing it for a limited time may be a smart move.
“Companies that lease want to take advantage of technology and the potential cost savings with the upgrades,” he says. “Leasing also is 100% tax-deductible as an expense.”
Some financing companies also offer the option of buying the equipment at current market value.
Leasing generally is more costly than buying if you end up using the equipment for a long time. According to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, leasing is “likely the preferable option” for equipment you plan to use for 36 months or less. If you’ll use it for longer, it makes more sense to buy.
LEASE IT OR TAKE OUT A LOAN?
Leasing allows you to rent equipment for a specific period of time rather than own it. After this term, you may have the option to buy the equipment at a reduced price.
- Your business won’t get stuck with equipment that becomes obsolete as new technologies emerge
- Equipment leasing requires a lower initial outlay of cash than equipment loans
- The entire rental payment is tax-deductible
- Some leases include maintenance in the rental cost
- Leases have no depreciation tax benefit
- Interest rates are generally higher than equipment loans
- Because the business is only leasing the equipment, you’ll have to budget for an ongoing rental expense or future equipment purchase
Equipment loans are small-business loans specifically for the purchase of equipment.
- This is usually the equipment financing option with the lowest interest rates
- You’ll own the equipment outright. Once the loan is repaid, business owners who own equipment but need cash for other business purposes may opt to arrange a sale-and-leaseback agreement. This involves selling equipment to a lender in return for quick cash and then leasing it from that lender.
- At tax time, the interest you’ve paid is deductible, and you’ll also enjoy a depreciation tax benefit
- If the financed equipment becomes outdated, your business is stuck with having to sell or dispose of it
- A higher initial down payment is typically required for equipment loans than equipment leasing
- Only the interest portion of your payment brings a tax benefit
Find and compare small-business loans
NerdWallet has created a comparison tool of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged the lenders by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.
Updated July 10, 2017.