As a business owner with good personal credit and strong financials, it’s easier to qualify for cheap financing — meaning you can borrow money at a lower annual percentage rate.
APR is an accurate measure of the cost of financing. It includes the interest rate as well as all the fees you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
Even if you can’t qualify for a loan from a traditional bank, which typically offers the best rates, there are alternative lenders that offer low rates. To help get you started, we’ve rounded up several online financing options, starting with Small Business Administration loans, which offer the lowest possible APRs.
Low-interest business loans: Compare your options
(Scroll right to see all the lenders)
|Funding options||Live Oak Bank||SmartBiz||StreetShares||Credibility Capital||Funding Circle||Lending Club|
|Best for||Businesses in niche industries looking for a large loan||Low-rate SBA loans||Businesses that are at least a year old||Businesses that are at least 18 months old||Businesses with low revenue||Established businesses that want fast financing|
|Loan amount||$75,000 to $5 million||$30,000 to $350,000||$2,000 to $100,000||$10,000 to $350,000||$25,000 to $500,000||$5,000 to $300,000|
|APR||5.50% to 7.75%||8.53% to 9.83%||9% to 40%||10% to 25%||7.4% to 36%||9.8% to 35.7%|
|Personal credit score||650||600 for $150,000 or less; 650 for more than $150,000||600||650||620||600|
|Annual revenue||Cash flow must be able to support the debt||$50,000||$25,000||$150,000||None||$50,000|
|Time in business||N/A||2 years||1 year||18 months||2 years||1 year|
For more details
If you’re looking for the lowest-cost loan: SmartBiz and Live Oak Bank
SBA loans are by far your best bet for the lowest possible rates if your business is strong. With the SBA guaranteeing 75% to 85% of the financing, lenders can offer SBA loan rates of about 7% to 9% that are based on the prime rate. But the application process is a major time commitment — we’re talking months — and small-business owners may not have time for that.
SmartBiz and Live Oak streamline the SBA loan process, giving business owners access to financing at low interest rates with less hassle.
SmartBiz provides SBA loans that can be used for working capital, inventory, expansion and debt consolidation.
- Pros: Low rates; faster processing time than traditional bank application
- Con: Requires more documentation than other alternative financing options
If you do business in one of these 17 highly specialized industries, you can turn to Live Oak Bank for SBA loans with APRs from 5.50% to 7.75%. The North Carolina-based online bank can help get you an SBA loan in just 45 days.
- Pros: Low rates and high maximum loan amount of $5 million
- Con: Limited reach — serves only 17 industries (accounting and tax firms, agriculture/poultry, automotive, educational services, family entertainment, funeral service, government contracting, healthcare and dental, hotel, insurance, investment advisory, pharmacy, renewable energy, self-storage, senior care, veterinary and wine/craft beverage)
- Loan amount: $30,000 to $350,000.
- APR: 8.53% to 9.83%
- Loan term: 10 years.
- Funding time: As quickly as 7 days but typically several weeks.
- Read our SmartBiz review.
- Loan amount: $75,000 to $5 million
- APR: 5.50% to 7.75%
- Loan term: 5 to 25 years
- Approval time: Average of 45 days to process an SBA loan application
- Read our Live Oak Bank review
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If you’ve been in business one to two years: StreetShares and Credibility Capital
Many traditional lenders, such as banks, require at least two years of business history to qualify for a loan. But if you have just one year under your belt, consider StreetShares for financing. Credibility Capital, on the other hand, requires at least 18 months in business.
Credibility Capital has minimum credit and revenue requirements — 650 and $150,000, respectively. But it also uses a “holistic” approach to underwriting, meaning it may be flexible on some requirements if you are outperforming in other areas.
- Pro: Offers some underwriting flexibility
- Con: Higher personal credit score requirement compared to other alternative lenders
StreetShares offers loans and lines of credit of up to $100,000, a good option if you’re looking for a small amount of financing.
- Pro: Minimum revenue requirement starts at $25,000
- Con: Funds capped at 20% of your annual revenue
- Loan amount: $10,000 to $350,000
- APR: 10% to 25%
- Loan term: One, two or three years
- Funding time: Seven days on average
- Read our Credibility Capital review
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000
- APR: 9% to 40%
- Loan term: Three to 36 months
- Funding time: One to five days
- Read our StreetShares review
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If you’ve been in business at least two years: Funding Circle and Lending Club
With two years in business, you have additional financing options that come with competitive rates and quick funding.
Funding Circle offers competitive interest rates for established companies. Typical borrowers have at least 10 employees and have been in business for 10 years.
- Pros: No minimum revenue requirement; APRs start at 7.4% for strong-credit borrowers
- Con: Smallest funding amount is $25,000, higher than other options here
You can also consider Lending Club. While the company recently changed its requirement for time in business from two to one year, more established businesses with solid revenue and owners with good personal credit may qualify for the lowest rates.
- Pros: Low rates for strong-credit borrowers
- Con: Requires UCC-1 lien on loans over $100,000
- Loan amount: $25,000 to $500,000
- APR: 7.4% to 36%
- Loan term: 6 months to 5 years.
- Funding time: Average of 10 days
- Read our Funding Circle review.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
- APR: 9.8% to 35.7%
- Loan term: 1 to 5 years
- Funding time: As fast as two days but typically a week or two
- Read our Lending Club review
If you’re looking for business loan alternatives:
Outside of traditional business loans, you can also consider using a personal loan for business or getting a business credit card. You typically need to have good to excellent credit to get the lowest APRs.
Personal loan: Using a personal loan for business is typically best for starting your company. Since your company is brand new, you won’t have any business or revenue history, which are two key components that small-business lenders consider. Instead, personal loan providers will qualify you based on your personal credit score and income. Personal loans also tend to have lower APRs than many online alternative lenders, but defaulting on them could hurt your personal credit score.
Business credit card: Using a business credit card not only gives you access to a revolving line of credit, but you can also earn valuable rewards, like cash back. Credit limits on business credit cards are typically higher than what’s offered for personal credit cards. They are a good option for recurring or everyday purchases. You can qualify based on your personal credit even if you don’t have an established business history.
Find and compare small-business loans
If none of these options seems like a good fit, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool for the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and filtered them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.
Updated Jan. 2, 2018.