NerdWallet’s recommendations on small-business loans are based on independent, deeply researched and objectively reported information. We evaluated lenders on more than 30 data points, spending 300 hours reviewing them, going through their application processes and reading the fine print on their borrowing terms. To help you find the best financing option, we’ve highlighted their qualifications and deciphered rates so that you can accurately compare products based on your needs and goals.
NerdWallet’s recommendations on small-business loans are based on independent, deeply researched and objectively reported information.
We evaluated lenders on more than 30 data points, spending 300 hours reviewing them, going through their application processes and reading the fine print on their borrowing terms. To help you find the best financing option, we’ve highlighted their qualifications and deciphered rates so that you can accurately compare products based on your needs and goals.
The quest for small-business loans for women is a bit easier these days. If you’re a female entrepreneur, your financing choices are no longer limited to bank loans, Small Business Administration loans or small-business grants.
You can explore a host of online small-business lenders that have emerged since the 2008 financial crisis. Online lenders have less stringent requirements, but you still need some business track record. And you’ll pay higher borrowing costs compared with traditional banks.
Here are smart options for small-business loans for women, which we’ve arranged based on how long you’ve been in business, your personal credit score and the state of your company.
- If you have less than a year in business
- If your personal credit score is under 600
- If your company is at least 1 year old
- If you have an established business
- Other resources for women entrepreneurs
- Summary of options: Small-business loans for women
If you have less than a year in business
It can be difficult to qualify for a business loan if you haven’t been operating for a full year. Most lenders want to see a track record of strong finances, the direction the business is going in and an ability to repay the debt. But don’t fret if you’re just starting out — there are still financing options for startups.
If your personal credit score is under 600: Kabbage, OnDeck
Your options are limited if you have shaky personal credit, typically a FICO score below 600. You can try Kabbage or OnDeck; both offer financing for women with less-than-stellar credit. Borrowing costs may be high, but both are good sources of speedy funds. You can sometimes get your loan within hours.
If your credit score is 500 or above, go with OnDeck, where annual percentage rates range from 9% to 99%. If your credit score is under 500, Kabbage may be a good bet, although its line of credit comes with a higher APR range than an OnDeck loan, at 24% to 99%.
These are good options for emergencies or short-term needs. Once you improve your finances, consider transitioning to lower-cost financing.
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000.
- APR: 24% to 99%.
- Loan term: 6 or 12 months.
- Funding time: A few minutes to several days.
- Read our Kabbage 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.
If your business is at least 1 year old: StreetShares, Credibility Capital
If you’ve been in business at least a year, have at least $25,000 in annual revenue and a personal credit score of 600 or more, StreetShares is a good choice for term loans, with APRs starting at 9%.
Credibility Capital is another option. It’s popular with service-based businesses, such as restaurants and financial services firms. The New York-based lender offers one-, two- or three-year term loans from $10,000 to $350,000. With APRs between 10% and 25%, it can be an attractive option for borrowers who have good personal credit (650+) but fall just short of traditional banks’ financing qualifications.
(If you’re a startup with less than 12 months in business, here are some strategies for getting financing.)
- 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: $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.
If you have an established business: SmartBiz, Lending Club, Bond Street
If you have solid finances and an established business, you may qualify for a Small Business Administration loan; they typically have the lowest rates on the market. SmartBiz is a good option if you’re looking for a quicker alternative to banks offering SBA loans. An APR of 8% to 8.7% and the 10-year loan term also make SmartBiz an attractive option when you want to make major investments to grow your company. To qualify, you need two years in business, at least $50,000 in annual revenue and a personal credit score starting at 600 for loans of $30,000 to $150,000. For larger amounts, you’ll need a credit score of at least 650.
- Loan amount: $30,000 to $350,000.
- APR: 8% to 8.7%.
- Loan term: 10 years.
- Funding time: As quickly as 7 days but typically several weeks.
- Read our SmartBiz review.
If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan or need faster access to capital, Lending Club and Bond Street are good choices to consider. Lending Club has a term loan or line of credit if you need financing of up to $300,000. The lender requires a personal credit score of 600 or more and $75,000 in annual revenue. If you need more financing, Bond Street offers term loans up to $1 million. But its requirements are a bit stricter, such as having a personal credit score of 640 or higher, annual revenue of at least $200,000 and at least two years in business.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000.
- APR: 8% to 35%.
- Loan term: One to five years.
- Funding time: As fast as two days but typically a week or two.
- Read our Lending Club 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.
Other resources for women entrepreneurs
Many organizations offer services and assistance to women entrepreneurs, including pro bono programs run by nonprofits and SBA-affiliated groups. These include programs that teach women how to start a business and train them in financial management and marketing.
Grants: Women-owned businesses can get help in the early stages through grants provided by government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Here are 10 places to look for small-business grants for women.
SBA Women’s Business Centers: The Women’s Business Centers are a network of nearly 100 educational centers around the U.S. that help women start and grow their businesses. These centers typically offer seminars and workshops on a range of topics, including how to start a business and tips on raising capital.
National Association of Women Business Owners: This national organization of women entrepreneurs is based in Washington, D.C. The association, which has 5,000 members and 60 chapters across the country, offers training and information on different topics, including access to capital, government contracting and business certification.
National Women’s Business Council: The National Women’s Business Council works with the Office of the President, Congress and the SBA on issues related to women business owners. It also publishes research and other materials focused on women-owned enterprises.
WomanOwned: This network of more than 3.5 million women-owned businesses worldwide offers online business information and networking assistance. WomanOwned maintains a database where women can get information on loans, scholarships and other funding sources.
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Summary of options: Business loans for women
Evaluate small-business loans carefully
If you’re a woman entrepreneur, you won’t run out of financing options for your small business. There are plenty of choices, depending on your financial situation and needs. When shopping for loans, be sure to compare APRs, the true cost of borrowing including all fees. NerdWallet’s small-business loans comparison tool can help:
NerdWallet writer Andrew Wang contributed to this report. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @andrew_L_wang.
Updated Feb. 24, 2017.