Bad credit is a red flag for lenders. It indicates you’ve either mismanaged your personal finances or fallen on hard times. Either way, lenders see you as higher risk — more likely to miss payments or default on a loan than a borrower with good credit.
Bad credit (defined by FICO as a score of 300 to 629) is one reason loan applications are rejected; the approval rate of business loans from big banks was just 23.3% as of June 2016, according to Biz2Credit. But alternative lenders provide options. They emphasize the strength and operating history of your business rather than your credit. Be sure to carefully compare all of your choices, weighing terms and annual percentage rate.
Here are some options:
Note: If you’re a startup less than a year old, it’ll be tough to find a loan, no matter your credit. Here are financing ideas to help you launch your company.
If your personal credit score is under 500
With a score below 500, your best bet is likely a lender with no minimum credit score. Many lenders require a minimum score to qualify, but Fundbox and Kabbage don’t. Both are good, although pricey, choices for bad-credit borrowers who need short-term working capital up to $100,000. Fundbox, however, is only for businesses with unpaid customer invoices. There’s no minimum revenue with Fundbox and no credit check. For Kabbage’s line of credit, you need least $50,000 in annual revenue and one year in business.
If your personal credit score is 500 or higher
With a personal credit score of at least 500 or 530, you could qualify for OnDeck or BlueVine. OnDeck is for businesses that have at least $100,000 in annual revenue and is better if you need cash for an expansion (such as purchasing equipment or making renovations). The lender reports payment activity to the three credit bureaus, so paying off your loan on time will help build your credit score. If your score is at least 530 and your business has unpaid customer invoices, consider BlueVine invoice factoring.
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If your personal credit score is 600 or higher
Because your score is at least 600, you can turn to Dealstruck or StreetShares for financing. For larger amounts of funding and lower borrowing costs, consider Dealstruck, as it has term loans and lines of credit up to $500,000 with APRs from 10% to 28%. However, you’ll also need strong minimum annual revenue of $150,000 to qualify. If you have $25,000 or more in revenue, StreetShares is an option. Its loans max out at $100,000 with 9% to 40% APR.
Bad credit business loans: Summary of options
Need more options?
If none of these works for you, or if you’d like to compare your loan options, NerdWallet has curated a list of small-business loans best for business owners. All of our recommendations are based on the lender’s market scope and track record and on business owners’ needs, as well as rates and other factors, so you can make the right financing decision.
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This article was updated July 22, 2016. It was originally published Nov. 13, 2015.