Tips for Comparing Small Business Loans

small business loans
small business loans

Best Small Business Loans in 2022

Small business loans let eligible business owners borrow funds to cover company-related purchases and operating expenses. Whether you’re just starting your business or trying to grow, the best small business loans can help you access the capital your business needs to thrive.

Consider these tips when comparing small business loans:

  • Where possible, prequalify. Some business financing lenders offer a prequalification process. This means prospective borrowers can share details about their financing needs, revenue and other relevant information to find out what loan amounts, rates and repayment terms they may qualify for. This process typically only requires a soft credit inquiry, which has no impact on your credit score.
  • Determine how you want to receive your funds. Two of the most common ways you can receive and access your business funds are through a lump-sum payment or on an as-needed basis. If you want to receive your funds up front, choose a traditional working capital or term loan. However, if you want to use funds only as you need them, consider a business line of credit.
  • Consider the repayment terms and flexibility. Each business financing lender has its own repayment structures. While some types of financing require monthly payments, others may require daily or weekly payments. Take this into account when choosing your preferred lender and business loan.
  • Look out for additional fees. Some lenders offer fee-free business loans that don’t require borrowers to pay origination fees, late payment fees, prepayment penalties or any other common loan costs. However, this is not always the case. Be sure to confirm a lender’s fee structure when shopping for the best terms. Factor in additional fees into your decision-making process.
  • Evaluate the lender’s customer support options. If you’ve found a lender that’s prepared to offer the money you need at acceptable terms, consider the lender’s support options before signing the loan agreement. Customer support can make a huge difference down the line if you encounter issues with repayment. Research the lender’s customer service resources and read reviews to make sure it’s a good fit.

Methodology

We reviewed 15 popular lenders based on 16 data points in the categories of loan details, loan costs, eligibility and accessibility, customer experience and the application process. We chose the nine best lenders based on the weighting assigned to each category:

  • Loan cost: 35%
  • Loan details: 25%
  • Customer experience: 20%
  • Eligibility and accessibility: 10%
  • Application process: 10%

Within each major category, we also considered several characteristics, including available loan amounts, repayment terms and applicable fees. We also looked at minimum credit score and time in business requirements and the geographic availability of the lender. Finally, we evaluated each provider’s customer support tools, borrower perks and features that simplify the borrowing process—like online applications, prequalification options and mobile apps.

Where appropriate, we awarded partial points depending on how well a lender met each criterion.


What Is a Small Business Loan?

A small business loan is a source of funding business owners can access to cover the costs associated with operation and growth. Like personal loans, business owners can get small business loans through traditional banks and credit unions as well as online lenders—including those backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Depending on the type of loan, you can use funds for everything from working capital and equipment acquisition to larger purchases like real estate.


How Small Business Loans Work

Small business loans help companies make large purchases and cover the cost of doing business. Loans generally are issued as a lump sum that can be used to make a specific purchase or manage cash flow and then repaid with interest. However, there are other types of small business loans—like lines of credit, merchant cash advances and invoice financing—that can be used to access cash more quickly and on an as-needed basis.

The best loan for a business depends on a number of factors, including its creditworthiness, how much it needs to borrow, what the funds will be used for and how quickly it needs access to loan proceeds.