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Our business loan picks for 2023

By: RAECHEL CONOVER | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: March 20, 2023

As a small business owner or startup founder, funding can be tricky. Do you have enough capital to cover operating costs, payroll, and other expenses? Would it help to borrow? Do you even qualify for a small business loan? What kind of loan is best? If these questions keep you awake at night, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a guide detailing what to look for in a lender, what you need to apply, and our top picks for small business and personal business loans.

Our Top Picks

  1. SBG Funding Term Loan – Best for Flexible Terms
  2. Biz2Credit – Best Working Capital Loan
  3. BlueVine – Best Startup Business Loan Line of Credit
  4. OnDeck – Best for Short-Term Loans
  5. Fundbox – Best for Quick Approval & Fast Funding
  6. SmartBiz – Best for SBA Loans
  7. Funding Circle – Best for Long-Term Small Business Loans
  8. QuickBridge – Best Business Loans for Bad Credit

Business Loan Lender Reviews

We identified 33 popular business loan lenders and narrowed our list to eight of the best based on lender reputation, loan requirements, loan terms, and rate transparency. We focused on online lenders that are well-known in the industry and offer a range of loans to accommodate small businesses. Please refer to our methodology for details on each feature and scoring.

sbg funding term loan logo

SBG Funding Term Loan – Best for Flexible Terms

Flexibility is the name of the game at SBG Funding. They have the lowest credit score requirement on our list and offer a range of loans with flexible terms.

You can even change loan amounts as your business grows. So, if you start with a small business term loan for $10k but need to add more, SBG Funding makes it easy.

  • Low credit score threshold
  • Ability to borrow more as needed
  • Fast funding time – sometimes same day
  • Banking documentation required for approval

SBG Funding details

  • Loan amount – up to $5M
  • Term (months): – 6 to 60 months
  • Min. credit score – 500
  • Time to funding – within 24 hours of approval
Biz2Credit logo

Biz2Credit – Best Working Capital Loan

Biz2Credit offers several types of business loans, including term and working capital credit loans. Generally, their requirements are easy to meet and have a high approval rate, but if you don’t qualify through them, Biz2Credit will refer you to a third-party lender through its extensive network of partners.

Payment terms are flexible and based on your sales receipts, while fees are minimal. Biz2Credit is one of the only lenders with simple interest pricing, making the overall loan cost cheaper.

  • Large network of lending partners
  • Transparent rates
  • Simple interest pricing
  • Higher AR requirement than most lenders

Biz2Credit details

  • Loan amount – $25k to $2M
  • Term (months): – flexible repayment terms based on sales receipts
  • Min. credit score – 575
  • Time to funding – 24 hours for approval and funding within 48 hours of submitting your application
Read our full Biz2Credit review
BlueVine logo

BlueVine – Best Startup Business Loan Line of Credit

Fast and flexible is what BlueVine offers businesses looking for a line of credit. They offer a revolving line of credit up to $250k, with funds available on demand, and you only pay on what you use.

As you pay down your credit, it automatically replenishes. They boast approval within five minutes and are transparent with rates, listing the current rate on their website. Terms include six to 12 months of fixed weekly or monthly payments.

  • Approval within five minutes
  • Transparent about rates
  • Revolving and replenishing line of credit
  • Shorter repayment terms
  • Weekly payments can mean higher fees

BlueVine details

  • Loan amount – up to $250k
  • Term (months): – 6 to 12 months
  • Min. credit score – 625
  • Time to funding – approval as fast as five minutes and same-day funding
ondeck logo

OnDeck – Best for Short-Term Loans

A lender that small businesses can feel comfortable doing business with now and in the future, OnDeck is an excellent choice for a short-term business loan for many reasons, but especially because there are no prepayment penalties, and you receive loyalty benefits.

These include waived interest and fees for qualifying businesses that pay their loan off early and waiving the interest on your existing loan if you pay down 50 percent of your current loan and want to renew your contract or take out another loan.

OnDeck also features same-day funding and transparent rates.

  • Same-day funding available
  • Loyalty benefits
  • No prepayment penalties (must qualify)
  • Slightly higher credit score requirements

OnDeck details

  • Loan amount – up to $250k
  • Term (months): – up to 24 months
  • Min. credit score – 625
  • Time to funding – as early as same-day funding
Read our full OnDeck review
fundbox logo

Fundbox – Quick Approval and Fast Funding

Also offering a line of credit to small businesses, Fundbox has a slightly lower credit score threshold making it more likely those with lower credit can still get a funded line of credit.

You can easily make additional draws on your line of credit through the app, and there are no prepayment penalties. Applying takes as little as three minutes, and funding is in your account as quickly as the next business day.

  • Quick process from application to funding
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Transparent pricing
  • $100k annual revenue requirement
  • Short 3- to 6-month repayment terms

Fundbox details

  • Loan amount – $100k to $150k
  • Term (months): – 3 to 6 months
  • Min. credit score – 600
  • Time to funding – next business day
smartbiz logo

SmartBiz – Best for SBA Loans

SmartBiz is a financial marketplace that uses AI technology to facilitate SBA loans. SmartBiz substantially cuts the time it takes to apply for and get approved for an SBA loan. Traditionally applying for an SBA loan can take several months. With SmartBiz, the application process takes five minutes, and you can be approved and receive funding as fast as seven days.

Furthermore, loans connected through SmartBiz are government-backed SBA loans with capped variable rates and low APR that carry long repayment terms with low monthly payments.

  • Large online lending marketplace
  • Long repayment terms at low rates
  • Transparent pricing
  • Must be in business for at least 2 years
  • Slower funding time than other online lenders

SmartBiz details

  • Loan amount – $30k to $350k
  • Term (months): – 120 months
  • Min. credit score – 650
  • Time to funding – as fast as seven days
fundingcircle logo

Funding Circle – Best for Long-Term Small Business Loans

Funding Circle offers a few different types of funding to small businesses, and the standout is long-term business loans.

Repayment plans can be as long as seven years at a fixed interest rate over the life of the loan and fixed monthly payment rates. These are the next-best repayment terms on our list behind SBA loans.

You can also pay your loan off early with no prepayment fee.

  • Longer repayment terms
  • Fixed interest rates for the life of the loan
  • Monthly payment terms instead of weekly
  • Longer time to funding
  • Higher credit score requirement

Funding Circle details

  • Loan amount – up to $500k
  • Term (months): – 6 to 84 months
  • Min. credit score – 660
  • Time to funding – three days
quickbridge logo

QuickBridge – Best Business Loans for Bad Credit

QuickBridge stands out as one of the few online lenders with flexible lending requirements. The company boasts that any credit score is considered because your credit score does not represent your entire financial picture. Instead, the lender looks at time in business and annual revenue, which are also considered case-by-case.

Those with less-than-ideal credit scores should consider QuickBridge loans as a possible funding source.

  • No credit score requirement
  • Looks at entire financial picture
  • Simple application process
  • Revenue requirements aren’t as transparent

QuickBridge details

  • Loan amount – up to $500k
  • Term (months): – 6 to 18 months
  • Min. credit score – No minimum requirement
  • Time to funding – within a few days
Read our full Quickbridge Review

Compare the best Business Loans side-by-side

Software Name Why we picked It Loan Amounts Min. Credit Score Highlights
SBG Funding Term Loan Best for Flexible Terms Up to $5M 500 Flexible terms & loan amounts
Biz2Credit Best for Working Capital Loans Up to $2M 575 Large lending marketplace & simple interest pricing
BlueVine Best Startup Business Loan Line of Credit Up to $250k 625 Fast & flexible line of credit
OnDeck Best for Short-Term Loans Up to $250k 625 Loyalty & prepayment benefits for qualifying businesses
Fundbox Best Quick Approval and Fast Funding Up to $150k 600 Fast line of credit & lower credit score requirement
SmartBiz Best for SBA Loans Up to $35k 650 Capped variable rates & low APR with long & low repayment plans
Funding Circle Best for Long-Term Loans Up to $500k 660 Long fixed repayment terms
QuickBridge Best Business Loans for Bad Credit Up to $500k Considers all credit scores More flexible lending requirements than most

What is a business loan?

A business loan is a type of commercial financing that qualified businesses can get from banks, credit unions, and online lenders to start or expand a business. Like all loans, a business loan must be repaid with added interest, but are different from personal loans in that they generally require more detailed documentation such as financial statements, business plans, and other information about the business. Business loans come in many types and typically have higher loan amounts and longer repayment terms than personal loans.

Small business loans can be conventional or government-guaranteed loans by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“SBA loans, because of their guaranty, help lenders mitigate certain reasons they would typically not be willing or able to make a loan,” said Lynette Lambert, Assistant Vice President, SBA Department at Security Bank. “The government guarantees a portion of the loan, lowering the lender’s risk.”

In the fiscal year 2022, the SBA funded $43 billion in small business lending and provided more than 62k traditional loans. This can be an excellent option for a business struggling to qualify for a traditional loan.

How do small business loans work?

Small business loans range from as little as $5k to as much as $6M. There is typically a short application process and a quick approval process. For online lenders like those on our list, the approval process and funding can happen within one to three days.

Depending on what type of loan you apply for dictates what you can use it for. Most of the best business loans allow you to use the loan for any business needs; however, that varies depending on the lender. Equipment finance loans, for example, are earmarked specifically for business equipment purchases and maintenance.

Small business loan types

There are many types of loans a small business might want to consider. The type you choose depends greatly on your needs and ability to meet the lending requirements.

The following are the various types of business loans you can consider.

  • Term loan – traditional financing where you are given a lump sum with an assigned period to pay it back.
  • SBA loan – a term loan for small businesses backed by the Small Business Administration – they require more thorough vetting but have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms.
  • Line of credit – revolving funding that can be accessed over a set period of time.
  • Invoice factoring and financing – selling outstanding invoices to a third-party company at a discounted rate, giving you access to fast cash and freeing you from collecting outstanding payments.
  • Merchant cash advance – a cash advance is not technically a loan but works similarly. You take a lump sum and repay it with a percentage of your daily or weekly credit card transactions.
  • Working capital loansimilar to a merchant cash advance; however, a working capital loan is considered a loan, and payments are more flexible than strictly coming from your credit card sales transactions.
  • Equipment financing – a loan that helps you buy the equipment needed to run your business – these loans use the equipment as collateral, so the loan amount is determined by the value of the equipment
Loan type SBG Funding Biz2Credit BlueVine OnDeck FundBox SmartBiz Funding Circle QuickBridge
Term loan
SBA loan
Line of credit
Invoice financing
Merchant cash advance
Working capital loan
Equipment financing

Requirements for small business loans

Business loan requirements vary by lender, but most are pretty similar. This process includes an evaluation of the following:

  • Time in business – the best small business loans for new businesses – like those offered by SBG Funding, Biz2Credit, and Fundbox – require at least six months in business. The most extended requirement that we reviewed is from Funding Circle, where you’ll need at least two years in business to qualify.
  • Credit score plays a significant role as lenders view your credit score as an indicator of whether you are dependable enough to repay the loan. The average requirement for business loans seems to be a credit score of around 600. The best small business loans for bad credit require a lower credit score, including SBG Funding and Biz2Credit, which require scores of 500 and 525, respectively. If your credit score dips lower than that, QuickBridge could still be an option since they don’t have a minimum requirement, and all credit scores are considered.
  • Annual revenue – startup business loans with no revenue are hard to come by. All the lenders on our list require some sort of monthly or annual revenue. BlueVine has the highest requirement on our list at $480k annually. Most others fall around the $100k range, such as Fundbox and OnDeck.

How to get a small business loan

The first step in applying for a business loan is knowing which lender to apply with. For starters, you need to decide what type of loan you need and then identify what lenders offer that type of loan.

Other things to consider when looking for a business loan lender include how quickly you need financing and what your overall financial picture looks like.

Applying for a small business loan is not difficult. Lenders try to make it straightforward, and some online lenders even boast four-minute applications like Biz2Credit.

While each lender has their own set of required documents and information to apply, there are some things to have handy.

“The process can be quick – or it can drag out if the borrower doesn’t pull the information together,” says Lambert. “As a lender, when a borrower can’t provide the information needed in a timely manner, the focus will shift to another borrower that is responsive to what is needed to process their loan.”

The following is helpful information to have on hand as you apply for a small business loan:

  • Business name, address, and tax ID
  • Business owner name, address, and social security number (for every partner/owner)
  • Time in business
  • Your credit score
  • Three months of recent business bank statements
  • Three months of recent personal bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Collateral information

Lambert advises to come prepared with a short business plan to let the lender know more about the prospective business, the background of the owners, how they believe their company will compete, who will run day-to-day operations, how much they need and how much equity they can inject into the project.

Once your application is submitted, you wait for approval. The approval process is quick for the online lenders on our list, with some, like Biz2Credit taking as little as 24 hours to approve loans.

While you’re waiting, Lambert recommends getting your business insurance and assignments of life insurance lined up.

The loan closing process happens when the lender approves your loan and all terms are agreed upon. You and your chosen lender must sign documents to close on the loan. With an SBA loan, the closing can happen within a week. From there, you will receive funds in your agreed-upon way. This process is quick, and some online lenders like OnDeck and BlueVine promise funding within the same day.

Business Loans FAQ

Can you get a small business loan with bad credit?
The short answer is yes, you can get a small business loan with bad credit. Of course, it depends on the lender you are working with. Some lenders like SBG Funding and Biz2Credit carry lower credit score requirements, while QuickBridge advertises that all credit scores are considered.

How do I qualify for a business loan?
To qualify for a small business loan, you must first identify lenders that align with your funding needs and accept borrowers with your financial picture. From there, you fill out the lender’s application and provide all the documentation and information they ask for in a timely manner. Ultimately the lender decides if you qualify for a business loan through them.

Which loan is best for small businesses?
Many great funding options exist for small businesses needing a small business loan. Determining how quickly you need funds and what you need the funds to cover will help you decide what small business loan is the best fit for your needs.

How we chose the best business loans

We curated a list of 33 popular online business loan lenders to begin narrowing our focus. We looked for reputable online lenders that met the following criteria:

  • Offers loan amounts of at least $150k
  • Quick funding within one week of approval
  • Minimum time-in-business requirement does not exceed two years
  • Accepts credit scores at or below 660
  • High lender transparency regarding rates, terms, and fees

We scored companies on a scale of 1 (poor) to 3 (excellent) across the following criteria, each worth 25% of our total score.

  • Lender requirements: We looked for lenders with reasonable requirements regarding a borrower’s time in business, credit scores, and annual revenue.
  • Lender offerings: Our focus is on lenders that offer high loan amounts, extended repayment terms, and quick funding turnaround times upon approval.
  • Lender transparency: Lenders scored higher in this area if their rates, fees, and terms were transparent and easy to find online.
  • Brand reputation: We poured through customer reviews and ratings from trustworthy review sites and compiled a percentage rating based on these reviews to get a sense of each vendor’s reputation with its customers.