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Best SBA Lenders of 2022

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partners with lenders to help business owners access the financing they need. SBA loans are attractive for their generous amounts, affordable interest rates and long repayment terms. And while the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) program is now closed, the SBA’s flagship 7(a) and 504/CDC loan programs are still accepting applications.

Keep in mind that the SBA loan doesn’t issue the loans directly — rather, SBA-authorized institutions facilitate the loan process. We’ve compiled some of the top SBA lenders to help you secure funding for your unique business needs.

Best SBA lenders

The SBA works with lenders to provide funding to small business owners. Our top SBA loan lenders have track records of issuing SBA loans in high volumes and total amounts. Moreover, these lenders are part of the Preferred Lender Program — lenders that have met certain performance criteria and have the authority to close and liquidate SBA loans, allowing borrowers to receive funding more quickly.

To appear on our list of top SBA lenders, the lenders had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be an SBA Preferred Lender or facilitates loans with Preferred Lenders
  • Highest loan processing volume
  • Highest approvals
Lender* Number of loans Total Amount of Loans
Live Oak Bank 1,552 $2,347,184,900
Huntington National Bank 4,366 $927,764,700
Newtek 1,241 $859,111,500
Celtic Bank 490 $725,912,300
Wells Fargo Bank 1,843 $600,616,000
SmartBiz Facilitates loans with SBA Preferred Lenders
Funding Circle Facilitates loans with SBA Preferred Lenders

*Based on 100 most active SBA 7(a) lenders, as of Sept. 30, 2021.

Top lender by dollar amount: Live Oak Bank

Among the lenders on the SBA’s most active lender list, Live Oak Bank has issued the highest total dollar amount for 7(a) loans in 2021 (up to Sept. 30). Live Oak Bank offers both 7(a) and 504 loans with terms extending up to 300 months. For 7(a) loans, borrowers can secure loans of $150,000 to $5,000,000 in funding. For 504 loans, amounts extend from $1,000,000 to $15,000,000 with floating or fixed interest rates. The minimum down payment for 7(a) and 504 loans is typically 10%.

Top lender by most number of loan approvals: Huntington National Bank

Huntington National Bank has approved 4,366 loans — the highest volume so far this year. Moreover, Huntington National Bank has ranked as the top SBA lender in its region for the last 12 years. Borrowers can secure 7(a) loans up to $5,000,000 with terms up to 300 months. Interest rates are capped at 13.50% for fixed rates or 10.25% for variable rates, as currently standard for SBA loans.

Best for non-bank: Newtek Finance

Newtek Finance isn’t considered a traditional bank — rather, it functions as a business development company. Newtek is a non-bank, non-depository entity, a type of financial institution that does not accept deposits the way other banks would. Currently, Newtek Finance ranks third in the total amount issued in 7(a) loans.

Best for online-only experience: Celtic Bank

Celtic Bank is a virtual financial institution, offering banking and lending services completely online. Celtic Bank has consistently ranked among the top ten SBA lenders in the nation since 2013.

Business owners can secure both 7(a) and 504 loans from Celtic Bank. 7(a) loans are available from $25,000 to $$5,000,000 with repayment terms ranging from 60 to 300 months, with down payments starting at 10%. For 504 loans, amounts are available up to $5,000,000 and more with terms capped at 240 months.

Best for traditional bank experience: Wells Fargo Bank

Serving business owners since 1852, Wells Fargo has issued over $6 million in SBA 7(a) loans in 2021. Business owners can obtain a 7(a) loan for up to $5,000,000 with repayment terms ranging from 60 to 300 months. Wells Fargo offers fixed or variable interest rates on 7(a) loans. Wells Fargo also offers 504 loans up to $6,500,000 for the Wells Fargo portion (more on that below) with terms of 120 to 300 months. Down payment requirements typically start at 10% for both loan programs.

Best for veterans: SmartBiz

SmartBiz has a strong history of servicing veterans — over 50% of loans funded through SmartBiz’s network have assisted veterans and underserved communities with financing. In addition, more than 10% of the nation’s volume of traditional SBA 7(a) loans under $350,000 have been processed through SmartBiz. However, unlike the banks mentioned above, SmartBiz doesn’t facilitate the loans directly — rather, SmartBiz connects business owners with SBA preferred lenders that would best fit their needs.

SmartBiz doesn’t offer 504 loans, though business owners can still obtain 7(a) loans of $30,000 to $5,000,000. Repayment terms range from 120 to 300 months with current variable interest rates of 7.50% to 10.29%. Business owners should expect to pay a 10% to 30% down payment.

Best for easy application process: Funding Circle

When applying for financing through Funding Circle, you could potentially complete the application process within 10 minutes. Funding Circle has worked with over 100,000 small businesses, originating $17.5 billion in small business loans. Similar to SmartBiz, Funding Circle leverages its network of SBA lenders to match borrowers with the most suitable lender.

Funding Circle does not list 504 loans on their website but does service 7(a) loan applicants. 7(a) loans are available in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, with repayment terms maxed at 120 months. Funding Circle’s network of lenders may charge a flat 6.00% interest rate and can require a down payment of 10% to 20%.

504 CDC lenders

Unlike the general-purpose 7(a) loan, the SBA 504 loan program is reserved for financing fixed assets, such as commercial land, machinery and construction. 504 loans are also unique because the funding is split between three parties:

  • 40% from the SBA-approved lender
  • 50% from a certified development company (CDC)
  • 10% from the borrower

CDCs are organizations partnered with, and approved and regulated by, the SBA, which promote economic development within their respective communities. While many of the lenders above facilitate 504 loans, you’ll still need to locate a qualified CDC — you can use the SBA’s free online match tool to find the top SBA 504 lenders near you.

How to choose an SBA lender

Since SBA loans are issued through partner lenders, you’ll need to choose a lender who offers the type of SBA loan you need. The SBA’s free online Lender Match tool can help narrow down your options by your business’s needs and location. You can also consult your local SBA District Office for their recommendations.

While there are certain SBA regulations, such as interest rate caps, the requirements for qualifying can vary by the lender. Some 7(a) lenders, for example, may require of applicants personal credit scores of 675 or higher, two years in business and at least $400,000 in annual revenue. An SBA microlender, on the other hand, may not enforce a minimum credit score and will consider funding startups, but also require strong cash flow projections.

After choosing a lender, you would need to compile the necessary documents for your application package. The required documents can vary by the loan program, but you will generally need:

  • Your SBA loan application form (Form 1919)
  • Business financial statements (e.g., profit and loss statements, tax returns and cash flow projections)
  • Business application history
  • Personal documents (e.g., tax returns, resume, financial statement and background statements)

SBA lenders FAQs

Who is the best SBA lender?

The best lenders will depend on your specific needs and qualifications — a microlending institution may be a suitable option if you have poor credit and only need a $15,000 loan, for instance. Seeking out a Preferred Lender is recommended if you want to work with an experienced SBA-approved lender and need access to capital quickly.

What banks are preferred SBA lenders?

Banks with Preferred Lender status include LiveOak Bank, Huntington National Bank and Wells Fargo Bank. For more options, visit the SBA’s index of the most active SBA 7(a) lenders.

How do I choose an SBA lender?

The SBA’s online Lender Match Tool can compile SBA lenders within your area that suit your financial needs. After answering a quick questionnaire, you will get matched with suitable lenders within two days. You can then talk to different ones to compare rates and terms.

What is an SBA preferred lender?

Lenders with Preferred Lender status have the authority to close SBA-guaranteed loans awaiting approval from the SBA. Typically, SBA loan applications undergo a first approval from the lending institution, and then a second approval from the SBA itself. When SBA lenders use their delegated authority, they can receive SBA approval instantly, allowing borrowers to receive funding more quickly.


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