Best SBA Lenders in June 2024

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partners with lenders to offer attractive loan terms and affordable interest rates for small business owners. Here are the best SBA loan lenders to help your business succeed.

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by Jill A. Chafin | Edited by Abigail Bassett and Janet Schaaf | May 29, 2024

SBA lenders at a glance

Live Oak Bank: Best SBA lender for variety of loan types

Loan amountsUp to $15,000,000
Starting interest rateVaries by loan type
Term lengthUp to 300 months
Minimum credit score680
Minimum time in business36 months

See Your Business Loan Offers

Huntington National Bank: Best SBA lender for express loans

Loan amountsUp to $500,000
Starting interest rateNegotiable, but can’t exceed SBA maximum
Term lengthUp to 120 months
Minimum credit score680 (recommended)
Minimum time in business24 months (recommended)

See Your Business Loan Offers

Newtek Finance: Best SBA lender for online lending

Loan amounts$1,000 to $15,000,000
Starting interest rateNot disclosed
Term length60 to 300 months
Minimum credit scoreNot disclosed
Minimum time in business24 months

See Your Business Loan Offers

Celtic Bank: Best SBA lender for equipment financing

Loan amounts$25,000 to $5,000,000
Starting interest ratePrime + 2.75%
Term lengthUp to 300 months
Minimum credit score700 (preferred)
Minimum time in business24 months

See Your Business Loan Offers

Wells Fargo: Best SBA lender for traditional bank

Loan amountsUp to $5,000,000
Starting interest rateRates vary, subject to SBA maximums
Term lengthUp to 300 months
Minimum credit scoreNot disclosed
Minimum time in businessNot disclosed

See Your Business Loan Offers

Readycap Lending: Best SBA lender for working capital

Loan amounts$350,000 to $7,000,000
Starting interest rateRates vary, subject to SBA maximums
Term lengthUp to 300 months
Minimum credit scoreNot disclosed
Minimum time in businessNot disclosed

See Your Business Loan Offers

Bank of America: Best SBA lender for veterans

Loan amounts$200,000 to $5,000,000
Starting interest rateRates vary, subject to SBA maximums
Term lengthUp to 300 months
Minimum credit scoreNot disclosed
Minimum time in business24 months

See Your Business Loan Offers

What is an SBA loan?

With a portion backed by the U.S. government, SBA loans reduce lender risk and make funding more accessible for small business owners.The U.S. Small Business Administration sets maximum interest rate limits to ensure SBA loans remain attractive and affordable, even with a required down payment of 10% to 30%.

While SBA loans are popular, approval and funding timelines can run longer than other small business financing. You can typically receive funding from an online lender within one to three business days, whereas securing an SBA loan could take up to two months or longer. Working with a Preferred Lender, like the ones mentioned above, could shorten this wait to two weeks.

Types of SBA loans

The SBA works with multiple lenders to offer a variety of financing solutions to meet your business needs. Here are the most common SBA loan programs and what they can fund:

  • SBA 7(a): The most popular type of SBA loan, you can use these versatile funds for almost any business expense, such as inventory, payroll, working capital, renovations, startup costs and refinancing debt.
  • SBA 504: With larger loan amounts and longer terms, these funds are ideal for more significant purchases or fixed assets, such as equipment or commercial real estate.
  • SBA microloan: Underserved markets, such as women, low-income and minority entrepreneurs, typically have better luck gaining approval with an SBA microlender. Funds go up to $50,000 with shorter terms, usually capped at six years instead of up to 25 years for 7(a) and 504 loans.

How to choose an SBA lender

Many traditional banks, credit unions and private business lenders partner with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer competitive SBA loans to help your business succeed. Here’s how to narrow your options to find a lender that matches your needs.

Determine SBA loan type

Since partner lenders issue SBA loans, you’ll need to choose a lender offering the type of SBA loan you need. The SBA’s free online Lender Match tool can help you filter options based on your business’s criteria, location and desired loan amount. You can also consult your local SBA District Office for recommendations.

  Use our SBA loan calculator to see if you can afford your loan’s monthly payments.

Consider funding timelines

How quickly you need funds could influence your choices since SBA approvals generally take longer than other types of business loans. For example, non-real estate SBA loans can take 30 to 60 days from start to finish, with real estate loans taking up to 60 to 90 days.

However, working with an SBA Preferred lender could shorten the approval and funding timeline to approximately two weeks. You could also consider an SBA express lender, like Huntington Bank, which has a short processing time of 36 hours.

Review SBA loan requirements

While the SBA imposes specific regulations and standards like interest rate caps and small business size standards, the general SBA eligibility requirements will vary by lender.

That said, business owners with a personal FICO Score of 680 or higher with at least two years in business typically have higher chances of approval, although some SBA lenders have more flexible criteria.

For example, Funding Circle requires applicants to have a personal credit score of 650 or higher, two years in business and at least $400,000 in annual revenue. In comparison, an SBA microlender may provide startup business loans while not enforcing a minimum credit score, although you might still need strong cash flow projections.

Gather required documents

After choosing an SBA lender that matches your business needs, you can gather essential paperwork to speed up the application process.

While the exact business loan documents will vary by lender, you will likely need to provide the following:

Apply and review

You can typically submit an SBA loan application online, although some traditional lenders might require an in-person appointment. Lenders might request additional documents as needed. In general, the SBA loan review and disbursement process can take up to 90 days, as discussed above. Working with an SBA Preferred Lender could help you get your money faster.

Review your business loan agreement before signing the dotted line to ensure you understand the rates, terms and additional fees like late charges and prepayment penalties. You can also refer to our user ratings database to learn more about potential lenders.

  Read more on how to get a business loan.

Pros and cons of SBA lenders

While SBA lending can help many business owners get funded, it’s not the best fit for everyone. Consider the following pros and cons of SBA loans before proceeding.

ProsCons

 Broad eligibility requirements:
Businesses unable to secure traditional financing could qualify.

 Capped interest rates:
The SBA sets maximums based on the prime rate to keep SBA loans affordable for small business owners.

 Access to SBA resource centers:
Small business owners can access resources, training and support via a local SBA resource branch.

 Wide range of funding amounts:
Borrowers can access funds ranging from $500 to $5 million and beyond to tackle short- and long-term expenses.


 Down payment typically required:
SBA lenders typically require a 10% to 30% down payment to secure the funds.

 Collateral and/or personal guarantee could be required:
Many SBA lenders require borrowers to pledge collateral and/or a personal guarantee to help reduce lender risk.

 Slow approval process:
The approval and funding timeline generally takes longer than other small business loans, often up to 60 or 90 days.

 Not ideal for low-credit borrowers:
Borrowers typically have better chances of approval with a FICO Score of 680 or higher.

SBA lenders for startups and bad credit

SBA business loans tend to be competitive due to their capped interest rates and longer repayment terms. Because of this, many lenders impose strict eligibility criteria to keep applications under control.

While low-credit borrowers and startups might struggle to qualify for traditional SBA financing, the following alternative lenders offer bad credit business loans that include SBA options.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
LenderMax. loan amountMin. credit scoreAnnual revenueTime in business
$500,000650$400,000 24 monthsGet business loan offers
$500,000650$50,000 24 monthsGet business loan offers
$10,000,000500$96,000 6 monthsGet business loan offers
$5,000,000640$100,000 24 monthsGet business loan offers

Alternatives to SBA loans

An SBA loan isn’t the only way to access funds for your business. Here are some additional funding options to pursue.

Small business loans

You could research the leading small business lending companies and consider the following types of small business loans to find an option that fits your needs:

  • Term loans: Ideal for well-established businesses with a robust financial profile needing short- or long-term funding.
  • Quick business loans: Fast business loans can help you secure funds for your business in as little as 24 hours. However, expect high rates and short repayment terms.
  • Lines of credit: Available as secured or unsecured lines of credit, new and established business owners can access flexible funds as needed to cover a range of business expenses — only paying interest on amounts withdrawn.
  • Invoice factoring: Business owners can use their unpaid invoices to get quick cash advances, letting the factoring company collect payments on their behalf.
  • Merchant cash advances: Receive upfront cash in exchange for future credit card and debit card sales.

Small business grants

Government and nonprofit organizations, as well as private corporations, provide a range of small business grants to help businesses achieve their goals. While these grants can be competitive, it can be worth taking the time to apply in order to receive free money for your business.

Business credit cards

While business credit cards don’t offer the lowest interest rates, they are typically easier to qualify for than SBA and traditional business loans. Pick an option with a low annual fee or a card that maximizes your business rewards. And don’t forget to claim any paid credit card interest as a qualified business tax deduction.

Crowdfunding

GoFundMe for business can help fund specific business projects or goals via donations from family, friends and the general public. Crowdfunding generally works best for companies with a solid online presence, especially if offering a specific product or discount as an incentive for donating.

How we chose the best SBA lenders

We reviewed the leading SBA loan lenders to determine the seven best SBA lenders to help you make the most informed choice during your SBA search. To appear on our list of top SBA lenders, the lenders had to meet the following criteria:

  • Part of the SBA Preferred Lender Program (PLP): Lenders must meet certain performance criteria to become part of the PLP. As a result, they have the authority to perform all steps in processing SBA loans. Since lending decisions lie with PLP banks, funds can be distributed to borrowers more quickly.
  • Approval amounts: We prioritized SBA lenders with track records of issuing SBA 7(a) loans in high volumes and total amounts for the fiscal year 2023.
  • Rates and terms: While all SBA loans come with capped interest rates and maximum repayment terms, we prioritized lenders with more competitive fixed rates, fewer fees and flexible options for repayment terms.
  • Repayment experience: We consider each lender’s reputation and business practices. We also favor lenders that report to all major credit bureaus, offer reliable customer service and provide business coaching support to borrowers.

Frequently asked questions

Based on loan amounts, Live Oak Bank took the lead for fiscal year 2023 by providing $1.85 billion worth of SBA funding to small business owners nationwide. If looking at the number of approvals, Huntington Bank was the winner — approving 7,325 loans in 2023. Another high-performing SBA lender was Newtek Financing, with approval amounts surpassing $8 million.

An SBA microloan tends to have more lenient eligibility requirements, making it easier to get than a 7(a) or 504 loan. A microloan generally offers funds between $500 and $50,000 for small businesses and not-for-profit childcare centers. The SBA reports the average microloan is about $13,000.

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.

To find an SBA Preferred Lender, visit the SBA’s index of the most active SBA 7(a) lenders.