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Short-Term Business Loans: 5 Best Options

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Business owners looking for a lump sum of cash quickly for a business opportunity might consider short-term business loans. Funding can be granted in a matter of days and used for a variety of reasons like filling a cash flow gap, purchasing a piece of equipment or expanding the business. The repayment terms usually range from three to 18 months, and loan amounts can range from $5,000 to $500,000 depending on the lender.

Best short-term business loans

Our list of the best short-term small business loans focuses on alternative online lenders that feature short repayment terms, can quickly offer funding upon approval and have more lenient lender requirements than traditional bank loans.

To appear on our list of best short-term business loans, lenders had to meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum repayment terms between three and six months
  • Loan amounts as low as $5,000
  • Credit score requirements no higher than 700
Lender Loan amount Terms Time to funding after approval Minimum requirements Rates
Fora Financial $5,000–$500,000 Up to 15 months with daily or weekly payments 72 hours
  • Minimum of six months in business
  • $12,000 in gross monthly sales
  • Or processing a minimum of $5,000 in credit card sales
Factor rates 1.10–1.35
OnDeck $5,000–$250,000 Repayment terms up to 24 months repaid with automatic daily or weekly payments Same day
  • 600 minimum credit score
  • At least one year in business
  • Annual revenue of $100,000 or more
APR

starting at 35.00%

Credibly $5,000–$400,000 6 to 18 months As soon as 24 hours upon approval
  • 500 minimum credit score
  • At least six months in business
  • Annual revenue of at least $180,000
Factor rates starting at 1.15
Balboa Capital $5,000–$250,000 3 to 18 months No specific time frame, but you will “get funded quickly”
  • “Decent” personal credit score required
  • Minimum of one year in business
  • Minimum of $300,000 in annual revenue
APR starting at 4.00%
Funding Circle $25,000–$500,000 6 to 60 months One to three business days
  • Minimum weighted average personal FICO score of 660
  • At least two years in business
4.99%–19.49%

Best for short repayment terms: Fora Financial

For short-term business loans with a quick repayment time, Fora Financial tops the list. The repayment terms are up to 15 months, making it an ideal short-term lender if you’re able to repay quickly. Borrowers must have no open bankruptcies, $12,000 in gross monthly sales and have been in business for at least six months.

Fora Financial offers loans ranging from $5,000 to $500,000. The time to funding is quick — usually within 72 hours after approval — which makes Fora a great option for businesses in need of quick access to money. Repayment happens on automatic daily or weekly installments with factor rates of 1.10 to 1.35. There’s also an origination fee for borrowers of 2.50%.

Best for small purchases: OnDeck

With loan amounts between $5,000 and $250,000, OnDeck might be a good option for businesses making smaller purchases. Loans range from 3 to 24 months with a minimum APR of 35.00%. You can decide if you wish to make repayment on a daily or weekly basis, but there are no prepayment penalties for repaying your loan early. There is an origination fee on loans of up to 4.00%.

The minimum requirements for borrowers are a credit score of 600 or more, at least one year in business and annual revenue of $100,000 or more. Depending on the state you live in, funds may be available sometimes as soon as the same day you’re approved, making OnDeck great for businesses looking for fast funding. OnDeck does not serve businesses in Nevada, North Dakota or South Dakota, nor does it lend to certain industries, including adult entertainment, firearms vendors, lotteries, nonprofits or fortune-telling businesses.

Best for low credit scores: Credibly

With a minimum credit score of 500, Credibly might be the right lender for you if you have bad business credit. Application criteria to qualify is lenient, with just six months in business and $15,000 average monthly bank deposits required.

Credibly offers loans from $5,000 to $400,000 and can deliver the funds in as little as one day after approval. They charge a factor rate of 1.15 to 1.45 instead of interest and the loans have repayment terms of 6 to 18 months. There is also a 2.50% origination fee on the total loan amount.

Best for high-revenue businesses: Balboa Capital

High-revenue businesses might consider Balboa Capital, which requires a minimum of $300,000 in annual revenue and at least one year in business from borrowers. They don’t have a minimum credit score requirement but say they require a “decent” credit score.

If you have the annual revenue, Balboa Capital can offer you between $5,000 and $250,000 in funding with repayment terms of 3 to 18 months. Borrowers could receive funding the same day they apply if they do so on a weekday. Rates start at 4.00% APR but can be significantly higher.

Best for longer repayment terms: Funding Circle

For a longer repayment, Funding Circle is a great option because their repayment terms range from 6 months to 60 months, or 10 years. Loans range from $25,000 to $500,000 in funding with interest rates of 4.99% to 19.49% APR. They offer funding as soon as the day after approval.

With a minimum weighted average personal credit score of 660, you’ll need a slightly higher credit score for Funding Circle than other short-term lenders on this list. Funding Circle also requires at least two years in business, and their average borrower has $1.4 million in annual revenue, though they don’t require a set revenue.

How short-term business loans work

Short-term business loans provide quick access to funds to fill cash flow gaps, working capital or emergency expenses within a business. They typically have repayment periods for three to 18 months or so, with payments made automatically on a daily or weekly basis. They’re funded quickly by online lenders, and anywhere from one to three business days is a common timeline for this type of funding.

Short-term small business loans are typically more lenient than long-term, traditional bank loans. With more relaxed eligibility requirements such as lower credit score, shorter time in business or lower annual revenue, short-term loans may be more accessible for new or small businesses, but they also often come with higher interest rates.

Long-term business loans offered by traditional banks have longer repayment periods, usually three to 10 years. These loans also may have lower interest rates but require payments on a less frequent basis than short-term loans do. Long-term loans can be used for growing a business over time or making a significant investment into a business like a remodel or a building expansion.

Common uses of short-term business loans

We’ve briefly covered why a business might be using a short-term loan — for stop-gap or emergency funding — but let’s take a closer look at some specific reasons they can be used.

  • Short-term loans can be used for covering upfront expenses. Businesses that do work for clients or customers before getting paid might need short-term funding to get started on a project. Short-term loans can offer the money to get started and can be repaid as a client begins to pay for the work.
  • Unexpected or emergency expenses can be covered with short-term loans. Part of what makes short-term loans so appealing is that they are usually funded quickly. This makes them ideal for small businesses looking for funding to cover unexpected emergency expenses.
  • Using short-term loans to cover seasonal income gaps. For those businesses that have seasonal income, short-term loans can be used to help offset the off-season.

Short-term loan interest rates

One thing to always consider when deciding whether to take a short-term loan is the interest rate. Rates for short-term business loans are sometimes higher than they might be for long-term loans. The interest rates for short-term business loans can range from 8% to 99% depending on where the loan comes from.

Some short-term lenders may charge a factor rate instead of an interest rate. While interest is a percentage of the remaining balance of the loan, a factor rate is expressed as a decimal figure. To calculate the full cost of your loan with the factor rate included, multiply your loan amount by the factor rate.

How to get a short-term business loan

Oftentimes, you can apply for a short-term business loan with a quick online application that takes just a few minutes to complete. Once you have your application materials gathered to show your monthly or annual revenue and time in business, you can fill out your application for most online lenders fairly easily.

Since short-term business loans are commonly used for fast financing, the three most important factors in determining eligibility are often your credit score, annual or monthly revenue and length of time in business. Lenders usually require business plans, profit and loss statements and tax returns when filling out the application.

You should also consider whether or not they offer the amount of funding you’re looking for and the repayment terms and rates before you apply.

Short-term business loans: Pros and cons

Pros:

  Funding for short-term business loans is typically quick, meaning you could have the cash within a few business days after applying.

  Online lenders offering short-term loans have more lenient requirements for borrowers.

  Simple application process that can take just a few minutes.

  Repaying your loan on time or ahead of schedule could help boost credit, but be sure to check that there are no prepayment penalty fees.

Cons:

  Rates for online lenders offering short-term business loans tend to be higher than those for banks or long-term loans, making them more costly.

  Short-term loans require quick repayment timelines.  You have to be ready to start making payments immediately after taking on the loan.

  Smaller loan amounts than you might get from other types of funding.

  Failure to keep up with the frequent repayment schedule could result in damage to your credit score.

Short-term business loans FAQs

What is a short-term business loan?

A short-term business loan is a lump sum of funding usually between $5,000 and $250,000 for short-term use for covering emergency or unexpected business costs.

Who should get a short-term business loan?

Small businesses looking for short-term funding to cover an emergency expense who are able to repay on a daily or weekly basis should get a short-term loan.

Can I get a short-term loan with bad credit?

You might be able to get a loan if you have bad credit. Some lenders don’t weigh credit that heavily and instead prefer to see strong cash flow.

Are there short-term loans for startup businesses? 

Generally, short-term lenders consider time in business, so brand new businesses won’t qualify for many short-term loans. A line of credit or a cash advance might be a more appropriate avenue of funding for a startup.

 

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