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RapidAdvance Review: Best Alternative Lender for Merchant Cash Advances

Our 2017 research and analysis of alternative lenders leads us to again recommend RapidAdvance as the best alternative lender for merchant cash advances. We chose RapidAdvance from dozens of alternative lenders. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can read our methodology and a comprehensive list of alternative lenders on our best picks page.

RapidAdvance combines an easy application process and quick funding with excellent customer service. Here is a breakdown of why it's our best pick.

RapidAdvance has a simple and short application-and-approval process. You have the option of either filling out an online application or calling the company to provide your information directly to an account executive.

You are asked some initial basic questions — where your business is located, how long you've been open and your total monthly sales — to help you get an estimate of how much of an advance you might be eligible for. 

RapidAdvance has a simple online application than be completed in just minutes. Loan approvals can be granted in as quick as 24 hours, with funds available in three days.

Based on this information, you are provided a preliminary funding amount. This isn't the amount you may ultimately be approved for, but it gives you an idea of how much of an advance you might receive so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to proceed with the application process. We like that RapidAdvance gives you this early estimate. Most of the other lenders we examined wouldn't provide an estimate until the entire application was completed.

If the estimated advance is in line with what you want, you continue filling out the rest of the application, which asks for your business's legal structure, your estimated monthly credit card sales, how much money you need and what you plan to use it for.

Editor's note: Are you trying to find the business loan that's right for you? Fill in the questionnaire below, and you will be contacted by our partner alternative lenders that will help you find the right loan for you.  

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After submitting this information, you are given a more accurate loan amount. You then need to confirm your total monthly revenue and credit card sales by providing bank and credit card statements.

An underwriter will review all of the information and will run a credit check to determine if you ultimately will be approved for a cash advance and, if so, what the amount and terms will be. The approval process is typically completed within 24 hours, with funds available within three days. This is a bit faster than some of the other lenders we investigated, which took five to seven days to approve and disburse loans.

There are a number of variables that determine which businesses qualify for cash advances. Your business's total monthly revenue and credit card sales, as well as your credit score, are used to determine your eligibility.

Although there are no exact rules about who gets approved, there are several minimum requirements a business must meet to even be considered. Your business must:

  • Have a physical location.
  • Have been in business for at least three months.
  • Process at least $2,500 a month in Visa and MasterCard receivables.
  • Have at least one year left on your lease.

RapidAdvance's requirements for the minimum time a business needs to be open and its minimum credit card revenue are less than those most lenders require. The majority of lenders we considered require businesses to be open for at least six months and have around $5,000 in monthly credit card sales.

Merchant cash advances are different from traditional small business loans. With traditional small business loans, you make monthly loan payments, but cash advances are paid back via credit card sales. You repay the loan by giving RapidAdvance a fixed percentage of your future Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover card receipts until the predetermined payback amount is paid off.

One way that RapidAdvance determines the exact percentage that it will charge your company is by comparing your total monthly sales to your monthly credit card sales. Businesses with a high proportion of credit card sales typically have a lower fixed percentage fee, while those with lower credit card sales have a higher percentage.

What makes cash advances so attractive is that payments are linked solely to your business's daily credit card sales, so when sales are slow, payments are small. We like that, with RapidAdvance, there are no monthly minimums. Some of the other lenders we considered had a minimum amount that had to be paid each month, regardless of how much credit card revenue there was.

RapidAdvance doesn't make you change credit card processors to get an advance. Many of the other lenders we looked at had a specific list of processors you needed to use, or required you to switch to their preferred processor for you to be eligible for a loan. If RapidAdvance doesn't have a relationship with your credit card processor, a pass-through account will be set up. If RapidAdvance does work with your processor, the credit card processor will automatically send RapidAdvance its share and deposit the rest into your business bank account.

RapidAdvance has three different tiers of cash-advance programs: Starter, Standard and Premium. With the starter program, which is designed for new businesses, you are eligible for funding that is 50 percent of your average monthly credit revenue. Both the standard and premium programs provide funding of up to 250 percent of your monthly credit card volume. Most of the other lenders we examined provided cash advances of up to only 125 percent of credit card sales. The premium program offers lower costs than the Standard program if your business is in good credit standing and has been open for at least three years.

In addition to time in business, the specific size and cost of an advance is based on business size, industry, processing history, volume and average size of each credit card transaction.

Besides the cost of the loan, there are no additional fees with RapidAdvance. Many of the other lenders we considered had other costs tacked onto the loan, such as fees for origination, application and closing. Additionally, RapidAdvance doesn't require a lien in order to loan you money or file UCC-1 documents as many other lenders do.

Once you have the loan, there are no restrictions on its uses. Some of the other lenders we evaluated had limitations on how you could spend the money.

We were very impressed with the customer service we received from RapidAdvance. To test the type of support you can expect, we called the lender multiple times, posing as a business owner interested in a cash advance. Each time we called, a representative answered quickly. These reps skipped the hard sell and instead spent time answering our questions. Most of the other lenders we spoke to were more interested in trying to determine our loan eligibility before they answered any of our questions.

Throughout each of our calls, all of our questions were answered thoroughly and in enough detail that left us with a clear understanding of how RapidAdvance's merchant cash advances work. Some of the other lenders we spoke with either weren't able to answer all of our questions or offered short answers that didn't give us the kind of clarity we needed.

After our calls, the representatives followed up with an email encouraging us to contact them with any other concerns. We did send follow-up questions on several occasions to gauge the type of reply we would get. Each time, we received a response — containing thorough answers — within minutes.

We were also impressed that the representatives were willing to give us their direct phone number to call them back. One representative went as far as to give us his mobile phone number in case we wanted to reach him when he wasn't in the office.

Unlike some of the other lenders we examined, which had borrowers work with different loan specialists throughout the process, RapidAdvance assigns each customer his or her own account executive. We think having a dedicated person to work through the application-and-approval process and the life of the loan is a big bonus.

The RapidAdvance customer service department can be reached by phone or email between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

The biggest downside of RapidAdvance is that it doesn't work with online businesses. To qualify for a loan, you have to have a physical location. We would recommend that online businesses that are already using PayPal to collect funds consider also using it for a cash advance. PayPal has an excellent cash advance program with a simple application process, easy repayment plans and favorable terms.

We also found a couple of complaints about RapidAdvance that were filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). According to the BBB website, one of the complaints filed against RapidAdvance within the past year, and two in the past three years, were resolved to the complainants' satisfaction. However, there are two other complaints still awaiting resolution.

It's important to note that RapidAdvance is an accredited member of the BBB with an A+ rating and that there were far fewer complaints filed against the company than against most of the other lenders we reviewed.

Ready to choose an alternative lender? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Are you trying to find the business loan that’s right for you? Fill in the questionnaire below, and you will be contacted by our partner alternative lenders that will help you find the right loan for you.  

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.