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Crest Capital: The Best Alternative Lender for Equipment Loans

We recommend Crest Capital as the best alternative lender for equipment loans. We chose Crest Capital from among dozens of alternative lenders. To understand how we selected our best picks, see our methodology and a comprehensive list of alternative lenders on our best picks page.

Crest Capital has a simple application process, fast approvals, a variety of financing terms and excellent customer service. Here is a breakdown of why it's our best pick.

Crest Capital requires you to submit only a simple application when financing less than $250,000. No other financial documentation is needed.

You have the option of filling out an application online, or completing a paper version and faxing or emailing it in. Not all of the lenders we considered offered an online application.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on business loans? Fill in the questionnaire below, and alternative lenders ready to discuss your loan needs will contact you.  

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The application includes basic questions about you, your business and the equipment you want to finance. Some of the specific questions are:

  • Company name, website and address
  • Each company owner's name and Social Security number
  • The percent of the company that belongs to each owner
  • The company's bank name and account number
  • The estimated cost of the equipment
  • The length of the loan or lease you want
  • The condition of the equipment
  • Name and address of the equipment vendor

 

The Crest Capital application can be completed online. You also have the option of filling our a paper version and faxing or emailing it in.

 

Crest Capital also reviews your credit history. In order to be approved, you must have a minimum credit score of 650. The lender also checks public records, like Dun & Bradstreet and PayNet, to ensure you don't have any current delinquent payments or a history of nonpayment to creditors.

How long you have been in business is also a key factor in whether you're approved for financing. Typically, you must have been in business at least two years for Crest Capital to consider you.

The lender reviews all of this information and usually has a final determination on approval within 4 hours. This is significantly faster than many of the other equipment financing lenders we examined.

Financing of more than $250,000 requires a more extensive application process. Besides checking your credit score and payment history, Crest Capital also requires:

  • A written overview of your organization (two pages max, plus brochures and/or resumes)
  • A written description of the purpose of the equipment and financial justification of acquiring the equipment
  • Last two year-end financial statements and current interim financial statement
  • Tax returns for the two most recent years (unless financial statements are audited or reviewed)
  • Last two years of tax returns on all entities and principals owning at least 20 percent of the company
  • Current financial statement on all entities or principals owning at least 20 percent of the business.
  • List of current loans and leases (include lender name, account number and phone number)

Once all of this information is submitted, an approval decision is usually made within one business day. This is still considerably faster than many of the other lenders we looked into, which took up to two weeks to approve borrowers.

Part of what attracted us to Crest Capital was its wide array of financing terms. The company offers financing of up to $1,000,000, with term lengths of between 24 and 84 months. The wide range of options gives you the ability to choose a financing structure that best fits your needs.

We like that Crest Capital lets you choose your own term length. Shorter term-lengths generally require larger monthly payments, while longer term-lengths have smaller payments. The lender's flexibility means you can pick a repayment period that best fits into your budget.

Crest Capital also lets you choose between an equipment loan or lease. The biggest difference between the two is the structure of the financing and what happens at the end of the term. Among the options offered are:

  • Equipment finance agreement: A fixed-rate loan offering a monthly payment that does not fluctuate with treasury rates. At the end of the term, you own the equipment.
  • $1 purchase agreement: With this lease, you have a fixed monthly payment, and own the equipment at the end of the lease for a nominal amount, such as $1.
  • 10 percent purchase option: This is a lease with a fixed monthly payment, as well as a fixed purchase option. At the end of the lease, you can purchase the equipment at 10 percent of its original cost, renew the lease or return the equipment to Crest Capital.
  • Fair market value: This offers the lowest fixed monthly payments. In addition, the payments are usually 100 percent tax deductible. At the end of the lease, you can purchase the equipment at fair market value, renew the lease or return the equipment to Crest Capital.
  • Guaranteed purchase agreement: Provides a guaranteed purchase price for the equipment at the end of the term. You can choose a purchase price that is fixed at a certain dollar amount, or pick from a range between a fixed minimum and maximum amount.
  • First-amendment lease: Gives you a purchase option at one or more defined points during the lease, with the requirement that you renew or continue the lease if the purchase option is not exercised.
  • Operating lease: Meets the criteria established by the Financial Accounting Standard Board and is available for equipment with a strong after-market value.

All of the financing structures can be combined with a variety of other payment options. These include step-up plans (lower payments early in the finance term and higher payments later), deferred plans (defer payment for up to six months) and seasonal plans (no monthly payments during seasonal businesses' slow periods).

Crest Capital also offers Section 179 qualified financing, which allows for tax deductions on the cost of equipment. Under Section 179, small businesses can deduct up to $500,000 in 2016, with a "total equipment purchased for the year" threshold of $2,000,000.

In addition to financing the equipment, Crest Capital can finance the "soft costs" that are associated with the equipment, such as the costs of delivery, tax and installation. Crest Capital covers soft costs that fail to exceed 25 percent of the total purchase price.

Since there are so many types of financing structures, it's impossible to say what your interest rate would be. Those rates are determined not only by the structure you choose, but also by the term length, your credit score, your time in business and the type of equipment being financed.

During our research, a Crest Capital representative quoted us an interest rate of 5.85 percent on $25,000 in financing for office furniture over a 60-month term. This was the only lender we spoke to that was willing to give us a quote over the phone when we hadn't filled out an application.

Besides the interest rate, the only other fee Crest Capital charges is a $275 documentation charge. While most of the other lenders had a similar fee, Crest Capital's was among the cheapest.

After agreeing to a deal, Crest Capital immediately collects the documentation fee and first month's payment. The lender then purchases the equipment the next day from the vendor of your choice.

Repayment is made on a monthly basis. You can send in a check every month, or have the payment automatically withdrawn from your bank account.

We were extremely impressed with Crest Capital's customer service. To test the customer support, we called the lender posing as a business owner interested in equipment financing.

A professional, pleasant and helpful representative immediately answered our call. Just having someone take our call was a step up from some of the other lenders we contacted, which sent us straight to voicemail.

Instead of trying to get information about our business and the equipment we wanted, the Crest Capital representative was content with simply providing clear and detailed answers to all of our questions. Some other lenders we spoke with gave unclear answers that left us confused about exactly how their financing worked. Other lenders also seemed more concerned with getting our information first, before taking our questions. With Crest Capital, we got the sense that they wanted us to have all the information we needed in order to make an informed decision.

Crest Capital representatives are available via phone, email and online forms. The company's website features details on each of the lender's financing programs, a helpful frequently asked questions section and a Section 179 calculator that gives you an idea of how much money you could save by using those tax-deduction options.

The Crest Capital website features an extensive FAQ section that answers many questions your may have.

The biggest limitations with Crest Capital are its requirements for minimum credit score and time in business. The requirement for at least a 650 Equifax score could eliminate some businesses from even being considered for financing. In addition, the company doesn't work with startup businesses.

Businesses that haven't been open for at least two years should consider our runner-up in this category, Amerifund. That lender offers five financing programs, including three for new and startup businesses. Amerifund provides financing of up to $75,000 for new businesses and $5,000,000 for business that have been in operation for at least five years. In addition, it makes credit decisions within 2 hours and offers same-day funding. We were also very impressed with Amerifund's customer service.

While some of the other lenders we looked into had less-than-staller Better Business Bureau reports, Crest Capital and Amerifund had spotless records. Both lenders are BBB-accredited, have A+ ratings and have not had any complaints filed against them in the past three years.

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

Editor's Note: Looking for information on business loans? Fill in the questionnaire below, alternative lenders ready to discuss your loan needs will contact you.  

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Chad  Brooks
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.