Alternative lenders provide quick financing for small businesses. Usually based online, these businesses advertise favorable loan requirements and manageable interest rates. Regardless of which company you partner with, make sure you’re working with a reliable partner with a proven track record. All our best picks are reputable online lenders. Assess your own debt and ability to take on a new loan before agreeing to a deal with a lender. Financing can be the catalyst for any small business, so long as the right agreement is reached for both the lender and the borrower.
Our Best Picks
To help you find the right Business Loans, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2019 best picks for business loans and an explanation of how we chose them.
Editor's note: Looking for business financing? Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of lenders for free.
Funding is a necessary aspect of any small business venture. Whether you're expanding your business, investing in marketing or advertising, or managing cash flow, it's hard to grow without the right kind of financing. Luckily, there are several different types of financing options for small business owners. Traditional banks offer long-term loans for major purchases, SBA partners can provide small business-specific loans, and alternative lenders provide creative options like invoice financing and lines of credit. Banks and alternative lenders can generally meet your funding needs if your business is financially stable and relatively healthy.
What to Expect in 2019
More and more businesses are turning to online lenders instead of local banks for financing. As community banking declines, Fintech lenders are working to fill the lending gaps. This means businesses have access to quicker funding through sleek online platforms, but may have to pay higher interest rates as a result. The growing Fintech trend means small business owners need to be careful about what companies they partner with. In addition to the rise of alternative lenders, here are some other trends to be aware of in 2019:
Lender transparency: California is working on the Truth in Lending Act, which will require all small business lenders to tell applicants what annualized rate they’ll charge for financing. This is a step in the right direction from the borrower’s perspective. If other states follow suit, business owners can benefit from more transparent loans.
Artificial intelligence: Part of the emergence of online lenders means artificial intelligence is making its way into the small business lending space. AI is being used to provide faster approval times and remove process inefficiencies.
Best for Equipment Financing
Crest Capital offers equipment financing of up to $1,000,000. Financial documents aren't needed for financing of less than $250,000. The lender has a range of loan and lease terms, including fixed-rate loans, $1 purchase agreements, 10 percent purchase options, fair-market-value leases, guaranteed purchase agreements and operating leases. To qualify, you must have been in business at least two years and have a minimum credit score of 700. The approval process can be completed in as little as four hours.
Noble Funding provides small businesses with a compelling working capital loan offering. Businesses looking for fast financing have access to funds ranging from $50,000 to $2,000,000 and can get funded in just two to three business days. Noble's applications process is quick and easy, and business owners can use these types of loans for quick, short-term funding.
RapidAdvance offers merchant cash advances of 50 to 250 percent of your monthly credit card volume. You repay loans by giving RapidAdvance a fixed percentage of your future card receipts until the loan is repaid. To qualify, you need to have been in business for at least three months, have at least $2,500 in monthly credit card receivables and have a physical location for your business. You can apply for the advance online or over the phone. The approval process can be completed in 24 hours, with funds available within three days.
SBG Funding provides small businesses with various loans, including lines of credit and traditional small business loans. Based on the company's requirements and qualifications, its offering is ideal for startups. To get funding from SBG, businesses need to be established for six months, earn $150,000 in revenue per year and have a credit score of 550 or more. These qualifications, along with both short- and long-term rates, make SBG Funding an ideal option for startups and growing businesses.
OnDeck offers fixed-rate loans of up to $500,000. To qualify, you need a minimum credit score of 500 and an annual revenue of at least $100,000, and you must have been in business for at least one year. Loan terms vary, ranging from three to 36 months and are paid back on a daily or weekly basis. You can apply for a loan online or over the phone. You can receive approval in just a few minutes, with funds deposited into your account within 24 hours.
Kabbage offers small businesses lines of credit up to $250,000. Each time you draw against your line of credit, you have six or 12 months to pay that money off. Instead of paying interest, however, you pay fees of 1 to 10 percent each month. To apply, you fill out an online application and link the system to either your business checking account or an online service you already use, such as QuickBooks. Kabbage's platform automatically reviews the data on those sites to determine if you meet the company's standards for a loan. The process typically takes just minutes to complete. Once approved, you have instant access to your line of credit.
To help you find the right Business Loans, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2019 best picks for Business Loans and an explanation of how we chose them.
Locating the Best Services
To determine the best alternative lenders, we started with a pool that included all the lenders on the comprehensive list below as well as other lenders that were industry leaders or requested to be analyzed and reviewed by Business News Daily. After preliminary investigation, including a look at other best-pick lists and initial research into each lender, we whittled this list down. After several rounds of research and other considerations, we arrived at a shortlist of companies to consider for best picks. These companies underwent customer service calls, further research and other testing until we arrived at our six best picks: OnDeck, Crest Capital, SBG Funding, Noble Funding, Kabbage and RapidAdvance.
Choosing the Best Services
Ultimately, we settled on 12 alternative lenders to research as our best picks: Balboa Capital, Fora Financial, Kabbage, Reliant Funding, Noble Funding, SBG Funding, LoanMe, altLINE, OnDeck, RapidAdvance, Crest Capital and Paypal. (See below for the full list of alternative lenders.)
Researching Each Service
We researched each lender by investigating the types of loans it offers, the amount of money that can be borrowed and for how long, the application and approval process, and repayment procedures. We also considered any general term rates listed on these lenders' websites. After narrowing the list to 18 contenders, we contacted each lender's customer service department by phone (and live chat if possible) and posed as business owners to gauge the support each company offers. We also considered how available information was on each company's website. For new or busy business owners, it's difficult to find the time to call each company and basic loan information, like ballpark rates or general terms. We prioritized online transparency in this round of reviews.
Full List of Business Loans
Here is a full list of Business Loans providers and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks, which are marked with badges.
ARF Financial offers a bridge loan calculator, and you can get a loan in as little as seven days.
Alpha Funding Corp. has a lot of experience in commercial bridge loans. This lender can help you with a variety of different projects, including purchases, refinances, quick closings and constructions, with its commercial bridge loans. These loans are an option to consider if banks have denied your loan applications or if you need funding right away.
After working with small and midsize businesses in Alabama since its creation in 1936, The Southern Bank Company began to see a desire among small businesses for different funding options. This inspired the company to create AltLINE. The service offers invoice factoring, accounts receivable financing and an asset-based line of credit.
Balboa Capital is an alternative lender that provides robust loan offerings for small to medium sized businesses. There are several different types of loans small business owners can choose from, including standard small business loans, equipment leasing, commercial financing, vendor financing, franchise funding and business cash advances. For the majority of its loan products, Balboa caps its lending amount at $250,000.
CAN Capital Merchant Services provides merchant cash advances to businesses that have been in operation for at least four months. You could receive $2,500 to $150,000 in financing. You repay the borrowed amount as a daily set amount or a percentage of your credit card sales, depending on whether you choose a business or merchant cash advance.
Chase is a massive financial institution that provides a variety of solid small business lending options. Businesses can take out lines of credit, term loans, SBA financing, commercial real estate, credit cards, equipment financing and trade financing. All of these loans come in varying amounts, ranging from $5,000 up to $500,000.
Crest Capital provides equipment financing loans for businesses looking to purchase vehicles, equipment or software. The company provides funding ranging from $5,000 to over $500,000. You can finance equipment you've found through another vendor, or partner with one of Crest's equipment vendors. You can also finance used equipment.
Experiment is a crowdfunding site dedicated to funding and sharing scientific research. It is an all-or-nothing platform. Each project is reviewed and scientifically approved, and the results and data must be shared with backers.
Fora Financial offers working capital loans for small businesses. Loans can range from $5,000 up to $500,000. This merchant cash advance company extends its offers to small businesses that have been in business for as short as three months.
ForwardLine extends merchant and business cash advances between $5,000 and $2 million to small businesses in most of the United States. Financing through this lender, however, is unavailable to companies in Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and the District of Columbia
FrontStream is an online donation platform for nonprofits and businesses. It can help your business raise funds for projects, auctions, charity events and annual giving programs. In addition, it helps businesses with philanthropy efforts consisting of campaign management, employee volunteering, volunteer manage, corporate gift-matching and more.
FundRazr is a fundraising site with access to various tools, customizable options and support to help your fundraiser be successful. This fundraising website offers two funding options: a Free plan (0 percent platform fee) and its Pro plan (5 percent fee).
Founded in 2011, Fundation is an online provider of alternative small business loans. It offers term loans and lines of credit. It offers a fast review process and no hidden fees. Fees, eligibility requirements and terms are listed on the website.
FunderHut is a crowdfunding website for individuals, small businesses, non-profits and communities. It offers both fixed campaigns, where you must raise 100 percent of your funding or you get nothing, and variable campaigns, where you keep the money you raise even if you don't reach your goal.
Fundera is a loan broker that offers equipment financing for small businesses. Through its lenders, it provides funding in as little as two days for up to 100 percent of the value of the equipment. Interest rates for equipment financing through Fundera range from a fixed rate of 8 to 30 percent.
Fundly is a fundraising site that allows individuals and organizations to do a variety of fundraisers for a multitude of needs. This service has no raise requirements, is optimized for mobile users and has an extensive list of ideas to help you along your campaign path.
Grand Coast Capital Group gathers real estate professionals with years of experience in the industry. This lender offers bridge loans for borrowers looking to grow their company through investing, acquiring new property or developing existing property.
Kabbage is provides alternative small business loans through its online portal. This unique lending platform allows business owners to draw on their line of credit, make payments and manage their account online.
Kalamata Capital provides several alternative business financing programs, including alternative loans for companies needing extra capital for a variety of reasons. This finance company uses data analysis technology to evaluate the overall performance of your business to help you apply for a loan.
Katipult is a crowdfunding platform tailored for equity and real estate crowdfunding. It can be used as a private or public solicitation platform, meaning you can market investment offerings to a private community of investors or to anyone.
Lending Club is an online credit marketplace that connects investors and businesses. As such, it provides alternative loans up to $300,000, often with low interest rates and fewer requirements than traditional banks.
Based in Philadelphia, Liberty SBF can provide SBA 504 loans, conventional or bridge loans to small businesses. It can provide funding for complex situations and transactions, including debt refinancing, quick-close acquisitions, and partner buyouts.
Marlin is an equipment financing company that is funded by its subsidiary, Marlin Business Bank. It has over 15 years of experience, and provides services to customers across the United States. It has funded over $4 billion to small and mid-sized businesses since 1997.
MyEvent is a fundraising site available for personal, group, sport and event fundraising. With three different plan options to choose from based on your fundraiser, this service has a wide variety of features to cover a multitude of needs.
The NDC Grow America Fund is the small business lending arm of the National Development Council, a nonprofit that provides many services such as job training and affordable housing programs. Through the Grow America Fund, it provides SBA 7(a) small business loans to businesses in underserved areas, particularly those that create jobs and are owned by minorities and women.
Noble Funding is an alternative lender that provides high interest, short-term loans of $50,000 or more. It also connects businesses with other banks and lenders for different types of loans. It can help businesses find long-term loans, cash advances, asset-based loans, inventory loans, purchase order financing and invoice financing.
North Shore Funding Co. specializes in commercial bridge loans and commercial hard money loan programs. This lender focuses on funding loan applicants as quickly as possible. North Shore Funding Co. provides a wide range of funding options depending on the type of project or investment you want to make.
Onevest is an equity crowdfunding site that takes a hands-on approach to attracting investors for your business. It has a thorough vetting system to evaluate businesses. If you qualify, it not only posts your company's case on its site, but it also works to recruit accredited investors through other means.
CIM provides SBA 7(a) loans to small businesses nationwide. CIM is an SBA-preferred lender and has one of the few SBLC licenses issued by the SBA to nonbank lenders, which gives it more flexibility in its lending decisions.
Patch of Land is a nationwide crowdfunding company that offers funding from different investors around the country instead financing bridge loans from a traditional group of lenders within one entity. Investors can choose which project they want to fund after Patch of Land approves them. Through its unique crowdfunding options, Patch of Land can provide you funding without the long wait times that you can experience with traditional lenders.
Patreon is a personal crowdfunding website that encourages people to donate a steady monthly stipend to you in exchange for access to your content and any benefits you might give. This site is for artists of all kinds, from cartoonists to photographers to YouTubers. It is, however, geared for the creation and distribution of creative content.
Pozible is an international crowdfunding website that helps individuals, startups and non-profits fund projects. It accepts pledges in multiple currencies and formats, including bitcoin, and has a graduated fee scale. This crowdfunding site requires that projects reach their full funding goal, or no money changes hands.
RCN Capital helps communities grow through residential bridge loans. This lender enables real estate investors to purchase both residential and commercial properties in time-sensitive situations. RCN provides nationwide coverage and encourages projects that have a positive impact on communities – such as raising local property values and promoting job growth – through its residential rehabilitation programs.
RapidAdvance bills itself as a company offering fast and easy small business loans. The company lends to small businesses in any industry, as long as the business has shown signs of profitability and growth.
RocketHub offers crowdfunding with no restrictions to the reason for which you can raise funds. With this personal crowdfunding site, you keep everything you raise, so even if you do not reach your goal, you still are that much closer. RocketHub offers a unique experience as well with its partnership with the A&E network, which gives certain select campaigns opportunities to reach a larger audience.
Smart Business Growth (SBG) Funding, prides itself in helping small businesses by making the loan application process easier. From a quick application process to fast funding to minimal paperwork, SBG looks to help small businesses in need of funding.
SeedInvest, and equity crowdfunding site, lets businesses raise capital contributed by accredited investors seeking to help you grow your company, unlike other sites that focus more on individual ideas. While there is no limit to the industry, typical companies that use this crowdfunding platform are technological or consumer businesses, and most business are seeking anywhere between $100,000 and $5 million dollars.
SmartBiz is an online marketplace that specializes in providing SBA 7(a) loans for small businesses. It conforms to the regulations established by the Small Business Administration, and its banking partners are SBA preferred lenders. SmartBiz automatically deducts your monthly repayment from your bank account, which ensures that your payments are made in full and on time.
SnapCap provides alternative loans to small businesses and startups without requiring time in business or collateral. It offers loans for four different business situations and promises competitive rates and terms.
Tetra is a commercial rental company that specializes in lease options for business and office equipment. Rather than going through a bank for a loan to purchase equipment outright, Tetra will lease you the equipment with terms that fit into your business budget.
The Business Backer can help you secure funds through a revolving line of credit, factoring services and assistance in getting a traditional loan. In addition, it offers alternative loans for purchases and can create a loan deal specific to your company's niche and needs. It also has equipment-leasing services.
TradeUp is a global equity crowdfunding service, connecting businesses thousands of accredited investors. You can raise between $100,000 and $20 million to grow your business. Accepted industries include tech, electronics, lumber, and food and beverage. This site focuses on U.S.-based companies that are currently selling internationally or are ready to expand internationally.
Wells Fargo's small business loan options are ideal for growing businesses and established small businesses alike. The company offers three main types of term loans: unsecure loans, equipment financing and working capital loans. Wells Fargo has a convenient online application process, and often deposits funds the same day you're approved.
Editor's note: Looking for business financing? Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of lenders for free.
Matt D’Angelo is a Tech Staff Writer based in New York City. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in Journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications. Matt joined the staff in 2017 and covers technology for Business.com and Business News Daily.