Small Business Line of Credit: Everything You Need to Know



small business line of credit

Small businesses are crucial to the American economy, and securing a small business line of credit can be a pivotal step towards success or a safeguard against failure.

This financial tool can offer vital cash flow during challenging periods and enable business growth when new opportunities present themselves.



In this article, we’ll explore how a small business line of credit works, how to obtain one, and the advantages it offers.

What Is a Small Business Line of Credit?

A small business line of credit is a versatile financing tool that provides entrepreneurs with the monetary flexibility to manage a variety of operational needs, including but not limited to, purchasing inventory, funding marketing campaigns, or covering unexpected emergency costs.

Unlike traditional loans, where you get a lump sum amount and start paying interest immediately, lines of credit only charge interest on the amount you’ve actually borrowed.

Their generally lower interest rates, coupled with this on-demand borrowing ability, make them a particularly appealing financing mechanism for many small business owners.


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small business line of credit

How Does an Unsecured Business Line of Credit Work?

An unsecured business line of credit is a unique form of financing that doesn’t require the business owner to offer any collateral as security against the borrowed funds.

This is advantageous for those who may not have substantial assets or are not willing to risk their personal property. In this financing option, the lender primarily relies on your creditworthiness and business track record to gauge the risk.

While you will still be obligated to pay interest on the borrowed amount, the absence of collateral means you won’t face the prospect of asset seizure in case you default on the loan.



This freedom from collateral requirements often makes an unsecured line of credit a preferable choice for many business owners

 

Benefits of a Small Business Line of Credit

A business line of credit can provide many benefits to business owners. Below we’ll list just five of them:

  • Cover unexpected expenses. A line of credit can give your business the financial ability to adapt and cover unexpected costs, such as a sudden drop in sales or an unplanned repair.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. With a business credit line, you’ll have the working capital available to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This could include expanding your business or taking on a new project.
  • Manage cash flow. Business lines of credit can help you manage your cash flow by giving you access to funds when you need them. This can be especially helpful during slow periods or when you’re waiting on invoices to be paid.
  • Lower interest rates. Business lines of credit typically have lower rates of interest than other types of financing, making them more affordable in the long run.
  • Flexibility. Business lines of credit offer the flexibility to only borrow the amount you need, when you need it. You’ll also have the flexibility to repay the loan over time, making it easier to manage your working capital.

The Risks and Limitations of a Business Line of Credit

A business line of credit, while offering flexibility, also comes with its own set of risks and limitations. One key risk is the temptation to overspend, as access to a revolving credit line can lead to impulsive or unnecessary expenditures.

Additionally, depending on how the credit line is utilized, it can impact your credit score. It’s essential for business owners to understand the interest rates, repayment terms, and fees associated with their line of credit to avoid unexpected financial strain.



Mitigating Risks and Responsible Borrowing

To responsibly manage a business line of credit, it’s crucial to establish internal guidelines for borrowing. This includes setting clear objectives for the use of borrowed funds and avoiding using credit for non-essential expenses.

Regular monitoring of credit utilization is also important to ensure that you’re not overextending your business financially. Additionally, developing a plan for timely repayments can help maintain a healthy credit score and reduce the amount of interest paid over time.

Strategic Uses of a Business Line of Credit

Capitalizing on Growth Opportunities

A well-managed business line of credit can be a powerful tool for seizing growth opportunities. It can provide the necessary funds to expand operations, invest in new equipment or technology, or even hire additional staff during peak seasons. By strategically using the credit line, businesses can make timely investments that drive growth without the pressure of immediate full repayment.

Managing Seasonal Fluctuations

Many businesses experience seasonal variations in cash flow. A line of credit can be instrumental during off-peak periods, allowing businesses to cover operational costs such as payroll, rent, and utilities. It can also be used to stock up inventory in preparation for peak seasons, ensuring that the business capitalizes on high-demand periods.



small business line of credit

How Do You Qualify for Small Business Lines of Credit?

Qualifying for a credit business line will vary depending on the lender, but there are some general requirements that most offline and online lenders will look for. Here are five criteria to qualify for credit lines for your business.

  • Personal credit score. Most lenders will look at your personal credit score to determine your eligibility for a secured business line of credit. A higher credit score will typically qualify you for a lower interest rate.
  • Business revenue. Lenders will also want to see proof of your business’s revenue. This could include tax returns, statements from your business bank account, or financial projections.
  • Time in business. The longer your business has been in operation, the more likely you are to qualify for a business line of credit. Lenders will want to see that you have a history of making on-time monthly payments and managing your finances well.
  • Collateral. While not required, some lenders may ask for collateral to secure the loan. This could include business assets such as equipment or inventory.
  • Business plan. Finally, lenders will likely want to see a business plan outlining your company’s goals and how you plan to use the funds from the business line of credit.

Monitoring and Managing Your Business Line of Credit

It’s important to regularly review the terms and usage of your business line of credit. Keeping track of interest rates, repayment schedules, and how much of your credit line is utilized will help you make informed decisions about future borrowing.

Adjusting your borrowing habits based on your business’s performance and market conditions can also ensure that you’re using the credit line effectively.



Integrating with Overall Financial Management

Integrating your business line of credit into your overall financial management strategy is crucial. This includes considering its impact on your business’s budgeting, cash flow management, and long-term financial goals.

Regular consultations with financial advisors or accountants can provide insights into how best to utilize and manage your line of credit in harmony with your business’s financial health and objectives.

small business line of credit

Top Lenders for Small Business Owners Seeking a Line of Credit

Below, we’ll take a look at the top online lenders of secured and unsecured business lines of credit. In case you missed it, Bank of America launches new credit card and line of credit for small business.



1. Bluevine

If you’ve been in business for at least six months and have a minimum credit score of 600, then Bluevine will give you a line of credit between $6,000 and $250,000.

2. Wells Fargo

To get a business line of credit of between $5,000 to $100,000 with no collateral required from Wells Fargo, you’ll need to be in business for two years. They don’t disclose what minimum credit score is required.

3. Kabbage

Qualifying for the financing of between $1,000 to $150,000 from Kabbage, You’ll need to be in business for at least one year and have a credit score of 640 or higher.

4. US Bank

US Bank will give you a line of credit up to $100,000 (unsecured) or $250,000 (secured) with a credit score of 680 and two years in business.



You can get a business line of credit from $6,000 to $100,000 through OnDeck if you have been in business for one year and have a 600 credit score.

 

 

5. TD Bank

Borrow up to $100,000 from this online lender with a credit score of 650+. The best part is that even new businesses qualify for business credit lines with this lender.

6. Credibly

Credibly will provide you with up to $250,000 in financing as long as you have a credit score of 560 and have been in business for six months or more.

7. Lendio

Get financing from $1,000 to $500,000 from Lendio with a credit score of only 560. Plus, your business only needs to be six months old to qualify.



8. SBG Funding

At SBG Funding, you can borrow up to $150,000 if you’ve been in business for at least six months and have a minimum credit score of only 500.

9. Fundbox

To get a line of credit of up to $150,000 from Fundbox, you’ll need a 600 credit score and your business has to be open for only six months minimum.

Comparing Top Lenders for Small Business Lines of Credit

After exploring the features, qualifications, and benefits of various lenders, it can be a lot to take in. To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve compiled a comparison table summarizing key criteria. This will help you quickly identify which lender might be the best fit for your business needs.

LenderMin. Credit ScoreMin. Time in BusinessLoan Amount Range
Bluevine6006 months$6,000-$250,000
Wells FargoNot Disclosed2 years$5,000-$100,000
Kabbage6401 year$1,000-$150,000
US Bank6802 yearsUp to $250,000
OnDeck6001 year$6,000-$100,000
TD Bank650+New businessesUp to $100,000
Credibly5606 monthsUp to $250,000
Lendio5606 months$1,000-$500,000
SBG Funding5006 monthsUp to $150,000
Fundbox6006 monthsUp to $150,000

small business line of credit



Line of Credit for Small Business Versus Business Credit Card

A business credit card and a small business line of credit serve somewhat similar purposes but come with distinct features and implications.

Business credit cards are generally easier to get approved for and offer the convenience of swiping for transactions, but they often come with higher interest rates and lower credit limits.

On the other hand, a business line of credit usually requires a more stringent qualification process but offers the advantages of lower interest rates and potentially higher credit limits.

Plus, you can draw from it multiple times without reapplying, which can be a significant advantage for ongoing operational needs.

Is a Line of Credit a Good Idea for a Small Business?

A line of credit can be an excellent financial tool for a small business, providing the liquidity necessary to cover essential expenses or capitalize on opportunities as they arise.

The revolving nature of a line of credit allows you to borrow up to a pre-set limit, use the funds as needed, and repay either immediately or over a specified period.

This makes it a versatile and cost-effective option compared to other types of debt. It gives small business owners the financial agility to adapt to market changes or unexpected costs without overcommitting to long-term debt.

small business credit

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Business Line of Credit?

While credit requirements can vary among lenders, a minimum credit score of around 680 is commonly needed to qualify for a business line of credit.

However, some alternative lenders may accept applicants with scores as low as 580, albeit likely at higher interest rates. The importance of a high credit score cannot be overstated; it serves as a representation of your financial responsibility.

A higher credit score not only increases your chances of approval but could also secure you more favorable interest rates, thereby reducing your cost of borrowing over time.

Business Loan Vs. Business Line of Credit

If you’re still unsure about the differences between a business loan and a business line of credit, this video by Grow By Joe offers valuable insights. Watch to gain a deeper understanding of which financial option might best suit your business needs.

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Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, United States Marine Corps veteran, serial entrepreneur, and certified digital marketer, who writes for various online publications including his own Grind Boss blog.

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