As a veteran, starting your own business can be a great way to transition into civilian life while utilizing the skills and experience acquired during your military service. However, launching a small business requires considerable funding, and securing a loan can be challenging. Luckily, there are numerous small business loans available specifically designed for veterans.
This article will guide you through the five best small business loans for veterans in 2023. Whether you're looking to purchase equipment, expand your current business or just need working capital, we've got you covered.
Our Top Picks for Best Small Business Loans for Veterans
- OnDeck — Best Overall Loan
- Credibly — Best for Veterans with Bad Credit
- American Express Business Blueprint — Best for Lines of Credit
- Fundbox — Best for Quick Approvals
- SmartBiz — Best for Spouses of Veterans
Best Small Business Loans For Veterans Reviews
- Same-day funding
- Payment terms of up to 36 months
- Up to $100,000 line of credit
- Requires a minimum of $100,000 annual revenue
- Not available to business within Nevada, North Dakota or South Dakota
Why we chose it: OnDeck is unique in that it caters to entrepreneurs with different needs by offering a wide range of business lending products, including term loans and lines of credit. It offers same-day funding, making for a quick turnaround time for those in need.
With OnDeck, small business owners can access a term loan ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, with payment terms ranging from three to 36 months. OnDeck also has a simple and transparent process, making it easy to understand what you’re applying for and the rates you’ll be paying. It has a credit limit of $6,000 to $100,000 through its line of credit, which comes with a 12-month repayment term and resets after each withdrawal. OnDeck evaluates credit scores, looking for a minimum of 600.
One downside is that businesses must have a minimum annual revenue of $100,000 and have been operating for at least one year. Additionally, OnDeck does not lend to businesses in Nevada, North Dakota or South Dakota. These requirements may eliminate some potential borrowers, but for those who meet them, OnDeck remains a reliable financing option.
- Low credit score accepted
- Minimum monthly revenue required is low
- Lack of customer service
- Long application process
Why we chose it: This lender requires a minimum monthly revenue of $15,000 and a credit score of just 500, making it a strong choice for veterans who may not have the best credit score or financial backing but are still looking to grow their business.
Credibly requires at least six months in business, which could benefit those just starting out. However, businesses looking for startup money will have to look elsewhere. With offerings up to $400,000, they provide a variety of loan types that can be tailored to fit each individual's unique financial situation.
While Credibly has a solid reputation when it comes to providing funding for small businesses, its customer service has been the subject of criticism from many of its clients. According to multiple customer reviews, their customer service leaves much to be desired. For small business owners, time is of the essence, and an unnecessarily complicated application process can be a significant deterrent.
While Credibly's lending options may be appealing, it's essential to remember that their application process and customer service might not be the best fit for every small business.
- Up to $250,000
- Repayment of up to 18 months
- Turnaround time of 3 business days
- Monthly fees on any unpaid balances
- Personally liable for business debt
Why we chose it: American Express Business Blueprint allows you to secure anywhere from $2,000 to $250,000. One of the benefits of this line of credit is its flexible repayment terms of six, 12 or 18 months.
First, you'll need a minimum personal credit score of 660 and a valid business checking account. Additionally, you'll need to have been in business for at least one year and have an average monthly revenue of at least $3,000. If you qualify and decide to proceed, you'll receive your funds in your verified bank account within three business days of signing the agreement.
Beyond the line of credit, American Express Business Blueprint offers a mobile app that provides cash flow insights and other invaluable tools for small business owners. However, it is essential to note that you will incur a loan fee each month you have an outstanding balance. These fees range from 3% to 9% for six-month loans, 6% to 18% for 12-month loans and 9% to 27% for 18-month loans.
Additionally, this line of credit requires a personal guarantee, which means that you'll be personally liable for any debts that your business incurs.
- Three-minute application process
- Businesses only six months old accepted
- Next-day funding
- Only $150,000 credit line
- Short repayment terms
Why we chose it: With Fundbox, you can expect to receive funding decisions in just three minutes, eliminating much of the waiting time associated with traditional financing solutions. If approved, you can receive funds as soon as the next business day.
Fundbox offers two business financing options, allowing borrowers to choose between revolving business lines of credit up to $150,000, with flexible repayment terms of 12 or 24 weeks. However, to be eligible for financing, applicants must have a minimum credit score of 600, and their business must have at least $100,000 in annual revenue, though the business can be as young as six months.
While Fundbox may offer a convenient solution for business owners needing quick cash, it's important to be aware of its limitations. Unfortunately, the only repayment terms available are short-term, which may not be ideal for businesses with significant ongoing expenses. The credit lines also max out at $150,000, which may not be enough for larger-scale businesses.
- Low-interest rates
- Quick and easy SBA loan process
- Repayment term of 10 years
- Business must be operational for two years
- Spouses must have a 650 credit score
Why we chose it: One unique aspect of SmartBiz is that military spouses can receive a Small Business Administration loan quickly with low interest rates. Those who qualify can attend the SBA-led training programs free of charge, which cover everything from developing a business plan to marketing and financial management.
The interest rates on these loans range from 10.75% to 11.75%, with a 10-year repayment term. Loans are available for amounts ranging from $30,000 to $350,000.
However, SmartBiz loans are only suitable for businesses operating for at least two years. Also, the requirement of a credit score of at least 650 could be a drawback for military spouses looking to start a brand new business.
Other small business loans for veterans we considered
While several loan lenders and companies have competitive offerings, our evaluation process focused on specific criteria to determine the top picks. Our team closely analyzed customer service, product offerings, repayment terms, application process and high customer ratings to select the lenders that stood out in each category.
Although the following companies had attractive offerings, they did not exceed our requirements and therefore did not make the cut for our top picks. We understand the importance of finding the right loan and are confident in our selection process to provide our readers with the best options.
- Up to $400,000
- 575 credit score
- Daily repayment
- Minimum $250,000 in annual sales required
National Funding provides small business loans ranging from $10,000 to $400,000 with repayment terms spanning four months to two years. A minimum personal credit score of 575 is required.
However, it may not be the best fit for all businesses due to its daily or weekly payment requirements, high borrowing costs and the fact that businesses must have minimum gross annual sales of $250,000 to qualify for funding.
- Quick application process of two days
- Up to $500,000
- Nevada residents not accepted
- Two-year operation businesses only
At Funding Circle, businesses have access to fast and affordable loans, with funding in as little as 48 hours. Loan terms range from $25,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms from six months to five years. Additionally, for those looking for ongoing access to credit, Funding Circle's business line of credit offers credit lines between $6,000 and $100,000.
Funding Circle didn't make it into our top picks because there is a one-time origination fee on each loan that can range from 3.49% to 6.99%. Also, your business needs to have been operational for at least two years prior to your application.
- $2 million loan
- 24-hour application process
- Daily payments required
- CRE applications take one month to process
Biz2Credit offers loan amounts ranging from $25,000 to $2 million. Applying is a breeze, and your decision can be made within 24 hours.
However, Biz2Credit didn't make the main list because working capital loans from this lender require more frequent payments, which may not be the right fit for every small business owner seeking financing.
Small Business Loans for Veterans Guide
Can veterans get small business loans?
Veterans who have recently left military service and are interested in starting a small business might wonder if they are eligible for small business loans. The good news is that veterans are eligible for various small business loan programs and benefits through the Small Business Administration.
These loan programs are designed to help veterans get the funding they need to start and grow their businesses, and they offer a range of loan amounts and terms to suit different needs. Additionally, some lenders may offer veterans reduced interest rates and fees to show their appreciation for their service to the country. With a bit of research and preparation, veterans can find the best small business loans they need to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
Types of small business loans for veterans
There are various types of loans that cater to different small business needs:
As a veteran small business owner, you can benefit from loans offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans come in various types, but SBA loans are a particularly popular option.
They provide significant funding for a wide range of purposes, from purchasing inventory and equipment to expanding your business or buying commercial real estate. With low-interest rates and favorable repayment terms, SBA loans can provide the financial support veterans may need to take their businesses to the next level.
Short-term loans are a popular financing option for small businesses, particularly those owned by veterans. These loans are designed to provide quick access to funds, which can be used for various purposes, such as inventory purchases, equipment upgrades and working capital. Unlike traditional bank loans, short-term loans typically have a shorter repayment period and are among the best unsecured business loans.
They are beneficial for small businesses that require a quick cash injection to take advantage of time-sensitive opportunities or cover unexpected expenses. For veterans looking to start or grow their small business venture, short-term loans offer flexibility and ease of access to much-needed funding.
Working capital loans
Working capital loans are one of the most common types of small business loans for veterans. These loans help veteran-owned businesses meet their day-to-day operational expenses, such as paying for inventory or covering payroll. Working capital loans are typically short-term and have flexible repayment schedules, making them a popular choice for small business owners who need quick access to funding.
As a veteran, obtaining a working capital loan can be a great way to keep your business thriving and growing. With the right lender, you can secure the funds you need to keep your operations running smoothly, all while taking advantage of the benefits available to you as a veteran business owner.
Business lines of credit
You may wonder, "what is a business line of credit?" A business line of credit operates similarly to a personal credit card — it is a flexible form of borrowing that allows you to draw money when you need it. This type of loan is perfect for businesses that experience fluctuating expenses or need financing for short-term projects.
Often, small businesses require a more creative approach to financing due to underlying factors such as seasonality. Therefore, a business line of credit allows veterans to borrow funds quickly and efficiently whenever they need a cash infusion. It can be a valuable financial backing solution for budding veteran entrepreneurs as they find their footing in the competitive small business environment.
Business credit cards
Business credit cards can be a useful alternative for those seeking smaller loans. Many credit card companies offer rewards and benefits tailored to small business owners, including cash back or travel rewards for business expenses. Additionally, using a business credit card responsibly can help build a strong credit score, which can benefit future loans.
However, it's important to consider interest rates and fees before applying to ensure the best option for your business. Overall, business credit cards can serve as an effective tool for financing small business needs.
How to get a small business loan for veterans
Starting a small business can be exciting and fulfilling for veterans who have served their country. However, getting the necessary funds to finance such an endeavor can be daunting. Here's what you'll need to do to obtain a small business loan as a veteran:
1. Assess your funding needs
When starting a business, securing adequate and reliable funding is critical to success. It's essential to assess your funding needs before applying for a loan to ensure you're requesting the correct amount. This will help you avoid taking on too much debt or being denied funding due to an unrealistic ask.
Consider factors like startup costs, operational expenses and available revenue streams when determining the amount you need to borrow. A thorough assessment of your funding needs can increase your chances of securing a small business loan and set you on the path to entrepreneurial success.
2. Compare veteran business loans using a lender comparison site
When looking for a lender, one way to streamline the search is by using a lender comparison site. These websites allow users to input their specific needs and compare multiple loan options side-by-side. By utilizing a lender comparison site, veterans can find the best loan solution for their business quickly and easily. It's important to compare interest rates, terms and repayment options before making a final decision.
3. Gather your business and veteran documentation
A critical step in the loan process is gathering all necessary documentation for your business and veteran status. This documentation may include business registration forms, revenue and expense reports, tax returns and proof of ownership. As a veteran, you will also need to provide your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214) and any disability documentation, if applicable.
Having these documents organized and ready to go will not only save you time, but it can also increase your chances of getting approved for the loan. Remember, being prepared and thorough in your documentation can show lenders you are serious about your business and loan application.
4. Choose your preferred lender and submit a loan application
Once you've researched and narrowed down your list of potential lenders, it's time to choose the one that best fits your business needs. Many lenders offer small business loans specifically for veterans, so be sure to look for those options.
When submitting your loan application, include all required documentation and information to avoid delays or complications. It's also a good idea to be prepared to discuss your business plan and financial projections with your lender. By taking the time to carefully choose your lender and submit a thorough loan application, you'll increase your chances of receiving the funding you need to grow your small business.
Small Business Loans for Veterans FAQ
What are the requirements for a veteran small business loan?
How much can a veteran borrow on a business loan?
That being said, on average, veterans can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $5 million, depending on their specific circumstances. The exact amount will vary from lender to lender, so it's important to shop around and compare offers before making a final decision.
What is the SBA rate for veterans?
These rates are fixed and typically lower than traditional bank loans, making it easier for veterans to obtain financing to start or expand their businesses. It's important to note that the SBA rate may vary based on factors such as the loan amount, term and purpose.
Can you start a business while on VA disability?
One such program is the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program, which provides assistance with starting a business, training and financial support. Moreover, various grants and loans are available exclusively for veterans, such as the Small Business Administration's Veterans Advantage loan program.
How We Chose the Best Small Business Loans For Veterans
We considered the below factors to finalize the loan providers on our list:
Application Process: Applying for a loan should be straightforward and relatively quick. If potential clients have to wait for a month or more, it can prove frustrating and detrimental to their business. Therefore, we chose loan providers with quick turnaround times on their applications.
Credit Score Requirement: While a high credit score is important, it can be challenging to attain for some veterans. Therefore, we analyzed loan providers based on their credit score requirements to ensure most veterans qualify.
Maximum Loan Amount: Starting and running a business is no small feat and requires suitable financial backing. The maximum loan amount matters, and we chose loan providers that can lend decent amounts.
Business Requirements: Some loan providers require businesses to be operational for two years or longer, which can prove difficult for some veterans and their spouses looking to start a small business. We chose companies that don’t require long-standing and running businesses.
Repayment Terms: When starting a small business, picking up the progress and making money can be slow. We chose companies offering long-term repayment, not daily or weekly repayments.