This post was originally published on February 3, 2020. It has been updated to include even more information about the minimum credit score for a small business loan.
Your personal credit score can make or break your chances of qualifying for the right business loan. Traditional lenders restrict funding access to those with scores at or above a given minimum, while fintech lenders generally offer options to all credit profiles. But what’s the required minimum credit score for a small business loan?
While credit score is far from the only requirement when you apply for a loan—and you can qualify with a score on the lower side—it’s important to be aware of your score, and what that means to lenders.
The minimum credit score for a small business loan depends on the lender and the type of loan for which you apply. Lenders set their own minimums, in addition to other requirements. Traditional lenders explore all the financial details of your business before granting approval, while fintech lenders have a more streamlined process.
Minimums can vary based on goals, financials, industry type, the requested loan amount, and countless other details. In general, though, this is what you can expect when comparing the minimum credit scores for business loans:
You can try applying with a lower credit rating if your company has an otherwise strong financial status and your business plan is solid. However, there’s no guarantee your application will be approved at a traditional lender.
If you have a low credit score, then you may have other financial options—aside from the one you initially applied for—readily available.
Some businesses that can’t qualify for traditional loans may be able to get funding through microloan programs. These loans have lower FICO score requirements and are available from the SBA, certain non-profit organizations and peer-to-peer lending networks. Microloans can cover minor expenses, but may not offer enough capital if your business is rapidly growing.
Because fintech lenders focus more on your potential and opportunity, many don’t have credit score requirements. Instead, your business has the opportunity to qualify based on your potential to take things to the next level.
Because bank loans tend to offer lower interest rates, they’re often the most desirable type of business loan. However, the minimum credit score for a business loan at a a bank is much higher than other lenders on the market.
To keep risk low, banks hold business owners to high standards. Generally, they’ll only consider businesses with a credit score of, at minimum, 650. However, this is the lowest possible option—most will look for a higher score before entertaining the idea of lending.
When considering loan applications, lenders look at both personal and business credit scores.
The shorter your business credit history, the more weight your personal score carries. To a lender, the number is an indicator of how well you manage debt and financial obligations overall. A higher score shows you’re reliable, and can be trusted to handle loan debt without defaulting.
Lenders can use credit ratings to evaluate debt management habits because of how credit bureaus calculate personal scores. According to myFICO, scores are calculated based on five criteria, with varying degrees of importance:
Together, these elements tell lenders:
If you frequently utilize a large percentage of your available credit or frequently open new accounts to move debt around, then it’s a red flag. Lenders may reject your business loan application.
Lenders also take your credit score into account when you apply for personal loans. Like credit cards, personal loans are often easier to qualify for, but don’t provide enough cash.
Even if you don’t meet the minimum credit score for a small business loan listed at a bank, you’re not out of options. Many lenders will consider lending to your business with a lower score, provided that you meet other criteria.
Fintech lenders like National hold your small business to different standards. Because many small business owners have credit challenges while growing, they understand that it’s not an accurate way to assess your potential to grow in the future.
Instead of having a minimum credit score for a small business loan, fintech lenders focus on other factors:
Rather than focusing on where your business has been, this method takes into account where it’s going.
Although it’s a significant factor (for some options), credit isn’t the only thing lenders consider when reviewing your business loan application. Your eligibility is also affected by:
In some cases, simply operating your business for a few more months can make it easier to qualify. In a few month’s time, you may find sales surge.
Secured funding, such as equipment loans and accounts receivable financing, can also be more accessible because collateralized loans pose a lower risk to lenders.
If credit score is your only barrier, make a plan to start improving it. Start by getting copies of your credit report from all three major bureaus and checking them for errors. This is a critical step; an FTC study of 1,001 people found 26% had credit report errors. These errors could be all that holds you back from qualifying for funding. Disputing these errors can clean up your report and improve your score.
You’ll also want to:
Once your credit score is on track, it’s important to maintain smart debt management habits. You may find it helpful to work with an accountant to establish a long-term plan for financial health.
What if you need cash for your business right away, but you don’t have the minimum required credit score for a small business loan?
National Business Capital & Services has a range of financing options for all credit profiles. From equipment financing to working capital loans, the business financing advisors at National can help your company find the ideal solution.
Through National’s global marketplace of over 75 lenders, we can find the best financing option for your business—regardless of credit barriers. Funding from National could be all it takes to solve a challenge or pursue a huge new opportunity.
Apply now to learn your options!
National Business Capital & Services is the #1 FinTech marketplace offering small business loans and services. Harnessing the power of smart technology and even smarter people, we’ve streamlined the approval process to secure over $1 billion in financing for small business owners to date.
Our expert Business Financing Advisors work within our 75+ Lender Marketplace in real time to give you easy access to the best low-interest SBA loans, short and long-term loans and business lines of credit, as well as a full suite of revenue-driving business services.
We strengthen local communities one small business loan at a time. For every deal we fund, we donate 10 meals to Feeding America!
Matt Carrigan is the Content Writer at National Business Capital & Services. He loves spending every day creating content to educate business owners across every industry about business growth strategies, and how they can access the funding they need!