Associated Bank Business Loans Review


If you’re a small business owner in Illinois, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, then you might be familiar with Associated Bank. With over 200 locations throughout those three states, it’s the largest bank headquartered in the state of Wisconsin. This institution provides comprehensive financial services for consumers, corporations, and small businesses alike, but if you’re here, you’re likely most curious about Associated Bank business loans.

Eligible small business owners can take their pick from an array of Associated Bank business loans, from standard lines of credit and term loans to government-guaranteed loan programs in which Associated Bank is a participating lender.

Here, we’ll take a deeper look at what Associated Bank business loans entail; and if you’re not yet among those small business owners who are eligible for bank funding, we’ll also show you three of your best, most accessible business financing alternatives to these Associated Bank business loans.


Associated Bank Business Loans: An Overview

In addition to their commercial and corporate financing programs, Associated Bank offers a range of financing options designed specifically for small businesses.

Unfortunately, Associated Bank offers very little specific information about their small business loans, such as loan amounts, repayment terms, and interest rates. This dearth of readily available information is not unusual for banks, however, as most brick-and-mortar institutions strongly encourage (or even require) potential borrowers to inquire about and apply for their loans in person.

What we can do, though, is provide some insight into the types of loans that Associated Bank offers. That way, you can better understand the financial solutions Associated Bank can offer your business, and determine whether you’d like to give this particular institution a shot.

Just keep in mind that while we can offer you general guidelines about each of these loan types, the terms of your Associated Bank business loan are contingent upon the information you present in your business loan application, your credit score, and your particular bank. So although we will provide you ranges, know that there can be lots of wiggle room depending on your circumstances.

With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Associated Bank business loans for small business owners.

Business Line of Credit

If you’re seeking a highly flexible business loan, or even an emergency fund to have in your back pocket in case unforeseen emergencies (or, more optimistically, great opportunities) arise, then a business line of credit from Associated Bank might be your best option.

Much like a business credit card, business lines of credit provide you with a predetermined amount of funds from which you can pull any amount at any time, and you’re only responsible for paying interest on the funds you use. Lines of credit are often revolving, too, which means that your line will replenish to its original amount once you’ve repaid what you owe. Because of that flexibility, lines of credit can be used for a number of business-related projects, like purchasing inventory, managing cash flow, covering payroll, or as all-purpose working capital.

Generally, banks can offer business lines of credit between $10,000 and $250,000 at variable interest rates. Lines of credit can either be unsecured, or require collateral to secure.       

Business Term Loan

If you need to finance a project with predictable expenses, then a conventional business term loan from Associated Bank is probably a better option for you than a line of credit would be. If you’re approved for this traditional loan, then the bank will provide a lump sum of cash that you’ll repay, plus interest, over a predetermined period of time. Your loan amount and repayment schedule are dependent upon the information you present in business loan application, as well as the scope and type of project you’re financing. In addition to standard term loans, Associated Bank offers specialized term loans, which are likely designed to address highly specific purchasing needs.

Typically, regional banks like Associated Bank offer term loan amounts between $5,000 and $500,000, at either a fixed or variable interest rate and five-to-seven year repayment terms. These loans almost always require collateral to secure.


Equity Loan

The official title of Associated Bank’s equity loan is a Real Estate Secured Business Equity Express Loan, which essentially describes how this loan works: Equity loans offer business owners access to capital by leveraging the value of their residential or commercial real estate to use as collateral.

Thanks to that collateral, business owners can typically secure higher loan amounts than they would with less valuable collateral. As Associated Bank notes, equity loans are most often used to finance real estate-related projects, purchase equipment or major fixed assets, or refinance debt. Equity loans are generally structured as lines of credit rather than term loans, but once again, you’ll need to contact Associated Bank to understand exactly how their equity loan product works.    

Government-Guaranteed Loans

Associated Bank also participates in the following government-sponsored loan programs:

SBA Loans

Associated Bank is a participating lender in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBA loan programs, which are designed to help American entrepreneurs access funding to start and grow their small businesses. While intermediary lenders (most often banks, like Associated Bank) disburse loan funds, the federal agency guarantees that the lender will recoup the majority of the loan amount if the borrower defaults.

SBA loans are tough to qualify for, and they’re only available to businesses that suit SBA eligibility requirements. Then, the application itself requires time, patience, and diligence, as you’ll need to complete a hefty amount of documentation. But if you are approved for an SBA loan, then you’ll enjoy high loan amounts, long repayment terms, and low interest rates.

The SBA sponsors several loan programs—including the popular SBA 7(a) loan, which can be used for almost any business-related purpose and whose amounts can reach up to $5.5 million—but unfortunately, Associated Bank doesn’t specify which programs they participate in. You’ll need to contact the bank directly to find out more about their SBA loans.         

USDA Loans

If your business is located in a rural area with a population of 50,000 or fewer residents, then you might be eligible for a USDA loan. These loan programs, which are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are designed to encourage business development in these rural areas by providing local entrepreneurs with the funds they need to expand their businesses, buy new businesses, purchase land or equipment, or to use as general working capital. Other than this standard business loan program, the USDA provides specialized loan programs, too.

As a government-guaranteed loan, USDA loans can provide eligible business owners with high loan amounts, long repayment terms, and low interest rates. To find out more about USDA loans, which USDA loan programs in particular Associated Bank participates in, and whether your business qualifies, get in touch with your local Associated Bank representative.      

FSA Loans

A subsidiary agency of the USDA, the FSA (Farm Service Agency) designs and guarantees their own business loan programs for family-sized farmers and ranchers. Among their loan programs are those that aid farmers and ranchers who have been at a historical disadvantage in the commercial lending space, such as racial and ethnic minorities, women, young entrepreneurs, and new farmers. And in addition to providing aid for traditional farms and ranches, the FSA also supports the growth of alternative agricultural ventures, like urban and rooftop farmers, vertical farming, and hydroponic and vertical farming.

Once again, to find out whether your agricultural business can qualify for an FSA loan, and to learn details about the FSA loan programs Associated Bank offers, you’ll need to call or visit your local Associated Bank branch.   


Business Credit Cards

Finally, there are four Associated Bank business credit cards that are part of their suite of small business loans:

  • Visa Business Cash Credit Card: With this cash back business credit card, you can earn 1%, 2%, or 3% cash back depending on where you spend, as well as $25 cash back rewarded after your first purchase.   
  • Visa Business Real Rewards Credit Card: The bank’s points card can earn you a flat 1.5 points monthly for every $1 you spend on eligible purchases, with no cap on the number of points you can earn. You’ll also earn 2,500 bonus points, which will be rewarded after your first eligible purchase.
  • Visa Business Rewards PLUS Credit Card: With this tiered rewards card, you can earn 3 or 1.5 points per $1 you spend, depending on which categories you spend within. As a signup bonus, you can also earn 20,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card ownership.
  • Visa Business Platinum Credit Card: This card carries a long zero-APR introductory period, so you can take your time paying down your existing credit card debt without incurring a hefty interest rate. However, this card doesn’t offer any additional perks or rewards.

Top Alternatives to Associated Bank Business Loans

If your business doesn’t have the stellar loan application necessary to secure any of the Associated Bank business loans we’ve mentioned, consider setting your sights on a loan from an alternative lender that requires less stringent qualifications.

And if you’re interested in a business credit card but you’d like to enjoy even more perks than what the cards through Associated Bank can offer, we’ll show you an excellent alternative, too.   

American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card

If you’re looking for a business credit card with an extended interest-free introductory period, like Associated Bank’s Visa Business Platinum Credit Card, then you can’t do much better than the American Express Blue Business Plus credit card: At 15 months, this card carries one of the longest 0% intro APR periods on the market. (Though after these 15 months, your APR will set in at a rate that will depend on your creditworthiness and vary with the market Prime Rate, so be sure to see the issuer’s terms and conditions for the latest APR information.)

Even better, this card offers an ongoing rewards program, which the Business Platinum Credit Card from Associated Bank doesn’t. With the Amex Blue Business Plus, you’ll earn 2x points per dollar you spend on your first $50,000 annually. After that, you’ll continue to earn 1x per dollar spent on this card. The application process is easy, too. Just fill out Amex’s online application, and you’ll receive a response within minutes—no trip to the bank required.

Kabbage Line of Credit

If the flexibility and security that a line of credit appeals to you, but you’re not yet in a position to secure a line of credit through the bank, consider a loan through Kabbage. This leading online lender offers short-term lines of credit with either six- or 12-month terms and monthly payments, and their line amounts range from $2,000 to $250,000, depending on your eligibility. To be eligible for a Kabbage line of credit of less than $100,000, you’ll need to meet at least the following minimum requirements:

  • $50,000 in annual revenue
  • 550 personal credit score
  • One year in business     

These minimum requirements are far less demanding than those from a bank, but if you’re seeking a Kabbage line of credit that’s greater than $100,000, you’ll need to present stronger numbers. Regardless of the size of your line, Kabbage boasts an incredibly fast, all-online application process; and if you’re approved for your line of credit, you’ll have access to your funds immediately after receiving your credit decision.

Fundation Term Loan

Finally, consider a Fundation term loan if you’re seeking a more accessible alternative to a conventional term loan from Associated Bank. This premium online lender can offer term loans between $20,000 and $500,000, which you’ll repay twice monthly over one to four years. And while interest rates are always risk-based, Fundation’s inclusive APRs typically range between 7.9% and 28.9%.

To qualify for a Fundation term loan, your business will need to meet these minimum standards:

  • One year in business and at least three employees
  • $100,000 in annual revenue
  • Good personal credit, or at least 660

The Bottom Line on Associated Bank Business Loans

Now that you know as much as you can about Associated Bank business loans without contacting the bank directly, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to give these loans a shot.

When it comes to bank loans, that decision comes down to your eligibility. Generally, banks are highly risk-averse, so they’ll only consider working with the businesses that come to the table with proof of their ability to repay their debt. Typically, that means the businesses with strong personal and business credit, experience in their industries, healthy revenue, sufficient collateral, and overall financial stability.

If your business doesn’t make the cut, then consider working with an alternative lender, instead. Although they likely can’t offer you the same generous repayment terms and low interest rates that your bank can, they can accept a wider range of business owners. Beyond that, their applications are typically streamlined and super-fast, so you can have your cash in hand ASAP.

Founding Editor and VP at Fundera at Fundera

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. 

Meredith launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending and financial management.

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