If you’re a well-qualified business owner based in the Northeast in search of business financing (as most business owners are), you might be considering a Citizens Bank small business loan. This Providence, Rhode Island-based bank serves both consumers and businesses in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and on the business side of things, they offer a fairly comprehensive array of loans and financial products.
In addition to their selection of Citizens Bank business credit cards, Citizens Bank small business loans run the gamut from conventional term loans, to lines of credit, to SBA loans, and even a hybrid between the first two. Plus, Citizens Bank boasts a quick application process through their Citizens Bank VantageLink™️ online application, though this online-only application is only applicable to smaller loans. Business owners seeking larger loan amounts can still lob in an online application, but a Citizens Bank representative will contact them to complete the application process in person or over the phone.
But remember that qualifying for a bank loan is not necessarily easy: Among other credentials, businesses need to come to the table with several years of experience, strong credit scores, airtight business plans, and proof that they can handle debt in order to be approved for a bank loan. So if you’re not yet qualified for a Citizens Bank small business loan, consider three of your alternative loan options, which will be more accessible to more business owners.
Before that, though, we’ll go over each Citizens Bank small business loan in greater detail so you can better understand your options.
Citizens Bank Small Business Loan: An Overview
Business Line of Credit
First up in Citizens Bank’s array of business loans are business lines of credit, which are ideal financing tools if you need fast access to short-term capital. With a line of credit in your back pocket, you can withdraw cash as needed, and you’re only responsible for repaying the amount you use.
Citizens Bank can offer qualified customers business lines of credit between $50,000 and $1 million, and you can choose between a line that requires interest-only or principal-plus-interest payments. Also note that you’ll need to pay an annual fee for this particular Citizens Bank small business loan (though that fee is not unusual for a business line of credit): If your line of credit is between $50,000 and $100,000, then you’ll need to pay $150 per year; and if it’s over $100,001, then your annual fee will be 0.30% of your loan.
Citizens Bank will review your line of credit each year to determine whether to automatically renew your loan. And if you apply for a business line of credit of up to $150,000 online, then Citizens Bank will return to you with a credit decision and funding within two to three days.
Business or Equipment Flex Loan
This Citizens Bank small business loan helps small business owners purchase several major fixed assets or make leasehold improvements. This unique financing product begins its life as an interest-only, revolving line of credit, with either a six- or 12-month draw period, so you can make multiple purchases at once. After that, your remaining funds will convert to a traditional term loan with a fixed interest rate over the remainder of your repayment period.
There are lots of benefits to opting for a flex loan with Citizens Bank. First off, because this loan begins as an interest-only line of credit, then your initial payments are low relative to a traditional term loan. You also won’t need to worry about an additional annual fee, as you would with a conventional line of credit, and if it’s feasible, you can pay off your flex loan early without incurring a prepayment penalty.
For general purpose Business Flex Loans, Citizens Bank can offer loans between $10,000 and $150,000 with six-month, interest-only draw periods. After that, your repayment period will extend from 42-54 months, depending on the size of your loan.
Equipment Flex Loans range between $150,000 and $500,000 and carry 12-month draw periods. When the loan converts to a term loan after that year-long period, repayment terms last for an additional 60 months.
Business Term Loan
Next up in their suite of small business loans is Citizens Bank’s conventional term loan, which requires repayment of both the principal amount as well as interest. Citizens Bank business term loans can carry terms of up to seven years (84 months), and borrowers can choose between a fixed or variable interest rate.
Also remember that if you’re applying for a loan up to $150,000, then you can apply online and receive your approval and loan funds (if you’re eligible, of course) within two to three days.
Citizens Bank also offers a Business Mortgage loan, which is designed to help small business owners buy, renovate, or refinance their owner-occupied commercial property. Fixed-rate Business Mortgage loans carry monthly payments over repayment terms of either five or 10 years, and amortized Business Mortgage loans can last between five and 25 years. Because commercial loans often require large capital amounts, you’ll need to consult with a Citizens Bank representative to apply for your loan.
SBA Loans, which are disbursed by intermediary lenders but guaranteed by the federal government, are among the most coveted small business loans on the market—while the SBA sponsors several loan programs, they all generally carry longer repayment terms, lower interest rates, and lower down payment requirements than conventional bank loans do. And as it’s the U.S. Small Business Administration’s mission to make capital more accessible to more American businesses, businesses that might be turned down for conventional bank loans—such as business owners with challenged credit—might have a better shot at approval for an SBA loan. (That said, applying businesses will need a good dose of patience and diligence to complete this document-intensive application process, and still fulfill SBA loan eligibility standards.)
Citizens Bank is a participating lender in three of the SBA’s loan programs:
SBA 7(a) Loan
The SBA’s most popular loan program, SBA 7(a) loans are flexible enough to suit virtually any business-related project—think purchasing equipment, acquiring businesses or franchises, working capital, or funding real estate projects.
SBA 7(a) loan amounts can reach up to $5 million, and carry repayment terms of up to 10 years for working capital, up to 15 years for equipment purchases, or up to 25 years for real estate. Plus, SBA 7(a) loan interest rates can’t exceed the maximum as set by the federal agency, so you’re guaranteed a low rate.
SBA Express Loan
As the name implies, SBA Express Loans boast the quickest application and time-to-funding windows among the SBA’s loan programs, which are notoriously labor intensive and can take up to a couple of months to fund. The SBA Express Loan is actually a type of SBA 7(a) loan, so you can use Express Loan funds for similarly all-purpose purposes, such as working capital, purchasing equipment, refinancing debt, and more. However, SBA Express term loan and line of credit amounts extend only up to $350,000.
SBA 504 Loan
SBA 504 loans are designed to finance real estate-related projects and the purchase of major fixed assets, so business owners participating in this program can fetch some of the highest loan amounts available. Citizens Bank can disburse up to $12 million under this loan program, with repayment terms lasting up to 10 years for purchasing fixed assets, or 20 years for real estate projects.
Top Alternatives to a Citizens Bank Small Business Loan
While Citizens Bank offers a good variety of small business loans that can service any number of business-related projects, keep in mind that, like any bank loan, a Citizens Bank business loan won’t necessarily be your most accessible form of financing. Although Citizens Bank doesn’t specify its loan eligibility standards, typically to be approved for bank financing you need a strong credit score, an established business, and proof of your ability to responsibly repay additional debt, among other requirements.
If you’re not yet in a position to be approved for a Citizens Bank business loan, consider working with an alternative lending platform. These reputable lenders can offer similar types of loans as a bank loan (though often at higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms), but typically call for much less stringent eligibility requirements for approval. Here are just three of your best options:
If you’re seeking an accessible alternative to a Citizens Bank term loan or line of credit, consider Fundation, which offers both products on their platform. Maximum term loan amounts reach up to $500,000 with up to four-year repayment terms, and lines of credit can extend up to $150,000 with draw periods lasting up to 18 months. Including origination and draw fees, APRs for Fundation loans and lines of credit can be as low as 8.9%, or as high as 29.99%.
To qualify for a Fundation loan, you’ll need at least one year in business, $100,000 in annual revenue, good personal credit (that’s about 660 at a minimum), and at least three employees.
As another premium alternative lender, Lending Club’s term loans are an excellent alternative to a Citizens Bank business loan, and they may be even more accessible than a Fundation loan would be: To qualify for a Lending Club term loan, you need a minimum of $50,000 in annual revenue, a 620 credit score, at a year in business. However, Lending Club amounts are smaller than Fundation’s (or Citizens Bank’s), as they range between $5,000 and $300,000. Terms can last between one and five years, and interest rates typically range between 5.9% and 25.9%.
Finally, if you’re on the hunt for a business line of credit, consider Kabbage as your alternative to a Citizens Bank line of credit. This online lender specializes in lines of credit, offering qualified business owners short-term lines with either six- or 12-month draw periods, at amounts ranging between $2,000 and $250,000. Do know that Kabbage interest rates are frontloaded: You’ll pay between 1.5% and 10% interest during the first couple of months of your repayment term, but the rate will drop to 1% for the remainder of your remittance period.
Qualifying for a Kabbage line of credit is a much less rigorous process than qualifying for a bank line of credit. To be eligible for a smaller Kabbage line of credit (that’s less than $100,000), at a minimum you’ll need $50,000 in annual revenue, a 550 credit score, and one year in business.
Is a Citizens Bank Business Loan Right for Your Business?
If your business operates in any of the 12 states that Citizens Bank serves—and you have the proper qualifications under your belt—it can’t hurt to apply for any of the Citizens Bank business loans we’ve gone over here. That’s especially true if you’re seeking a loan under $150,000, as Citizens Bank is one of the few brick-and-mortar bank that enables online-only applications (with quick time-to-funding) for loans of this size.
But if you’re not yet qualified for a Citizens Bank business loan, your options certainly don’t begin and end with this particular bank. Instead, seek a loan from an alternative lender with much less rigorous qualification standards. Better yet, work with a loan specialist who can walk you through the entire loan process, from matching you with your top lenders, to determining which loan you can afford, to packaging and submitting your application.
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.