In the post-recession period, there’s been a resurgence in banks lending to small businesses. In 2019, large banks approved a quarter of small business loan applications, while regional and community banks approved nearly one half of small business loan applications.
Although these numbers have declined as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, bank loans remain one of the best financing options for small businesses who can qualify.
If you’re in the market for a conventional or SBA loan from a bank, we’ve put together a list of the top banks to start with.
Banks differ in the types of small business loans they provide, their application process and timeline, the interest rates and repayments schedules they offer, and their customer service. In addition, some banks have a national reach with thousands of branches nationwide, while others are smaller, regional or community banks.
With that in mind, here are the best banks for conventional business loans.
Wells Fargo calls themselves “America’s leading small business lender,” and if you look at their track record, that rings true. With a variety of different financing solutions and years of experience in the small business lending space, Wells Fargo is a great bank to work with if you need financing.
As of September 2020, Wells Fargo had a balance of more than $170 billion in commercial loans.
Wells Fargo offers a few different types of business loans, but for small business owners, Wells Fargo’s Unsecured Business Line of Credit is the best option. Unsecured means you don’t need to supply physical collateral for the loan, making this Wells Fargo business loan easier to qualify for.
The first product for you to consider is the Wells Fargo Unsecured Business Line of Credit. With this financing product, you get a revolving credit line of $5,000 to $100,000 to use for cash flow problems or to cover emergency expenses. Since the credit line is revolving, the line replenishes every time you pay back the balance in full.
This product might be slightly harder to qualify for compared to some unsecured term loans, but you get lower rates—typically the prime rate plus 1.75%.
This line of credit is an unsecured financing option. Even better, Wells Fargo offers rewards points when you use your line of credit, almost like a credit card.
Bank of America is another bank that is going to great lengths to gain the loyalty of small business owners. As of September 2020, Bank of America had over $290 billion in outstanding U.S. commercial loans.
With roughly 4,400 branches and strong mobile banking capabilities, Bank of America is a solid option for small business owners throughout the country. Bank of America business loans are a particularly good option for highly qualified borrowers.
Like Wells Fargo, Bank of America also offers unsecured term loans. The loan amounts range from $10,000 to $100,000, and the rates are fixed, starting at 4.75%. These rates beat Wells Fargo’s best rate. These are medium-term loans, with repayment terms ranging from one to five years.
You can apply online, in person at a branch, or over the phone. If approved, you can receive funding in as few as five business days.
However, Bank of America publishes the qualification requirements on their website. Eligible businesses are at least two years old, and they need to be generating $100,000 or more in annual revenues.
A benefit of Bank of America is their relationship rewards program, where you can get a lower rate if you maintain high balances across your Bank of America accounts.
Bank of America’s unsecured business line of credit, called the Business Advantage Line of Credit, is similar to Wells Fargo’s version.
These lines of credit start at $10,000, with no collateral required to be approved. The interest rates start as low as 4.50%, just a hair lower than Wells Fargo.
Next on our list is another large nationwide bank: JPMorgan Chase. As of September 2020, Chase had over $190 billion in commercial loan volume and in the entire year, the bank loaned over $12 million in SBA 7(a) loans alone.
Chase makes our list of the best banks for small business loans for two reasons. First, Chase offers a wide variety of lending options, from lines of credit and SBA loans to equipment financing and real estate financing. Second, Chase offers a great lineup of small business credit cards if traditional loans don’t make sense for your business.
The Chase Business Term Loan offers small business owners financing starting at $5,000 with terms up to seven years and fixed monthly payments.
Payments can be automatically deducted from your business account. These Chase business loans can come with either fixed or variable interest rates.
A business credit card isn’t a traditional “business loan,” but you can often use a credit card like a loan. Plus, there are added benefits to business credit cards, such as rewards points, introductory interest rates, and an easier qualification process.
Chase is a leader in credit cards, and they offer one full year as an introductory rate on several of their cards before your variable rate sets in. In addition, Chase offers unlimited cash back on certain cards and sign up bonuses.
Use our guide to learn more about Chase business credit cards.
Although Capital One is better known for their consumer programs, the bank has certainly invested in their small business lending program. In fact, in 2019 they granted over $20 million in SBA loans.
Capital One stands out as a great bank for business loans just based on the wide array of small business loans they offer their customers. Capital One offers lines of credit, equipment and vehicle financing, commercial real estate loans, business installment loans, and SBA loans (through the SBA 7(a) and 504 program).
Capital One small business loans also come with relationship-based rates for existing customers, and might also tailor a specific loan program to the financing needs of your business. That customizability makes Capital One the best bank for business loans if you already have a relationship with them.
Many bank loans for businesses, in general, are large, long-term loans that might be pretty inaccessible to you (or just beyond the amount of capital you really need).
However, Capital One’s working capital lines of credit stand out as a smaller, more flexible type of financing that could be easier to qualify for than, say, a Capital One SBA loan or real estate loan.
These small business bank loans start at $10,000, and allow an unlimited number of draws. There’s no specific timeline for the line of credit repayment period, or for how long you can have the line of credit open.
Plus, you won’t need to submit financial statements if you’re planning on taking out a line less than $50,000, making the application process really simple.
Capital One calls these loans perfect for business owners who need a flexible financing tool that can help smooth out everyday cash flow issues. In order to qualify, you’ll need to have two years in business and have (or open) a Capital One business checking account.
U.S. Bank rounds out our list of the best national banks. This bank is one of the biggest lenders for small business loans (over $74 million granted in SBA 7(a) loans in 2020) but has limited geographic reach. U.S. Bank branches are only in 25 states and are concentrated in the west and midwest.
U.S. Bank business loans range from term loans, lines of credit, equipment financing, to commercial real estate loans. One thing that sets them apart is that they offer “practice financing,” which helps dentists, veterinarians, and eye doctors start a new practice, acquire a practice, or expand.
One of U.S. Bank’s best products for small business owners is the Quick Loan for Business. This is for business owners who want to purchase new or used equipment or need a source of working capital for business expansion.
The loans go up to $250,000, and the repayment term goes up to seven years. The loan is called “quick” because the bank provides a simple application process and fast credit approval.
These loans have fixed interest rates and monthly payments — plus, no origination fees.
When talking about the best banks for business loans, we’d be remiss to not bring up SBA loans.
SBA loans are an excellent financing option for small business owners. The Small Business Administration doesn’t actually give out these loans themselves. Instead, the SBA guarantees business loans that are issued by traditional banks.
An SBA guarantee (typically up to 85% of the loan value) has two major benefits: First, it mitigates the bank’s risk of lending to you. With the SBA’s guarantee that the bank gets at least most of their money back in case you default on your loan, the lender can be much more comfortable extending credit. Second, the guarantee makes SBA loans easier to qualify for as a business owner.
That’s not to say that qualifying for SBA loans is easy—these are still bank loans, and you need strong finances to qualify. But the added security by an external guarantee certainly incentivizes these banks to lend to small business owners.
Not only are SBA loans slightly easier to qualify for, they also come with equally affordable interest rates as most bank loans do. Interest rates on SBA loans from banking institutions range from about 5% to 9.5%.
Here’s the list of the best banks offering SBA loans.
This bank, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, has no consumer loan products and no physical branches. Instead, they focus exclusively on small business loans, especially SBA loans. They’ve provided over $2 billion in small business funding since they started operating. Initially, Live Oak Bank made loans only to veterinary practices but now provides financing to a range of industries.
Live Oak Bank has a streamlined, electronic application process for their SBA loans, since they don’t rely on branches. You can upload all loan documentation online and monitor the progress of your loan at any time in your online account. All of this means your loan can get processed more quickly. Live Oak Bank also has a lot of expertise in different industries, so they can help you get a loan that’s perfect for your business.
Wells Fargo is another prolific SBA lender in the country, which is why they made our list of best banks for conventional loans and best banks for SBA loans. In 2020, Wells Fargo approved 388 SBA 7(a) loans and lent a total of $114,406,300 in 7(a) SBA loans.
Although Wells Fargo lends thousands of dollars of 7(a) loans, the bank also offers SBA 504 financing for business owners who want to purchase real estate, equipment, or other fixed assets. Since Wells Fargo is so experienced in providing SBA loans, they can underwrite and process your loan faster than usual. That’s good news because qualifying for an SBA loan is typically a drawn-out process that can take several weeks, even months.
Banks have a bad reputation for providing only larger loans that are out of reach for small businesses. But Wells Fargo’s SBA loan average size was $83,799 in 2017, which indicates that they do make smaller loans perfect for small businesses.
Huntington National Bank actually comes in second in the list of the best banks for SBA loans in 2020. They made 787 SBA 7(a) loans across the country, totaling over $150,627,600 in funding.
Huntington Bank participates in the SBA 7(a) general purpose business loan, SBA 504 loan, and SBA Express loan programs. So, no matter what the stage or needs of your business, you should be able to find something that works for you.
Celtic Bank is another excellent bank to consider for small business financing. Like Live Oak Bank, Celtic offers a completely online banking experience. They have a few consumer products, but their specialties are SBA loans and conventional business loans.
In 2020, Celtic Bank approved 105 SBA 7(a) loans, lending a total of $132,317,500. That ranked them fourth nationwide in SBA lending, but they were also in the top three in several regions of the country. One of the best parts about Celtic Bank is that they have a very simple seven-question online application to get started. Once you complete that, Celtic Bank will predict whether you can get approved for the loan and offer you alternative loan options.
TD Bank rounds out our list of the best banks for small business loans. This bank mainly has an east coast presence, so if your business isn’t located there, then you might want to go with another bank.
TD Bank also offers all three types of SBA loans: SBA 7(a) loans, SBA 504 loans, and SBA Express loans. Unfortunately, they don’t offer the convenience of an online application process. You must schedule an appointment with a TD Bank branch to apply. But, they have been able to help many small business owners obtain loans. In 2020, TD Bank made 191 SBA 7(a) loans totaling $46,564,600.
As we’ve mentioned a few times so far, small business bank loans have low interest rates, long terms, and manageable monthly payments—but they aren’t open to everyone. To qualify for a bank loan, you must have very strong personal and business finances. The qualifications that top small business loan providers will look to determine your eligibility will be:
Banks loans for business, surprisingly enough, will require a solid personal credit score. You might be wondering why your personal credit score even matters if you’re looking for a business loan. Business lenders—both commercial loan companies and banks alike—will look to business owners’ personal credit scores to gauge their financial responsibility. After all, you’re the one who is controlling your business’s finances.
As a result, you—or any of your co-owners—will likely need to come to the table with a FICO score of at least 700 to be able to qualify for a business loan from one of these top providers. The top business loan providers might even look for excellent personal credit—think 750 or higher—for you to qualify. This is especially the case for newer or lower-volume small businesses.
The best banks for business loans will have a minimum requirement for the time your business has been up and running. Generally speaking, most business bank loans will require you to have at least six months in business to even apply. Even then, you’ll need really solid business financial credentials and personal credit to be eligible for a bank loan.
At least two years in business will make your application for a small business loan from a bank even stronger. If your business has already lasted at least two years, then lending capital to it will be less risky for any bank you apply with.
The best banks for small business loans won’t lend your business any capital if they don’t think you’ll be able to pay it back. As a result, a business loan from a bank will only be available if your business is earning a solid amount of revenue on an annual basis. Most of the top business loan providers will look for at least $100,000 in annual revenue for you to be eligible. The more revenue you earn, the better.
Additionally, the top banks for business loans will often prefer that your business be profitable. Make sure you meet every revenue and profitability requirement for a given lender before you take the time to apply.
Along with these credentials, you should have a complete, organized business loan application to give the bank all the information they might need to approve your loan.
Keep in mind, though, that what you need to prepare for your application to one of these small business bank loans really depends on the specific bank you’re working with. Some banks might have additional business loan requirements. But in general, you can be confident that you need to prepare some version of the following list of documents:
Our list of the 10 best banks for business loans covers both conventional business funding options and SBA loans. But if you don’t qualify for a traditional business loan from a bank, there are alternative lending options you might consider to find affordable, quick, and easy capital to grow your business.
Compare some of the best alternative lenders here.
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.