The 20 Best SBA Lenders of 2019

Here are the top SBA lenders for your small business to work with.
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Best SBA Lenders for the Most Popular SBA Programs

If you’ve been looking for a business loan, then you probably know SBA loans are the gold standard of business financing. They come with high loan amounts, low-interest rates, and long repayment terms. Plus, SBA lenders are vetted and have to adhere to the standards that the SBA sets through their funding programs.

The catch is that even though the Small Business Administration (SBA) sets some universal standards, like maximum interest rates and terms, lenders retain a significant amount of discretion. The speed and ease of your SBA loan process also depend on a give SBA lender’s funding experience.

The top SBA lenders for the SBA 7(a) loan and SBA Microloan programs are:

  1. Wells Fargo Bank
  2. The Huntington National Bank
  3. TD Bank
  4. JPMorgan Chase
  5. US Bank
  6. BBVA Compass Bank
  7. Celtic Bank Corporation
  8. M&T Bank
  9. Independence Bank
  10. First Home Bank
  11. Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation
  12. Business Center for New Americans
  13. Economic and Community Development Institute
  14. Finanta
  15. Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs Credit Corp.
  16. Accion East, Inc.
  17. Rural Enterprise Assistance Project / Center for Rural Affairs
  18. Flagship Enterprise Center, Inc.
  19. LiftFund, Inc.
  20. Renaissance Economic Development Corporation

In this guide, we’ll walk through the details on the top SBA lenders offering these small business loans, breaking down the SBA lenders by the SBA loan program they lend through.

See If You Qualify for an SBA Loan

Start Your Business Loan Search With an SBA Lender

When searching for business loans for your company, there are a lot of options you can pursue. Although online business lenders are growing more popular, banks are still the most common place to get a commercial loan. In 2016, a whopping 96 % of business owners who needed financing tried banks, but only 21% tried online lenders.

If you approach a bank for financing, you can apply for a conventional business loan. If the bank participates in the SBA program, then you can apply an SBA loan. In both cases, the bank is the lender. However, SBA loans come with a guarantee from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that they will repay the bank if the borrower defaults. That makes SBA loans more attractive for the lender and results in more favorable terms for the borrower.

While banks are the most popular kind of SBA lender, nonprofit institutions and community-based lenders also issue SBA loans. The type of lender that’s right for you depends on which SBA program you want to apply for.

These are the three most popular SBA programs.

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The 7(a) Loan Program

The most common SBA loan program is the 7(a) loan. With this program, you can borrow up to $5 million in funds. Borrowers can use this capital for equipment and real estate purchases, working capital, basic startup costs, or even debt refinancing.

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The Microloan Program

SBA Microloans provide funding for entrepreneurs in need of $500 to $50,000 in financing. The average microloan amount is about $14,000. You can use these loans for a wide range of purposes as well, such as for purchasing equipment, working capital, or covering startup costs.

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The 504/CDC Loan Program

SBA 504/CDC loans are loans specifically for the purchase or upgrade of fixed assets. With this program, you can borrow up to $20 million in funds. Borrowers can use the capital to buy property or equipment, make land improvements, renovate existing property, and other similar uses.

Next, we’ll review the top SBA lenders for each SBA loan program.

The Top SBA Lenders to Work With

Top 10 SBA Lenders for the 7(a) Program

As we mentioned above, the SBA 7(a) loan program is the most popular of the SBA loan programs. As a result, this program has the largest number of participating lenders. Large banks in particular are very active 7(a) SBA lenders.

We include the top SBA lenders below, with data on the loan volume and number of loans for the SBA’s 2017 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2017). The data includes loans of $500,000 and smaller, since most small business owners won’t get a larger loan than that. The average loan size should give you a good idea if the lender is a good fit for you.

Note that all of these lenders are part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program. That means the SBA has authorized the bank to approve applications for SBA funding, without submitting the application to the SBA. That saves you valuable time when searching for a business loan.

Here are the top 10 SBA lenders for 7(a) loans.

Check Your Loan Options
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1. Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo is an SBA lender that offers a variety of financing options for small businesses: lines of credit, term loans, real estate financing, and equipment financing. As of the last update of this article, Wells Fargo reigns as the most active SBA lender for 7(a) loans.

Number of loans approved: 4,338
Total amount approved: $363,521,950
Average loan amount: $83,799

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2. The Huntington National Bank

The Huntington National Bank is a Midwest bank with more than 1,000 branches across eight states. They are consistently ranked as the top SBA lender in the midwestern region.

Number of loans approved: 3,674
Total amount approved: $312,248,839
Average loan amount: $84,989

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3. TD Bank

TD Bank has 1,300 branches located mainly on the East Coast. They provide small business loans and lines of credit.

Number of loans approved: 3,164
Total amount approved: $169,962,000
Average loan amount: $53,717

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4. JPMorgan Chase

You’ve probably already heard of JPMorgan Chase. This is the nation’s biggest bank in terms of deposit volume and assets, and they are also a very active SBA lender. Along with a wide range of business loan products, Chase offers some great business credit cards.

Number of loans approved: 2,986
Total amount approved: $365,934,346
Average loan amount: $122,550

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5. U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank is another bank that you have probably already heard of. In addition to the standard small business loans and lines of credit, U.S. Bank specializes in helping health care practices obtain business financing.

Number of loans approved: 1,803a
Total amount approved: $182,590,150
Average loan amount: $101,270

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6. BBVA Compass Bank

BBVA Compass Bank is a bank that’s mainly concentrated in the Sun Belt region. They offer a range of business loan products and debt repayment assistance.

Number of loans approved: 1,456
Total amount approved: $84,852,200
Average loan amount: $58,278

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7. Celtic Bank Corporation

Celtic Bank is one of the top SBA lenders, but this bank is a little different. Celtic is a branchless bank and processes and underwrites loan applications completely online. This works in your favor because the loan process goes faster, and there’s no need to visit a branch in person.

Number of loans approved: 1,219
Total amount approved: $158,799,700
Average loan amount: $130,270

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8. M&T Bank

M&T Bank is another bank with branches primarily on the East Coast. The provide small business loans, lines of credit, and equipment financing, and recently added small business credit cards to their product lineup.

Number of loans approved: 1,183
Total amount approved: $112,226,000
Average loan amount: $94,866

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9. Independence Bank

Independence Bank is a small community bank in Rhode Island. Despite their small size, they are FDIC-insured and issued a significant number of SBA loans. That said, unless your business operates in Rhode Island, this bank won’t be an option for you.

Number of loans approved: 1,141
Total amount approved: $127,372,700
Average loan amount: $111,633

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10. First Home Bank

Rounding out our top 10 is First Home Bank, a Tampa Bay, Florida-based bank. Although based in Florida, the bank can help businesses nationwide obtain SBA loans. Their average loan amount is a bit on the high side, so you might want to try another option first if you need only a small amount of capital.

Number of loans approved: 1,048
Total amount approved: $246,787,500
Average loan amount: $235,484

Top 10 SBA Lenders for the Microloan Program

Microloans are a good option for entrepreneurs who need startup capital or funding for very small businesses.

Microloans are a little different from SBA 7(a) loans. Most of the top 7(a) lenders, as you will notice above, are large banks. However, these large banks don’t provide microloans in most cases because doing so simply isn’t profitable for them.

To provide microloans, the SBA partners with specially designated intermediary SBA lenders. These intermediaries are generally nonprofit, community-based organizations that have experience in lending. And as an added benefit, these SBA lenders usually provide management and technical assistance to small business owners—assuring that the money borrowed will be well spent.

The SBA lenders that offer SBA microloans will vary depending on your location. The SBA has a personalized lender matching tool that will help you find a microlender and other SBA lenders near you. To find a SBA microlender in your area, you can also check out the SBA’s list of approved intermediaries in each state.

Here is a list of the top 10 SBA microlenders as of 2015, the most recently available data.

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1. Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation

Number of microloans: 367
Microloan volume: $1,463,554

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2. Business Center for New Americans

Number of microloans: 266
Microloan volume: $1,035,000

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3. Economic and Community Development Institute

Number of microloans: 218
Microloan volume: $1,571,391

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4. Finanta

Number of microloans: 185
Microloan volume: $1,624,400

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5. Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs Credit Corp.

Number of microloans: 131
Microloan volume: $1,075,530

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6. Accion East, Inc.

Number of microloans: 105
Microloan volume: $1,173,452

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7. Rural Enterprise Assistance Project / Center for Rural Affairs

Number of microloans: 97
Microloan volume: $679,575

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8. Flagship Enterprise Center, Inc.

Number of microloans: 83
Microloan volume: $1,693,002

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9. LiftFund, Inc.

Number of microloans: 83
Microloan volume: $672,488

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10. Renaissance Economic Development Corporation

Number of microloans: 76
Microloan volume: $1,662,695

Top SBA Lenders for the CDC/504 Program

The CDC/504 loan program works perfectly for small business owners who want to finance the purchase or upgrade of equipment or real estate.

Ranking the top CDC/504 lenders isn’t that easy because this loan actually comes from two lenders. A SBA-approved Certified Development Company (CDC) makes 50% of the loan. CDCs are usually nonprofit, community lenders. Banks make 40% of the loan. And the remaining 10% is a down payment from the borrower.

The best bank and CDC lenders for SBA 504 loans varies significantly based on region. Regional SBA offices usually rank local CDCs and banks. For example, here’s a list from the mid-Atlantic region, one from Austin, Texas, and another from Los Angeles County. Over 270 CDCs exist nationwide and operate primarily in their state of incorporation. Find a CDC near you with the SBA’s CDC search tool.

What SBA Lenders Look for in Your SBA Loan Application

Once you’ve gone through your list of the top SBA lenders and found what you think is the best fit for your small business, your next step is to apply.

SBA loans are favorable products for small business owners—you can score a large loan over a long term, with low interest rates. But, SBA lenders only work with the most qualified small business owners. You can set yourself up for success—and up your chances of approval—by preparing yourself before you apply.

Every loan program will have specific documentation that you’ll need to provide in your application. This is especially true if you’re applying to SBA lenders for a loan from the CDC/504 and microloan programs—the intermediary lenders in these programs will require their own specific documentation.

But as far as all SBA loans go, there’s basic documentation that you’ll need to apply to any of the SBA lenders.

Here’s what you’ll need to get in order for an SBA loan application.

Personal Background and Resume

Lenders will want to verify both your personal and professional background. For personal information, they’ll want to see previous addresses, official names used, criminal record, educational background, and so on.

You’ll also be asked to provide a professional resume, explaining your work background and any relevant experience in your industry. SBA lenders are attempting to decide whether or not lending to your business is a smart decision. To gauge how well you’ll run your business and how responsibly you’ll use the capital, lenders can use resumes to see your past business achievements.

Business Plan

Every SBA loan program requires that applicants provide a sound business plan. Remember, SBA lenders want to fund businesses that will be successful—and your business plan is your place to prove that your business is a smart investment.

Your business plan should include financial information—profit and loss statements, cash flow, balance sheet, etc. You’ll also need to provide more qualitative goals for your business. Why is your business a unique and important contribution to the market? How do you compare to your competitors? Where do you see it growing in the next five years?

A well-thought-out business plan will show that you’re prepared to be successful, and are determined to grow your business.

Personal and Business Credit Reports

Your personal and business credit rating will play a large part in your SBA loan eligibility. SBA lenders will need to gauge how responsible you are with your personal finances, and how trustworthy you’ve been with your business finances. Unfortunately, only borrowers with great credit scores (above 650 in most cases) will qualify for SBA loans. And if you have a startup, you’ll need even better credit.

Before you apply for an SBA loan, make sure you know where your credit score stands. You should know your business credit score as well.

Financial Documentation

Be prepared to submit balance sheets, profit and loss statements, bank account statements, and a business debt schedule to verify your business’s financial standing.

You can check out our guide to all the SBA loan requirements to learn the specifics on each of these documents.

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The Best SBA Lenders: The Bottom Line

There isn’t a cut-and-dry formula for finding the perfect SBA lender to work with. But, you can set your business up for success by researching the SBA lenders who participate in the program you’re applying to. By understanding all the options at your disposal, you’ll have a better idea which one will work for your business.