What Credit Score Is Needed for an SBA Loan?

Updated on May 4, 2021
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Is there a Credit Score Minimum for SBA Loans?

The Small Business Administration doesn’t set specific credit score minimums for SBA loans. However, lenders set their own SBA loan requirements, and you’ll typically need a credit score somewhere around 620-640+ to get an SBA loan.

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Broken down by loan program, SBA loan credit score minimums will generally be along these lines:

  • SBA 7(a) Loans: 650+
  • SBA 7(a) Express Loans: 650+
  • SBA CDC/504 Loans: 680+
  • SBA CAPLines Program: 660+

  • SBA Export Loans: 660+

  • SBA Microloans: 620-640+
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How Do SBA Loan Credit Score Minimums Work?

The Small Business Administration does not set hard-line minimums when it comes to qualifying for a small business loan.

Rather, the lender you work with to secure the loan will assess your creditworthiness based on a number of factors and decide whether or not you qualify for the loan from there.

That said, it will be very difficult to qualify for most SBA loans if you have a credit score below 650. And remember that’s a minimum: Most SBA lenders want to see a credit score between 700-800.

Of course, not all SBA loans are created equally, and some might have harder or softer credit score requirements.

Credit Score Requirements by SBA Loan Type

Below is a breakdown of the SBA’s common loan programs and their credit score requirements. Note that these SBA loan credit score minimums are estimates and not set-in-stone rules.

SBA 7(a) Loan

7(a) loans are the most common type of SBA loan and generally what people think of when they think of an SBA loan. It’s a general loan that businesses can use for almost any purpose. They’re also among the toughest to qualify for, with an estimated SBA loan credit score minimum of 650.

SBA 7(a) Express Loan

Designed for small businesses that need a smaller amount of cash (up to $1 million until Sept. 30, 2021, then $500,000 thereafter) in a quicker amount of time, the SBA Express loan is not much easier to qualify for and has very similar qualification requirements to the regular SBA 7(a) loan.

SBA CDC/504 Loan

This program is designed to help businesses purchase owner-occupied commercial real estate or heavy equipment. Most people who qualify have a 680+ credit score minimum and put a 10% down payment on the purchase.

SBA CAPLines Program

This is essentially an SBA line of credit designed to meet short-term or seasonal working capital needs. You can generally qualify with a credit score of 660 or higher with short-term collateral such as unpaid invoices.

SBA Export Loans

SBA Export loans are designed to help small businesses fund new exporting operations with cash flow solutions that allow more flexible terms to international customers. As long as you can prove a viable export operation, you can qualify for this loan with a credit score minimum of 660.

SBA Microloans

These very small loans (up to $50,000) have softer credit score requirements (a minimum of around 620-640) than other SBA loans. You’ll also need to provide collateral that could cover the loan amount.

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Non-Credit SBA Loan Qualifications

Meeting the minimum credit score requirements for an SBA loan will help you qualify for funding. However, a credit score isn’t the only part of an SBA loan application. Most customers approved for SBA loans have:

  • An annual revenue of over $180,000
  • At least four years in business

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. But a few requirements from the government are. For example, you must be a for-profit U.S. business, meet SBA size requirements and have already invested time and money in your business to get an SBA loan.

Individual lenders will have their own qualification requirements. You may want to work with an SBA Preferred Lender—the SBA has a full list outlined here—which includes many large commercial banks such as:

  • Wells Fargo: On the list of the SBA’s most active lenders. In fiscal year 2021, Wells Fargo had approved 762 SBA 7(a) loans and lent more than $220 million as of Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Bank of America: Known for robust small business lending.
  • JPMorgan Chase: Lent more than $27 million to 119 businesses.
  • Celtic Bank Corp: This bank had lent more than $276 million to SBA-backed 7(a) loans as of the end of 2020.
  • Live Oak Banking Co.: The largest SBA lender in volume, with a whopping $746,986,400 lent in fiscal year 2020.
  • The Huntington National Bank: A smaller bank that approved the most 7(a) loans (1,581) in fiscal year 2020.

Compare the best SBA lenders to find the right option for your business.

The Bottom Line

You’ll likely need good credit to qualify for an SBA loan. But you’ll also need to meet the requirements of the government and the individual lender you work with. This may make qualifying for an SBA loan seem difficult. However, by working with a qualified small business lending specialist, you can see what kind of loan is right for you—and if the SBA is a good route, go for it.

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Meredith Wood
Vice President and Founding Editor at Fundera

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and 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. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: meredith@fundera.com.
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