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Can You Get a Business Loan with Bad Credit?

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated February 18, 2024​

7 min. read​

When you apply for a small business loan, lenders will assess your creditworthiness to determine if you’re a good fit. A bad credit score isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it can make it more difficult to get approved. You can also expect fewer loan options and higher borrowing costs. Read on to learn more about how your credit rating could negatively impact your approval odds and what to do to increase your chances of getting approved for a small business loan with bad credit.

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Understanding Credit Scores

Before exploring business lending options, it’s important to understand how your credit score works. You should also get a feel for what constitutes “bad credit” and what that means for you.

How Your Credit Score Works

Your credit score represents your creditworthiness or the likelihood you’ll repay what you borrow. It is calculated based on your credit report, which contains information on your past and current loans, payment history and outstanding debts. Lenders use credit scores as a risk assessment tool when deciding whether to approve you for a loan or line of credit.

Your personal credit score typically ranges from 300 to 850 – the higher, the better. FICO scores, which are used by more than 90 percent of lenders to make credit decisions, are calculated as follows:

  • Payment history: 35 percent of your FICO score
  • Amounts owed: 30 percent of your FICO score
  • Length of credit history: 15 percent of your FICO score
  • Credit mix: 10 percent of your FICO score
  • New credit: 10 percent of your FICO score

Adopting positive financial habits, such as paying bills on time, maintaining low debt levels, and only applying for credit as needed, can help improve your credit score over time.

Defining Bad Credit

Here are the FICO credit score ranges:

  • Poor FICO score: 300 to 579
  • Fair FICO score: 580 to 669
  • Good FICO score: 670 to 739
  • Very Good FICO score: 740 to 799
  • Excellent FICO score: 800 to 850

Regarding business loans, a bad credit score is generally anything less than a FICO score of 670. While bad credit can make getting a business loan hard, options are still available for those with less-than-stellar credit.

Past financial missteps, such as missed payments or high credit utilization, often cause a poor credit score. Regardless of the cause, having bad credit limits your access to certain types of loans and financing options. However, there are lenders that specialize in providing business loans for applicants with lower credit scores.

Keep in mind that while some lenders may be willing to offer you a business loan with bad credit, the terms and interest rates may be less favorable than those available to borrowers with higher credit scores. Securing a loan with bad credit may also require additional documentation, collateral, or a personal guarantee from the business owner.

Maintaining good financial habits, paying off debt, and regularly checking your credit reports can help you work towards improving your credit score. Doing so also increases your chances of obtaining a better business loan in the future.

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How Your Credit Score Impacts Your Business Loan Approval

Your credit score plays a significant role in determining your eligibility for a business loan. Financial institutions assess your creditworthiness based on this score, and it can significantly influence the loan amount, interest rates and repayment terms offered to your business, assuming it’s eligible for a loan. Lenders may consider both your personal credit score and business credit score during the loan application process.

A good personal credit score is necessary for securing a business loan, especially for small business owners and startups without an established business credit history. In fact, small business owners who qualify for an SBA loan typically have a personal credit score of at least 680.

On the other hand, your business credit score is a separate figure that sheds light on your company’s credit history and financial health. Like your personal credit score, a higher business credit score indicates lower risk to lenders, increasing the likelihood of receiving favorable loan terms. Maintaining your personal and business credit scores is essential to improve your chances of approval for a business loan.

But as mentioned above, having a low credit score does not necessarily mean you will be unable to secure a business loan. Some lenders offer bad credit loans or no-credit-check business financing options for borrowers with subpar credit. These options may come with higher interest rates and more stringent repayment terms. Still, they can still provide essential funding for your business needs.

Can You Get a Business Loan with Bad Credit?

It’s possible to get a business loan with bad credit. Though it might be more challenging, there are options available for businesses with less-than-perfect credit scores. Traditional lenders may have stricter criteria, but alternative lenders often offer more flexible requirements for borrowers.

Here’s a closer look at how lenders view bad credit.

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How Lenders View Bad Credit

Borrowers with lower credit scores are generally viewed as riskier in the eyes of lenders. A bad credit score often results from late payments, defaults, or excessive debt, which can signal difficulties in repaying a loan. This means the likelihood of you defaulting on subsequent loans is also higher. As mentioned earlier, In the world of business loans, bad credit usually means having a FICO score lower than 670. However, alternative lenders might have more lenient policies.

When you are applying for a business loan, remember that lenders look at not only your personal credit score but also your business credit score. It’s important to check both and make sure there are no errors in the reports before applying for financing.

Traditional lenders, such as banks, often have stricter credit requirements, making it harder for businesses with bad credit to secure loans. However, alternative lenders, such as online financing companies or peer-to-peer lenders, tend to be more open to borrowers with lower credit scores. They might have more flexible terms and higher approval rates.

The Challenges of Getting a Business Loan with Bad Credit

Securing a business loan with a low credit score means you may have to jump through a few hoops to get approved. Here’s what to expect when you’re ready to start your search for funding.

High-Interest Rates and Fees

With a bad credit score, you will likely face higher interest rates and fees when applying for a business loan. Lenders perceive you as a higher-risk borrower, which means they need to charge higher rates to minimize the risks that come with lending to you. This can make borrowing more expensive and put a strain on your company’s finances.

Lower Borrowing Amounts

Another challenge you may encounter when trying to secure a business loan with bad credit is lower borrowing amounts. Lenders may be more hesitant to lend larger sums of money to borrowers with poor credit histories. Consequently, you might struggle to find a loan or financial option that covers all of your business needs, which could limit your growth opportunities.

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Strict Repayment Terms

Lenders may also impose strict repayment terms on borrowers with bad credit. This means you will be required to pay off the loan within a shorter period compared to borrowers with better credit scores. This can prove to be challenging, as faster repayments can put additional financial stress on your business, leaving you with less cash flow to use for other expenses.

Risk of Losing Collateral

If you are able to secure a business loan with bad credit, it often comes with the requirement of providing collateral. Your company’s Collateral is used as security in case you default on your loan, but it also increases the risk for you. You could lose your valuable assets if you fail to make the necessary repayments. Depending on what you put for collateral, the outcome can be drastic for your business and, in some instances, force you to shut your doors and cease operations.

Are There Business Loans for Bad Credit?

Although obtaining a business loan with bad personal credit can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Below are some options that may be available to you.

Short-term Loans

Short-term loans are a popular option for business owners with bad credit. Unlike traditional small business loans, short-term loans usually have less stringent credit requirements and shorter repayment periods.

Many online lenders specialize in providing short-term loans for businesses with poor credit. Be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions before accepting a short-term loan, as interest rates and other borrowing costs may be higher than those of conventional loans.

Secured Business Loans

Secured business loans require collateral to back up the loan. Still, they’re an option worth considering if you need funding sooner than later and can’t get approved for a traditional unsecured business term loan.

By offering assets as collateral, you may be able to secure a loan even if your credit score is low. However, be aware that you could lose your collateral if you fail to uphold your end of the loan agreement by not repaying what you borrowed on time.

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Lines of Credit

A line of credit is another financing option for businesses with bad credit. They are a flexible lending solution that lets you borrow only what you need on an as-needed basis. Plus, you’ll only pay interest on the funds you pull from the line.

Some lenders offer business lines of credit with less stringent credit requirements, making them more accessible for entrepreneurs with poor credit scores.

Merchant Cash Advances

Merchant cash advances (MCAs) are suitable for businesses with poor credit and who have consistent credit card sales. With an MCA, you receive an upfront sum of money in exchange for a percentage of your future credit card sales.

This financing option is typically easier to qualify for than traditional business loans because it focuses on your business’s sales performance rather than your credit score. That said, it comes with high borrowing costs that should be considered before applying.

Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring is another alternative for businesses with bad credit. Instead of taking out a loan, you sell your outstanding invoices to a factoring company at a discount. This allows you to access funds more quickly without affecting your credit score.

Be cautious, though, as invoice factoring can be more expensive than traditional financing options. Inquire about the factor rate before moving forward so you’re fully aware of the costs that accompany this form of business financing.

Improve Your Chances of Getting a Business Loan with Bad Credit

Even if you have bad credit, getting a business loan is still possible by taking steps to boost your approval odds.

Preparing a Solid Business Plan

As a business owner with bad credit, presenting a comprehensive and well-prepared business plan to the lender can make a significant difference in your loan application. Your business plan should include key objectives along with your target market, competitive advantage and financial projections.

This demonstrates to potential lenders that you are serious about your business and have a clear plan for using the loan effectively. Be sure to highlight your business’s strengths and show how the loan will contribute to your growth and success.

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Offering Collateral

Lenders are more likely to consider your application despite a low credit score if you can provide collateral for the loan. Collateral could include business equipment, commercial real estate, or personal assets like your home.

Keep in mind that offering collateral gives lenders a sense of security, as they can seize these assets in case you default on the loan. Make sure to evaluate your risk tolerance and weigh the pros and cons before pledging collateral.

Proving Steady Business Revenue

Demonstrating a history of consistent revenue shows lenders that your business has cash flow and can repay the loan. Provide them with financial statements, bank statements and tax returns to prove your business’s revenue over time.

By showing that your company has the capacity to generate a stable income, you make your case stronger for obtaining a business loan despite your bad credit. You will also prove that you have the means to make timely payments.

Improving/Fixing Your Credit Score

Taking steps to improve or fix your credit score is crucial for increasing your chances of obtaining a business loan. Start by checking your credit reports for any inaccuracies that may be negatively affecting your score and dispute them if necessary. Establishing a history of on-time payments and reducing outstanding debt can also positively impact your credit score. It may take time to see significant improvement. However, being proactive about fixing your credit will typically position you for more attractive business funding opportunities in the future.

Seeking the help of professionals like The Credit Pros can also expedite the process of improving your credit score. With their easy-to-read credit reports and personalized score insights, you can take the necessary steps to rebuild your credit and achieve your financial goals. Plus, their affordable pricing and no long-term contracts make it easy for you to avail of their services.

Contact The Credit Pros today for free consultations with no obligation to sign up, and with their 100% 90-day money-back guarantee; you can trust that they are dedicated to helping you succeed. Don’t let a low credit score hold you back – take the first step towards financial freedom with The Credit Pros. Call (888) 558-1602 or complete a form to start today.

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