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What Is a Business Line of 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 April 14, 2024​

6 min. read​

As a business owner, you might be exploring different financing options to help your company grow. One such option to consider is a business line of credit. This flexible financial tool can provide your business with the necessary capital to manage cash flow, invest in new opportunities, or cover unexpected expenses.

A business line of credit operates similarly to a credit card, allowing you to borrow up to a certain limit and only pay interest on the funds you utilize. This flexibility makes it an attractive choice for businesses in need of working capital or those wanting to have access to funds for unforeseen circumstances. By understanding how a business line of credit works, you can determine if it’s the right financing solution for your company’s needs and take advantage of its benefits.

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How Business Lines of Credit Work

A business line of credit is a flexible financing option that allows you, as a business owner, to access funds when you need them. It functions much like a credit card, providing you with a predetermined credit limit that you can draw from as needed. You only pay interest on the amount you’ve actually borrowed, and as you repay the borrowed funds, your available credit replenishes, allowing you to draw on it again if necessary.

Typically, the interest rates are lower than those of credit cards. However, they can vary based on factors like your lender, credit score, and financial history. To help you better understand, let’s break down the process of how business lines of credit work.

Business Lines of Credit vs. Business Term Loans

When considering financing options for your business, it’s essential to understand the differences between a business line of credit and a business term loan. Both options can provide your business with the funds it needs to grow, but their structures and uses vary significantly.

A business line of credit is a flexible financing solution that allows you to access funds whenever you need them, up to a preset limit. With a line of credit, you only pay interest on the amount you actually use. This makes it an ideal choice for addressing short-term cash flow needs and managing unexpected expenses. Business lines of credit are often used for seasonal inventory purchases or to fill cash flow voids.

On the other hand, a business term loan provides a lump sum of money upfront, with repayment made through fixed monthly payments over a predetermined period. Therefore, term loans are best suited for larger, one-time expenses or long-term investments, such as equipment purchases, to refinance existing debt or to foster business expansion.

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Types of Business Lines of Credit

Business lines of credit are essential tools for managing and growing your business. In this section, you’ll learn about the two main types of business lines of credit: secured and unsecured. Understanding these options will help you decide which type is the best fit for your business needs.

Secured Business Lines of Credit

A secured business line of credit requires collateral to secure the borrowed amount. This collateral could be business assets like equipment or inventory or personal assets like your home. By offering collateral, lenders have more confidence in lending money because they know that, should your business fail to repay the loan, they can seize the collateral.

Secured lines of credit often come with lower interest rates and higher borrowing limits compared to unsecured lines of credit. This can make them a great option if your business needs a larger line of credit or if you’re looking to reduce interest costs. However, keep in mind that if you default on the loan, you risk losing your collateral.

Unsecured Business Lines of Credit

An unsecured business line of credit does not require collateral, making it a more flexible and accessible option for businesses that don’t have assets to offer as security. Instead, lenders rely on your business’s creditworthiness, financial history, and overall financial health to determine eligibility and terms.

While unsecured lines of credit offer the advantage of not putting your assets at risk, they typically come with higher interest rates and lower borrowing limits due to the increased risk for lenders. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before choosing this type of credit line for your business.

How Much Funding Can You Get from a Business Lines of Credit?

When considering a business line of credit, knowing the potential amount of funding you can obtain is essential in your decision-making process. Generally, the amount of credit available varies depending on the financial institution, your credit score, your company’s annual revenue and the time in business.

Many lenders offer lines of credit starting as low as $10,000, while some banks provide lines of credit with much more substantial limits – up to $3 million or more. Keep in mind that the limit generally depends on your eligibility and financial situation.

Online lenders also offer lines of credit with varying limits. While these might be easier to qualify for compared to traditional banks, their interest rates and fees can differ significantly. Remember that business line of credit rates can range from 10% to 99% APR, so it’s essential to weigh your options carefully along with your funding needs before deciding on a particular line of credit for your business.

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What Can You Use a Business Line of Credit For?

A business line of credit is a flexible financing option that can benefit your small business in various ways. With a revolving credit line, you have access to funds on an as-needed basis, making it an excellent choice for managing cash flow, investing in growth opportunities, and addressing unexpected expenses.

The Pros and Cons of a Business Line of Credit

Pros of a Business Line of Credit

  • Flexibility: A business line of credit offers you the ability to borrow up to a certain limit and only pay interest on the money you actually use.
  • Improved cash flow: With a business line of credit, you can withdraw funds to cover unexpected short-term expenses and keep your business running smoothly.
  • Lower interest rates: Interest rates on a business line of credit are typically lower than those on a business credit card, helping you save on borrowing costs.
  • Quicker access to funding: Compared to traditional business loans, a business line of credit often provides quicker access to funding.

Cons of a Business Line of Credit

  • Risk of over-borrowing: Because a business line of credit allows you to borrow up to a certain limit, there’s a risk of over-borrowing and getting into financial trouble.
  • Higher fees: Although interest rates are generally lower compared to business credit cards, a business line of credit may come with higher fees. These can include annual fees, draw fees, or maintenance fees.
  • Requires good credit: To qualify for a business line of credit, you generally need to have a good credit history. This might not be an option for business owners with poor credit or who are just starting out.

What are the Requirements for a Business Line of Credit?

A business line of credit is a flexible financing option that allows small business owners like you to access short-term funding whenever needed. To be eligible for a business line of credit, there are certain requirements that you need to meet.

  • Time in Business: Lenders typically look for businesses that have been operating under the current ownership for at least two years. This shows that your business has a proven track record and can help increase your chances of being approved for a line of credit.
  • Minimum Annual Revenue: You need to demonstrate that your business has a stable income. Most lenders require a minimum annual revenue of $100,000 to qualify for a business line of credit. This ensures that your business can afford to repay the amount borrowed.
  • Personal Credit Score: Your personal credit score plays an important role in determining your eligibility for a business line of credit. A minimum credit score of 640 is often required, but it can vary based on the lender. A higher credit score may result in better interest rates and more favorable terms.
  • Financial Documentation: Be prepared to provide your lender with various financial documents, such as your business’s bank statements, tax returns, and profit and loss statements. These documents will help the lender assess your business’s financial situation and determine your eligibility for a line of credit.

Keep in mind that specific eligibility requirements can vary depending on the lender you choose. It’s essential to research different lenders and their business lines of credit offerings to find the one that best suits your needs. A secured line of credit may be available if you are unable to meet the requirements for an unsecured line of credit, which can help you manage cash flow and address short-term funding needs.

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Where to Get a Business Line of Credit

When looking for a business line of credit, there are several options for sources of funding. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will explore banks, credit unions, and alternative online lenders.


Traditional banks are a common source of business lines of credit. However, both large and small banks provide different approval rates for small business loans. For example, in February 2023, big banks had a 14.2 percent approval rate, while small banks had a 21.3 percent approval rate.

Credit Unions

Credit unions can offer competitive rates and loan options for business lines of credit. In February 2023, credit unions had approval rates around the middle range of banks’ approval rates.

Alternative and Online Lenders

Alternative and online lenders can offer flexible and faster options for securing a business line of credit. Their rates and fees may vary but can be comparable to banks and credit unions.

How to Get a Business Line of Credit: The Typical Process

Step 1: Assess Your Business Needs

Before applying for a business line of credit, determine how much funding you need and what you plan to use it for. This will help you choose the right type of credit line, which can range from small to large amounts.

Step 2: Check Your Credit Score

Your personal credit score plays a significant role in your ability to qualify for a business line of credit. Lenders typically require a minimum personal credit score of 640. Check your score and take the necessary steps to improve it if needed.

Step 3: Gather Financial Documents

Prepare essential financial documents, such as income statements, balance sheets, and tax returns. Lenders will want to review your business’s financial health and history. Ensure that your records are up-to-date and accurate.

Step 4: Research Lenders

Explore various lenders that offer business lines of credit, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Compare their interest rates, fees, and terms to find the best option for your business. Keep in mind that business line of credit rates can vary based on factors like the lender, your credit score, and your financial history.

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Step 5: Submit Your Application

Once you’ve selected a lender, complete their application process. This may include providing personal and business information, financial documents, and a detailed explanation of how you plan to use the funds. The lender will then review your application and, if approved, grant you access to the line of credit.

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