As the American economy was recovering from the Great Recession in 2008, myriad small businesses were trying to get back on their feet. There were many companies helping them navigate the wild world of SBA lending, some more successfully than others.
SmartBiz was one business to emerge and thrive during those turbulent times. If SmartBiz reviews and recommendations are to be trusted, there are many good reasons this lender remains at the absolute peak of the SBA marketplace.
APR range 5.04% to 10.29%
- High approval rate
- Streamlined application process
- Flexible loan terms with low APR
- On-site loan calculator
- Faster than banks
- Amazing customer support
- Loan terms up to 25 years
- Affordable monthly payments
- Lots of documentation required
- Some additional fees
Since 2009, SmartBiz has been offering small loans to established businesses that need (almost) guaranteed funding. Better Finance Inc., the owner of the company, recognized the importance of small businesses and their struggle to find affordable financing after the Great Recession of 2008. Thus the era of SmartBiz began.
This is a self-proclaimed smart business funding solution. It’s not a direct lender, but a platform for connecting businesses to banks that can provide loans for them. Instead of branching out to too many services, SmartBiz has instead specialized in SBA loans from the Small Business Administration. These loans are backed by federal agencies, come with some of the lowest interest rates available, and offer flexible payment terms of up to 25 years.
One of the main reasons you have a fairly high chance of getting an SBA 7(a) loan is that the amount is on the smaller side, usually around $300,000. If your company has been in business for a while, makes a decent profit, and hasn’t filed for bankruptcy, these will be the easiest loans to get.
The company is also well aware that not everyone is knowledgeable about loans, especially about all the documentation required to get an SBA loan approved. Big sections of the website are therefore dedicated to educating potential customers about the terms under which their loans will be approved, the fees they’ll have to pay, the different types of SBA loans and, finally, what paperwork needs to be completed in the process. Getting a loan is scary, so it helps that you’ll also get an agent dedicated to answering any questions you may have.
How does SmartBiz compare to other lenders?
5.04% to 10.29%
3% - 30%
Types of Financing Available
The selection of SmartBiz loans isn’t especially varied. This company is laser-focused on providing the best terms for small businesses that want an SBA loan, the gold standard among modern small business financing. Long-term lending is the name of the game here, with payment terms ranging from two to 25 years and some of the most affordable interest rates around. Loans provided through SmartBiz do come with some extra fees, but the low monthly payments mean you can use them even for debt financing.
Let’s start with the bread and butter of SmartBiz small business loans: the standard government-guaranteed SBA loan. This is the main product on the site – a loan with low interest fees and a long-term payment period that can last up to 25 years. The standard loan term is 10 years and the maximum amount is $350,000. These loans are intended to provide working capital, which means you can use the funds for operational expenses, purchasing new equipment, or even paying off your company’s debt. Another option is the commercial real estate loan, with an upper limit of $5 million and an additional requirement that the property is 51% owner-occupied.
- Credit score of 650 (675 for real estate loan)
- Must be in business for at least two years
- No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past three years
- No outstanding tax liens
Bank term loan
You can get a SmartBiz loan on a short-term basis, too. Bank term loans are perfect for business owners who need money fast and at fixed interest rates, and with shorter payment terms. These have two- to five-year repayment terms, but interest rates can go as high as 24%. As with SBA loans, you’re limited to $350,000 and there are no prepayment penalties. To qualify for this loan, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- A credit score of at least 640
- Two or more years in business
- No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past three years
- No outstanding taxes
- Cash flow that can support monthly payments
Small business custom financing
When SmartBiz reviews your application, it may recommend a custom loan. You can request one by yourself, too. These can range from business credit cards to invoice financing, and they’re specifically designed for customers who don’t fit into the aforementioned categories. Newer businesses, business owners with a lower credit score, or those who need an even shorter repayment term can benefit from these custom loans. Here’s a rough idea of what you can expect:
- Interest rates starting at 6.99%
- Loan amounts of up to $500,000
- 6 to 60 months repayment term
Applying for SmartBiz SBA loans takes a bit more effort than we’re used to, but it’s still incredibly streamlined and well documented. Be prepared to fill out several forms and upload a lot of documents; that’s pretty much a given with these types of loans. You don’t have to select the specific loan you want straight away. Instead, you can let SmartBiz’s advisors have a gander at your data and propose the best fit for your company and budget.
While you can send an email or give SmartBiz a call over the phone, we suggest filing your business loan application through the website.
- On the homepage, click Apply Now.
- Select the type of loan, the amount you want, and how you plan to use it.
- Enter your contact information and business name.
- Answer a short questionnaire about your business.
- Upload any documents required.
What information do I need to apply?
SmartBiz reviews your application after you complete a few more steps. During this process, you’ll be asked for the following information:
- Business and DBA name
- Business phone number and address
- Business start date
- Business type and industry
- Number of employees
- Monthly revenue of your business
- Each owner’s personal information and percentage of share in the company
The site pulls up your credit information automatically. It works pretty fast, taking no longer than half a minute. After it has processed your information, you’ll be required to provide these documents:
- Business & personal tax returns for the past three years
- Personal financial statements from each individual who owns at least 20% of the company
- Balance sheet
- Income statement
- Lien against business assets
- Extra documents (licenses, franchise agreements, leases, etc.)
SmartBiz requirements do sound a bit steep, at least when it comes to all the paperwork, but this is a standard procedure when applying for an SBA or SBA 7(a) loan. On top of that, you won’t have to go to a bank or even know a lot about loans; the process is fully automated and very easy to follow.
After you’ve completed your application, SmartBiz assigns one of its agents to you. That person will be your first point of contact with the company and the bank that will be lending you money. Your agent will inform you about the specific terms under which the loan was approved and also let you further customize the loan, if need be.
Applying through this online loan marketplace doesn’t impact your credit score in any way, or at least not until you gain approval and proceed with the funding process. However, there are several fees, from application fees to a final account closing fee. Luckily, all of these are clearly stated on the website so you can prepare yourself before requesting a loan.
In-Depth Presentation of Features
Over the years, SmartBiz has been building a network of banks and created a site full of information for small businesses that are looking into SBA loans. You don’t need in-depth knowledge of how SBA loans work, either. All the information you’ll need is right there on the website.
This company is mostly about long-term loans with payment terms of up to 25 years, but it also offers options with modest monthly payments and affordable interest rates. There is a sort of a soft limit set at $350,000 for small business loans. The only way to get a larger loan is if your company is buying real estate, and only if it meets additional requirements.
In short, this service isn’t for business owners who want a large one-time loan to use for funding their companies. It’s also not for startups. Earlier in our SmartBiz loans review, we mentioned an important requirement: two or more years in the industry. An up-and-coming small business will most likely be declined.
On the bright side, the application process sets a gold standard among lenders. Yes, it takes a while to get through the whole endeavor, fill out every single form, and upload a bunch of files, but at no point is the process unclear or convoluted. If you come prepared, you should be able to complete it in 15 minutes or so.
Loan amount and APR details
It’s time to take a closer look at SmartBiz interest rates and other fees you might run into when applying for a loan at this marketplace. As usual, the longer the payment term, the smaller the interest rate, and SmartBiz does have some of the lowest rates in the business. Still, they’re a bit higher than what banks usually charge.
- Loan amount: $30,000 to $5 million
- Total interest rate: 4.75% to 23.99%
- Fees: One-time application fee (up to $3,000), SBA guarantee fee, referral fee, bank closing costs
- Loan term: two to 25 years
- Payment options: Monthly
One reason there are so many five-star SmartBiz reviews online is the company’s loan calculator, which you can access on the website even before you register. This is a simple slider; you can either set it near the sum you’re planning to borrow or enter the exact amount for your next loan, and it will calculate your monthly payments, interest rate, and APR in real time. It’s really neat, although limited to a fixed 10-year repayment plan.
Since SmartBiz acts as a middleman, there are several fees on top of your loan’s interest rate. Some of these are unavoidable even if you take an SBA loan directly from a bank, but a few of them are specific to this website. All SmartBiz fees can be found in the FAQ and guides section, with percentages and maximum amounts allowed for each one. The helpful customer service team and your personal financial advisor can provide you with more information if you need it.
Finally, you’ll need to have some documentation ready, specifically the past three years of tax returns and personal financial statements for each of the business owners. Collateral is also a must, in the form of a lien on your business assets. In case you’re taking a real estate loan, that same property will be used as collateral.
Eligible and Non-Eligible Businesses
Loans for small businesses at SmartBiz and its partner network aren’t available for every company. SBA loans at SmartBiz lenders are typically not available to businesses that operate in high-risk industries and certain controversial fields. These are the ineligible industries:
- Lending companies
- Gambling-related businesses
- Life insurance
- Religious organizations
Political and lobbying organizations
- Mining companies
- Oil wildcatters
- Mortgage servicing companies
- Real estate developers
- Pawn shops
- Private clubs
Like most of the industry’s top small-business lenders, SmartBiz sticks to a tried-and-true monthly payment model. A loan calculator is available on many pages of the website and the first page of the application form. Through this tool you’ll be able to calculate your monthly rate and check exactly how high your APR will be depending on the repayment period and loan amount.
Terms range from two to 25 years, with 10 years the most common choice for many borrowers. SmartBiz can also create a custom-tailored loan for your needs, although that will come with a much shorter repayment period of six to 60 months. Either way, loans don’t have any prepayment penalties or benefits.
The Bottom Line
Small businesses already have a hard time in this economy, so companies like SmartBiz can really help them out, at least when it comes to getting a loan. While researching our SmartBiz review, we found a lot of praise from companies that have applied for loans in the past. With the motto “Helping finance small business dreams,” we wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.
Will applying for a business loan from SmartBiz affect my credit?
Filing a loan application won’t affect your credit score. The form at SmartBiz serves as a method to check whether your business qualifies for an SBA loan. Only after you confirm that you accept the proposed loan terms will the website do a hard credit pull, which in turn impacts your credit. If your application gets declined, you are free to reapply in 30 days.
Is SmartBiz a direct lender?
No, this is a marketplace for loans. SmartBiz doesn’t provide the loans itself, but instead serves as a bridge between small businesses and banks that offer loans. The site has a network of trusted banks. It charges several fees once you agree on the loan terms.
How can I contact SmartBiz’s customer service?
To contact SmartBiz’s customer support you can send an email to [email protected] or call 1-855-977-6385. All enquiries are usually answered within 24 hours. The company is also active on social networks - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram - so for any quick inquiries you can also head over there. Once you sign up, you’ll have a dedicated financial advisor who can answer any questions about your loan.
Am I guaranteed funding through SmartBiz?
No, but there’s a high chance your loan request will succeed. Nearly all applications - about 90% - get approved by SmartBiz. Reviews are therefore full of praise for this platform and the success it has connecting small businesses to banks that offer SBA loans.