United Capital Source Logo

Short Term Business Loans: The Essential Guide

meeting, business, short term business loans

Most small businesses require financing at some point to support or grow operations. However, traditional business loans often have strict eligibility requirements, take a long time to fund, and saddle your business with debt for years.

dollar rate, world economy, boom, short term business loans, small business loans, short-term loan

Carrying debt on the balance sheet is a liability and can prevent taking out future loans when necessary. Many lenders or loan types don’t allow stacking, which is carrying more than one business loan at a time.

Fortunately, short-term business loans carry low eligibility requirements and fast funding, and you only have the debt for a few months to two years. The tradeoff for these business loans is that they can carry higher interest rates than traditional business financing.

But that extra cost might be worth it if it means getting your funds when needed. We can help you decide if short-term loans are the best move for your business funding needs by covering the types of loans available, the best lenders, and the benefits and drawbacks.

Specifically, we’ll answer these questions and more:

Join our Newsletter for great tips and updates.

    We will help you grow your small business.

    What are Short-Term Business Loans?

    money, finance, short term loan, small business loans

    A short-term business loan, also called a short-term commercial loan, refers to funding programs that quickly provide working capital to be repaid quickly. Lenders have different definitions for “short-term,” with some offering products that must be repaid in less than a year and others offering loans with terms of up to two years.

    On average, most short-term loans (STLs) are between 3-18 months. However, some lenders might go as long as three years.

    Most short-term loans have an easy application process with a quick approval decision. Once approved, most have fast funding, typically 24-72 hours. Some lenders offer same-day funding.

    Another hallmark of short-term loans is that they’re more accessible for credit-challenged business owners. STL lenders typically accept lower credit scores and a shorter time in business than traditional business loan lenders.

    The tradeoff for fast funding is that short-term business loans are often more expensive, with higher interest rates and fees. In addition, they also require frequent repayment, usually daily or weekly.

    The combination of high rates, frequent payments, and a brief repayment period could lead to high payments that strain your cash flow. However, you won’t carry the debt as long.

    How do Short-Term Business Loans work?

    student, typing, keyboard

    There are several types of short-term business loans. Some short-term loans are unsecured, meaning they don’t require collateral. Others are asset-based loans, which do require collateral.

    A small business owner starts the process by applying to a lender or lending marketplace like UCS. You can then get matched to one or more short-term small business loan offers.

    Some short-term loans use a standard interest rate, meaning your costs accumulate the longer you carry a balance. You might have a higher interest rate, but you don’t carry the debt as long, so the total interest you pay throughout the loan could be less than it would be with a long-term loan.

    Other forms of short-term financing use a factor rate, which is easy to calculate, but you can’t save money by paying it off early. Factor rates are expressed as decimals, usually between 1.05-1.50.

    Multiply the borrowing amount by the factor rate to determine your payback amount. For example, if you borrowed $250,000 at a factor rate of 1.2, the formula is:

    $250,000 x 1.2 = $300,000. You’d pay a total of $50,000 to borrow $250,000.

    Let’s look at the most common forms of short-term loans.

    Business Term Loans

    • Loan amount: $10k – $5 million.
    • Factor rates: Starting at 1%-4% p/mo.
    • Term: 3 months – 5 years.
    • Speed: 1-3 business days.

    Note: The above features are for both short and medium-term loans.

    Business term loans are traditional financing structures where a business receives a large loan disbursement, repaid with interest and fees. Most term loans use an APR and carry fixed monthly payments for the loan term.

    The short-term version of this product primarily operates the same way, just with a shorter period to repay it. However, that could sometimes mean a lower borrowing amount and trading monthly payments for daily, weekly, or bi-weekly payments.

    Business Lines of Credit

    • Loan amount: $10k – $1 million.
    • Factor rates: Starting at 1% p/mo.
    • Term: Up to 36 months.
    • Speed: 1-3 business days.

    Business lines of credit (LOCs) are short-term financing that offers excellent flexibility. Instead of a single loan disbursement, your funds are activated as an available credit limit.

    You can draw funds from your credit limit as needed. You only pay interest on the money you draw and never have to draw the total amount.

    Once you repay what you took out, the credit limit replenishes, and your funds are available for the next time you need them. This is called revolving credit and works like a credit card.

    The credit limit essentially gives you funding on demand. LOCs are excellent for ongoing projects, seasonal businesses, and covering unexpected costs.

    Merchant Cash Advance

    • Loan amount: $10k – $1 million.
    • Factor rates: Starting at 1%-6% p/mo.
    • Term: Up to 24 months.
    • Speed: 1-2 business days.

    A merchant cash advance (MCA) is a type of working capital loan that provides funding in the form of a lump sum of cash. The advance is repaid with a percentage of your future receivables.

    MCA funders base your approval amount on your previous sales history and projected future sales. That’s because your sales are the primary source of repayment.

    Most MCAs require daily payments, but some are weekly. In a traditional MCA, the repayment amount comes directly from your debit or credit card reader. However, many MCA companies are moving to a more reliable process of repayment where the funds are automatically debited from your business bank account via ACH transfer.

    Invoice Factoring

    • Loan amount: $10k – $10 million.
    • Factor rates: Starting at 1% p/mo.
    • Term: Up to 24 months.
    • Speed: 1-2 business weeks.

    Invoice factoring, also called accounts receivable factoring, converts your unpaid invoice into immediate working capital. Like an MCA, the process is technically a business-to-business transaction, not a loan.

    Companies that sell on credit deliver their products or services to a client and issue an invoice at a later date. The process is convenient and helps some companies attract more business.

    However, delays between delivering the goods and receiving payment may cause critical cash flow interruptions. This process lets you sell or “factor” those unpaid invoices to a third-party financial services business called a factoring company to smooth out cash flow gaps.

    The factoring company issues funds based on the invoice’s value, called an advance rate. Most advance rates are between 75%-95%. The factoring company then owns the invoice and collects payment from your client.

    The charge for the service is called the factor rate. Sometimes it’s also called a discount rate since the factoring company purchases the invoice at a discount in exchange for the advance.

    Factor rates typically fall between 1%-5%. The charge is applied every term the invoice goes unpaid. For example, if you factored a net-30 invoice at a 2% factor rate, the factoring company keeps 2% of the total amount every 30 days the invoice goes unpaid.

    Once your clients pay their invoice, the factoring company releases the remaining amount minus its fees. Invoice factoring can be expensive, but you can mitigate your potential costs with well-qualified customers that pay off their debts on time.

    What are the best Short-Term Business Loan lenders?

    There are many lenders to consider for short-term business loans. Some traditional lenders like banks and credit unions can offer STLs, but alternative lenders are the primary source for these forms of business lending.

    Advancements in financial technology (fintech) have made online lending a mainstay in business financing. There are dozens of alternative lenders to consider for your funding needs.

    Here are our top small business lenders for short-term loans.


    OnDeck logo

    OnDeck is an online lender that offers business term loans and lines of credit. It’s easy to apply, and same-day funding is sometimes possible when borrowing less than $100k.

    The lender’s business term loan goes up to $250k. Interest rates range from 29%-60%, although some users reported a higher interest rate. Terms go up to 24 months.

    Its LOC provides funding up to $100k. Terms go up to 12 months. The lender is highly reputable, with great customer ratings.


    bluevine logo

    Bluevine is one of the most highly regarded online lenders available. The company enjoys glowing customer reviews.

    Its main product is a business line of credit up to $250k. Business owners can get terms of six or 12 months.

    The company used to offer invoice factoring but sold that division. It also offers an online business bank account option.


    Fundbox Logo

    Fundbox is an online lender that provides a line of credit up to $150k. Borrowers get repayment terms of either 12 or 24 weeks. One advantage that the lender offers is that it provides funding for startups.

    Kabbage by American Express

    Kabbage logo

    Kabbage provides lines of credit up to $250k with terms of 6, 12, or 18 months. It has a simple online application and flexible eligibility requirements. Same-day funding is possible for LOCs up to $100k.

    Who qualifies for a Short-Term Business Loan?

    list, icon, symbol

    The qualifications for short-term loans largely depend on the type of loan you receive. Lenders consider your personal credit score, business credit, time in business, and annual revenue.

    Here are the minimum qualifications by loan type.

    Term Loans

    • Minimum credit score: 550+.
    • Time in business: 6 months+.
    • Annual revenue: $75k+.

    Business Line of Credit

    • Minimum credit score: 575+.
    • Time in business: 1year+.
    • Annual revenue: $75k+.

    Merchant Cash Advance

    • Minimum credit score: 550+.
    • Time in business: 4 months+.
    • Annual revenue: $120k+.

    Invoice Factoring

    • Credit score: 550+.
    • Time in business: 1 year+.
    • Annual revenue: $250k+.

    What are the advantages of Short-Term Business Loans?

    hand, like, thumb

    Your business only carries the debt for a short period. That makes it easier to take on a more advantageous business loan after paying off the short-term loan. In some cases, you can also boost your business credit score if you pay off the loan early.

    Most short-term loans provide fast funding. This form of business funding is good when you have an urgent need.

    The application process is quick and easy. Many short-term loans don’t require collateral. Some loans provide early payoff discounts.

    Eligibility requirements for short-term loans are much more lenient than traditional financing. You can typically get a short-term loan with a low credit score and less than a year in business.

    What are the disadvantages of Short-Term Business Loans?

    dislike, hand, thumb

    The tradeoff for the speed and convenience of short-term loans is the cost. Most STLs carry high-interest rates or factor rates.

    In addition, you might have to pay fees, like an origination fee. Some lenders have extra charges like draw fees for lines of credit. Depending on the loan type and lender, you might also have early payoff penalties.

    These business loans also have frequent repayment schedules. Small businesses typically have to repay short-term loans on daily or weekly schedules.

    While most STLs don’t require collateral, some do. Even when collateral is not required, you’ll typically have to sign a personal guarantee.

    Pros & Cons

    weigh up, plus, minus

    Here’s a quick summary of the benefits and drawbacks of short-term business loans.


    • Quick & easy online application process.
    • Lower eligibility requirements.
    • You can usually receive approval within 24 hours or sooner.
    • Fast funding time once approved.
    • Your business only carries the debt for a brief period.
    • Most loans don’t require collateral.
    • You could potentially build your business credit.
    • Some lenders offer early payment discounts.


    • Potentially expensive loan costs with high interest or factor rates.
    • Might have to pay additional fees.
    • Some lenders charge early payoff penalties.
    • Most loans require a personal guarantee.
    • Frequent repayments, typically daily or weekly.

    How to apply for a Short-Term Loan:

    application, keyboard, apply now

    The application takes just a few minutes if you have the required information. Upon approval, funds can appear in your bank account in 1-3 business days. Here’s how to get started:

    Step 1: Consider Your Financing Needs

    Before you begin the process, take some time to ensure this is the right financing option for your needs. Will you be able to access your desired working capital amount? Will you be able to fulfill the repayment structure? Answering these questions ahead of time will ensure that you don’t run into liquidity issues when making payments.

    Step 2: Gather Your Documents

    The application requires the following documents and information:

    • Driver’s license
    • Voided business check
    • Business bank statements from the past three months

    Step 3: Fill Out the Application

    You can begin the process by calling us or filling out our one-page online form. Either way, you’ll be asked to enter the information from the previous section along with your desired funding amount.

    Step 4: Speak to a Representative

    Once you apply, a representative will contact you to explain the repayment structure and rates of your available options. This way, you won’t have to worry about surprises or hidden fees during repayment.

    Step 5: Receive Approval

    If and when you’re approved, funds should appear in your bank account in 1-2 business days.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    faq, ask, often

    Here are some of the most common questions about short-term business loans.

    Can I get a Short-Term Business Loan with bad credit?

    office, startup, business

    Yes, getting a short-term business loan with bad credit is possible. One of the main advantages of this form of financing is its accessibility for credit-challenged business owners.

    Short-term loans are an excellent way to provide bridge financing while you build your credit to qualify for lower-cost long-term loans. Bad credit business loans tend to have higher costs, but you only carry the debt for a few months to two years.

    When should businesses consider Short-Term Loans?

    Here are some situations where short-term business loans would be a good option.

    Cash flow gaps: Some companies, like seasonal businesses, experience an occasional dip in revenue. A short-term loan is an excellent way to keep operations running during a slow period and stock up on needed supplies or inventory ahead of the busy season. Then when business picks up, you can rapidly repay the short-term loan.

    Time-sensitive business opportunities: As the saying goes, sometimes you need to “strike when the iron is hot.” Short-term loans can provide the capital to fund a time-sensitive opportunity since it provides quick applications with fast approval and funding times.

    Covering emergency expenses: It’s a reality of life that emergencies sometimes occur. You might need to make sudden repairs, finance a product recall, or pay for emergency services. Short-term business loans can help you fund those unexpected costs.

    When should businesses avoid Short-Term Loans?

    Like all forms of financing, short-term loans come with some risks for you and your business. Here are some situations to avoid a short-term business loan.

    Long-term cash flow issues: While STLs are an excellent way to cover temporary cash flow interruptions, they can’t solve long-term problems. If your business consistently struggles with cash flow, taking on new debt payments will only add to the issue. In these cases, it is more likely that there are operations issues that must be corrected.

    Expensive Interest Rates: Short-term loans typically carry higher rates than traditional financing. For the most part, that extra cost is worth it because you’re solving an urgent funding need. However, there’s a difference between a high interest rate and one your business can’t afford. If the cost of financing becomes more than your cash flow can handle, you shouldn’t take on the debt.

    Getting trapped in a cycle of debt: Taking on a short-term business loan as bridge financing or temporary debt is not a big deal. However, some of these loans can provide temporary relief only to become a cash flow burden that causes the same issues that prompted taking out the loan in the first place. Sometimes this can lead to perpetually taking out loans to cover debt and never being able to catch up.

    What are my alternatives to Short-Term Business Loans?

    Small business owners can also apply for medium-term and long-term loans. These typically have lower interest rates and low monthly payments.

    However, keep in mind that the longer you carry a debt, the more total interest you’ll pay. Your business also reports that debt on its balance sheet as a liability.

    Here are a few short-term business loan alternatives to consider.

    SBA Loans

    The US Small Business Administration (SBA) oversees the SBA loan program. It sets rules for lenders, caps interest rates, and partially guarantees the loans. With backing from the federal government agency, lenders can offer high borrowing amounts at low interest rates and extended repayment terms that start at five years and go up to 25 years. Many consider SBA loans the gold standard of small business loans.

    Equipment Financing

    A business equipment loan allows companies to purchase expensive equipment on credit. These loans carry monthly payments with terms between one and seven years.

    Traditional Term Loans

    As mentioned, some short-term loans are a condensed version of a traditional term loan, which are conventional business loans. When most people think of business loans, they think of term loans.

    With a small business term loan, you receive a large sum of cash, which you repay with interest and fees in fixed monthly payments. Term loans are fully amortized, meaning you pay the same amount every month until the loan is paid in full.

    Short-Term Business Loans – Final Thoughts

    chess, metaphor, board

    Short-term business loans are an excellent option when you have an urgent funding need. You can get approved even if you have a low credit score and less than a year in business.

    But you must be prepared for the higher cost of short-term business financing. These loans can be advantageous in many ways if you can afford repayment. Many small businesses use these loans as bridge financing during down periods or while building their credit scores and time in business so they can qualify for lower-cost traditional business financing options.

    Contact us if you have more questions on short-term loans or want to apply for a small business loan. Our loan executives can help you find the best funding program for your business needs.

    We will help you grow your small business.

    Share this post:

    Written by

    Most Recent Articles

    Ready to grow your business? See how much you qualify for:

      Current monthly sales deposit average to your business bank account?

      How much Working Capital would you like for your business?

      Need Instant Help?
      Call Us Now At:

        Current monthly sales deposit average to your business bank account?

        How much Working Capital would you like for your business?

        At UCS, we understand the value of your time and want to ensure that your application has a great chance of approval. Please take note of the following details before applying:
        • To be eligible, it’s necessary to have a business bank account with a well-established U.S. bank such as Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, or other major banks. Unfortunately, online-based bank accounts like PayPal, Chime, CashApp, etc., are not permitted.
        • When describing your current average monthly sales deposits to your business bank account, please provide accurate information. Our approval process is based on your current business performance, and it’s essential to provide accurate details about your current sales in the first question on the application form. We cannot approve applications based on projected revenues after receiving funding.
        We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in ensuring a smooth and successful application process.
        1500+ 5 star reviews
        1500+ 5 star reviews

        Take a minute, Get a FREE Consultation

        Your Connection is
        securely encrypted

        $1.2+ Billion Matched to US Businesses