Many small business owners don’t have the credit score or business history to qualify for traditional loans with banks and credit unions. Alternative lenders like Pearl Capital offer to help underserved merchants access funding.
However, alternative lenders financing high-risk business owners tend to be more expensive. You must also work with a third party to apply to Pearl Capital.
We can help you decide if this lender is right for your business by breaking down the pros, cons and how to apply. Specifically, we’ll answer these questions and more:
Pearl Capital is an alternative lender that funds “under-banked and credit-challenged businesses in just about every industry.” The lender works with a network of independent sales organizations (ISOs) who apply on behalf of their small business clients.
The company was one of the many online lenders that emerged to meet the needs of small business owners in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. Banks became more reluctant to lend, and many business owners with less than stellar credit couldn’t get a loan.
Alternative and non-bank lenders saw the opportunity to finance this underserved sector of American small business owners. Pearl Capital launched in 2010 and has grown significantly. It’s based out of Jersey City, NJ, which is in the New York, NY area.
Pearl Capital offers one small business loan. It doesn’t publish information on borrowing ranges or rates, but terms are between 4-12 months. Business owners in all 50 states are eligible for the services offered by the lender.
Merchants cannot apply directly to the lender. ISOs bring clients in, and then Pearl Capital does the underwriting. Your ISO rep works with Pearl to close the deal.
A cash flow loan provides a lump sum of cash upfront for working capital or other business needs. It’s also called an ACH loan because you’ll repay the advance with frequent automatic clearing house (ACH) transfers.
The repayment process is simple and streamlined. You won’t have to worry about scheduling or making payments because they’re automatically deducted from your account.
The financing program is a sort of a combination of a short-term loan and a merchant cash advance (MCA). Instead of repayment coming from your credit card sales, it comes from your business bank account.
The lender states it can close “tough deals,” which means lending money to business owners with low credit scores. There is no minimum personal credit score required.
The only two qualifications are:
It can be an expensive way to borrow money. While the company doesn’t provide interest rates, it does provide quick and accessible funding.
Accessible, in this case, means you can get approved with a low credit score, which means high credit risk. Increased credit risk means high interest rates and fees in virtually all cases.
Similarly, fast funding means higher interest rates and fees. Pearl Capital provides fast funding to small business owners with low credit scores, so the costs increase.
The funding is unsecured, meaning you won’t have to provide collateral. However, you’ll most likely need to sign a personal guarantee. If you default, the lender can also put a UCC blanket lien on your business.
The lender does a hard credit pull when underwriting loans. Work with your ISO or loan broker to ensure you’ll qualify before applying.
Merchants cannot apply directly to the lender. You must work with a third party to apply on your behalf.
Work with an ISO or business loan broker to apply to the lender. While some alternative lenders have business loan referral programs and direct applications, Pearl Capital only works with ISO referrals.
Some small business owners prefer working with a broker for several reasons. First, they don’t have to search for or apply to individual lenders. Most brokers have working relationships with lenders and can help negotiate better deals. Trustworthy loan brokers also work toward their clients’ best interests.
Pearl Capital’s system ensures that ISOs are bringing in qualified leads. This helps them streamline underwriting and renewals.
As stated, the lender automatically deducts payments from your business bank account via ACH transfer. You can choose daily or weekly payments.
If you pay it off ahead of schedule, there may be an early repayment fee. Check with the lender before paying off the loan balance early.
The company’s website doesn’t publish information about renewals, but several user reviews mention renewing. However, there don’t seem to be incentives to renew, such as lower rates or higher borrowing amounts.
The primary benefit is that small business owners with low credit scores can get financing. Not only does the lender accept all FICO scores, but you also only need three months in business.
The lender provides fast funding. The company is geared towards helping companies take advantage of time-sensitive opportunities.
Another benefit is that the repayment process is easy and efficient. You don’t have to worry about scheduling payments or sending in checks.
The most significant drawback is the cost. Short-term loans and merchant cash advances carry some of the highest costs in the small business financing industry.
Unfortunately, the website doesn’t provide borrowing amounts or interest rate ranges. Ensure your business can handle the payments before signing the contract.
Pearl only offers a single lending product. You can’t apply directly and must work with an ISO or broker.
Yes, Pearl Capital is a legitimate small business financing company.
The main difference between a MCAs and an ACH loan (aka cash flow loan) is how you repay the advance. MCAs draw directly from your credit card receivables.
Cash flow loans draw from your business account via an ACH transfer. Pearl Capital does sometimes refer to its product as a merchant cash advance. That’s because MCAs are starting to move away from the traditional process of taking repayment from card sales and moving towards taking payment from all revenue via your business bank account.
Pearl Capital reviews trend toward the negative, but it also doesn’t have many reviews to consider. It has a 2.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot on only 2 reviews.
The company only has one review on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which is 1 out of 5 stars, but it has zero complaints. While it isn’t BBB accredited, it does have an A+ rating on the watchdog site.
It has a 3.5 out of 5 rating on 47 Google reviews. By far, the most common complaint is the cost. Some customers stated they were charged close to 60% of the loan amount in interest.
Other negative reviews discuss a lack of communication. Several state that the company is aggressive on repayments, not allowing exceptions and filing UCC liens prematurely.
The positive reviews talk about how easy the process was and how quickly they got their money. Some customers mentioned that the company’s rates are comparable to similar lenders and that Pearl Capital discloses all costs before you sign.
We should note that reviews are from both borrowers and loan brokers.
Pearl Capital has very low qualifications, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed approval. If you applied and were declined, the denial letter should explain why. Contact Pearl or your ISO rep if you need more information.
It’s also possible that you will decide to pass on Pearl Capital after seeing your rates. In either case, there are many lenders to consider.
You also might want to consider one of the following small business loans:
Pearl Capital is best suited for credit-challenged small business owners who need quick funding and are willing to pay more to get it. Consult your loan broker or ISO rep before applying.
Merchants with good credit or those who don’t need immediate financing can find less expensive options. Also, if you prefer to apply directly to the lender, you must find another option.
Based on user reviews, available products, and the application process, we rate Pearl Capital a 3 out of 5. It’s not a bad option for merchant cash advances, but the lack of other products, negative reviews, and not being able to apply directly hold it back.
Disclaimer: The Pearl Capital trademark is owned by Pearl Capital Business Funding, LLC. and its use herein is for reference purposes only and it does not indicate sponsorship or endorsement from Pearl Capital Business Funding, LLC.