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SmartBiz Loans Review: Pros, Cons, & How To Apply

Small business loans can help you start and grow your business to achieve your goals. Adding working capital or funds to purchase commercial real estate gives you more options to make your business what it can be. From lines of credit for cash flow to a bank term loan, there are many options for small business financing. Choosing the right lending platform and loan type can be daunting. Today, we’re going to look at SmartBiz loan options and how they help with Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

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SmartBiz offers a streamlined approach to applying for SBA 7(a) Loans. Business owners can use the SBA 7(a) for commercial real estate loans, working capital, or debt refinancing. You only apply once, and they take care of sending your application to SBA lenders in their network.

Their approach helps you find the best lender and terms possible. The goal is to make it easier for small business owners to apply and get funded. SmartBiz offers non-SBA loans, but their bread-and-butter is the SBA 7(a) loan.

Despite their streamlined approach, SBA loan applications are still an involved process. With high borrowing amounts and lower interest rates, an SBA loan is the most advantageous loan for small businesses. Unfortunately, that also means an SBA loan comes with high application requirements, including a good to excellent credit score. Once you apply through SmartBiz, you’ll still need approval from the lender.

Would SmartBiz SBA loans make sense for your business, or would different online lenders and loan options be a better fit? In this SmartBiz lender review, we will help you determine if you should pursue a SmartBiz Loan, and we’ll answer the following questions:

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    What is SmartBiz?

    SmartBiz is an online lending marketplace, not a direct lender. They don’t provide funding, nor do they approve loans. Instead, they help you acquire financing with one of their lending partners. You can apply once through SmartBiz, and then they shop your application to their bank partners in their network. SBA loan applicants benefit because they can shop around to find the best rate possible.

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    Their approach can let you know if you’re eligible within a few minutes once you complete the questionnaire. It saves you hours of paperwork and takes some guesswork out of the complicated application process. Getting approval – and funding – will take significantly longer as the lender needs to approve you.

    Small businesses can pursue an SBA loan as a low-cost financing option. SmartBiz has options for a standard business loan and custom financing options outside the SBA loan offerings. These loans do come with referral and other fees, though.

    Let’s look at how the SBA loan works and SmartBiz loan products.

    Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan Program

    The Small Business Administration is a government agency that administers the SBA loan program. The administration doesn’t review applications or provide funding. Instead, approved lending institutions handle the applications and issue funds. The SBA sets the standards the institutions must follow. They can also help with complaints and track your loan progress once it’s funded.

    Small businesses apply to one of three types of institutions: commercial banks, credit unions, or alternative marketplaces like SmartBiz (or United Capital Source 😉). Going through a traditional bank is a long process, and online lender platforms like SmartBiz aim to reduce the paperwork and waiting period for an SBA loan.

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    Because the government agency guarantees up to 85% of SBA loans, lending institutions can offer higher loan amounts and lower interest rates. Those conditions make this loan type the most desirable loan in small business financing. However, the SBA loan application process comes with high application fees and stringent requirements.

    There are different SBA loans, but SmartBiz only offers SBA 7(a) loans. If you need a different SBA loan, you will need a different lending platform. Visit our SBA resource guide for a complete overview of SBA loans, requirements, and usage.

    SBA 7(a) Working Capital and Debt Consolidation Loan

    The SBA 7(a) loan allows you to consolidate any debt or use the working capital to invest in your business. You can use this loan to purchase inventory and equipment or hire new people. Or you can use the loan for debt refinancing. The only thing you can’t use it for is to pay off back taxes.

    The loan range is $30,000-$350,000. SmartBiz’s interest rates on this type of loan start around 6%. You need a personal credit score of at least 640 to qualify. The application fee for SmartBiz banks on this type of loan is $3,000. The SBA also charges a guarantee fee with a range of 1.7%-2.25%. That fee was temporarily waived but resumed in September 2022. The repayment period for this loan type is 10 years.

    SBA 7(a) Commercial Real Estate Loan

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    This could be a solid option if you want to purchase real estate for your business. Since it’s used to acquire commercial real estate, it has a much higher maximum of $5 million. The minimum loan amount is $500,000. Interest rates are typically between 4%-6%. You cannot use the loan for new construction and must use at least 51% of the property for your business.

    SBA commercial real estate loans also come with stricter requirements. You will need a personal credit score of 675, a business history of at least 2 years, and a minimum of $50,000+ in annual revenue. If you meet these requirements, though, you might get approved for financing.

    There are, however, increased fees with this loan. SmartBiz banks charge a $5,000 application fee for commercial real estate loans. The SBA’s guarantee fee range is 3%-3.75%. SmartBiz estimates the closing cost of this loan type to be around $5,000. The repayment period for this loan type is 25 years.

    Non-SBA Small Business Bank Loans

    SmartBiz can also match you with lenders for a small business term loan. Their rates for bank loans are competitive with other online lenders, and they are shorter terms, typically 2-5 years. SmartBiz offers a monthly repayment plan for bank loans, while most lenders require weekly payments.

    You need to be aware of their referral and packaging fees. SmartBiz charges a 3% referral fee and an additional 3% packaging fee on their bank term loans. The closing costs typically range between $200 and $300. While the fees might seem steep, they are competitive with similar lenders. The repayment period is 2-5 years.

    SmartBiz non-SBA business loans are an excellent way to get funding while building business credit. However, other lenders offer looser application requirements and faster funding. You might want to consider looking at different lender options if you aren’t looking for an SBA business loan.

    Custom Financing

    If you don’t qualify for an SBA or traditional bank term loan, SmartBiz also offers custom financing options. Startups, small businesses with poor credit scores, and those needing fast funding could benefit from the custom financing option.

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    Custom financing allows you to fund a variety of business needs. Some examples of custom financing with SmartBiz include:

    • Invoice financing
    • Lines of credit to help with cash flow
    • Business credit cards

    SmartBiz custom financing interest rates start at 6.99%, but the actual rate will depend on your credit and business strength. The loan range is $30,000-$50,000 with 24 or 36 months repayment terms.

    Bank term loans and custom financing are viable options with SmartBiz, but they specialize in SBA 7(a) loans. You might benefit from shopping around for other lenders or lending platforms if you’re not pursuing an SBA 7(a) loan.

    What Do You Need to Apply to SmartBiz?

    Because SmartBiz primarily handles SBA loans, the application requirements are strict. Even for non-SBA loans, the standards are high. The exact requirements depend on the type of loan. The commercial real estate loan has the highest minimum qualifications:

    • Personal credit score: 675
    • Time in business: 2 years
    • Annual revenue: $50,000

    Borrower Documentation Requirements

    SmartBiz also requires borrower documentation to get funded. Since they primarily work with government-backed SBA loans, there is more scrutiny when applying. This is important to consider because the back-and-forth of providing documentation – and the lender’s time to review – can delay funding on your loan.

    Documentation includes:

    • 2 years of personal tax returns
    • 2 years of business tax returns
    • Business licenses
    • Articles of incorporation
    • Collateral
    • Profit & loss statement
    • Balance sheet
    • Personal financial statement
    • Other documents that the bank requests.

    Application Fees

    You should also be aware of the application fees. For the Working Capital loan, SmartBiz banks charge an application fee of $3,000. For the commercial real estate loan, the application fee is $5,000.

    For SmartBiz, You Should Know That:

    Funding times can take longer. The application process takes time, and lenders take a long time to review applications. Still, SBA’s process helps streamline things, and they are faster than going through a traditional bank. Once approved, you can expect funding within a week. While this is fast for SBA, when it comes to other online lending options – which can sometimes fund your loan the next day – it can feel like an eternity. So, just keep that in mind; if you need more immediate funding, another option would be best.

    You’re going to need to have your ducks in a row. There’s no way around it – SBA requirements are high. They carry high minimum credit score requirements and strong business performance to show you can support loan payments. Small businesses can’t have outstanding tax liens or bankruptcies in the previous three years.

    Be prepared to pay. There are hefty application fees when you apply for an SBA loan. But when you put it in context with the high borrowing limit and lower interest rates, those fees could save you money in the long run if you’re approved.

    While none of these factors should stop you from applying if you meet the criteria, we are also here to help if you want to consider other loan options. In addition, our loan experts can help you get ready for the SBA process.

    How To Apply for SmartBiz Loans:

    You can apply for SmartBiz through United Capital Source’s online application. Before you apply, a UCS executive will work with you to determine if SmartBiz is right for you.

    Step 1: Pre-Eligibility

    The initial eligibility application only takes a few minutes to complete. Choose if you’re applying for the SBA or a Term Loan. If you already know how much you need, indicate that here. You can adjust the amount later if need be. Provide your full name, email, phone number, and company name. Once you provide these basic details and answer the questionnaire, SmartBiz’s automated system will determine your eligibility. They will look at both your business and personal credit score. You can get a response within a few minutes.

    Step 2: Application and Providing Documentation

    If you’re eligible, you can move to apply for the loan itself. A team of supervisors will walk you through the process. You only have to complete one application, which goes to many lenders. There will be a lot of paperwork involved – it is the government, after all.

    You must provide personal and business tax returns from the previous two years. Other documentation includes profit & loss statements, balance sheet, collateral, business lease (if applicable), business licenses, and articles of incorporation. The bank might ask for more documentation during the process.

    Step 3: Get Funded

    Once you’ve completed the application, chosen a lender, and submitted all required paperwork, you move into the funding process. The lender will review your application and make a decision. SBA loans could take up to 7 days for the lender’s decision, and then it takes another 14 days to process the loan. All told, it could take up to 45 days from your initial application to funding the loan. Non-SBA business loans are typically approved and funded within 7 business days.

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    SmartBiz: Post Funding

    After your loan is funded, you can use the money to grow your business. It is critical to make your payments on time. Your first payment is typically due 30 days after funding. On the Small Business Administration website, you can check your account balance and due dates in the Capital Access Financial System (CAFS).

    Missed payments can lead to late fees or even legal action. SmartBiz SBA loans require a lien on your business, and lenders can come after your assets. Not to mention, missed payments will damage your credit. It’s best to set up automatic payments to ensure you never fall behind. Luckily, the longer repayment terms of SBA loans mean your monthly payment should be more manageable.

    What are the Advantages of SmartBiz?

    Pros:

    • The streamlined application process for SBA loans.
    • Multiple loan offers.
    • Lower interest rates.
    • No prepayment penalties.
    • Competitive rates.
    • High borrowing limits.
    • Longer repayment terms.
    • SmartBiz Advisor.

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    Streamline Application

    You’d have to put in a lot of work upfront for a traditional SBA loan application. Once you complete the complex application and acquire the necessary documentation, you’d have to apply to each lender. Then you could wait weeks before you even knew if you were eligible. If one lender denied you, you’d have to start the process again.

    SmartBiz eliminates those long waiting periods and cuts out much of the legwork. For the initial application, they can usually determine eligibility in minutes.

    Multiple Loan Offers

    SmartBiz is essentially a one-to-many marketplace. They shop your application to their lending partners, who then come back to you with their offers. This puts you in the driver’s seat when deciding on a loan provider. You can shop for the best loan amount, interest rate, and loan terms.

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    Low Interest Rates

    An SBA loan already has lower interest rates. SmartBiz’s partnership with lenders helps you find the lowest rate on the market.

    No Prepayment Penalties

    There are no prepayment penalties for SmartBiz’s SBA 7(a) Working Capital or bank term loans. For the commercial real estate loan, prepayment penalties apply if you pay them off in the first three years. The penalties are:

    • Pay off in 1st year: 5% penalty.
    • Pay off in 2nd year: 3% penalty.
    • Pay off in 3rd year: 1% penalty.

    There is no prepayment penalty after the third year.

    Non-SBA SmartBiz loans don’t have a prepayment penalty either. But, some applicants will have the option of lowering their rate by 2% if they agree to a 5% prepayment penalty on their total outstanding balance.

    Competitive Rates

    In addition to lower interest rates from the lender, SmartBiz’s rate is competitive with lenders. Just keep in mind that additional fees go along with the lower rates.

    High Borrowing Amounts

    Because SmartBiz offers SBA loans, they can offer higher loan amounts than other online lenders. The government-backed loans let lenders offer more than standard small business loans.

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    Longer Repayment Terms

    The SBA Working Capital and Debt Consolidation loan comes with a repayment term of 10 years. The Commercial Real Estate Loan has a 25-year repayment term. The more extended repayment periods bring down your monthly payment. SmartBiz’s non-SBA loans have a repayment period of 2-5 years. Unlike most online lenders, you can set monthly payments instead of weekly ones.

    calendar, date, time

    SmartBiz Advisor

    Small business owners get access to the SmartBiz Advisor. The online tool helps clients see their potential eligibility for an approved loan. It can also help guide business owners on how to land a better interest rate and increase the odds of getting approved.

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    What are the Disadvantages of SmartBiz?

    Cons:

    • Lengthy SBA loan application process.
    • Long funding times.
    • High borrower requirements.
    • Additional fees.
    • Personal guarantee and business lines.

    Lengthy SBA Loan Application Process

    While SmartBiz does make the process faster, SBA loans take a while. It’s the nature of the beast. It can take several weeks to get approved between the government and lender requirements, documentation, and review process.

    Long Funding Times

    The time to get your loan funded can vary. The SBA loans can take anywhere from a few weeks to 45 days. This is still faster than going through a traditional bank, though. Going through a bank could take months to fund the loan. Non-SBA SmartBiz loans can take up to a week to fund.

    High Borrower Requirements

    Perhaps the biggest drawback of SmartBiz is the requirements to qualify for a loan. You need an excellent credit score and strong financials. While their custom financing option lowers the threshold, they still have some of the highest requirements among online small business lenders. We can help connect you with lenders that offer lower requirements and faster funding if needed.

    Additional Fees

    For the most part, SmartBiz offers low rates and fees, which they are transparent about. But there are some additional fees that you need to know about before applying. Some of these fees are from the banks or SBA, so you’d have to pay them regardless.

    We’ll also include the bank closing costs to give you a total picture of the costs involved. However, SmartBiz charges some fees of its own.

    For SBA 7(a) Working Capital and Debt Consolidation loans:

    • Bank application fee: up to $3,000
    • SBA’s guarantee fee: 1.7-2.25%
    • Bank closing costs: around $450

    For SBA 7(a) Commercial Real Estate loans:

    • Bank application fee: up to $5,000
    • SBA’s guarantee fee: 3-3.75%
    • Bank closing costs: estimated as high as $5,000

    For non-SBA bank term loans:

    • 3% referral fee
    • 3% packaging fee
    • 0-3% Guarantee Fee (depends on loan amount)
    • Bank closing costs: usually between $200-$300.

    Personal Guarantee and Business Liens

    Both SBA 7(a) loans require a personal guarantee from anyone who owns at least 20% of the company. Both loan types also require a lien on business assets. Non-SBA loans through SmartBiz also require a personal guarantee. Lenders can come after your business and personal assets if you default.

    Apply for business funding through United Capital Source today.

    SmartBiz Loans Frequently Asked Questions

    Is SmartBiz Safe?

    SmartBiz is a legit online lending marketplace. They have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of B and a TrustPilot rating of 4.6 out of 5 on over 16,000 reviews. The lending platform actively responds to customer complaints on both BBB and TrustPilot.

    How Does SmartBiz Help with SBA Loans?

    SmartBiz reduces the work you need to put into SBA loans, and their application process lets you apply to multiple lenders simultaneously.

    Shopping around multiple lenders increases your chances of approval and gives you more loan options. Some customers have even claimed they got approved for SmartBiz loans after being denied by other lenders.

    What Do SmartBiz Loans Reviews Typically Focus On?

    We’ve reviewed hundreds of customer reviews to see what people say about SmartBiz. Here are what most review focus on.

    The Positive

    Favorable SmartBiz reviews typically focus on the ease of the application process and how much it improves the SBA loan process. The speed of funding – relative to other SBA loans – tends to be much faster. In addition, customer reviews are generally positive about their rates.

    Other positive reviews talk about advertising transparency and loan terms. The significant majority of reviews are positive, but there are some negative reviews as well.

    The Negative

    Negative reviews are primarily about how long the process takes. SBA loans can require a lot of paperwork and back-and-forth with the lender. Other negative reviews talk about the additional fees and rejections. While SmartBiz determines potential eligibility, the lender can still deny the application.

    Push: Customer Service

    Reviews on SmartBiz’s customer service are a mixed bag. Some customers claim the service is outstanding, and others complain it was challenging to get in touch with customer service. The experience seems to vary, so keep that in mind when considering working with SmartBiz.

    How Hard is it to get a SmartBiz Loan?

    This is one of the most common questions we hear and isn’t easy to answer. Remember that SmartBiz is not a lender; they can help you secure an SBA loan but cannot approve you. SBA loans, in general, have strict requirements.

    SmartBiz’s non-SBA loans are easier to acquire, but other lenders can help you with bank loan terms with a lower requirement threshold.

    What if SmartBiz Declines Me?

    SBA loans are one of, if not the, most desirable loans on the market. Getting approved can be tricky; they carry strict requirements and documentation.

    If SmartBiz deems you ineligible, likely, you don’t meet the minimum requirements for the type of loan, and business owners might not have the right credit score or enough annual revenue to qualify. If SmartBiz said you were eligible, but their lending partners declined you, then several factors could go into the decision.

    Meeting the minimum requirements for eligibility is just the first step. Once you send your documentation, they review your business and credit history. Issues with revenue, the length of your business, and previous bankruptcies can all impact your application.

    Our loan experts are available to assist you with any SBA loan type and other business funding products as well.

    Making Your Decision

    If you’re committed to pursuing a Small Business Administration loan, SmartBiz can be an excellent option. Applying for SBA loans is complex, and there are many options when choosing a lender. SmartBiz helps streamline the process and get you in front of multiple lenders. The higher loan amounts and lower rates can help your business. In particular, the SBA 7(a) Commercial Real Estate loan is an ideal option if you’re investing in real estate for your business. Just keep in mind that there are application fees and strict application requirements.

    Also, SmartBiz only offers the two SBA 7(a) loans. You will need another lending platform if you need a different SBA loan, such as the CDC 504 or SBA Microloan. If you’re flexible on the type of loan you need, you can find lenders with looser application requirements and faster funding. Overall, we give SmartBiz a 4.3 out of 5. We recommend them for the SBA 7(a) but not for other loan types.

    Apply for business funding through United Capital Source today.

    Why Choose United Capital Source?

    Why businesses choose UCS:

    1
    Quick funding options that won’t affect credit
    2
    Access to 75+ lenders with multiple products to choose from
    3
    Financing up to $5 million in as few as 3 days
    4
    1500+ 5 star reviews from happy clients!

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

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