Many business owners are struggling to find working capital. Once readily accessible to most businesses, small business loans are harder and harder to come by. Thankfully, business cash advance providers have stepped up to fill the gap. Some business owners are skeptical, and hesitant to be open to the idea, but there are many benefits to the business cash advance program. While they both certainly have strengths and weaknesses, in this article, we hope to clearly explain how they work and what their benefits can be over traditional small business loans.
Business cash advances are very easy to qualify for. Since they’re based on revenue from credit card processing, the biggest qualifying factor is whether or not you accept credit cards as a form of payment, and how often you have sales to run. This makes most retail businesses and certain service-based businesses excellent candidates because they usually accept credit cards and the cardholders are physically present at the point of sale. Unfortunately, most home-based and internet-based businesses don’t qualify. You have to process at least $5,000 per month in credit card sales, and underwriting also likes to see that you settle transactions at least 10 – 12 times every month. Personal credit is not a big factor; the only stipulation ist that the owner’s FICO score is above 500 and there are no open bankruptcies.
The application process is very simple. A one page application is filled out and signed by the business owner. The application contains basic administrative data about the business and the owner(s) and usually also lists a few trade references. The signature authorizes the cash advance provider to obtain a copies of the applicant’s business and personal credit reports. Pre-approvals can be given within 24 hours of the application being submitted along with the business’s 4 most recent credit card processing statements. At lease one, if not all, of the statements must be complete (i.e. all pages submitted) so underwriting can review them completely, looking at credit card processing activity, transaction count, average ticket size, batch frequency and rate analysis. The pre-approval will consist of a few different funding options based on the statements you submitted, along with a list of additional paperwork you’ll need to submit prior to approval. This can vary slightly on a case by case basis, but here’s a complete list of paperwork that’s generally required:
- Signed, completed application.
- 4 most recent credit card processing statements. Seasonal businesses may have to submit more so underwriting can fully understand your seasonality.
- 3 most recent business bank statements. This should be the account where your credit card deposits go. If that account sweeps to another operating account, those statements may also be required.
- Business lease. Underwriting will need the pages listing the parties to the lease, the term and expiration date, the property address and the signatures.
- Proof of ownership. This can be a business licence or articles of organization.
- Driver’s license or other state issued identification card.
- Voided check.
- Deals over a certain size may require year-to-date financial statements or the most recent tax returns.
Three Different Programs
Besides the main business cash advance program, there are two additional programs available:
- The Starter Program – The starter program is designed for those individuals and businesses who don’t qualify for the traditional program. The two most common reasons someone would be declined for the traditional program is because of poor personal credit or because they process less than $5,000 per month. For the starter program, underwriting still requires that there are no open bankruptcies and that you settle transactions at least 10 – 12 times per month.
- The Gold or Platinum Programs – For a long time, individuals and businesses with stellar credit and healthy financials have turned down cash advance offers. The cost of the traditional program was too great for many of them, and there was little that could be done. Providers have developed Gold and Platinum programs for these kinds of businesses. The cost can be less than half compared to the traditional program, and they are often underwritten at 12 – 18 month deals, which is typically a longer term than the traditional program.
Business cash advances, admittedly, are most costly than traditional business loans. The main difference is that business loans accrue interest over time. The longer you take to pay them off, the more expensive they become. Business cash advances have a fixed cost. The transaction that takes place is actually the purchase and sale of your business’s future credit card receivables. The business cash advance provider decides how much of your future receivables they are interested in purchasing (the “purchased amount” or total payback amount), and offer to purchase them at a discount rate, usually somewhere between 15% and 30%. How much they offer to purchase them for is called the “purchase price”. It’s also known as the “advance amount”. At a 15% discount rate, a cash advance could purchase $10,000 by advancing you $8,500. No matter how long you take to pay it back, it will never cost you more than $10,000. The discount rate offered depends on a number of things, including time in business, credit score, process history, etc.