Startup Business Loans With Bad Credit and No Collateral

By Lauren Ward · May 22, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Startup Business Loans With Bad Credit and No Collateral

You have a business dream, but your credit rating isn’t stellar and putting up collateral is a problem. Can you still launch a small business or expand one that is on the cusp of growth?

The truth is, it won’t be easy. The Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates to cool inflation also seems to be cooling business owners’ prospects of getting a bank loan the last couple of years.

Even with bad credit, it may be possible to secure a startup business loan with no collateral to help you with your launch without putting your personal assets on the line. However, it must be stressed that this type of financing typically comes with high rates that help compensate the lender for the risk being taken.

Learn more about your different financing options as a small business startup, as well as the pros and cons associated with these choices.

Understanding “Bad” Credit

Not only are you running your new venture and figuring out how much money it takes to start a business, you might also be wrestling with questions of credit.

Lenders use different credit scoring models to evaluate your creditworthiness. Some have minimum credit scores that they prefer to see in applicants seeking loans, as these outlays of money may present considerable risk to the lenders.

As a startup, you may not have an established business credit score. In this case, lenders generally evaluate your personal credit history. For a personal credit score, Experian® defines a “good” score as 661-780, a “fair” score as 601 to 660, and a “poor” score as 500 to 600.

Recommended: How Big a Business Loan Can You Get?

Getting Startup Business Loans With Bad Credit and No Collateral

Before you launch any applications for unsecured startup business loans, it can help to do prep work to strengthen your pitch. Even with bad credit, you can present an in-depth business plan that outlines your strategies for success and how you plan to use the funding.

A business forecast can also be helpful in giving the lender an idea of your expected cash flow in the coming months or years. As a startup, you may need to provide personal information as well, such as your tax returns.

Options for No Collateral Business Loans

With some basic financials in hand, it’s time to explore some of your options for unsecured small business startup loans, as well as some other options that may be worth considering. It is possible to find funding at this early stage,and with bad credit. But carefully review the terms of any financing agreement to understand the true cost, since these products may come with higher rates to compensate for the risk.

Recommended: No Credit Check Business Loan

Online Business Loans

Online business lenders may offer alternative bad credit business loans with less stringent requirements compared with traditional banks. You can also explore small business loans for specific groups, such as women with bad credit. While approval and funding times can be fast, you still need to provide proof showing that you’ll be able to repay the loan.

Remember to consider the drawbacks associated with these subprime online business loans. They usually come with a very high APR and a shorter repayment term. There also may be a requirement for a personal guarantee, which means your personal credit score can be impacted for any late payments or delinquency — and your personal assets may also be at risk to pay back the loan if your business isn’t able to.

Credit Cards for Small Business

A small business credit card may be an alternative to help cover early startup costs. You could be more likely to qualify with a strong personal credit score, even if your business credit score is on the lower side of the spectrum or simply not established yet. Most of these cards come with a required personal guarantee. Many also come with an annual fee and while there may be perks or rewards, it’s wise to compare these costs before applying.

As always, your card’s APR is also an important factor, especially if you expect to carry a balance from the beginning as you get your startup off the ground.

Merchant Cash Advance

If your business accepts credit-card transactions, you may be able to qualify for a merchant cash advance. This gives you a lump sum to use as working capital. Then you pay a percentage of your daily credit card transactions (known as the holdback amount) until your balance is repaid. Rather than being charged an interest rate, merchant cash advance companies use a factor rate.

This charge is a multiple of your borrowed amount, such as 1.5. So, a $25,000 cash advance multiplied by a 1.5 factor rate would bring the total balance to $37,500. In other words, the financing would cost $12,500. Merchant cash advances may have even higher factor rates and other fees which can make them a very expensive form of funding for businesses.

Additionally, because merchant cash advances aren’t considered a loan, generally their regulation is less stringent and regulatory oversight is less rigorous than more traditional loans.

Invoice Factoring

For a startup that already has some accounts receivable, you may qualify for invoice factoring to help your cash flow while you wait for customers to pay you. The factoring company charges a percentage of the invoice amount as their fee (typically around 85%), then fronts you a percentage of the funds before payment is received. They generally manage the payment process with your customers. Once the invoice is repaid, you’ll receive the remaining balance.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is a type of business loan that is used to purchase equipment for business purposes. The equipment you are purchasing acts as the collateral for the loan. Needs will vary based on the nature of the business, but some types of equipment that may be purchased with this type of loan include agricultural equipment, office equipment, printers, vehicles, restaurant ovens, and more.

Typically, when the loan is repaid, you are the owner of the equipment. In some cases, the lender may require additional assurances, such as a personal guarantee.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Crowdfunding is a unique form of financing, but it can help launch your startup without you having to worry about credit scores as much. You can create a campaign to garner interest in your business and get financial backing in one of four forms: equity, donation, rewards, or loans. While crowdfunding allows you to raise money and test the market at the same time, it can be a much more intensive marketing process. Plus, there’s no guarantee you’ll reach your funding goals.

SBA Loans

Many lenders offer Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to startups because they come with a guarantee as long as certain underwriting guidelines are met. In some cases, even startups with credit challenges may be able to qualify for an SBA loan. One option for new businesses is the SBA Microloan program, which lets you borrow up to $50,000.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending services are another alternative to more traditional lending options like bank loans. With this type of lending, online platforms match potential borrowers with potential investors. Eligibility requirements will generally vary from platform to platform.

Some services have minimum credit score requirements, which can potentially make it more challenging for businesses or individuals with lower credit scores to qualify. The process to funding is generally quick, but borrowers with less-than-stellar credit may find that interest rates are higher than a traditional loan.

Recommended: No Doc Business Loans

Building Business Credit

When you’re starting your business, you can help set yourself up for success by properly establishing your business credit. Here are a few steps to get started:

1.    Officially incorporating your company

2.    Getting a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS

3.    Opening a business bank account.

It can be difficult to find no credit check financing options, so it’s generally worth building your business credit score as early as possible. When working on building your credit score, it may be helpful to establish relationships with vendors that report to the business credit bureaus. Also, pay your bills on time. Taking these steps contributes to a stronger credit profile that could help open the door to more favorable financing opportunities.

The Takeaway

When you start a business, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of risk. Unsecured business loans for owners with challenged credit can come with high interest and demanding terms. Exploring multiple options can help you make the best choices for your startup.

If you’re seeking financing for your business, SoFi can help. On SoFi’s marketplace, you can shop top providers today to access the capital you need. Find a personalized business financing option today in minutes.

With SoFi’s marketplace, it’s fast and easy to search for your small business financing options.


Is it possible to get a startup business loan with bad credit and no collateral?

It is possible to get a business loan with bad credit but the interest rate might be very high. Some lenders may require a personal guarantee. That means your personal assets could be used to cover the loan if the business doesn’t succeed and that personal credit would also be impacted by the health of your startup loan.

Could I start a business with bad credit and no money?

It’s possible to start a business despite obstacles like a bad credit score and little to no startup funds. In addition to startup loans, other options to explore include things like a business credit card, merchant cash advance, invoice factoring, crowdfunding platforms, and SBA loans. Remember that when looking for financing with bad credit, you may be subject to less favorable terms such as higher interest rates and lower loan amounts.

What is no credit check financing?

No credit check financing is when you get financing without the lender checking your credit score in advance. This type of financing is hard to find and is also likely to come with very high interest rates. However, some other financing options, like a merchant cash advance or invoice factoring, weigh your credit score less heavily than other factors (such as credit card transactions or invoice quality).

What credit score is needed for an SBA loan?

Small Business Administration loans generally require a minimum personal credit score of at least 680. This may vary from lender to lender and some loans may have a lower threshold, requiring a minimum credit score of as low as 545. Each lender may impose their own eligibility standards as long as the SBA’s requirements are met as a minimum.

Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

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