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Best small business loans in April 2024

Apr 09, 2024
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A small business loan can help cover a variety of business-related expenses, including startup costs, working capital or growth opportunities. But securing financing isn’t always easy — you’ll need to identify the right type of small business loan or line of credit for your company and find a lender willing to work with you.

Below you will find a list of the best small business loans on the market, details about each offering and an explanation of why they made the cut. Our top selections for the best small business loans include lenders who will offer the best interest rates to business owners with great credit along with lenders willing to help startups and business owners with bad credit.

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Best for working capital

4.6

Loan amount
$25k- $400K
Term: 3 - 15 months
Interest rate
1.11 factor rate
Fastest funding
1 business day

Best for short-term loans

4.6

Loan amount
$25k- $500K
Term: 6 - 84 months
Interest rate
Starting at 7.90% simple interest
Fastest funding
2 business days

BEST FOR WORKING CAPITAL

4.6

Loan amount
$5k- $250K
Term: 18 - 24 months
Interest rate
Starting at 29.90% APR
Fastest funding
1 business day

Best for early payoff discount

4.4

Loan amount
$10k- $500K
Term: 4 - 18 months
Interest rate
Varies
Fastest funding
1 business day

Best for startups

4.5

Loan amount
$1k- $150K
Term: 3 - 6 months
Interest rate
Starting at 4.66%
Weekly Fee
Fastest funding
1 business day

Best for line of credit

4.3

Loan amount
$2k- $250K
Interest rate
N/A
Fastest funding
Not disclosed

Best for the bank experience

4.3

Loan amount
Starting at $10k
Term: 12 - 60 months
Interest rate
Starting at 6.75%
Fastest funding
Not disclosed

Bankrate 2024 Awards Winner: Best small business loan for good-to-excellent credit

4.2

Loan amount
$10k- $150K
Interest rate
Starting at 10.00%
Fastest funding
Not disclosed

Bankrate 2024 Awards Winner: Best CDFI for small business loans

4.2

Loan amount
$5k- $250K
Term: 12 - 60 months
Interest rate
8.49- 24.99%
Fastest funding
Not disclosed

Best for high loan amounts

4.6

Loan amount
$10k- $10M
Term: 6 - 84 months
Interest rate
Varies
Fastest funding
1 business day

Compare the best business loans in April 2024

LENDER BEST FOR MIN. FICO CREDIT SCORE LOAN AMOUNT MIN. TIME IN BUSINESS
Funding Circle Flexible repayment terms 660 $25,000 to $500,000 2 years
National Funding Early payoff discounts 660 Up to $500,000 6 months
SBG Funding High loan amounts 600 $10,000 to $10 million 6 months
Credibly Bad credit 550 $25,000 to $400,000 6 months
American Express Business Blueprint™️* Low revenue requirements Minimum FICO score of at least 660* at the time of application $2,000 to $250,000 Must have started your business at least 12 months ago
Fundbox Startup loan 600 $1,000 to $150,000 6 months
Bank of America The bank experience 700 $10,000 and up 2 years
Wells Fargo Small business line of credit 680 $5,000 to $1 million Less than 2 years
OnDeck Working capital 625 $5,000 to $250,000 1 year
Accion Opportunity Fund Underserved communities Not disclosed $5,000 to $250,000 1 year

A closer look at our top business loans

Funding Circle: Best for flexible repayment terms

Overview: Funding Circle helps small businesses find conventional business loans online without the hassle of long documentation and processing times. It’s helped 143,000 small businesses receive term loans and lines of credit, usually funding within 48 hours. 

Why Funding Circle is best for flexible repayment terms: Unlike other online lenders, Funding Circle offers short and long-term repayment options. The term lengths for their business term loans range from six months to seven years, allowing businesses to tailor funding and repayment terms to their budget. 

Who Funding Circle is best for: Funding Circle works well for established, low-revenue businesses with fair credit. It accepts businesses with a minimal $50,000 per year in revenue and two years in business. But you’ll need a fair personal credit score of at least 660 to be accepted by this lender.

National Funding: Best for early payoff discounts

Overview: National Funding was founded in 1999 and states it has worked with hundreds of industries and communities. National Funding business loans include working capital loans, short-term business loans, equipment financing and leasing. 

Why National Funding is the best for early payoff discounts: National Funding’s working capital loans offer a 7 percent discount on loan fees if you repay within 100 days of taking out the loan. Its loan ranges from $10,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms from four to 18 months. It also doesn’t require collateral, according to its website. These features make its working capital loan accessible for covering small, short-term expenses. 

Who National Funding is best for: Any business ready to get and pay off a loan in less than four months will benefit the most from National Funding’s working capital loan. You can also get funding within 24 hours, helping you finance your next project quickly. You will also need to sign a personal guarantee backing the loan with your personal assets, which is a common requirement. 

SBG Funding: Best for high loan amounts

Overview: Founded in 2017, SBG Funding is an online lender with an array of business loan options, from term loans to equipment financing and leasing to SBA 7(a) loans. They also offer invoice financing, allowing you to get an advance of up to 90 percent of your outstanding invoice amounts. 

Why SBG Funding is best for high loan amounts: SBG Funding offers a variety of business loans with a wide range of funding amounts. You can get term loans and merchant cash advances up to $5 million, bridge loans for up to $1 million in financing and SBA 7(a) loans with amounts up to $10 million. A spokesperson also stated their business line of credit goes up to $500,000, which is on par or higher than other fintech lenders.  

Who SBG Funding is good for:  SBG Funding works well for established businesses with fair to excellent credit. Its minimum credit requirement is a 600 personal credit score, lower than many traditional lenders.

But you will need at least $400,000 in annual revenue or more to get approved for funding. SBG Funding claims that it has an 85 percent approval rate, which gives you a high chance of getting approved for funding. 

Credibly: Best for bad credit

Overview: Established in 2010, Credibly is a direct lender of working capital loans and cash advances to small businesses needing fast funding. It also partners with other lenders to offer business lines of credit, long-term loans, equipment financing, SBA loans and invoice factoring.

Why Credibly is the best for bad credit: Qualifying for a traditional business loan with poor or bad credit is difficult, but Credibly is an alternative. As an online lender, Credibly is known for being flexible with its lending requirements, so businesses with a minimum personal credit score of 550 could qualify for funding.

Who Credibly is good for: Credibly best fits businesses with challenged credit but a healthy annual revenue of at least $180,000. When assessing your revenue, Credibly’s website states that it accepts a three-month average revenue of $15,000 per month. There’s also no need to provide a personal guarantee, backing the loan with personal assets. 

American Express® Business Line of Credit: Best for low revenue requirements

Overview: American Express® Business Line of Credit offers credit from $2,000 to $250,000. The minimum draw amount is $500 for six-month loan terms if your balance is greater than $500 or $100 if your balance is less than or equal to $500. For 12- and 18-month loan terms, the minimum draw amount is $10,000. A fee is charged instead of interest each month there’s an outstanding balance; it ranges from 3.00% to 9.00% on six-month terms, 6.00% to 18.00% on 12-month terms, 9.00% to 27.00% on 18-month terms and 12.00% to 18.00% for 24-month terms.

Why American Express® Business Line of Credit is the best for low revenue requirements: Business Blueprint takes the hassle out of securing the cash you need with its seamless online application process and doesn't require extensive business experience and hefty revenue to access a line of credit.

Who American Express® Business Line of Credit is good for: This loan may suit smaller and young businesses that need access to a generous cash flow as they grow their operations.

* All businesses are unique and are subject to approval and review.

Fundbox: Best for startups

Overview: Founded in 2013, Fundbox provides working capital loans for small businesses in the form of unsecured lines of credit. Its credit limits range from $1,000 to $150,000, an attainable starting point for startups covering low-cost expenses yet not as high a limit as most lenders. The company doesn’t use traditional interest rates, instead relying on an amortized weekly fee. 

Why Fundbox is the best for startups: While startups may struggle with accessing working capital, Fundbox simplifies the process. Apply online to see if you’re approved within three minutes. As long as you have at least six months in business and $100,000 in annual revenue, you should be good to go. Fundbox is also transparent about its fees. Use its online calculator to input your loan amount and chosen repayment term to see your total borrowing costs. 

Who Fundbox is best for: Fundbox works best for new businesses needing short-term infusions of cash to maintain a healthy flow of capital. But your repayment term choices are 12 and 24 weeks. Other online lenders can go up to 24 months or longer. You also need a business checking account with three months’ worth of active transactions to qualify.

Bank of America Business Advantage term loan: Best for the bank experience

Overview: Bank of America is one of the nation's largest originators of commercial loans. Its large bank network sprawls across 38 U.S. states, and the brand serves customers in all 50 states. The bank offers many business loan products, from term loans and lines of credit to equipment and SBA loans.

Why Bank of America is the best for the bank experience: Bank of America’s many locations make it an accessible option for many of the nation's small business owners. You can get face-to-face help from a representative to guide you through the business loan process. Plus, you can apply for its unsecured Business Advantage term loan online (so long as you have an online banking ID with the bank) by phone or in person, making it a convenient option among bank loans.

Who Bank of America is best for: Like most banks, Bank of America’s loans are best suited for businesses with strong credit. It typically requires a personal credit score of 700 or higher and at least $100,000 in annual revenue to be eligible. Most loans also require you to have an established business with at least two years’ experience. Its cash-secured line of credit does accept less time in business.

Wells Fargo: Best small business line of credit 

Overview: Wells Fargo is a well-known financial institution that operates nationwide, with over 10,000 branch locations across the country. It offers a wide range of products, including secured and unsecured small business lines of credit and SBA loans. 

Why Wells Fargo is best for small business lines of credit: Wells Fargo offers multiple lines of credit to qualifying businesses. Credit lines range from $5,000 to $1 million and come with a revolving or five-year term. In addition to its competitive rates, which range from an 8.75 percent to 18.25 percent APR, businesses with an unsecured line of credit have access to Wells Fargo's rewards program.

Who Wells Fargo is good for: Wells Fargo business lines of credit are suitable for businesses at all stages. While startups with less than two years of history can potentially get approved for a business line of credit, established businesses will likely have better luck getting approved.  

OnDeck: Best for working capital

Overview: OnDeck is an online lender specializing in small business loans. Its products include term loans and business lines of credit, which are available in 47 states.  

Why OnDeck is best for working capital: Flexible lending requirements and fast funding make OnDeck an appealing option for businesses needing working capital. If approved, businesses can get between $5,000 and $250,000 to use for various business purposes. 

Who OnDeck is good for: OnDeck is a great choice for fair-credit businesses needing quick access to capital. The lender limits its loans to certain industries, but qualifying businesses may get funds the same day they apply. 

Accion Opportunity Fund: Best for underserved communities 

Overview: Accion Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit dedicated to serving underserved communities. It provides access to capital and financial resources to empower and help entrepreneurs, particularly those with limited resources and access to funding, to achieve their business aspirations. 

Why Accion Opportunity Fund is best for underserved communities: Underserved communities often face difficulty getting approved through traditional lenders due to strict lending requirements. Accion Opportunity's business loans are designed to eliminate this barrier and provide easy access to funding to help small businesses succeed. 

Who Accion Opportunity Fund is good for: Women, people of color and other underserved communities unable to get access to funding through a traditional lender may find Accion Opportunity is a good fit for their business needs. To be eligible, you need to generate at least $50,000 annually, own 20 percent or more of the business and have been operating for at least 12 months. Basic requirements aside, this lender is  known for assessing a variety of financial factors rather than basing its decision solely on a business's credit score.

What is a small business loan?

A small business loan is a loan product used by business owners looking to open the doors to their new business, expand operations, acquire inventory or equipment, resolve cash flow issues or use for other business-related needs. These loans are available through traditional banks, credit unions and online lenders.

How does a small business loan work?

Small business loans work much like any other loan type: You apply, the lender approves you and then you receive it, use it and pay it back. Lenders set minimum requirements that must be met, like a certain time in business, credit score or annual revenue. Unlike a personal loan, you often have to prove your business is viable by providing business bank account information and other data.

If a lender approves you for a loan, you can negotiate the details and then you'll receive a loan agreement to sign. With some lenders, this process might take a few days; with others, several weeks. Depending on the loan type, you might have a revolving amount you can borrow from, or cash may come in one lump sum. 

After receiving the funds, you must start repaying them. You may do that in equal payments over a given term at regular intervals. Monthly payments are common, though anything from daily to quarterly payments is possible. Or you might repay your loan through a percentage of your daily or weekly sales, a model that’s common with merchant cash advances.

Secured vs. unsecured business loans

You also get to choose between a secured or unsecured business loan, depending on whether you have collateral to put up for the loan. A secured business loan uses your business assets as a guarantee that you can repay the loan. Using collateral is beneficial if you need help getting approved for a bad credit loan or if you’re vying for lower interest rates. 

But if you’re short on assets or don’t want to risk backing a loan with them, you could go with an unsecured loan. An unsecured loan lets you borrow funds without putting any collateral behind the money borrowed. Be aware that lenders may require you to have a top-notch credit history or well-built stream of revenue to qualify for an unsecured loan.  

 Requirements for small business loans

Each lender has its own set of eligibility criteria for small business loans. That said, you’ll want to keep some general guidelines in mind as you research your options and prepare to apply for a business loan. Most lenders will typically evaluate the following to determine if you’re a good fit for a small business loan: 

  • Business revenue: You’ll likely need to generate a certain amount of gross annual or monthly revenue to qualify for a small business loan. Meeting this requirement demonstrates to the lender that you have the means to make monthly loan payments without disrupting your company’s cash flow.
  • Business credit history: Some lenders will check your business credit score when evaluating your loan application. Your business credit history will also show the lender your payment history with vendors and service providers.
  • Personal finances: Most small business lenders will check your personal credit score and history to determine the risk you pose. Some lenders may offer business loans for a credit score of 500 or less, but they may come with high interest and fees. A higher credit score means you’ll have better approval odds and lower interest rates with more lenders. 
  • Time in business: Expect to provide the number of months or years you’ve been in business. In most instances, you’ll need at least six months of business to qualify for funding. Some traditional lenders require at least two years of business experience to secure a small business loan. But startup loans exist, too.
  • Industry: Lenders want to know you’re operating in a stable industry or one that isn’t at risk for a major downturn that could significantly affect operations and your ability to repay the loan.
  • Business debts: Prepare to provide a business debt schedule, which lists your current outstanding business debt obligations and monthly payments to the lender. This information will be used to determine how much of your revenue is allocated to current debts and if you can afford to take on a new monthly loan payment. 

It’s also helpful to have these documents handy when you apply: 

Types of small business loans

There are several types of small business loans to choose from. Some have more stringent requirements than others, particularly those offered by traditional banks. But online lenders typically have options available for new businesses and business owners with fair or bad credit

Here’s a closer look at the different business loan options available.

Term loan

The most common type of business loan among startups and established companies, term loans let you borrow a lump sum to cover business expenses. Term loans are accessible through most banks and credit unions, and loan amounts range from $1,000 to the millions. 

Still, you’ll likely have to generate a sizable amount of revenue and provide a personal guarantee to qualify for funding. Plus, you can expect higher borrowing costs if you’re starting out in your business. 

Line of credit

Lines of credit provide access to a pool of funds you can repeatedly draw from up to your credit limit. While a term loan charges interest on the total borrowed amount the moment you receive funds, with a line of credit, you only pay interest on the funds you use. 

There are drawbacks, including the lack of rewards and the limited draw period or time frame that you get to access the line of credit before it closes. The upside is some lenders allow you to make interest-only payments during the draw period, which could be beneficial if you’re trying to get your company’s cash flow back on track. 

Equipment financing

Equipment loans let business owners purchase business-related equipment. This can be beneficial if you don’t have the funds available to cover the costs of vital resources to keep your business operating efficiently.

Business owners should consider equipment loans for several reasons. Since the equipment acts as collateral for the loan, interest rates tend to be more favorable compared to unsecured term loans. This also helps to make equipment loans more accessible to business owners with fair or bad credit and new businesses. 

Merchant cash advance

You can access funding to meet your company’s short-term needs with a merchant cash advance. Funds are disbursed in a lump sum and payable to the lender through a percentage of daily credit card sales or bank withdrawals — typically over a short loan term of one year or less. Lenders use your credit card sales volume to determine the amount you’re eligible to borrow, so bad credit isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. 

Merchant cash advances are a type of bad credit business loan. Instead of interest rates, it charges factor rates, which typically come with faster repayment terms and may even end up costing more than comparable loans that use interest rates. 

Invoice financing and factoring

Both invoice financing and invoice factoring allow you to borrow against your unpaid receivables. They’re both accessible types of business loans, often open to startups and bad-credit borrowers. To get approved for these loans, lenders are more concerned with the creditworthiness and repayment history of your invoiced clients. 

There’s a key difference between the two. Invoice financing involves receiving an advance of up to 85 percent of your company’s accounts receivables, and you’ll repay the client the amount you borrow (plus fees) once the invoice is paid. 

But if you choose invoice factoring, you’ll sell the outstanding invoices directly to the lender in exchange for a lump sum of up to 90 percent of what’s owed. The client will pay the lender directly, and any amount that remains after fees are deducted will be distributed to you. 

SBA loan

Backed by the Small Business Administration, SBA loans are loan products featuring competitive rates and generous loan terms to meet the needs of small business owners. They’re accessible through SBA-approved lenders you can locate through the SBA Lender Match Tool, but they come with a few downsides. 

Despite the SBA’s intention to provide small business owners with the funding they need, SBA loans come with an application process that’s challenging to navigate. Plus, it could be several months before the loan proceeds are disbursed to you. 

For more information on SBA loans, check out the following guides:

Microloan

These loans are available as SBA-approved microloans or through non-profits, banks and online lenders offering their own microloan programs. With most microloans, you can access up to $50,000 in working capital or startup funding for your business. 

Some lenders may charge higher borrowing costs than you’d get with standard business term loans, as these loans cater to newer businesses and pose an elevated risk to lenders. 

Commercial real estate loan

You can use a commercial real estate loan to purchase or lease a physical space for your company. Some lenders offer up to $5 million in funding with extended repayment periods and competitive interest rates.

Qualifying may be difficult if you’re starting out or your revenue is on the lower end. Plus, you can expect a lengthy application process.

Pros and cons of business loans

Small business loans can be a good or less-optimal option, depending on your situation.
 

Pros

  • Can mean more access to more capital, which can help business owners expand their businesses
  • Can pay for an expense over a long period of time, if needed
  • Most loans let you use the funds for a variety of expenses
  • Making on-time payments on a business loan may help improve your credit rating

Cons

  • Newer businesses or businesses with poor credit may have limited options
  • You’ll need ample financial documentation to show you can repay 
  • Some lenders or types of loans take weeks to approve and fund the loan
  • Loan repayments can create an additional financial strain on the business, especially if the business does not qualify for lower rates due to credit score or revenue issues
  • Defaulting on the loan can mean losing business assets if the loan is secured, and even risking personal assets if you’ve signed a personal guarantee

Alternatives to small business loans

Below are some alternative options if you decide a small business loan is not for you:

Where to get a small business loan

Don’t limit your options — investigate loans from multiple lenders to get the best rates.

Banks and credit unions

Banks and credit unions typically offer a variety of products, from lines of credit to SBA loans. Requirements tend to be strict, however, and approval can sometimes take months. However, these institutions can offer a face-to-face experience. And bank employees should be skilled at helping you navigate the application process.

Online lenders and fintech

These lenders often specialize in lending to less established businesses, as requirements are often less stringent. Approval and funding may take only a day or two. An all-online experience means navigating the loan on devices at your own speed. However, you need to be careful that the lender is established and legitimate by reading reviews, checking Better Business Bureau ratings and looking at the lender's background. 
 

Nonprofits

Some nonprofits specialize in helping small businesses access capital. Some, such as Kiva, operate crowdfunding platforms. They may also run microloan programs. In general, banks and credit unions are best for more established businesses because of the stricter approval requirements. Online lenders and nonprofits may be more forgiving of less established businesses, as some are even geared toward businesses that could not secure funding from more traditional banking options. 
 

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI)

A business loan from a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) offers unique advantages. These institutions are dedicated to supporting underserved communities and promoting economic development, so loans often have more flexible underwriting criteria tailored to meet the needs of small businesses that may face challenges accessing traditional financing. 

Minority Depository Institutions (MDI)

Minority Depository Institutions are financial institutions focused on serving minority communities. Like CDFIs, the goal of MDIs is to provide access to capital and financial services and promote economic development in underserved communities. 

SBA lenders

Banks, credit unions and alternative lenders offer term loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). A business can benefit from an SBA loan due to its favorable terms, lower interest rates, longer repayment periods and flexible eligibility criteria. It provides access to capital for various purposes, such as starting a business, expanding operations, purchasing equipment or refinancing debt and supporting business growth and stability.

How to manage a business loan

Getting approved is just the beginning of your business loan journey. Now you need to follow through with repayments which requires effective planning and money management. While you can use different strategies, one important strategy is to stay close to your business budget. Update your spending and projected revenue frequently so you can make tweaks to accommodate loan payments as your income fluctuates. Consider setting up automatic payments so you don’t miss a loan payment by accident. 

And keep in touch with your lender about your loan status. If you don’t think you can make a payment, communicate that as soon as possible so your lender can work with you on a suitable repayment plan. All in all, be committed to adjusting your business or revenue strategy to fit in loan payments and pay off the entire loan. 

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Bankrate Insight

If the business loan you’re considering presents the following red flags, consider going with a different option.
 
  • Fees or other points of the contract are not clearly stated or vague
  • Terms to pay back the loan or draw periods are very short
  • You cannot pay off the loan early
  • Borrowing limits are smaller than what you need
  • Lender isn’t forthcoming when answering questions

Small business loan news

The foundation of how small business loans work and what’s offered tend to stay the same. But the economy and government regulations can impact interest rates and loan approvals. Here’s what you need to know about getting a business loan in the current market:

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is on November 30, 2024. Consider supporting your local economy and community by Shopping Small this holiday season. 

Small business bankruptcies and rising loan balances

Small businesses have been hit hard by the economy and other factors in the last few years, leading some businesses to file bankruptcy. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, small business Chapter 11 bankruptcies were up 22 percent in January 2024 compared to the same time the previous year.

Businesses are also getting less access to credit as business loan interest rates increase and loan demand decreases. According to the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Lending Survey, new small business loan balances declined over 18 percent in Q2 2023 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, interest rates on new term loans increased from 5.60 percent to 6.41 percent to 7.71 percent to 8.98 percent. 

Historically high Fed rates create a tight lending environment

The Federal Reserve has been raising lending rates to try to slow inflation since the COVID-19 pandemic into the present. Rates went up in 2022 at a rate not seen since 2001. In 2023, the Fed has raised the Federal Funds rate a total of 11 times, landing at the current 5.5 percent. 

The federal funds rate reflects how much it costs for banks to lend money. It also influences benchmark interest rates like the Wall Street Journal prime rate. Many lenders base their interest rates on the prime rate, so other loan rates will also often increase. That includes business loan rates.

SBA rule changes seek to expand small business financing

In other news, the SBA's rule changes took effect in May 2023 with goals of growing the number of SBA lenders, helping businesses qualify for funding and better servicing small businesses and lenders by streamlining loan applications. To accomplish these goals, the SBA has created the Community Advantage SBLC license, which allows lenders to partner with the SBA and focus on getting businesses in underserved markets approved for funding. The SBA has also altered the credit criteria for loan qualification to only include three factors credit history or credit score, collateral and business earnings or cash flow, instead of the previous nine. 

Frequently asked questions about small business loans

Methodology

Clock Wait
47
years in business
Credit Card Search
30+
lenders reviewed
Loan
22
loan features weighed
Rates
770+
data points collected
To choose the best small business loans, we ensured all loans featured are broadly available across the United States. We then considered features that make loans affordable and accessible to businesses with different characteristics and needs, including interest rates, required time in business, minimum annual revenue and fees. Additionally, the featured lenders were evaluated for notable qualities such as funding speed and nontraditional eligibility criteria.
 
When evaluating lenders, we use a 22-point scale to measure quality in five key areas: Accessibility, affordability, transparency, customer service and flexibility. Based on the results, lenders are given a rating between 1 and 5:
 
  • 4.5 or higher: Outstanding
  • 4 to 4.5: Excellent
  • 3.5 to 4: Good
  • 3.5 and under: Average

 

*The required FICO score may be higher based on your relationship with American Express, credit history, and other factors.