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- Personal loans can be used to cover business expenses
- Some lenders restrict how the personal loans can be used
- Business loans usually have higher borrowing limits and lower rates than personal loans
Personal loans aren’t just for weddings and home remodeling — some lenders also allow you to use them for business purposes. Although business loans are typically the better option, thanks to their lower rates and higher limits, personal loans may make sense for startups and other businesses that struggle to qualify.
However, using a personal loan for your business can mean paying higher rates for less money while not benefiting your business credit score.
Can you use a personal loan for business?
Business owners may prefer a personal loan over a business loan because the process is faster and often more convenient than applying for a business loan. When applying for a personal loan, lenders review your credit score and income, and there’s generally little documentation needed other than a few paystubs and identification.
FICO credit score requirements are similar between personal and business loans. With personal loans, the minimum credit score requirement is often 610, but you can secure a personal loan with a lower score. For example, if your credit score is 580, lenders like Upgrade and Avant may approve your loan application.
By comparison, credit score requirements for business loans start in the mid-500s. But if you want the highest odds of approval and the best interest rate, you’ll need a minimum credit score in the 700s.
But personal lenders largely care only about your personal creditworthiness. Business lenders set minimums around your business’s age and revenue, and they may also want to know that you have experience in your company’s industry.
That means that a personal loan may be far easier to qualify for if you’re launching a new business or a business in a field where you have little prior experience.
Keep in mind personal loan limits are typically lower than business loans. Depending on the industry you’re in, the cost of starting a business can exceed your loan amount, so this is something to consider when deciding if you should use a personal loan for business purposes.
Pros to using a personal loan for business
Here are the pros of using a personal loan for business purposes.
- Lenient lending requirements: Compared to business loans, personal loans are easier to qualify for because lenders won’t scrutinize your previous business experience, your company’s finances or how long it’s been open.
- No collateral required: Unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral, so you are not risking any personal assets. Most personal loans are unsecured, whereas unsecured business loans can be difficult to qualify for.
- Fast funding: Many personal loan lenders offer same-day funding so borrowers can quickly handle business expenses.
- Reasonable repayment terms: Repayment terms for personal loans can range from two to 10 years.
Cons to using a personal loan for business
Here are the cons of using a personal loan for business purposes.
- Low borrowing limits: Depending on the lender, personal loan amounts are capped at $100,000, while business loan amounts can reach $5 million.
- High interest rate: Personal loan interest rates range from 6 percent to 36 percent, but the average rate is 11.29 percent. The average interest rate, or median fixed interest rate, for business loans is 7.00 percent as of Q1 in 2023.
- No impact on business credit: Payment history for the personal loan has no impact on your business credit. That could be a good thing if you miss payments, but it’s a bad thing if you want to improve your business credit.
- Personal credit score is at risk: Late or missed payments can lower your personal credit and prevent you from getting approved for other types of personal credit, such as credit cards and auto loans.
How to get a personal loan for business
Here are the steps to securing a personal loan for business use:
- Confirm your credit score: Understand your credit score’s impact on loan approval, rates and terms. If you’re afraid your score is too low, raise it before applying or consider applying with a co-borrower.
- Prequalify: Prequalification allows you to discover potential rates and terms without affecting your credit. Compare and assess loan types, rates and terms across lenders to determine which best fits your needs.
- Apply: After comparing lenders and loan offers, choose a lender and apply. Be prepared to submit the necessary documentation for identity and income verification.
- Finalize: Upon approval, review and sign loan documents to receive funds.
Alternatives to personal loans for businesses
A personal loan may seem like the perfect choice, but it’s smart to consider what other funding options align with your business’s needs and goals. Alternatives to personal loans for businesses include business loans, business credit cards and crowdfunding.
Business loans can be used for all kinds of business expenses, including equipment, real estate, inventory and supplies. Some lenders are just as lenient as personal loan lenders with their requirements. They work with various businesses and credit profiles, meaning business owners could secure bad credit or startup business loans.
For example, Credibly’s working capital business loan requires a minimum credit score of 550, ranges from $5,000 to $400,000 and can be used for hiring, payroll, marketing and other immediate business expenses.
Triton Capital also offers business loans from $10,000 to $500,000 that can be used for business needs including purchasing equipment. The lender states it works with startups. As with all loans, the better the credit score, the better the interest rate.
Business credit card
Business credit cards function like personal credit cards, but they are restricted to business purchases. You can spend up to your credit limit, and each time you repay what you’ve borrowed, the credit line refreshes.
Unlike some business loans, you don’t need a formal business structure to apply and qualify. And on-time payments will help build your business credit score.
Since a personal guarantee may be required for a business credit card, if you can’t keep up with credit card payments, you are risking your personal assets.
Instead of borrowing money, try crowdfunding, which allows businesses to acquire capital through donations. Unlike a personal loan, crowdfunding doesn’t require an application or credit check. You use a fundraising platform, such as GoFundMe or Indiegogo, to launch an online campaign and collect monetary pledges that can be used to launch a business, product or project.
You can choose between four types of crowdfunding — donation, debt, equity and reward — but if you want to avoid having to repay the funds donated or guarantee donors equity in your company, opt for reward or donation-based crowdfunding.
Unfortunately, crowdfunding doesn’t guarantee a specific amount, and depending on the platform, there may be fees.
SBA loans are term loans or lines of credit backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Each type of loan covers a specific need of businesses, such as real estate purchases, working capital or expansion. Benefits like lower down payments, favorable interest rates and extended repayment terms of up to 25 years make these loans appealing to small businesses.
Examples of SBA loans include:
- 7(a) for general purposes
- 504 for real estate and equipment
- Microloans for smaller needs of $50,000 or less
Business lines of credit
Like business credit cards, business lines of credit give businesses access to funds up to a predetermined amount. With the ability to borrow, repay and borrow again, lines of credit are ideal for short-term business expenses.
Lenders offer secured or unsecured lines of credit, and you can use the money as needed instead of receiving one lump sum. Since you only pay interest on the amount you spend, it may be more affordable than a traditional business or personal loan.
Working capital loans
Working capital loans aid businesses in covering day-to-day operations and expenses. They are particularly useful when businesses need to maintain cash flow during fluctuations, which can be seasonal for some businesses.
Although working capital loans offer fast funding of over $1 million and lenient requirements, they tend to have shorter repayment periods, requiring daily or weekly payments and high interest rates.
Equipment loans allow businesses to acquire necessary machinery, tools, vehicles and other types of equipment necessary to help them grow without a significant upfront financial burden.
The requirements vary based on the lender, but established businesses and startups can apply. Since these are secured loans, the equipment will be used as collateral and can be seized in the event of default. Loan amounts typically range from $5,000 to over $500,000, with terms spanning one to five years. Depending on the lender, a down payment of between 10 and 20 percent may be required.
The bottom line
While securing a business loan to cover various financial obligations would be ideal, that isn’t an option for all businesses. Although rates are higher and loan limits are lower, a personal loan could be the answer to your funding troubles. However, be sure you explore the different types of business financing options before settling on a personal loan for business use.
Frequently asked questions
No, a business loan is not the same as a personal loan. Personal loans are typically reserved for consumer purposes, such as debt repayment or paying for a renovation. Business loans are designed to meet business needs, such as purchasing equipment or commercial real estate.
To secure a personal loan for business purposes, assess your credit, prequalify and compare rates and choose a lender. You’ll also want to confirm that the lender you choose doesn’t have any limitations for loan usage. In some instances, lenders don’t allow borrowers to use personal loans for business use. Once you choose a lender, apply, provide the necessary documentation and close the loan.
Yes, depending on the lender, there are restrictions on how you can use a personal loan. Occasionally, lenders may not allow a loan to be used for business purposes. There could also be other restrictions, which will be laid out in the loan agreement.