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Small business lender review methodology

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Small business loans cover a range of financial products. This includes term loans, lines of credit, business credit cards, equipment loans, working capital, invoice financing and factoring, and merchant cash advances. 

Finding the right loan for your needs requires researching multiple lenders based on various factors, including type of loan, loan amount, speed of funding, interest rates, fees, collateral requirements, repayment terms and more. 

To help you find the best and most affordable business loan, our editorial team regularly evaluates financial products offered by banks, credit unions, online lenders and other lending institutions. 

To measure overall quality, lenders are given a rating, which is a score between 1 and 5.

  • 4.5 or higher: Outstanding
  • 4 to 4.5: Excellent
  • 3.5 to 4: Good
  • 3.5 and under: Average

How we rate small business loan lenders

We analyze and review lenders using a 22-point scale based on five key areas:

  • Accessibility
  • Affordability
  • Transparency
  • Customer experience
  • Flexibility 


Access to small business funding is a challenge for many business owners. Rate hikes and bank turmoil have led to lenders tightening their standards. This can make it difficult for startups, bad-credit borrowers and business owners in underserved areas to get approved for small business loans.

Our review experts consider several factors in this category, including the following requirements:

  • Minimum time in business
  • Minimum annual revenue
  • Minimum credit score


A business loan is affordable if the payments are manageable, you have the lowest possible rate based on your creditworthiness and there are minimal fees. Factors we look at in this category include:

  • Minimum interest rates
  • Maximum interest rates
  • Rate or fee discounts


The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) protects consumers against unfair or harmful lending practices and helps make it easier for borrowers to understand the true cost of a loan. But TILA doesn’t apply to business loans. This makes it harder for you to get straightforward and upfront information on loan costs in a standard fashion, which can help you quickly comparison shop for loans. 

To get the highest rating in this category, lenders should make it easy for you to find loan information, such as:

  • Starting interest rates
  • Maximum interest rates
  • Approval and funding times
  • Minimum credit score requirements

Customer experience

A good customer experience with a lender is transparent, efficient, and responsive. The lender should be easy to communicate with, responsive to your questions and concerns, and they should be willing to go the extra mile to make sure you have a positive experience for the life of the loan.

Lenders in this category are assessed for factors that include:

  • Online application
  • Online account access
  • Customer service hours
  • Methods of communication


Loan flexibility is the ability to adjust the terms of a loan to meet your needs. This could include extending the loan term, deferring payments, or giving you ways to lower the interest rate. Loan flexibility can be helpful if you're going through a financial hardship or want to make your payments more manageable.

Our team reviews lenders, looking for factors that include:

  • Option to refinance loan
  • Option to renew loan 
  • Option to increase loan amount
  • Prepayment discounts
  • Additional cost-saving measures