Allison Martin is a contributor to Bankrate covering personal finance, including mortgages, auto loans and small business loans. Martin’s work began over 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been published in several leading outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews, Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com. Martin, a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFE), also shares her passion for financial literacy and entrepreneurship with others through interactive workshops and programs.
Helen Wilbers is a Bankrate editor specializing in auto loans. Helen is passionate about demystifying complex topics, such as car financing, and helping borrowers stay up-to-date in a changing and challenging borrower environment.
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Live Oak Bank offers U.S. Small Businesss Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and commercial bank loans. It was also the leading provider of SBA loans by dollar volume in 2022.
Up to 25 years
Min. annual revenue
Min. time in business
Who Live Oak Bank is best for
Business owners seeking SBA loans are an ideal fit for Live Oak Bank business loans. As a member of the SBA Preferred Lender Program, Live Oak can make credit decisions in-house. This accelerates the approval process by three to four weeks. Plus, because these loans are government-backed, you might qualify for longer terms and lower interest rates than you would with a non-SBA lender.
Who Live Oak Bank may not be best for
If you operate in a restricted industry not served by Live Oak Bank, it’s best to look elsewhere. These include companies in sectors that pose an elevated risk to the lender. Live Oak Bank isn’t the best for fast loans — even with a Preferred Lender, the funding process for SBA loans can take weeks.
Live Oak Bank: in the details
Up to 25 years
Min. annual revenue
Min. time in business
Personal credit score
Live Oak Bank pros and cons
Generous loan limits
SBA Preferred Lender
Multiple loan options
Limited disclosures on website
No online prequalification tool
Business loan types offered
SBA 7(a) loans
SBA 504 loans
USDA rural development loans
Loan quick facts
Amounts: $150,000 to $5,000,000
Terms: 10 to 25 years
APR: Not stated
Live Oak Bank SBA 7(a) loan overview
In 2022, Live Oak Bank was the leading originator in SBA 7(a) loans by dollar volume. It approved more than 1,100 loans totalling $1.7 billion, making the lender a trusted option for this type of business loan.
Borrowers can qualify for between $150,000 and $5 million. The maximum loan term is 15 years if you’re using the funds to purchase machinery and equipment, 25 years for real estate investments and 10 years for other purposes. Live Oak Bank doesn’t disclose its interest rates, but the SBA caps interest rates at a base rate plus 8 percent. There are no prepayment penalties for loans with terms under 15 years.
Personal guarantees are required from all business owners with a 20 percent or greater stake, and you may have to put up personal assets to satisfy collateral requirements. You’ll need a personal credit score of at least 650.
Loan quick facts
Amounts: Up to $15 million
Terms: Up to 25 years
APR: Not stated
Live Oak Bank SBA 504 loan overview
SBA 504 loans are ideal for acquiring commercial real estate and large equipment. You can also use the loan proceeds to finance improvements of existing facilities. A down payment of 10 percent is typically required. Personal guarantees are required from all business owners with a 20 percent or greater stake, and the financed asset itself will act as collateral for the loan.
Loan quick facts
Amounts: Not stated
Terms: Not stated
APR: Not stated
Live Oak Bank USDA rural development loan overview
Live Oak Bank’s website provides limited details on its commercial USDA loan offerings. However, it helps small business owners navigate the application process for the following:
USDA Business & Industry Program
USDA Community Facilities Program
USDA Water and Environmental Program
USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
USDA 9003 Program
USDA Food Supply Chain Guarantee Program
The lender states it offers larger funding opportunities to assist small business owners. You could get a combination of SBA loans, conventional loans and business lines of credit. But details regarding these commercial lending products are limited.
Small business loans are available in all 50 states, but the eligibility guidelines vary by loan product. Generally, you’ll need a good or excellent personal credit score to qualify. Some loans also require a down payment.
It’s important to note that Live Oak Bank may not lend to industries and business models that:
Have weak or variable historic cash flow
Rely on discretionary spending for revenue
Depend on one or a few high-paying customers
Are highly cyclical
What we like and what we don’t like
Live Oak Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender offering generous loan limits. Still, there are downsides to consider before applying for funding.
What we like
Generous loan limits: You could be eligible for a business loan of up to $15 million, depending on the loan type you pursue.
SBA Preferred Lender: Borrowers generally receive faster loan decisions and more attractive loan terms. Plus, these lenders have demonstrated experience in handling SBA loans, meaning they can help your business navigate the process.
Multiple loan types: In addition to government-backed SBA and USDA loans, Live Oak Bank can customize a lending package with other commercial loan types, such as lines of credit.
What we don't like
Limited disclosures: Like many banks, Live Oak does not list interest rates and other borrowing costs online. In general, the bank steers borrowers toward contacting its lending experts for answers to their questions — which could be a plus for some, but a minus if you prefer to research a lender thoroughly before reaching out.
Industry restrictions: Although loans are available in all 50 states, industry restrictions apply depending on your business model.
How Live Oak Bank compares to other lenders
Live Oak Bank is a bit limited with its business loan offerings. Furthermore, it fails to disclose lending guidelines and terms on its loan products, making it difficult to know if they’re more attractive than options from other lenders. Even so, as they focus primarily on SBA loans, there are set interest rates that all lenders must follow.
Huntington National Bank also features SBA 7(a) loans and SBA 504 loans in its lending arsenal. But you’ll have far more commercial lending solutions, including SBA Express Loans, business term loans, real estate loans and business lines of credit. Flexible loan solutions are also available if you operate a dental or veterinary practice.
Like Live Oak Bank, this lender does not disclose loan terms on the website, and online prequalification isn’t available. Keep in mind that Huntington National Bank only serves 11 states for its loan offerings outside of SBA loans, which could mean it's not an option for you.
Live Oak vs. U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank is another option if you’re seeking extensive commercial lending solutions. U.S. Bank accepts both new and established companies, and there are five business loans to choose from, including SBA loans. Loan amounts vary between $5,000 to $12.4 million, with interest rates starting at 7.99 percent APR.
If you’d prefer a line of credit, four options are available with limits between $5,000 and $1 million. You can apply online for select loan products, and some come with zero origination fees. However, U.S. Bank is only available to borrowers in 28 states, and you’ll need to apply to find out what you’ll qualify for and the rates you may receive.
How to apply for a loan with Live Oak Bank
When you’re ready to apply for a loan with Live Oak Bank, use the search bar on the website to locate your industry. You’ll be routed to a page with more information on how the lender can assist you with your funding needs.
Submit an inquiry to connect with a loan specialist about potential loan opportunities. A representative will contact you to discuss lending options, documentation requirements and the next steps.
Loan specialists are available by phone at 866-518-0286 to answer any questions. Phone lines are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. EST. You can also submit an online inquiry to connect with a loan specialist.
Copy of your driver’s license
Business plan and projections
Personal financial statement
List of personal assets, debts and income
Three years of business and personal tax returns
Business bank statements
Voided business check
Business financials (i.e., profit and loss statements, balance sheet)
List of business debts
Live Oak Bank frequently asked questions
Yes, Live Oak Bank is a legitimate bank, and it’s a leading provider of SBA 7(a) loans. Savings and CD accounts are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
It depends on the lender. However, you’ll have the best chance of getting a bank loan with a traditional lender if you have good or excellent credit. Live Oak Bank requires a credit score of at least 650 for its SBA 7(a) loans. A lower credit score likely means you’ll need to explore alternative lenders and could get a higher interest rate. Still, you could qualify for business funding, assuming you meet the other lending guidelines.
Banks make it more challenging to qualify for business loans, but it’s not impossible. Before applying, ask about the lending requirements so you’ll know what to expect. Most financial institutions require you to meet their minimum credit score, annual revenue and time in business thresholds to be considered for funding.
How Bankrate rates Live Oak Bank
Though Live Oak Bank offers massive loans, your business must be well-established to qualify. Funding timelines are unclear.
The website doesn’t disclose interest rate ranges, though SBA loans have caps established by the government.
Details on Live Oak Bank’s website are slim — you’ll need to talk to a bank employee to learn more. SBA lenders are required to report payments to the three major commercial credit bureaus.
You can’t apply online, but Live Oak Bank has a team of lending experts ready to answer your questions Monday through Friday.
Live Oak Bank offers multiple loan types and can customize its loans to your business’s needs.
years in business
loan features weighed
data points collected
To select the top small business lenders, Bankrate considers more than 20 factors. These factors include loan amounts, approval and funding times, credit requirements, APR or factor rate ranges, fees, and easy-to-find rate and fee disclosures. Bankrate reviewed more than 30 lenders and gave each a rating, which consists of five categories:
Accessibility: Factors considered in this category include minimum loan amounts, approval and funding speed, minimum annual revenue and minimum credit score.
Affordability: This section measures interest or factor rates and fees.
Transparency: How easy it is to find important rates, fees and eligibility requirements are considered in this category.
Customer experience: Customer service hours, online applications and app availability are considered in this category.
Flexibility: This category considers factors like the number of loan products and ability to change payment due date.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.