Key takeaways

  • Popular SBA 7(a) lenders include Huntington National Bank, Live Oak Bank, Newtek Small Business Finance, and Readycap Lending
  • SBA 504 lenders have provided over $6 billion in funding to small businesses
  • SBA Community Advantage lenders include CDC Small Business Finance, LiftFund, and Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation

SBA loans are small business loans backed by a government promise to shoulder some of the payment risk. They’re designed to help make business loans more accessible for small businesses. The loans are offered through lenders approved by the Small Business Administration.

While there’s a host of SBA lender options, the best SBA lenders can get through approvals efficiently to lower the usually lengthy funding timeline. Some lenders have SBA preferred lender status, giving them authority to approve some loans without the SBA’s direct green light. If you’re a subprime borrower, you may also look at SBA lenders with relaxed eligibility requirements.

Let’s look at the best SBA lenders on the market.

Best SBA 7(a) lenders

Lender Approval amount Average loan size
Live Oak Bank $1,848,315,000 $1,521,247
Huntington National Bank $1,371,775,200 $187,273
Newtek Small Business Finance $813,898,300 $638,652
Readycap Lending $572,979,900 $536,399,800
Byline Bank $573,553 $1,280,190
Celtic Bank $509,991,100 $706,359
Bayfirst National Bank $495,181,900 $183,809
TD Bank $484,461,600 $127,122
First Internet Bank of Indiana $454,767,000 $1,314,355
Wells Fargo $427,603,100 $199,815

Amounts accurate for fiscal year 2023, ending September 30, 2023.

For the 2023 fiscal year, SBA 7(a) lenders approved over 57,362 loans for a total of $27.5 billion in small business loans, according to the weekly SBA lending report. On average, business owners were granted $479,685 per SBA loan to grow their businesses. By comparison, in 2022, 7(a) lenders approved 47,678 loans totaling $25.7 billion in funding.

Of those, over 21,000 approvals were for brand-new startups and startup businesses with less than two years under their belts. Startups were awarded over $1 trillion in funding, making up over 38 percent of SBA 7(a) loans approved.

SBA Preferred Lenders

While you can get SBA business loans from many sources, some lenders stand out, usually lenders that are part of the SBA Preferred Lending Program (PLP). These lenders tend to approve large volumes of SBA loans and can bypass direct SBA approval in some cases. This speeds up approvals and gives them the ability to handle more approvals than other lenders.

For example, preferred lender Huntington National Bank continues to be a top originator, approving thousands more SBA loans than its peers nationally for the past five years. Live Oak Bank is the only one to outpace Huntington National Bank in the amounts financed.

Best SBA 504 lenders

Lender Approval amount Average loan size
Mortgage Capital Development Corporation $632,869,000 $1,372,818
Florida Business Development Corporation $402,287,000 $967,036
Florida First Capital Finance Corporation $338,902,000 $1,197,534
Empire State Certified Development Corporation $291,292,000 $1,288,903
Business Finance Capital $284,523,000 $1,311,166
California Statewide Certified Development Corporation $281,477,000 $1,239,987
Mountain West Small Business Finance $197,505,000 $1,034,058
Small Business Growth Corporation $196,832,000 $1,025,167
Capital Certified Development Corporation $190,518,000 $1,628,359
CDC Small Business Finance Corporation $166,474,000 $1,156,069
WBD, Inc. $165,352,000 $955,792

Amounts accurate for fiscal year 2023, ending September 30, 2023.

Compared to SBA 7(a) loans, SBA 504 loans aren’t as widely approved, but small businesses tend to receive more in financing. Over 5,900 small businesses received SBA 504 loans in 2023, totaling over $6.4 billion in funding, based on the SBA weekly lending report. The average loan is funded for over $1 million. In 2022, over 9,200 loans were approved for a total of $9.2 billion.

One possible reason for the larger loan amounts is that SBA 504 loans are designed for construction projects or equipment purchases. It may take more to finance these projects than a loan for general working capital.

The top SBA lenders for 504 loans aren’t recognizable banks since you typically apply through a Certified Development Company (CDC). The CDC also works with another financial institution to guarantee the loan.

Best SBA Community Advantage lenders

Lender Approval amount Average loan size
CDC Small Business Finance $52,188,200 $181,840
LiftFund $6,746,300 $143,538
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation $5,905,000 $159,595
PeopleFund $5,538,700 $173,084
Arizona Capital Source $4,426,100 $210,767
AMPAC Tri-State CDC, Inc. $4,412,600 $200,573
Main Street Launch $4,125,000 $294,643
Carolina Small Business Development Fund $3,868,800 $193,440
Trenton Business Assistance Corporation $3,711,200 $161,357
Montana Community Development Corp. $3,298,200 $137,425
Community Investment Corporation $3,098,600 $172,144

Amounts accurate for fiscal year 2023, ending September 30, 2023.

In 2023, SBA Community Advantage lenders helped 800 small businesses, approving over $141.3 million in funding. The average loan size is $176,636. These amounts are better than 2022 data, which shows only $114.8 million went to 722 small businesses, with an average loan amount of $159,009.

SBA Community Advantage lenders include mission-oriented organizations like community development financial institutions and certified development companies.

Bankrate insight

The SBA Community Advantage loan is part of a temporary program designed to help small businesses in underserved markets. It was set to expire in 2024, but the SBA is working to transition lenders in this pilot program into Community Advantage small business lending companies with the power to approve SBA 7(a) loans to businesses in underserved communities.

SBA lenders for startups and bad credit

SBA business loans are competitive in nature due to their interest rates and payment terms. Many lenders keep eligibility tight, which isn’t helpful for subprime borrowers. To help overcome this problem, we rounded up online lenders that offer some of the best small business loans. This includes SBA loans for startups and bad credit businesses.


Fundible is a fintech lender servicing a variety of businesses through its direct lending platform or network of lenders. It offers business loans for bad credit and startups, with the ability to work with personal credit scores as low as 450 through its loan portfolio. In terms of SBA loans, you’ll need higher credit to qualify, but it’s still accepting of startup businesses.

  • 650 personal credit score
  • $250,000 in annual revenue
  • 1 year in business

As with any lender, you’re more likely to qualify with even stronger credentials. For example, you’re most likely to get approved for an SBA loan with a 685 personal credit score and $350,000 in annual revenue.


While SBA loans aren’t its main focus, Creditfy does keep lenient requirements to apply. It accepts businesses with as little as six months experience and no revenue. You also need a personal credit score of just 600, well below the usual SBA loan credit standards. The lender prefers to see your financials at $250,000 per year, giving you a leg up in the approval process.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is a unique online-based SBA lender specializing in small SBA loans for fair or strong credit borrowers. Business owners can qualify with as little as a 630 personal credit score for loans from $50,000 to $500,000. You will need to be in business for at least two years and have $400,000 in annual revenue.


Getting an SBA business loan through Lendio works well for borrowers with less-than-stellar finances because it’s a loan marketplace. Lendio partners with over 75 lenders to bring you an array of SBA lending options, including SBA 7(a), SBA 504 and SBA microloans.

You need at least a 600 personal credit score and $8,000 in monthly revenue. But you will need two years of generating revenue behind you before you can be accepted.

How to choose an SBA lender

There’s a host of approved lenders offering SBA business loans. You can choose the right SBA lender by considering a few features:

  • Type of SBA loan. The SBA 7(a) loan is the most popular, but if you need a smaller loan size, you could consider other types of SBA loans. For example, you could go for an SBA Express loan which speeds up the SBA approval process for loans under $500,000.
  • Lending criteria. The SBA doesn’t require a set criteria for lenders to accept small businesses wanting an SBA loan. So, you’ll want to make sure your business meets the lending standards of the individual lender you’re applying for.
  • Funding timelines. SBA approvals can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days from start to finish. Some lenders will state their usual funding speed, which can help you understand how long to expect until you receive the funds.
  • Type of lender. You can get SBA loans from both traditional and fintech lenders. Traditional lenders typically have the tightest lending requirements. You can also go through an SBA Preferred Lender, a lender with SBA certification that can process loans efficiently.

Bottom line

The top SBA lenders process thousands of loans each year, proving that they have the experience and expertise to approve these low-interest business loans efficiently. While experience is a plus, you should also consider the type of SBA loan as well as the standards your business must meet.

Many SBA lenders tighten requirements due to the competitive atmosphere that the SBA loan features create. But specific lenders offer SBA loans to businesses with under two years’ experience or a lower credit score in the low 600s. You can also try for an SBA microloan. Some lenders welcome business owners with a credit score of 500 or lower.

Frequently asked questions

  • Not every business will qualify for an SBA loan because each lender sets its own lending requirements. But you can find SBA lenders that relax their requirements enough to accept less-than-ideal borrowers, particularly for SBA microloans or Community Advantage loans. These loans are processed through mission-based lenders targeting disadvantaged businesses.
  • Huntington National Bank is the top originator of SBA 7(a) loans by number of approvals, according to the SBA weekly lending report. Live Oak Bank is the top originator based on loan amounts.
  • SBA Preferred Lenders have approval authority to approve some loans without the SBA’s direct green light. This speeds up approvals and gives them the ability to handle more approvals than other lenders. Some examples are Wells Fargo, Huntington National Bank and Live Oak Bank.