Key takeaways

  • Online lenders usually offer the fastest funding for small businesses
  • Traditional lenders, banks and credit unions tend to have stricter underwriting processes, extending the funding timeline
  • The best fast lenders should have an easy-to-understand application and funding process

Sometimes, you need fast business funding to cover an emergency or to finance a new business opportunity. Online lenders and some traditional lenders can provide fast small business loans with a simplified application process. Fast business lenders typically fund within a few or even the same business day.

But fast small business funding options may come with less favorable terms. For example, they may offer shorter repayment periods or higher costs than traditional options like SBA or bank loans. Consider the pros and cons and where to look for a fast business loan.

Online lenders

If you want the fastest option for small business funding, a business loan from an online lender may be the best option. These lenders require minimal documentation and use software to streamline the approval process. Not only can you get fast approval, but funding often occurs within 48 hours.

For example, Fora Financial advertises funding within 24 to 72 hours after approval. But Triton Capital may be an option for fast equipment financing. Some business lines of credit even provide same-day funding.

Pros

  • Fastest funding option
  • More lenient qualification requirements
  • Use funds for almost any purpose

Cons

  • May not build business credit
  • Less favorable loan terms — often only a few months
  • Higher borrowing costs

Who it’s best for

Financing through online lenders may be best for startups, businesses with limited credit history or business owners with bad credit. Entrepreneurs comfortable with tech may also appreciate the streamlined application process and less stringent guidelines for approval.

Traditional lenders

As traditional lenders, banks and credit unions often have a longer underwriting process with stricter loan requirements than online lenders. The lengthier process usually stretches to funding timelines, too. The entire approval process can take several days to several weeks, depending on the factors surrounding the loan. Some traditional lenders like PNC Bank can fund loans in one to five days, but typically, a traditional lender won’t be the fastest option.

Pros

Cons

Who it’s best for

Traditional lenders usually require businesses to be established — often at least two years old — with good or excellent credit.

Invoice factoring or invoice financing companies

One alternative to fast small business loans is invoice factoring. Invoice factoring offers fast business funding for companies through their clients’ unpaid invoices. The factoring company buys the outstanding invoices, paying the business between 70 percent and 90 percent of the value. The business gets any remaining funds after customers satisfy the invoices, and the factoring company takes out fees.

Invoice financing works similarly, but you’ll collect the invoices yourself rather than leaving them to the financing company.

Pros

  • Faster funding than traditional banks
  • Uses clients’ credit instead of the business
  • Invoice factoring company collects invoices

Cons

  • Lowers profit margins
  • Factoring fees can add up
  • Remaining amounts can take up to 90 days to fund

Who it’s best for

Businesses that invoice other businesses are the best choice for invoice factoring. This option may be good for businesses with poor credit since the invoice factoring company uses the customers’ credit to determine eligibility. But this funding option can be costly since a customer’s bad credit or missed payment could affect your business’s profit margins.

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Bankrate insight
Other types of fast business loans to consider are:

 

What to look for in a fast business lender

While you may need fast business funding, researching the most reputable fast business lender can pay off. After determining which loans and terms best fit your lending needs, you can evaluate each lender by its application process, customer service, underwriting requirements and funding speed. Once you’ve found the right lender, responsibly managing your fast business loan is key to avoiding default and penalties.

The best fast business lenders should have:

  • Good customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot
  • A soft credit check to prequalify and avoid lowering your credit score
  • Competitive interest rates
  • A clear and understandable approval process
  • No fees or other costs hidden in fine print
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Fast business lender red flags
When you need small business funding fast, it could cause you to overlook red flags in a business lender. Consider these warning signs when researching fast business lenders:

 

  • Requiring an application fee
  • Being pushy through the application process
  • Not showing rates and loan terms upfront
  • Extremely high interest rates or additional fees
  • Making promises the lender can’t keep, like guaranteeing approval

Alternatives to fast business loans

Fast business loans may not be the right approach for everyone. Repayment terms and borrowing limits for fast business loans can be challenging, especially if your business has less-than-perfect credit, as you’ll likely be subject to higher fees or rates. Before signing a loan agreement, consider the alternatives to fast lending:

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Bankrate insight
SBA loans provided through the Small Business Administration can be a valuable option to consider. These loans cover the costs of operating your business and are available to small businesses that have exhausted other funding options. According to the SBA weekly lending report, about 57,362 7(a) loan applications were approved in the 2023 fiscal year, and the average loan size was $479,645.

The bottom line

Fast small business loans can be a great way to get the financing you need quickly. There are multiple business lenders available, from traditional banks to online lenders, that can expedite the funding speed. Then, gather any necessary documentation, apply and get approved and funded the same day or within a few business days.

Frequently asked questions


  • It’s not unusual for online lenders to grant a business loan within 24 to 48 hours after an application has been submitted. Traditional lenders may take a few weeks.

  • Yes, online lenders are known to offer startup business loans. These loans typically fund quickly and have less stringent qualifications and lending requirements. A business line of credit is another quick funding option for startups. Even startups with a minimal credit history may be eligible through online lenders.
  • The quickest way to get a business loan is to work with a lender who offers fast business loans. These lenders can typically approve and fund a loan in as little as one to two business days.  Online lenders usually offer the fastest lending times. If you prefer to work with a traditional lender, you can speed up the process by knowing the eligibility requirements and having everything you need for the application in advance.