business financing

Business Term Loans vs. Business Line of Credit | SMB Compass

Ezra Cabrera | November 4, 2019


    Cash flow is the most important component in every business, and not having enough of it can be debilitating for any company, including yours. Clearly, it’s best to not wait until your business runs out of cash.  When small business owners are strapped for money, fortunately, they can tap into financial institutions and apply for small business loans. Two of the most popular choices include business term loans and a business line of credit.

    Both financing options share similar features:

    • They can inject ash into your business.
    • Borrowers need to repay the loan with interest.

    Both solutions focus on solving different financial problems. But how do these two funding options differ from one another? Here’s how:

    What is a Business Term Loan?

    There are different types of business term loans, but all of them have a few similarities. If you qualify for a term loan, lenders will give you a single lump sum, which you can repay over a specified period. The repayment period is usually from three months to 10 years, depending on the type of term loan.

    Related: How to Choose the Best Type of Business Term Loan for You

    What is a Business Line of Credit?

    A business line of credit functions similar to a credit card where lenders assign you a predetermined credit limit, where you can withdraw funds from as needed. Unlike term loans, you don’t have to pay for the entire credit limit. Instead, you only repay the amount you’ve withdrawn, plus interest.

    For example, if you were given a $50,000 credit limit but you’ve only withdrawn $20,000, you only have to repay the $20,000 along with the accrued interest. Because of its flexibility, business owners apply for a business line of credit so they are able to access additional capital anytime.

    How Do Business Line of Credit and Term Loans Differ?

    Here’s how both financing options differ from one another:

    1. Term Loans are Often Easier to Qualify For

    With the rise of alternative and online lenders, qualifying for a loan is not as difficult as it once was, as long as your business is generally healthy. Business lines of credit aren’t difficult to obtain, but make sure you’re applying for funding from alternative lenders. Otherwise, you’ll face stringent qualifications from traditional lenders.

    2. Term Loans Often Have Longer Repayment Periods

    Business term loans (except for short-term loans) often have longer repayment periods. Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, repayment terms can range from five, 10, up to 25 years.

    3. Term Loans Offer Better Rates

    The APR for multi-year term loans can be either be 6.5% to 15%, while interest rates for business lines of credit range from 7.65% to 23.99%.

    4. Business Line of Credit is Revolving

    With term loans, you receive a lump sum upfront. If you need additional funding, you’ll need to apply for another term loan. On the other hand, a business line of credit is revolving. Once you repay your dues, your credit limit goes back up again so you don’t have to reapply for another line of credit. You can also apply for an unsecured business line of credit for borrowers without collateral. 

    5. A Business Line of Credit is More Convenient

    A line of credit allows you to draw money whenever you need to. In this way, you’ll rest easy knowing you don’t have to worry about paying for daily business expenses.

    Which Financing Option is Best for Your Business?

    The type of financing options suitable for your business depends on your goals and needs as a company. If you need fast funding, it’s best to apply for a line of credit or a short-term loan through an online lender because banks and credit unions can take up to weeks or months for approval and funding. Online lenders can fund a business line of credit within 24 hours and a term loan within three to five days.

    If you still don’t know which type of financing option to pursue, a great way to decide is to determine the use of the funds. If you’re planning to use the funds as a safety blanket in case of emergency, a business line of credit is the way to go.

    Term loans are best if you’re going to use it for specific business expenses. If you know the cost of the investment, you’ll be able to determine if taking out a loan can positively impact your ROI. Keep in mind that financing can be expensive, especially If you still don’t know which one to choose. If you find yourself in this position, pick the one with the lowest cost. Be sure to talk to potential lenders and discuss APR and fees.

    Submit Your Application and Wait for Approval

    After getting everything ready, it’s time to submit your application. Some lenders may offer online applications (i.e., online lenders). If that’s the case, you will need to convert your documents into soft copies and upload the files on the lender’s database along with your application form.

    Other lenders may require you to visit one of their branches personally to submit your application. As you submit your application, the lenders may conduct a short interview and ask you questions like how you’ll use the funds or repay the loan. One thing to remember in these situations is to be transparent and honest as possible. If the lenders find out that you’re providing false information, it will hurt your chances of approval.

    Once everything has been submitted, the only thing left to do is wait for the lender’s decision. For online lenders, approval can take as fast as one business day. For non-profit lenders, approval could take a few weeks, so best apply for it if time is on your side.

    Get the Funds You Need to Start a Business Today!

    Starting a business can be the most exciting but overwhelming experience of your life. But to keep it open, you need to be able to secure enough funding. Business loans are a great financial resource, and while navigating the entire application process could be daunting, there are many resources that can help make the whole thing easier.

    Use the guide above as your starting point. Once you get a grip on how business loan application works, it will be easier for you to get the funding you need to see your business succeed. Good luck!

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.