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A Small Business Association (SBA) loan is designed to make it easier for businesses to get the capital they need to grow while reducing the risk for lenders. The most common type of SBA loan—the 7(a) loan—can be used for real estate, working capital, debt refinancing, and purchases.

We’ve collected data on 10 top lenders to compare their loan amounts, loans originated, average rates, and other key factors to narrow down the list to the five best SBA loans for startups.

Best SBA Loans for Startups of June 2023

Best for Range of Loan Amounts : Huntington Bank

 Huntington Bank

  • Average Loan Amount: $175,818
  • Number of Loans in 2022: 5,675
  • Maximum Repayment Terms: Not disclosed

Pros & Cons


  • Wide range of loan amounts

  • Highest number of loan approvals

  • Offers multiple types of SBA loans


  • No online application

  • Limited loan information on the website

  • Branches in just 10 states

Why We Chose It

We like Huntington Bank for its wide range of loan amounts available. You can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $5 million with a Huntington Bank SBA loan, though the average amount is roughly $175,000. So no matter how much money your startup company needs, Huntington Bank could be a good option.

Huntington Bank also approves the largest number of SBA loans of any lender on our list. In fact. In 2022, the company was the largest originator of SBA loans by the number of loans. It approved 5,675 loans in 2022, which is thousands more than the next largest SBA lender.

Best for Average Interest Rate : Live Oak Bank

Live Oak Bank

  • Average Loan Amount: $1,469,634
  • Number of Loans in 2022: 588
  • Maximum Repayment Terms: 25 years

Pros & Cons


  • Low average interest rate

  • Part of the SBA Preferred Lender Program

  • Available in all 50 states


  • No online application

  • No physical branches

  • Not available for all industries

Why We Chose It

Live Oak Bank is a great option if you want the most affordable loan. The company has the best average interest rate of any lender on our list, based on loan originations in 2022. Live Oak Bank is also the largest SBA loan lender in terms of the dollar amount approved. It approved nearly $1.7 billion in SBA loans in 2022, with an average loan amount of more than $1.46 million.

Another thing to like about Live Oak Bank is that it’s a part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program, which allows it to approve loans more quickly—often three to four weeks faster than other lenders.

Best for the Big Bank Experience : Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

  • Average Loan Amount: $176,448
  • Number of Loans in 2022: 1,165
  • Maximum Repayment Terms: 25 years

Pros & Cons


  • Best national bank on our list

  • Thousands of physical branches

  • Many small business services and financing


  • High average interest rate

  • Limited information on the website

  • Must schedule an appointment to apply

Why We Chose It

Wells Fargo is a great option for borrowers who prefer to work with a national bank. First, because Wells Fargo is so large and widely available, it’s easy for business owners to access a local branch and speak with a representative in person.

As a large national bank, Wells Fargo is also able to offer a large number of business products and services. If you want to do all of your business banking and borrowing in one place, Wells Fargo would allow you to do that.

Best for Online Application Process : Funding Circle

 Funding Circle

  • Average Loan Amount: Not disclosed
  • Number of Loans in 2022: Not disclosed
  • Maximum Repayment Terms: 20 years

Pros & Cons


  • Online application available

  • Transparent website

  • Fast approval and funding time


  • Shorter loan terms

  • No small loans available

  • Higher interest rate than some competitors

Why We Chose It

Funding Circle stands out among its competitors for its online application process. Most lenders require you to get in touch with a loan expert to start the process, but Funding Circle allows you to get started online. The convenient process continues once you apply, as Funding Circle has a fast approval and funding timeline—you’ll typically have your loan approved in about three weeks.

The online application is just one thing to like about the company’s website. It’s also more transparent than most lenders about the loan process and requirements and has additional resources and calculators for business owners on the fence or seeking more details about a loan.

Best for Pre-Application Resources : TD Bank

TD Bank

  • Average Loan Amount: $115,969
  • Number of Loans in 2022: 1,741
  • Maximum Repayment Terms: 25 years

Pros & Cons


  • Pre-qualification available

  • Transparent website

  • Part of the SBA Preferred Lender Program


  • High average interest rate

  • Must schedule an appointment to apply

  • Only available in 15 states and Washington D.C.

Why We Chose It

TD Bank’s website is a great starting point for anyone looking to apply for an SBA loan. The lender is more transparent than many about its loan requirements and features. It also offers other small business resources. Finally, TD Bank allows you to pre-qualify for a loan.

Another benefit of an SBA loan with TD Bank is that it's part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program, meaning your approval process can be streamlined so you can get your money more quickly than you might with other lenders.

Final Verdict

Startup companies have plenty of options when searching for an SBA loan. Each of the lenders on our list has something to offer that makes it stand out from the rest. Huntington Bank and Live Oak Bank are the two largest SBA lenders in terms of the number of loans and the total dollar amount, respectively. Live Oak Bank also has the added benefit of having the best average interest rate.

If the borrowing process is most important to you, you might prefer to work with a company like Funding Circle, which has an online application process, or a lender like Live Oak Bank or TD Bank, which are a part of the SBA Preferred Lender Program and, therefore, offer a more streamlined process.

Compare the Best SBA Loans for Startups

Guide to Choosing the Best SBA Loans for Startups

Factors to Consider When Getting an SBA Loan for a Startup

There are a few things you should keep in mind as you’re getting ready to apply for an SBA loan:

  • Credit score: Your credit score is an important factor in qualifying for just about any loan, and an SBA loan is no exception. Both your personal and business credit histories will be considered when you apply for an SBA loan, and each lender may have its own minimum credit score requirements.
  • Loan amount: SBA loans have a maximum amount of $5 million, but each lender can set its own loan minimum. You can borrow as little as $1,000 with Huntington Bank, while some banks have minimums that are considerably higher.
  • Type of business: The type of business you own may determine whether you qualify for a loan at all since certain industries aren’t able to get these loans. Additionally, individual lenders may limit what industries they’ll lend to.
  • Business history: Lenders often require that businesses be up and running for a certain amount of time. Additionally, a lender may require that your business has a certain amount of monthly or annual revenue.
  • Terms and conditions: While many lenders offer SBA loans, each one can impose its own loan terms and conditions. When choosing an SBA loan, be sure to consider factors such as the interest rate available, fees charged, and repayment options.

While many lenders don’t disclose their credit score and revenue requirements on their websites, you can set up a meeting with a loan advisor who will review your finances and tell you if you’re likely to qualify.

How to Get an SBA Loan

Here’s how you can get an SBA loan to grow your startup company:

  1. Choose a lender: Before applying for an SBA loan, you’ll have to decide on the right lender for you. You can do your own research to find the best lender, or you can use the SBA’s Lender Match tool, which will connect you with lenders based on your needs.
  2. Gather your paperwork: There’s a lot of documentation needed to apply for an SBA loan. You’ll need a borrower information form, financial statements, ownership and affiliation information, business licenses, loan application history, tax returns, resumes for principals, business overview and history, and your business lease.
  3. Complete your application: Once you’ve gathered your paperwork, you can submit your application. Some lenders allow you to start the process online, while others require that you connect with a loan expert to begin your application.
  4. Go through the approval process: The SBA loan approval process can take many weeks. Your loan advisor may reach out during this time for additional information or paperwork needed to approve your loan.
  5. Get your loan funds: Once your loan has been approved, you’ll receive your funds. Each lender will have a different timeline and process for distributing loan funds.

You don’t necessarily have to apply with only one lender. As with other types of loans, SBA lenders can explore different options to find the best rate and terms.

Alternatives to an SBA Loan

An SBA loan is just one financing option available to startup companies, but it’s far from the only one. Here are a few other ways startups can raise capital to grow their businesses:

  • Non-SBA loan: There are plenty of options for business loans outside of SBA loans. You can find business loans with wide ranges of amounts, repayment terms, interest rates, etc. These loans will be similar to SBA loans in many respects, but because the SBA doesn’t guarantee any of the loan amount, lenders may be more selective.
  • Line of credit: A business line of credit is a type of revolving credit that borrowers can use over and over again, similar to credit cards. Many lenders that offer business loans also offer lines of credit. 
  • Credit card: For startups that need only a smaller amount of working capital, a business credit card could also be a good option. While credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than loans, they can be easier to apply for and get than a loan.
  • Grants: Certain organizations and government entities offer grants to small businesses. These grants may be available only to businesses of certain sizes, those in certain industries, or those that meet other criteria. The benefit of a grant over other types of financing is it won’t have to be repaid.
  • Venture capital: Many startups take advantage of venture capital, where they take on private investors who get a stake in the business in exchange for a financial investment. Venture capital often means giving some up ownership in the company, but can be worth it for the influx of capital.
  • Crowdfunding: Startups can use either equity-based or reward-based crowdfunding to raise money for their businesses. Reward-based crowdfunding offers a reward to those who contribute, while equity-based crowdfunding offers investors a share of ownership, similar to what they would get if they bought stock in a company.

Business loans—including SBA loans, business lines of credit, and business credit cards—often rely on your personal creditworthiness to qualify. If your credit isn’t where you’d like it to be, work on improving it to make it easier for your business to get the capital it needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which SBA Loan Is Best for a Startup Company?

    The best SBA loan for any startup depends on that company’s specific needs. Some lenders may offer better interest rates, while others have a wider range of loan amounts or an easier application process. Once a borrower identifies their loan priorities, they can decide on the best option.

  • Are SBA Loans Worth It?

    SBA loans can be worth it for many businesses. They may be available to businesses that wouldn’t qualify for traditional business loans since the SBA helps to reduce the risk for lenders. They also come with advantages like competitive rates and fees, counseling and support for your business, lower (or no) down payment and collateral requirements, and more. 

    An SBA loan may not be worthwhile for a business that qualifies for a better interest rate elsewhere or one that doesn’t want to wait for the longer application and funding process that SBA loans often have.

  • Is It Difficult Getting a Loan for a Startup Company?

    It may be difficult for a startup company to get a loan because of its revenue or time in business. Lenders often require a certain amount of revenue to ensure the borrower will be able to repay their loan. Additionally, a lender may require that a business be in operation for a certain amount of time before qualifying for a loan. For very new startups or those without much revenue, qualifying for a loan may be challenging.

  • What Is the Max SBA Loan for a Startup?

    The maximum SBA loan amount is $5 million. However, that doesn’t mean everyone will qualify for that amount, particularly startups. The amount you’ll be able to borrow will depend on your lender, your business revenue, your creditworthiness, and other factors.


Investopedia is dedicated to providing its readers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews. To rate SBA loans for startups, we collected data on 10 of the most active SBA lenders, including loan amounts, number of loans originated, interest rate details, and other factors.

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