Top Business Financing Options For Contractors

As a professional contractor, it takes the right resources to complete each job. From equipment to employees and insurance, careful planning, preparation, and the right tools for the job are always required. No matter what type of contractor you are, you have one thing in common with other contractors and business owners: the need for capital to operate and expand your business.

While it’s great to be able to pull the funds you need from your own bank account to cover your expenses, this isn’t always a possibility. For times when you need financial help, consider a business loan for contractors. A business loan can be used to expand your business, fund daily operating expenses, or fill in gaps during seasonal lulls.

Before you start your loan application, first understand the types of loans available to you and which is best for boosting your business. Whether you’re an electrician, carpenter, plumber, painter, or another type of contractor, you have financing options.

Read on to learn more about business loans for contractors, choosing your lender, and how to apply for the financing you need.

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Purchasing Equipment Equipment Loan Lendio
Supplies & Inventory Line of Credit Kabbage
Working Capital SBA Loan SmartBiz
Marketing & Advertising Short-Term Loan LoanBuilder
Emergency Funds Business Credit Card Chase Ink Business Cash
Cash Shortages Invoice Financing BlueVine
Hiring, Training & Payroll Installment Loan OnDeck

Purchasing Equipment

No matter what industry you’re in, as a contractor, heavy equipment is a must for your business. If you specialize in land grading, a skid steer is necessary to complete each job. Maybe you need a work van or truck to move from job to job or even an equipment trailer to transport your equipment around town. Regardless of what type of equipment you need for your projects, one thing is certain: equipment can be expensive.

Even if your business is successful, tying up tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars from your own pocket could be financially damaging to your company. Instead of shouldering this financial burden alone, consider applying for an equipment loan.

Equipment Loans

With an equipment loan, the lender provides funding to purchase equipment. You’ll pay just a small down payment — typically 10% to 20% of the purchase price — and can then put the equipment into use immediately. You’ll then repay the loan with interest through regularly scheduled payments that are typically made monthly or weekly.

Equipment loans can be used to purchase all types of equipment, from heavy equipment to vehicles. The equipment purchased with loan proceeds is used as the collateral. Repayment terms, interest rates, and down payment requirements are determined by the lender and are typically based on creditworthiness, annual revenue, and other factors.

Recommended Option: Lendio

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When you’re shopping around for business loans, Lendio is an excellent resource. Lendio is a loan aggregator, which means that you’ll connect with multiple lenders with just one application. Once you’ve filled out the application, you’ll receive offers and can easily compare which are the best for your business.

Lendio connects contractors and other business owners with a variety of financial products, including equipment loans. Interest rates start at 7.5%. Borrowers can apply to receive between $5,000 and $5 million. Repayment terms of 1 to 5 years are available. Loan proceeds can be used for the purchase of any type of equipment, including heavy equipment, software, office furniture and fixtures, vehicles, appliances, and more.

To qualify, you must have $50,000 in annual revenue. You must be in business for at least 12 months, and a minimum credit score of 650 is required. If your credit score is lower than 650, you may be matched with a lender if you have solid cash flow and revenue.

Supplies & Inventory

In addition to equipment, supplies and inventory are also important to the operations of your business. No matter what type of supplies you need — lumber, hand tools, paint, ladders — these expenses can pile up quickly.

If you’re in need of inventory and supplies but your cash flow is a little short, you can receive a loan to cover this expense. A financial product that works well for supply and inventory purchases is a line of credit.

Lines Of Credit

A line of credit is a flexible financing option that can be used as needed. When you receive a line of credit, you can make multiple draws up to and including your assigned credit limit. Once a draw is initiated, most lenders transfer funds immediately, which are then available in your business checking account as soon as the next business day.

A line of credit can be used to purchase supplies and inventory and comes in handy when you’re unsure of exactly how much money you need. Interest is only charged on the borrowed amount. As you repay your line of credit, funds become available for you to use again as needed.

Credit score, time in business, and annual revenue requirements vary by lender. Some lenders put more weight on incoming cash flow over personal credit score, making it possible for business owners with credit challenges to receive a loan.

Recommended Option: Kabbage

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Kabbage is a lender that offers lines of credit up to $250,000 to qualified borrowers. Repayments are made on a monthly basis over a period of 6 or 12 months, which is determined by the amount borrowed. Fee rates vary from 1.5% to 10% based on business performance.

One of the benefits of working with Kabbage is access to the Kabbage card. This card gives you instant access to funding. Use your Kabbage card like a credit card for on-the-spot payments without waiting for a transfer. Once you’ve made a purchase, a new loan will be created under your account with the same rates and terms as traditional draws.

To qualify for a Kabbage line of credit, you must have either $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 in monthly revenue for the last 3 months. You must be in business for at least 1 year to qualify. During the application process, your business accounts — such as business checking, PayPal, Amazon, and Stripe — are connected to determine your maximum credit limit.

Working Capital

Every business needs working capital — money that’s used to pay day-to-day operating expenses. While your incoming cash flow should cover these regular expenses, it’s not uncommon to come up a little short from time to time. A slow season, unexpected expenses, and other issues could affect your incoming cash flow and your amount of working capital. When you don’t have adequate working capital, operations can slow … or come to a screeching halt.

If you need working capital and you have a solid credit score, one option to consider is a Small Business Administration loan.

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration, or SBA, helps business owners succeed through its resources and programs, including small business loans. The SBA offers multiple loan options for small business owners. All loans are distributed through SBA-approved lenders known as intermediaries.

Loan Program Description More

7(a) Loans

Small business loans that can be used for many many business purchases, such as working capital, business expansion, and equipment, inventory, and real estate purchasing.

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Microloans

Small loans, with a maximum of $50,000, which can be used for working capital, inventory, equipment, or other business projects.

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CDC/504 Loans

Large loans used to acquire fixed assets such as real estate or equipment. 504 Loans are offered in partnership with Community Development Companies (CDCs) and banks.

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Disaster Loans

Loans used to rebuild or maintain business following a disaster. 

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The 7(a) loan program provides up to $5 million for any business purpose with repayment terms of 10 or 25 years. The Express loan is similar to the 7(a) loan but is available in amounts up to $350,000 and comes with an approval decision guaranteed within 36 hours. The SBA Microloans program provides up to $50,000 for smaller capital needs. There are also financing opportunities for veterans, service members, and businesses operating in underserved areas.

While SBA loans have more stringent borrower requirements than other loans, those who qualify will receive competitive interest rates and terms. Many SBA loans, including the ones previously mentioned, can be used for working capital needs.

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

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SmartBiz makes the SBA loan application process easier than ever. Through this lender, you can apply for loans between $30,000 and $350,000 to use for working capital or debt refinancing.

Interest rates are currently 8% to 9% — the prime rate plus 2.75% to 3.75%. Fees will need to be paid to receive a loan, including a packaging fee, referral fee, and guarantee fee. Specific collateral is not needed but a blanket lien is required.

To qualify for a SmartBiz SBA loan, you must be in business for at least 2 years. A minimum personal credit score of 650 is required. Other credit requirements include no bankruptcies or foreclosures in the last 3 years, no open tax liens, and no outstanding collections. Business owners that have past defaults or delinquencies on government loans are ineligible. You must meet the standards of a small business as defined by the SBA, which limits annual revenues, number of employees, and company net worth. You must also show that you have sufficient cash flow and can afford to pay the loan.

Marketing & Advertising

You can’t grow your contracting business without marketing and advertising. To gain new clients and increase your revenue, a marketing and advertising campaign is a must.

Unfortunately, this comes at a price. Of course, you could rely on free methods to get the word out about your business. However, to efficiently and effectively scale your business, a paid campaign is key. A short-term loan could provide you with the extra funds you need to launch your marketing and advertising campaign.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is a loan for a specific amount of money that is paid back over time. While many short-term loans have repayment terms of 12 months or less, more lenders are loaning money with longer terms up to 3 years.

Short-term loans can be used for any business purpose, including funding a marketing and advertising campaign. Many short-term lenders have fewer requirements and can release funds quickly – sometimes even within 24 hours.

One difference with short-term loans, when compared to other financing options, is that a factor rate is used in place of an interest rate. This factor rate is a multiplier that determines the lender’s fee, which is added to the loan balance.

If you pursue a short-term loan for marketing and advertising, it’s necessary to plan out your campaign. Since your loan will be for a specific amount, you’ll need to know exactly how much you plan to spend. If you’re looking for a more flexible option, consider a line of credit to fund your next campaign.

Recommended Option: LoanBuilder

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LoanBuilder, by PayPal, offers short-term loans for $5,000 to $500,000. Repayment terms are between 13 to 52 weeks. Repayment terms are based on the amount of the loan. A one-time fee of 2.9% to 18.72% of the borrowed amount is added to the loan. A blanket lien is required to receive this loan. Once approved, funds can be transferred to your banking account as soon as the next business day.

To qualify for a LoanBuilder loan, your business must be in operations for at least 9 months. An annual revenue of $42,000 and a personal credit score of at least 550 is required. You can’t have any active bankruptcies in order to qualify. The lender will review your credit history and the health of your business to determine your maximum loan amount and rates.

Emergency Funds

An unexpected expense pops up, and you don’t have the money in your account to cover it. This is a scenario that can be stressful for the most level-headed and prepared business owner.

If you don’t have an emergency fund of your own and shuffling your finances to cover an emergency expense isn’t working out, take control of the situation by applying for a business credit card.

Business Credit Cards

If you’ve ever had a personal credit card, you already know how this works. After approval, the lender gives you a credit card that can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. Your credit card comes with a credit limit. You can make multiple purchases up to and including this limit.

Each month, you make a payment toward the balance and the interest charged by the lender. As you pay down the balance, funds become available to use again. Interest is charged only on the borrowed portion of funds. A credit card can be used for any business expense, such as purchasing supplies or paying recurring expenses. A credit card is a good choice for emergency expenses because it’s available to use immediately. Once you’re approved by the lender and have received your card, you can use it whenever you want without having to wait.

Interest rates are based on your creditworthiness. Credit cards for fair credit scores are available. If your score is very low, you may qualify for a secured card, which requires a cash deposit. By using and paying your card off responsibly, you can increase your credit limit, improve your credit score, and qualify for additional cards or loans with better rates and terms.

Many credit cards even come with rewards programs, which reward you for using and paying off your card. You’ll rack up points to receive cash back, hotel stays, or other benefits with responsible use of your card.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

The Chase Ink Business Cash credit card is a popular choice with business owners that have good to excellent personal credit. The Chase Ink Business Cash card comes with an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, rates are 15.24% to 21.24%.

If you spend $3,000 or more within the first 3 months of opening your account, you’ll receive $500 cash back. The rewards continue with 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent toward internet, cable, phone, and office supply store purchases every year. You’ll receive 2% cash back for the first $25,000 spent at restaurants and gas stations every year, and 1% cash back on every other purchase.

Cash Shortages

From time to time, cash shortages occur in your business. Even when cash flow slows, expenses still need to be paid. Cash flow shortages occur for a number of reasons, from winter slowdowns to slow-paying customers.

If your issue is the latter and you’re waiting to receive payment for completed jobs, cut down your waiting time by applying for invoice financing.

Invoice Financing

Invoice financing is a type of loan that is borrowed against unpaid invoices. There are two types of invoice financing: invoice factoring and invoice discounting.

Invoice Financing Invoice Factoring

Uses invoices as collateral for a line of credit

Sell invoices for immediate cash

You are granted a credit facility based on the value of your unpaid invoices, and can draw from your available funds at any time

Factor gives you an advance when the invoice is sent and sends you the rest once the customer pays (minus a factoring fee)

You are responsible for collecting invoice payments

Factor is responsible for collecting invoice payments

With invoice factoring, you’ll receive a partial payment for your unpaid invoices. Once the lender collects the total invoice amount from your customer, you’ll be paid the remaining amount, minus fees and interest.

With invoice discounting, you’ll receive approximately 90% to 95% of the total invoice. Once you collect full payment from the customer, you’ll repay the lender for the loan, including interest and fees.

Personal credit often doesn’t play a significant role in qualifying for invoice financing. Instead, the quantity and quality of the invoices are most important. That is, are the invoice totals enough to cover fees and interest charged by the lender, and are your customers likely to pay? You also must be a B2B business in order to qualify for invoice financing.

Recommended Option: BlueVine

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BlueVine provides invoice factoring lines up to $5 million. Rates are as low as 0.25% per week, with funding approvals as fast as 24 hours.

With BlueVine’s invoice factoring, you’ll receive 80% to 85% of your invoice total immediately. Once the invoice is paid, you’ll receive the remaining amount after fees have been paid to the lender.

To qualify, you must have a personal credit score of at least 530 and a time in business of at least 3 months. You must also be a B2B business with at least $100,000 in annual revenue.

If you don’t qualify for invoice factoring from BlueVine, the lender also offers lines of credit up to $250,000 with rates starting at 4.8%.

Hiring, Training & Covering Payroll

Your business is growing, and you’re taking on new projects. This is what you’ve worked so hard to achieve, but what happens when you don’t have the manpower to complete all your jobs? The logical answer is to hire and train new employees, but what do you do when you don’t have the funds to bring on new hires?

Whether you’re stalling on hiring and training new employees due to financial issues or you’re struggling to cover your current payroll, an installment loan may be the solution.

Installment Loans

An installment loan is a loan that is paid in regularly scheduled installments. You’ll receive a lump sum of money, which is paid back over time along with interest.

Installment loans provide you with the money you need for any business expense. You’ll have money in your account to pay your expenses, such as covering payroll or hiring new employees, and can repay it through more manageable daily, weekly, or monthly payments. Rates, terms, and borrowing limits vary by lender and are typically based on creditworthiness and your ability to repay the loan.

Recommended Option: OnDeck

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OnDeck offers small business installment loans up to $500,000. Eligible borrowers can apply for short-term loans with repayment terms of 3 to 12 months or long-term options with repayment terms of 15 to 36 months. Daily or weekly repayment plans are available.

Short-term loans have simple interest rates starting at 9%, while long-term loans have annual rates as low as 9.99%. An origination fee between 2.5% and 4% of the total loan amount is required, and fees are reduced for repeat customers. Interest rates are based on business and personal credit scores, as well as the performance of your business.

To qualify, your business must be in operations for at least one year. You also need a personal credit score of at least 500 and $100,000 in annual revenue.

Best Financing Options For Contractor Startups

You have the skills, you have the drive, and you’re ready to start your contracting business. There’s just one problem: you don’t have the money to start your business and traditional lenders aren’t taking you seriously. Before you throw in the towel, know that there are financing options that will help you get your business off the ground.

Startup and new business owners can look into SBA Microloans, which provide up to $50,000 to cover startup expenses. The average loan amount given through this program is $13,000. SBA Microloans are available through SBA-approved nonprofit intermediary lenders.

SBA 504 Loans

Borrowing Amount

$500 – $50,000

Term Lengths

Up to 6 years

Interest Rates

6.5% – 13%

Borrowing Fees

Possible fees from the loan issuer

Personal Guarantee

Guarantee required from anybody who owns at least 20% of the business

Collateral

Collateral normally required, but depends on the lender

Down Payment

  • No down payment for most businesses
  • Possible 20% down payment for startups
  • Possible 10% down payment for business acquisition loan

If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan, you can also apply for microloans through nonprofit organizations and alternative lenders like those below:

Lender Max. Borrowing Amount Rates Req. Credit Score Next Steps

$500,000

2.9% – 18.72% factor rate

550

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$250,000

9% – 36% factor rate

500

Apply Now

$500,000

9.4% – 99.7% APR

500

Apply Now

Another option to consider is taking out a personal loan to use for startup expenses. With this strategy, you can receive an affordable loan with favorable terms (if you have a solid credit score) from lenders like these:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest Rate Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$2K – $25K 2 – 4 years 15.49% to 30% 600 Apply Now

$1K – $50K 3 or 5 years 8.16% – 27.99% 620 Apply Now

$2K – $35K 3 or 5 years 6.95% – 35.99% APR 640 Apply Now

lending club logo

$1K – $40K 3 or 5 years 5.32% – 30.99% 640 Compare

Peer-to-peer, or P2P, loans may be another option for funding your new business venture. Crowdfunding and loans from friends and family are additional loan options available to cover startup costs.

What To Consider When Choosing A Lender

5 C's of Credit: What Lenders Look For

Before you begin the application process, you must choose the right lender. The internet gives you access to more lenders than ever. While this gives you more choices, it can also complicate the process of finding the right lender that offers the loan you need.

The goal of your loan is to advance your business. You want to ensure that your return on investment is worth the cost of the loan. You also want to make sure that you work with a lender that provides the best rates and terms for your financial situation.

To narrow down your choices, ask yourself a few key questions. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be one step closer to selecting your lender and applying for your business loan.

Why Do I Need A Loan?

Before you apply for a loan, ask yourself why you need the money. Having a plan for loan proceeds is the first step in responsible borrowing. When you apply for a loan, you’ll need to communicate with your lender how you plan to use the funds.

Knowing how you will use the money will also help you choose a lender. Let’s say you’re seeking a line of credit. A lender that only offers short-term or installment loans won’t fit your needs, so you can scratch this lender off the list and keep shopping.

How Much Money Do I Need?

Calculating how much money you need before applying for a loan is just a financially responsible move. You never want to take money just because it’s offered to you.

For most loans, you need to request a specific amount from your lender during the application process. Before filling out an application, calculate how much money you need. For example, if you’re purchasing supplies or equipment, shop around and gather quotes and bids. While you’re making your calculations, also figure out how big of a loan you can afford.

By determining how much money you need, you’ll be able to immediately eliminate multiple lenders. If you need $150,000 but a lender has maximum borrowing limits of $100,000, you can simply move on to the next financing option.

Am I Qualified?

Every lender will review your personal information and documentation to determine if you are qualified to receive a loan. Applying to a lender with requirements that you simply don’t meet is a waste of time … and creates an unnecessary inquiry on your credit report.

For every lender you’re considering, evaluate all requirements. Is your personal credit score high enough? How about revenue? Does the lender have a time in business requirement, and if so, do you meet it? Can you provide all documentation that is required by the lender? Pull your free credit score, evaluate your finances, and search for a lender based on this information.

If you don’t qualify with one lender — or several — don’t worry. There are plenty of other options available for your specific financial situation.

Do The Rates & Terms Meet My Needs?

Taking out a loan that you can’t afford is a recipe for disaster. While the loan may be helpful over the short-term, the long-term effects can be damaging. This is why you need to make sure that the rates and terms best fit your needs.

Compare interest rates and repayment terms to make sure you’re receiving the most affordable loan for your situation. For example, a short-term loan that’s funded quickly may seem like a great option when you need quick cash. However, a loan with a high factor rate, short repayment terms, and weekly payments may quickly become too much for your business to handle. Be smart, be responsible, and shop around before signing on the dotted line.

What You Need To Apply For Contractor Business Loans

The process for applying for a contractor business loan differs based on your chosen loan product and the lender you select. For some loans — such as lines of credit and business credit cards – the application process is quick and easy, and you can be approved minutes after applying. For other financing options – such as SBA loans – the application, underwriting, and approval process may take several weeks or longer.

During the application process, you’ll submit information and documentation to the lender. At the most basic level, you’ll provide basic information including your name, business name, address, telephone number, email address, social security number, and federal tax ID number.

While this may be sufficient for some loans, other loans require more documentation. These requirements include:

  • Personal & Business Credit Reports/Scores
  • Personal & Business Bank Statements
  • Income Statements
  • Profit & Loss Statements
  • Balance Sheets
  • Business Licenses
  • Business Owner Resumes
  • Business Plan

Requirements vary by lender. During the underwriting process, your lender may require additional information. Make sure to make yourself available through email or over the phone to provide additional details and documentation as needed to expedite your loan request.

Final Thoughts

Being a contractor certainly has its advantages and can be a profitable venture. However, running your own business doesn’t come without its challenges — especially when it comes to finances. No matter what scenario you face, knowing your loan options, taking the time to find a lender that meets your needs, and borrowing responsibly can help you clear these financial hurdles.

The post Top Business Financing Options For Contractors appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Business Loans For Auto Repair Shops

Cars may be starting to look more like computers, but they still won’t stay on the road long without the help of a trusty local auto repair shop.

If you’re in the auto repair business, you know that the volume of work — as well as the types of problems you’ll encounter — can vary greatly by the day. Even the most prepared shop may run into emergencies where funds aren’t readily available. When that happens, you may need a quick loan to keep things running smoothly. Or you may just need a traditional loan for a large, planned expense.

No matter your need, navigating through the vast market of traditional and alternative lenders can be daunting. Read on and we’ll walk you through how to get business loans for auto repair shops.

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Purchasing Equipment Equipment Financing Lendio
Supplies and Inventory Short-term Loans PayPal LoanBuilder
Working Capital Lines of Credit OnDeck
Marketing and Advertising Business Credit Card Chase Ink Business Preferred
Business Startup/Expansion/Remodeling SBA Loan SmartBiz

Loan For Equipment Purchasing

We’re not talking parts for your customers’ vehicles. A loan of this type can help you buy the bigger stuff you’ll be keeping in-house and using regularly — things like air compressors, vehicles lifts, brake lathes, and engine hoists.

In most cases, you won’t be purchasing heavy equipment on the fly; you’ll purchase it when you’re first opening your shop, or you’ll have a general idea of when an old piece of equipment needs to be replaced. In these cases, you’re probably less concerned about speed than you are about getting a good deal that fits the needs of your shop.

Equipment Loans

If you prefer to own your equipment, you may want to look into equipment loans. These resemble traditional installment loans in many ways: they’ll accrue interest over time, you’ll make monthly payments, etc. But these loans have a built-in advantage; the equipment you’re purchasing with them can serve as collateral. Collateral is an asset the borrower puts up as security when they take on debt. Secured loans generally have better rates and terms than comparable unsecured loans.

Traditionally, equipment loans cover around 85 percent of the equipment’s costs, but some lenders may cover the entire cost. In most cases, this does not include transportation costs.

Equipment Leases

These are not loans strictly speaking, but they are a popular way to finance heavy equipment. (Read more about equipment loans vs equipment leases.) Leases fall into two broad categories.

Capital leases are essentially an alternative way to buy your equipment. In most cases, you are considered the owner of the equipment under this type of lease. You’ll make monthly payments for the length of the lease, at the end of which you’ll pay a small residual (sometimes as low as $1) to close your account.

Operating leases are closer to the traditional definition of a lease. In this case, you’ll effectively “rent” the equipment over the course of the lease, making monthly payments. At the end, however, you’ll have the option to return the equipment or buy it at fair market value. This type of lease is useful for equipment that becomes obsolete quickly.

Recommended Option: Lendio

If you’re not working with a captive lessor or your preferred bank, it’s nice to be able to hit a bunch of potential equipment financers with one easy application. Lendio is a great way to do just that. Within 72 hours of your application, you should have multiple equipment financing offers on your screen. Funds are typically dispensed within a week of accepting an offer.

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Loans For Supplies & Inventory

You never want to be in a position where your auto body shop is suffering from too much business. Whether you’re facing a very high volume of customers, or an unusual number of customers all presenting with similar car problems, you may find your supplies depleted more quickly than you can collect on your invoices.

When this happens, you may want to consider a short-term loan.

Short-term Loans

Fast, streamlined, and (relatively) expensive, short-term loans are handy when you need a loan fast and want to pay it back quickly.

Short-term loans can usually get money into your hands within a day or two, which makes them a good choice for unplanned emergency financing. Rather than charge interest, short-term loans use a flat fee formula, or factor rate, to calculate the amount of money you’ll owe. For example, if you take out $10,000 at a 1.2 factor rate, you’ll need to pay back $12,000.

Short-term loans usually have terms shorter than a year, so their repayment schedule is much faster than those of medium and long-term loans. If you take out a short-term loan, you’ll be making weekly or daily payments, which, in most cases, will be automatically deducted from your business account.

Recommended Options: PayPal LoanBuilder

Because short-term loans are so fast and volatile, you’ll want some flexibility over the terms of your loan. PayPal’s LoanBuilder product is built around the idea of customization. You’ll be able to customize many elements of your loan to fit your need. Better yet, their rates are reasonable (as short-term loans go).

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Loans For Working Capital

merchant cash advance industry

Working capital is a wonky term for the money you have on hand for daily operational expenses. If everything’s going well, you probably don’t have to give it a lot of thought. But if emergency expenses have tapped into your reserves, you may find yourself unable to pay some small, recurring expense.

Working capital loans tend to be some of the most flexible when it comes to what you can spend your money on.

Lines Of Credit

Since working capital expenses come in many different forms and amounts, it’s nice to have a flexible financial cushion to fall back on. Rather than giving you a lump sum, a business line of credit pre-approves you for a certain amount of money, called your credit limit. While your account is active, you can draw on your credit line as much or as little as you want so long as the total amount you’ve borrowed doesn’t exceed your credit limit.

In most cases, you’ll only pay interest on the amount of money you’ve borrowed, though some lenders do charge administrative and access fees. Revolving credit lines let you reuse credit after you pay off your balance, similar to a credit card. Non-revolving lines of credit don’t have this feature and tend to be extended for specific expenses where the final cost is uncertain.

OnDeck

OnDeck offers quick and easy access to lines of credit, even for businesses with fairly poor credit. Depending on your revenue and other qualifications, you can get a credit limit between $6K and $100K with no draw fee. Just be aware that these are short-term credit lines lasting only about 6 months, but considering the approval process only takes a few days, you don’t need to plan too far ahead. The major downside is the $20/mo administrative fee, but OnDeck will waive that if you withdraw at least $5,000 within the first five days of opening your account.

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Loans For Marketing & Advertising

Word of mouth may be the ideal form of advertising, but sometimes you need to reach outside of your normal sphere of influence to draw in new customers. Or maybe you’re a new business that needs to establish a customer base.

Designing and running an effective advertising campaign is outside of the purview of this article, but most of the good ones require spending some money.

Business Credit Cards

Surprised? Business credit cards are often suggested as a way to smooth out your business’s cash flow, but they also have some other features that make them ideal for certain types of expenses. Namely, rewards programs that allow you to get a return on specific expenses — expenses like advertising.

Just be sure to pay off your balance within your business credit card’s grace period, or the cost in interest will exceed your rewards savings.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase’s Ink Business Preferred credit card is at the top of most business credit card lists, and for a good reason. It offers one of the most lucrative rewards programs out there. Advertising expenses spent on social media sites and search engines earn triple points (as do travel, shipping, and telecom expenses). Those points can be redeemed on travel, on Amazon, as gift cards, statement credit, or cash back.

The card has an annual fee of $95 and an APR between 17.99% and 22.99%.

Chase Ink Business Preferred



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Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

Loans For Business Startups, Remodeling, Or Expansion

Like equipment purchases, business remodeling and expansion (or starting your business up in the first place) falls under the category of “large, planned expenses.” One of the bigger and more daunting business expenses occurs when you’ve outgrown your space.

If you need additional bays, or even a larger overflow lot, you’ll want a loan that can offer you a large sum of money at a low interest rate. Your best bet is probably an SBA loan.

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency tasked with advising and assisting small businesses. The SBA doesn’t usually directly lend to businesses. Instead, it guarantees a portion of an SBA-approved lender’s loan. This guarantee allows you to access better rates and terms than your credit rating or business size might otherwise allow.

The two most common forms of SBA loan are the SBA 7(a) and the SBA 504.

SBA 7(a) Loans SBA 504 Loans
  • Working capital
  • Commercial real estate purchasing
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Purchasing a pre-existing business
  • Refinancing debt
  • Purchase an existing building
  • Purchase land and land improvements
  • Construct new facilities
  • Renovate existing facilities
  • Purchase machinery and equipment for long-term use
  • Refinance debt in connection with renovating facilities or equipment

The 7(a) offers the most flexibility in terms of what it can be used for. This can include anything from equipment to non-investment real estate, leasehold improvements, business acquisition, or start-up costs. Depending on your needs, however, you may want to look into the SBA 504 loan, which has a higher maximum borrowing amount. These loans can be used to purchase land and buildings, buy long-term equipment, or make improvements to your lot.

Be prepared to play the long game with an SBA loan, though. They take far longer to close than the other financial products we’ve discussed.

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

You have a lot of choices when it comes to SBA-approved lenders, which likely includes your preferred local bank or credit union. You don’t need our advice for that, right?

But if you need help navigating the complexity of the SBA application process and don’t have a lender specifically in mind, you may want to give SmartBiz a look. SmartBiz can’t do a full end-run around the massive amounts of paperwork required to get an SBA loan, but what they can do is keep the process as organized and streamlined as possible on your behalf. Most importantly, they’ll match you with a lender that fits your needs.

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What To Consider When Choosing A Lender

If you didn’t see a lender you liked above, you can always hunt for one on your own. Though it can be a time-intensive task, there are some ways to strategically narrow your search.

Why Do I Need A Loan?

Lenders serve a variety of needs, but not every lender can serve yours. Even if you don’t like the lenders we recommended, the type of financial products discussed above can be a guide for finding a lender.

A slow, traditional lender may not be able to help you get emergency funds, while a fast, expensive alternative lender may be a poor choice for financing an expensive renovation.

Am I Qualified?

One of the easiest ways to rule out a lender is to figure out if they’ll rule you out.

Most lenders have minimum qualifications for borrowers. The most common ones are:

  • Time In business: Lenders want to know you’ll be around long enough to pay them back.
  • Credit Rating: Some lenders use credit rating as a line in the sand, while others use it mainly to help determine rates.
  • Revenue: Lenders want to make sure you can pay off your debt. Sometimes this number is an absolute minimum (like $100,000/yr); other times it’s relative to the amount of money you want to borrow ($1.50 for every $1).

Additional factors may include the number of other loans you currently have, the industry or state you’re in, and whether you’ve had any recent bankruptcies.

Do The Terms & Rates Meet My Needs?

While it might seem that lenders have the upper hand, remember that you are ultimately the one who gets to decide whether or not the transaction happens.

If a lender charges usurious rates, if they pile on unnecessary fees, or if they demand repayment on a schedule you can’t accommodate, you’ll probably want to keep looking.

Try to get a sense of whether your prospective lender will be a flexible partner or a predatory animal looking to cash-in on any small mistake you make. Do they offer early payment incentives? Incentives for repeat business? Is customer service available and helpful?

Final Thoughts

When it comes to keeping your auto repair shop’s engines purring, you have a ton of potential financial solutions at your disposal. With a little patience, you can find a deal that fits your needs.

Didn’t find a lender you were looking for above? Here are some overviews of our contenders for loans, lines of credit, credit cards, and startup financing.

The post Business Loans For Auto Repair Shops appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Finance Holiday And Seasonal Expenses

The holiday season is approaching, and with it comes colder weather, hot cocoa … and additional holiday expenses. We aren’t talking about your gift budget, either. If you’re a business owner, you know that while the holiday season brings more customers, this seasonal rush also leads to additional expenses.

Holiday and seasonal periods leave many business owners scrambling for cash. Whether you need to purchase additional inventory to keep up with the influx of orders or you need to hire more employees to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, you can get the extra cash you need with a business loan.

Just as all businesses are different and unique, so are business loans. While it may be tempting to just start applying for loans, you want to make sure that you’re making a wise business decision by selecting the most affordable loan that best fits your seasonal needs. In this post, we’ll review the different types of financing available to help you fill those seasonal gaps, what you need to qualify for a small business loan, and our top lender picks.

Read on to learn more before applying for seasonal business financing.

Business Lines Of Credit

A business line of credit is a type of revolving credit from which you can make multiple draws. A lender assigns you a credit limit. You can make draws from your account up to and including the assigned credit limit.

With business lines of credit, you pay interest or fees only on the portion of funds that have been used. If your line of credit is $100,000 and you have only spent $10,000, you will only pay interest or fees on $10,000. As you pay off your balance, these funds will again be available to use.

A business line of credit is a great way to fund seasonal expenses because this type of financing offers so much flexibility. Traditional loans are great if you know specifically how much money is needed. With a business line of credit, you can withdraw money as needed to fund any expense. Business lines of credit can also be used toward any business expense, including the purchase of inventory or equipment, hiring employees, or working capital needs.

Repayment schedules vary by lender and may be made weekly or monthly. Most lenders set repayment terms between 3 and 18 months, and these terms are typically based on the amount drawn.

Who Is Qualified?

Qualifying for a business line of credit is fairly simple. While requirements vary by lender, most require that you have been in business for a minimum of one year. Annual revenue for your business should be at least $50,000, although some lenders require revenues of $100,000 or more.

Depending on the lender you select, your personal credit score could be a factor in qualifying for the loan and the amount that you’ll receive. For these lenders, credit score requirements are typically low at around 600.

However, there are lines of credit available that are based more on the performance of your business than on your personal credit history. With this type of financing, the lender will give the most weight to things like your business checking account, accounting software, and PayPal account. This allows the lender to analyze the performance of your business, determine if you’re eligible for a line of credit, and set a reasonable credit limit.

Our Top Pick

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Kabbage offers lines of credit up to $250,000 for qualified businesses. Qualifying for a Kabbage line of credit is easy, and the application process takes just 10 minutes.

To qualify, you must have been in business for at least one year. Revenue requirements are as follows: either $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 per month for each of the last three months.

One of the benefits of working with Kabbage is that it does not have minimum credit score requirements. Instead, you connect your business accounts from services including QuickBooks, Amazon, Stripe, and Etsy, along with your business bank account, to qualify for funding. However, it’s important to note that Kabbage does pull your credit score when determining your eligibility for a loan.

The fee rates for Kabbage lines of credit are between 1.5% and 10% based on business performance. Fees are only charged on the amount withdrawn, and there are no hidden charges. There are no prepayment penalties, and you can save on fees by paying off your loan early. Repayments are made each month through ACH withdrawals from your business bank account. Repayment terms are set at 6 months or 12 months based on the amount drawn.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is a type of business loan that provides you with a specific amount of money that is typically repaid over one year or less. Some lenders offer short-term loans with longer repayment terms (up to 3 years).

A short-term loan is different from other types of financing because lenders charge a one-time factor rate instead of an interest rate. The factor rate is used as a multiplier to determine your total repayment amount. For example, if you have taken out a $5,000 short-term loan with a factor rate of 1.1, the total amount you will repay is $5,500.

Payments on a short-term loan may be made daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the lender’s policies. Additional fees may be added into your loan, including but not limited to origination fees and maintenance fees.

A short-term loan is a good option for your seasonal expenses when you know exactly how much money you need. If you know how many employees you need to hire (and the associated expenses that come with hiring) or the amount of inventory you will require, a short-term loan is a financing option you should consider.

Many short-term loans have lower borrowing requirements than long-term options, so more business owners are eligible. Short-term loans are also easier to apply for and can be funded quickly — sometimes within 24 hours. This is ideal if you’re in a cash crunch and need financing quickly to keep operations rolling.

Who Is Qualified?

Most business owners will qualify to receive a short-term loan provided they meet a few requirements. Borrowers with credit scores as low as 500 can qualify for a short-term loan. Other requirements include owning a business that has been in operations for at least 3 months, although time in business requirements may be higher with some lenders.

Cash flow is also an important factor in qualifying for a short-term loan. Lenders want to see consistent cash flow before approving borrowers for a loan.

Even though lenders set minimum requirements, you’ll qualify for higher loan amounts and lower rates and fees with a strong credit profile and business history.

Our Top Pick

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PayPal’s LoanBuilder provides short-term loans for any business purpose. Through this lender, you can receive between $5,000 and $500,000. Repayment terms are between 13 and 52 weeks and are based on the amount of the loan. Automatic payments are made weekly.

LoanBuilder charges a one-time fee between 2.9% and 18.72% of the loan amount. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties with this short-term loan.

Borrowing requirements for this loan are simple. You must be in business for a minimum of 9 months and have at least $42,000 in annual revenue. Your business must be in a qualified industry in the United States. A credit score of at least 550 is required, and you must not have any active bankruptcies on your credit report.

Business Credit Cards

business credit cards fair credit

A business credit card is a financing option that provides you instant access to capital. A business credit card works just like a personal credit card. Once you’re approved for a card, the lender provides you with a credit limit. You can use the credit card online, in stores, or to pay your vendors up to and including your credit limit.

Each month, you’ll make a payment on your card, which will be applied to the principal balance and the interest at the rate charged by the issuer. Interest is only applied to borrowed funds.

Credit cards can be used for any business expense. You can use a business credit card to purchase inventory, to pay for normal operating expenses, or for equipment or supplies. Because you can access funds immediately, business credit cards can be used for unexpected emergency expenses as well.

Best of all, many business credit cards feature rewards programs. With qualifying purchases, you can earn points to use toward airline miles, hotel stays, cash back, and other perks.

Who Is Qualified?

Most business owners will qualify for a business credit card. However, as with other types of funding, borrowers with the best credit history will qualify for lower interest rates and higher credit limits.

For the best business credit cards, a good or excellent credit score is needed. Borrowers with fair credit may also qualify for unsecured cards with higher rates and lower credit limits. Borrowers with bad credit also have options. High-risk borrowers can apply for a secured credit card that requires a cash deposit. Credit limits may be increased with on-time payments, and paying your bill every month can help rebuild your credit.

Our Top Pick

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card is a top choice among business owners with good to excellent credit.
This card features unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. An introductory rate of 0% is available for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card has a variable APR of 15.24% to 21.24%.

This card has no annual fee, and employee cards are available at no charge. New account holders can receive $500 cash back by spending just $3,000 within 3 months of opening the account.

Purchase Order Financing

purchase order financing po financing

If you are unable to pay your vendors for goods and services that your business needs to fulfill customer orders, there’s a financing option for you. If you can’t receive credit through your vendor and don’t have the funds to pay immediately, purchase order financing may work in your favor.

Purchase order financing provides funds you can use to pay your vendors. In essence, the lender pays for the goods and services that you need from your vendor. Some lenders will pay your vendors and allow you to set up your own repayment schedule. You — not the lender –will invoice your customers and repay the loan and applicable fees. You can receive longer, more flexible repayment terms. This allows you to purchase the goods and services that you need right now without having to pay the entire balance up front, with costs spread out through manageable weekly or monthly payments.

Who Is Qualified?

Most businesses with verifiable purchase orders from creditworthy customers will qualify for this type of financing.
Based on the lender that you select, there may also be requirements in terms of transaction volume and profit margins.

Most lenders will perform a credit check. However, your personal credit is often not the most important factor in qualifying for these loans, but this varies by lender.

Our Top Pick

behalf logo

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If purchase order financing would fulfill your financial needs, consider working with Behalf. Behalf provides purchase order financing up to $50,000. You can choose to repay the loan on a weekly or monthly basis for a period up to 6 months.

The application process is quick and easy. There are no minimum requirements for credit score or time in business, although a hard pull will be performed on your credit.

Behalf charges fees of 1% to 3% every 30 days. Borrowers that repay their loans on a weekly basis will receive a discount off of their borrowing fees.

Inventory Loans

An inventory loan is a loan that can be used to purchase inventory. You’ll receive the money you need to restock your business while spreading your payment out with affordable weekly or monthly payments.

Who Is Qualified?

Borrowing requirements for inventory loans vary by lender. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 600, although borrowers with scores as low as 500 may qualify with certain lenders.

Time in business required is typically one year, while annual revenue requirements may be as low as $25,000. Most lenders require annual revenue of at least $100,000.

Our Top Pick

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OnDeck business loans can be used to purchase inventory or for any other business purpose. OnDeck’s term loans are available up to $500,000. OnDeck has short-term loan options up to 12 months or long-term options up to 36 months for larger inventory purchases.

OnDeck’s short-term loans have a simple interest rate as low as 9%, while long-term options have annual interest rates as low as 9.99%. Rates are based on your business profile and your personal and business credit scores. Origination fees for OnDeck loans are 2.5% to 4% of the total loan amount, and fees are reduced with each subsequent loan.

To qualify, all borrowers must have a time in business of at least one year. At least $100,000 in annual revenue and a personal credit score of 500 are required to receive an OnDeck loan.

Cash Flow Loans

How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow

Consistent cash flow is key to operating a business. But what happens when cash flow is running low? It can be a struggle to not only meet your regular operating expenses but an upcoming busy season can spell trouble for your business.

Before you panic, know that you have options. A cash flow loan can help you fill in the gaps and keep your business operating smoothly, even when business picks up. Cash flow loans can be used to help pay your operating expenses, cover payroll, or pay for any other recurring expense that’s critical to your business.

Many lenders offer multiple options that will help resolve cash flow shortages, including term loans, lines of credit, and invoice financing.

Who Is Qualified?

Like the other types of financing already discussed, most business owners have options when it comes to cash flow loans.

To qualify, a business should be in operations for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year, depending on the lender selected. Borrowers with credit scores as low as 500 may qualify for a cash flow loan, although a better credit profile results in more options and a more affordable loan.

Annual revenue requirements vary across lenders, but minimum requirements may be as low as $25,000. Most lenders, however, require annual revenue of at least $100,000.

There may be other requirements for cash flow loans depending on the type of loan you’re seeking. For example, the quantity and quality of your unpaid invoices will be considered when applying for invoice financing.

Our Top Pick

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StreetShares offers three different types of loans that can help you resolve your cash flow shortage. One product is term loans up to $250,000 for qualified businesses. Terms up to 36 months are available. There are no prepayment penalties, and you can receive your funds immediately.

StreetShares also offers the Patriot Express Line of Credit. Credit lines up to $250,000 are available to qualified borrowers. Terms up to 36 months are available. There are no prepayment penalties, and you only pay interest on the portion of the funds that you withdraw.

To qualify for a loan or line of credit, borrowers should have annual revenues of at least $25,000. A minimum credit score of 620 is required to qualify. The time in business requirement is just one year. For loans and lines of credit, expect an interest rate between 6% and 14%.

StreetShares also has contract financing, a loan that is similar to invoice financing. If your cash flow shortage is due to unpaid invoices, this is a good choice for you. You’ll receive up to 90% of the amount of your unpaid invoices (up to $500,000 per invoice). The discount rate (or fees) you pay for this service vary based on factors including your industry and the number of invoices you have.

Qualifying for contract financing is easy. You must operate a B2B or B2G business. There are no credit or revenue requirements. The quantity and quality of your invoices are most important for this type of loan.

Which Type Of Holiday Financing Is Right For My Business?

Now that you’re familiar with the types of loans available, it’s time to select the loan that’s right for you. It isn’t uncommon to be stuck between two or more different options, so how do you decide which loan to pursue?

First, consider why you need the money. If you need a cash flow loan due to unpaid invoices, invoice or contract financing would be your best option. If you need a specific amount of money, consider a short-term loan. If you need to pay your vendors, apply for purchase order financing. If you don’t have a specific number in mind and just need fast access to funding, consider a business credit card or line of credit.

To make it easier to select your loan, also keep in mind how much money you need and how much you are eligible to receive. Compare the borrower requirements of lenders to make sure that you qualify based on your revenue, time in business, and credit profile. You can pull your free credit score online to get an idea of the loans, terms, and rates that may be available to you.

Finally, make sure that the return on investment outweighs the cost of the loan. Sure, it’s tempting to accept the first offer that comes your way, especially when you need to act quickly to get the money you need. However, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most affordable loan for your business.

Tips To Manage Your Cash Flow & Expenses During the Holiday Season

Getting a loan during the holiday season can get you out of a bind, but mismanaging your cash flow and expenses can lead to further financial issues. With a few simple steps, you can stay on top of your cash flow and expenses for a profitable holiday season.

One way to keep your business running smoothly is to invest in inventory management software. With these apps, you’ll be able to track inventory, sales, orders, and deliveries, which is especially helpful during the holiday rush.

To prepare in advance, you can create a cash flow forecast. This forecast will allow you to predict funds that will be coming in and going out of your business at a future time. By analyzing and calculating your cash flow, you can get an accurate picture of what to expect in the future.

Finally, know that unexpected emergencies pop up, usually when we least expect them. Be prepared for these emergencies by saving money in a special fund or applying for a credit card or line of credit before it’s needed.

Final Thoughts

The holidays can be extremely profitable for your business, but if you’re not prepared, this busy season can quickly turn into a nightmare. Be proactive in handling the holiday rush by preparing in advance and knowing what loan options are available to you when you need them the most. With planning and responsible borrowing, you’ll leave behind the stress of the holidays and be able to focus on your profits and further building your business.

Top Ways To Finance Your Holiday Business Needs:

Type of Financing Top Pick
Business Line of Credit Kabbage
Short-Term Loan LoanBuilder
Business Credit Card Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Purchase Order Financing Behalf
Inventory Loan OnDeck
Cash Flow Loan StreetShares

The post How To Finance Holiday And Seasonal Expenses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

If you’re a new business owner, getting a credit card sounds like an awesome idea. Credit cards help you build credit, save you money with rewards, and enable you to make large purchases without needing cash on hand.

But as a new business owner, you may be wary of applying for a credit card because your company lacks credit history. The good news? Many card issuers will take your personal credit history into account. This means that if you’ve maintained a good personal credit score, you have an excellent chance of qualifying for a business credit card. The even better news? There are plenty of options even for those with limited credit history or poor credit scores.

We’ve researched some of best credit card options for new business owners and listed them below. Read on through to determine which one is right for you!

Comparison Of The Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

Best for Card
Cash back SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Travel rewards Chase Ink Business PreferredSM
No annual fee Chase Ink Business CashSM
0% introductory rate Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
Fair credit Capital One Spark Classic For Business
Bad credit Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Best Card For Cash Back Rewards: SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.24% – 21.24%, Variable

Offering up to 5% cash back on some purchases, the SimplyCash Business Credit Card from American Express is hard to beat. It also provides you with some choice when it comes to cash back categories, meaning that you can customize this card to fit your spending habits.

This nifty card gives you 5% back on purchase made at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $50,000 spent per calendar year). You’ll then get to pick one category from the below list of eight options to earn 3% cash back:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

As with the 5% categories, you’ll earn the 3% cash back up until you spend $50,000 in a calendar year (after which you’ll receive 1% back). All other purchases will net you 1% cash back.

SimplyCash Plus gives you the ability to buy above your credit limit. There is no annual fee, and 0% intro APR for the first nine months.

Need a more detailed breakdown? Visit our full review.

Best Card For Travel Rewards: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

While this card from Chase is simply a rewards card, it packs in a lot of bonuses for those that travel frequently.

To start, Ink Business Preferred users get three points per dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year (up to $150,000 spent). All other purchases get one point per dollar spent. You’ll then be able to redeem your points for 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Beyond those basic rewards, Chase also lets you transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to nine airline and four hotel reward programs. If you need something other than travel rewards, you’ll also be able to redeem points for Amazon.com purchases, gift cards, and cash back, making this an extremely versatile card.

If you want more information on this card, check out Merchant Maverick’s complete review.

Best Card With No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

This card from Chase lets you earn up to 5% cash back when you make purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services (up to the first $25,000 spent). You can also earn 2% back when spending at gas stations and restaurants (up to the first $25,000 spent). Everything else earns you 1% back.

The cherry on top of all those rewards is that you won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee—this means you’ll end up with savings no matter how much you spend yearly.

The Ink Business Cash also features a 0% intro APR rate for the first 12 months, a very generous offer. Chase is currently offering a welcome bonus of $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 within your first three months of opening an account.

If you want all the deets, read our full review.

Best Card With A 0% Introductory Rate: Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

If you need to make a big purchase but can’t pay it all up front, having a card with 0% APR is very helpful because you won’t accrue interest. With a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months, the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express has one of the longest 0% intro rates.

On top of that generous intro APR period, the Blue Business Plus also packs in some solid rewards. As a base, you’ll earn two points per dollar spent up to $50,000 yearly, and then one point per dollar thereafter.

Amex also grants you expanded buying power, which enables you to spend above your credit limit. Additionally, this card does not carry an annual fee.

Get the full breakdown on the Blue Business Plus with the complete review from Merchant Maverick.

Best Card For Fair Credit: Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Capital One Spark Classic For Business


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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.74%, Variable

One of the easiest small business credit cards to get, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business was made for those who want to build their credit. Despite being aimed at those with lower credit, this card still offers some decent perks.

To start, its base rewards dole out an unlimited 1% cash back without any sort of annual fee. This means you’ll be saving money no matter what your yearly spending rate is. Additionally, you’ll be able to add employee credit cards at no additional cost. Capital One requires no foreign transaction fees—great if your business needs overseas travel.

For the in-depth rundown on Spark Classic, head on over to our full review.

Best Card For Bad Credit: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card


business credit cards fair credit
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Annual Fee:


$25

 

Purchase APR:


Prime + 11.90%

One of the lone secured cards for business, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is an appealing option for those looking to boost a low credit score. Wells Fargo targets this card for those just starting a business, businesses with little or no credit, and those with past credit problems.

You also have a couple of reward options: get 1.5% cash back or one point per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, airline tickets, and more. Besides the base bonuses, you won’t need to worry about paying program or foreign fees. However, you’ll need to fork over $25 annually, and you can add up to 10 employee cards.

Want more low credit options? Check out our breakdown of the best business credit cards for those with bad credit.

FAQs About New Business Credit Cards

Do I need business credit to get a business credit card?

No, when you apply for a business credit card, issuers will also consider your personal credit history, which can be used to guarantee repayment.

What business information do I need to supply to get a credit card?

When applying for a business card, issuers usually request your company’s business tax identification number. If you don’t have one, you can often supply your personal social security number instead. They’ll likely ask you for your business’s legal structure, its ownership type, and its age. It’s also not uncommon for issuers to request your annual revenue, how much you spend, and which country your business is located in.

Can I still get a business credit card if I’m not registered as a business?

Yes, you don’t need to be officially registered as a business to get a business credit card. Find out more with our guide to business cards for the self-employed.

Can I get a new business credit card without signing a personal guarantee?

Usually, no. If you’re a new small business owner, you’ll most likely have to sign a personal guarantee.

Can I use personal credit cards for business?

Yes, there are a number of reasons why you might prefer a personal card, from better legal protection to better potential rewards. We go into more depth on the subject in our personal credit card guide.

Comparison Of The Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

Card Name Best For Next Steps

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Cash back

Compare

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Travel rewards

Apply Now

Chase Ink Business Cash

No annual fee

Apply Now

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

0% introductory rate

Compare

Capital One Spark Classic For Business

Fair credit

Compare

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Bad credit

Compare

The post Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers

Finding a credit card with a great welcome offer is an easy way to earn some extra cash or bonus travel miles. If you’re a small business owner, finding places to save an extra buck is always important.

Of course, there are numerous credit cards and many different types of bonus offers. Figuring out your best option can be tricky. Our list below aims to help you sift through all your options—helping you find what you’re looking for faster!

Best Signup Bonus For Rewards Points: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

This card from Chase comes with a hefty points reward for new accounts. Simply spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account and you’ll receive 80,000 bonus points. When you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can receive the equivalent of $1,000 towards travel. If travel rewards aren’t for you, Chase Ultimate Rewards also lets you redeem points for gift cards, cash back, and Amazon shopping.

Those points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to an array of airline and hotel reward programs as well. For general rewards with Chase’s Ink Business Preferred, you earn three points per $1 spent on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on online advertising purchases. You then get one point per dollar on everything else.

Chase also runs a referral program that nets you 20,000 bonus points (up to 100,000 per year) when a business owner you invite signs up for a Chase Ink Business Preferred card.

Check out the full details with our in-depth review.

Best Signup Bonus For Cash Back: Capital One Spark Cash For Business

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


capital one spark cash select
Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

If you simply want cash back as a bonus offer, it’s hard to beat Capital One’s Spark Cash For Business card. This card rewards you with $500 if you spend at least $4,500 within the first three months of opening your account.

Because Capital One bundles in unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, you’ll also be receiving some of the best cash back rewards a credit card can offer. The $95 annual fee is also waived for your first year.

Get the complete run-down on the Spark Cash For Business by reading Merchant Maverick’s review.

There are a few other business cards with $500 cash back welcome offers. We’ve listed them below in alphabetical order:

  • Chase Ink Business Cash: $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.
  • Chase Ink Business Unlimited: $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.
  • Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card: $500 cash back if you spend $5,000 in your first three months.

Best Signup Bonus With No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Want a nice signup bonus but don’t want to deal with a pesky annual fee? The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card might just be for you. Spend over $3,000 in your first three months and you’ll get $500 cash back without needing to worry about an annual fee.

For base rewards, Chase offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You also won’t have to worry about paying interest for your first year—this card carries a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months.

If you need more details on the Ink Business Unlimited, check out Merchant Maverick’s full review.

It’s also worth a mention that if you spend a lot on specific categories, you may prefer Chase’s Ink Business Cash card. It features the same welcome offer of $500 after spending $3,000 within the first three months. However, purchases within the office supply store, Internet, cable, and phone categories net you up to 5% cash back. You also get up to 2% cash back on money spent at gas stations and restaurants. For a holistic report, read our Ink Business Cash card review.

Best Signup Bonuses For Travel

Best Signup Bonus For General Travel: Capital One Spark Miles For Business

Capital One Spark Miles For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Those that want a solid welcome offer aimed at travel without being locked into a particular airline or hotel brand should consider Capital One’s travel business card. Spark Miles For Business dishes out 50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 within your first three months. You’ll be able to use those miles for tickets on any airline, booking any hotel, purchasing travel packages, and more.

It does come with a $95 annual fee, although this is waived your first year. For general rewards, you get an unlimited two miles per dollar spent. When it comes to redeeming your rewards, there are no blackout dates and no minimum points requirement.

Visit Merchant Maverick’s complete review to get in in-depth look at Capital One’s Spark Miles card.

Chase’s Ink Business Preferred (mentioned above) is also a nifty card for travelers because points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to a selection of airline and hotel rewards programs. Our full review has all the details.

Best Signup Bonus For Airline Points: Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express

Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express



Compare

Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 26.74%, Variable

For those looking at welcome offers of airline-specific cards, your best option will usually come down to which airline you use the most. However, when it comes to picking one airline-specific travel credit card, our choice goes to American Express’s Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card. This card will reward you with 70,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles once you spend $5,000 within your first three months. Note that this offer expires 11/07/2018.

Its base rewards include two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. Everything else you buy gets one mile per $1 spent. You also get a free checked bag, priority boarding, and Delta Sky Club access. There’s an additional bonus offer handing out 15,000 miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spend $30,000 or more during a calendar year.

Of course, there’s plenty of other airline-specific offerings with excellent welcome offers. Here’s a non-exhaustive list, ordered alphabetically:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard from Barclays: 60,000 miles once you make your first purchase within 90 days.
  • Alaska Business Card from Bank of America: Buy one ticket, get one for only taxes and fees plus 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 or more within 90 days of opening your account.
  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: 70,000 AAdvantage miles if you spend $4,000 in your first four months.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express: 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in your first three months and a $50 statement credit once you make a Delta purchase in your first three months.
  • JetBlue Business Card from Barclays: 50,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express: 50,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spend $3,000 in your first three months and a $100 statement credit once you make a Delta purchase in your first three months.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase: 60,000 points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.

Best Signup Bonus For Hotel Rewards: Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card



Compare

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 26.74%, Variable

Like with airline-specific cards, your best option for welcome offers from hotel rewards cards really comes down to where you stay the most. The best all-around welcome offer, however, hails from the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. This rewards card packs in a bonus of 125,000 points if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

For regular rewards, you’ll get 12 points per dollar when you make purchases at hotels and resorts within the Hilton brand. You’ll also snag six points per $1 spent when making U.S.-based purchases at gas stations, wireless telephone service providers, shipping merchants, and restaurants. You can also pick up six points per dollar when booking travel through American Express’s travel website or on car rentals booked directly from specific car rental companies. All other purchases will nab you three points per $1 spent.

Don’t frequent Hilton branded hotels? Here’s a couple more bonus offers from hotel rewards cards to glance over:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express: 100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in your first three months.
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business credit card from Chase: 75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.

Comparison of the Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers

Card Name Best For Bonus Offer Requirements Next Steps

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Reward points

80,000 points

Spend at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Apply Now

Capital One Spark Cash For Business

Cash back

$500 cash back

Spend at least $4,500 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

No annual fee

$500 cash back

Spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Apply Now

Capital One Spark Miles For Business

General travel rewards

50,000 miles

Spend at least $4,500 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Airline points

60,000 points

Make at least one purchase within the first 90 days of opening an account

Compare

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hotel rewards

125,000 points

Spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

The post Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Self-Employed? You May Qualify For A Business Credit Card

Being self-employed brings great freedom and flexibility when it comes to scheduling, determining work flow, and setting pay rates. But there’s one more benefit that you might not immediately think about: getting a business credit card. Even though you may not run your work as a “business,” you still could be eligible for a business credit card. There are plenty of benefits to having a business credit card, so perhaps it makes perfect sense for you to apply for one.

Is a business credit card right for you? Read on through to find out!

Do I Need An “Established Business” To Get A Business Credit Card?

blogging

Not necessarily. You might qualify as a business owner as long as you sell goods or services outside of a traditional employment situation, enabling you to get a business credit card.

You may qualify if you sell items via online storefronts such as Amazon or eBay or offer lessons for activities like music or art. You may even qualify if you provide freelance services such as writing, photographing, or writing code. Do a maintenance side gig for friends and neighbors? That could qualify you, too.

Essentially, if you make profit doing something outside your day job or personal life, you could qualify as a business owner.

What Are The Perks Of A Business Credit Card For The Self-Employed?

There are numerous benefits to maintaining a business credit card while self-employed.

The primary reason you might want to apply for a business card is so that you can separate your professional expenses from your personal ones. This means you can keep easier track of business-related spending—something that’s important for both budgeting and filing taxes.

Reward programs are also structured for business expenses. For instance, some business-specific cards offer rewards geared towards travel, which might be beneficial if you spend time flying for work. Some cards also bundle in perks like access to airport lounges or free wifi.

Additional business credit card benefits can include excellent sign-up bonuses, higher potential credit limits, and free employee cards.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Watch Out For?

As with any credit card, it’s important to always pay off your balance on time. Doing so limits interest while potentially improving your credit score.

You’ll also want to avoid applying for too many cards in a short space of time. That’s because applying for a credit card results in a hard pull on your credit score. Too many hard pulls in quick succession could drop your credit score.

How Do I Apply For A Business Card?

You’ll want to first do proper research to find the best card for you. Not all cards are equally good for everyone. Some cards look snazzy up front, but they may not mesh with your professional pursuits. With that in mind, you’ll want to look for a card that has rewards that align with your business expenses while also allowing you to make the most of the card’s other benefits.

Because you’re self-employed, you might not have a history of business income or a business tax identification number. In most cases, card issuers will do a pull on your personal credit and your personal income to guarantee your credit history. Additionally, your social security number can often be used in place of a tax ID number. During the application process, you can also usually list yourself as a sole proprietor when filling out what kind of business you own.

And most importantly, never lie on a credit card application. Lying about your business or making up business income will only bring about a world of hurt in the future—even if you somehow manage to get approved.

How Can I Improve My Chances Of Being Approved For A Business Credit Card?

As with any credit card, it always helps to have a good credit score. Ultimately, though, issuers have their own criteria when deciding who gets approved and who doesn’t. As such, you’ll want to double-check that you meet the requirements of a card before applying.

Top Business Credit Card Pick For The Self-Employed

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

The best option for many small businesses, Chase Ink Preferred is a great choice for those who are self-employed, too. This card from Chase is simply a solid, well-rounded offering.

It packs in three points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising on social media and search engines each account anniversary year. For all other purchases, you’ll get one point per dollar spent.

On top of that, you’ll get a bonus 80,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months of opening your account. Because points usually equal $0.01, that’s the equivalent of $800 cash back. Chase also bundles in cell phone protection and employee cards at no extra cost.

You can also reap plenty of travel benefits, too. To start, points are worth 25% extra when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can further transfer points on a 1:1 basis with other travel programs, including United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards. Finally, there is no fee on foreign transactions, a plus if you travel overseas frequently.

Final Thoughts

Want more business card options? Check out our comprehensive breakdown of the best business cards of 2018. Decided to stick with a personal credit card? We’ve got you covered with a list of the best personal credit cards for business expenses.

The post Self-Employed? You May Qualify For A Business Credit Card appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Picked For You: Best Business Credit Cards For Good Credit

If you’re sitting with a credit score above 700, you could be missing out on some worthy credit card offers for your business. This means that you may not be maximizing your potential rewards, benefits, limits, or APR. Luckily, at Merchant Maverick, we have already done the heavy lifting and picked out the best business credit cards for a variety of business owners with good credit. You can take a peek at our selections below.

Best For Travel Rewards: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Chase’s flagship business card, Ink Business Preferred, is the clear winner if you travel a lot. That’s because reward points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, points can be transferred to other travel programs on a 1:1 point basis, meaning you could eke out more than 1.25 cents per point. On top of all that, Chase also packs this card with no foreign transaction fees, a plus for those going overseas.

With bonus rewards for redemption on travel and 1:1 point transfers for travel programs, Chase Ink Business Preferred stands above other cards when it comes to travel rewards. Find out more with our in-depth review.

Best For No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Besides featuring that tantalizing no annual fee, Chase Ink Business Unlimited boasts a range of rewards and benefits that make it one attractive card. To start, this card offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a generous reward scheme that stays simple. Additionally, its welcome offer hands over $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Beyond those rewards, Chase Ink Business Unlimited provides a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months, and you can add employee cards at no additional cost. Get Merchant Maverick’s full breakdown by reading our detailed review.

Best For High Limit: Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


capital one spark cash select
Visit Site

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

While your credit limit ultimately depends on your credit score and business finances, Capital One Spark Cash for Business provides a range of rewards and benefits that make it appealing to those with excellent credit. Its base rewards program features an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. This very generous offer should catch the eye of most businesses looking at getting a new credit card. Of course, there is a $95 annual fee, but high spenders should be able to recoup that loss quickly.

This all comes with the caveat that you’ll be bringing excellent credit to the table; Capital One requires that you have had a loan or credit card for three-plus years with a credit limit in excess of $5,000 before getting a Spark Cash for Business card. For a deeper look at Capital One’s card, venture on over to Merchant Maverick’s full review.

Best For Low APR: American Express SimplyCash Plus

American Express SimplyCash Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Depending on your credit score, the American Express SimplyCash Plus card can get you a lower APR than industry standard. It posts a variable APR that currently sits at 13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99%. Of course, only those with excellent credit will be able to benefit from the lower ranges.

Beyond that potentially low APR, SimplyCash Plus features no annual fee and 0% intro APR for the first nine months. You can also get up to 5% cash back at office supply stores and on wireless telephone purchases, and 3% back on the purchase category of your choosing. If you want the full picture on SimplyCash Plus, head on over to our fully featured review.

Best For Cash Back: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



Apply Now

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

The Chase Ink Business Cash really holds its own when it comes to cash back rewards. This card offers 5% back on purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone purchases up to a combined $25,000 in purchases each account anniversary year. There’s also a 2% back at gas stations and restaurants up to a combined $25,000 in purchases each account anniversary year. On top of those hefty rewards, there’s 1% cash back on all other purchases.

After hitting the cap in both the 5% and 2% tiers, you’ll drop down to 1% cash back in both. Maxing out both tiers will net you $1,750 back. Rewards can be redeemed via cash back, or through credits applied to Amazon purchases, gift cards, or travel. If you think that Chase Ink Business Cash is right for you but you want to learn more, head on over to Merchant Maverick’s detailed review.

Best For Balance Transfer: American Express Blue Business Plus

American Express Blue Business Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

American Express’ Blue Business Plus features a 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. In addition, the balance transfer fee sits at a low 3% or $3—whichever winds up higher—making this card attractive to businesses that need to transfer debt over to a new card.

It boasts a potentially lower-than-industry-standard variable APR once your 15 months of 0% APR are up. For rewards, it provides two points per $1 up to $50,000 spent, and then one point per $1 after you hit that cap. You can also take advantage of expanded buying power with Blue Business Plus, allowing you to purchase above your credit limit. Read up on further details with our in-depth review.

Frequently Asked Questions About Business Credit Cards

Should I Apply For More Than One Card At A Time?

While nothing is preventing you from applying for more than one card at a time, that doesn’t mean you should. Every time you apply for a credit card, you will receive a hard inquiry on your credit report. Multiple hard inquiries in a short space of time could negatively affect your credit score, at least temporarily. This is because credit score bureaus might think that you actually want multiple cards, something they see as a potential indicator to financial woes.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s usually best to not apply for multiple cards at once. Instead, take your time to find the right card for you. If the above cards don’t seem to fit your business, check out our small business credit card comparison for further tips on picking out which card best suits you.

How Long Does It Take To Be Approved With Good Credit?

How long it takes to be approved for a credit card depends on several factors, the biggest being how you apply. If you apply online or over the phone and you’re carrying that good credit score, you could be approved within a matter of seconds. Of course, should other hitches arise—such as your personal information being tagged as fraudulent—it may take longer to receive the credit card company’s decision.

If you mail in your application, a decision could take anywhere from seven to 10 business days no matter how good your credit score is.

Is There A “Best Time” To Apply For A Credit Card?

Generally, you’ll want to wait several months after you received a hard inquiry on your credit score. Hard inquiries can occur when you apply for credit cards, loans, housing, and other services. As I mentioned above, multiple hard inquiries in a short space of time could negatively affect your credit score, at least temporarily. Credit score bureaus might think that you actually want multiple cards, something they see as a potential indicator to financial woes.

You may also want to wait until you’ve been pre-approved for a card, a process that’s offered by many credit card issuers. Getting pre-approved for a card lets you know that you have solid chance to actually get approved without placing a hard inquiry on your account.

You might also decide to wait to apply for a credit card until your business needs to make a big purchase. That way you can get a card with a 0% introductory APR, allowing you to pay the purchase off over multiple months without worrying about racking up interest.

Does A Business Credit Card Affect My Personal Credit Score?

It depends. Almost all issuers check with consumer credit bureaus when applying for a business card. In some instances—if your account is frequently delinquent, for example—issuers may report your activity on a business account to consumer credit bureaus.

All told, as long as your keep your business account in good standing and you keep from slipping up, your personal credit score should be fine.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading through this breakdown of the best business credit cards for those with good credit. If nothing else, hopefully you learned a thing or two!

Check out our detailed list of the best business credit cards for 2018 to get an even deeper look at some awesome cards. If your credit score isn’t quite high enough for the above cards, we recommend you check out our ultimate guide to improving your business credit score. Or, if you decide you need to go the charge card route, we’ve got you covered on your best options.

The post Picked For You: Best Business Credit Cards For Good Credit appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online

Best Products to Sell Online

You’ve probably landed here on this beautiful wall of text because you’re wanting to start an online store and are wondering, “What are the best products to sell online?”

The short version – it depends 🙂

The long version – keep reading for specific ideas to find the best product for you to sell online.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about trending products for [insert year here], the best all-time products, rising products, etc., but these resources are typically 100% based on what’s happening now.

So, how do you know what the best products are in general?

Again, spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a best product to sell online!

Sure, there are basic principles to stick to, such as

  • products with a high average order value
  • things that can be drop shipped / don’t require a high-touch in store experience
  • products that can be shipped cheaply and easily, etc.

But with that said, if you look at the brands that are killing it online right now, like Native, Dollar Shave Club, and Tuft & Needle… they break all of those “rules”. Native sells deodorant, Dollar Shave Club built an entire business on super-cheap razors, and Tuft & Needle sells mattresses (a product that typically requires a high-touch in-store experience with high shipping costs).

I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as the “best” anything — instead, I operate from “best for your skills, knowledge, resources, and goals”.

So when it comes to starting your online store, the key is to move out of the “best product to sell online” mindset and into the “best product for ME to sell online” mindset. And that’s a product that fits your skill set, knowledge, resources, timeline, and market demand.

There are several approaches to finding the best product to sell online for you… and that’s what I’ll be breaking down in this post.

How to Find the Best Products to Sell Online (For You)

The Product Research Route (Amazon scraping, Adplexity, etc)

Thanks to platforms like Amazon, anyone can sell something online — and luckily for you, there is a giant trove of product data just waiting for you on the Internet.

One way to figure out what to sell is by looking at other products that are performing well and weighing those against your own wants and needs.

The goal here is to collect data on what’s working already, then reverse engineer an ecommerce strategy to sell it.

For example, let’s say you’re looking on Amazon for bestselling dog toys. You could look at niches within dog toys to niche-down into subcategories, look at best-selling products within those subcategories, see top sellers to identify competitors — the opportunities are endless.

Amazon Bestselling Dog Toys

The bonus here is you don’t have to do this manually — and you’re not limited to Amazon’s data. Spy tools like Adplexity and Jungle Scout can aggregate product data across several ecommerce platforms and even show you competitor’s ads so you can reverse engineer a marketing strategy that works.

With that said, keep in mind that everyone has access to this data, which means you won’t be the only one reverse engineering a successful product. What’s really going to set you apart is choosing a successful product that fits your own criteria and knocking your marketing strategy out of the park.

The Persona Research Route

People are constantly searching for things online. Think about your own behavior — where do you go when you’re looking for the “best swimsuits for speed” or “most durable dog toys for puppies”?

As a business owner, you can use this data to figure out what people actually want and give it to them. In marketing, this approach is known as creating a persona (marketing jargon for a description of your ideal customer).

An effective persona defines what your ideal customer actually wants. Who are they? What problems do they have? How can you solve these problems.

Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights, Pinterest, Google Display Planner, Trend Hunter, and basic keyword research (see here) to create 2-4 personas that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, pay scale, main frustrations & problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some insight on what products will fit their needs (and to get some initial sales and feedback on those products so you can polish what you’re offering).

Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students). Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept [skip to the ~ 11-minute mark].

The Sell What You Know Route

Perhaps the most self-explanatory method for finding the best product to sell online is selling what you know. What are you good at? Passionate about? Experienced with? Use that experience, channel it into a need, and sell it.

Take Quad Lock, a bike mount designed by a biker who was unsatisfied with the mounts on the market, so he designed one he wanted and sold it. The founder used used his own experience (biking) and pain point (ineffective mounts for his iPhone) to create a product that others love too.

Keep in mind though, it isn’t just about the product. Quad Lock leveraged reviews and Facebook and Google ads to get the right people to the product. You’ll need to have a proper and realistic marketing funnel behind whatever it is you’re selling.

The Build an Audience Route

Traditionally, ecommerce business owners take a “build it and they will come” approach to product development and selling online. This method takes the opposite approach. Instead of creating a product and finding an audience to sell it to, you’ll first build an audience and bring them a product they actually want.

Both approaches have advantages — again, there is no blanket “best” way or “best” product to sell online. Once again, it depends on your goals.

Building your product first and selling it to an audience could bring in revenue faster (as long as you build a product that actually sells). However, you do run a higher risk of creating a product that doesn’t fit the market as well as it might if you were to build an audience first, learn about them, and give them what you want.

The tradeoff here is time vs. money. If you have the time to build out an audience, nurture them, and build a minimally viable product to get feedback on, this route can save you the headache of launching a product that no one wants (see The $100 Startup). However, if you need to generate revenue quickly, this path might not be the best option.

The Rapid Product Testing Route

If you’ve ever donated to a kickstarter campaign, or if you know anything about Tim Ferris and the 4-Hour Work Week, then you know how successful rapid testing a bunch of product ideas can be.

Ferriss did it with different ads, headlines, and even book titles until he found what worked, and you can take the same approach with your own product development. The goal here is to get a ton of data quickly. What are people clicking on? What are they signing up to learn more about? What’s sticking? Once you have that info, keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Again, the tradeoff here is time and/or money. You have to give yourself enough of a runway to actually test and get the data, whether you’re starting a campaign on Kickstarter, offering email and social demos to find that one customer with a new idea, or running multiple Google Adwords campaigns to test which promotions get the most traction.

The Niche / Tailwind Route

Sometimes it’s worth sticking to what’s already working. Similar to reverse engineering products that are performing well and fit your criteria, you can also find a growing niche and/or company and build out products that complement them.

A classic example of this is the cell phone case industry. Before the iPhone blew up, cell phone cases were practically non-existent. But once the iPhone took off, an entire niche industry was born.

This is happening all the time. Think about Peloton — the at home spin bike that’s building an entire submarket that needs attention. There are constantly new opportunities to hop on board with what’s working and complement it with submarket products of your own.

The Supplier / Numbers Route

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to supply a product. Sometimes the best product to sell online could be one that someone else has created. In this scenario, you’d focus on building a killer marketing strategy for the product.

For example, let’s say you have a dentist friend who has a patented a new mouthguard that’s amazing, but he has no idea how to sell it. You could start an ecommerce business with exclusive access to the product at a price that makes sense. He’d be your supplier while you’d focus on getting sales.

Even if you don’t know someone directly who has an amazing product, you could always research suppliers on AliExpress or Alibaba, or connect to people who have great industry contacts in a niche you know well enough to navigate profit margins and create a marketing strategy that gets the products to move.

Alibaba

Either way, you’re removing yourself from the product definition. Instead, you’re looking at suppliers who have already created a killer product and need someone (AKA you) to sell it.

Next Steps / Takeaways

Finding the best products to sell online really has less to do with there being a “best” product and more to do with having a system and approach to finding a product that fits your own needs, skills, and means.

Instead of randomly brainstorming and endlessly searching online for that one big idea, take time to do an inventory of your own needs. Think about your skill set, knowledge, resources, and timeline to launch your product. Then, choose one of the methods above to find the product that best aligns with your defined criteria.

You also want to find the best way to sell – here’s how to choose the best ecommerce platform.

The post How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards

Getting your business a 0% APR introductory rate credit card could be helpful, especially if you’re planning to make a big purchase that you can’t pay back right away. Unfortunately, credit cards are packed with complicated rules and regulations, and with so many options available, it can be time-consuming to figure out what’s best for your business. A card that works well for Sammy’s Sandwich Shop down the street might not be the right option for you.

That’s where Merchant Maverick comes in! We’ve parsed through all your various options and come up with a list of the top 0% APR intro rate business credit cards. Besides offering that 0% APR introductory rate, these cards also provide savings via rewards and $0 annual fees, allowing you to stretch your dollar further.

So which one is right for you? Read on to find out!

American Express Blue Business Plus

This card leads the pack with a 0% APR introductory rate of 15 months. It also boasts a rewards program of two points per $1 on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, and one point per $1 on all purchases after $50,000. These points (which are worth $0.01 in many cases) can be redeemed via American Express’ Membership Rewards program in numerous ways, including at checkout for major retailers, gift cards, taxi fare in New York City, and booking travel through American Express Travel.

This card’s variable APR after those 15 months are up can run lower than average. It also grants you expanded buying power, which allows you to spend above your credit level without penalty.

However, Blue Business Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer. Additionally, some redemptions dish out reward points at less than the standard $0.01. Rewards also start slowing down after spending $50,000 in a year, so this card might not be the best option if your business will break that threshold. International travelers should note that this card does carry a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

Want a full breakdown of Blue Business Plus? Check out Merchant Maverick’s comprehensive review to get the deets.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

chase ink business unlimited

Ink Business Unlimited is a cash back card featuring a 0% APR intro rate for 12 months and no annual fee. Chase has set the cash back reward amount to 1.5% on all purchases—no cap whatsoever. Those rewards can be redeemed via deposit into your bank account or applied on Amazon purchases. Additionally, Ink Business Unlimited also provides a hefty welcome offer of $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Other benefits include additional employee cards at no extra cost, as well as travel and roadside assistance. Chase also provides purchase protection to cover new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account. Once the 12 months of 0% APR run dry, this card offers a variable APR that sits right around industry standard.

Marks against this card include a 3% foreign transaction fee, meaning businesses that require overseas travel may want to think twice before dipping into Ink Business Unlimited.

If you need a further breakdown on Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive review.

American Express SimplyCash Plus

SimplyCash Plus is another cash back card, although its 0% intro APR runs for nine months. It does feature a hefty rewards program for certain categories, however. Purchases at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone earn 5% percent cash back, up to $50,000 per year. Additionally, you can early 3% back on a category of your choosing (airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising purchases, shipping, or computer hardware, software, and cloud computing), up to $50,000 per year. All other purchases will nab 1% back.

American Express’ SimplyCash Plus boasts a variable APR that can clock in at below industry standard. Additionally, its expanded buying power will let you buy above your credit limit with no penalty fees. Other benefits include extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as a range of travel benefits, from baggage insurance to a global assist hotline.

Unfortunately, rewards are redeemed through statement credit only—meaning this card won’t work for those wanting to receive cash back as a check. Besides this, SimplyCash Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer and foreign purchases are subject to a 2.7% transaction fee.

Need more info on American Express SimplyCash Plus? Head on over to Merchant Maverick’s review.

Capital One Spark Cash Select For Business

capital one spark cash select

This is the second card on our list that runs with a 0% APR for the first nine months. Its cash back rewards program features an unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases. Cash back rewards can be applied to your account as statement credits or requested as a check. Those rewards won’t expire while your account is open and can be transferred between Capital One cards.

You can additionally collect a tidy $200 early spend bonus if you spend at least $3,000 within your first three months of opening your accounts. Spark Cash Select further provides extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as access to Visa SavingsEdge, which may offer up to 15% off on some purchases from participating merchants. You can also get employee cards at no extra cost and Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks of the Spark Cash Select include a variable APR that may sit a tad higher than industry standard once those nine months of 0% APR are up. Additionally, the flat rate rewards program may not fit within your business if you spend a lot within categories that can earn higher cash back rates with other cards.

Those who want to dig into the nitty-gritty on Spark Cash Select should take a gander at our in-depth review.

Bank Of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

To round out our list of 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards, we’ll look out our third entry with a 0% intro APR for nine months. This card boasts 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores, 2% back at restaurants, and 1% back for everything else. You’ll be able to redeem your cash rewards via a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Besides its reward program, this card’s other benefits include travel and emergency services, zero liability protection on unauthorized purchases, and overdraft protection. Clients of BofA’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program can get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base cash back rate. This means you could earn up to 3.75% at gas stations and office supply stores, 2.75% at restaurants, and 1.75% everywhere else. There’s additionally a $200 statement credit bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 60 days.

On the negative side, there’s a $250,000 purchase cap for the 3% cash back categories, after which you’ll earn 1% back. Also, for businesses that require international travel, BofA’s card does carry a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Want to learn more about BofA’s Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard? Visit the Merchant Maverick review of the card.

Final Thoughts

That ends our look at five of the top 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards! Still can’t decide on the best option for your business? Check out our small business credit comparison page to compare some of our favorite credit cards and learn more about picking the best card for you.

The post Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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When Should Someone Not Use WordPress?

When Should Someone Not Use WordPress

You’re probably here because you’ve heard the buzz about WordPress (Alignable’s SMB Index says WordPress is the most trusted software for small business), but are wondering if there are situations in which someone should not use WordPress for their business website.

WordPress is an incredibly versatile website platform — I won’t hide my enthusiasm for it. But there is no such thing as a “best website platform”. There’s only the best choice based on your goals, resources and preferences.

Most website platforms promote with features and price. But like buying a house – price and features don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell you if this platform is a good choice for your website.

When evaluating whether or not to use WordPress, you need to think about your needs for a website. Do you need flexibility? Support? A mixture of both?

Here’s how to figure out if/when someone should not use WordPress for their business website:

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgements as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Understanding Tradeoffs: What to Know Before Choosing a Website Platform

Before we dive into the no-WordPress scenarios, it’s important to understand how we’re approaching deciding on a website platform.

Think of it like shopping for a house. You should be evaluating your website provider based on what you want, what you need, and what tradeoffs you are willing to make.

When it comes to your website platform, the main trade-off is between maximum convenience and maximum control. Think of it this like buying somewhere to live.

The absolute most convenient place is a hotel room. It’s safe and furnished with room service. But can you repaint the room? Nope.

On the other extreme is raw land. You have unlimited control to do whatever you want. But is it convenient? Nope.

And in the middle, you have a mix. An apartment has some freedom – but you have landlord. A condo has even more freedom… but you have a HOA and shared property.

A house has even more freedom… but you have more responsibility and you have to deal with an existing building.

Here’s a graphic from my post on ecommerce software (that also applies to website software) to illustrate —

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Using this analogy, WordPress is like owning a house. You don’t have as much control as you would if you just bought raw land and built something yourself, but you have way more control than say, an apartment or condo.

Which means a situation is which you wouldn’t want to use WordPress most likely involves more control (AKA raw land) or more convenience (AKA an apartment/condo/hotel room). Let’s break that down further:

Reasons/Situations Where You Wouldn’t Choose WP:

You Need a Fully-Customized Solution

WordPress’s primary structure is pages, posts, and comments. While the platform does use Plugins (where you can download and “plug-in” third-party pieces of software to make your site look, act, and feel exactly the way you want) that allow the CMS to be turned into literally anything, you should still be operating within the realm of pages/posts/comments if you want to use WordPress.

If you’re looking to build a non-CMS website (think Software as a Service or mega-robust ecommerce platform), then you’re better off building a custom solution. Why?

Because something ultra-specific like the examples above typically require 100% control. Loading up your WordPress site with hundreds of Plugins just to make it close to what you want is just going to slow it down.

This is your raw land example — it’d be easier to build your dream home from scratch than try to manipulate the house you already have or add on a bunch of attachments (Plugins) that may mess with the wiring/airflow/other elements of the home.

You Want Customization But Don’t Want to Handle the Technical

If you’re looking for some customization abilities on your website but don’t want to deal with the more “technical” aspects of managing a website such as self hosting, check out customizations for ecommerce, server management, etc. then a self-hosted WordPress isn’t the best option.

There are two different routes you could go if you want more customization without having to handle controlling the technical aspects of your site.

The first is what I’ll call the 70% Convenience // 30% Control group. These are providers that allow for more control than a totally done-for-you platform (like Amazon, where you have zero customization), but you’re still using their space and rules (in our house analogy, these are the apartments).

These are usually “website builders” like Wix (I reviewed Wix here and you can check out Squarespace here) and Weebly (I reviewed Weebly here. You can check out Weebly here…). They allow you to customize your website and have a custom domain, but the remaining technical elements (like ecommerce integration) are handled for you.

The second group is 50% Convenience // 50% Control. They’re known as hosted platforms and provide as much control as you can have before you have to have your own server.

The biggest advantage here is that you have customer support, seamless “onboarding” and advanced tools. Building a website with these providers is like owning a condominium or leasing a storefront in a mall. The plumbing and “big stuff” is taken care of. You can pretty much do what you want since you do fully own your property. However, you’re going to run into condo association rules and fees.

This would be a provider like WordPress.com which is a hosted version of WordPress or a self-hosted WordPress page builder like BoldGrid. They limit some of what you can and can’t do. For example, you don’t have FTP access to a server, but you can access your HTML/CSS editing and use 3rd party plugins with their business plan.

You can also export your data and migrate it to self-hosted WordPress or another platform with relative ease, making it a good in-between if you want to start with more convenience and migrate to more control in the future.

You Don’t Have Time or Resources

WordPress comes with a learning curve. But given the platform owns 50-60% of the global CMS market share, there are thousands and thousands of pre-made templates, plus designers and developers who know WordPress and are ready to help your firm.

That being said, the trade-off here is time and/or resources. Either you have to take the time to learn the basics of WordPress and keep the software updated like you do the apps on your phone, or you have to know enough to vet these support roles to make sure you’re getting the results you need at a reasonable price.

Not all projects justify this trade-off. A simple website that doesn’t need any advanced functionality or the ability to scale would work perfectly fine as a simple HTML site and may cost you less in time/resources than learning WordPress or hiring a designer and developer to build your WordPress site.

You Have Plenty of Resources

The flip side of having no time and resources is having all the time and/or resources.

This goes back to our first scenario… if you have a team of people and the funds to build and maintain your website for you, you can build whatever you want, including a totally custom website that’s unique to your business and the functionality you need.

With that said, this scenario comes with one big caveat: you’re putting your website in someone else’s control.

Let’s say you have a developer build a totally custom website that only he/she can manage — that takes you out of the driver’s seat and puts that developer in total control. The same applies to a website that only works on one specific platform. A change in mission statement, privacy policy, billing practices, or even simple incompetence can put your business in an insecure position.

If you’re comfortable with putting your website 100% in the hands of someone else, go for it. If not, then you may want to rethink a custom build and brush up on your website management knowledge.

Takeaways

WordPress is like the mid-size SUV of the website building world. It doesn’t fit everyone by any means, but there also good reason that a large plurality has one.

I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to try WordPress before making any decisions here.

If you don’t have time to run software updates and learn a bit of WordPress jargon, then you should go ahead and pay the extra money for an all-inclusive website builder. Sure, you’re trading control for convenience, but that’s fine.

On the flip side, if you’re very adept at working with developers or have the money to pay for custom builds and don’t mind putting your site into someone else’s hands, then you’d want to research more – especially in regards to ecommerce. WordPress may not be the right fit for you. You can check out some interesting WordPress alternatives here.

Finally, if you’re building something super, super simple, then WordPress may simply be too complex for what you’re looking for. You might just need some cheap hosting or even a simple profile on an existing platform.

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