Business Loans For HVAC Companies

business loans for hvac companies

It’s hard to imagine modern life without the benefit of the work done by the HVAC industry. HVAC companies (HVAC refers to heating, ventilation and air conditioning) are tasked with keeping us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and breathing safely as we live our lives in the archipelago of enclosed spaces that comprises our indoor universe.

With the economy in a period of expansion, demand for new construction has risen, and where the construction industry goes, so goes HVAC work. After all, these new offices, homes, and transportation systems aren’t going to keep themselves ventilated and comfortable.

As with any industry, HVAC companies have their own particular financing needs. There’s no shortage of loan products out there, offered by banks, online lenders, credit card issuers, and even the federal government. But you probably knew that already. The question most relevant to you is: Which types of loans best fit the specific financing needs you’re going to have in the course of operating your HVAC business?

That’s where Merchant Maverick comes in. We’ll help make sense of the lending market for you and direct you to the loan products that best fit your specific needs. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and delve into how to get a business loan for an HVAC company.

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Marketing & Advertising Medium-Term Loan Fundation
Equipment Purchasing Equipment Loan Lendio
Business Expansion SBA Loan SmartBiz
Emergency Funds Business Credit Card Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Working Capital Short-Term Loan PayPal LoanBuilder
Covering Payroll Line Of Credit OnDeck

Loans For Marketing & Advertising

business loans for HVAC

Whether your HVAC company is just finding its legs and seeking to generate new leads or is established but working to expand, marketing and advertising are integral to an HVAC business’s success. Of course, such a campaign costs money, and the funds need to come from somewhere.

While we’re not here to tell you how to run your marketing campaign, here’s a quick tip: Reach out to people just before summer and winter begin. It’s when your services will be most in demand — for obvious reasons!

Medium-Term Loans

A medium-term loan is an installment loan (a loan that is repaid periodically over a defined period of time with interest) with a term length of between two and five years. You can typically borrow more with a medium-term loan, but if your anticipated marketing campaign won’t cost that much, a short-term loan would be appropriate.

A medium-term loan can obviously be used for any business purpose. However, since you should be able to more accurately estimate the cost of your marketing campaign than many other types of business expenses, a loan in which you borrow a specific amount of money is particularly appropriate here.

Recommended Option: Fundation

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Founded in 2011, Fundation has since become one of the leading “alternative” lenders, boasting competitive rates, a solid reputation, and fixed-rate pricing (the interest rate will not increase over the life of the loan). Fundation’s term loans max out at $500K; accordingly, Fundation’s borrower qualifications are stricter than those of many online lenders. Fundation also offers lines of credit of up to $100K.

Fundation’s installment loans are offered with terms of one to four years and are fixed-rate, meaning the assigned interest rate will remain unchanged over the life of the loan. Additionally, Fundation sports a rapid time-to-funding, typically between two and seven days.

Loans For Equipment Purchasing

business loans for hvac companies

The HVAC industry relies on heavy equipment — the bigger the building, the heavier the equipment. Of course, these heating and cooling systems don’t come cheap. While any loan products can be used to cover the cost of purchasing HVAC equipment, there’s one type of loan tailored for this purpose: Equipment loans.

Equipment Loans

In many ways, an equipment loan resembles a traditional installment loan — you’ll be paying down the principal plus interest with monthly payments. The advantage of the equipment loan is that the equipment you purchase with the funds serves as collateral. Equipment loans are therefore secured loans, and secured loans typically have better rates and terms than their unsecured counterparts.

With an equipment loan, the lender usually covers most of the cost of purchasing the equipment, leaving around 10% to 20% to be covered by you. On occasion, however, the lender might be willing to cover the entire cost.

Equipment Leases

An equipment lease is another means of equipment financing. Such leases fall into one of two categories: Capital leases and operating leases.

With a capital lease, you are considered to be the owner of the equipment in question, so the arrangement resembles a loan in many ways. You make your monthly payments throughout the course of the lease. Afterward, you pay a small residual to close your account.

An operating lease lets you essentially rent the equipment during the lease, making monthly payments. When the lease ends, you can either return the equipment or buy it at fair market value, giving you a nice degree of flexibility.

See our article on equipment loans vs equipment leases for more information.

Recommended Option: Lendio

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Lendio isn’t your typical lender. In fact, Lendio isn’t a direct lender at all. Lendio is a loan aggregator, which means that you submit a single loan application which Lendio then passes on to multiple lenders, saving you time and effort. Within about three days of submitting your application, you should be fielding multiple equipment financing offers.

Through Lendio, you can find an equipment loan as large as $5 million, with loan terms ranging from one to five years and interest rates as low as 7.5% for highly qualified borrowers.

Loans For Business Expansion

business loans for hvac companies

Let’s say your HVAC company has been thriving and is ready to expand to meet the challenges of our glorious future of relentless climate extremes. Without an infusion of cash, however, your expansion plans may not be feasible. If you’re looking for a sizable loan at a reasonable interest rate, consider an SBA loan.

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an agency of the federal government meant to assist small businesses in obtaining funding. For the most part, the SBA does not lend directly to businesses. Rather, it guarantees up to 85% of loans offered by SBA-approved lenders. These lenders are known as intermediaries.

While SBA loans feature competitive rates and terms, be warned that borrower requirements tend to be rather stringent.

Here’s a rundown of four of the main SBA loan programs with links to articles describing the programs in greater detail.

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.

Review

Microloans

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

Review

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.

Review

Disaster Loans

Loans used to rebuild or maintain business following a disaster. 

Review

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

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There is no shortage of SBA-approved lenders out there. However, if you’re looking to grow your HVAC business with an SBA loan, you might find the complex SBA application process to be intimidating and fraught with peril. The beauty of SmartBiz is that the company helps simplify and streamline the application process for you so that you can make sense of it all.

SmartBiz is not a lender. Describing themselves as the “white knight in small business lending,” SmartBiz will match you with an SBA-approved lender after helping you through the onerous application process. You’ll need to have at least two years of business history behind you and a personal credit score of at least 650, but if you meet these and other requirements, you can get an SBA-backed loan of up to $350,000 with interest rates between 8% and 9%. Not too shabby!

Loans For Emergency Funds

business loans for hvac

Let’s say the construction industry takes a downturn, leaving you with less business. You still have employees to pay and expenses to cover. How should a company in your position deal with unexpected cash flow problems? When you need a flexible funding solution you can draw from on an as-needed basis, consider a business credit card.

Business Credit Cards

As business credit cards tend to feature higher interest rates than business loans, they aren’t an ideal funding mechanism in many instances. But when unexpected situations arise and you need a stop-gap measure to temporarily plug some funding holes, there’s nothing like the ease and convenience of a business credit card. With the right card, you can cover emergencies while earning rewards and/or cash back along the way.

A good credit history will help you get lower interest rates and a higher credit limit. However, even with a less-than-stellar credit history, there are options available to you, including secured credit cards, which require a security deposit.

If you’re unsure of your credit score, whatever you do, don’t pay for a credit check. Here are some websites that let you check your credit score for free.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card is a great way to cover those unexpected expenses while earning 1.5% cash back to boot. If you’re using a credit card to cover emergencies, you’re probably not looking for a card with rotating cash back spending categories or lavish travel benefits. The Ink Business Unlimited comes without these extraneous distractions so you can focus on getting your HVAC business out of a jam while earning cash back on everything you buy.

Keep in mind that you’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for the Ink Business Unlimited. If your credit doesn’t fit that description, check out these options for business owners with poor credit.

Loans For Working Capital

loans for hvac businesses

Working capital refers to the money you use to keep your business running on a day-to-day basis. When times are good, your cash flow should be sufficient to keep your company running smoothly. The problem is that without extraordinary luck, times will not always be good, particularly in a field prone to seasonal slow-downs like the HVAC industry.

When seeking a loan for this purpose, you’ll want something that affords you a high degree of flexibility in terms of what you can spend your funds on. For this reason, a short-term loan may be worth your consideration.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is an installment loan that must be repaid within 12 months or less. Payments must be made on a weekly or even daily basis and are normally deducted automatically from your business account. If approved, you can usually get your funds within a few days. Short-term loans are all about fast money, both in terms of getting the money and paying it back.

Instead of charging interest on what you borrow, short-term lenders charge you a flat fee known as a factor rate. This factor rate is a multiplier that determines the lender’s fee. I’ll give an example: Take out a $50,000 loan at a 1.2 factor rate, and you’ll be paying $60K for the loan over the agreed-upon term length.

Recommended Option: PayPal LoanBuilder

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Check Eligibility

PayPal’s LoanBuilder is what the name suggests. You essentially build your own loan by customizing its elements to fit your particular situation. The loans offered range from $5K to $500K and term lengths run from 13 to 52 weeks.

LoanBuilder’s lender requirements aren’t terribly strict. Your business must have been running for at least 9 months. Your annual revenue must be at least $42,000 and your personal credit score must be at least 550. As ever, your credit history and your company’s overall health will determine your maximum borrowing amount and your rates.

Loans For Covering Payroll

 

Heating and cooling systems don’t install themselves. To ensure that our apartments, workplaces, and shopping centers don’t become unlivable nasty hellscapes, an HVAC business needs workers. Workers need to be hired, trained, and paid, all of which costs money.

If you need help hiring new employees (or paying the ones you already have), consider a line of credit.

Lines Of Credit

A line of credit operates on the same principle as a credit card. Instead of receiving a lump sum of dinero all at once, you’re given a credit line you can draw from whenever you feel the need. As with a credit card, you’ll have a credit limit to contend with, and you pay fees and interest only on the funds you use, not the total amount of the line of credit.

Recommended Option: OnDeck

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If you need funding quickly, consider a line of credit from OnDeck. Approval should come in a matter of days, and the credit requirements are not particularly strict. Your credit line can run anywhere from $6K to $100K.

One thing to keep in mind about OnDeck’s lines of credit is that they are a short-term funding mechanism, lasting only about 6 months.

What To Consider When Choosing A Lender

business loans for hvac businesses

For business owners seeking a loan, there has never been a wider array of funding options. To help narrow down your search, consider the following questions.

Why Do I Need A Loan?

Before you can even start looking at particular options, you need to be certain of the purpose of your loan. Whether you’re looking to expand your business or purchase new equipment, only by defining your precise need can you select a loan product that fits what you seek to accomplish. Otherwise, you’re flying blind without any point of reference.

No one lender or loan makes sense for every business need under the sun. Know what it is that you need and shop accordingly!

Am I Qualified?

There’s no need to examine a lender in detail if you won’t qualify for its loans in the first place. Try to find and examine a lender’s minimum qualifications before going through the terms and fees with a fine-toothed comb.

Vendors of business loans nearly always inquire about your time in business, credit rating, and revenue. On each of these measures, the lender may have a strict cutoff point where, if you don’t meet the benchmark, you don’t qualify. Alternately, they may just use this information to determine your rates. Either way, it’s information you’ll need to provide.

Do The Rates & Terms Meet My Needs?

It’s obviously important to consider a lender’s rates and terms when deciding on what loan to pursue. Make sure you can afford the funding; nothing will give you nightmares like taking out a loan you can’t repay. However, a lender’s reputation and business practices are equally important. To get a sense of just how a lender treats its customers, try to find user feedback on the company in question wherever you can. Read enough reviews (we do business loan reviews, you know!) and borrower feedback and you’ll get a pretty good idea as to whether the lender is an honest broker or a predator fixing to bleed you dry.

What You Need To Apply For HVAC Business Loans

The number of documents you’ll have to round up depends on the lender. Naturally, you’ll need the basics — name, business name, address, telephone number, email address, social security number, and federal tax ID number. Many lenders will require much more, however. Here are some documents you should be prepared to submit, depending on the lender:

  • Business & Personal Credit Reports/Score
  • Business & Personal Bank Statements
  • Business & Personal Tax Returns
  • Profit & Loss Statements
  • Balance Sheets
  • Income Statements
  • Business Licenses
  • Business Owner Resumes
  • A Business Plan

For a more thorough look at how to apply for a business loan, read our in-depth take on business loan requirements.

Final Thoughts

Now more than ever, we need the HVAC industry at the top of its game. As I write this, wind-driven fires have spread dangerously smoky air over large parts of my tinder-dry home state of California, and proper indoor ventilation is literally the last line of defense for many in the affected areas.

When seeking a loan for your HVAC company, do your due diligence, explore all your options, and get your documents in order. This should set you up nicely for getting the loan that paves the way for your success.

The post Business Loans For HVAC Companies appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Business Loans And Other Financing Options For Wholesale Distribution Companies

Wholesale distributors play a critical role in the retail supply chain. It is crucial for a wholesale distributing business to be a well-oiled machine: storing manufacturers’ products, then shipping them as needed to retailers, which then sell these products to customers. If the wholesale distributor fails in its critical tasks, retailers won’t have the products they need, leading to many unhappy customers.

Like it is for other businesses, one of the most important resources for the success of a wholesale distribution company is capital. Heavy equipment, warehouse space, and inventory requirements are just a few of the big expenses these companies face. Incoming cash flows certainly help fund day-to-day operations, but what happens when more capital is needed than is readily available in your checking account?

If you’re running short on funds, a business loan can help. Before signing the dotted line for a loan, read on to explore the different types of financing available to you, which options are best for your situation, and how to kick-off the application process.

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Purchasing Equipment Equipment Financing Lendio
Business Expansion SBA Loan SmartBiz
Purchasing Inventory Line Of Credit Kabbage
Cash Shortages Invoice Financing BlueVine
Emergency Funding Business Credit Card Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Why Take Out A Loan For A Wholesale Distribution Business?

If you’re in the wholesale distribution business, you may be familiar with situations where you’re running a little short on cash. Whether your business is booming and you need to expand your facilities or your bank account is too low to purchase inventory for a seasonal uptick, there will be times when you need extra money.

With a business loan, you’ll receive the money you need right away with the benefit of being able to pay it back over time. Since there are many different types of loans, the type you choose should be based on the unique financial needs of your business.

Purchasing Equipment

As a wholesale distribution company, your business is reliant upon heavy equipment. From forklifts and pallet jacks that are used in your warehouse to delivery vehicles, software, and mailing systems, your business requires equipment to be efficient. Unfortunately, this equipment doesn’t come cheap.

Whether you’re updating your equipment or adding new equipment as part of your expansion, make these large purchases more affordable for your business by applying for equipment financing.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is a type of funding that is used for the purchase of equipment. Instead of paying the full cost up front, you’ll pay a smaller down payment — typically 10% to 20% of the equipment’s cost — and be able to put the equipment into use immediately. You’ll make payments on a scheduled basis to your lender on the balance of the loan. Interest is also charged by the lender for providing the service. The equipment purchased with loan proceeds is the collateral for this type of financing.

There are two main types of equipment financing to consider: equipment loans and equipment leases. With an equipment loan, you’ll make a down payment, followed by regularly scheduled payments. At the end of the repayment term, you take ownership of the equipment. At this time, the equipment is yours to keep, sell, or trade. You own it free and clear.

With an equipment lease, you may also pay a down payment, although it’s typically lower than the down payment required with an equipment loan. You’ll make regular payments for the duration of the lease, which is typically around 2 years. Once your lease is over, you return the equipment and upgrade with a new lease, or you may have the option to pay a lump sum to take ownership of the equipment. While you’re essentially “renting” the equipment, a lease may be a consideration if you want a lower down payment or if you upgrade your equipment frequently.

Credit and revenue requirements vary by lender, but borrowers with solid credit histories and strong businesses qualify for the lowest rates, best terms, and lower down payments.

Recommended Option: Lendio

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Lendio isn’t a direct lender. This loan aggregator allows you to submit just one application to connect with multiple lenders, so you can shop for a loan more efficiently. Through Lendio, you’ll find the most affordable equipment loan for your situation.

Lendio offers access to equipment loans from $5,000 to $5 million. Loan terms are spread out over 1 to 5 years, with interest rates as low as 7.5% for the most qualified borrowers.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 1 year, have a minimum annual revenue of $50,000, and a personal credit score of at least 650. If your credit score doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you may qualify based on your cash flow and revenue over the last 3 to 6 months.

Business Expansion

Expansion is a good sign — it means that your business is growing. The drawback, however, is that expanding your business takes money, and you may be stalling because you don’t have the funds. When your business is ready to grow, follow the lead of other smart business owners by applying for a Small Business Administration loan.

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration, or SBA, has loan programs to provide affordable, flexible financing for businesses that encounter difficulties when applying for loans from traditional lenders.

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.

Review

Microloans

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

Review

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.

Review

Disaster Loans

Loans used to rebuild or maintain business following a disaster. 

Review

SBA loans are backed by the government in amounts up to 85%, so there’s less risk for lenders and higher rates of approval when compared to bank or credit union loans.

There are several programs offered by the SBA. One of the most popular is the 7(a) program. SBA 7(a) loans can be used for almost any business purpose, from real estate purchases to working capital. With a 7(a) loan, you receive up to $5 million with repayment terms up to 25 years. Interest rates are set by the SBA, so these loans are extremely competitive and affordable. SBA 7(a) loans are available through SBA-approved lenders known as intermediaries.

When you’re expanding your business, 7(a) loan funds can be used to purchase land or real estate, pay for improvements in your facilities, or purchase equipment. High borrowing amounts, low interest rates, and flexible usage make 7(a) loans a popular choice among business owners.

For business expansion, another SBA loan to consider is the CDC/504 loan. Through this program, up to 40% of your project costs are funded by an SBA-approved Certified Development Company. A traditional lender provides 50% of the project costs, while you’re responsible for the remaining 10%.

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

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If you’re familiar with SBA loans, you’ve probably heard that the application process is difficult and time-consuming. If the process is intimidating to you, SmartBiz has made it easier for business owners to receive the capital they need.
SmartBiz offers SBA commercial real estate loans for $500,000 to $5 million for qualified borrowers. The interest rate is set at the base rate plus up to 2.75%. As of November 2018, rates are between 6.75% and 8%. Repayment terms are available up to 25 years.

With a commercial real estate loan, you can refinance your commercial mortgage, purchase the property you’re currently occupying, or buy a new commercial property.

SmartBiz also offers working capital and debt refinancing loans between $30,000 and $350,000 with rates between 8% and 9%. Repayment terms for these loans are 10 to 25 years. Loans can be used to purchase equipment, hire new employees, or for other business expansion plans.

To qualify for SBA working capital loans, a minimum credit score of 650 is required. Commercial real estate loans require a credit score of at least 660. The time in business requirement is at least 2 years. No bankruptcies or foreclosures within the last 3 years, open tax liens, and outstanding collections should appear on your credit report.

Anyone who has been delinquent or defaulted on a government loan in the past is not eligible to receive an SBA loan. If real estate is being purchased, the property must be at least 51% owner-occupied. Your business must also be considered a “small business” as defined by the SBA. Depending on the amount of the loan and your credit history, collateral may be required.

Purchasing Inventory

Your retailers depend on you to ship the inventory they need for their brick-and-mortar and online shops. If you don’t have the inventory in stock, you can’t make your shipments. If you don’t make your shipments, you lose business and the revenue that comes with it.

It’s not uncommon to face financial burdens that make purchasing inventory more difficult. A seasonal increase in orders that brings higher expenses, an unexpected emergency, or another situation could prevent you from purchasing needed inventory. Fortunately, there’s a solution: a line of credit that can help you through these tough financial times.

Lines Of Credit

A line of credit works like a credit card. However, instead of using a card to make purchases, you make draws from your line of credit. With every draw, the money is sent directly to your checking account. These funds can be used for any business expense, including the purchase of inventory.

A line of credit is a flexible financing option. Instead of receiving a lump sum for a specific amount, your lender will provide you with a credit limit. You can make multiple draws as needed up to this credit limit. You only pay fees or interest on the portion of the credit that has been used. Most lenders initiate transfers immediately, so you can have funds as soon as the next business day.

Rates, repayment terms, and credit limits vary. With most lenders, a solid credit score yields the best interest rates and terms. If you have a low personal credit score, there are lenders that evaluate the performance of your business to approve your line of credit and set your credit limit.

Recommended Option: Kabbage

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Kabbage provides lines of credit up to $250,000. Depending on the amount borrowed, repayment terms are set at 6 or 12 months. Kabbage charges a monthly fee with rates between 1.5% and 10% on the borrowed portion of funds. If you pay your balance off early, you’ll save money on monthly fees.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least one year. Revenue requirements are as follows: $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 in monthly revenues for each of the last three months. When you apply for a line of credit, you’ll link your business accounts — including PayPal, QuickBooks, eBay, and your business checking — so that the lender can assess the health of your business and issue your approval and credit limit. There are no personal credit requirements to qualify.

The application process takes fewer than 10 minutes, and you can be approved immediately. When making draws, transfers are immediate and you can receive your funds as soon as the next business day. However, Kabbage also offers the Kabbage card, which gives you instant access to the funding you need. When using your Kabbage card, a new loan will be taken out with the same rates and terms as traditional draws.

Cash Shortages

Cash shortages happen in any business. In the distribution industry, there are a number of reasons this can occur, including slow-paying customers. It’s not uncommon to have unpaid invoices that have impacted your incoming cash flow. If you’re facing this problem and waiting for payments is affecting your operations, why not use invoice financing to help fill in the gaps?

Invoice Financing

Invoice financing is available for B2B business (like distributors) that are suffering from unpaid invoices and need money immediately to cover business expenses.

The invoices serve as the collateral, and with many lenders, you don’t need a high personal credit score to receive a loan. Instead, the lender will consider the quality and quantity of your unpaid invoices. Your invoices should be of a sufficient amount to cover any fees or interest associated with a loan, and your invoices must be for customers who are likely to pay.

Invoice factoring is one type of invoice financing. The lender pays a portion of the unpaid invoice directly to you. After the lender collects payment from your customer, you’ll receive the remaining balance after fees and interest have been taken out.

With invoice discounting, you’ll receive most of the balance up front. After you collect payment from your customers, you’ll repay the loan along with interest and fees to the lender.

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

Recommended Option: BlueVine

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BlueVine is a lender that provides invoice factoring lines up to $5 million. The factoring fees for receiving the line of credit start at 0.25% per week. BlueVine pays 85% to 90% of your invoice amount up front, and pays the remainder, minus fees, after the invoice is paid.

To qualify, you must have a minimum personal credit score of 530 and a time in business of at least 3 months. You must be a B2B business with qualifying invoices and at least $100,000 in annual revenue. The application process takes about 10 minutes, and you can be approved for financing as quickly as 24 hours after applying.

Emergency Funding

Emergencies happen, and often, these emergencies come with unexpected expenses. When these emergencies occur, time is of the essence. A flexible form of financing, like a business credit card, can help you get over these financial hurdles and even reward you for responsible borrowing.

Business Credit Cards

A business credit card is a great resource to have if an emergency arises. Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you can put it into use immediately. You won’t need additional approval to use your card, and you won’t have to wait on money transfers.

Once you’re approved for a business credit card, your lender will set a credit limit. You can make multiple purchases as needed up to this credit limit, so you can cover your emergency, purchase supplies and inventory, or tackle other business expenses. The borrowed portion of funds will incur interest based on the rate assigned by the lender. The sooner you pay down or pay off your balance, the more affordable this financing becomes. As you pay down your balance, funds become available to use again.

With a solid credit history, you’ll receive lower interest rates and a higher credit limit. There are options available for high-risk borrowers with low credit scores, including secured cards, which require a deposit and can help build credit.

Some of the best business credit cards have rewards programs. With every purchase, you’ll receive points to redeem for perks or cash back offers as a reward for responsible use.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

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 targeted at borrowers with good to excellent credit. This card comes with no annual fee and an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited has variable APR of 15.24% to 21.24%.

In addition to competitive rates, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card gives 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The card also has a bonus offer of $500 cash back after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.

If you don’t qualify for the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card due to your credit score, check out other business credit card options for fair credit and bad credit.

The Best Loan Options For Starting A Distribution Business

If you’re an established business with proof of solid performance, getting a business loan isn’t difficult. However, what if your financial needs are different? What do you do when you need money to get your business started?

Getting a loan to start a distribution business can be a challenge. After all, traditional lenders like banks and credit unions want to work with established, low-risk businesses. Because your business is non-existent or very new, you haven’t yet proven yourself to these lenders. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of options. You may just have to get a little more creative and dig a little deeper to find a lender that will work with your situation.

In addition to the SBA loans we’ve already discussed, the SBA has a Microloans program that’s suitable for new businesses and startups.

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

SBA-approved nonprofit lenders can provide up to $50,000, although the typical loan is around $13,000. Loan proceeds can be used to purchase inventory, supplies, fixtures, furniture, or equipment. Funds can also be used as working capital. Rates can’t exceed the limits set by the SBA and are generally between 8% and 13%. Borrower requirements include a credit score in the high 600s and qualifying as a small business based on the SBA’s definition.

If you don’t qualify for an SBA Microloan, other nonprofit organizations have microloan programs available. Credit requirements, maximum borrowing amounts, rates, and terms vary by lender. In addition to microloans, many nonprofits offer additional resources for new business owners, including training, classes, and mentorships. Looking for a microlender? Check out the options below.

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

$500,000

2.9% – 18.72% factor rate

550

Apply Now

$250,000

9% – 36% factor rate

500

Apply Now

$500,000

9.4% – 99.7% APR

500

Apply Now

Another financing option to cover startup expenses is a personal loan. If you have a high credit score, you may be able to obtain a personal loan with low rates that can be used to fund your business. Approval for a personal loan will be based on your personal credit score and history, as well as your personal income. The following lenders offer reasonable rates for personal loans that can be used for business:

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

You can also jump online and look into peer-to-peer lending options and crowdfunding. Peer-to-peer loans are often easier to qualify for than traditional bank loans, while crowdfunding allows you to use a platform to raise money from investors.

Finally, loans from a friend or family member could be an option that works for you. Make sure that any loan agreement is on paper and signed by all parties involved. Be careful to treat the loan just as you would any other by paying it back on time as scheduled.

What To Consider When Choosing A Lender

In order to receive a loan, you have to choose a lender that is willing to work with you. In the past, most business loans were obtained from a bank, credit union, or another traditional lender. Today, there are more options than ever thanks to online lending.

The good news is that with so many lenders, it’s easy to find at least one willing to work with you – even if you have credit challenges, a short time in business, low annual revenues, or other factors that would disqualify you from traditional loans. The bad news is that finding the right lender can be overwhelming. With so many choices, which is best for you? To narrow down the lender pool, ask yourself these key questions to find the best loan for your financial situation.

How Will I Use The Loan?

This should be an easy question to answer. Why do you need a loan? Did an emergency expense pop up out of the blue? Have you been planning an expansion for the last 6 months and you’re ready to take action? By knowing how you plan to use the loan, you’ll be able to select the loan product best for that situation and can narrow down your selection of lenders.

Let’s say you want to expand your business and need a commercial real estate loan. In this case, lenders that offer short-term loans or lines of credit with low limits wouldn’t be the right choice. Instead, you’d want to find lenders that offer long-term loans with low interest rates, like SBA loans.

How Much Money Do I Need?

You should never apply for a loan without an idea of how much you need and how much you can afford to borrow. Taking money just because a lender offers it is can lead to unnecessary debt that can negatively impact your business. Instead, run some calculations and borrow only what you truly need.

Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to use the loan, take the time to figure out what amount would cover that financial need. Going back to the commercial real estate example, you could begin looking at properties online comparable to what you’d like to purchase to get an idea of the market values in your area. If your loan is going to be used to purchase equipment, shop around, get bids and quotes, and have an idea of the total cost of your purchase.

Not only will this help you prevent unnecessary debt, but it can also help whittle down the number of lenders you’re considering. If your loan needs are $500,000, a lender that has maximum borrowing limits of $100,000 can be crossed off of your list.

Do I Meet All Borrower Requirements?

Before you apply for a loan, make yourself familiar with the lender’s borrowing requirements. Time in business, annual revenue, and credit scores are factors considered by most lenders. If you don’t meet the requirements of the lender, you won’t qualify for a loan.

Most lenders perform a soft credit pull when prequalifying you for a loan. A hard credit pull — the kind that shows up on your credit report — is performed further along in the process for most financial products. However, some lenders do perform a hard pull once you hit “Submit” on your application. Avoid an unnecessary inquiry by ensuring that you meet all credit requirements. Before you apply, make sure to check your free credit score online.

Remember, there are many financing options available to business owners, regardless of credit score, time in business, or revenues. Take the time to find the loans that you’re qualified to receive.

Does The Lender Offer Rates & Terms That Work For My Business?

When you select your lender, you want to work with one that will offer you the best rates and terms for your particular situation. A short-term loan that’s funded almost immediately may seem appealing, but a high overall cost of borrowing could put a burden on your business. If you have a solid credit score and a healthy business profile, you should be able to shop around to find rates and terms that are most affordable for you.

If you have credit challenges, there are options available for you. However, there are some drawbacks to these high-risk financial products, like high interest rates and fees or daily payment requirements. If you don’t need the money immediately, you can take steps to boost your credit score so you can apply for a more affordable loan in the future.

What You’ll Need To Apply For A Wholesale Distribution Loan

You’ve decided what type of loan best fits your needs, and you’ve calculated how much you need and can afford. You’ve selected a lender. Now, it’s time to begin the application process. Before you start, there are a few key items the lender will require to approve and fund your loan.

For all loans, you’ll be required to provide basic information about yourself and your business. This includes the name of your business, contact information, your social security number, and your federal tax ID. For some loans, such as business credit cards, this may be the only information you need.

For other loan options, you’ll be required to submit documentation. This documentation will allow the lender to see how your business is performing and if you’ll be able to afford a loan. Documentation requirements vary by lender, but commonly requested documents include:

  • Business & Personal Credit Reports/Score
  • Business & Personal Bank Statements
  • Business & Personal Tax Returns
  • Profit & Loss Statements
  • Balance Sheets
  • Income Statements
  • Business Licenses

If you’re a new business, you may be required to submit the resumes of all business owners, a detailed business plan, and financial projections. If your loan requires collateral, you’ll submit information about the collateral you’re putting up to back the loan. If no collateral is required, you may still be required to sign a personal guarantee or agree to a blanket lien before receiving your loan. Learn more about business loan requirements.

Application, underwriting, approval, and funding times vary based on the type of loan you’re trying to receive. SBA loans take at least several weeks, while lines of credit and business credit cards may be approved on the spot. During the application process, your lender may need to speak with you to ask questions about information and documentation you’ve submitted or to request additional information. Make sure your lender has current contact information on file and that you make yourself available for calls or emails as needed to continue moving through the loan process.

Final Thoughts

Running a distribution business takes organization, hard work, and capital. As a business owner, it’s your job to bring these things to the table, but it’s understandable when money becomes an issue. A business loan can be an excellent resource to keep operations running smoothly or to grow your business provided you do your planning, shop around for the best rates, and understand what your business can afford.

What’s Next
    • Check out the top 8 small business startup loan options
    • Business loan options that don’t require a credit check
    • Your guide to low-cost SBA loans

The post Business Loans And Other Financing Options For Wholesale Distribution Companies appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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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

Apply Now

$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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A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles

 

Square made its name offering a free mobile credit card swiper, but the company has expanded so much in the past few years that there is now a massive array of hardware options, catering to all types of businesses. You can still get mobile card readers from Square if you don’t need more than just a phone or tablet and a swiper, but you can also get a countertop POS system complete with a customer-facing display, or a slim, portable credit card terminal with a phone-sized high-resolution screen and built-in receipt printer. And if you’d like to print paper receipts and have an automated cash drawer, Square offers a wide range of compatible hardware. You can even save some money by opting for one of Square’s ready-made bundles of hardware.

Let’s take a look at Square’s hardware options, including its mobile readers, POS systems, and POS kits. We’ll start with simplest options and move on to the most comprehensive kits. We’ll also talk about what you can do to control your costs and manage your cash flow with Square’s financing.

If you’re still curious about Square’s offerings, we also recommend checking out our complete, in-depth review of Square, which covers hardware as well as the software.

Square Mobile Card Readers

Square’s mobile card readers are meant to work with smartphones and tablets — unlike with some of the company’s “all in one” hardware solutions, if you go with a card reader it’s a “bring your own device” situation. Square’s mobile readers are ideal for businesses that are always on the go — farmer’s market stalls, service businesses, food trucks, etc. These card readers work with any of Square’s POS apps as well. However, compatibility with specific tablets or smartphones will vary — and you should check before you buy that a card reader is compatible with your device. Square has a helpful compatibility checker tool on its website for this purpose.

Square Magstripe Readers

Square has been offering free basic magstripe readers for years. The boxy design hasn’t changed significantly over the years and it’s simple to use. Recently, the company added a Lightning connector variant in addition to the 3.5mm headphone jack connector. Square used to sell a 3.5mm adapter, but that’s no longer available (because it’s no longer necessary). However, I will say that adapters from other makers will work for the same purpose.

New Square merchants get 1 free card reader; additional card readers sell for a very reasonable $10. Unlike PayPal Here, Square doesn’t impose any limits or restrictions on transactions processed with a magstripe reader — there’s no limit to the number of swiped transactions you can process before you trigger a hold. That’s a nice touch. However, if you do process large transactions or do a significant volume of credit card payments you should definitely look at upgrading to a chip card-capable reader.

Magstripe Reader Quick Facts 

  • Free for new merchants
  • $10 retail price
  • 3.5mm headphone jack or lightning port connectors
  • Supports magstripe transactions

Square Chip Card Reader

 

Square’s first chip card reader wasn’t particularly fancy, or even all that different from its elder sibling: it was boxy, with a headphone jack connector. And it has since fallen out of favor — partly thanks to Apple and its removal of the headphone jack on its iPhones. However, this entry-level chip card reader is still available at a reasonable price — ideal for merchants who want to accept chip cards but also save some money.

Square doesn’t offer a lightning connector variant for the Chip Card Reader, but as I mentioned, a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter would work for iPhone users. This reader also requires the occasional battery charge because of the addition of the chip reader.

Chip Card Reader Fast Facts 

  • $35
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack connector
  • Requires battery charging
  • Supports magstripe and chip card transactions

Square Contactless + Chip Reader

Square’s Contactless + Chip Reader is a departure from Square’s earlier mobile credit card readers. First, it connects via Bluetooth. Second, it doesn’t support magstripe transactions at all. Instead, Square includes one of its free magstripe reader in the box as well. (To be honest, this design kind of disappoints me, but I figure that the Contactless + Chip Reader was designed to add EMV support to the Square Stand, which already has an integrated magstripe reader. So building magstripe support into the Contactless + Chip Reader was a moot point. Still, for merchants who don’t have a Square Stand, this might prove to be a small annoyance if the chip reader can’t read a card properly.)

Square also sells a charging dock, which can be plugged into a wall, or into the Square Stand’s USB hub. It sells for $29 separately. You can use it in a countertop retail environment and let customers insert their payment cards themselves, or you can set the dock aside and grab the reader by itself whenever you need to make a transaction.

Contactless + Chip Reader Fast Facts 

  • $49
  • Charging dock sold separately ($29)
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Supports chip card and contactless transactions
  • Basic magstripe reader also included

Square Countertop POS Devices

If you’d like something a little bit more permanent and stationary in your POS setup, Square offer options tailored to different environments. The offerings here get a little more complex, so bear with me!

Square Stand

The Square Stand has been one of the company’s core offerings for a long time — it is a tablet stand with a built-in card reader, all for a reasonable price (at launch, it cost $99). It swivels, it has minimal cords, and it looks good. Square has improved it slightly with the bundling of the Contactless + Chip Reader. That brings the price to $169.

Square doesn’t include a receipt printer for the Stand, but a printer is available in hardware bundles. Likewise, Square doesn’t include an iPad with the Stand, but you can purchase one directly from Square for an additional $329. Keep in mind that the current edition of the Square Stand only works for the most recent iPad models. If you have an older iPad, you can order a legacy stand from Square for $99, but the Contactless + Chip Reader requires iOS 9.3.5 or higher, and that version of iOS isn’t supported on an iPad 2 or other earlier models.

Because the Square Stand runs an iPad, it can also support merchants using Square Point of Sale, Square for Retail, or Square for Restaurants. There are an assortment of recommended hardware bundles for the Square stand, but if you prefer to build your own setup, you will be happy to know that the Square Stand supports USB, Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth printers, as well as other devices.

Square Stand Fast Facts 

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $169 (iPad sold separately)
  • Includes Contactless + Chip Reader (integrated magstripe reader in stand)
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale, Square for Restaurants, Square for Retail, Square Appointments

Square Terminal

Square Terminal (read our review), the newest addition to Square’s lineup of hardware, takes the concept of the Square Stand and the traditional credit card terminal and combines them into one portable machine. The display is large enough to be a fully functioning POS (it runs Square Point of Sale, the free app). It accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions. It even has a built-in thermal receipt printer.

While you can operate Terminal by keeping it plugged in, Square promises the battery will last all day if you prefer to go wireless. You also get a cleverly-designed power brick and USB hub to connect accessories, such as the USB barcode scanner and cash drawer. Bluetooth accessories aren’t supported, so the USB hub will be important for some merchants.

While Terminal runs Square Point of Sale, it also offers some compatibility with the iPad-based premium POS app, Square for Restaurants. Specifically, Terminal can be used for tableside ordering and payments. It doesn’t support all of Square for Restaurant’s features, though, so it’s important that you make sure Terminal will really fit your needs.

Square Terminal Fast Facts 

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $399
  • $300 processing credit for new merchants
  • 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale (limited compatibility with Square for Restaurants)

Square Register

 

Square Register (read our review) definitely targets a higher-end market, with a price tag of $999 — not counting a cash drawer, receipt printer, or barcode scanner. However, for that price, you get a 13.25-inch screen running Square Point of Sale, as well as a 7-inch consumer-facing screen with integrated support for magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions.

Square Register runs an Android-based version of Square Point of Sale, which means it’s not compatible with Square for Retail. However, you can take advantage of the back-end features if you opt to subscribe to Square for Retail. Specifically, that means access to the reporting features, including cost of goods sold and profitability reports. Square Register also integrates perfectly with Square Loyalty and allows customers to see the status of their loyalty accounts.

All in all, Square Register is an absolutely gorgeous piece of hardware that would look great in a retail space. The addition of the customer-facing display, combined with all of the supported hardware, brings Register on par with more traditional countertop POS systems.

Square Register Fast Facts

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $999
  • 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale (back end features compatible with Square for Retail)

Square POS Bundles

Square’s POS Kits are available for the Square Stand and Square Register — but if you’d prefer to use a different tablet stand for an iPad, Square also offers some alternatives. It would be a bit redundant and very overwhelming to go through every single bundle that Square offers, so let’s focus on what they offer, broadly speaking.

Square will first ask you to pick a category for your business. The options are limited — just food and beverages, beauty and wellness, or retail. However, those three categories cover a lot of industries. And honestly, you shouldn’t worry too much about picking the right category because the offerings will be similar. Check the options in each category and see which bundle you like.

After you’ve chosen an industry category, Square will also ask you about your Internet setup, specifically whether your business has a router. If you are relying on cellular data, obviously, there’s no router involved. But this question primarily affects what kind of printer Square includes in its bundles.

The biggest advantage to choosing a Square POS kit is the cost savings. Buying individual accessories from Square will cost more than buying a bundle. Square lists the prices as “starting at” for most bundles, but that’s usually because you have the option of purchasing an iPad direct from Square. (Note that you can only get the most recent model of iPad. Square offers POS bundles that support the iPad 2, for example, but you’ll have to acquire the iPad separately.)

Let’s start by looking at what the Square Register and Square Stand bundles look like, versus the alternative tablet stands.

Square Stand POS Kit

 

Square Stand on its own is pretty affordable, but if you opt for the bundle with the stand over buying individual components, you’ll save a small amount. Square suggests running the Stand with a router setup, which includes a USB hub for accessories, rather than wireless options. Your Square Stand Kit includes the following:

  • Receipt printer paper (25 rolls)
  • USB Receipt Printer
  • 16 in. Printer-Driven Cash Drawer
  • Square Stand for Contactless and Chip

If you decide against the Square Stand Kit, keep in mind that you can use any piece of hardware that works with an iPad running Square Point of Sale, as well as USB-enabled devices. That includes barcode scanners and receipt and kitchen printers in addition to cash drawers.

Square Register POS Kit

The POS kit for Square Register will add $530 to the cost, but it will save you $67 over buying the parts individually. (Also take note: You can’t order just the hardware bundle separate from the Register.)

In addition to the Register itself, the kit includes:

  • 16 in. USB Cash Drawer
  • USB Receipt Printer
  • Receipt printer paper (25 rolls)
  • Square Register

Square only recommends the Register kit for businesses with routers, not mobile setups. That’s not too surprising because it’s clearly not a mobile setup. Register does support some USB and Ethernet printers (and one WiFi printer), but it does not support as many devices as the Square Stand or just a standalone iPad. Square also offers compatible kitchen printers, which aren’t included in the bundles for food and beverage businesses, surprisingly.

Other Square POS Kits

If you’d still like to use Square on a tablet — but without the Register or Square Stand — you can get a selection of Heckler brand tablet stands designed for iPads, as well as Galaxy Tab A devices. They contain the following:

  • A tablet stand
  • A printer (Ethernet or Bluetooth)
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer paper
  • Card reader (Magstripe or Contactless + Chip)

Prices vary by the tablet stand model, as well as whether the kit includes an Ethernet or wireless printer. Which card reader Square includes depends on the model of iPad (remember, early models of iPad can’t upgrade to the iOS version required to support the Contactless + Chip Reader). And again, you can mix and match tablet stands and other devices to create a custom setup, though you will ultimately pay more than if you chose one of Square’s pre-made bundles.

Other Square Accessories

When you check out Square’s hardware shop, you can also browse standalone accessories for Square’s products. I like that the site has added the ability to filter compatible accessories by the POS device. The available accessories include kitchen printers, USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners, WiFi routers, and more. However, these are far from your only options. Square actually supports an extensive array of hardware in addition to the options available directly through its own shop. And it’s great about publishing that list of confirmed, supported devices.

Should You Finance Your Square Hardware Purchase?

There’s one last factor to consider when shopping for hardware from Square: the cost. If you are worried about the price of Square’s hardware, or the overall price of accessories, you’ll be glad to know that Square offers financing on purchases of $49 or more. Generally, the limit is $5,000, but you can apply for an increased limit. Depending on the total sum you’re financing, Square offers payback terms of 3, 6, 12 and 24 months.

Square will deduct your payments from your total processing volume before disbursing funds to your bank, so you don’t have to worry about making monthly payments. Eligibility depends on a credit check, and the financing program isn’t available in all U.S. states yet. However, if you are eligible, this could be a great option.

Square’s markup for financing is incredibly reasonable, and the program is managed by Square directly so you don’t have to worry about a shady third-party stepping in. If you can’t afford the upfront investment in hardware, Square’s financing can help you manage your cash flow better. And I like that it’s not a leasing program — when you’re done paying off the hardware, you own it.

Which Square Hardware Is Right For You?

If your business is primarily on the go, you can get a cheap, affordable mobile card reader. If you’d like a countertop setup, there’s Square Terminal with its very small profile, Square Stand for a good entry-level piece of hardware, and of course, Square Register. Plus, the bundled kits from Square allow you to easily add a cash drawer, receipt printer, and any other hardware you need. The number of options can seem overwhelming, but it really comes down to how portable you need your hardware to be and what you can afford.

One of my absolute favorite things about Square is that the company offers a huge array of very affordable hardware for all types of businesses. Some companies might only offer a few options, use expensive leases, or charge an arm and a leg just for a single terminal. You don’t have to worry about that with Square. The price is right and there are hardware options to suit every business that work with all of Square’s Point of Sale apps. That’s a very powerful reason to go with Square already. Throw in the affordable credit card processing and the great customer service, and it’s easy to see why Square is a favorite among small businesses.

If you’re still just learning about Square, be sure to read our complete Square Review! You can also check out our Square Point of Sale, Square for Retail, and Square for Restaurants reviews to learn more about the point of sale systems.

Thanks for reading! Leave us your thoughts and your questions in the comments below!

The post A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles 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

Review

Check Eligibility

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

Review

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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

Review

Visit Site

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

Review

Visit Site

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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Shopify VS Squarespace

Shopify VS Squarespace

Pricing

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Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed

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Specific Size Of Business

Tie

Hardware & Software Requirements

Tie

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Ease Of Use

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Features

Web Design

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Integrations & Add-Ons

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Payment Processing

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Customer Service & Technical Support

Negative Reviews & Testimonials

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Tie

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Tie

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Security

Winner

Final Verdict

Review

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Review

Compare

Right away, Shopify and Squarespace both score points in my book for their names. Shopify is all about helping you build an online store where customers can shop — “shop-ify-ing” a regular website, as it were. Squarespace, by comparison, is a more traditional website builder, allowing you to create a literal “square space” (or series of square spaces) where people can view your content and images on the internet.

Thank you, Shopify and Squarespace. Your names actually make sense.

Indeed, Shopify is a household name in the world of shopping cart software, whereas Squarespace is well-known for its attractive and modern site design capabilities. Squarespace is more than just a pretty face, though. In the last few years, this platform has added ecommerce functionality at a surprising level of sophistication.

If you’re here for an epic cage match between Squarespace and Shopify, I’m guessing you’re thinking about both of these platforms in terms of ecommerce. You’re in luck, because this is the precise focus of our comparison. How does Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality and design measure up to the ecommerce powerhouse that is Shopify? How do they compare in terms of pricing, customer service, and payment processing? Keep reading for our take on these and other key facets of Shopify and Squarespace.

Don’t have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.

 

Pricing

Winner: Squarespace

Both Shopify and Squarespace offer free 14-day trials with no credit card required, and neither charge setup or cancellation fees. From there, the two platforms begin to diverge. Here’s how the differences play out:

Shopify

  • Price Range: Choose from $29/month (Basic), $79/month (Shopify), or $299/month (Advanced) plans. There’s also a $9/month plan (Lite) for selling in-person, for embedding little “buy” buttons on other sites, and for selling on Facebook — but you don’t get an actual online store at all, so we’re leaving this plan out of our comparison for the most part.
  • Annual Subscription Discount: Save 10% when your subscription is paid annually upfront, or 20% if you pony up for two full years. For example, the Basic Plan becomes $26 or $23/month, and the Shopify Plan becomes $71 or $63/month.
  • Subscription Structure: All Basic ($29/month) plans and above include unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth. Higher subscription levels add a few features and additional staff accounts. Subscription levels also affect your Shopify transaction fees and your payment processing fees. Which leads us to…
  • Additional Transaction Fees: If you choose Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as your payment gateway, you are not charged any separate transaction fees. As an added bonus, you also see a gradual decrease in your payment processing fees with Shopify Payments as you climb the subscription ladder. However, if you use an alternative payment processor and not Shopify Payments, Shopify does charge extra transaction fees, beginning at 2.0% on the Basic plan. Thankfully, these fees gradually decrease to 1.0% and 0.5% as you increase your subscription.

Squarespace

  • Price Range: For ecommerce capability, you must skip over the $16/month plan and start at the $26/month (Business) level. However, merchants who’d really want to take advantage of Squarespace’s ecommerce features in a manner that’s comparable to Shopify are likely opting for the $30/month (Commerce Basic) or $46/month (Commerce Advanced) plans.
  • Annual Subscription Discount: The Business plan drops to $18, Commerce Basic to $26, and Commerce Advanced to $40 per month when paid upfront in one annual lump sum. You also qualify for a free domain registration for one year when you pay your main subscription annually.
  • Subscription Structure: Similar to Shopify, features are added as you increase your Squarespace subscription level. Bumping up to Commerce Basic or Advanced will eliminate separate Squarespace transaction fees.
  • Additional Transaction Fees: A 3.0% fee (above your gateway fees) is incurred by Squarespace on every purchase if you’re on the Business Plan. This additional transaction fee is eliminated, however, on Commerce Basic and Advanced.

For a direct comparison with Shopify, use the smaller print, month-to-month figures for Squarespace (Commerce Basic $30 and Commerce Advanced $46). Shopify promotes month-to-month figures ($29, $79, or $299).

Confusing enough for you? With all these pricing components, you can’t actually perform a true apples-to-apples comparison of cost. In truth, both Shopify and Squarespace offer a fair market price for their services. I will say that the transaction fee issue is problematic with both companies, especially since many competing platforms have eliminated these extra charges altogether. The good news is that each platform at least offers some way out of these fees.

In the end, I’m primarily basing my pricing verdict on one key factor: Squarespace offers its complete arsenal of features for only $46/month ($40/month if paid annually). In contrast, Shopify reserves its premium features for sellers with much deeper pockets (six and a half times deeper, to be exact). The big question is: does Squarespace offer enough ecommerce features at that $46/month level? The answer will depend on your business needs, but you can keep reading to develop a clearer picture of each platform.

Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed

Winner: Tie

Your Shopify or Squarespace store will be fully-hosted. No need to download and install either one locally.

Specific Size Of Business

Winner: Shopify

Both platforms allow unlimited bandwidth and products, but Shopify is better at accommodating a wider range of business sizes and product catalogs. In addition, Shopify provides a natural growth option via Shopify Plus, whereas Squarespace offers no enterprise-level plan at this time. On the other hand, if you happen to sell a handful of very expensive products (and that’s what makes your business “big”), Squarespace could still work swimmingly for you.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Tie

Since Squarespace and Shopify are both SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, you only need a computer, an internet connection, and an up-to-date browser to use either service. Both also provide Android and iOS apps for managing and editing your store.

Regarding supported browsers, Squarespace edges out Shopify by offering Chrome and Safari support on Linux operating systems, while Shopify only works with Windows and Mac. Meanwhile, Shopify stores are optimized for Samsung Internet in addition to Chrome and Safari browsers when viewed on mobile. Depending on your point of view, these finer points may or may not make a difference, so I’m still calling it a draw in this category.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Shopify

With both platforms specializing in general ease of use, we really need to examine Squarespace and Shopify in terms of usability for ecommerce.

Neither platform has a dedicated setup tutorial inside the dashboard, but both have documentation and instructional videos handy. If you’re accustomed to using or testing popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Squarespace will definitely have its own learning curve. Once I got the hang of it, though, I could operate the backend quite smoothly.

When you create a trial account with Shopify, you’re taken to the main admin panel. Shopify’s admin is structured like most ecommerce dashboards I’ve seen. Although you can preview your storefront at any time, your backend functions are kept separate from the storefront.

Shopify Dashboard:

With Squarespace, however, you must choose a theme (you can change it later) before you even get to see your admin panel. Once the admin opens, your dashboard is actually a combination of your backend control panel on the left, and your storefront preview on the right.

Squarespace Dashboard:

Although I can vouch that both platforms are very easy to use in the grand scheme, I find navigation of Squarespace’s backend to be slightly trickier than Shopify’s. The Squarespace UI is structured so that there are more dashboard layers to dig through — and then dig back out of again. Additionally, the left control panel menu changes (or even disappears) depending on what layer you happen to be in at the moment, which can be disorienting. This is in contrast to Shopify’s menu, which remains a fixed anchor point for admin navigation.

Take a quick look at the following screens from each platform to see what I mean:

Add A Product — Shopify:

You can see above that my main menu remains fixed on the left side of the dashboard as I enter my product details.

Add A Product — Squarespace:

With Squarespace, I’m already a couple of dashboard layers in, my left sidebar is gone, and I must dive one more screen deep from here to even enter my price. Also, what is not shown above is that you can’t just jump right in and start adding products with Squarespace like you can with Shopify and other online store builders. Even with Squarespace’s ecommerce-friendly templates, you must create a separate product page for your website first. I admit I had to resort to Squarespace’s documentation to figure this out, since I’m accustomed to ecommerce dashboards that make adding your first product a completely frictionless process.

Adding and managing inventory is just one piece of running an online store, but it remains a reliable ease of use test case. While you can list unlimited products with Squarespace, I think the backend interface is better designed for sellers offering a relatively small number of aesthetically-oriented products. Merchants with a large inventory will appreciate Shopify’s clear menus, efficient navigation, and the way in which product data is ultimately organized.

Features

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is the deserving winner in the features category. With solid out-of-the-box functionality and a rich add-on ecosystem, the blunt truth is that Shopify has spent much more time and resources cultivating features specifically for online sellers.

That said, there are a few features Squarespace offers that even Shopify lacks. Another thing to keep in mind is that Squarespace’s comparatively small feature set may still be just right for certain sizes and types of companies.

Key features of both platforms include:

  • Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Sell physical or digital products
  • Shipping & accounting integrations
  • Inventory & order management
  • Offer gift cards
  • Create discounts and coupons
  • Checkout on your domain
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Guest checkout & customer accounts
  • Real-time, carrier-calculated shipping
  • Analytics & reports
  • SEO tools

I’d say the Shopify versions of some of the above features are stronger or more versatile than the Squarespace versions. For example, the discount engine is much more flexible with Shopify.

Now, here are a few features that differentiate the two platforms:

Shopify

  • App store with thousands of integrations
  • Point of sale integration (Shopify POS or third-party POS)
  • Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
  • Proprietary shipping platform (Shopify Shipping) for carrier discounts and label printing
  • Extensive dropshipping capability
  • Enterprise expansion available via Shopify Plus
  • Abandoned cart recovery at cheaper plan level

Squarespace

  • Unlimited staff contributors on all ecommerce plans
  • G Suite integration (full year free)
  • $100 Google AdWords voucher
  • Free domain for a year if you pay annually
  • Customizable checkout forms
  • In-dashboard product image editing
  • Third-party calculated shipping rates at cheaper plan level

Web Design

Winner: Squarespace

Both platforms offer elegant, modern templates that are fully mobile responsive. Here’s a quick comparison of template stats:

Shopify Themes

  • 67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
  • 10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
  • Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180

Squarespace Themes

  • 90 templates organized into 21 template families
  • All templates are free and supported by Squarespace developers

Within these themes, both platforms facilitate the adjustment of fonts, colors, and layouts without any coding experience. In fact, I’d say both services offer more flexibility in this area than the average ecommerce store builder. If you still run into design limitations or simply want to alter the code, each site builder makes it relatively easy to customize your store with HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

The overall web design winner is a tough one to call, because that decision really depends on the type and number of products you intend to sell, with Squarespace catering to smaller catalogs with visual interest. If we were deciding strictly based on the variety of pre-made templates designed for stores selling lots of stuff, Shopify would snag the win.

That said, here are some ways Squarespace stands out when it comes to design:

  • All templates are free, and all are created and supported by Squarespace.
  • Offers a more versatile drag-and-drop editor for page layout customization.
  • Allows you to edit your product images from within your dashboard.
  • Uses a common templating language (JSON), versus Shopify’s own invented language (Liquid).

Was this category too close to call? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Integrations & Add-Ons

Winner: Shopify

Shopify has an impressive app store with around 2500 integrations — more than the vast majority of SaaS ecommerce platforms at large. While add-ons can certainly increase your monthly expenditure with Shopify, there’s no denying that your choices are plentiful. Plus, since a huge community of developers and merchants interact with Shopify apps, you also have access to thousands upon thousands of detailed user reviews.

Squarespace takes a completely different approach to integrations. No app store is offered, but Squarespace spins this as an advantage. Any pre-built integrations (about 70 in total) are already incorporated into your dashboard and fully tech-supported by Squarespace. Aside from payment providers (Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay) and shipping carriers (UPS, USPS, and FedEx), there are just a small handful of official Squarespace integrations specifically related to ecommerce. Here are a few key add-ons:

  • ShipStation: Order fulfillment
  • Xero: Accounting
  • MailChimp: Email marketing
  • Zapier: Workflow automation, multi-app connector

Just like many Shopify apps, several Squarespace apps have monthly subscription fees of their own. And, just like with Shopify, you can always build custom integrations if you have those skills or can hire someone who does. To put things in quick perspective, however, Squarespace has one official shipping/fulfillment app in ShipStation. Shopify has over 280 choices in its “Orders & Shipping” category, and over 600 results pop up if I simply type “shipping” in the app store’s search bar.

The win in this category goes to Shopify, the reigning monarch of ecommerce integrations. Besides keeping decision-making overload at bay, the trick with Shopify add-ons is to always check the quality (including quality of developer support) and ongoing cost of each integration.

Payment Processing

Winner: Shopify

Shopify wins at payment processing for one primary reason: flexibility. Consider the sheer number of gateway options with Shopify — over 100. With Squarespace, Stripe and PayPal are your only choices. More gateway options means availability in more countries and currencies, more ways for your customers to pay, better odds of finding the perfect processor for your specific needs, and even the opportunity to customize your own pricing model and rates in some cases. With Shopify, you can also accept cryptocurrencies or set up manual payment methods like cash on delivery, money orders, and bank transfers.

This is not the end of the story, however. Factor in the additional transaction fees that may be charged by either platform depending on your situation, as well as Shopify’s payment processing discounts with Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe), and the comparison becomes more nuanced.

As we examine these complications further, keep in mind that the going rate to process ecommerce transactions with most gateways these days is 2.9% + $0.30.

Here’s how your processing will work with Squarespace according to your subscription level:

Squarespace + PayPal and/or Stripe

  • Business ($26/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 3.0% Squarespace fee = 5.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Commerce Basic ($30/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Commerce Advanced ($46/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30

Those are the only potential processing costs you’re looking at with Squarespace. That additional 3.0% Squarespace fee on the Business plan is pretty brutal, but as soon as you upgrade to Commerce Basic for an extra $4/month, it disappears. For this reason, I don’t think the Business plan is a sustainable option for most ecommerce stores.

Now, let’s take a quick look at Shopify, remembering that using Shopify Payments as your gateway provides two perks: 1) no extra Shopify transaction fee on any plan, and 2) decreased payment processing fees as you upgrade your overall Shopify subscription.

Shopify + Shopify Payments

  • Basic ($29/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Shopify ($79/mo.): 2.6% + $0.30
  • Advanced ($299/mo.): 2.4% + $0.30

Shopify + Alternative Gateway (Generic Example)

  • Basic ($29/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 2.0% Shopify fee = 4.9% + $0.30
  • Shopify ($79/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 1.0% Shopify fee = 3.9% + $0.30
  • Advanced ($299/mo.): 2.9% + 0.30, + 0.5% Shopify fee = 3.4% + $0.30

Another twist is that Shopify Payments is currently only available for businesses located in 10 countries, so you’re stuck with an alternative gateway and that pesky Shopify transaction fee if your country isn’t included. (Squarespace at least doesn’t punish you for something you can’t control — your location.) On the flip side, if you are in one of the supported countries, you could opt to use Shopify Payments in addition to any of the other gateways Shopify offers to increase your customers’ payment options.

In a perfect world, both platforms would let you pick your own processor from among many, and never penalize you with extra transaction fees for any reason! Both Shopify and Squarespace have their own flaws in this regard.

So, what does this all mean for your business? The short answer is math. To determine the real winner in this category for your own company, you must consider your monthly subscription cost to either platform, your average number of transactions per month, and your average transaction size — not to mention the countries and currencies involved. Because the best platform and subscription level for your business depends on these and other factors, I award Shopify the payment processing win for at least making things interesting!

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Shopify

In terms of overall quality of customer support, both Shopify and Squarespace receive mixed user reviews. That said, Merchant Maverick’s own experiences with customer service and technical support would award Shopify the victory in this category. We’ve had better luck contacting the Shopify support team through the available channels — even when they’ve been unaware that we are software reviewers on the prowl.

Shopify also has more available support channels and more open-hours. Take a look:

Shopify

  • Phone: 24/7
  • Email: 24/7
  • Live Chat: 24/7

Squarespace

  • Phone: None
  • Email: 24/7
  • Live Chat: Monday-Friday, 4AM-8PM

Squarespace publishes a whole manifesto on its website explaining why no phone support is offered if you’d like to read it for yourself. Although they don’t come right out and say it, the bottom line is that this helps keep overall costs down. Meanwhile, not being able to contact a live person (even via live chat) after 5pm Pacific time is pretty brutal if you’re running an online store. Squarespace should know better — ecommerce never sleeps:

One final note in this category: both platforms provide several self-help resources — community forums, blogs, video tutorials, webinars, knowledgebase articles, and the like. However, note that Shopify resources are 100% geared toward ecommerce, whereas you’ll have to wade through other topics to find ecommerce resources at the Squarespace site.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Squarespace

When comparing user reviews for these platforms, it’s important to keep in mind the difficulty in teasing out feedback on Squarespace that is specifically related to ecommerce. Despite its growing ecommerce capability, Squarespace typically ends up in the generic website builder category on most review sites, with users discussing traditional website building issues.

Those caveats aside, here are some of the most common issues that come up for each platform:

Shopify

  • Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
  • Costly add-ons
  • Poor customer support
  • Frustration with Shopify Payments

Squarespace

  • Glitches & bugs
  • Poor/limited customer support
  • Limited theme customization

Of course, traditional website builders tend to get raked over the coals for the slightest theme customization limitations. We’ve already said Squarespace’s design capability is quite good overall, particularly when compared to a lot of shopping cart builders. When customers do criticize Squarespace specifically on ecommerce, there are no consistent patterns emerging so far. For this reason, I award this category to Squarespace based on a “no news is good news” argument. We’ll keep checking back for patterns.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Both Shopify and Squarespace tend to rate highly for overall customer satisfaction on user review websites. On top of that, both platforms are known for their ease of use and elegant templates. And, along with all the negative review of customer support both software programs have received, users of both platforms have been known to also sing praises for customer support. The combination of these factors led me to call this one a draw.

Once again, we’re faced with the dilemma that there’s not a whole lot of feedback about Squarespace’s ecommerce offerings. I have definitely seen several generic comments, such as “good for ecommerce!” Honestly, I think people are mostly pleased (and perhaps a bit surprised) that there’s some solid ecommerce capability available with Squarespace at all. I haven’t come across many users directly comparing their experiences with the two platforms.

Security

Winner: Shopify

Our combatants are quite close in this category. Both offer PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance, a free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for your site, two-factor authentication for logging in to your account, a CDN (Content Delivery Network), and even provide methods for complying with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws implemented by the EU in 2018.

The main difference I can see is that Shopify’s checkout pages are covered by an industry-standard, 256-bit shared SSL certificate. Squarespace’s checkout pages are covered by a less-robust, 128-bit certificate. My understanding is that while 128-bit encryption may end up working slightly faster, it’s technically less secure.

Final Verdict

Winner: Shopify

Squarespace put up a good fight in several categories, but Shopify emerges victorious as the better ecommerce website builder. Shopify’s pricing, core feature set, and vast app store can serve budding sellers on the Lite plan, all the way up to enterprise clients using Shopify Plus. Meanwhile, ecommerce was quite literally an afterthought for Squarespace. The platform’s developers have done an admirable job adding features for online selling, but they just can’t compete with Shopify’s dominance here.

As we’ve said time and again in this comparison, Squarespace still provides an interesting option for sellers who’d like to feature a small number of products with aesthetic appeal. Especially if you’ve already been using Squarespace to develop your company story and brand, I’d definitely recommend fully exploring the ecommerce feature set — perhaps by bumping up your subscription for just month or two — before completely abandoning ship for Shopify or another dedicated shopping cart builder.

I’ll offer one more interesting twist before you head off to test Shopify and/or Squarespace for yourself. Some users have actually used the two services in combination. How? By integrating those “buy now” buttons from a $9/month Shopify Lite plan into an existing Squarespace website. It’s a roundabout option, to be sure, but it also gives you access to in-person selling with the Shopify POS app. At any rate, take that as some final food for thought, and best of luck in your search for the perfect ecommerce platform.

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Retail Business Loans And Financing Options

Owning a retail business isn’t without its challenges. Whether you’re growing rapidly and need extra money for expansion or you’re in the middle of a slow season that’s impacted your cash flow, one thing is clear: you need money for your business to operate smoothly.

Sure, pulling the money you need from your own bank account is ideal, but this isn’t always possible. Maybe the money’s not there … or maybe you don’t want to put yourself in a bind by tying up your funds. In these situations, what do you do when you need a financial helping hand? Take a cue from other smart retailers and find a retail business loan that’s right for you.

There comes a time when most small businesses have to take out a loan, and retail businesses are no exception. The key is to understand your options to find the best, most affordable loan that you can use to take your store to the next level, cover an unexpected emergency, or even get your business off the ground. Read on to learn more about the retail business loan and financing options available for any situation.

The Best Loans For Retail Businesses

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Business Expansion SBA Loan SmartBiz
Purchasing Equipment Equipment Financing Lendio
Emergency Funding Short-Term Loan LoanBuilder & IOU Financial
Cash Flow Shortages Business Credit Cards Ink Business Preferred from Chase
Purchasing Inventory Line of Credit OnDeck
Purchasing a Point of Sale System POS Financing CDGcommerce

1. Business Expansion

Business is booming, and you’re ready for an expansion. Maybe you’re an online retailer and you’ve decided it’s time to open your first brick-and-mortar store. Perhaps you want to open an additional location, or you want to do a complete overhaul of your facilities. No matter what the situation, your retail business is growing, which is exciting … but also very expensive.

Instead of hindering your growth by draining your checking account, consider applying for a loan that provides the funds you need, but spread out into affordable monthly payments.

Small Business Administration 7(a) Loans

The Small Business Administration is a government organization that provides resources to small business owners just like you. One of the most popular resources the SBA offers small business owners is low-cost loan options. Although there are several great programs to consider, the SBA 7(a) loan is one of the most popular among small business owners.

The SBA 7(a) loan is a loan that can be used for essentially any business purpose. This includes business expansion, the purchase of equipment, to use as working capital, or to even save money by paying off high-interest debt.

Through the 7(a) program, you can receive up to $5 million. Because up to 85% of the loan proceeds are backed by the government, SBA-approved lenders (known as intermediaries) are more willing to give these loans out. This is ideal if you’ve been unable to qualify for traditional loan options.

SBA 7(a) loans have low interest rates capped at a maximum of 4.75% — added to the prime rate — based on the loan amount and your repayment terms. Repayment terms are available up to 10 years for most uses, while loan proceeds being used for commercial real estate come with maximum terms of 25 years. SBA 7(a) loans are available to qualified borrowers with a credit score in the high 600s.

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

The SBA 7(a) loan sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? If you’re interested in this loan, you could visit an intermediary lender in your area, such as a bank or credit union. However, this process can often be a hassle for the busy retail business owner. Simplify the process of applying for an SBA 7(a) loan by working with SmartBiz.

With SmartBiz, you can fill out an easy online questionnaire to find out if you’re qualified for an SBA loan. Once you’re prequalified, the service will match you with a lender and assign a relationship manager to help you through the application process.

Getting approved and funded takes several weeks for most applicants. Other times, the process may drag out over several months if more information is needed by your lender. Even though the waiting time to receive this type of loan exceeds that of other financing options, the low overall cost and the flexibility that comes with the 7(a) loan is often worth the wait for many small business owners.

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2. Purchasing Equipment

Your technology and equipment are seriously outdated. Or maybe your business is growing so fast that your problem is not replacing equipment, but adding more. Instead of spending thousands out of pocket, there’s a more affordable solution when you need to replace or purchase long-term equipment: equipment financing.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is a type of business financing used to purchase new equipment for your business. With equipment financing, you’ll be able to take possession of much-needed new equipment immediately without paying the entire cost up front.

With an equipment loan, you’ll pay a down payment that is usually 10% to 20% of the total cost of the equipment. The remaining amount, along with interest and fees charged by the lender, will be loaned to you and is paid back through scheduled payments over a longer period of time. At the end of your repayment period, you will own the equipment. This makes the purchase of new or replacement equipment much more affordable.

Equipment leases are another form of equipment financing. With equipment leasing, you’re essentially paying to use the equipment. At the end of your lease, you can return the equipment and take out another lease on the latest model. Unlike a loan, you will never own the equipment unless you pay a lump sum at the end of the lease. However, if you upgrade equipment frequently or want a lower down payment, a lease may be the right option for you.

Recommended Option: Lendio

If equipment financing sounds like the right loan option for your business, find a lender using Lendio. Lendio is a loan-matching service that connects you with the right lender that offers loans to best fit your needs.

Equipment financing through Lendio lenders is available in amounts from $5,000 up to $5 million. Terms of up to 5 years are available. Interest rates for the most qualified buyers start at 7.5%.

Column Heading Data

Credit limit:

$5,000 – $5,000,000

Term length:

1 – 5 years

Interest rate:

7.5%+

Origination fee:

By lender

Collateral:

Usually the equipment being financed

When using Lendio, you’ll fill out an application and within 72 hours, you’ll receive loan offers from multiple lenders. This allows you to review your options to find the most affordable loan with the best repayment terms.

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3. Emergency Funding

Even if you’re on top of your business and finances, there may come a time when an unexpected emergency arises. It happens to the best of us, usually when we are least prepared for it. If an emergency pops up and you need extra cash immediately, a short-term loan could offer just what you’re looking for.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is exactly what the name suggests: a loan that comes with short terms of 1 year or less. These loans have their benefits for small business owners. Borrowers with low credit scores, a short time in business, or with low annual revenues often qualify. However, the biggest benefit is how quickly you can receive the money with a short-term loan. With some lenders, you can apply, be approved, and have the money in your bank account in just 24 hours.

However, short-term loans don’t come without their drawbacks. This fast form of financing comes at a cost. Short-term loans do not have interest rates, but instead, use something called a factor rate. This fee is paid back along with the principal balance over a short period of time. Often, this factor fee, along with other costs such as origination fees, can make these loans more expensive than long-term options. However, when you’re in a financial bind and need money quickly to keep your retail business running smoothly, a short-term loan may be your best option.

Recommended Options: PayPal LoanBuilder & IOU Financial

PayPal’s LoanBuilder provides short-term funding up to $500,000, which can be repaid over a period of 13 to 52 weeks based on the amount of the loan received. The LoanBuilder application takes just 10 minutes to complete. Once approved, you can receive your funds as soon as the next business day.

Qualified borrowers must be in business for 9 months and have at least $42,000 in annual revenue. All borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 550.

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Another short-term loan option is IOU Financial. This lender offers loans up to $300,000. Requirements include being in business for a minimum of one year, bringing in revenue of at least $100,000, and making at least 10 deposits per month into your business bank account.

Repayment terms are available from 6 to 18 months, and once your loan is 40% paid off, you can renew if additional funding is needed. Repayments are made through fixed daily or weekly payments.

4. Cash Flow Shortages

From time to time, a retail business may face cash flow shortages due to a slow season or other challenges. When this happens, daily operations may be affected. You have the same expenses, but your revenues are down, posing a financial challenge for your business. You don’t have to sit back and let these situations drag your business down. Instead, a business credit card can help you fill in these gaps.

Business Credit Cards

A business credit card provides you with a revolving line of credit that you can use to pay your suppliers, vendors, and other expenses. The issuer of the credit card will provide you with a credit limit. You can spend up to and including that limit, using the card as often as you need.

A business credit card allows you to make an instant purchase without having to wait for approval from the lender. You’ll only pay interest on the amount of the credit line that has been used. Payments are made monthly and are applied to the interest and the balance on your card.

One great feature about business credit cards is that many offer rewards programs. With qualifying business purchases, you can earn cash back or points that can be redeemed toward rewards.

Recommended Option: Ink Business Preferred from Chase

The Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card is a top choice among retailers and other business owners because of its great rewards program. If you spend $5,000 within three months of opening your account, you receive 80,000 bonus points. For every purchase, you’ll continue to rack up points.

This credit card also offers additional benefits not offered by other credit card issuers, such as cell phone protection. This card comes with a variable APR of 17.99% to 22.99% with a $95 annual fee.

This credit card is reserved for borrowers with good to excellent credit. Check out our other top picks in business credit cards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

5. Purchasing Inventory

You need inventory, and you need it now. If you need to purchase inventory to keep your business running and time is of the essence, a business line of credit may be just what you need out of a small business loan.

Line Of Credit

With a line of credit, a lender issues you a credit limit. You can make multiple draws up to and including this limit whenever you want. The funds will typically be in your account within a few business days, although some lenders offer immediate transfers.

Interest is only applied to the portion of the funds that have been withdrawn. Interest rates vary by creditworthiness, with the most qualified borrowers receiving rates around 6% while high-risk borrowers may see rates of 20% or more.

Payments are made on a scheduled basis and are applied toward the principal and interest. Repayment terms and schedules vary by lender.

Recommended Option: OnDeck

OnDeck is an alternative lender that provides lines of credit to business owners. Lines of credit up to $100,000 are available to eligible borrowers. Repayment terms up to 12 months are available. Rates are as low as 13.99%, and weekly payments are automatically deducted from your business bank account.

OnDeck is known for its fast application process and low borrower requirements. Borrowers of this loan must have a credit score of at least 600, have been in business for at least 1 year, and have a minimum revenue of $100,000 per year.

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6. Purchasing A Point Of Sale System

POS hardware

 

If you own a retail business, you already know the importance of a point of sale system. This centralized system allows you to keep track of inventory, receive payments, and provide receipts for purchases.

Whether you’ve opened a new store or you want to upgrade your outdated system, you can receive a new POS system without paying a lot of money up front with POS financing options.

POS Financing

POS financing allows you to purchase or lease a POS system without paying the full amount up front. Depending on the company you work with, full financing options for all hardware and software may be available.

In addition to POS financing, you may also consider a credit card processing app. These are usually more affordable, are less complicated, and don’t require lengthy contracts. This option is best for smaller retail businesses, while larger businesses should stick with a full POS system.

Recommended Option: CDGcommerce

CDGCommerce is a retail credit card processing company that offers affordable point of sale systems. The company offers the Harbortouch Echo featuring the CDG POS+ app that can be rented for just $49.00 per month. An annual equipment insurance fee is also required at a cost of $79.00, but compared to the costs of purchasing a system, these fees are quite affordable.

Ready to upgrade but unsure of which POS is right for you? Read on to learn more about choosing the right retail POS system for your business.

When You Want To Start A Retail Business

All of these options are great for established retail businesses, but what if you haven’t even gotten your business off the ground yet? For most aspiring business owners, financing is the barrier that is holding them back.

It may be difficult to qualify for a startup loan. After all, you don’t have the sales, revenues, and financial documents to back up your success. When you want to start a business, you have to get creative with your funding options.

If you want to apply for a business loan, you can look to options such as the SBA Microloan program, which provides up to $50,000 to small business owners. These low-cost loans aren’t easy to obtain, though. You’ll need to make sure that you’re prepared for the lengthy application process by preparing your personal financial documents, creating a detailed business plan, and outlining future projections. Your score must be in the high 600s to qualify.

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

Other startup loan options are available, such as online lenders like Fundwise Capital. For borrowers with a poor credit history, there are other alternative loan options but these often come at a much higher cost.

If you have a high personal credit score, you can also consider taking out a personal loan to fund your startup costs. With a personal loan, your income and personal credit score will be considered. This could potentially help you score a lower cost loan that can be used to start your retail business.

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

Ways To Improve Your Chances Of A Successful Application

Improve Business Loan Application

Once you’re ready to apply for your business loan, you can do some prep work in advance to expedite the process. Before you even start filling out an application, the first step is to know your credit score and determine whether it is high enough to qualify for the loan you’re seeking.

You can receive your free credit score online to find out where you stand. Review your credit report carefully for any errors. If there are any negative items on your report, be prepared to explain those to your lender.

If your credit score is low and your funding need isn’t urgent, you may consider taking a few easy steps to raise your credit score. You’ll be rewarded with lower interest rates, better terms, and more financing options.

You can also prepare your paperwork and documentation in advance. Although requirements vary by lender and the type of loan you’ve selected, you’ll generally need a few items, including:

  • Bank Statements
  • Personal Financial Statements
  • Business Balance Sheet
  • Profit & Loss Statement
  • Income Statements
  • Business Licenses
  • Articles Of Incorporation

When the time comes to apply for your loan, you’ll need to know exactly how much you need and why you need the loan. It’s also important to remember that most loans require a blanket lien or personal guarantee. Most lenders require a personal guarantee to be signed by anyone with at least 20% ownership in the business, so be prepared to have all owners ready to sign the contract as needed.

Finally, when you do apply for your loan, be sure to make yourself available to the lender. Sometimes, lenders require additional documentation or have questions about your application. Taking the time to work with your lender will help you finish the process smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Getting a business loan can be tough, whether you’re an established retail business owner or just getting started. However, there are plenty of options available if you take the time to do your research, go into the application process prepared, and have a good reason for taking out the loan which will improve the return on investment for your business.

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The 6 Best Business Lines Of Credit For Bad Credit

Each small business is unique, but every business has at least one thing in common: they all need money to operate. Whether it’s for day-to-day operations, a major purchase, or the dreaded unexpected emergency, businesses need ready cash — and lots of it.

In an ideal world, you would just reach for your checkbook or debit card every time an expense popped up. Unfortunately, things aren’t that cut and dry in the real world. Customers are late in paying their invoices; businesses have seasonal slumps; unexpected emergency expenses cut into the bottom line.

Wouldn’t it be great to have on-demand access to cash whenever it was needed? Actually, there is a small business financing solution that works that way: a business line of credit.

What happens, though, when you have poor credit? Maybe you’ve tried to qualify for other business financing in the past and have been turned down. The great news is that business lines of credit are available to everyone, even applicants with low credit scores.

Ready to learn more? Read on for more information about business lines of credit, including what they are, how you can use them, and how to obtain one — even if you have less-than-perfect credit.

What Is A Business Line Of Credit?

A business line of credit is a type of revolving credit. The lender provides the business owner with a credit limit. Much like they would with a credit card, the borrower can make as many draws as needed — up to and including the total credit limit — to get fast access to funding. Interest and fees are charged only on the balance that has been used by the borrower.

Once a borrower begins to make draws, the money is paid back at a later time on a scheduled basis, which could be weekly, monthly, or on another schedule set by the lender. Payments are made toward the principal balance, as well as toward the interest and fees charged by the lender. As money is paid back, it becomes available to borrow again.

Is A Credit Card A Type Of Line Of Credit?

Business credit cards are another type of revolving credit, and while very similar to lines of credit, they aren’t exactly the same thing.

A credit card allows a borrower to make multiple purchases up to and including the set credit limit. Cards can be used for online purchases or brick-and-mortar establishments that accept credit cards.

Cash draws can be made from a credit card, but these draws typically come with higher fees and interest rates. With most credit cards, you also can only access a certain percentage of your total credit limit as a cash advance. When cash is needed, a line of credit is the better option.

However, credit cards have their own benefits. Credit cards can be used immediately, while lines of credit draws may take 24 hours or longer. Credit cards also offer rewards programs, allowing users to rack up airline miles, bonus points, and cash back with every use. Lines of credit do not offer these rewards.

When Should I Use A Line Of Credit?

A line of credit is handy any time you need quick access to money. A line of credit can be used when an emergency expense arises; it can also be used for purchases that you’d rather pay off over time.

Really, a line of credit can be used for any business expense. However, like other types of financing, line of credit loans should only be used when needed. Interest and fees can make this a very expensive form of credit. Before spending, ask yourself if the return on investment will be worth the cost or if there are more affordable alternatives available. If you do decide to make a draw, try to pay the balance off as quickly as possible to avoid paying unnecessary interest or fees.

When Should I Look For Other Financing Options?

In some scenarios, you may want to look into other financing options. For very large purchases, a long-term loan with a lower interest rate may be a more logical choice.

One of the major benefits of a line of credit is how fast you can receive the money you need. For emergencies, this may be the only option. However, if you are planning to make a purchase that isn’t an immediate need, it may be best to shop your options to find the most affordable type of financing.

What Is Considered Bad Credit?

business card for bad credit

Some lenders have their own standards to define bad credit, but in general, a score between 350 and 599 is considered poor.

A low credit score could occur for a number of reasons. A missed payment, a foreclosure, collections, or bankruptcy can pull a credit score down quickly. Even having too many new accounts or high credit utilization can drag a score down. Unfortunately, most lenders don’t consider the circumstances and just see one thing with a low credit score: risk.

Why Is My Personal Credit Score Important?

Lenders consider borrower risk before approving a loan. The lower the risk, the more likely the lender will be to approve the loan. The higher the risk, the higher the chances are of a rejected application. If a risky borrower is approved, interest rates are usually much higher and terms are not as favorable.

Personal credit score plays a big role in assessing risk. Borrowers with high credit scores will have more financing options and will receive the best rates and terms. Borrowers with lower credit scores will be limited in their options. They may qualify for lower amounts and suffer from higher overall loan costs. In some cases, borrowers with low scores will be unable to qualify for unsecured loans. These borrowers will have to put up collateral or pay a deposit for a secured loan.

How Quickly Can I Improve My Personal Credit Score?

Unfortunately, boosting your personal credit score isn’t an overnight process. While it’s possible to raise your score by a few points in just a few weeks, the process of raising your credit score from “bad” to “good” could take months – or in some cases, years.

The first step to improving your personal credit score is to pull your report and score to see where you stand. This can be done at no cost online. Look carefully through your report for any erroneous items that can be disputed with the credit bureaus. A mistake on your credit report will need to be proven to the creditor and then corrected or deleted.

If you have open lines of credit, make sure to pay your balances down as quickly as possible. Not only will this help you save on interest over time, but it will also lower your credit utilization, which in turn can help raise your credit score.

At the very least, make sure that you’re making minimum payments on all of your accounts each month. A late or missed payment can severely affect your credit score. Do not make too many inquiries into new accounts, and don’t open too many new accounts at the same time. All of these moves throw up a red flag to lenders.

Finally, raising your score can sometimes be a waiting game. Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, while bankruptcies and foreclosures stay on your credit report for seven years. While you can work in other ways to build your credit in the meantime, only time will erase these past mistakes.

Is My Business Credit Score Important?

If you’re a business owner, you have a business credit score in addition to your personal score. A business credit score shows your business’ credit history and helps lenders assess whether or not you are a risky borrower.

Lines of credit, credit cards, and loans taken out for your business will all affect your business credit score. As with your personal credit, if you make late payments or miss payments on a business account, your score will be lower. Your business will be viewed as a riskier investment. If your score is high, lenders will feel more confident in giving you the financing you seek.

A business credit score is important when applying for financing, so it’s vital to ensure that your business credit score is as high as possible. The best loan products, like long-term bank loans and commercial mortgages, are reserved for borrowers with high personal and business credit scores. For many lines of credit, business credit score is considered by the lender when determining whether to approve your application.

The Best Business Lines of Credit For Bad Credit

Whether you have an emergency expense and need money quickly or you just want to have a backup form of funding on-hand for the future, a line of credit can be good for your business. Before you apply, become familiar with the best lines of credit for borrowers with poor credit scores.

Fundbox

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Fundbox provides business lines of credit up to $100,000 for qualified borrowers. In order to qualify, all applicants must have a business checking account and a recommended yearly revenue of $50,000. Businesses must be based in the U.S. or in select U.S. territories. Applicants must have at least two months of activity in Fundbox-supported accounting software such as QuickBooks. If this qualification is not met, an applicant can provide bank statements to prove three months of transactions in a business bank account. There are no minimum credit scores to qualify.

The application process for Fundbox takes less than 10 minutes and most applicants can receive an approval decision in 3 minutes or less. Once approved, the borrower can access funds immediately, with most transfers going through as quickly as the next business day. Fundbox charges fees starting at 4.66% on the amount drawn. Balances can be paid early and any remaining fees will be waived. Repayments are made weekly over 12 or 24 weeks.

Kabbage

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Kabbage provides up to $250,000 via lines of credit. While Kabbage does pull your credit score, the lender focuses more on business performance than credit history, so borrowers with low credit scores can be approved.

To qualify for a Kabbage line of credit, businesses must have been in operations for a minimum of one year. There are revenue requirements: either $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 monthly revenue for the last three months. Kabbage requires borrowers to link their business accounts (PayPal, QuickBooks, business bank accounts, etc.) to determine if they qualify and how much they are qualified to receive.

With Kabbage, the application and approval process takes approximately 10 minutes. Once approved, borrowers can draw money immediately, and funds are usually transferred the next business day. Kabbage has also released the Kabbage Card, which lets borrowers use funds immediately anywhere VISA is accepted.

Kabbage offers repayment terms of 6 or 12 months. Payments are made monthly through automatic withdrawals. Kabbage charges fees between 1.5% and 10% on the borrowed amount based on business performance.

Headway Capital

headway capital

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Headway Capital provides lines of credit up to $100,000. Minimum qualifications for a Headway Capital line of credit is annual revenue of at least $50,000 and at least one year in business. The business must also be located in one of the states served by the lender. There are no minimum credit score requirements, although a soft credit pull will be performed during the application process.

Headway Capital offers repayment terms of 12, 18, or 24 months. Weekly or monthly payment options are available. Fees, minimum initial draw amounts, and maximum credit limits vary by state. Applicants for Headway Capital lines of credit can be pre-approved in just minutes. Once underwriting is complete and the loan is approved, borrowers can draw immediately from their line of credit and receive the funds as quickly as the next business day.

OnDeck

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OnDeck provides lines of credit up to $100,000 for qualified business owners. All applicants must be in business for at least one year with annual revenue of at least $100,000. The applicant must also be a majority owner of the business and have a credit score of at least 600. Business and personal credit scores, as well as business performance, will be evaluated for approval.

Rates for OnDeck lines of credit are as low as 13.99%, although the average APR is 32.6%. Repayment terms are weekly and made over a 6-month period. Once approved, borrowers can make a draw on funds immediately. With an ACH transfer, money will be received within 1 to 2 business days. OnDeck also offers Instant Funding, which transfers funds to an eligible business debit card in just minutes.

Two Credit Cards For Merchants With Bad Credit

If you want to pay your vendors, contractors, and suppliers, a business credit card may be the right choice for you. A credit card gives you instant access to funding without waiting for transfers, and you can withdraw cash if needed. Not only will you be able to use your funds immediately, but business credit cards can also help you boost your credit score to apply for other types of financing in the future.

Capital One Spark Classic

Capital One Spark Classic For Business



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.74%, Variable

The Capital One Spark Classic is a popular choice with business owners that have lower credit scores. To qualify, all applicants must have a credit score of at least 580. This is an unsecured card that comes with a 24.74% variable APR and no annual fee.

One of the advantages of this card is that it has a 1% cash back offer for every business purchase. Rewards are unlimited, and there is no minimum to redeem. The Capital One Spark Classic comes with fraud coverage and free employee cards. Using the card responsibly can also help you boost your credit while giving you access to the capital that you need.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Secured Mastercard from Capital One



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.99%, Variable

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is a personal credit card, but it can be used by a business owner who wants to rebuild their credit.

There is no annual fee, and this card comes with a 24.99% variable APR. The Capital One Secured Mastercard is a secured credit card that requires a refundable deposit of $49, $99, or $200 based on the creditworthiness of the applicant. Once approved, a credit line of $200 will be available. Once five monthly payments have been made on time, borrowers will receive a credit limit increase. Over time, borrowers can receive higher credit lines and qualify for additional Credit One products.

Final Thoughts

Having a low credit score can make qualifying for a business loan difficult but not impossible. Lines of credit and credit cards can help even borrowers with low scores receive the money they need to build their businesses. By applying for the right line of credit and using it responsibly, you will not only keep your business operating smoothly but can also build your credit in the meantime to qualify for more financing options in the future.

The post The 6 Best Business Lines Of Credit For Bad Credit appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Complete Guide to PayPal’s Fees, Rates, and Pricing

As a consumer mobile wallet, PayPal is darn-near ubiquitous. But with more than 17 million merchants worldwide calling PayPal their payments processor, it’s also a massive force in the merchant services industry. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get set up with credit card payments, whether for a POS system or online, PayPal is probably going to be on your radar, and with good reason.

But should you choose PayPal as your payments processor, and what will it cost? The good news is that PayPal offers transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing with no monthly fees, no account termination fees, or other hidden costs. You can predict fairly well what you’ll pay with PayPal, and all payment processing fees are deducted before PayPal deposits funds in your account.

The one major drawback is that PayPal is a third-party processor, also referred to as an aggregator. That means the company essentially onboards merchants as sub-users of one, giant merchant account that includes the entirety of PayPal’s merchant base. This means that the company does minimal underwriting before approving an account. You don’t need to provide much info beyond confirming your identity to open an account. However, this does mean you face a greater amount of scrutiny after opening an account, and PayPal can terminate your account or place a hold on funds with no notice to you.

That sounds worrisome, but the reality is it only happens to a small percentage of merchants. You can also take steps to protect yourself by recognizing the common red flags that processors look for and avoiding them. Check out our article on how to avoid merchant accounts holds and terminations to learn more.

PayPal obviously isn’t the right choice for everyone. There are restrictions on the types of products merchants can offer, and it doesn’t support certain business models. High-risk businesses should look somewhere else for a merchant account. However, most merchants should be fine with a PayPal account for payment processing.

Read on for a closer look at what you can expect to pay with PayPal as your business’ credit card processor! You can also check out our PayPal and PayPal Here reviews for a focused look at the products and services.

Payment Processing Fees

The major concern for most merchants who use (or are considering using) PayPal are the payment processing costs, so we’ll start there. PayPal offers predictable, flat-rate pricing for all merchants. You don’t have to worry about higher interchange for American Express cards, or MCCs, or qualified vs non-qualified transactions. Your exact rate will depend on the type of transaction.

Merchants who use PayPal’s mPOS app, PayPal Here, or integrate with one of PayPal’s POS partners (such as Vend), will pay the following for in-person transactions:

  • 2.7% per swiped, dipped or tapped transaction
  • 3.5 + $0.15 per keyed transaction

For online transactions, including monthly subscription charges, donations, and digital invoices, PayPal charges the following:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction

That’s it. Really. The simplicity of PayPal’s pricing is one of the biggest draws for merchants. You can predict fairly easily what your pricing will be and, because PayPal deducts its fees before depositing funds in your account, you don’t have to worry about an end-of-the-month invoice or going over a limit and incurring additional fees.

What About Alternative Payment Processing Rates?

If you’re wondering whether PayPal offers any sort of alternative payment plans, the answer is yes. Merchants with an average transaction size under $10 can opt for the micropayments plan. PayPal also offers a nonprofit discount for online transactions to qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

  • Micropayments Plan: 5% + $0.05 per transaction. (Note: This rate applies to all transactions, even those above $10)
  • Nonprofit Discount (Online Only): 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

If you integrate with one of PayPal’s partner POS systems, such as Vend or TouchBistro, you may be eligible for special discounts  (presumably volume-based) or other promotions. However, these offers aren’t clearly disclosed, just advertised on the POS software sites.

Other PayPal Fees For Payment Processing

While PayPal does charge a few extra fees relating to payment processing, they aren’t many. But these are what you might come across:

  • 1.5% Cross-Border Transaction Fee: For US merchants who accept online payments from buyers out of the country, or in-person transactions involving a card from outside the US, PayPal charges a 1.5% cross-border fee. That means, for example, that a US merchant accepting a Canadian card at a POS terminal will pay 4% of the transaction value to PayPal.
  • 2.5% Currency Conversion Fee:  If PayPal has to convert the currency before it deposits the funds in your account, you’ll pay another 2.5% conversion fee. Whether you have to pay the conversion fee depends on the customer’s bank and whether it will handle the currency conversion (usually at a cost to the customer).
  • $20 Chargeback Fee: Chargeback fees are pretty standard, and if a customer files a chargeback against you, PayPal will assess a $20 fee in addition to withdrawing the funds to cover the transaction amount.
  • Refund Fee: In the event of a refund, PayPal will refund the percentage-based fee from the transaction to you, but keep the fixed fee. For most in-person transactions that means you’ll pay nothing. However, refunds on keyed transactions mean you’ll pay $0.15. Refunds on online or invoiced transactions will cost $0.30. PayPal can be a bit confusing about how this works in its transaction summaries, but be aware that you will pay a fee for most refunded transactions, albeit a small one.
  • 1% Instant Transfer Fee: If you’d like to move your PayPal balance to a bank account immediately, you can do that — for a fee. PayPal charges merchants 1% of the transfer value, capped at $10 per transfer, but your funds will be available typically within 30 minutes (s0 long as your bank’s system isn’t incredibly slow). You’ll have to connect an eligible debit card to support instant transfers as well. However, if you prefer to have instant access to funds without paying a fee, don’t forget that PayPal offers a business debit card that’s linked to your PayPal balance, too.

Software Fees

One of the big draws for PayPal is the lack of software fees. Instead of paying a monthly fee for PayPal’s ecommerce features, you pay only the payment transaction costs (in most circumstances — but we’ll come back to this in a moment). While you’ll need to arrange for your own domain and web hosting, you can implement PayPal’s “buy” and “donate” buttons with no additional costs. You can send digital invoices for free and only pay the transaction cost when the invoice is paid.

Likewise, access to PayPal’s mPOS app, PayPal Here (read our review) is also free. However, if you opt to integrate PayPal into a POS app, invoicing software, or another platform, you’ll be responsible for those software costs. PayPal doesn’t charge anything for use of the integration.

Also, take note: PayPal doesn’t charge merchants any PCI compliance fees, account maintenance fees, customer service fees, or termination/account closure fees.

However, PayPal does offer a couple of advanced software options that come with additional costs:

  • PayPal Payments Pro: The “Pro” plan from PayPal has two advantages. One, it includes a virtual terminal to accept payments over the phone by keying in a card from a browser window.  Two, it allows merchants to keep the checkout process on their own website rather than redirecting to PayPal to complete a transaction. This does come with a couple of concerns. For one, you’re not automatically PCI compliant and you’ll need to take additional steps to handle your PCI compliance. Two, $30/month for a virtual terminal is pretty pricey considering you’ll still pay higher rates than swiped/dipped/tapped transactions. Square and Shopify both offer free virtual terminals. Also, opting for PayPal Payments Pro and the Virtual Terminal will mean a few different transaction fees to worry about:
    • 3.5% American Express Fee: Any Amex cards will process at the higher 3.5% rate if you’re on the Pro plan.
    • 3.1% + $0.30 Virtual Terminal Fee: Any transactions processed through PayPal’s Virtual Terminal process at 3.1% + $0.30, plus the international transaction fee if applicable.
  • Recurring Billing: If you’d like to sell subscriptions (software, gift boxes, etc.), PayPal does offer a set of recurring billing tools. Recurring payments are available with PayPal’s Express Checkout Option at no additional charge, but if you have PayPal Payments Pro and want advanced tools, they’ll cost you $10/month. This doesn’t apply to “Donate” buttons, which have their own option for donors to choose between a one-time or recurring donation.

  • Mass Payouts: If you need to distribute funds to multiple parties, PayPal’s Mass Payouts feature might be an appealing option. You have two options here: using PayPal’s API to handle the command, or uploading a spreadsheet. Which method you choose affects how much you pay — if you opt to upload a spreadsheet through PayPal’s website, you’ll pay 2% per transaction, capped at a maximum $1 USD, which is pretty reasonable. If you opt for the API, you’ll pay a flat fee of $0.25 USD per payment. This is a great way to distribute payments to contractors, for example, or manage marketplace payments if you use PayPal’s platform.

PayPal Hardware Costs

Unless you’re integrating PayPal with a POS system or using the free mPOS, PayPal Here, you won’t have to worry about hardware costs. But if you do, you’ll have a few options for card readers:

  • Chip & Swipe Reader: PayPal’s entry-level chip reader sells for $24.99. In addition to EMV capabilities it supports magstripe transactions, but no contactless payments. However, it does connect to phones and tablets via Bluetooth and comes with a convenient mounting clip.
  • Chip & Tap Reader: To get a credit card reader that supports magstripe, EMV, and contactless payments, you’ll need the Chip and Tap reader, which sells for $59.99. We’ve already reviewed this reader as well as the optional charging dock ($30 separately, or bundled for $79.99), with a very positive rating. Again, the Chip and Tap reader connects via Bluetooth. In addition to the charging dock, it comes with a convenient mounting clip.
  • Chip Card Reader: The Chip Card Reader was the first EMV-enabled card reader PayPal offered, and it’s still the only hardware option for merchants who want to integrate with one of PayPal’s POS partners. It sells for $99 on the PayPal site, with an optional charging dock. Given the price point, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this all-in-one reader connects via Bluetooth.

  • Mobile Card Reader: PayPal used to offer its entry-level swipe-only reader for free, but now it sells for $15 because PayPal, like most processors, really wants you to start accepting EMV. Use of the mobile reader comes with limitations on accounts, so if you do a decent volume of credit card transactions and don’t want to encounter any holds on your funds, you should avoid the mobile reader at all costs:

*Key-in transactions and sales over $500 in a 7-day period made with the Mobile Card Reader are subject to an automatic 30-day reserve where funds are held in your PayPal account to cover the high risk associated with these types of transactions. For increased protection from fraudulent transactions, we recommend using a chip card reader. All PayPal accounts are subject to policies that can lead to account restrictions in the form of holds, limitations, or reserves. Additional information about these policies can be found in the PayPal User Agreement.

Apart from the cardreaders, PayPal doesn’t offer any proprietary hardware. If you need a countertop register setup, you can choose from an array of tablet stands, receipt printers, and cash drawers. A few select models are confirmed to work, while many others are “unofficially supported” in that they’re likely to work in most cases. The PayPal Here app doesn’t officially support any external barcode scanners (it supports in-app scanning using the device’s camera), but Bluetooth-enabled scanners may work with your setup.

Is PayPal Actually a Good Value?

We’ve talked pretty extensively about the cost of using PayPal, but we haven’t really talked about value. Because value is so much more than just the actual, physical cost. Value encompasses convenience, customer service, and other extra factors that could easily justify paying more than the absolute lowest prices.

PayPal isn’t the absolute cheapest processor out there — especially not for businesses that handle more than $10,000/month in credit card transactions. Larger businesses may be eligible for merchant accounts with volume discounts. For low-volume businesses, PayPal often does offer more competitive pricing because of the lack of monthly fees. The flat-rate pricing, especially for in-person transactions, can mean cost savings over interchange-plus.

But the real value in PayPal is the massive consumer trust and convenience. Just about everyone recognizes the PayPal name, and with 200+ million consumer users around the world, it’s safe to say a lot of people have PayPal accounts. The barriers to entry are minimal — you don’t need a huge amount of technological experience to implement PayPal for in-person or online payments. As long as you aren’t using PayPal Payments Pro, you don’t even have to worry about PCI compliance. PayPal handles it for you, at no additional cost.

Apart from the issue of account terminations or funding holds, the only other consistent complaint about PayPal is its customer service, and reports vary. Some merchants say they’ve never had a problem with customer service. Others say that their support reps have been downright unhelpful when they’ve called in. Fortunately, PayPal offers extensive self-help resources so you should be able to deal with most technical issues without having to contact PayPal directly.

I can’t say unequivocally that PayPal is right for everyone. It’s not. But it is a really good option for a lot of merchants, especially low-volume businesses that are just starting out. For a closer look at PayPal and all its services, we recommend checking out our PayPal and PayPal Here reviews.

If you’re not sure PayPal is right for you, I suggest looking at our Square vs. PayPal article, as the two companies are fairly similar in their business models and offerings.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you, so please drop us a comment!

The post The Complete Guide to PayPal’s Fees, Rates, and Pricing appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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