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Best Startup Business Loans of April 2024

If you can’t get a business loan for your startup, a personal loan may be a good alternative.

By Jessica Walrack

Written by

Jessica Walrack


Jessica Walrack is a freelance finance writer and journalist with over a decade of experience. During that time, she’s written hundreds of articles about loans, insurance, banking, mortgages, credit cards, budgeting, and taxes for well-known publications including CBS News MoneyWatch, USA Today, US News and World, Investopedia, and The Balance Money.

Edited by Meredith Mangan

Written by

Meredith Mangan

Senior Editor

Meredith Mangan is Credible's Senior Editor for Personal Loans. Since 2011, she’s helped steer content creation in the areas of mortgages and loans, insurance, credit cards, and investing for major finance verticals, including Investopedia, Money Crashers, and The Balance.

Updated April 18, 2024

Editorial disclosure: Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”


If you have a business idea you’d like to bring to life, you’ll need funding. But where should you turn if you can’t cover startup costs out of pocket? If you don’t already have an established business, you may not be eligible for a traditional business loan. In that case, consider these other options.

Startup business loan options

As a budding business owner, there are a few ways to go about funding a startup.

Personal loans

Personal loans are installment loans that allow individuals to borrow a lump sum and repay it, plus interest and fees, over a set term that can last from a few months to over 10 years, depending on the lender and loan purpose. They’re offered by a wide variety of banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders across the U.S. Personal loans can be a very good option if you can’t qualify for other types of business funding.

While many lenders don’t offer personal loans for business purposes, these two Credible partner lenders do.

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$20000 to $200000

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | LightStream disclosure | SoFi Disclosures | Read more about Rates and Terms

It’s also worth noting that approval will be based on your personal information (credit profile and income) and you’ll be responsible for the loan even if the business fails.

Check Out: Best Personal Loans for Business

SBA loans

If your business is 100% new, a Small Business Administration (SBA) microloan is likely your best bet since it’s designed to help businesses start and expand. If you already have an operating business, you may also be eligible for other SBA loan types:

  • Microloan program: Loans up to $50,000 are available for a wide range of startup business needs, such as working capital, machinery, equipment, supplies, fixtures, inventory, or furniture. New businesses not yet in operation may be eligible for this type of loan.
  • 7(a) loan program: Loans up to $5 million are available for real estate needs, working capital, debt refinancing, machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, changes of ownership, and supplies. To be eligible for a 7(a) loan, you must have an operating business.
  • 504 loan program: Loans up to $5.5 million are available for new facilities, land, existing buildings, machinery, equipment, and more. They may not be used for working capital, inventory, debt consolidation or refinancing, speculation, or investment in rental real estate. To qualify for a 504 loan, you must have an operating business.

While the SBA sets the rules and backs the loans, borrowers apply for and get the funds through a network of approved lenders.

Business credit cards

Business credit cards are credit cards designed for business owners that can be used to finance business expenses. Like personal credit cards, they come with a credit line, a monthly minimum payment, an annual percentage rate (APR), and, often, rewards and benefits. To qualify, you’ll need to be a sole proprietor with income if you don’t have a business with an EIN (employer identification number). You may need to provide a personal guarantee or a security deposit due to your lack of business credit history.

Equipment financing

Equipment financing involves taking out a loan to purchase equipment for your business, with the equipment as collateral on the loan. Many banks, credit unions, alternative lenders, and equipment dealers offer equipment loans. And they can be easier to qualify for than an unsecured loan since the collateral reduces the lender’s risk.

Borrowing money from friends and family

Sometimes the best place to turn for funding is to those who know and believe in you. Many startup founders ask their inner circle of friends and family members for loans before looking to institutions. Friends and family often don't base their lending decisions on your credit or income, and offer more favorable terms than you could get elsewhere.

Business grants

Business grants are amounts of money awarded to business owners that don’t have to be paid back. They’re often given by the government or private organizations in an effort to move initiatives forward or support underserved populations.

You can find grant opportunities on, by visiting your local Small Business Development Center, or by performing a search online. While an ideal funding source, they can be hard to get due to high levels of competition and program restrictions.


Crowdfunding involves asking the public to fund your business. Sites like Kickstarter allow you to create a campaign page where you explain what you’re trying to do and the amount of money you need. You then promote your campaign and try to get people to contribute. Companies often offer something in exchange for donations, such as a product if the campaign is successful.

Angel investors

Angel investors are individuals that invest money in startup businesses in exchange for equity. You can find them via search engines, on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, and on platforms like the Angel Invest Network.

Venture capital

Another route similar to getting funds from angel investors is seeking funds from venture capital (VC) firms. VCs also offer you money in exchange for equity. However, instead of a single investor giving you the money, it’s a firm that manages funds from a collection of investors known as limited partners. You can find VCs online in directories, on social media, or by performing a search on Google.

How to qualify for a startup business loan

If you want to qualify for a startup business loan, the next steps will depend on the type of funding you decide to pursue.

For example, if you’d like to get an SBA loan, the SBA requires that you run (or are opening) a for-profit business located in the U.S. and that you’ve exhausted all other traditional financing options. While good credit is preferable, you may be able to get a startup business loan with bad credit. The SBA’s lending partners may also require minimum credit scores, business plans with projections, collateral, and more.

On the other hand, personal loan approval is based solely on personal factors, including your credit, employment status, income, and identity.

To find out if you qualify for a particular type of startup loan, find potential lenders that fit your needs and check their eligibility requirements.

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How to get a business loan with bad credit

If you’re seeking a business loan but have bad credit, you may run into some difficulties. Why? Because when businesses don’t have established credit or income, lenders often look to the founders for reassurance. If your personal credit isn’t in good shape, they are more likely to deny your application.

However, there are a few potential options. Your friends and family members likely won’t check your credit or finances before lending to you. Instead, they’ll base the decision on their history with you. Further, certain personal loan lenders are willing to lend to individuals that have less-than-perfect credit. While you often can’t borrow large amounts or get competitive rates, you may be able to get a loan large enough to get started.

How to get a startup business loan

If you want to get a business loan, a good place to start is reviewing all of your options (e.g. SBA loans, business credit cards, personal loans, etc.). Evaluate which might be the best for your particular type of business. From there, research where to get the type of loan you want.

For example, if you want an SBA business loan, you can compare the offerings from multiple SBA lenders to see which looks best for your situation. Consider factors like eligibility requirements, loan amounts, APRs, fees, repayment terms, and customer service ratings.

If you're going to get a personal loan, prequalify with multiple lenders to get a sense of the loan terms you may qualify for and compare rates. Prequalification involves a soft credit check, which means your credit score won’t be impacted. However, when you formally apply for a loan, a hard credit check will be conducted and your score may be dinged a few points for up to a year.

Learn More: Interest Rate vs. Annual Percentage Rate (APR)


How much can I get for a startup business loan?

The amount of money you can get through a startup business loan depends on the type of loan you request, the lender you choose, and the amount of risk the lender thinks you present. For example, Avant offers personal loans up to $35,000, while Lightstream offers them in amounts up to $100,000. However, that doesn’t mean you can borrow the full amount in either case. Lenders evaluate your requested amount, credit, debt, and income to decide the amount you can borrow within their loan ranges.

What is a microloan?

A microloan typically refers to the SBA microloan program, which provides loans up to $50,000 through a network of lending partners. The loans can be used for a variety of business purposes, such as purchasing supplies, inventory, or furniture. They can’t, however, be used to purchase real estate or pay off existing debts.

How to get a startup business loan with no money

If your business is not yet generating income, you may still be able to get a startup business loan. Potential funding sources include friends or family members, grants, crowdfunding, angel investors, venture capital firms, or SBA lenders.

Loan Amounts:

Meet the expert:
Jessica Walrack

Jessica Walrack is a freelance finance writer and journalist with over a decade of experience. During that time, she’s written hundreds of articles about loans, insurance, banking, mortgages, credit cards, budgeting, and taxes for well-known publications including CBS News MoneyWatch, USA Today, US News and World, Investopedia, and The Balance Money.