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Business Loan vs. business credit card how do you decide which is best for you?
When it comes to financing, entrepreneurs and small business owners continuously debate business loans vs. business credit cards. In many cases, the final decision comes down to the state of the business, relevant market conditions and what makes the most sense for the company’s long-term strategic objectives.
Before weighing in on the debate, here’s a brief description of each financing option:
Business loans can boost your cash flow on both a short- and long-term basis. Short-term loans are good to cover unexpected expenses. A traditional term loan enables you to take on larger projects, without harming cash flow.
For business owners with great credit, stable revenue, and a solid business plan, a business loan can be a great option.
A business credit card gives a small business owner instant access to cash. It doesn’t come in a lump sum as with a loan, but rather as a set amount of funds available when and as needed.
Interest rates with a credit card are generally higher than with a business loan, but by paying each month’s bill in its entirety, this isn’t a concern. Often, the appeal of business credit cards is enhanced by various perks, purchase protections and rewards.
Business loan pros and cons
With business loans, a borrower often has a voice in determining the frequency and flexibility of payment deadlines. Payment frequency may be based on existing cash flow, or you can pay back larger amounts without prepayment penalties.
In general, a business loan works best for companies in need of working capital for investment to in large-scale expansion opportunities, such as equipment purchase, hiring more employees or launching a new location, etc. It’s also useful in refinancing an existing business debt.
On the other hand, with traditional lenders, business loans “can be more difficult to qualify for, and the lending process can take weeks or months,” according to The Ascent at Motley Fool.
Credit card pros and cons
With a business credit card, a sole proprietor or ambitious entrepreneur enjoys rapid availability to money needed to finance operations. It’s also a viable option if you wish to make ongoing purchases or regularly incur significant expenses (though, as noted, it’s best to repay in full each month).
There’s a great deal of psychological comfort in knowing you have access to funds if and when your business needs them.
At the same time, the APR (annual percentage rate) for a credit card can sometimes be as steep as 20%, which adds up. Also, if your business experiences an unforeseen dip in cash flow, you may find yourself facing considerable (and growing) business debts, due to high interest rates. And in some cases, there’s an annual fee to keep a card account open.
Finally, a business that borrows money up to the pre-assigned credit limit and still needs funds can find itself in a tight spot.
Loan options to consider
The good news about business loans is it’s no longer mandatory to go to a bank for a traditional loan. Funding options includes:
- Online loans. Requirements are less strict for these stand-alone cash flow loans. But, revenue stability and a strong business plan are essential for approval.
- SBA loans. In fact, the SBA (Small Business Administration) doesn’t loan money itself, but the government-backed agency does agree to back a certain percent of the loan, which makes it easier to obtain loan approval elsewhere.
- Purchase order financing. This is a short-term loan covering up to 100% of supplier costs. The key factor is whether a big order is just about to close. Following the sale, the lender’s fees are deducted from the proceeds.
Still more alternative types of loans include equipment financing, invoice factoring, revenue-based financing, and business lines of credit. A fuller description of these options can be found here.
Taking time to debate a business loan vs. business credit card is important. No business can afford to delay making a final decision. The good news for small businesses is that there’s a wealth of financing opportunities available that help keep the dream of business growth a genuine reality.