SmartBiz Review 2022: A Lending Marketplace for SBA Loans
We did lots of fact-checking to make sure our SmartBiz review is still accurate and current. Everything looked fine, meaning SmartBiz hasn’t made many changes since our last update. We still made some changes to our review, though―mostly organizational stuff that should make this review easier to navigate.
SmartBiz has made some slight changes to its SBA loan fees since we wrote this review. While it used to charge referral and packing fees on all its loans, it now charges those only on non-SBA term loans. SBA loans instead come with an application fee from the bank. It doesn’t affect our rating of SmartBiz, but we’ve updated our review to reflect the change.
We’ve updated this review with the latest numbers and information. There are two big changes you should know about. First, SmartBiz’s rates have changed. They’re lower now than when we wrote this review. (Yay!) Second, SmartBiz has updated its application process to reflect the realities of COVID-19. Applicants will now have to include info about how coronavirus has affected their businesses.
SmartBiz wants to make a better way to get SBA business loans: one streamlined application that goes to many SBA lenders, speeding up and simplifying the whole process.
That single, simplified application makes things much easier on you as a business owner. And as you’d expect from any SBA lender, SmartBiz has great interest rates. But even with SmartBiz’s faster application process, it still takes longer than many online lenders. Plus, the high borrower requirements mean SmartBiz won’t work for many businesses.
So does SmartBiz have the one SBA application to rule them all, or are you better off applying elsewhere? Let’s investigate.
SmartBiz’s small-business loans and pricing
SmartBiz offers two categories of SBA 7(a) loans: working capital/debt consolidation loans and commercial real estate loans.
As you might guess, the commercial real estate loans come in (much) higher loan amounts. Unsurprisingly, that means the real estate SBA loans also have stricter application criteria.
But either SBA 7(a) category will get you access to long terms and low rates. Which loan you should get depends wholly on how you intend to use your financing.
SmartBiz business loans
Min./max. loan amount
|SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan||$30,000/$50,000||From 7.00%||10 yrs.||Apply Now|
|SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan||$50,001/$350,000||From 6.00%||10 yrs.||Apply Now|
|SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loan||$500,000/$5 million||4.75%–6.00%||25 yrs.||Apply Now|
Data effective 11/17/21. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
Aside from 7(a) loans, SmartBiz can also hook you up with non-SBA small-business loans. While the rates on SmartBiz’s non-SBA loans get quite a bit higher than the rates on its SBA loans, even the non-SBA rates at SmartBiz are pretty competitive—probably because the application requirements are still relatively strict.
But since other lenders offer lower borrower requirements and faster funding, we recommend SmartBiz primarily for SBA loans.
SBA 7(a) working capital and debt consolidation loans
This SBA 7(a) loan can help you consolidate the debt you already have, or it can give you working capital to improve your business. You can use that working capital for pretty much any needs you have: buying equipment, stocking up on inventory, doing some marketing, hiring new employees—basically anything except paying back taxes.
SmartBiz’s working capital loans have slightly higher rates and come in smaller amounts than its real estate loans, but the application requirements are a bit looser: you’ll only need a 640 credit score, and again, you can justify your funding needs in a lot of ways.
SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loans
As the name implies, you can get these SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loans exclusively to get real estate. There’s some strict criteria on the kind of real estate that qualifies: you can’t use these small-business loans for new construction, you can’t buy property to flip or invest in, your business must occupy more than half of the square footage, and you can only get property worth at least $500,000.
In addition to those stricter use requirements, these business loans require a personal credit score of at least 675. But if you meet all these requirements, you can get up to $5 million, along with lower rates and longer terms.
If you don’t qualify for either of SmartBiz’s SBA loans, SmartBiz offers to match you with a lender for a non-SBA loan. While not a true short-term loan, these small-business loans come with shorter terms (just two to five years) and higher rates than SBA loans.
On the other hand, SmartBiz’s rates for non-SBA loans are lower than many online lenders; plus, SmartBiz offers monthly payment plans, unlike most alternative lenders that insist on weekly payments. So if you’re looking for a way to get funding while building business credit, you could do worse than SmartBiz’s non-SBA loans.
SmartBiz loan fees
We don’t want to be the bearers of bad news, but all these very nice small-business loans come with fees you should know about. The exact fees will depend on the type and amount of the loan you get.
- For 7(a) working capital and debt consolidation loans, SmartBiz says its banks have an application fee of up to $3,000. You’ll also pay the SBA’s guarantee fee, which ranges from 1.7% to 2.25%. (This fee is temporarily waived until September 2022.) Finally, you’ll have closing costs from the bank, which SmartBiz estimates at $450.
- On 7(a) commercial real estate loans, you’ll pay a bank application fee of up to $5,000. The SBA’s guarantee fee still amounts to 3% to 3.75% of the loan. Closing costs on commercial real estate loans run higher, though, with SmartBiz estimating somewhere around $5,000.
- Non-SBA SmartBiz loans come with a 3% referral fee and a 3% packaging fee, as well as bank closing costs. SmartBiz suggests these closing costs should only run between $200 and $300.
That might sound like a lot of fees, but remember this: you’ll pay SBA guarantee fees and closing costs no matter where you go for your SBA loan.
As for SmartBiz’s bank-network’s application fees, you can think of them like an origination fee—and they’re pretty comparable with the origination fees you’d find elsewhere.
So while you should definitely know all the fees you’ll pay before you finalize your SmartBiz loan, its fees shouldn’t scare you off entirely.
Now that you know what SmartBiz offers, let’s talk about what makes it great―namely that it’s a lending marketplace for SBA loans.
That means that SmartBiz isn’t actually a lender. It doesn’t approve or extend SBA loans (or any other kind of business loans) itself. Instead, it takes your application and shops it around to lenders. Then it gets back to you with the best loan offers so you can compare your choices.
And unlike other lending marketplaces that offer all kinds of business loans, SmartBiz focuses on business loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA loans for short. More specifically, SmartBiz offers SBA 7(a) loans.
These loans are a favorite of business owners because they offer low interest rates and long repayment terms. Plus, their large maximum loan amounts make them flexible. You can use a small SBA 7(a) loan for hiring or inventory, or you can use a big one for commercial real estate.
Sounds great, right? Well, historically, actually getting an SBA loan has been a pain. You have to find a bank that offers them, and then go through a long back and forth of submitting documents and waiting to hear back. It can take months.
SmartBiz is here to change that. It wants to help you get an SBA loan without giving yourself a stress ulcer. Its guided process helps business owners easily complete their application.
That’s right—no more playing phone tag with a bank’s loan specialist. With SmartBiz, you can finish your SBA loan application before your funding needs become dire. And because it’s a lending marketplace, one application with SmartBiz can match you with several SBA lenders to ensure you get the best possible deal.
Put simply, SmartBiz offers an easier, faster way to get SBA loans―making it a clear choice for business owners that want an SBA 7(a) loan.
SmartBiz vs. competitors
Like we said, we really do recommend SmartBiz if you know you want an SBA loan. But for other kinds of loans, you may want to look at other lenders too. Here’s how SmartBiz compares to some of our favorites.
SmartBiz vs. other business lenders
Lowest listed rate
Min. credit score
|4.75% interest||640||SBA 7(a) loans & bank loans||View Options|
|4.8% interest||530||Lines of credit & invoice factoring||View Options|
|4.66% draw rate||600||Lines of credit||View Options|
|4.25% interest||560||Term loans, lines of credit, commercial mortgages, & more||View Options|
|35% APR||600||Lines of credit & term loans||View Options|
Data effective 11/17/21. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
As you can see, SmartBiz is on the cheaper end of the lending spectrum―especially when you consider that its interest rates (on SBA loans) cap out at less than 10%. So while other lenders may offer starting rates under 5%, those are only for some loans and for the most qualified borrowers. Their average rates are much higher.
But on the other hand, SmartBiz has stiffer credit requirements (and other borrower requirements) than most online lenders. So if you’ve got bad credit or a young business, a different lender may work better for you than SmartBiz.
One final thing to note: SmartBiz focuses just on SBA 7(a) loans. If you want another kind of financing product―like a line of credit or invoice factoring―you’ll need to go with another lender.
Of course, given how low SmartBiz’s loan rates are, there’s plenty of incentive to make an SBA 7(a) loan work for your business.
At this point, you’ve seen lots of good things about SmartBiz and a couple of potential issues. To make sure you fully understand SmartBiz, let’s take a moment to really hash out those potential downsides.
SmartBiz borrower requirements
Now, SmartBiz makes the SBA application process easier, but it doesn’t make it easier to actually qualify for SBA loans. Whether you use SmartBiz’s wizardry or you head down to your local bank, you’ll have to meet similar qualifications.
SmartBiz borrower requirements
Min. credit score
Min. time in business
SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan
SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loan
More than 2 yrs.
No specific requirement
Data effective 11/17/21. At publishing time, loan types and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
SmartBiz’s different loan products do have slightly different personal credit score requirements. A working capital 7(a) loan or non-SBA loan requires a “fair” FICO credit score (though 675 is at the top of the fair range), while a 7(a) real estate loan requires a “good” FICO credit score.
In any case, SmartBiz won’t work well for business owners with bad credit (but we have a ranking of the best business loans for bad credit that will).
Note that there are no specific annual revenue requirements for any of SmartBiz’s loans. It all comes down to the cash flow—do you have enough cash flowing in that you can repay the loan amount you’re applying for?SmartBiz does note, though, that most approved businesses make at least $100,000 in yearly revenue.
In other words, SmartBiz has stricter borrower requirements than many online lenders. And meeting all these requirements doesn’t guarantee you’ll get approved―but it does mean you have a shot. (If you don’t meet these criteria yet, we suggest finding an alternative from our rankings of the best business loans.)
One other downside we want to mention: SmartBiz can take a while. Sure, it moves faster than traditional SBA lenders do, but SBA approval still takes time.
Compared to some online lenders that can instantly approve you for loans and fund you the same day, SmartBiz is downright glacial.
Of course, that’s only a downside when compared to online lenders. Because compared to traditional banks, SmartBiz does move pretty quickly.
And you can always speed up your personal SmartBiz funding process by being well prepared. So let’s look at what the SmartBiz application process looks like.
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SmartBiz loan application process
We said earlier that SmartBiz has simplified the SBA loan application process. But what does that look like, exactly?
It all starts with SmartBiz’s online application. This brief application won’t get you an SBA loan, but it will tell you if you prequalify—or rather, if it’s worthwhile taking the time to complete a real application.
If SmartBiz decides you don’t prequalify, it will offer to match you with non-SBA term loans. But if you do prequalify, you can start your real application.
That means giving SmartBiz more information about your business and uploading lots of documents. With a traditional lender, this part of the process can take weeks or even months as you go back and forth trying to figure out what documents you actually need.
But since SmartBiz has the process down to an SBA science, you should be able to do this all faster. SmartBiz even uses an automated process to decide what documentation applies to your business, so you won’t waste time hunting down 10-year-old tax returns you don’t actually need.
As a general rule, plan on submitting the following documents:
- Business tax returns
- Personal tax returns
- Business bank statements (last six months)
- Profit and loss statement
You may have to submit more. But again, SmartBiz will let you know.
Once your application gets submitted, SmartBiz shops around with its lending partners to find a match for you.
Then, ta-da! You’ve got yourself an SBA loan. Within as little as one or two weeks, you can get your funding.
SmartBiz customer reviews
On paper, SmartBiz sounds pretty solid. But what do actual customers have to say about it?
SmartBiz customers have largely positive things to say about the company. It has a 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot.1
Positive reviews say that SmartBiz makes the SBA application process easy. They also praise its customer service. Some small-business owners even claim that SmartBiz got them accepted for an SBA loan after other lenders had rejected them.
The few negative reviews mostly complain about just what you’d expect: applying for an SBA loan is still time consuming and sometimes frustrating. Some business owners also complain that they got prequalified but then denied for an SBA loan, and a few people say SmartBiz’s fees weren’t clear up front.
For what it’s worth, SmartBiz actively responds to customer complaints on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau.
SmartBiz wants to help small-business owners get an SBA loan without spending months of their lives on the process. Its streamlined application process and marketplace approach can help you get approved for the SBA loans you want―complete with low interest rates.
Just remember that SmartBiz loans still take longer than loans from other online lenders. And to get approved, you’ll have to meet some strict requirements—like a good credit score, high annual revenue, and strong cash flow—to qualify for a SmartBiz loan. If you don’t meet those requirements, you should probably look elsewhere for funding.
Before you get your SBA 7(a) loan, use our SBA business loan calculator to estimate your monthly payment and total loan costs.
After researching SmartBiz, we graded it on different factors, from interest rates to credit requirements to customer reviews. We then averaged those grades together to get its overall score. We used these scores to compare SmartBiz to dozens of other business lenders and to develop our ultimate review.
SmartBiz loan FAQ
How fast is SmartBiz, really?
While SmartBiz claims to have made SBA applications fast and painless, the actual speed still largely depends on you. SmartBiz can tell you what documents you need, but you still have to go digging in your closet to find them.
So applying for SmartBiz loans could take a matter of days, or it could still take months—and customers report both experiences. But if you’re willing to put in the work to speed up the process, SmartBiz’s innovative application should help you submit an application in a matter of one or two weeks. That’s still better than many traditional lenders.
Do SmartBiz loans require collateral?
SBA loans through SmartBiz (or anywhere else) require a blanket lien on your business assets. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a minimum asset value for that blanket lien; whatever assets you have will work.
Related read: OnDeck vs. SmartBiz Business Loans
Non-SBA business loans through SmartBiz require a personal guarantee. With a personal guarantee, your lender can go after your personal assets if you default on your loan.
Either way, you only need to worry about your assets if you default on your loan. Borrow wisely, and you won’t have any collateral issues.
What does it mean to prequalify for a SmartBiz loan?
Prequalifying for an SBA loan through SmartBiz does not guarantee you’ll actually get approved for a loan. Rather, it means that you have a real shot at getting approved.
Think of it this way: even with SmartBiz’s simplified process, SBA loan applications require a lot of effort. Pre-qualifying simply means that effort could pay off, so you should go ahead with the application.
For the record, SmartBiz claims that somewhere around 90% of applications it submits to bank partners get approved.2
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