SmartBiz Review 2022: A Lending Marketplace for SBA Loans

We evaluated SmartBiz’s loan offerings, interest rates, borrower requirements, and more. Here’s what we think of this SBA lending marketplace.
Best for SBA Loans
SmartBiz
2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5
Starting at 4.75% interest
  • pro
    One application for many lenders
  • pro
    Simplified SBA application
  • pro
    Low interest rates
  • con
    High application requirements

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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.

Strengths
pro One application for many SBA lenders
pro Simplified SBA loan application
pro Low interest rates
Weaknesses
con Potentially long, involved process
con High application requirements

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

Product
Min./max. loan amount
Interest rate
Repayment term
Learn more
SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan$30,000/$50,000 From 7.00% 10 yrs.
SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan $50,001/$350,000 From 6.00% 10 yrs.
SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loan $500,000/$5 million 4.75%–6.00% 25 yrs.

Non-SBA loans

$30,000/$500,000

6.99%–24.99%

2–5 yrs.

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.

Non-SBA loans

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.

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SmartBiz features

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.

Bullhorn
SmartBiz SBA loan types
SmartBiz’s application works exclusively for SBA 7(a) loans. If you want an SBA 504 or SBA Microloan, look elsewhere.

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.

Bullhorn
Non-SBA loans
SmartBiz can and will match you with non-SBA loans, but that’s like going to a sushi restaurant for a hamburger. You can—but you’re missing the point. If you don’t want an SBA loan, we think you’re better off going with a different lending marketplace, like Lendio.

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

Product
Lowest listed rate
Min. credit score
Loan options
Learn more
4.75% interest640SBA 7(a) loans & bank loans
4.8% interest530Lines of credit & invoice factoring
4.66% draw rate600Lines of credit
4.25% interest560Term loans, lines of credit, commercial mortgages, & more
35% APR600Lines of credit & term loans

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.

SmartBiz drawbacks

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

Loan type
Min. credit score
Min. time in business
Min. revenue

SBA 7(a) working capital or debt consolidation loan

640

2 yrs.

$100,000

SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loan

675

More than 2 yrs.

$100,000

Non-SBA loans

Non-SBA loans640

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.)

Funding times

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.

Info
COVID-19 application changes
SmartBiz now requires you to say whether or not your business was affected by coronavirus (like if you shut down or had to lay off staff). If it was, you’ll need to give SmartBiz some details about your recovery plan.

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:

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.

The takeaway

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.

Methodology

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

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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

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

  1. Trustpilot, “SmartBiz Loans.” Accessed November 17, 2021.
  2. SmartBiz, “SBA Loan Approval.” Accessed November 17, 2021.
Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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