By Daniel Lewis,
/ Advertising Disclosure

Once their active duty has ended, many veterans have gone into becoming small business owners. According to the latest stats, over 2.52 million US businesses are owned by veterans, presenting over 9.1% of all US businesses. These businesses employ over 5.03 million people and contribute to the US economy with a staggering $1.14 trillion. That is a significant impact on the US economy.

Apart from veterans dedicating their lives and wellbeing to the country, their part in the economy plays a significant role in why there are so many loan programs and other funding sources dedicated to veterans. Here I’ll give you an overview of the loan options and other funding sources available for veteran-owned businesses.

It means that there are plenty of funding options for a veteran-owned business to get the funds it needs to grow and develop. Another vital source of funding for any veteran-owned business is the SBA, as it has several loan programs, many of which are preferred by veteran entrepreneurs.

Here are the best online lenders that provide loans for veterans:

The 6 Best Picks Loans for Veterans at a Glance

#1 – OnDeck – This is one of the best online lenders today. OnDeck is an excellent option for veteran-owned businesses with good credit scores and who wish to get a significant business loan.

#2- SmartBiz   This online loan facilitator is an excellent choice for small business loans for veteran-owned businesses, with special programs for veteran entrepreneurs.

#3- Kabbage – Veteran business owners can apply for a business line of credit with Kabbage and get excellent loan terms with easy qualifying conditions.

#4- Fundbox  Veteran-owned businesses with poor credit have better shots at getting a small business loan by applying with Fundbox, as it has looser ranking criteria than its competition.

#5 – LoanBuilderA part of PayPal, LoanBuilder provides short-term loans with unambiguous terms and conditions and has relatively low qualifying criteria, making it a suitable lender for veteran business owners.

#6 – Lending Club  – A peer-to-peer loan facilitator, Lending Club is one of the best loan options for veteran entrepreneurs looking to get a small business loan to build their business.

My suggestion to all veteran business owners is to not settle only for loans and grants aimed at veterans. Instead, it would be best if you explored all financing opportunities. In many cases, online lenders have approved veteran loan requests twice as often as non-veteran loan requests.

Best Small Business Loans for Veterans (2021 Update)

OnDeck – Pioneering Online Lender, Streamlined Application

ondeck

OnDeck is a fantastic option for any small business owned by a veteran. The eligibility criteria are relatively achievable, and many businesses would greatly benefit from the two loan options: term loans and business line of credit loans. The application criteria for both loan types are one year in business, business annual gross revenue of over $100,000, a credit score of 600, and a business checking account.

OnDeck has an online automated application, after which you do a phone call with a dedicated loan advisor. The funds can be received within 24 hours if the loan is approved. OnDeck supports any small business owner,  as they’ve granted over $13 billion globally in small-business loans.

Why We Recommend

I recommend OnDeck because its business line of credit and term loans are fantastic loan options for veteran-owned businesses.

Best for

OnDeck’s loans are best for all healthy businesses needing a financial boost. These are suited for veteran-owned businesses for their precise terms and good repayment conditions.

Pros
  • Appropriate qualifying conditions
  • Two types of loans: a line of credit and term loan
  • Semi-automated application process
  • Clear terms and conditions
  • Fast funding
Cons
  • Higher interest rates
  • Not all businesses are eligible and not available in all US states

Read the full OnDeck review

SmartBiz – Get an SBA (7)(a) Loan With Ease

SmartBiz

SmartBiz is a loan facilitator, as it enables qualifying businesses to apply for SBA loans and bank term loans. The qualifying criteria are high with SmartBiz; the available loans are coveted for lower overall interest rates, excellent repayment terms, and low monthly repayments. SmartBiz facilitates loans from $30,000 to $5 million with repayment terms from 10 to 25 years.

SmartBiz’s application process is streamlined, and after analyzing your application, SmartBiz matches you with the lender most likely to approve your application. When it comes to loans for veteran-owned businesses, SmartBiz is among the top choices.

Why We Recommend

SmartBiz is a recommended online loan facilitator, especially for veteran entrepreneurs. By applying via SmartBiz, any veteran-owned business can significantly improve its chances of getting any of the SBA loans for veterans.

Best for

Any established business looking for a low-interest rate loan with long repayment terms should apply for a loan with SmartBiz.

Pros
  • Great repayment terms
  • SBA loan facilitator
  • Loans from $30,000 to $5,000,000
  • Coveted terms and conditions
  • Low-interest rates and low monthly repayments
Cons
  • Very high qualifying conditions
  • Only for businesses with over two years in business

Read the full SmartBiz review

Kabbage – Great Option For a Business Line of Credit

Kabbage

Kabbage offers a line of credit loans for any qualifying business, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000 for any qualifying small business. One of Kabbage’s greatest advantages is its very loose qualifying conditions, as it does not require a minimum credit score.

Also, the veterans looking for a small business loan can use the automated application process. The qualifying terms are easily achievable, and experience has shown that veteran entrepreneurs are twice as likely to be approved for a loan.

Why We Recommend

Kabbage has a streamlined application process, straightforward terms, low qualifying conditions, and loans helpful for any veteran-owned business.

Best for

Any small business owned by a veteran or anyone else that needs a business line of credit fast could apply with Kabbage.

Pros
  • Loose qualifying terms
  • Completely automated online application
  • Fixed repayment terms
  • Quick approval times
  • No credit score is necessary to apply
Cons
  • Short repayment terms
  • High-interest rates

Read the full Kabbage review

Fundbox

fundbox

Fundbox is an online lender with very low qualifying terms for small business loans like a line of credit and term loans of up to $100,000. Fundbox does not check the credit score but checks the cash flow statements, making it much easier to qualify for a loan.

Any veteran-owned business can get a business line of credit from Fundbox, as this loan provider supports a diverse group of businesses. Fundbox uses a data-driven model to remove any bias, so every applicant gets an equal chance of getting a Fundbox loan.

Why We Recommend

I would recommend Fundbox as a viable financing option for loose qualifying terms, reasonable loan amounts, and fast approval times.

Best for

Fundbox would be a suitable funding option for any veteran entrepreneur with a bad credit score looking to get financing fast.

Pros
  • Loose qualifying terms
  • No minimum credit score
  • Fully Automated application process
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Fast fund transfers, if approved
Cons
  • High-interest rates
  • Short repayment times

Read the full Fundbox review

LoanBuilder – Easy-to-qualify Terms, Short-Term Loans With Low Rates

LoanBuilder

LoanBuilder is a PayPal subsidiary and is also referred to as the PayPal business lender or PayPal business loan. LoanBuilder is a direct lender and provides loans for small and medium businesses, and it supports all business owners, including veteran-owned businesses.

LoanBuilder has short-term loans with predetermined rates and has a single fixed fee paid during the loan’s lifetime, and provides loans from $5,000 to $500,000 that need to be repaid within 12 months. To qualify, you need an annual income of over $42,000, at least nine months in business, and a credit score of over 550, which many veteran-owned businesses usually fulfill.

Why We Recommend

LoanBuilder is among the best online lenders today, with precise requirements, very transparent terms, and no hidden fees.

Best for

LoanBuilder is an appropriate option for small business loans. While they lack a particular veteran loan program, their overall services fit the needs of many businesses.

Pros
  • Reasonable qualifying conditions
  • A simple, automated application process
  • Transparent terms and no hidden fees
  • Quick approval times
  • Moderate interest rates
Cons
  • Personal guarantee necessary for all loans
  • Short repayment time of only 12 months

Read our full LoanBuilder review

Lending Club – Peer-to-peer Lender, Good Option For New Businesses

Lending Club

Lending Club is a P2P loan processing service known as a lending marketplace. Lending Club accepts and analyzes loan applications, transferring the qualifying applicants to the actual loan provider, Accion Opportunity Fund.

The loan amounts range from $5,000 to $500,000, with reasonable repayment times. To apply, you will need an annual income of $50,000, one year in business, a credit score of 600 and over, and at least 20% owner. Any veteran business owner can take advantage of these and apply for a loan, as Lending Club encourages every entrepreneur to apply.

Why We Recommend

Lending Club is a P2P loan marketplace, and I would recommend it to all business owners in good standing that need a cash influx on reasonable terms.

Best for

Lending Club is best suited for small business loans and microloans for sole proprietors, freelancers, and looking for good funding with clear terms. Many veteran-owned businesses fall into these categories.

Pros
  • Very reasonable qualifying conditions
  • Transparent loan terms
  • P2P loan marketplace
  • Once approved, fast fund transfer
  • Fixed monthly repayment schedule
Cons
  • Only term loans available by Accion Opportunity Fund
  • A hard credit check can affect your credit score

Read the full Lending Club review

How We Rate Loans for Veterans?

When looking at the best online lenders that provide loans for veterans, I’ve used the following criteria:

  • Specialized loan programs for veterans
  • Transparency of loan terms
  • Qualifying conditions
  • Interest rates
  • Repayment schedule
  • Available loan amounts
  • Loan advisor help 
  • Customer service and customer satisfaction

All Types of Loans for Veterans

Apart from the online lenders providing loans to veteran-owned businesses, there are plenty of other loan types available for veteran entrepreneurs:

SBA Standard 7(a) Loan Program

The SBA 7(a) Loan Program is the most common loan program by the Small Business Administration. This program includes financial help for small businesses that fulfill the special loan requirements. The main attractions to this loan are the low interest rate and the excellent repayment terms.

The appeal with the SBA 7(a) loan is the government guarantee, so the lender can feel safe in providing funds to the borrower; in most cases, the SBA guarantees up to 85% of the loan. The SBA 7(a) loan funds can be used for any use the small business has, like short and long-term working capital, refinancing current business debt, purchasing equipment and supplies, and more.

The SBA 7(a) loan amounts range from $30,000 to $5,000,000 with repayment terms from 10 to 25 years. The interest rates are very low, and it is why many small businesses apply for such loans. Any veteran-owned business could apply for an SBA 7(a) small business loan, either through online facilitators like SmartBiz or via SBA’s website.

Tip: Ensure you have all your documents in order before applying for an SBA 7(a) loan. Check your eligibility, possibly via the SmartBiz Advisor, and see where you can improve your eligibility. A note here: 6% of all SBA 7(a) loans facilitated by SmartBiz were awarded to veteran-owned small businesses.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL)

The MREIDL loan program provides financial help for small businesses operated or employ military reservists as essential employees. The MREIDL program provides working capital necessary for small businesses to pay for obligations until operations return to normal until the essential employee is released from active military duty and is back to work. The MREIDL fund does not cover lost income or compalost profit and cannot be used to refinancing a long-term debt or expansion of the business. You can get up to $2,000,000 via this program.

Tip: The filing period for an MREIDL assistance loan begins when the essential employee gets the notice of the call-up and ends one year after the essential employee is released from active duty. You can only use MREIDL funds to cover ordinary and necessary operating expenses, and you can apply via the online application form.

SBA Microloan

The smaller amount of loans provided by the SBA are called SBA microloans. Microloans are designed to help veteran and women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and other small business owners. The max loan amount is up to $50,000, and the average microloan is $14,400, and the funds are provided by intermediary lenders like non-profit, community-based organizations. The appeal with SBA-backed microloans is the low 6.5% interest rate and the usual six years to repay the loan.

Tip: Any veteran-owned business that can use a small amount of money should apply for an SBA microloan, as this is an excellent opportunity for all qualifying businesses. Prepare all your documentation beforehand and apply via the SBA official site.

SBA 504 Loan Program

The 504 loan program is a special loan program backed by the SBA, and it involves term loans used for the expansion and modernization of objects and commercial real estate. The SBA 504 loan is up to $5,000,000, and you can use it to promote business growth and job creation. I need to note that a 504 loan cannot be used for working capital, repayment of existing debt, or investing in rental real estate.

These loans are provided through a partnership between a Certified Development Company (CDC) and a private lender. Many veteran-owned businesses looking to purchase a building or land, building new facilities for their business, and investing in long-term machinery and equipment could apply for an SBA 504 loan.

Tip: Only for-profit businesses looking to make long-term investments are eligible for an SBA 504 loan.

SBA Express Loan

The SBA implemented a new measure to help veteran-owned small businesses. From 2007 to 2013, there was a special Patriot Express Loan program, where veteran entrepreneurs were the primary eligible borrowers, and is now known only as the Express Loan program and caters to other minority-owned businesses. The Express Loan goes up to $1,000,000 until September 30, 2021, and after it changes to $500,000.

It is among the most popular loan delivery methods, as the main attraction with the Express Loan is that it is granted (or denied) within 36 hours of application, hence the name Express Loan. Another highly appealing fact is that all the fees are waived until September 30, 2021.

The Express Loan can be used for the same application as the SBA 7(a) loan, like working capital, purchasing real estate, and refinancing debt. The repayment terms differ, and the SBA Express Line of credit has an average repayment of seven years, and the Express term loans go from 10 to 25 years.

Tip: SBA Express Loans are granted only to for-profit businesses, and businesses majority-owned by veterans have an advantage. You should have all your documents in order, have a good credit score, and have good cash flow statements to qualify. You can apply via one of the SBA loan facilitators like SmartBiz.

SBA Veterans Advantage Loan

To help veteran-owned businesses, the SBA offers Veteran Advantage Loans. To qualify, the business needs to be majority-owned (at least 51%) and controlled by an honorably discharged veteran, service-disabled veterans, active-duty military service members participating in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), reservists, National Guard members, and their spouses. Widowed spouses of service members who died while in service are also eligible to apply.

The Veterans Advantage loan ranges up to $350,000, and the SBA does not require any upfront fee for loans under $150,000. Veteran business owners have an excellent chance of getting a Veteran Advantage loan, as the SBA also enables veteran-owned businesses better opportunities via government contracts.

Tip: Any veteran entrepreneur looking to apply for an SBA Veteran Advantage loan should have all documents ready, including discharge forms, social security numbers, and proof of ownership for the business.

Which Alternative Financing and Business Loans for Veterans are There?

Here is an outline of all the available veteran-owned business financing options:

  • Government Loans for Veterans – any veteran should take advantage of the business funding and assistance programs available via the Veteran’s Administration website. Many Small Business Administration programs are aimed at veteran business owners, and the SBA has even waived the fees for these loans.
  • Traditional Bank Loans – many financial institutions have assistance and loan programs aimed at veteran entrepreneurs. Any business that fills the qualifying conditions should apply, as veteran-owned businesses in good standing usually have a higher approval rate.
  • Online Lenders – as I noted above, many online lenders offer loans to veterans. Most are not veteran-specific, but experience has shown that veteran-owned businesses usually have a better chance to get approved for a loan, even with online lenders.
  • Crowdfunding – this alternative funding option gained popularity in recent times, and now plenty of businesses turn to popular crowdfunding sites to support a business. Many backers find this fact appealing and will donate funds to a veteran-owned business.
  • Grants – all business owners covet a grant, as this is a funding source that does not have to be repaid. Any veteran entrepreneur should consider the available grants and apply for the ones the business qualifies for.

Conclusion: Veteran Entrepreneurs Deserve Funding and Support for their Businesses

Veterans have devoted their lives to their country, and it is only fair that they have an advantage when starting and growing a business. So, it should come as no surprise that many veteran business owner programs and other funding sources are aimed at veteran entrepreneurs. Above I’ve outlined the available funding options that veteran entrepreneurs can get, and here is an outline of the crucial points that veterans need to consider before applying for a loan:

  • To be an active military member involved in the TAP program
  • To be an honorably discharged or service-disabled veteran
  • You need to own at least 51% of the business
  • Your business needs to be in good standing
  • You need a good credit score; anything over 640 is recommended
  • You need to prepare all necessary documentation, including your discharge forms

FAQs: The Most Popular Questions On Small Business Loans for Veterans

How to Apply for a Veteran Small Business Loan with the SBA

To apply for any loan with the SBA, you need to read the loan qualifications carefully. If you fulfill the qualifications, then to apply, you should gather all the necessary documentation, prepare and fill out any necessary forms and find the best way to apply. At this time, one of the best options for getting an SBA-backed veteran small business loan is via the online loan facilitator SmartBiz.

Which Loan Option Is Best for the Typical US Vet?

The type of loan option best for a typical US vet depends solely on the loan application. In some cases, veteran-owned businesses can have better use of a business line of credit. In other cases, a vet-owned business could use a term loan. Still, the best loan option is the one that you can get the most of; many SBA-backed loans reduce or entirely waive the fees for loans for veterans.

Why Can’t a US Vet Just Go for an Online Loan?

There is no rule saying that a US veteran cannot apply online for a loan. On the contrary, any US veteran can go online and search the available small business loan options, select the one best suited for their needs, and apply for it. Many online lenders have loan options for veterans and, in many cases, higher approval rates for veteran-owned small business loans. However, in many cases, the SBA has many better loan options aimed at veterans, along with additional support and education.

Are There Startup Business Loans for Veterans?

Yes, there are startup business loans for veterans. Most veteran startup business loans are awarded via government agencies like the SBA and some major financial institutions. Also, many come with counseling, education, training courses, and other help and support that a startup business owned by a veteran could find helpful. For more info, check out the article on SBA loans.

How Do Veterans Get Small-business Loans?

Veteran entrepreneurs can get a small business loan like a term loan or a business line of credit loan, or any other loan type via several sources: the SBA loan programs, online lenders, traditional banks, crowdfunding websites, and even credit unions. Some qualifying factors apply are eligibility of the business, personal and business credit score, annual income, and time in business.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.