SmartBiz Review

SmartBiz SBA Loans Review: The Professional SBA Lender

By Daniel Lewis
Advertiser disclosure

SmartBiz loans are easier to obtain in comparison to traditional banking loans. They provide easier access to SBA loans. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that these rules are still quite strict – applicants should have strong financial fundamentals before they consider applying. The SBA loan requirements have to be met and these are independent of the lender.

Even so, SmartBiz has streamlined the process as much as possible, so applicants have a better chance of getting an SBA loan now more than ever. The application process is automated and processed online, drastically reducing application times. This has always been a huge drawback of SBA loan applications – with long wait times and multiple interviews.

SmartBiz also offers SBA Commercial Real Estate Loans and standard term loans. It also offers customized financial solutions, though most of its business is from SBA loan applications. Keep in mind that SmartBiz does not generate the loan – they merely facilitate/process it. 

SmartBiz connects lending institutions with loan applicants and does away with much of the bureaucracy and paperwork. 90% of SmartBiz referrals get funded and over $1.5 Billion in small business loans has been funded by their network.

Highlights

requirments_icon1Loan Amount
$30,000 – $5,000,000

Terms
2 – 25 Years

Funds received
7 – 14 Days

Pros

  • Fantastic customer service
  • The easiest place to get SBA loans
  • Faster loan approval process

Cons

  • Lien and personal guarantee required

SmartBiz SBA Loans - Hom

Advantages

The advantages of getting a loan with SmartBiz is that it still offers great SBA and bank rates, but speeds up the application process. There is typically a tradeoff between interest rates and ease of application. SmartBiz offers a neat middle ground between the two.

An online lender is often far easier to deal with in comparison to a bank, and often far less intimidating. You won’t have to go into the bank and deal with a formidable opponent in the banker! With the whole world becoming automated and digitalized, Smartbiz is making it easier to access the SBA loan, a financial option that is typically quite elusive. It also has very long repayment terms so lenders have some breathing room.

SmartBiz also offers a free online tool known as SmartBiz Advisor. This demonstrates the probability of loan success and how to increase chances of success. In addition, SmartBiz works with a number of alternative lenders to provide lines of credit and invoice financing. The eligibility requirements for these loans are much lower.

Disadvantages

SmartBiz is simply not for businesses with a low credit score or a poor financial foundation in general. You need a high credit score and solid backing in order to qualify for the SBA loan and bank term loan. This means many small businesses are not a match for this lender. To give you a taste of how hard it is to qualify, consider that the average Smartbiz lender had 10 years in business, annual revenue of $1 Million, and a credit score of 705. 

In other words, it is more suited to large businesses and corporations as opposed to small US businesses. In addition, to facilitate the loan, SmartBiz takes a 4% cut, which is quite hefty. Bank closing costs of around $450 are passed to the borrower, and the loan still has to be approved by the SBA.

SmartBiz Loan Features

SmartBiz mainly offers two products, the SBA(7)(a)loan and the standard bank loan – the Commercial Real Estate Loan is a subcategory of the (7)(a). To qualify for the loan, applicants need to have a good credit rating, no recent bankruptcies, be in business for at least 24 months, and have no outstanding tax liens. A personal guarantee and lien is also a pre-requisite for qualification. 

Loan CriteriaSmartBiz SBA (7)(a) LoanSBA (7)(a) Real EstateBank Term Loan
APR (estimate range)8% – 10%7% – 8%6.99% – 23.99%
Funding Range$30,000 – $5 Million$500,000 – $5 Million$30,000 – $350,000
Term Length10 – 25 Years25 Years2 – 5 Years
Minimum Credit Score640675640
Funding Time7 – 14 Days30 DaysLess than 7 Days
Typical Payment % (Monthly)1.1%Varies2.25%

Fees, Rates, and Penalties

Fees with SmartBiz tend to be quite steep. However, such fees are offset by the improved application process which is far quicker than normal. For the SBA(7)(a), the SBA (7)(a) Commercial Real Estate, and the standard bank term loan, the APR will often range between 4% – 8%. This range is far lower than other online options, including the online term loan or business line of credit from online lenders. The APR from an online loan is typically somewhere between 8% – 12%.

Get an SBA Loan with SmartBiz

However, there are many other fees with the SmartBiz loan. The lender takes a 4% cut from the approved loan for ‘referral and packaging fees’. Bank closing costs will add $450 or so to the customer. Banks in the SmartBiz network can charge a one-time application fee of $3,000 – $5000, depending on the loan type. All these fees add up, so make sure you understand the APR of each loan. The APR is a figure that takes all rates and fees into account for customers to make informed decisions.

Loan TypeSBA (7)(a)SBA (7)(a) Commercial Real EstateStandard Term Loan
Origination FeesNoNoNo
Prepayment FeesNoYesNo
Late Payment Fees              YesYesYes
Maintenance FeesYesYesYes
Bank Closing Costs$450$5000$450
One Time Application Fee$3000$5000$3000
Variable Interest Rate~7%4% – 6%7%
Total Average Estimated APR10%5%10%

Eligibility Requirements

For the SmartBiz SBA(7)(a), the minimum requirements include a 640 credit score, two years in business, no outstanding liens or bankruptcies, and evidence of cash flow to support the business.  A 20% personal guarantee on loans is a pre-requisite with SmartBiz. These eligibility requirements are similar for both standard bank loans and SBA (7)(a) loans.

The requirements for the SBA(7)(a) Commercial Real Estate Loan are a little different. This is because the loan is often larger and more complex, involving special terms and conditions in the purchase of the real estate. The minimum credit score is 675, and the business must be older than 72 months. 51% of the property (per square foot) must be owned and used by the business.

The estimated purchase price must be at least $500,000 for the loan to be processed. These loans are taken out primarily for the purchase of commercial real estate or the construction of new buildings. A dedicated property manager will have to assess the value of the property.

The SmartBiz Application Process

Applying for a loan is quite straightforward with SmartBiz. It takes less than 5 minutes to fill out some details and see if you pre-qualify. After this, there is only a single application process while SmartBiz matches you to the appropriate bank. While the application process could take months with a bank, it only takes a week with this lender.

In an industry where time is money, this is a huge advantage. Even if you get turned down, at least you get an answer sooner rather than later. The process is automated using AI, which is why it is so quick.

After the prequalification has been completed, you will be assigned to a team of supervisors who talk you through the process. These supervisors are very responsive and helpful. Keep in mind that you still need to supply all of the documentation for the SBA(7)(a) loan. This is an extensive list but mandatory to the process.

Transparency

Founded in 2009, SmartBiz now has over 170,000 customers and 110 employees. Their headquarters is in California and they are easy to reach out to and get a response from. All of the SmartBiz fees are displayed upfront – this is not a shady online lender that makes money off hidden charges. SmartBiz are a professional outfit that operates by connecting banks with SBA loan applicants.

The SBA fees are known to be a little high, but transparent. All things considered, most people can expect to pay around 10% APR. If you want to know more about the fees and charges, then use their free tool, the SmartBiz advisor. It will neatly display what you can expect to pay over time.

SmartBiz has an upfront privacy policy on its site which indicates everything they do with private information. Information is never shared with third parties, but may be shared with banks and affiliates to process loans. Customers are never profiled based on their usage. All transactions are secured with 256-bit encryption.

SmartBiz is registered with the Better Business Bureau (‘BBB’) as a trusted legal entity and is also  HiTrust CSF Certified. HiTrust CSF is an alliance between government and corporate entities that aims to safeguard sensitive customer data, especially in the field of finance.

The lender does business under the trade name of ‘SmartBiz Loans’, which is a subsidiary of BillFloat Inc. BillFloat Inc is listed in the Speciality Finance industry with its headquarters in 417 Montgomery Street Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94104 United States. Company executives include Sean O’Malley, Judy Balint, and Alan Crystal. Estimate sales revenue is $1.8 Billion for 2019.

Customer Service

The customer service with SmartBiz is exceptional, and one of their strongest features. One of their main selling points is that they assist throughout the entire process and make it easy. This is a lot different from typical bank applications, where the reception can often be a little stern.

SmartBiz has specialized loan consultants at hand to help out. Unlike many online lenders, there is a customer service representative available to answer all queries, in a polite manner.

Collaboration is mostly done via email instead of phone calls. The best part is that if your loan is a little complicated (which it can be for a variety of reasons) the dedicated advisor will tell you exactly what you need to submit – saving you precious time.

The SBA(7)(a) loan is known to be notoriously difficult to qualify for with a huge level of documentation required. Aside from the standard requirements, banks can often ask for additional information. This is where the professionalism of SmartBiz can shine through.

Best For…

SmartBiz is best for businesses that are in a very strong financial position and want to get a loan quickly, without going through a bank and without paying a high APR on the loan itself. 

The professional team provided by SmartBiz also ensures that no wrong steps are taken and that you get the finance that you need. People who appreciate good customer service and who want assistance with a complex loan process would do very well by using SmartBiz.

Additional Features

SmartBiz provides a number of additional features that enhances the value of their offerings. Additional features include:

  • The SmartBiz Advisor – An online tool that allows clients to see their odds of qualifying for a particular loan. It also makes recommendations surrounding how to increase these odds.
  • SBA PayCheck Protection Program – A recent program launched to combat unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 spread. This is a small business relief program providing loans up to $10 Million.
  • Customized Financial Solutions – SmartBiz can work with alternative loan provides based on your unique business needs. Invoice financing and lines of credit can be accessed in this manner. 

Positive Reviews

There are tonnes of positive reviews of SmartBiz. It has over 1,000 verified Trustpilot reviews and a rating very near 5 out of 5 stars. The most frequent positive highlights are:

  • Super Fast SBA(7)(a) Process – The entire platform is automated and streamlined for prequalification. The application process itself is also very straightforward to use.
  • Amazing Customer Support – This is the most common citation in terms of positive reviews. The levels of customer support are flawless and the dedicated manager will lead clients through every step of the process. The representatives are very professional and responsive.
  • Clear Terms And Conditions – SmartBiz is upfront and clear with what it charges and who qualifies for a loan. You will know exactly how much you are going to pay and won’t get hit with any hidden fees or charges.

Get an SBA Loan with SmartBiz

Negative Reviews

There are a few negative reviews with SmartBiz. However, it must be restated that the fees are high when dealing with SmartBiz and it can be hard to qualify for a loan in the first place. While the SBA loan APR is low, the fees charged by SmartBiz to process the loan are high. But for the level of service, the fees are worth it.

For loans smaller than $150,000, you would need to have an annual revenue of over $120,000. Also, a high level of documentation is required and the turnaround times are still not as quick as the typical online loan from other providers.

SmartBiz FAQs

What is the SBA (7)(a) loan anyway?

The SBA (7)(a) is a loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (‘SBA’) up to 85%. Once the terms and conditions are met, the business can get the loan. Large financial institutions are responsible for facilitating the loan and are insured up to 85% in the event of default. This is meant to help out small businesses and stimulate the economy. For more information, take a look at this comprehensive SBA (7)(a) loan guide.

How fast is the turnaround time?

It’s hard to give an exact estimate, as the process still needs SBA approval. However, the typical times have been drastically reduced – 30 days for a Commercial Real Estate Loan and 7 to 14 days for the SBA(7)(a) options. Standard bank loans are frequently processed within 7 days.

What about customized financial solutions?

SmartBiz offers business credit cards, the business line of credit, and invoice financing, though these are not the primary offerings. Loan amounts can range from $30,000 – $500,000 and repayment terms range from 6 – 60 months. This is not its main offering but it can facilitate these loans.

Do I have to provide documentation?

Yes, you will have to provide an extensive level of documentation. You will have to do this for all SBA loans to satisfy the terms and conditions. Be sure to have the documents at hand so you can upload them on your computer. Once the documents are ready, the SmartBiz automated platform will do the rest.

Do I need to provide collateral or personal guarantees?

All business owners who own more than 20% of the business must provide a personal guarantee. So you may need to provide 5 personal guarantees if your business is split that way. A lien on business assets is also required for loans.

Summary

SmartBiz is an excellent lender for those looking for a swift SBA(7)(a) turnaround. They have an excellent reputation in terms of customer service. Low cost commercial real estate financing is another great asset without having to visit an intimidating bank in person.

The only real issue is whether or not a small business will qualify for the loan in the first place. But for those who do qualify, it’s the best SBA (7)(a) lender in the market right now with the fastest turnaround times.

Get an SBA Loan with SmartBiz

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.