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The Top 10 SBA 7(a) Approved Banks & Participating Lenders: Your Complete Guide

This list of the top 10 SBA lenders, plus our tips for how to choose the one that's best for your business, will help you identify and narrow down your options.

    Jason Vissers
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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Best SBA lenders

SBA lenders are critical for small business owners seeking an SBA loan. This is because the SBA does not directly provide loans; instead, it works with approved banks, credit unions, and other lenders, guaranteeing a significant percentage of each loan to protect the lender in the event of borrower default. This incentivizes lenders to offer affordable loans with favorable terms to small business owners who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for low-cost financing.

In this post, we’ll be looking at the top 10 SBA approved banks and online lenders based on data from the SBA itself.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
Live Oak Bank Business Loans

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  • Best Overall SBA lender
  • Provides personalized guidance
  • Loans available in all 50 states
  • Best Overall SBA lender
  • Provides personalized guidance
  • Loans available in all 50 states

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Newtek Small Business Finance

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  • Best For Quick Prequalification
  • Multiple types of funding available
  • Quick prequalification offered
  • Best For Quick Prequalification
  • Multiple types of funding available
  • Quick prequalification offered

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Huntington National Bank

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  • Best For Midwestern Businesses
  • 3 types of SBA loan offered
  • Loans up to $5 million
  • Best For Midwestern Businesses
  • 3 types of SBA loan offered
  • Loans up to $5 million

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Celtic Bank Small Business Loans

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  • Best For Multiple SBA Loan Types
  • SBA-backed Celtic Advantage loans available with quick approval times
  • Celtic Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender
  • Best For Multiple SBA Loan Types
  • SBA-backed Celtic Advantage loans available with quick approval times
  • Celtic Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender

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Byline Bank

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  • Best For Lines Of Credit
  • SBA-backed lines of credit available
  • SBA 7(a) & 504 loans available
  • Best For Lines Of Credit
  • SBA-backed lines of credit available
  • SBA 7(a) & 504 loans available

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Wells Fargo Business Banking

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  • Best Large SBA Approved Bank
  • 7(a) & 504 loans available
  • Many other financing types available
  • Best Large SBA Approved Bank
  • 7(a) & 504 loans available
  • Many other financing types available

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ReadyCap Lending

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  • Best For Veterans
  • ReadyCap Lending is an SBA preferred lender
  • Caters to veteran business owners
  • Best For Veterans
  • ReadyCap Lending is an SBA preferred lender
  • Caters to veteran business owners

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KeyBank

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  • Best For Expanding Internationally
  • Offers numerous SBA-backed loans
  • Offers two SBA loan programs for businesses looking to expand internationally
  • Best For Expanding Internationally
  • Offers numerous SBA-backed loans
  • Offers two SBA loan programs for businesses looking to expand internationally

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Cadence Bank

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  • Best For Southern Businesses
  • 4 different SBA loans available
  • Operates in 6 southern states
  • Best For Southern Businesses
  • 4 different SBA loans available
  • Operates in 6 southern states

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Enterprise Bank and Trust

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  • Best For Loan Variety
  • Offers 5 different SBA loans
  • SBA offices available in 13 states
  • Best For Loan Variety
  • Offers 5 different SBA loans
  • SBA offices available in 13 states

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Top 10 SBA 7(a) Approved Banks & Lenders (According To The SBA)

From local financial institutions to online options, there are plenty of SBA approved lenders out there. However, narrowing down the choices to find the right lender for your business can be tough. Below, we’ll profile the top 10 SBA participating lenders — a list taken from the SBA’s own list of the most active SBA 7(a) lenders.

  • Live Oak Bank: Best Overall SBA Lender
  • Newtek Small Business Finance: Best For Quick Prequalification
  • The Huntington National Bank: Best For Midwestern Businesses
  • Celtic Back: Best For Multiple SBA Loan Types
  • Byline Bank: Best For Lines Of Credit
  • Wells Fargo Bank: Best Large Bank
  • ReadyCap Lending: Best For Veterans
  • KeyBank: Best For Businesses Expanding Internationally
  • Cadence Bank: Best For Southern Businesses
  • Enterprise Bank & Trust: Best For Loan Variety

1. Live Oak Bank

Live Oak Bank Business Loans



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Pros

  • Most prolific SBA 7(a) lender
  • Provides personalized guidance
  • Available in all 50 states

Cons

  • Slow application process
  • Website isn’t very informative

As an SBA Preferred Lender and the current #1 SBA 7(a) lender according to the SBA’s figures, Live Oak Bank helps borrowers receive SBA-backed loans faster than other lenders. What distinguishes Live Oak Bank is its teams of experts — each team focuses on a specific industry to help small businesses receive loans and provide guidance through the duration of the loan.

Live Oak Bank’s most popular option for SBA funding is the 7(a) loan (read our guide to its terms, rates, and eligibility), which provides small business owners with up to $5 million with repayment terms up to 25 years. To qualify, borrowers need a minimum personal credit score of 680 and a business history of at least 3 years. Businesses in all 50 states can apply online. Read our Live Oak Bank review to learn more about this SBA approved bank.

Get Started With Live Oak Bank Business Loans

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2. Newtek Small Business Finance

Newtek Small Business Finance



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Pros

  • 2nd most prolific SBA 7(a) lender
  • Multiple types of financing available
  • Applicants can quickly get prequalified

Cons

  • Little information on SBA loans is provided online
  • Company gets mixed reviews online

Newtek Small Business Finance provides funding for small businesses, including SBA loans.

It’s currently #2 on the best SBA lenders list. Newtek doesn’t specify what SBA loans it specializes in, but it does state that borrowers can receive as much as $15 million to be used for various business purposes. Repayment terms are as long as 25 years.

All applicants must have an existing for-profit business with at least two years of tax returns (you can discuss additional requirements with a financial specialist). Interested borrowers can get a prequalification by visiting Newtek’s website. For more information, you’ll need to contact the company. Check out our review of Newtek Small Business Finance to learn more.

Get Started With Newtek Small Business Finance

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3. The Huntington National Bank

Huntington National Bank



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Pros

  • 3rd most prolific SBA lender
  • 3 types of SBA loan available
  • Funding up to $5 million

Cons

  • SBA loans only offered in 10 states, mostly in the Midwest

The Huntington National Bank is based in the midwest and currently offers SBA loans to businesses in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. This SBA approved lender can connect qualified borrowers with loans of $5,000 to $5 million. Rates, terms, and borrower requirements vary by product.

Huntington National Bank provides 7(a) loans for almost any business purpose. For borrowers seeking quicker funding, Huntington Bank offers SBA Express loans (read our guide to its terms, fees, and eligibility) with low-interest rates, high borrowing limits, and faster approval times. Huntington Bank also provides 504 loans to use for business improvements and expansions.

Visit your local branch to find out more about Huntington Bank’s SBA loans, or you can contact an SBA specialist to learn how you can get started.

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4. Celtic Bank

Celtic Bank Small Business Loans



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Pros

  • 4th most prolific SBA lender
  • Quick SBA-backed Celtic Advantage loans available as well as 7(a) & 504 loans
  • SBA loans available in all 50 states

Cons

  • Opaque terms & fees for some loan products

Celtic Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender, so processing times may be shorter than working with other lenders. Through Celtic Bank, you can apply for an SBA 7(a) loan with limits up to $5 million and repayment terms of up to 25 years.

For faster approvals, Celtic Bank offers the Celtic Advantage loan, an SBA-backed product similar to the SBA 7(a) loan. The primary difference (other than approval times) is the maximum borrowing amount (just $350,000). Celtic Bank also has SBA 504 loans. Qualified business owners may receive up to $10 million in funding with repayment terms of up to 25 years.

Get Started With Celtic Bank Small Business Loans

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5. Byline Bank

Byline Bank



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Pros

  • 5th most prolific SBA lender
  • SBA-backed lines of credit available
  • SBA 7(a) & 504 loans also available

Cons

  • Low APY with savings accounts

Byline Bank serves the Chicago area and Milwaukee through its 40 branches, but the company offers SBA loans nationwide and offers many options to meet your needs, including SBA 7(a) loans up to $5 million. Repayment terms are up to 25 years for commercial real estate and up to 15 years for other purposes. For commercial real estate or equipment purchases, businesses can apply for 504 loans with repayment terms of 10 to 25 years.

Businesses that want a more flexible option can receive a line of credit through the SBA (lines of credit) CAPLines program. Lines of credit are available for up to $5 million and are ideal for business expansion, purchasing inventory, covering payroll, or filling in revenue gaps. Repayment terms are 12 months to 10 years.

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6. Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Business Banking



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Pros

  • 6th most prolific SBA lender
  • Website advertising is clear & informative
  • Many financing types available

Cons

  • Funds can take time to disburse
  • Wells Fargo has had several scandals in the recent past

Wells Fargo Bank is one of the most well-known banks in the world and has over 8,000 US branches. Wells Fargo offers two SBA loan options for small businesses: 7(a) loans and 504 loans. The 7(a) loan provides borrowers with up to $5 million. Repayment terms are up to 25 years for commercial real estate purchases or up to 10 years for other business purposes.

For the 504 loans, Wells Fargo will lend up to $6.5 million, while the borrower may also receive up to $5 million from a Certified Development Company (CDC). Repayment terms are up to 25 years for commercial real estate purchases or up to 10 years for machinery or equipment purchases. For more, read our Wells Fargo Business Loans review.

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7. ReadyCap Lending

ReadyCap Lending



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Pros

  • 7th most profilic SBA lender
  • Offers 7(a) loans up to $5 million
  • Veteran business owners get preferred pricing

Cons

  • Time-consuming application process
  • Some reports of poor customer service

ReadyCap Lending is a non-bank SBA lender — in fact, it’s an SBA Preferred Lender, so the application and funding process is especially efficient. Through ReadyCap Lending (a subsidiary of Ready Capital), you can receive up to $5 million through the 7(a) program. The company also offers preferred pricing to veteran business owners.

7(a) loans have repayment terms of up to 25 years. To qualify for any of ReadyCap’s SBA programs, you must have strong personal credit and a debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) of 1.15 to 1.30. You must meet other requirements as well.

To learn more, see our ReadyCap Lending review. For more information or to start the application process, submit a request through Ready Capital’s website.

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8. KeyBank

KeyBank



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Pros

  • 8th most prolific SBA lender
  • Offers 7(a), 504, & Express loans
  • Offers SBA loan products for international business expansion

Cons

  • SBA loans only available in 17 states

KeyBank offers SBA 7(a) loans up to $5 million, 504 loans up to $12 million, and Express loans up to $350,000. You can also apply for a Working Capital CAPline to receive up to $1 million as a flexible line of credit. Note that KeyBank provides SBA loans to borrowers in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, & Washington. If you’re in another state, KeyBank has other financing options.

If you want to expand into international markets, KeyBank has SBA International Trade Lines up to $5 million to purchase equipment, real estate, or working capital to help you take your business worldwide.

Another option is the SBA Export Express, which provides loans and lines of credit for up to $500,000 for export development. Finally, if you need a smaller loan, there’s KeyBank’s 7(a) Small Loans, term loans of up to $350,000. To learn more & apply for SBA funding, call or visit an SBA specialist at your local branch.

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9. Cadence Bank

Cadence Bank



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Pros

  • 9th most prolific SBA lender
  • Preferred SBA Lender
  • Offers 4 different SBA-backed loan types

Cons

  • Customers complain that Cadence works slowly
  • Offers SBA loans in 6 southern states only

Cadence Bank is the SBA’s 9th biggest 7(a) lender and an SBA Preferred Lender. The bank offers four different SBA-backed loan types: 7(a) loans up to $5 million, Express loans up to $350,000, 504 loans (no maximum amount given), and CAPLines up to $5 million.

Though Cadence Bank has distributed enough SBA-backed funds to make it on the SBA’s 7(a) top ten list, it only offers SBA loans to business owners in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee. If this describes you, contact Cadence Bank for more information about their SBA-backed loans.

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10. Enterprise Bank & Trust

Enterprise Bank and Trust



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Pros

  • 10th most prolific SBA lender
  • Offers 5 SBA-backed loans
  • Approvals in as little as 48 hours

Cons

  • Only offers SBA loans in 13 states

Enterprise Bank & Trust, a Missouri-based bank with branches in six states, offers a full range of SBA lending products. The company also has SBA loan offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

Enterprise Bank & Trust offers the two big SBA products — SBA 7(a) and 504 loans — in amounts up to $5 million. If you need your money faster than that, Enterprise can hook you up with an Express Program loan or line of credit as big as $350,000. The Export Express program is also available and can be used to borrow up to $500,000. Finally, businesses looking for short-term working capital can get a CAPLines line of credit with a limit of up to $5 million.

Get Started With Enterprise Bank and Trust

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The Best Ways To Get SBA Loans Online

If you’re like most business owners, your plate is too full to spend hours sitting at the bank in an attempt to get an SBA loan. The internet has simplified other areas of business — invoicing, accounting, customer communication — so why not put this technology to work for you in your search for SBA approved banks?

It is entirely possible to secure an SBA loan online.

Be aware, though, that even the online process can take time and requires you to complete specific tasks, such as uploading financial reports, filling out applications, and signing documents. Communicating with your lender and completing steps in a timely manner are critical steps to securing an SBA loan.

You can always check with lenders that you have an existing relationship with to see if they offer online loans. Another way to apply for an SBA loan is by using an online marketplace, such as Fundera, Lendio, or SmartBiz, that clearly outlines requirements, rates, and terms and allows you to apply for and receive funding right from your home or office.

5 Tips For Choosing The Best SBA Lender For Your Business

Still not sure which SBA lender is right for your business? These five tips can help you narrow down your options.

Tip #1: Talk To Lenders You’ve Worked With In The Past

Instead of blindly choosing a lender you have no experience with, talk to banks, credit unions, and other lenders with which you have a pre-existing relationship. This may cut down on the amount of paperwork you have to submit (e.g., bank statements). If these lenders don’t offer SBA funding, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

Tip #2: Make Sure You Meet All Requirements

Few things are more disappointing in business than having your loan application rejected. To avoid this problem, make sure that you (and your business) meet all requirements for receiving an SBA loan. Most lenders require at least two years in business, with the tax returns to back it up.

You should also have a solid credit score. In most cases, this is around 680, but some lenders may consider lower scores. You should also have enough revenue to pay back the loan and enough money to cover a down payment if required. Some lenders also look at your DSCR as well as your debt-to-income ratio (calculate your ratio here and learn how to lower it). You must also meet the requirements of a small business as set by the SBA. This limits the number of employees you have as well as your annual revenue.

Tip #3: Determine Which Type Of Loan Is Best For You

The SBA 7(a) loan offers high limits for most borrowers and can be used for nearly any purpose, making it a solid choice for many businesses. However, there may be other loan options that are better suited for your needs. For example, maybe a line of credit is a better choice than a loan that comes in one lump sum. Maybe your business has smaller needs that could be met with an SBA microloan. Or perhaps you’ve faced an economic loss due to a disaster in your area.

Every business is unique, so every business has different financial needs. Make sure to explore all SBA funding options and choose a lender that offers the product that’s the best fit.

Tip #4: Experience Matters

While many lenders offer SBA loans, not all lenders have the experience needed to help you through the process efficiently. Choose an SBA Preferred Lender that has experience in these types of loans to ensure that you get your funding as quickly and easily as possible. You may even want to take it a step further and choose a lender that has experience with your specific industry.

Tip #5: Look For Lenders With Multiple Product Offerings

Work with a lender that offers SBA loans, lines of credit, equipment financing, or other financial products. If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan, you may qualify for other forms of financing. Or, if you need capital now and don’t have weeks (or longer) to wait for SBA funding, make sure that your lender has other options or can at least refer you to other institutions that are a better fit.

Found The Best SBA Lender For Your Small Business? Learn How To Apply For An SBA Loan

Have you found an SBA lender (or two) that seems like the right pick for your business? Great! That’s one step you can check off your checklist. The next step is to dive into the application process. Before you get started, note that this can be a drawn-out process, so make sure you’re ready to invest the time needed to close your loan efficiently. At any time, your lender could reach out during the process for more information or documentation, so be ready to respond.

It also helps to make sure that you have all of your financial records and documentation in order. It’s also a good idea to check your credit score/history and to review your annual revenue.

Final Thoughts: Which SBA Approved Bank Or Lender Is Right For Your Business?

We hope that we’ve made your search for an SBA approved bank a little easier. But before you apply, just make sure that you’re familiar with the SBA’s small business guidelines before you get started. Learn about other ways that you can strengthen your business loan application.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Check out our complete guide on how to apply for an SBA Loan for a more thorough explanation of what to expect during the application process. The process can be daunting, but the low-cost loans, in the end, are well worth the work you put forth.

Good luck!

FAQs: Best SBA 7(a) Approved Banks & Lenders

What is the easiest SBA loan to get?

SBA Microloans are probably the easiest SBA loans to get. These loans offer funding between $500 and $50,000 and are available to small businesses and not-for-profit childcare centers. According to the SBA, the average microloan is about $13,000.

What is a preferred SBA lender?

SBA Preferred Lenders (PLP, or Preferred Lenders Program) have more authority to approve SBA loans. PLP lenders tend to be faster than other SBA lenders because they don’t need to wait on the SBA for final credit decisions.

Which bank is good for SBA?

Any bank designated as an SBA Preferred Lender is a good place to seek an SBA loan. These SBA approved banks are able to process SBA loan applications more quickly than ordinary banks, as the SBA gives them the authority to make credit decisions.

In Summary: Top 10 SBA 7(a) Approved Banks & Lenders (According To The SBA)

  1. Live Oak Bank Business Loans:
    • Best Overall SBA lender
    • Provides personalized guidance
    • Loans available in all 50 states
  2. Newtek Small Business Finance:
    • Best For Quick Prequalification
    • Multiple types of funding available
    • Quick prequalification offered
  3. Huntington National Bank :
    • Best For Midwestern Businesses
    • 3 types of SBA loan offered
    • Loans up to $5 million
  4. Celtic Bank Small Business Loans:
    • Best For Multiple SBA Loan Types
    • SBA-backed Celtic Advantage loans available with quick approval times
    • Celtic Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender
  5. Byline Bank:
    • Best For Lines Of Credit
    • SBA-backed lines of credit available
    • SBA 7(a) & 504 loans available
  6. Wells Fargo Business Banking:
    • Best Large SBA Approved Bank
    • 7(a) & 504 loans available
    • Many other financing types available
  7. ReadyCap Lending:
    • Best For Veterans
    • ReadyCap Lending is an SBA preferred lender
    • Caters to veteran business owners
  8. KeyBank:
    • Best For Expanding Internationally
    • Offers numerous SBA-backed loans
    • Offers two SBA loan programs for businesses looking to expand internationally
  9. Cadence Bank:
    • Best For Southern Businesses
    • 4 different SBA loans available
    • Operates in 6 southern states
  10. Enterprise Bank and Trust:
    • Best For Loan Variety
    • Offers 5 different SBA loans
    • SBA offices available in 13 states
Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Jason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
Jason Vissers
View Jason Vissers's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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