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Merchant Cash Advance Reviews

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  • OnDeck Review

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    Pros Relaxed borrower qualifications Relaxed credit score requirements Competitive terms and fees Short application process Excellent customer support Prepayment discounts Cons Potentially high factor rates Opaque advertising Overview OnDeck is a hugely prolific online lender. Founded back in 2007, OnDeck became one of the first lenders to rely primarily on technology to make their lending decisions. With […]

  • ForwardLine Review

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    Pros Relaxed credit score requirements Easy application process Excellent customer service Cons Moderate factor rate Some additional fees Overview After years spent providing short-terms loans to big businesses in Southern California, future ForwardLine CEO Craig Coleman noticed that smaller businesses were largely being passed over by banks, in part because they lacked collateral. Seeing that these smaller […]

  • Credibly Review

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    Pros Relaxed loan qualifications Transparent terms and fees Easy application process Cons Moderate factor rate Some additional fees High origination fee Overview Credibly is a Michigan-based online lender that offers short-term financing in the form of Working Capital Loans and Business Expansion Loans. With terms and fees that fall well within alternative lending norms (which tend to […]

  • Swift Capital Review

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    Note: Swift Capital has partnered with PayPal to offer business loans under the name LoanBuilder. The company no longer offers the financial products described below. See our LoanBuilder Review for an up-to-date review of the products offered by this company.  Highlights Merchant cash advances Working capital funds 48-72 hour funding decisions Weekly fixed ACH repayments Poor […]

  • Fora Financial Review

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    Pros Excellent customer service Relaxed loan qualifications Cons High origination fee Moderate factor rates Overview Founded by two college roommates, Fora Financial (previously known as Paramount Merchant Funding) is a merchant cash advance and short term loan provider. After working for other financing companies for a few years, Dan Smith and Jared Feldman decided to set off on their […]

  • Capify Review

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    Pros Relaxed borrower qualifications Short application process Typical time to funding: 2 – 7 days Cons Expensive terms and fees Some additional fees Poor customer support Unsuited for seasonal businesses Overview In 2002, Capify began its life as a U.S.-based merchant cash advance (MCA) service called AmeriMerchant. The founder and CEO, David Goldin, wasn’t content […]

  • Balboa Capital Review

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    Pros Relaxed loan qualifications Suited for large businesses Cons Opaque terms and fees Overview Balboa is a California-based alternative business funder offering short-term working capital and equipment financing. This review focuses on Balboa’s working capital products. Though Balboa is both well-established and flush with cash, the company seems plagued by an unusual number of customer […]

  • BFS Capital Review

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    Pros 2-7 days time to funding Good customer support Easy application process Cons Some additional fees Moderate factor rates Overview BFS Capital is a consolidation of four US-based business loan/advance providers: Premium Capital Group, GBR Funding, Entrust Merchant Solutions, and Business Financial Services (its parent company and namesake). The parent company was founded way back in […]

  • QuarterSpot Review

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    Pros Prepayment discount Relaxed credit score requirements Transparent terms and fees Cons Moderate factor rate Some additional fees High origination fee Overview QuarterSpot is an online lender that offers a short term loan product. Founded in 2013, the company has yet to hit the same level of name recognition as some of its competitors like […]

  • Shopify Capital Review

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    Highlights Merchant cash advances Cash flow financing Working capital financing Fast application process Fast access to capital Automatic repayments No origination fee Overview Shopify is widely regarded by eCommerce experts and business owners alike as one of the best shopping carts available, and we recommend it highly here at Merchant Maverick. This eCommerce solution is incredibly […]

This category covers two types of business financing—merchant cash advances and short-term loans. Although legally they are different products, in practice the two act very similar; most MCA companies offer both products to their customers.

What is a Merchant Cash Advance?

A merchant cash advance (MCA) is a type of business funding. This type of funding is not a loan, but a sale of future receivables. In other words, the MCA company (the buyer) is purchasing the future revenue of a business (the seller) at a discount.

Fees for borrowing are calculated using a flat fee multiplier, sometimes also called a “buy rate” or “factor rate.” The total repayment amount is calculated by multiplying the borrowed amount by the fee. For example, a merchant with a borrowing amount of $10,000 and a flat fee of 1.3 will have to repay $13,000 (10,000 x 1.3 = 13,000). This fee may also be written as a percentage (ex: your fee is 30% of the borrowing amount), but should not be confused with an interest rate.

Flat fees for MCAs generally range between 1.1 and 1.6 depending upon the MCA company, the strength of your business, and other factors.

Repayment is made by collecting a certain percentage of each sale; this percentage is called the withholding rate. For example, the MCA company might collect 15% of every sale, meaning for every dollar processed, the MCA company will get $0.15 and you will get $0.85. There are three different ways an MCA company can collect their cut:

  • Split withholding: The MCA company will partner with your credit card processor. When your processor receives a payment, they will automatically route the MCA company’s percentage to the company, and your percentage to your business bank account.
  • Lockbox withholding: The MCA company will set up a bank account in your name, but which they have access to. Your business revenue will go into this account, and the MCA company will deduct their cut at the end of each day before sending the remainder to your regular business bank account.
  • ACH withholding: The MCA company will deduct their percentage from your business bank account each day via automated clearing house (ACH), a type of electronic network used to transmit money between bank accounts.

Because your repayment fluctuates according to cash flow, merchant cash advances do not have a set maturity date. However, most MCAs are designed to be repaid in less than two years if your cash flow remains consistent.

What is a Short-Term Loan?

A short-term loan (STL) is very similar to a merchant cash advance. Unlike the latter, a short-term loan is (as one may guess) technically a true loan. In exchange for taking on debt owed to the company, you get access to immediate funds for your business.

Fees for borrowing are calculated as they would be for a cash advance. You are assigned a flat fee multiplier which determines your total payment amount. If you have a fee multiplier of 1.15, and you are borrowing $150,000, you will have to repay a total of $172,500 (150,000 x 1.15 = 172,500). Flat fees for these products normally range between 1.1 and 1.6 (or, in other words, 10% – 60% of the total borrowing amount).

Repayment is made on a daily basis by deducting a fixed amount from your bank account each business day via ACH.

Because the lender knows how much they’re deducting from you every day, there is a set date at which you will be done making payments (assuming you never miss a payment). Most short-term loans are repaid in under two years, though some lenders are beginning to offer term lengths up to three years to qualified borrowers.

Questions to Ask Before Borrowing

Some types of funding, especially merchant cash advances and short-term loans, are notorious for sending inexperienced businesses into financial difficulty. Because short-term funding tends to come with high fees and short repayment schedules, some businesses may suffer from the rate of repayment.

Before you accept an offer for short-term funding, ask yourself (or your funder) these questions:

What is the APR? What is the cents-on-the-dollar cost?

Because this type of financing is so unusual, it can be difficult for business owners to understand the costs. In order to fully understand the cost of borrowing and compare offers, it’s best to calculate both the APR and the cents-on-the-dollar cost.

The annual percentage rate (APR) communicates the cost of borrowing over the course of a year. Because short-term funding often runs less than a year, and the APR calculates the cost of borrowing over a whole year, the APR may appear quite high.

The cents-on-the-dollar cost, on the other hand, communicates how much you are paying in fees per dollar borrowed. Here is an easy way to calculate this number:

total fees / borrowing amount = cents-on-the-dollar

For example, if you are borrowing $10,000, and have a total repayment amount of $12,000, your cents-on-the-dollar cost is $0.20—you will have to pay $0.20 in fees for every dollar borrowed.

The APR and cents-on-the-dollar cost can help you understand the cost of potential funding options and easily compare offers.

Can my business operate under the reduced income?

If you accept a merchant cash advance or short-term loan, you will be operating at a reduced income. Take the time to consider whether or not your business can handle the daily payments. Will you have enough money to pay your other debts? Do you have a safety cushion in the event that your cash flow drops or unexpected expenses arise?

Does the funder offer early payment discounts?

Because short-term funding does not technically charge interest, you cannot save money on interest by repaying early. Some funders, however, do offer a discount on the fee for businesses that repay early. If you think that you are likely to repay before your maturity date, find a funder that offers a discount.

Unfortunately, because merchant cash advances do not have maturity dates, funders do not normally offer discounts on cash advances for any reason.

What is the funder’s policy on late payments?

No business can predict everything that may happen in the future. It’s important to find a funder with a generous late payment policy in the event that you run into unexpected difficulties in your business or personal life and find that you cannot make payments for a time. Many funders are willing to defer payments or work out an alternate schedule if you experience temporary difficulty.