SBA Loans

How You Can Use An SBA Loan

Mar 09, 2023 • 6 min read
SBA loan application
Table of Contents

      If you’ve ever wondered what you can use your SBA loan for, the answer depends on which loan type you have. The SBA offers several different loan programs, each of which has its own eligibility requirements. Whether you’re trying to determine which one to apply for or want to know the details of an existing loan, you’ll find all the details you need in this post.

      What Can SBA Loans be Used for?

      Here’s an overview of four of the most common SBA loans and how they can be used, followed by a comparison table you can use as a quick reference guide. 

      SBA 7(a) Loans

      An SBA 7(a) loan allows eligible small businesses to borrow up to $5 million. Out of all the SBA loan options, it allows for the most use cases, including:

      • Working capital
      • Equipment
      • Real estate purchase
      • New building construction
      • Renovating or expanding an existing property
      • Business acquisition
      • Starting another business

      Your loan term may vary depending on how you plan to use the funds. For instance, real estate purchases can be financed over a period of 25 years. But if you’re using the funds for working capital, inventory, or equipment, the maximum payoff period is just 10 years.

      SBA Express Loans

      An Express loan is a type of 7(a) loan. As its name suggests, you can get funding much more quickly with an Express loan, because of its streamlined approval process. The catch is that the maximum loan amount is just $500,000. On the bright side, instead of taking weeks or months, you can get approved for an Express loan in as little as 36 hours. 

      SBA Express loans can be used for the same purposes as a traditional 7(a) loan, but they allow you to act faster. For example, if you were faced with a time-sensitive (albeit not a high-dollar amount) opportunity, these loans would allow you to take advantage of said opportunity thanks to their speedy approval process. 

      SBA 504 Loans

      An SBA 504 loan allows you to borrow up to $5 million (or $5.5 million if some of the funds are used for eligible energy-efficient projects). The focus of this loan type is to promote growth and job creation. Here are the approved ways you can use these loan funds.

      • Existing real estate or land
      • New facilities
      • Long-term equipment and machinery
      • Updates to new or existing real estate
      • The improvement of land, streets, utilities, and parking lots

      504 loans are strictly designed for property-related improvements or purchases and cannot be used for inventory or working capital. 

      SBA Microloans

      SBA microloans come with a small maximum loan amount, but also a lower bar to clear in terms of eligibility criteria. You can borrow up to $50,000 (although the average loan size is much smaller—just $13,000). Microloans are designed to fund things like working capital, inventory, and equipment. In addition, the money cannot be used towards any type of real estate purchase. 

      Use Cases by SBA Loan Types

      Loan Use7(a) LoanExpress Loan504 LoanMicroloan
      Working capitalX
      InventoryX
      EquipmentX
      Real estate purchaseX
      New building constructionX
      Renovating or expanding an existing propertyX
      Improvement of land, streets, utilities, and parking lotsXXX
      Business acquisitionXX
      Starting another businessXX

      SBA loan restrictions

      Each SBA loan has its own set of restrictions; for instance, 504 loans cannot be used for working capital or inventory purposes, while microloans can’t be used for any type of real estate purchase. 

      However, there are some restrictions that apply across the board, regardless of what kind of SBA loan you get.

      For instance, with all types of SBA loans, you cannot use these funds for personal use.

      Moreover, some types of businesses are not allowed to apply for SBA loans, which include:

      • Illegal activities
      • Loan packaging, lending, or investing
      • Gambling
      • Speculation
      • Real estate investing
      • Multi-sales distribution
      • Rare coin and stamp dealers
      • Charitable, religious, or non-profit organizations

      For many small businesses, getting an SBA loan provides you with the opportunity to get low-cost financing to help sustain or grow your business. But of course, it’s important to understand which one is the best fit for your needs. 

      Get the help you need to find the best SBA lender out there by working with Lendio, which provides you with an experienced team to maximize your application.  

      Apply for an SBA loan today!

      Quickly Compare Financing Options from Multiple Funders

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      About the author
      Lauren Ward

      Lauren Ward is a personal finance and tech writer with a passion to help consumers make smart financial decisions. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Time and MSN. When she's not writing, she loves gardening and playing board games with her family.

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