Business Loans

SBA Express Loan: Requirements And How To Apply

Feb 22, 2023 • 9 min read
Two small business owners researching options
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      The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of attractive loans to small businesses in the U.S. SBA Express loans are one popular loan option you might want to consider if you need no more than $500,000 in funding. Just like other SBA loans, Express loans offer low interest rates and flexible repayment terms that you may not find elsewhere. 

      Compared to other SBA loans, however, these financing solutions come with much easier applications and faster approval times. Let’s take a closer look at what SBA Express loans are and how they work, so you can decide if they make sense for your unique situation.

      What Is An SBA Express Loan?

      An SBA Express loan is part of the SBA 7(a) loan program, which is the most popular SBA funding option. Upon approval from an SBA-approved lender, you can use the funds for a wide variety of business-related expenses, such as commercial real estate, equipment, working capital, debt refinancing, or business expansion. 

      You can choose from the standard Express loan or Export Express loan and lock in up to $500,000 in funding. While repayment terms depend on loan type and purpose, they go up to seven years for lines of credit, 25 years for real estate loans, and five to 10 years for other loans. 

      The lender, loan size, and your financial situation will dictate the interest rate you may receive, but SBA Express loans cap out at the prime rate plus 6.5% for loans of $50,000 or less and the prime rate plus 4.5% for loans greater than $50,000. The chart below outlines the key components of these loans.

      Types of loansStandard SBA Express loans, SBA Export Express loans
      Maximum SBA guarantee 50%-90% depending on loan type
      Loan amountUp to $500,000
      Repayment termsUp to 10 years for working capital, equipment, and inventory purchases, up to 25 years for real estate, and up to seven years for lines of credit
      Interest ratesThe prime rate plus 6.5% for loans of $50,000 or less and the prime rate plus 4.5% for loans greater than $50,000
      Down paymentsNot required. Determined by the lender.
      Collateral Required for loans greater than $50,000
      FeesOne-time guarantee fee based on the size of the loan, which can be waived for veteran-owned businesses, and potential lender fees for servicing 
      Funding timesDepends on the lender, but the SBA will make a decision on standard Express loan applications within 36 hours and Export Express loans within 24 hours

      Types Of SBA Express Loans

      There are two types of SBA Express loans, including standard Express loans and Export Express loans. Let’s dive deeper into the details of each one.

      Standard SBA Express Loans

      Standard SBA Express loans are designed for qualifying small businesses that operate in the U.S. or the U.S. territories. The SBA responds to applications for these types of loans within 36 hours. With a standard SBA Express loan, you can borrow up to $500,000 and enjoy an SBA guarantee of 50%. While interest rates max out at the prime rate plus 4.5%, they ultimately depend on your qualifications, lender, and loan amount.

      SBA Export Express Loans

      SBA Export Express loans differ from standard SBA Express loans in that they’re geared toward exporters. If you’re in search of funding to support export activities for your business, this option is worth exploring. The SBA will guarantee 75% of loans that are larger than $350,000 and 90% of loans that are less than $350,000. Approval times are also shortened as the SBA will respond to applications in no more than 24 hours.

      How SBA Express Loans Work

      You can apply for an SBA Express loan through an SBA-approved lender, which may be a bank, credit union, or online lender. To do so, you’ll need to complete SBA Form 1919 and any other forms the financial institution requires. While down payment requirements vary, 10% is typical and startups may have to put more down. 

      Also, if you opt for an Express loan of over $25,000, you will need to back your loan with collateral. If you choose an Export Express, you’ll need to adhere to the particular collateral requirements set forth by your lender. 

      Even though each individual lender will make their own eligibility decisions, the SBA will respond to Express loan applications within 36 hours and Export Express loan applications within 24 hours. This is much faster than the five to 10 business days the SBA usually takes for other types of loans. Keep in mind that funding times are also lender-dependent, but are typically completed within 30 to 60 days.

      How To Take Out An SBA Express Loan

      If you’re interested in an SBA loan, follow these steps to get one.

      1. Determine your borrowing needs: Since SBA Express loans cap out at $500,000, it’s important to figure out how much money you need. If you’d like to borrow more than $500,000, you may have to explore alternative financing solutions.
      2. Verify your eligibility: Before you go ahead and apply for an SBA Express loan, make sure you meet all the criteria. Your business must be considered a small business by the SBA and have reasonable owner equity to invest. Plus you’ll need to prove that you’ve already invested financial resources toward the business. In addition, you’ll be required to meet the individual lender’s criteria, which may include a minimum credit score of 650, at least two years in business, and strong annual revenue. 
      3. Choose a lender: Not all SBA lenders are created equal. That’s why you should shop around and find the ideal option for your unique situation. You can always use the SBA lender matching tool on the SBA website to help you out.
      4. Fill out SBA Form 1919: Once you decide on a lender, complete SBA Form 1919. Be prepared to share information about who owns the business, what you intend to do with the funds, the number of employees you have, and whether you’ve received any SBA loans in the past. Double-check your work to avoid errors and inaccuracies, which may lead to delays with approval and funding. 
      5. Submit documentation: Some lenders will ask you to provide certain supporting documents with your application. These may include business credit reports, financial statements, personal and business tax returns, and a business plan.
      6. Wait for approval: As stated, the SBA will respond to standard Express loan applications within 36 hours and Export Express loan applications within 24 hours. Once the lender receives the green light from the SBA, it’s up to them to approve your application and distribute the funds. In most cases, however, you’ll be able to close on your loan within 30 to 60 days.

      Pros and Cons Of SBA Express Loans

      Like most business financing solutions, SBA Express loans come with benefits and drawbacks you should consider, including: 


      • Fast turnaround times: If you’re in need of an SBA loan with quick approval and funding times, the SBA Express loan may be a good option. Depending on the type of loan you choose, the SBA may approve your application within 24 or 36 hours. This is quite fast when you consider that it typically takes them at least five to 10 business days to approve other types of loans.
      • Flexibility with collateral: As long as your loan is less than $25,000, the SBA doesn’t require collateral. If you don’t want to put your personal or business assets on the line, you’re sure to appreciate this type of flexibility. 
      • Easier application: Compared to other types of SBA loans, SBA Express loans have simpler applications. It won’t take you as long to apply for them, so you can expedite the process of securing funding.


      • Smaller borrowing amounts: SBA Express loans cap out at $500,000. While this might seem like a lot of money, it might not be sufficient if you have plans to purchase expensive equipment or acquire a business. You might want to consider the traditional SBA 7(a ) program if you need to borrow more money. 
      • Must meet certain qualifications: Unfortunately, SBA Express loans aren’t available to just anyone. To take advantage of them, you must meet stringent criteria set forth by the SBA and the lender you choose. 
      • Lenders may take a while to distribute funds: Even though the SBA approves SBA Express loan applications quickly, it’s up to the individual lenders to provide funding. Depending on the lender you choose, you may still have to wait weeks or even months for the money.

      Bottom Line

      If you’re in the market for an SBA loan, but want to skip the lengthy application and longer approval times of the traditional SBA 7(a) loan, the SBA Express loan should be on your radar. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, weigh the pros and cons to ensure you’re making the most informed decision. Learn more and apply for SBA loans.

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      About the author
      Anna Baluch

      Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA in marketing from Roosevelt University.

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