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You have many options to secure financing for your business, including traditional loans and merchant cash advances (MCAs). Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it crucial for business owners to understand their differences thoroughly.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into both traditional loans and merchant cash advances, exploring their processes, eligibility criteria, repayment terms, and more. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to determine which financing option is the right fit for your business.

Understanding Traditional Loans

Process and Requirements for Traditional Loans

Traditional loans, offered by banks and financial institutions, have been the go-to choice for businesses seeking capital for decades. The process typically involves:

Application: Business owners must submit a detailed application, including financial statements, business plans, and other documentation.

Underwriting: Lenders assess the applicant’s creditworthiness, business history, and financial health.

Approval: If approved, the lender offers a lump sum loan with a fixed interest rate and repayment terms.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Loans


  • Lower Costs: Traditional loans often come with lower interest rates compared to MCAs.
  • Structured Repayment: Fixed monthly payments make it easier to budget and plan.
  • Builds Credit: Successful repayment can positively impact your business credit score.


  • Strict Eligibility: Banks have stringent eligibility criteria, making it difficult for some businesses to qualify.
  • Longer Approval Time: The application and approval process can be lengthy, delaying access to funds.
  • Collateral Requirements: Many traditional loans require collateral, putting assets at risk if you default.


An Overview of Merchant Cash Advances

What Is a Merchant Cash Advance?

A merchant cash advance (MCA) is an alternative financing option where a business receives a lump sum upfront in exchange for a percentage of its daily credit card sales and a fee. MCAs are typically offered by alternative lenders and have distinct characteristics:

No Fixed Payments: Instead of fixed monthly payments, MCAs involve daily or weekly deductions from credit card sales.

Quick Approval: The application process for MCAs is typically faster than traditional loans, providing rapid access to funds.

How Does a Merchant Cash Advance Work?

  • Application: Business owners provide information on their credit card sales and overall financial health.
  • Offer: The MCA provider offers a lump sum amount, along with the factor rate, which determines the total repayment amount.
  • Repayment: A percentage of daily credit card sales, known as the “holdback,” is collected until the advance (plus the fee) is fully repaid.

Pros and Cons of Merchant Cash Advances


  • Quick Access: MCAs provide rapid access to capital, ideal for businesses with urgent needs.
  • Flexible Repayment: Repayments are tied to daily sales, making them more manageable during slow periods.
  • No Collateral: MCAs are unsecured, so there’s no need to put assets at risk.


  • Higher Costs: The factor rate can result in higher overall costs compared to traditional loans.
  • Daily Deductions: Daily or weekly repayments can impact cash flow, especially during slow seasons.
  • Limited Regulation: MCAs are not as heavily regulated as traditional loans, which can lead to less transparency.

Resources for Evaluating Current SBA Loan Rates

Resources for comparing current SBA loan rates include:

  • SBA Lenders – Get rate quotes from multiple SBA lenders
  • Loan brokers – Match with lenders offering discounted rates
  • SBA website – Check posted maximum allowable fixed rates
  • Lending platforms – Pre-screen rates from multiple lenders
  • Business advisors – Consultants can provide market rate data

Checking published prime rates gives a benchmark for rate comparisons. Rates vary continually so staying updated is key.

Interested in a merchant cash advance? Learn more about this financing option and how Big Think can help you secure it below.

Comparing Merchant Cash Advances and Traditional Loans

Eligibility Requirements

MCAs: MCAs have less stringent eligibility criteria. They focus more on daily credit card sales volume and business cash flow than on credit scores.

Traditional Loans: Traditional loans typically require a strong credit history, collateral, and a solid financial track record.

The Impact of Credit Scores on Both Financial Options

MCAs: While credit scores are considered, they hold less weight in MCA approval decisions compared to traditional loans.

Traditional Loans: Banks place significant importance on credit scores when assessing loan applications.

Repayment Terms: Cash Advances vs Traditional Loans

MCAs: Repayments are based on a fixed percentage of daily credit card sales and can fluctuate with business performance.

Traditional Loans: Fixed monthly payments are set at the start and remain constant throughout the loan term.

How Does Your Business’s Cash Flow Impact Your Funding Choices?

Your business’s cash flow is a critical factor in determining the right financing option. If your daily credit card sales are stable, an MCA may align with your cash flow. However, if you prefer predictable monthly payments and can manage a longer approval process, a traditional loan might be a more suitable choice.

When to Choose Merchant Cash Advances Over Traditional Loans: Maintaining Financial Health

Selecting the appropriate financing option should align with your business’s financial health and objectives. While MCAs offer speed and flexibility, traditional loans provide stability and potentially lower costs. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your business’s unique circumstances and funding needs.

Navigating the world of business financing requires careful consideration of your options. Both traditional loans and merchant cash advances offer viable means of obtaining capital, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. By understanding the processes, eligibility criteria, and repayment terms associated with these financial options, you can make an informed decision that best suits your business’s needs. Whether you prioritize speed, flexibility, or cost effectiveness, the right financing choice can help your business thrive and achieve its goals.

Need financial support but don’t know where to turn? Get in touch with the experts at Big Think Capital today.