How Does Business Debt Consolidation Work?[yoast-breadcrumb]
How Does Business Debt Consolidation Work?
If you own a small business, you may find yourself struggling under the weight of multiple debts – business loans, credit cards, equipment financing, and more. Juggling all these payments each month can be a huge drain on your time and resources. That’s where business debt consolidation can help.Business debt consolidation involves taking out one new loan to pay off multiple existing debts. This simplifies things by giving you just one payment to make each month, often at a lower interest rate. Consolidating business debts can provide much-needed relief, but it’s important to understand how it works before jumping in.
What Debts Can Be Consolidated?
Most types of business debt are eligible for consolidation, including:
- Business term loans
- Lines of credit
- Business credit cards
- Equipment financing
- Commercial mortgages
- Business vehicle loans
Essentially, if you have a loan or debt in the name of your business, it can likely be folded into a consolidation loan. The key is finding a lender willing to refinance all your various debts together under one roof.
Benefits of Debt Consolidation
There are several potential benefits that make business debt consolidation appealing:
- Lower monthly payments – By stretching out the repayment period, consolidation can reduce your monthly payments and improve cash flow.
- Lower interest rate – If you qualify for a lower rate on the consolidation loan, you can save significantly on interest charges.
- One payment – Instead of tracking multiple payments and deadlines, you’ll have a single payment each month.
- Improve credit – Over time, responsibly managing a consolidation loan can help rebuild your business credit.
- Pay off debt faster – You may be able to pay off debt quicker with a shorter-term consolidation loan.
How to Qualify for a Consolidation Loan
Lenders will review your business’ finances carefully before approving a consolidation loan. Here’s what they’ll look for:
- Time in business – Most want to see at least 2 years in business.
- Revenue and profits – Steady sales and net income help demonstrate you can repay the loan.
- Credit score – Your business and personal credit scores will be checked.
- Collateral – Some lenders require assets like equipment or real estate to secure the loan.
Having solid financials and a high credit score will help you qualify for the best rates. Be prepared to provide tax returns, bank statements, profit/loss statements, and a balance sheet.
Where to Get a Consolidation Loan
There are several options business owners should consider:
- Banks – Large banks like Chase and Bank of America offer consolidation loans and lines of credit.
- Credit unions – Local credit unions often provide competitive loan rates.
- Online lenders – Companies like Kabbage and Fundbox specialize in quick business financing.
- SBA loans – The SBA doesn’t offer consolidation loans directly but guarantees loans made by lenders.
- 401(k) business financing – Allows you to borrow against your 401(k) and avoid taking on debt.
Shop around and compare interest rates and fees. Non-bank lenders often offer faster approvals but higher rates.
The Consolidation Process
Here are the basic steps to consolidate your business debts with a loan:
- Review debts – Make a list of all debts with balances and interest rates.
- Check credit – Obtain your business credit reports and scores from Experian, Equifax, etc.
- Choose lender – Research lenders and apply for prequalification and rates.
- Submit application – Provide required financial documentation and complete forms.
- Get approved – If approved, you will receive loan terms and closing documents.
- Close loan – Sign loan documents and receive the lump-sum payout.
- Pay off debts – Use payout funds to pay off and close your old accounts.
Be sure to read the fine print and ask questions upfront to avoid surprises. Closing costs and prepayment penalties can add to costs.
Pros and Cons to Weigh
While debt consolidation can be a smart financial move, it’s not right for every business. Consider the key pros and cons:Pros
- One monthly payment
- Lower interest rate possible
- Improve cash flow
- Pay off debt faster
- Rebuild credit
- Closing costs and fees
- Loan denial possible
- Higher payment if extend term
- Prepayment penalties
- Lower credit score initially
For some businesses, the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks. But for others, consolidation may be a poor fit. Crunching the numbers for your specific situation is key.
Debt Consolidation Alternatives
Other options beyond a consolidation loan may better meet your needs:
- Debt management plan – A DMP provides structured payments to creditors.
- Credit counseling – Non-profit agencies provide advice and education.
- Debt settlement – Negotiating reduced payoffs may save substantially.
- Bankruptcy – Allows liquidation or reorganization of debts under court protection.
- Selling assets – Selling unused equipment or vehicles can generate payoff funds.
- Business loans from friends/family – Borrowing from people close to you may provide flexible terms.
Depending on your circumstances, a combination of these strategies may be best. The key is tackling debts strategically, not randomly.
When Is Debt Consolidation a Bad Idea?
While debt consolidation often makes sense, it can sometimes worsen financial problems. Avoid consolidation if:
- Monthly payments would be unaffordable based on current cash flow.
- It would require significantly extending the repayment term.
- You can’t qualify for a lower interest rate than current debts.
- You plan to rack up more high-interest debt soon.
- Closing costs and fees would outweigh interest savings.
The point of consolidating debt is to improve your situation. If a consolidation loan won’t accomplish that goal, explore other options.