A merchant cash advance is a term used to refer to a number of business financing options which are characterized by small regular payments over short periods of times – as opposed to the traditional bank loans which are associated with large monthly payments over longer periods. Originally, the term was used to refer to a lump sum payment – which is a single payment – to a business in exchange for a percentage of future credit and/or debit card sales.
A merchant cash advance isn’t technically considered to be a loan. The advance is based on credit card salesdeposited in a merchant account. Business owners can apply for an MCA and get the funds necessary in their account in relatively quick fashion, in some cases as fast as 24 hours. As opposed to banks and their traditional loans, MCA providers are not evaluating risk and weight credit criteria the same way. What they look at is the daily credit card receipts in order to figure out whether a business will be able to pay back the money in a timely manner.
The providers will look over receipts from the last 3 to 6 months and calculate the amount of money that a business owner would be eligible for. As a result of this process, the rates on an MCA could be higher, which is a fact that business owners have to take into considerations before applying for it, as an MCA might not suit their business needs. An advance can be as big as 250% of the business’s credit card transactions, or as little as 50%.
The application process for an MCA is straightforward, and certain business loans can be applied for entirely online. The application is completed, and then a few documents will have to get uploaded along – such as bank account statements or tax returns. The process is very quick and will be over in a few minutes.
The amount of money is paid back automatically by using a percentage of the daily credit card receipts – the percentage being referred to as the holdback. The holdback – also known as retrieval rate – can be from 5% to up to 20%, depending on the amount of money given to the business, the repayment period, and credit card sales. The money will have to be paid back in up to 18 months, but the amount of time can be as short as 90 days, depending on the MCA.
There are several benefits when it comes to a merchant cash advance, which makes it an appealing financing option. Among the big benefits is the aforementioned quick approval. Providers are able to take a decision about whether or not to approve an MCA within hours after it was applied for, and the funds will be delivered in a few days. This plays a big role if money is needed right away – for example if they are necessary to cover a business expense that was unexpected.
Another benefit of an MCA is the fact that perfect credit is not required. When it comes to taking business loans, having a strong personal and business credit score is a must, but for an MCA, providers tend to be more lenient. Providers will pay more attention to how consistent the credit card sales are and how long a business has been active, as opposed to how much debt a business is carrying or past payment history. On the flipside, most providers do not report the MCAs to the credit bureaus, which means that taking an MCA will not build credit.
When it comes to payments, MCA is more flexible, the payments being based on a flat percentage of the credit card sales. If the terms require a business owner to commit to a percentage of credit card receipts, the amount of money will vary depending on the amount of sales during that month. What this means is that the amount of money owners will have to give back is proportionate to the amount of money their business brings in that month.
This is in contrast to regular small business loans where the payment and the interest rates are fixed, which means that business owners will pay the same amount of money every month. This is important to take into consideration as it can be a double-edged sword. While it is helpful to know the amount of money needed for payments every month, if owners struggle to make ends meet and depend entirely on how the business is going, they might find it hard some months to make the payment.
Taking an MCA makes sense for businesses that need money right away, but otherwise it’s important to take into consideration whether they make financial sense or not. Compared to traditional loans, being eligible for an MCA is easier, which is why an MCA comes with a premium cost.