If you’re a small business owner looking for alternate sources of funding to grow your business, you may have recently found you didn’t qualify for a traditional business loan. You may have heard about merchant cash advance (MCA) as a source of alternate funding and wondered whether it might be right for you and your business.
What is merchant cash advance?
A merchant cash advance is when a merchant (you) sells a portion of their business’ future credit card receivables to a financing company in exchange for an immediate lump-sum payment. The financing company will then take their portion in bites of 15-35 percent of your business’ daily credit card transactions. The specific percentage they take will be agreed upon up-front. Debit card transactions may also be included in the finance company’s portion if that was part of your agreement.
An MCA is a short-term solution to business funding. The term is usually three to 15 months. They don’t require collateral like a loan company does, but you do need to have a history of good sales. They’ll generally ask for six months of credit card processing statements and will want to see indications of brisk future sales.
Is a merchant cash advance a loan?
No, it is not a loan. You are selling them money over time in exchange for money now. They have money to invest and your company is a good investment. The finance company is buying from you a portion of your company’s credit card receivables. They are paying you for a percentage of your future income and will collect that percentage as it trickles in each business day.
What is the interest rate?
Technically, there isn’t any interest since an MCA isn’t a loan. The simplest way to look at it is as a service. Your agreement with the finance company will include you paying them more than you received, so it can seem like interest. The extra you pay is the fee the finance company charges for providing the lump-sum money to you. When they buy a portion of your future sales and pay you for it, they don’t get anything immediately. They are agreeing to take their earnings at a trickle in exchange for the fee.
For example, let’s sat your business needs $10,000 to expand. If you and the finance company agree on a factor of 1.4 percent, they’ll cut you a check for $10,000 within a few days and the total amount they collect over time will be $14,000.
How do they get their portion of daily sales?
There are three different ways they can do it, but the most common is known as split withholding. This is where the credit card processor handles the agreed-upon split between you and the finance company. The credit card processor receives your daily transactions like normal, then will give you your earnings minus the finance company’s percentage.
The second method is using lock box or trust bank account withholding, but this method is the least popular of the three. It involves all your credit card sales being deposited into a bank account the finance company has control over, and then your portion is sent to you via EFT, ACH or wire.
The last method is ACH withholding which means your credit card processor will report your daily earnings to the finance company and they will take their portion directly from your bank via ACH.
What are the advantages of merchant cash advance?
There are numerous advantages of getting a merchant cash advance. The biggest is that you have an alternative source of funding for your business. Your business can still move forward even if you don’t quite have the credit required for a traditional business loan.
The next biggest advantage is that since the financing company takes their portion as a percentage of your daily credit card income, your payment amount is relative to that day’s success. If you had a traditional business loan, you’d have a fixed monthly payment due no matter what your sales were. While the fee for a merchant cash advance is higher than what you’d pay for interest with a traditional business loan, the MCA can feel much more approachable in terms of payment.
Being denied a traditional business loan can be devastating, but there are other solutions. A merchant cash advance can be a flexible option to fuel your company’s continued growth. If you are concerned about being saddled with a fixed loan amount during a downturn or seasonal fluctuation, the sales-based payment of an MCA could provide you with some peace of mind.