When you need money to meet urgent and pressing business needs such buying inventory or settling the payroll, your options are often limited. At this point, going to the traditional lenders isn’t an option since they are not usually known for their rapid response. You can decide to take your chances by going the traditional way and wait for weeks before you get any response on your loan application, or you can get a merchant cash advance for your business.

What’s a Merchant Cash Advance?

A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) is probably the fastest and most revolutionary short-term financing for small and medium-sized business. An MCA allows businesses to sell their future sales income in exchange for instant access working capital. The merchant will deduct an agreed percentage of your credit card sales until the advanced amount is repaid in full.

Initially, merchant cash advance was designed to benefit companies and retailers who have huge volumes of credit card sales. In the last few years, MCAs have evolved to include debit card sales and even bank deposits.

The merchant cash advance has an interesting business model. The product isn’t considered as a loan since merchants are not loaning you any money. Instead, they are purchasing future sales, and in return, they give you access to immediate working capital for your business. Since MCAs are different from traditional bank loans, they are subject to different underwriting rules.

How does a merchant cash advance work?

Unlike the traditional bank loans, MCAs are relatively simple and straightforward. During the application process, the merchant will ask for various supporting documents such as driver’s license, bank statements, credit score, voided business check, and business’s tax returns. They will then review your company sales from the past three to six months to determine how much they can give and the repayment period.

The repayment for an MCA is usually calculated using a factor or a percentage that is multiplied against the advanced money. Merchants use different factors, and they can range from 1.1-1.5. For instance, if you get an MCA of $100,000 with a 1.1 factor, the payback is ($100,000×1.1) which gives you a total of $110,000.

Repayment for a merchant cash advance begins as soon as you receive the money. The payback time can range from three months to 18 months. Typically, longer paybacks attract higher factor rates. But besides the payback period, the merchant will also consider the risks involved when calculating the factor rate.

How do you repay an MCA?

Repayment options for a merchant cash advance vary depending on the type of sales you are financing. For instance, if your MCA is based on credit card sales, the repayment is done by splitting your daily credit card sales with the merchant. The merchant gets a set percentage of your daily (which can range from 3 percent to 15 percent) until the debt is cleared. On the other hand, if your MCA is based on general sales, the merchant gets repaid by deducting the agreed amount from your business bank account.

Is a merchant cash advance a good choice for your business?

MCAs are designed to offer short term financing solutions for businesses. If you have good credit, collateral, and time, you can consider going to a major bank to get a loan since they are usually cheaper. However, if you need to meet urgent business needs, you have no collateral, and you have a poor credit rating, a merchant cash advance can be an option worth considering.

There is no doubt that a merchant cash advance is more expensive than the standard bank loan. But what determines whether you should consider applying for the traditional bank loan or an MCA is how urgent you need the money to meet your business needs.

What makes MCAs appealing to most businesses?

MCAs have numerous features that make them attractive to many businesses. Unlike in the traditional bank loans, you don’t need a good credit rating to access a merchant cash advance. While a good credit score can help in negotiating for better terms, it isn’t considered as a requirement.

Another major benefit with MCAs is that you don’t need collateral to access the money. The money is given against the business’s future sales, and therefore you don’t need a personal guarantee. Also, you have access to high borrowing limits and flexible repayments.