If you're a small business owner in need of extra funds, you may be interested in a merchant cash advance.

You probably have a few questions, like: how does a merchant cash advance work? And, can I qualify for a merchant cash advance with bad credit?

A merchant cash advance may be the ideal solution to your small business cash flow needs, but it's not always the most appropriate option. Let's explore how merchant cash advance loans work so you can decide if it's right for your small business.

What is a Merchant Cash Advance?

Let's start by answering the most basic question: what is a merchant cash advance?

A merchant cash advance (MCA) is when a financing company provides money upfront in exchange for a portion of the business's future sales. It's not a loan, it's a cash advance, which has its own benefits and caveats attached.

Business owners use merchant cash advances in industries where credit and debit card sales are the primary forms of transactions. Restaurants, retail shops, repair shops, and so forth easily fall into this category.

For an MCA, the provider will typically look at daily credit card sales receipts for the business. Based on the number of sales, the provider will determine how much cash they can provide. The receipts also help providers calculate how quickly a business will pay back the advance.

A percentage of every credit or debit card sale is directly transferred to the provider to pay back the advance. So, for a cash-short business, MCAs provide fast money that's only due as the business accumulates sales. For many business owners, that's an ideal trade.

How Does it Help Your Business?

Now that we know what a merchant cash advance is, let's look at a few ways it can help your business.

Quick Money

As mentioned, an MCA provides money quickly, sometimes in as little as a few hours. For a small business owner, that can be a huge benefit.

Maybe there's a short term opportunity you want to take advantage of, or perhaps you need a little help getting through a slow period. Either way, a merchant cash advance may be a good idea.

Repayment as a Percentage of Sales

Another plus to merchant cash advances is the repayment method. Since a business pays back MCAs using a fixed percentage of sales, repayment automatically adjusts based on how your business is doing.

If there aren't any sales on a given day, you don't pay anything to the MCA provider. Alternatively, if your sales are high, you end up repaying the advance that much faster.

Forgo Traditional Loan Requirements

Merchant cash advances also forgo typical loan requirements. Because you're not working with a bank, you don't have to provide collateral. And you don't have to have good credit.

That said, you may need to provide a personal guarantee. That's a signed document which makes you accountable should you fail to pay back the MCA.

What Type of Business Can Benefit?

Like we said, any business that relies on credit or debit card sales can use a merchant cash advance. Restaurants, auto repair shops, contractors, retail shops, and many other small businesses can benefit from them.

In general, if a small business needs cash to take advantage of an opportunity or issue, an MCA is a good option. Maybe inventory is available at a discounted rate, and you want to purchase it in bulk. Or, maybe your store's heating system went down, and you need to repair it fast.

A merchant cash advance for startups is a possibility as well. If a startup business cannot secure traditional financing, sometimes a merchant cash advance is an option.

Typically MCA providers want to see that your business has been successful for at least three months, which disqualifies many new businesses.

If you own a business and have bad credit, a merchant cash advance might be your best bet for quick cash flow solutions because a good credit score isn't required.

The provider may still pull your credit score during the application process. However, unlike traditional financing options, a poor score will not negate your chance of receiving a merchant cash advance.

Can I Qualify?

If your business relies heavily on credit and debit card sales, you likely qualify for a merchant cash advance. That's true even if you have poor credit or wouldn't qualify for a traditional loan.

You'll need to fill out a quick application that asks for basic information like how many years you've been in business. The provider will also ask for annual or monthly sales numbers.

At ROK Financial, there's no minimum FICO credit score required for a merchant cash advance. As long as you've been in business for at least three months with $15k in monthly sales, you'll likely qualify for a top-financing option.

Knowing Your Options

Merchant cash advances are a great way to fix cash flow issues, but they're not your only course of action. Other financing options may be a better fit given your situation.

  • Small Business Loans are available to any business that needs to stabilize its operations. They come from banks as well as other lending companies and have traditional terms. Your sales don't need to come from credit or debit cards.
  • Startup Funding works well if you're starting a business from scratch. Good credit is required, but you don't need to show time in business or monthly sales records.
  • Business Lines of Credit exist so that businesses can scale-up as they grow. The lender won't provide funds as a lump sum but instead makes them available as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

At this point, you may have a few questions about the ins and outs of merchant cash advances. Let's see if we can answer them.

What Happens if I Default on an MCA?

When someone gives you a cash advance, it's always best practice to pay it back. Given that MCA's are paid back automatically as sales come in, this shouldn't be a problem.

But, of course, sometimes it is an issue and what happens next depends on various factors. If your business closes, you're not responsible for paying back the MCA. However, should you ever reopen the business, you retain responsibility for paying back the advance.

More so, if there's any indication of fraud, the MCA provider can pursue legal channels to recoup their investment.

Will a Merchant Cash Advance Hurt My Credit Score?

Taking out a merchant cash advance has no direct impact on credit scores. Securing one does not hurt your credit score, and paying it off does not help your credit, either.

Do You Pay Interest on a Merchant Cash Advance?

It's technically not interest; it's a factor rate or fee. With an MCA, traditional lending terms don't apply, but the concept is similar.

Factor fees usually vary but will be based on the provider's evaluation of your business.

Merchant cash advance business loans are one way to secure fast cash for your business, even if you have bad credit. Talk to a ROK Financial advisor today and learn if it's the right option for your business in a matter of minutes.

About the Author, Madison Taylor

Madison Taylor is the Brand Ambassador at ROK Financial. She is responsible for raising brand awareness and business relationships with business owners across the country. Madison loves that she plays a small role in getting Business Back To Business Through Simple Business Financing and looks forward to hearing what you think about the blogs she creates! Madison has been working in the financial space for six years, and loves it! When she is not at work, you will find her at home learning a new recipe to test out on her family or going on new adventures with her friends.