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In our business overdraft guide:















What is a business overdraft?

A business overdraft allows a business to borrow money by accessing funds greater than the amount available in a business trading account. Interest is only charged on the amount overdrawn.

A business overdraft is linked directly to your business account, giving business owners immediate access to funds.

This is what makes it different to a business line of credit, which is a similar credit facility but is not linked to a bank account.

A business overdraft is a popular form of business finance used in almost every industry, for managing working capital, purchasing inventory, and much more.

What you get with a business overdraft

  • Borrow from $2,000 to $1 million
  • Access funds any time via a business bank account
  • Interest only charged on amount withdrawn
  • Interest rates between 7.5% p.a. - 25.00% p.a.
  • Can be secured or unsecured
  • Applications assessed according to business turnover
  • Usually quicker than applying for a loan
  • Offered by banks and non-bank lenders
Business overdraft interest rates

3. Business overdraft interest rate

Data from lenders shown business overdraft interest rates can range from around 7.5% to 25% p.a.

That's quite a difference from highest to lowest. Particularly if you will have funds overdrawn on a regular basis, it’s important to look for the lowest interest rate possible (even though you’ll only be charged interest on funds withdrawn).

Your interest rate will be tailored to your business depending on factors like annual turnover and how long it’s been operating. Your personal credit rating may also be a factor.

According to the RBA, the average overdraft interest rate for a small business is 10.26% p.a.

4. Consider whether a secured or unsecured overdraft is best

You generally have the choice of a secured or unsecured business overdraft. A secured overdraft will be backed by an asset you or your business owns (usually residential or commercial property).

Interest rates and fees are usually lower on secured overdrafts. But if you need a quick approval, an unsecured overdraft is usually more straightforward to apply for.

5. Pick a suitable overdraft term

Terms on a business overdraft range from 3 months to 5 years, or some involve a ‘revolving’ line of credit with no set term. Even if you agree to a set term with a lender, they may be able to review the overdraft facility at any time.

Importantly if you only need help with cash flow for a short period of time or one-off project, avoid signing up for an overdraft with a long or open-ended term. You'll likely be charged overdraft fees long after the overdraft has served its purpose.

6. Pay attention to the repayment requirements

A traditional bank overdraft typically won't have set repayment requirements. You essentially repay it as and when funds are deposited into your account. This is obviously a very flexible option. It can also be very expensive as interest charges are added.

Some of the smaller specialist lenders we work with set a minimum principal repayment amount on business overdraft facilities. This means there will be a limit on how much interest you will pay over time on the amount overdrawn.

7. Choose your overdraft limit carefully

There are two ways you could arrive at a suitable overdraft limit for your business:

A) What the lender is willing to offer you as a maximum credit facility; and

B) The amount you actually need.

Some fees are charged as a percentage of your limit. In other cases, there are fee bands. A higher overdraft limit could move you into a higher fee band. Either way, a higher overdraft limit than your business needs will cost you more.

Business overdraft customers

Who does a business overdraft work best for?

If your business has a high turnover and needs fast access to funds on an irregular basis, an overdraft may be suitable as it offers quick and reliable access to funds.

In our experience working with Australian businesses, industries commonly using a business overdraft include retail, wholesale, manufacturing, professional services, food and beverage, technology and automotive.

A business overdraft is generally not as well suited to long-term capital investment, like purchasing an asset. In that scenario, equipment finance, a business car loan or chattel mortgage may be a better fit.

We find that businesses using a business overdraft need cash flow really fast.

That could be for paying invoices, paying staff, doing fit outs or just having some extra working capital.

With an overdraft, the funds are sitting there ready to go whenever you need them. At the click of a button, the funds are transferred straight to you.

Some businesses look at an overdraft as a bigger credit card or charge card but without the big fees. For example, some of our lenders don't have monthly account keeping fees. You only pay interest on what you borrow. If you pay it off early, there's generally no early payment fees.

how to use a business overdraft

How to use a business overdraft: case study

Let’s look at an example of how a business overdraft might be used.

  • A business is approved for an overdraft of $50,000
  • The business withdraws $20,000
  • The amount accruing interest is $20,000
  • The remaining overdraft amount is $30,000
  • The business then deposits $10,000 into the overdraft account
  • The amount being charged interest is now $10,000 and the available limits $40,000
  • The business is charged an annual fee for use of the overdraft (applies regardless of how much is withdrawn)

Am I eligible for a business overdraft?

To qualify for a business overdraft, you’ll need to pass the lender’s credit assessment criteria:

  • You are a sole trader, partnership, trust or company with a valid ABN
  • You are an Australian citizen or permanent resident with a residential address in Australia; and
  • Your business is registered for GST and has been operating for at least 12 months; and
  • You have a good credit history; and
  • You intend to use the overdraft for business purposes, and
  • Your business turnover level is high enough to service the overdraft repayments
how to apply for a business overdraft

How to apply for a business overdraft

You can apply for a business overdraft with most financial institutions that offer business banking. However, many borrowers prefer non-bank and specialist lenders due to the fast approval time and access to funds offered by these companies.

Most specialist non-bank lenders will also allow you to apply for a business overdraft online through a simple form.

If you are looking to borrow up to $150,000, some specialist lenders will only require business bank statements to grant approval. You could apply online and have the funds available the next day.

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Popular questions about business overdrafts

Usually not. Once you are approved for your business overdraft, you will be free to access the funds as and when they are required.

You'll still need to pay an annual facility fee for access to your overdraft, and remember that any amount used will incur interest charges until it is repaid.

Yes, you can apply without providing a deposit or any collateral as security. This is referred to as an unsecured business overdraft and a popular way to access funds quickly for a business. But much like unsecured business loans, the interest rate on an overdraft will likely be higher without security as there is more risk for the lender.

Interest rates on a business overdraft in Australia can vary widely, between around 7.5% and 25%. The average interest rate for a secured overdraft will be at the lower end of the range and, between 7.5% and 18.95%. For an unsecured business overdraft, rates are typically between 18.95% and 25%.

Yes. Provided you can demonstrate an ability to meet repayments on the new amount through increased business turnover, your lender should allow you to increase your overdraft limit.

Business Loan guides and resources

Learn more about your business finance options and how to get the funding you need to grow your business.

Written by

Shaun McGowan founder

Loans Expert

Shaun McGowan

Reviewed by

Sean Callery Editor


Sean Callery