What is an Unsecured Business Loan?
An unsecured business loan is a type of finance that allows a business to acquire funds from a lender quickly and without providing collateral. The increased risk to the lender from lack of security on an unsecured business loan is often reflected by shorter terms and higher interest rates compared to longer-term secured business loans.
In this guide to unsecured business loans, you’ll learn:
- How unsecured business loans work
- How to apply for an unsecured business loan
- The documentation you will need to apply
- The types of assets you can purchase with an unsecured business loan
- How to compare lenders, interest rates, and loan terms
How does an Unsecured Business Loan work?
An unsecured small business loan is supported only by the current cash flow of a business. The business enters into an agreement with a lender to borrow a fixed amount of funds, which the business will repay over a set period of time through regular instalments. Unlike a secured business loan, they do not require collateral from the borrower as security.
If you are approved for an unsecured business loan:
- A lender will provide you with access to funds.
- You will not have to provide collateral as security on the loan.
- You will have immediate ownership of anything purchased.
- You will make regular repayments to the lender for a fixed period of time.
Borrowers can access cash without risking their personal or business assets, while lenders will often charge higher interest rates that reflect increased risk. This makes unsecured business loans very popular with seasonal businesses, established businesses looking to fund growth, and businesses with a stable monthly cash flow needing to access funds quickly.
Typically, repayments will be daily or weekly - not monthly - to fit in better with your business cash flow.
How do I apply for an Unsecured Business Loan?
Many non-bank lenders will offer unsecured business loans online. Some banks will also offer unsecured business loans, including loans designed specifically for small businesses. Lenders will assess an application based on the monthly revenue of the business, its intended use for the loan, how the loan will benefit future business revenue, and more
Each lender will have different approval criteria for an unsecured business loan such as:
- Loan interest rates and terms
- Minimum and maximum loan amounts
- A personal guarantee by the director of the company
If you want to apply for an unsecured business loan, you’ll first want to compare lenders to get the best rate available.
Who can get an Unsecured Business Loan?
As there is no collateral on an unsecured business loan, they can be used by small businesses without any valuable assets to offer as security. They also allow faster access to cash than some other forms of finance, so are often used by established businesses who need to take advantage of their faster approval process over traditional business loans.
Qualifying for an unsecured business loan is relatively simple. Most lenders will be able to provide an unsecured business loan if you have:
- Been trading for at least 12 months; and
- Have an ABN (Australian Business Number); and
- Are registered for GST.
If you don’t meet the above criteria, you can still get an unsecured business loan if you.
- Are self-employed
- Are a sole trader
- Have been trading for between 6 - 12 months.
If the business is relatively new or you are self-employed, the director of the business may be asked to provide a personal guarantee on the loan.
What is the Unsecured Business Loan Application process?
There are two main types of applications for an unsecured business loan, which will depend on the amount you wish to borrow. If you are borrowing less than $100,000 the approval process will be fairly simple. If you wish to borrow more than $100,000, your lender will require additional documentation to assess your application.
If this is the case, you’ll need to provide additional documentation to the lender so they can better assess your application. Here are some tips to improve your chances of getting approved.
Here’s what you may need to provide to a lender when applying for an unsecured business loan
- If you are borrowing less than $100,000.
- Proof of identity
- An ABN and GST registration
- An acceptable credit rating - the lender will ask to conduct a credit check
- Business bank statements
- Trust Deed if the business is held in a trust
- Australian Tax Office (ATO) Portal access.
- If you are borrowing more than $100,000.
- All the documentation provided if borrowing less than $100,000; and
- Financial records (provided by your accountant)
- Profit and Loss Statements
- Balance Sheet
- Financial records (provided by your accountant)
Provided you can supply the appropriate documents to your lender, have a reasonable company turnover, and good credit history, you’ll likely be approved for your application.
How much can I borrow with an Unsecured Business Loan?
Depending on your risk profile and your capacity to service your repayments, you may be able to borrow between $5,000 and $500,000.
Unsecured Business Loan Minimum and Maximum Loan Amounts
|Product||Minimum Amount||Maximum Amount|
|Unsecured Business Loan||$5,000||$500,000|
What can I finance for my business with an Unsecured Business Loan
If you qualify for an unsecured business loan with a lender, you can use the finance for anything related to your business. Here are just some of the ways you could use an unsecured business loan:
- Assets and equipment
- Buy or upgrade your equipment
- Purchase extra stock in preparation for a busy period
- Upgrade technology to improve efficiency, upgrade payment options or enhance your customer service.
- Business continuity and security.
- Cover regular expenses such as tax, lease costs and insurance, where there is a timing issue between income and expenditure
- Provide a working capital fall-back in case of income fluctuations or unexpected costs
- Financial records (provided by your accountant)
- Staff training and business expansion.
- Hire new staff
- Train your staff in new techniques or best practices
- Business marketing.
- Develop and implement a new marketing strategy
- Establish an online presence to attract new customers
- Business or office fitouts.
- Rebrand your business
- Renovate or upgrade your premises
A chattel mortgage will often provide better interest rates for sole traders than other forms of vehicle finance, such as unsecured personal loans.
What is the term or length of an Unsecured Business Loan
Typically, an unsecured loan for business use will be offered for a term of 3 - 12 months, though some lenders will offer unsecured business loans with terms anywhere between one month and three years
Unsecured Business Loan Minimum and Maximum Terms
|Product||Minimum Term||Maximum Term|
|Unsecured Business Loan||1 month||36 months|
Make sure you are aware of all the costs associated with the loan – including any extra fees such as set-up costs, transaction charges and early repayment penalties.
What are the interest rates on an Unsecured Business Loan?
There are three main ways lenders will apply an interest rate to an unsecured business loan.
- APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
- Simple Interest Rate
- Factor Rate.
The type of interest applied will make a significant difference to the total amount you will repay. The actual rate applied to your loan will depend on many factors, including
- How much you want to borrow
- The term of the loan
- The profile of your business
- Declining revenue
- Bank statement conduct.
It’s important to make sure you understand how you are being charged for your business loan - an APR will allow you to easily compare lenders.
What is an Annual Percentage Rate for an Unsecured Business Loan
Annual percentage rate (APR) indicates what percentage of the loan you’ll pay each year, including all payments and fees relating to the loan over the year when calculating the figure. APR is ideal for borrowers as it gives them a set repayment figure including all fees and charges which they can use to compare with other lenders.
What is a Simple Interest Rate for an Unsecured Business Loan?
Simple interest rates are the quickest way of calculating the interest amount on a loan. Simple interest is determined by multiplying.
- The loan amount
- The interest rate
- The length of the loan.
However, a simple interest rate doesn’t take into account any fees applied to the loan, and therefore makes it less beneficial to borrowers as they cannot accurately compare lenders as they would with an APR
What is a Factor Rate for an Unsecured Business Loan
Lenders may also advertise a factor rate instead of an interest rate. Unlike an interest rate, which is calculated monthly on your reducing loan balance, a factor rate is a fixed amount which is calculated upfront on the full balance when you take out your loan
A factor rate is expressed as a multiple of the loan, rather than a percentage
The factor rate amount will be added to your loan principal and remain fixed for the loan term. This means that even if you make extra payments on the loan balance, the amount of interest you pay won’t change.
How can I get the best interest rate on an Unsecured Business Loan?
You may see unsecured business loans advertised with either of the three types of interest rates. Often, these can appear extremely low or beneficial to lenders, which is why it’s important to calculate the Actual APR on any loan offer to fully understand how much the total loan will cost your business.
In the table below, we’ll look at three loans of the same amount, with the same loan term and repayment frequency. The difference between the three is the advertised interest rate type. You can see below how the application of each interest type really impacts the actual APR and the total amount you are paying for your loan.
Compare Unsecured Business Loan Interest Rates
|Interest Type||Interest Rate||Loan Amount||Loan Term & Frequency||Fees 3%||Actual APR||Total Cost of Borrowing|
|Factor Rate||1.15||$50,000||9 months
($7,500 interest + $1,500 fees)
|Simple Interest||15%||$50,000||9 months
[$5,625 interest +$1,500 fees]
[$1,676.86 interest + $1,500 fees]
Unsecured business loans represent greater risk to the lender than a secured loan, which is why interest rates on an unsecured loan are much higher.
Unsecured Business Loans Summary
Unsecured business loans in Australia offer fast access to cash without requiring the borrower to put down an asset as security.
In summary, an unsecured business loan:
- Gives a borrower access to cash.
- Does not require security or collateral.
- Will often have higher interest rates and fees.
- May be advertised with different types of interest.
- May require a personal guarantee from the business director.
Unsecured Business Loan Pros and Cons
Unsecured Business Loans FAQ
What is collateral on an unsecured business loan?
Unsecured business loans do not require collateral, which is why they are referred to as ‘unsecured’. A secured business loan uses collateral - an asset or something of value owned by the business - as security on the loan. Generally, if a borrower fails to meet their loan repayments, the lender will sell the collateral to recover any missing funds.
Collateral used as security on a loan could include:
- Your home
- Your vehicle
- Your personal savings
- Business inventory.
Will I need to put down a deposit for an unsecured business loan?
No, but this will vary from lender to lender. A deposit is essentially a type of up-front collateral, and while a deposit won’t often be required by a lender for an unsecured business loan, it can help reduce your monthly repayments and potentially assist in getting a better interest rate.
Can I get an unsecured business loan if I have bad credit?
Yes, you can get an unsecured business loan if you have bad credit. There are specialist lenders who can provide an unsecured business loan, but generally speaking, a lender will be looking to assess the strength of your business, not you personally.
What is the typical interest rate I can expect to pay on an unsecured business loan?
Interest rates will typically be higher for an unsecured business loan than other forms of business finance. The actual rate applied to your unsecured business loan will depend on the strength of your current business cash flow and ability to repay the loan.
What type of fees can I expect to pay on an unsecured business loan?
Fees will be higher on an unsecured business loan than on a secured loan, as unsecured business finance is a higher risk for the lender. Each lender will have different rates and fees, which is why it’s important to calculate the APR on an unsecured business loan offer to see how much you will actually pay.
Can I repay my unsecured business loan early?
Yes. Most lenders in Australia will allow you to repay an unsecured business loan early. However, it’s important to check with the specific lender to ensure there aren’t any early repayment charges or penalties if you choose to do so.
What is a personal guarantee on an Unsecured Business Loan?
Even if you meet individual lender criteria, many lenders may ask you to provide a personal guarantee for an unsecured business loan.
A personal guarantee is a legal commitment by a person or group to cover any outstanding loan amounts should the borrower default and fail to meet their payments. Personal guarantees are unsecured, which means they aren’t tied to specific assets you own, but are simply tied to your legal obligation to repay an agreed amount.
There are several types of personal guarantees:
- An unlimited personal guarantee is a promise to cover the entire loan cost should the business be unable to pay the loan. This is the riskiest option for borrowers and the least risky for lenders.
- A limited personal guarantee involves the lender setting a figure of how much you’d owe in the event of a default or business failure.
- A several guarantee is similar to a limited personal guarantee, where a number of business owners offer personal guarantees for a fixed percentage of the loan amount.
- A joint and several guarantee involves each guarantor responsible for paying off the full amount of the loan should the others be financially incapable
Unsecured Business Loan Personal Guarantee Risk Comparison
|Type of Guarantee||Guarantors||Risk to Borrower||Loan Amount Guaranteed|
|Unlimited personal guarantee||One||Highest||Full|
|Limited personal guarantee||One||High||Set amount by lender||Several guarantee||Two or more||Lowest||Fixed percentage|
|Joint and several guarantee||Two or more||Low||Potentially Full Amount|
If your business cannot provide any assets as collateral, it may mean that your personal assets, such as your home, are at risk if your business defaults on its obligations.