What’s Best? Merchant Cash Advance vs Small Business Term Loan vs Line of Credit?

What's Best Merchant Cash Advance vs Small Business Term Loan vs Line of Credit

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners seek ways to fund their operations. You know that traditional bank loans, or an SBA loan, can take time, so you must consider the best small business loan; a merchant cash advance, a small business term loan, or a business line of credit.

Instead of going to a big bank, why not try a merchant cash advance, a small business term loan, or even a line of credit? All these options have pros and cons, leaving many needing clarification about the best option.

In this article, I will dive into each financing option and explain the advantages and disadvantages so you can decide which is best for your business. 

What’s Best? Merchant Cash Advance vs Small Business Term Loan vs Line of Credit

  • Finding the right funding option for a small business can be daunting. Different types of financing have other eligibility requirements, repayment terms, and rates. Small business owners must understand all the available financing options to choose the best option. 
  • This blog post will compare three of the most popular financing options for small businesses: merchant cash advances, small business term loans, and lines of credit. We will examine each funding option, discuss their unique benefits, and break down their fundamental differences. Ultimately, we’ll help you decide which financing option is best for your small business.

Merchant cash advance overview

  • A Merchant Cash Advance (Business Cash Advance) is a type of business funding that can provide quick access to cash to businesses with a steady flow of income to cover cash flow gaps.
  • Unlike traditional business loans, an MCA is not a loan. Instead, you are selling a portion of your future sales for a lump sum of cash. The lender pays you the advance and then takes a percentage of your future business revenue until you pay back the advance. The payment can be daily or weekly.

    Merchant Cash Advance Pros and Cons

    • Advantages include the quick turnaround time for funding and the fact that you can use it for almost any purpose. Disadvantages include potentially higher fees or high annual percentage rates (APR), which may only be available to some businesses, the potential for cash flow problems if the company can’t keep up with payments, and risks of falling into a debt trap. 

Small business term loan overview

  • A small business term loan by a bank or other financial institution provides a business with a lump sum of money. It requires the company to pay back the entirety of the loan over a fixed period, with interest.
  • The loan amount and repayment period are determined by the lender and based on various criteria, including the business’s credit history, ability to repay, and the value of the collateral offered.

    Small Business Term Loan Pros and Cons

    • Advantages include borrowing more significant amounts of money, fixed repayment terms, and potentially lower interest rates. Disadvantages include more stringent qualifying requirements, not all businesses being eligible, high processing fees, the need for collateral, and a tedious application process.

Business line of credit overview

  • A line of credit is a loan extended to a business by a lender with a predetermined amount available for business needs. A revolving credit account allows you to draw funds from the account when needed. Lines of credit are usually for short-term borrowing for expenses such as inventory purchases, equipment and repairs, and other business needs.
  • This type of loan can be either a secured line of credit that requires you to have some collateral against the loan or an unsecured line of credit, which does not require any assets as collateral. 

    Line of Credit Pros and Cons

    • Advantages include flexibility and the ability to access funds quickly. Disadvantages include Interest rates that are usually higher than a traditional loan. Also, you must have good personal and business credit and a track record of generating revenue. 

All in all, what’s the best business financing option?

  • When financing a small business, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the specific needs of the company and the available capital, entrepreneurs must weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision. Merchant cash advances, small business term loans, and lines of credit are all viable options.
  • Generally, a small business term loan is the best option if you meet the eligibility requirements. If you want to start fast, a line of credit might be the way. A merchant cash advance is revenue based financing and should be your last resort if your business has bad credit. 

How do I choose which option is right for me?

  • The first step in choosing the right financing option for your small business is understanding what kind of business you run. Are you looking for short-term funding to get through a temporary cash crunch, or do you want long-term funding to grow?
  • When comparing the options available to you as a small business owner, narrowing down the best choice can be overwhelming. To ensure you’re making a well-informed decision, here are five key questions to ask when weighing the pros and cons of a business cash advance, small business term loan, or line of credit.

1. What is the total cost of the loan, and what fees are associated with it?

2. What is the repayment plan?

3. What are the interest rates?

4. What are the pre-payment penalties?

5. Is the loan secured or unsecured?

  • By asking yourself these questions, you can ensure that you make the best financial decision for your business and future.



Is cash advance and credit line the same?

There can be a lot of confusion around the terminology and different options when dealing with merchant financing solutions. The most common questions are ‘Is cash advance and credit line the same?’ and ‘What is the difference between a small business term loan, merchant cash advance, and line of credit?’

A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) is a lump sum payment given to a business in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future sales. This credit solution is most suitable for companies with fluctuating incomes or processing large credit card payments.

On the other hand, small business term loans provide businesses with money upfront and require repayment over set periods at fixed interest rates. A Line of Credit (LOC) facilitates quick access to working capital as needed by providing a revolving line of approved funds available after paying them back.

The critical difference between these three financing options is how quickly you need access to the funds, the dollar amount required, the time available for repayment, and the terms offered. Ultimately, it depends on your organization’s specific financial needs to determine which option might be best suited for you.

Why would a business choose to use a line of credit rather than obtain a loan and receive all of the money at that time?

When it comes to funding small businesses, the options for financing can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some of the top FAQs that might arise when deciding between a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA), a Small Business Term Loan, and a Line of Credit.

What are the pros and cons of each? An MCA is best for short-term cash flow needs as it does not require collateral or personal guarantees. A Small Business Term Loan offers more money upfront than an MCA but requires a repayment schedule commitment and longer terms than an MCA. 

Finally, a Line of Credit allows you to draw on funds as needed over time at higher rates, so it’s good to have when you need flexibility.

Why would a business choose a line of credit rather than obtain a loan and receive all of the money at that time? This decision mainly depends on the company and its current needs, but lines of credit offer more flexibility with repayments while providing quick access to much-needed capital. 

This flexibility can also be beneficial if businesses need additional funds during specific periods, such as dips in cash flow or increased demand due to seasonal sales.

Does a business line of credit affect credit score?

Potential borrowers often have many questions when deciding between a Merchant Cash Advance, Small Business Term Loan, and Line of Credit. 

One common FAQ is “Does a business line of credit affect credit score?”

The answer to this question is it depends. A business line of credit can be reported to the major credit bureaus, meaning your payment activity and balance can affect your credit score. 

As such, you must pay on time and manage your debt responsibly when borrowing a business line of credit not to harm your credit rating. Don’t hesitate to contact your lender for details on whether they report to the credit bureaus. 

Additionally, it would be best to consider other factors, such as the interest rate, repayment period, and loan limits, before choosing between these options. Doing thorough research into what each option offers is vital in ensuring you reap the most financially beneficial result for your business.

Do cash advances hurt your credit?

When considering financing options for your business, you may have many questions. One potential question is Merchant Cash Advance (MCA), and how will it impact your credit score?

The answer is that it can depend. An MCA does not typically impact your credit score as it does not usually involve reports to the major credit bureaus. Still, it is a high-cost financing option and should be a consideration. Because MCAs are generally short-term loans with higher interest rates, they can quickly become expensive if you can’t pay in time. 

As such, it’s essential to consider a more traditional loan if you can secure one. These FAQs can help you decide which option best fits you and your business. 

Can you have two merchant cash advances?

The short answer is no; most merchant cash advance companies only offer one at a time. With an MCA, funds are upfront in exchange for repayment taken directly from customer payments.

Will more than one lender offer you a merchant cash advance?

Yes, more than one lender may offer you an MCA. As with any financing option, comparing lenders and their terms is essential before deciding on the best choice for your business. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the amount of money you need and how quickly you can repay the loan to maximize your return on investment. Research potential lenders thoroughly and weigh your options carefully to secure the best deal for your business. 

Understand that having two merchant cash advances simultaneously is considered stacking.

FAQs about stacking include: Is it a sound financial decision?

What are the pros and cons? Can I use the proceeds any way I want? How do lenders view this type of investment? What factors do I take into consideration before attempting this strategy?

To shed more light on these essential issues, it helps to understand that stacking multiple forms of financing allows you to have flexibility with how you use each product and potentially save money by utilizing them in combination. It also carries risks from higher overall debt amounts and potential fees from taking out multiple products simultaneously.

For this reason, business owners need to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision that could impact their business in both near and long-term terms. Most alternative or online lenders discourage or forbid additional loans after your small business financing.


Mark J. Kane is a successful entrepreneur spending the last 16 years lending money to business owners. Beginning his career as a psychologist, at the age of 23 he became the youngest Hospital Admin running a 100+ bed facility. He built two businesses to over 500 employees and a business from scratch to over $18M in revenue in 18 months before selling. This experience led him to begin Sunwise Capital.

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