Business Acquisition Loans: Overview and Top Options

A business acquisition loan is designed specifically to finance the purchase of an existing business or franchise. These small-business loans are available from banks, credit unions and online lenders.

The best business acquisition loan will be the most affordable option you can qualify for to meet your needs.

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

What is a business acquisition loan?

A business acquisition loan is used to purchase a business, which may include buying an existing business, becoming a franchise owner, buying out a business partner or purchasing the business assets of another company. Your lender determines how the funds from a business acquisition loan can be used.

Banks, credit unions, online lenders and community lenders may offer business acquisition loans, including Small Business Administration loans. For example, you can use an SBA 7(a) loan to buy a business or increase ownership share in your existing business.

How do business acquisition loans work?

Business acquisition loans are typically structured as term loans, in which you repay the borrowed funds, with interest, over a set period of time. You may, however, be able to use a business line of credit during a business acquisition as well.

Loan amounts, interest rates and repayment terms vary by lender.

Where to get a business acquisition loan

You can get a business acquisition loan from several different sources, including:

Banks and credit unions

Banks and credit unions can offer business acquisition loans with low interest rates and long terms. These loans are a good option for borrowers with strong qualifications who don’t need cash fast.

To qualify for a business bank loan, you’ll typically need good personal credit, multiple years in business and excellent finances. Not all banks or credit unions require physical collateral, but offering this type of security may help you access larger loan amounts and lower interest rates.

Bank and credit union business acquisition loans, however, can be slow to fund and often require lengthy application processes.

SBA lenders

SBA loans are issued by participating lenders, usually banks and credit unions, and are partially guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. These loans have flexible terms and low interest rates and can be used for various types of business acquisitions. Like traditional bank loans, however, SBA loans have strict requirements and can be slow to fund.

To qualify for an SBA loan, you’ll typically need strong annual revenue, at least two years in business and a personal credit score of 690 or higher — although some SBA lenders may have lower credit score requirements.

You’ll also likely need to provide a down payment of at least 10% of the total loan amount when using an SBA loan for a business acquisition. In some cases, you may need to provide additional collateral.

Standard SBA 7(a) loans can take 30 days to a few months to fund. As an alternative, SBA Express loans offer a faster funding time, but they also have smaller loan amounts and slightly higher interest rates.

Online lenders

If you need funding faster — or don’t qualify for an SBA or bank loan — you might consider a business acquisition loan from an online lender. Online lenders such as Funding Circle offer acquisition loans in amounts up to $500,000 and terms up to seven years.

Online lenders generally have less strict requirements compared with banks and credit unions. You may be able to qualify for a business loan with fair credit (a FICO score of 630 to 689), and you may not be required to provide physical collateral. Online lenders may also be more likely to work with startups, especially if they have strong finances.

Plus, while bank and SBA loans may take weeks to fund, online business loans can often be funded in a few days. As a trade-off for easier approvals and speed, online lenders often charge higher annual percentage rates (APRs) than traditional lenders.

Best business acquisition loan options

Product Max loan amount Min. credit score Learn more

SBA 7(a) loan

$5,000,000 650
OnDeck - Online term loan

OnDeck – Online term loan

$250,000 625
Funding Circle - Online term loan

Funding Circle – Online term loan

$500,000 660
National Funding - Online Term Loan

National Funding – Online Term Loan

$500,000 600
Triton Capital - Equipment financing

Triton Capital – Equipment financing

$250,000 575

Pros and cons of business acquisition loans


Helps cover upfront costs. Instead of relying on existing capital reserves or personal savings, a business acquisition loan can help cover some of the costs associated with purchasing another company.

May have flexible collateral requirements. SBA 7(a) loans under $50,000, for example, don’t require collateral.

Fast financing is an option. Online lenders can offer access to funds within a few days.


Can be hard to qualify. Because you’re looking for a loan to purchase another company, lenders want to see good credit and finances to show that you’re reliable, experienced and have the ability to repay your debts.

May impact cash flow. A loan can cover the costs of an acquisition, but you’ll need to make regular repayments, which include interest. High interest rates, in particular, can affect your cash flow and monthly budget.

Can require down payment. You may need a down payment of 10% to 30% of the loan amount, depending on the lender and your qualifications.

How to get a business acquisition loan

Follow these steps to get a business acquisition loan:

1. Determine the value of the business you want to buy

Lenders typically rely on a business valuation — an evaluation of the economic value of the company you’re looking to buy — among other factors, when determining the loan amount to offer. As a result, you’ll want to get an official valuation before you start the application process.

These valuations are often done by independent third parties who use business assets, future earnings and current market value among other factors to get a fair assessment of what the business is worth.

2. Get a letter of intent

A signed letter of intent spells out the terms of the sale of the business, such as the purchase price, what assets are included in the sale and any liabilities the new owner will take on. Like a business valuation, lenders will often ask you to provide a letter of intent as part of your loan application.

If you’re concerned about making an offer before you have a loan, a clause can be included in the letter that states your offer is contingent on you getting financing.

3. Evaluate your qualifications

In addition to the financials of the business you’re purchasing, lenders will underwrite your application based on factors such as:

  • Personal credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for a loan — and one with the most competitive rates and terms.

  • Annual revenue. Strong existing finances help show lenders that you have the ability to repay your loan.

  • Time in business. Your time in business is a measure of success and security for lenders. If you have multiple years in business, lenders are more likely to believe that you have the experience to manage the company you’re purchasing — and therefore, will be able to repay the funds you borrow.

  • Down payment. Although not all lenders require a down payment, providing one can help you access better rates and terms. 

  • Collateral. You may be able to use your existing business assets — or assets from the company you’re buying — to secure your financing. Physical collateral helps mitigate a lender’s risk, as they can seize the assets if you can’t repay.

4. Compare lenders

You’ll want to research and compare several lenders to find the best option for your needs. You should compare factors such as business loan rates, fees, repayment terms, application process and customer support.

It may be helpful to read lender reviews to get a better sense of their reputation. Look for lenders with good reviews who are fairly transparent about their rates, fees and terms.

5. Gather your application documents

Once you have decided on a lender, you’ll need to provide specific documentation based on their requirements. The speed with which you can gather this information can affect the overall timing of the application process.

  • Franchise agreement, if applicable.

  • Business financial statements.

Keep in mind that the lender will likely ask for your financial documentation (bank statements, tax returns, financial statements) in addition to those from the business you’re purchasing.

6. Apply and review loan agreement

Depending on the type of lender, you will submit your application online, over the phone or in person. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll receive a business loan agreement. You should review this agreement carefully and make sure you understand the repayment terms, rates and fees.

After signing the agreement, the lender will disburse your funds. The lender may send funds directly to the seller, or in a lump sum to you, depending on its specific process.

Alternative business acquisition financing options

If you’re looking to buy a business, you may have funding options outside of traditional term loans. Here are a few to consider.

Frequently asked questions

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