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SBA Express Loans: What They Are & How to Apply

SBA Express Loans: What They Are & How to Apply; An SBA Express loan provides faster application turnaround time than other SBA loans. But is an Express loan right for your business? Learn more from Lantern by SoFi.
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated May 4, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Sometimes an opportunity comes up or an emergency arises and your small business needs cash fast. That’s when the SBA Express Loan seems like an answer.If you’re looking for small business financing and have decent credit, loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) can provide great rates and terms. They can help you get access to the cash you need to grow your business.However, most SBA programs can take weeks or months to process your application and get you your money. When you’re in a hurry, you might want to consider the SBA Express loan. This program expedites the loan process and can approve you in as little as 36 hours.

What Is an SBA Express Loan? 

Part of the SBA 7(a) loan program, the SBA Express loan provides the same SBA-backed financing as other SBA loan programs like 504 and 7(a) loans, but faster. It’s ideal for businesses that can’t spend months waiting to access capital.

Loan Amounts

Borrowers can get up to $350,000 with the SBA Express loan program. Collateral is required for loans greater than $25,000.

Interest Rates

There’s not a set interest rate for the SBA Express loan. Instead, rates are set by the SBA-approved lenders. However, the rate for an SBA Express loan cannot exceed the SBA maximum, which is based on the prime rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rate, or an optional peg rate.Loan rates may be fixed or variable.Other factors go into determining the interest rate you’ll pay for your Express loan. If your credit is excellent, you may qualify for lower interest than if your credit score is low. Recommended: What Is the Typical Interest Rate on a Small Business Loan?


Repayment terms may also vary, depending on your qualifications, how much you borrow, and what you intend to use the funds for.SBA Express loans for real estate have repayment periods of 25 years.If the loan is for equipment, working capital, or inventory, the repayment period is 10 years. A line of credit through the Express loans program has a repayment period of up to seven years with maturity extensions permitted.Recommended: What Are Common Small Business Loan Terms?

Processing Time

The appeal of the SBA Express loan is its fast processing time. The SBA will review your application within 36 hours and give its decision. Note, however, that the lender you apply with may add more time to that processing period—up to 60 days. But still, these are among the fastest SBA loans you can apply for.

Approval and Turnaround Time

Once you’ve been approved for an SBA Express loan, you’ll need to review the loan agreement to understand how much interest you’ll be paying on the loan and how long you have to pay it back.After you sign the agreement, the lender will process it and send the funds to your account. Each lender is different in how quickly it will send those funds. Some can send them the same day, while others take a few days or even weeks.Recommended: Quick Approval Business Loans

Why Consider an SBA Loan?

When it comes to comparing conventional vs. SBA loans, SBA loans are often seen as preferable because they offer lower interest rates than many banks, credit unions, or online lenders can provide. Also, they tend to have the longest repayment periods, which means they require lower monthly payments over a longer period of time.Collateral requirements for an SBA loan may also be lower than banks require.

Other Options Than an SBA Loan

That being said, not everyone is eligible for an SBA loan. Typically, SBA-approved lenders want to see personal credit scores of 640 to 700+. If your credit isn’t in this range, you might be turned down for an SBA loan.If that’s the case, you may want to look instead to alternative online lenders who consider other factors beyond credit scores when considering applicants for small business loans. But know that if you have poor credit, you likely will only qualify for loans with high interest rates.You may also want to explore small business grants, which, unlike loans, do not have to be paid back.

SBA Express Loan Requirements and Eligibility

There are two hoops to jump through when it comes to SBA Express loan requirements.The first is with the SBA. To be eligible for any 7(a) loan (a category into which the Express loan falls), your business must: 
  • Be for profit
  • Do business in the US or its territories
  • Have a reasonable amount of owner equity to invest
  • Have used other financial resources like personal assets before applying for a loan
The lender you apply with may also have requirements, such as having a certain credit score or annual revenue.There are also certain businesses that are not eligible for any SBA loans. This list includes (but isn’t limited to) businesses involved in:
  • Illegal activities
  • Loan packaging
  • Gambling
  • Real estate investing
  • Speculative activities
  • Pyramid sales
If you’re not sure if your business is eligible, check the SBA’s list.

How Can Funds from an SBA Express Loan Be Used?

Just as with SBA 7(a) loans, funds from SBA Express loans can be used for business-related expenses.You can use the loan to purchase equipment, machinery, computers, office supplies, and/or inventory. You can purchase real estate or renovate an existing building. Or you can use the funds as working capital when business is slow.

SBA Express Loans vs. 7(a) Loans

While the SBA Express loan falls under the umbrella of the 7(a) loan program, there are some key differences to note.How long you have to pay back SBA loans depends on what you plan to use the loan for. If it’s for real estate, you could have a repayment period as long as 25 years, but if it’s for equipment, you might just have 10 years. This is the same for both the 7(a) loans and Express loans.

The Takeaway

If your credit and other qualifications mean you’re eligible for a low-interest SBA loan, but you don’t have time to wait up to 90 days for a 7(a) loan, an SBA Express loan could be a great solution to get you access to affordable capital quickly.Lantern by SoFi makes it easy to connect to top small business loans online. Use its fast online search to get a personalized small business option in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an SBA Express loan?
What are the pros and cons of an SBA Express loan?
What can I use an SBA Express loan for?
Photo credit: iStock/studiostockart

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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