Loans allow people and businesses to access large sums of money to make major purchases or investments.
Many different types of loans are available, each suited for different purposes with varied terms and conditions. Understanding the key distinctions between loan products is important for borrowers to choose the right financing option for their needs.
This article will provide an overview of the main types of loans available, their typical uses, interest rates, repayment timelines, and other factors that set them apart. Whether you need funding for a car, education, home, or business, being informed about loan options can help you make sound financial decisions.
By learning about the pros and cons of each, you’ll be better equipped to select the loan that aligns with your budget and goals.
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- Main UK Business Loan Types
- What type of business loan is right for you?
- What is the most common type of business loan?
Main UK Business Loan Types
Secured Business Loans
Secured business loans are a type of financing that allows businesses to borrow money against the value of assets, such as property, equipment, or inventory.
The assets serve as collateral, which means that the lender can seize and sell them if the borrower defaults on the loan.
By introducing this guarantee, the lender’s risk is substantially minimized, which usually translates to more favourable lending conditions for the borrower, such as lower interest rates and extended repayment periods.
Read our full article on secured business loans
|Higher borrowing limits||Risk of asset loss|
|Lower interest rates||Lengthy approval process|
|Flexible repayment terms||Limited accessibility|
Unsecured Business Loans
Unsecured business loans are characterized by their absence of collateral requirements.
These loan types inherently carry a higher degree of risk for the lender, given the lack of a tangible security like property or equipment.
Nevertheless, they offer a valuable source of lump sum financing for businesses, where the business’s creditworthiness primarily determines the loan’s approval.
In contrast to secured loans, interest rates for unsecured loans are generally higher due to the increased risk to the lender.
Read our full article on unsecured business loans
|No Collateral Required||Higher Interest Rates|
|Faster Approval Process||Lower Lending Limits|
|No Risk to Business Assets||Stringent Credit Requirements|
Working Capital Loans
Working capital loans are short-term funding instruments specifically designed to finance a business’s daily operational costs, such as payroll, rent, and debt payments.
They serve as a financial bridge to cover temporary cash flow gaps that a business might experience. The repayment of these loans is typically aligned with the receipt of expected revenues, resulting in a relatively quick repayment cycle.
|Flexible Usage||Short Repayment Periods|
|No Collateral Required||Higher Interest Rates|
|Quick Approval||Not for Large Investments|
Invoice financing is a financial tool where lenders provide funds to businesses using their outstanding customer invoices as collateral. The loan is then repaid as the business collects payment from its customers. This method can help businesses resolve short-term cash flow issues by effectively converting their accounts receivable into immediate cash.
|Improves Cash Flow||Fees and Interest|
|Leverages Existing Assets||Dependent on Customers|
|Enables Growth||Control of Invoices|
|No Need for Collateral||Not Suitable for All Businesses|
Asset-based finance offers businesses a way to secure funding by leveraging their existing assets. This financing model can be used to spread out payments for large equipment or vehicle purchases over a period, alleviating the pressure of large upfront costs. It also includes options for leasing assets or borrowing against the value of owned assets, providing flexibility based on a business’s unique needs and circumstances.
|Spreads out payments, preserving working capital||Overall cost of the asset may be higher due to interest and fees|
|Allows for borrowing against the value of owned assets||Risk of losing the asset if the loan is defaulted|
|Offers flexibility with options like leasing||May not provide full ownership of the asset until the end of the lease or loan term|
|Can be a good option for businesses with valuable tangible assets||Approval and terms depend on the quality and value of assets|
Business Credit Lines
A business line of credit is a flexible financing arrangement that provides businesses with access to a set amount of funds, from which they can draw as needed. The key advantage of this arrangement is that businesses only pay interest on the funds they actually utilize, not the total credit limit, offering a cost-effective solution for managing fluctuating cash flow needs.
|Offers flexible access to funds, providing financial agility||Variable interest rates can make cost planning challenging|
|Businesses pay interest only on funds drawn, not the entire credit limit||May include fees for maintenance, withdrawals, or underutilization|
|Allows for recurring borrowing without reapplying||Requires disciplined repayment and usage to avoid overextending credit|
|Can be an efficient way to manage cash flow||Creditworthiness and financial history will affect approval and terms|
Merchant Cash Advances
A merchant cash advance is a unique form of financing where businesses receive a lump sum of cash upfront, which is then repaid through a percentage of their future credit or debit card sales.
The approval and amount of advance largely depend on the business’s monthly card turnover, making it a suitable option for businesses with high card transaction volumes.
|Provides fast access to cash, aiding immediate funding needs||Typically more expensive with higher factor rates and fees|
|Repayment is aligned with sales volume, offering some cash flow protection||Constant deduction from sales could strain overall cash flow|
|Approval is based on business performance, not credit history||Might not be suitable for businesses with low card transaction volumes|
|No collateral is required||Dependence on future sales adds an element of uncertainty|
Government loans, such as the Start-Up Loans scheme, provide invaluable support to new businesses by offering both funding and mentoring. Apart from loans, governments also offer grants for businesses operating in specific industries or locations, or those engaging in certain activities, thereby providing a financial boost without the obligation of repayment.
|Offers funding and mentoring support to start-ups||Might have strict eligibility criteria|
|Grants do not require repayment||The application process can be complex and lengthy|
|Lower interest rates compared to traditional lenders||Grants are highly competitive and not guaranteed|
|Can be a viable option for those struggling to secure traditional financing||Might not cover all the funding needs of the business|
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms offer an innovative approach to business financing by connecting businesses seeking loans with investors willing to provide funds.
This model serves as an alternative to traditional bank financing, often providing more flexibility and accessibility for businesses.
|Provides an alternative to traditional bank financing||Interest rates can be high for riskier borrowers|
|Allows access to a diverse pool of investors||Loan availability is dependent on investor interest|
|May offer faster approval and funding processes||May have less regulatory protection compared to traditional banks|
|Can be a good option for businesses unable to secure traditional loans||P2P platforms usually charge a fee for their services|
Equipment loans offer businesses a structured way to finance essential equipment purchases, such as machinery, vehicles, or computers. In this setup, the equipment itself serves as collateral for the loan, reducing the lender’s risk. Loan terms can range from 2 to 10 years, often accompanied by competitive interest rates, making it a viable option for businesses to acquire needed equipment without tying up their working capital.
|Pros||Repossession risk if the loan defaults|
|Enables businesses to spread out equipment costs||The loan is tied to the equipment, which may become obsolete|
|The equipment serves as collateral, potentially lowering interest rates||Approval and terms are subject to the creditworthiness and financial health of the business|
|Can offer competitive interest rates and terms||Not suitable for equipment with a short lifespan|
|Preserves working capital by eliminating the need for large upfront payments||Approval and terms are subject to creditworthiness and financial health of the business|
Commercial Property Loans
Commercial property loans are long-term financing options designed for the purchase of commercial properties such as office buildings or retail spaces.
The property being acquired serves as collateral for the loan, securing the lender’s investment. The loan terms, including interest rates and loan amounts, are typically determined by factors like business revenue, credit score, and the down payment size.
|Allows businesses to acquire commercial property without full upfront payment||The property is at risk of repossession if the loan is defaulted|
|Potentially lower interest rates due to the collateral||Approval depends on the financial health and creditworthiness of the business|
|Can provide a fixed asset for the business and potential rental income||Commercial property value can fluctuate, potentially affecting the loan-to-value ratio|
|Interest payments may be tax-deductible||May require a large down payment and involve|
Crowdfunding loans offer an innovative way for businesses to raise capital by accumulating small investments from a large number of backers, typically through an online platform. Crowdfunding can be donation-based, where businesses offer some type of reward to backers, or it can follow an equity/debt financing model, where backers receive a share in the company or interest on their investment.
|Accesses a wide pool of potential investors||Success is not guaranteed and depends on campaign effectiveness|
|Allows businesses to raise capital without traditional lenders||Could require significant marketing efforts and costs|
|Offers a platform to validate and market a product or idea||Equity crowdfunding may dilute business ownership|
|No collateral or credit history checks are typically required||Failure to reach funding goals can affect reputation and future funding prospects|
Microloans are small, short-term loans offered by non-profit lenders with a focus on supporting underserved small business owners. These loans typically cap at £50,000 and often feature low or even zero interest rates. Compared to traditional bank loans, microloans can be easier to qualify for, providing an alternative funding route for businesses.
|Provides access to capital for underserved businesses||Loan amounts are relatively small|
|Low or no interest rates can make repayment easier||Often requires business training or planning as part of the application|
|Easier qualification compared to traditional loans||May require more personal interaction and reportin|
Personal Loans for Business Use
Personal loans for business use are loans taken out by the business owner personally and used to fund business expenses. While these loans require good personal credit, they avoid the need for stringent business credit requirements. However, loan amounts are typically limited based on the individual’s income and debts.
|Bypasses business credit requirements||Risk to personal credit score and assets|
|Flexibility in using funds for various business expenses||Typically lower loan amounts compared to business loans|
|May offer lower interest rates for borrowers with good credit||Interest is not tax-deductible as it would be with a business loan|
What type of business loan is right for you?
With so many loan products available, it’s important to weigh your options carefully and select one that aligns with your financial situation and goals. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding which type of loan is best for you:
Consider what you need the money for. Is it for a large purchase like a house or car? To pay for education? Or for everyday expenses? Loans like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans are designed for specific purposes.
Some loans have minimum and maximum limits that may or may not accommodate what you need to borrow. Personal loans and mortgages provide more flexibility for large amounts. Payday loans and credit builder loans are for small sums.
Interest Rates and Fees
The APR shows the full cost, including interest and fees. Compare rates between lenders and opt for the lowest available rate for which you qualify. Secured loans and mortgages tend to have lower rates.
Repayment Term Length
Longer terms of 10+ years mean smaller monthly payments but higher overall interest paid. Short terms are easier to pay off but have larger monthly payments. Match the term length to your budget.
Secured loans require an asset to secure the debt but have lower rates. Choose an unsecured personal loan if you don’t want to risk any collateral.
Each lender has a minimum credit score and debt-to-income requirements. Knowing what you qualify for can prevent wasted applications.
Consider options like deferment periods and early repayment. This can provide more flexibility in managing your finances. Student loans and sometimes mortgages offer the most flexibility.
Doing your research, assessing your budget, and understanding eligibility criteria will help guarantee you choose the right loan product for your unique needs.
What is the most common type of business loan?
For UK businesses, the most common type of loan is a term loan from a bank.
Key features of term loans:
- You can use them for a range of business purposes, including working capital, equipment, expansion, etc.
- Can be secured on business assets or unsecured
- Fixed monthly repayment schedule
- Typical amounts from £5,000 to £500,000
- Repayment terms ranging from 1 year to 7 years usually
- Interest rates from around 3% to 30% based on specific loan and business creditworthiness
Term loans are popular in the UK because they provide flexible lump sum financing that can be repaid over reasonable timeframes at competitive interest rates.
The application process is also relatively simple compared to more complex business finance products. Both new and established UK businesses often utilize term loans for investment and expenses.