Applying for a merchant cash advance is relatively easy. But, before applying, it’s crucial to understand the application process, the cost of a cash advance, and what could stop you from qualifying.
Without knowing the application process in depth, you might apply and get rejected, leading to cash flow issues and an inability to invest in business growth.
To ensure you can access the funding you need when you need it, you’ll want to learn how to apply for an MCA.
This article outlines all the steps you should take when applying for an MCA. It also dives into the reasons why your application could be rejected and what you can do to increase your chances of qualifying.
If you’re ready to apply for a merchant cash advance, click here to start your application now!
Quick Refresher: What Is a Merchant Cash Advance?
Small business owners might call a merchant cash advance (MCA) a small business loan. But it’s a little different than your typical loan. An MCA is a business financing instrument based on the volume of your future credit card sales.
You can learn more about the ins and outs of merchant cash advances for your business here.
- Merchant cash advance providers give a business owner a lump sum.
- Owners repay this with a percentage of their card sales.
- You might pay back this percentage daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the repayment terms.
- Repayment terms depend on the factor rate, which is similar to an interest rate.
An MCA or business cash advance is an excellent funding option for companies that rely on credit card sales and need quick funding for business growth or cash emergencies. Since processing is relatively quick — sometimes on the same day — small business owners can use MCAs to meet pressing cash flow needs.
This type of business funding relies on credit card sales, so applying for a merchant cash advance depends on whether your small business accepts credit cards as a form of payment from customers. If you only accept cash, you might want to consider other business financing options, such as business loans or invoice factoring.
Why Apply for a Merchant Cash Advance?
There are several reasons why a small business owner might opt for an MCA, including:
- Resolving temporary cash flow issues: You can get a merchant cash advance in as little as 24 to 48 hours to supplement your cash flow. Essentially, it’s a type of same-day funding.
- Purchasing inventory on sale: If a piece of equipment or materials your business uses are on sale — but you can’t afford them with a business checking account — an MCA provides the cash you need to purchase it.
- Covering unexpected expenses: Small businesses are unpredictable, so a merchant account will help you get quick cash if you have an unexpected or unplanned expense.
- Paying back other debts: If you have outstanding small business loans or other types of small business financing, merchant cash advances can help you meet payment deadlines.
- Supplementing working capital: If you foresee having an extensive business order in the near future, merchant cash advances can help you increase your working capital so you can boost capacity and deliver the order.
- Getting funding with a low credit score: If your business credit score is low and you don't qualify for a business loan, merchant advance funding can help you get the cash you need.
But an MCA isn’t the best choice for everyone.
Look for alternative financing options if:
- You have a good credit profile and can qualify for a business loan with competitive rates.
- You do not accept credit card payments or most of your customers pay in cash.
- You expect future sales and credit card transactions to be low.
In these cases, it’s best to rely on other business financing options that are a better fit for your business.
How to Successfully Apply for a Merchant Cash Advance
Small businesses may find themselves strapped for cash at any point in time. Whether you have been a small business owner for a few months or a few years, external factors such as economic downturns or internal factors such as low working capital can make it impossible to continue without a cash boost.
That's where merchant cash advances come in.
The good news is that applying is straightforward and won’t require a lot of paperwork. A merchant cash advance application is easy to fill out, and you could get a better deal than if you were applying for longer-term funding options.
Let's look at the steps you should take to apply for merchant advance funding so you can increase your chances of qualifying.
Step #1: Choose Your Preferred Merchant Cash Advance Provider
There are many merchant cash advance companies on the market, each with its own fees and repayment terms.
When deciding which provider you want to apply with, find out about the cost of the MCA and the factor rate. This information can help you understand the percentage of your credit card transactions you’ll have to use to pay back the cash advance.
Step #2: Create an Account with a Processor
Most MCA providers have connections to the credit card processors they work with for repayments. Signing an agreement with a credit card processor is an absolute must if you want to apply for a merchant cash advance.
You can skip this step if you are already working with an approved credit card processor. Otherwise, create an account with a processor approved by your chosen cash advance provider so you can pay back your MCA through your card sales.
Step #3: Check Your Eligibility
Every merchant cash advance company has its own eligibility criteria. So, as a business owner, it’s up to you to check if you qualify for a merchant advance and compare the differences between providers.
A provider will look at the volume of your credit card receipts to determine the factor rate. A large volume of credit card payments will make it easier to qualify and get a better factor rate, but you might still be able to get a smaller lump sum with a low volume of credit card receipts.
Step #4: Understand Your Credit Score
If you apply for a business loan, your credit score will be a significant factor in determining whether you qualify or not. You don’t have to have excellent credit to qualify with merchant cash advance providers. However, it’s still essential to know what your score is.
Your merchant cash provider will look at your personal and business credit scores. You’ll be able to apply as long as you have a 550 or higher.
You can get your credit report from one of the business credit bureaus, such as Equifax or Experian. One thing to keep in mind: bad credit won’t necessarily stop you from qualifying for a cash advance, but it will impact your factor rate.
Step #5: Gather Your Supporting Documents
Once you complete the pre-application steps of choosing a provider and credit card processor, it’s time to fill out your online application. To complete an MCA application, you’ll need to have certain documents on hand.
Most merchant cash advance providers have an easy application form where you can fill in your personal and business information.
Next, you’ll submit these supporting documents:
- Personal and business bank statements for at least the last six months
- Business bank information
- Proof your business has been running for at least a few months
- Proof of your annual gross sales
- Proof of your agreement with a credit card processor
- Documents that showcase your business’s credit card payment volume
The merchant cash provider will use these documents to verify that you meet the eligibility criteria and have enough cash flow to repay the debt.
Step #6: Understand the Terms and Conditions
If you are applying for a merchant cash advance and your application is approved, you should analyze the terms and conditions before signing. Here are some of the elements you definitely need to understand:
- Payment frequency refers to how often you’ll have to pay back the advance with a percentage of your credit card transactions, such as daily or weekly, or monthly.
- Factor rate is the interest rate for an MCA. It shows how much money you will pay back at the end of your agreement.
- Fee penalties are the penalties you could incur if you miss a payment or default on your MCA.
- Time to funding shows the time it takes for the lump sum to get deposited into your business bank account.
For example, a factor rate of 1.50 requires you to pay 50% more than what you received, which could be a substantial financial burden to your business and eat away at your revenue. So if you borrow $100,000, you may have to pay back $150,000 by the end of your repayment period.
Consider these factors very carefully. Read the fine print with an expert and decide if you want to continue with your application.
If the factor rate is too high, consider requesting a smaller cash advance or trying a different funding option.
MCAs aren’t considered traditional loans so they’re not subject to strict banking regulations. As a result, they can come with conditions that you wouldn’t find in traditional loan products.
Selling too many of your future credit card receipts may resolve your short-term issues and grant additional cash flow, but in the long run, you could be risking your business assets and the existence of your business.
Step #7: Sign Your Agreement and Get MCA Funding
Once you have carefully analyzed the fine print and decide that the repayment terms of your MCA are agreeable, it's time to sign the documents.
After you sign and agree to the terms and conditions outlined by your MCA provider, your funds will be deposited. Then the repayment cycle begins.
How Quick Can You Expect a Response to Your Application?
Most merchant cash advance providers have quick approval or rejection times. You could find out if your application is approved on the same day you submit your application. This is especially true for many online MCA providers.
Application for Merchant Cash Advance: Reasons You Might Be Rejected
Generally, you won’t encounter many issues in getting approval for an MCA, but there are some factors that could lead to a negative outcome. Here are some of the most common reasons why your MCA might be rejected and what you can do about it.
Reason #1: You Have the Wrong Credit Card Processor
If you are already working with a processor that helps you with credit card sales, you have to check if they’re approved by the MCA provider you've chosen to apply with. Most MCA providers have a list of approved processors, and they will reject applicants that don't adhere to their requirements.
If you get rejected because of your credit card processor, change the company you work with to one that is acceptable and try reapplying.
Reason #2: The Volume of Your Transactions Is Insufficient
Your weekly or daily credit card sales might be too low to qualify for an MCA. If that is the case, the MCA provider will reject your application because they don't believe you can pay back your funding.
If this is the sole reason for your rejected application, try to implement a stricter credit card-only payment rule in your business. That way, you’ll be able to decrease the amount of cash-in-hand transactions and increase credit card volume.
Reason #3: Your Credit Score Is Too Low
Your credit score might be below 550. If it is, you won't qualify for a merchant cash advance.
There are a few immediate actions you can take to improve this score, but to create a significant boost, you’ll need time.
You can consolidate your debt to make it more manageable and commit to making on-time payments. When you do this, your score will increase over time, and you should see at least a slight improvement in a few months. In the meantime, you can ask friends and family for temporary help to supplement your cash flow.
Once your score is higher and you’ve done everything you need to qualify, you can fill out your application for a merchant cash advance!
A merchant cash advance is an excellent short-term funding option for businesses with a large volume of credit card payments. It can be helpful for purchasing new inventory, improving cash flow, supplementing working capital, and making other investments that will drive business growth.
If you want to simplify your search for MCAs and other business funding options, consider using a small business funding marketplace. That way, you can quickly compare options and get the information you need to make a smart decision.
AdvancePoint Capital helps businesses identify the best possible funding options depending on their profiles. Apply in minutes, view multiple financing options, and get funding in as little as 24 hours.