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How To Get Commercial Payment OptionsTruck Financing

How To Get Commercial Truck Financing Everything You Need To Know It can be hard to make the transition from behind the wheel to behind the desk. Starting your own trucking business without a lot of money in the bank feels impossible, but it’s not. It doesn’t matter if you want to start a fleet, become an owner-operator with a single truck or have terrible credit — there are business financing options for you. And there are plenty of reasons why now happens to be the right time to start a trucking business.

Commercial trucking is a backbone of the American economy. As a vital link between businesses and consumers, even small businesses often have the need for one or more commercial trucks, which range in size from light delivery vans to 53-foot semi-trucks. But there’s also a major driver shortage right now - the industry is in need of an estimated 60,000 drivers, according to a report by the American Trucking Associations, so there’s room for new or expanding businesses like yours to succeed.

If you don’t have the cash on hand to buy your own vehicles outright — or sometimes, even if you do — the commercial truck financing market is there to assist you with both loan and lease options. Although commercial truck financing generally functions somewhat similarly to personal vehicle financing, there are some very important differences. Here’s a look at all of the ins-and-outs of commercial truck financing, from what you’ll need to qualify to what some of your financing options might be depending on your personal financial circumstances.

$0 Down

How to Get Truck Financing With No Money Down

If you don’t have thousands of dollars saved in the bank but still want to get your trucking business off the ground, look for no money down financing options.

When you buy a personal car, you typically have two options: lease or buy. Commercial truck financing is similar, but different terms are used: operating or capital leases. In particular, you might consider looking into an operating lease. There are typically $0 down options for both loans and leases but getting approved will depend on if you meet certain qualifications.

How Does It Work?

A no money down lease or loan is exactly what it sounds like. You lease or finance one or more trucks without having to put money down up front, which is appealing to those who don’t have a sizeable amount of money saved. A no money down loan functions just like a loan in which you do put money down, but because you’re putting no money down, you’ll ultimately pay more in interest since you are financing 100 percent of the truck’s value rather than a fraction.

Another option is an operating lease, which is more like a car lease than a purchase financing option. With an operating lease, your company never takes actual ownership of the asset. An operating lease is more like a rental contract, in which the title rests with the leasing company until the end of the term, when you return the truck. Operating lease terms for semi-trucks are for less than 75 percent of the value of the vehicle, according to Smart-Trucking.

What Are the Rates?

Commercial truck financing rates can vary dramatically, but generally, rates are between 5% to 30%. The rate and terms one person gets on a commercial truck loan or lease can be entirely different from the rate another person gets. Since financing is a competitive industry, different lenders typically offer incentives to try to gain your business. For example, some lenders advertise that they will work with borrowers who have a bankruptcy on their credit report, whereas others offer $0 down payment loans so choose the option that’s best for you.

As with any other form of borrowing money, the rates you get are highly dependent on your credit score, either personal or business. The better your credit, the better the rate you’ll qualify for. Rates can be anywhere from around 5.99% to 36% depending on your credit score and lender.

Borrowers with a lengthy operating history, a sizeable amount of cash saved, and a spotless credit history are more likely to qualify for the best rates, as well as no money down options. Bad credit could mean a lender will require a down payment in order to approve financing.

Am I Eligible?

The approval process for an operating lease is the same as with any commercial truck financing option, though it could be easier to qualify for a lease than a traditional loan. Upon approval, you’ll also need to provide proof of insurance for the leased vehicle.

As with any other form of borrowing money, the rates you get are highly dependent on your credit score, either personal or business. The better your credit, the better the rate you’ll qualify for. Rates can be anywhere from around 5.99% to 36% depending on your credit score and lender.

In order to qualify for no money down financing you’ll typically need a credit score of at least 620 or higher FICO score, and your chances of getting approved will increase with better scores. Without fair to excellent credit, the lender might require you to put as much as 20 percent down to get financing regardless if you’re leasing or owning. Lenders reserve their best offers for borrowers with the best credit.

If you’re just on the cusp of having good credit, research ways you can improve your credit score. For example, if you have existing debt, paying some or all of that debt down could push your credit score high enough to qualify for no down payment truck financing at a reasonable rate, which could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run. A little effort now can pay off later.

How Much Can I Get?

With a truck lease, you can typically finance the entire cost of the truck — or trucks — minus any down payment, if any, that you put down. Getting approved for financing, however, will depend heavily on personal criteria you meet.

Additionally, qualifications will vary by lender, so it’s recommended you compare different options. Factors that can impact the financing you’re approved for include but are not limited to:

  • Personal and/or business credit score
  • Down payment amount (or lack thereof)
  • Experience
  • Truck Mileage
  • Age of Truck
  • Depending on your personal situation you might be able to get all the financing you want, nothing at all or somewhere in between. It varies person to person.

What Documents Do I Need?

Different lenders might require different documents, but typically you’ll be required to provide some or all of the following documents:

  • Applicable permits
  • Business license
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Personal identification
  • Personal identifying information such as your Social Security number so the lender can pull your credit history
  • Proof of insurance, or the ability to acquire it at the time of financing
  • Information which types of trucks you plan to finance, including how you’ll use them
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Financial records, in some cases Don’t assume that providing these documents will mean you’ll automatically be approved for financing. For example, having a commercial driver’s license is critical, but some lenders require you to have had a CDL for a minimum of five years. If you’re new to commercial truck driving, that could impact your ability to get financing even if you have a valid CDL.

Research the lenders you’re interested in to ensure you meet the minimum qualifications for approval. Having all the required documentation handy when the lender needs it helps keep the process moving and avoid delays.

What Are the Terms?

The terms of your lease or loan will depend on the lender you ultimately go with. Banks for example, typically have longer terms, whereas alternative lenders have shorter terms. You can expect terms of anywhere from one to 10 years.

Just like with a personal car lease, an operating lease for a commercial truck comes with lower monthly payments than other financing options. The reason is that you are simply paying a rental fee for the depreciation of the vehicle during the time you operate it. When the term of your lease expires, you have to return the truck to the lender. While this could save you money in the short term, you aren’t building any equity either, meaning you’ll have to continue leasing vehicles. This can be more costly in the long term. Weigh your options to determine the best choice for you financially.

Bad Credit

How to Get Truck Financing With Bad Credit

If you have bad credit — regardless of if it’s a personal or business credit score — it doesn’t mean that you can’t get commercial truck financing, it just means that it will likely cost you more. It also means you’ll likely have to look harder for a bank or other lender that’s willing to extend you a loan.

Bad credit makes you a less desirable borrower so your search for funding will be limited but not impossible. Top-tier options, like the banks you already know by name, are probably not your best option for bad credit truck financing. You can also find commercial truck lenders that specialize in working with truckers with bad credit just like you.

How Does it work?

With bad credit, the loan you’re shopping for will fall in the category of “subprime loans.” There’s an active subprime lending sector that’s full of competitors that cater to the trucking industry, so you’ll likely be able to find at least some type of financing. Research various subprime lenders that might be able to offer you a commercial truck loan based on your personal financial and credit situation.

Subprime loans function similarly to other types of loans, but with less desirable credit, you’ll also get less desirable rates and terms.

What Are the Rates?

Rates for commercial truck financing range from about 5% to 35%. As a subprime borrower, you can expect a rate on the higher side of that range. The rate you get approved for will always be based on several different factors, so it’s impossible to say exactly what rate you might get. Being a bad credit borrower means you’ll have a harder time getting approved for a low rate than someone with excellent credit.

Additionally, having bad credit can mean additional financing stipulations. In the subprime category, you might be expected to put up a down payment as large as 25 to 50 percent, or to have a short- or intermediate-term loan instead of a long-term loan. Make sure to perform your due diligence with any subprime lender.

Ultimately, having bad credit will cost you more as a borrower so it’s important that you are prepared to take on higher rates and more strict terms than someone with excellent credit.

Am I Eligible?

Bad credit isn’t unusual in the trucking industry, so there truly is a lender for everybody. While you won’t get approved for the best truck financing rates with bad credit, you’ll still have some options, though limited.

That said, having bad credit isn’t permanent. There are actionable ways you can improve your credit score if you do a little research. Additionally, there are things you can avoid to prevent your score from going down further. For example, don’t open several new credit cards before applying for financing as it could cause your score to drop.

How Much Can I Get?

The amount of financing you get approved for will vary by lender, type of loan or lease and your personal financial situation such as the amount of money you’re able to put down and your personal credit history.

Truck lenders know financing a truck is pricey, so they often offer truck loans for as much as $500,000, but whether they approve you for such a high amount or not is contingent on many factors. It’s best to determine how much money you’d like to borrow before seeking out lenders. Show that you’ve done your research and you know exactly how much financing you need. There are no guarantees in financing approvals but going in prepared certainly can’t hurt.

What Documents Do I Need?

The documents required for financing might vary from lender to lender, but generally you should be prepared to provide the following:

  • Personal identification
  • Business license
  • Relevant permits
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Social Security Number, which can be used to pull your credit history
  • Proof of insurance
  • Information on the trucks you want to finance and their intended use
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Financial records, in some cases

What Are the Terms?

The length of your loan repayment will depend on the lender you ultimately go with as well as your personal credit history. Subprime lenders will typically have shorter terms with more frequent payments to ensure you’re meeting your financial obligations. Make sure you understand repayment terms and are prepared to make payments on time.

Fair Credit

Commercial Truck Financing Options for Fair Credit

If your business or personal credit score is fair, you’ll have more available financing options than someone with bad credit but fewer options than someone with excellent credit. With a credit score in the mid-600s and at least some operating history, you’re likely to find decent options for financing. You’re also likely to get slightly better rates than if your score were in the 500s or lower. However, you probably still can’t be financed by the largest, most well-known banks.

That being said, you won’t have to go searching for completely unknown companies to find financing. Having decent credit opens up your options, but for truck financing in particular, semi-truck financing companies are likely your best bet in getting the rates, terms and service you need.

Two good options for fair credit borrowers are truck loans or capital leases. Capital leases are different from operational leases so it’s important to know the difference.

How Does It Work?

A capital lease is more akin to a traditional car financing contract. In fact, the International Federation of Accountants, or IFAC, refers to capital leases as finance leases.

With a capital lease, the commercial truck you finance is your asset. With a capital lease, once you fulfill the terms of your lease, the truck is all yours. The term of a capital lease for semi-truck financing is more than 75 percent of the useful life of the vehicle, according to Smart-Trucking. With a common capital lease, lenders put up 10 percent as a down payment, with the remaining 90 percent of the vehicle value being paid over the term of the lease.

What Are the Rates?

The interest rates you get — whether you finance or lease a truck — will always come back to one major factor: your credit score. Your lender uses your credit to determine how desirable of a borrower you are and how likely they are to get repaid. A higher credit score proves to the lender that you have been and will be a responsible borrower that will repay their loans.

A fair credit score tells a lender that you fall somewhere in middle — not good or bad. Simply put, fair credit is average. Because of this, you’ll qualify for loans and rates that bad credit borrowers won’t. But at the same time, you won’t qualify for the rates or terms someone with excellent credit would.

Shop around and if you find that lenders aren’t offering you the rates you want, make an effort to improve your credit score. A little work fixing your credit up front could save you a considerable amount of money in the grand scheme of things.

Am I Eligible?

A capital lease has the same qualification requirements as other financing options. The less risk you can demonstrate to the lender — in terms of a solid credit history and an established, profitable business — the more likely you are to qualify for the best rates.

With fair credit, you should be able to qualify for financing without issues. Online banks and alternative lenders are available if you can’t meet the most stringent lending standards.

How Much Can I Get?

With fair credit, you can likely get the majority if not all of your desired funding amount financed, though your rates and terms won’t be as favorable as someone with excellent credit.

You’ll also have to keep in mind that the type of financing you choose can affect your monthly payments. Having affordable monthly payments is key for a new business with minimal cash flow. For example, the monthly payments under a capital lease will usually be higher than with an operating lease. However, those payments can be considered an investment, as you’ll own your truck outright at the end of your lease term. Over the long run, you’ll likely have higher maintenance costs, but once your lease ends, you’re off the hook for additional monthly lease payments.

What Documents Do I Need?

To finance a truck, you’ll need to provide personal information as well as official documentation, such as:

  • Business license
  • Permits
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Personal information, such as a Social Security number, to pull your credit report
  • Information on which types of trucks you want to finance and information on how you’ll use them
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Business financial records, in some cases

What Are the Terms?

The length of time you have to repay financing will vary, but you can sometimes negotiate terms that work for both you and the lender. Most repayment plans will last a number of years, sometimes as high as seven years.

It’s important to realize that the longer your terms, the more interest you’ll pay. While a longer term might make your monthly payments more affordable, you’ll ultimately be paying more money. If you can afford to pay off a loan sooner, assuming the lender doesn’t charge prepayment penalty fees, then you should make an effort to do so. This will save you money and get you out of debt faster.

Good to Excellent Credit

Best for Low Interest Rates and Long Term

Get Better Truck Financing Rates With Good or Excellent Credit From the perspective of a lender, the most highly sought-after clients are those with good or excellent personal or business credit scores. Although lenders might not earn as much in interest, they can be highly confident that the borrower will make the required loan and principal payments.

Good or excellent credit isn’t just a subjective analysis. Although other factors could play a role, you’ll typically need some or all of these characteristics to qualify:

  • 700+ credit score for good credit
  • 740+ credit score for excellent credit
  • 3 to 5 years of operating history
  • No history of delinquencies

How Does It Work?

If you have good or excellent credit, you’ll have several financing options. You can expect to receive top-tier financing options, including large banks that are household names. You can take your pick between a loan or a lease from a semi-truck financing company, bank, online or alternative lender. The choice is yours.

What Are the Rates?

With good or excellent credit, you can expect competitive rates. Take some time to shop around to explore your options. Lenders want your business and will make it worth your while.

Rates for larger commercial trucks generally run between about 5% and 35%. Those with excellent credit are most likely to get a rate of about 5.99%, but other factors will still be considered when calculating your rate. The size of your down payment is up for negotiation with your potential lenders, and you might be able to get the lowest rates if you’re willing to put up a larger down payment.

Am I Eligible?

If your credit score is 700 or higher and you meet any other lender-specific requirements, you’ll likely be eligible for just about any loan or lease. That said, if you have a great credit score, but don’t meet other requirements, it could get in the way of you getting approved. Besides credit score, some additional requirements can include:

  • Operating history
  • Cash reserves
  • Insurance
  • How many years you’ve had a CDL
  • How Much Can I Get? With excellent credit, the sky’s the limit. Some lenders might finance as much as $10,000,000, though an amount that high will have even stricter requirements. As a borrower that meets many requirements and has excellent credit, you should be able to lease or borrow the amount you need within reason. For example, financing one or more trucks at the average price of around $75,000 to $80,000 per truck should be doable with great credit as long as all other requirements are met.

What Documents Do I Need?

Regardless of your credit score, you’ll need to provide several documents, which might include some or all of the following:

  • Business license
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Permits
  • Personal information, such as your legal name and Social Security number, to pull your credit report
  • Information on which types of trucks you want to finance such as make, model and mileage
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Business financial records, in some cases

What Are the Terms?

As a desirable borrower, repayment terms will be more flexible than what someone with bad credit might get. Generally, you can expect repayment terms anywhere from one to seven years.

As a borrower with excellent credit, you’re savvy enough to know that the best way to keep your credit score high is to pay off your debt. Regardless of your payment term, it’s financially advantageous to pay off your debt as soon as you can to save money on interest and fees. Check with your lender to ensure they don’t charge a prepayment penalty. If they don’t, pay back your loan as quickly as is financially feasible for you so you can save money and put it towards other business expenses like truck maintenance.


Commercial Truck Financing For Startups

The one thing that all startups need is operating capital. While a startup might be able to raise general financing from angel investors or other lenders, it might not be enough to finance one or more commercial trucks, which cost around $80,000 for one truck on average. For this reason, you should consider a company that specializes in equipment financing and/or startups.

Seek Business Capital, for example, helps startups and early stage businesses find the lending option that works best for their personal situation. Without much business history, options for startups are limited, and new business owners might not qualify for traditional commercial truck loans. Seek Business Capital can help your startup get prequalified $5,000 and $500,000 in funding in a just a few minutes. In fact, over 92 percent of applications are approved within hours, providing fast-growing companies with fast access to funds needed.

Additionally, startups and small businesses oftentimes need more personalized service that’s tailored towards the needs of new entrepreneurs. As each individual small business is different, it can be helpful to work with a company that doesn’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing a financing plan.

How Does It Work?

There are variables in any lending transaction, but you’re far more likely to get approved for a commercial truck loan if you’ve been in business for a long time. Consistency of business is important when it comes to reducing risk for lenders.

If you’re a startup or have been in business for less than two years, you might have better luck applying for small business funding through Seek Business Capital. A short operating history or lack of down payment might hinder you from getting traditional truck or business loans so it’s important you explore other options.

What Are the Rates?

As a startup business with no business credit score or thorough history, the rates you get will be heavily impacted by your personal credit score. Just like when you apply for a personal loan or personal credit card, lenders will give better rates to borrowers with better credit scores.

Am I Eligible?

Startup companies are a category all their own. If you’re just beginning this type of business, it can be hard to get in the front door at any financing company or bank because you have no operating history at all. Even existing companies operating at a loss might have an easier time qualifying for financing than a startup, because at least they have an operating history that could show a trend towards profitability. As a startup, you have little to offer by way of business documentation.

The good news is that there are some lenders and companies out there that understand the special needs of startups when it comes to commercial truck financing. Seek Business Capital focuses on financing startups by making the process as easy as possible. Just like your rates, eligibility will be based on your personal credit history, since your startup does not yet have a business credit score.

How Much Can I Get?

Seek Business Capital can help startups get financing amounts between $5,000 and $500,000, depending on what you qualify for, plus you can be pre-approved in as little as two hours.

What Documents Do I Need?

When you look for traditional financing, lenders will typically ask for some or all of the following documents:

  • Permits
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Social Security Number to pull your personal credit history
  • Information of the type of trucks you’re looking to finance, as well as information on how you plan to use them
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Financial records, in some cases

As a startup business, however, you might have personal finance documents but likely majorly lack business documentation or maybe even a CDL. As a new business with no financial or profit and loss statements, borrowing options are limited. Startups applying for financing with Seek Business Capital don’t need to supply any tax returns or financials, and they don’t need to supply any collateral.

What Are the Terms?

The length of repayment will depend on the form of financing you get. Ultimately, repayment terms are dependent on how you borrow, which will be determined by your qualifications. With a line of credit, for example, your credit revolves, meaning you can use it over and over again. Instead of paying off a loan over several years, you make monthly payments on the credit you use. If you don’t use any credit, you have no payment to make, similar to how you manage your personal credit cards. You have access to a certain amount of credit, but you only pay for what you use, which can vary from month to month. This can provide much needed flexibility for startups since one month of business might look very different from the next.


How to Finance Your Fleet

The size of your commercial vehicle fleet can affect your ability to qualify for a loan, usually for the better. For starters, if you’ve financed trucks successfully in the past, it means you likely have a good credit history. Not only were you able to get prior truck loans, but you have shown that you can make payments on the loans you take out. Assuming you didn’t default on your loan or make many late payments, this makes you a desirable borrower.

For fleets in particular, you might consider an operating lease. Fit for companies with limited cash flow, operating leases are also preferred by fleet owners primarily because it gives you access to new trucks every few years when your lease matures. Rather than investing in used trucks that might no longer meet your needs in just a few years, operating leases give you regular access to quality trucks in good working order. Additionally, monthly payments tend to be lower than other financing options, which can make the financial burden of multiple trucks a bit easier.

How Does It Work?

All forms of financing will require an application and evaluation of your financial and credit situation to determine if you’re approved and if so, for what rates and terms.

If you have an existing fleet and are looking to expand, you’re already at an advantage. Borrowers with an existing commercial fleet pose less risk for lenders. Think of it this way ¬¬— if you’re looking to finance your first commercial truck, it means that the future of your entire business hinges on your use of that single truck. If it breaks down, gets damaged or for whatever reason is removed from service, you’ve lost your entire source of revenue. While insurance might cover some or all of your losses, you’ll have to suffer through an unknown time where you’re not earning any revenue. This can be devastating for you and your business. For some lenders, that risk is great enough that they might not even give you a chance.

On the other hand, if you already have a fleet of five trucks, for example, the same single damaged truck only represents a 20 percent hit to your revenue. While still not ideal, it’s not as likely to immediately put you out of business, making you less of a risk to the lender.

What Are the Rates?

Rates will vary based on the type of financing you pursue. Additionally, the lender will further customize your rate based on other factors such as your personal and/or business credit, time in business, the vehicles you finance and more. If you’re an existing fleet owner in good standing, you’ll likely qualify for more desirable rates. Some commercial fleet financing companies advertise rates as low as 5.49%, but a rate that low will be reserved for the most desirable borrowers.

Before you apply for financing, it’s best to review your existing truck loans or leases to ensure you don’t have any overdue or late payments. Lenders will look at your past to assess how you might behave in the future, so check that records of your past borrowing accurately reflect that type of borrower you are.

Am I Eligible?

In some ways, it’s easier to get commercial truck financing than a personal loan because your truck serves as collateral. However, there are many variables that can affect both your ability to qualify for a commercial loan and the interest rate that you’ll have to pay.

From the perspective of a lender, every loan decision comes down to a question of risk. The less likely that a borrower will be able to make payments on the loan, the less likely a lender is to extend that loan. Overall, the trucking industry is a fairly high-risk endeavor, meaning you’ll have to demonstrate to a lender that you understand the business and have an above-average chance at becoming and/or remaining profitable.

When you borrow money to fund a fleet, you are borrowing much more money than someone buying an individual truck, which can impact the lender’s assessment risk. But if you’ve already started building your fleet and have financed it successfully, you’ve already increased your eligibility.

Positive factors when it comes to the loan underwriting process include positive cash flow, profitability and a history of repaying previous financial obligations. Potential problem areas include a short operating history, financial losses or a bad credit history.

How Much Can I Get?

The fleet financing you’re ultimately approved for will vary, but lenders that specialize in fleet financing know you need more money than someone financing a single truck. Because of that, you can find commercial fleet lenders that finance as much as $150,000, $250,000 and even $500,000.

What Documents Do I Need?

To improve your chances of getting approved for fleet financing with favorable terms, you’ll need to present positive financial factors during the loan underwriting process, including:

  • Documentation of positive cash flow
  • Documentation of profitability
  • Documentation showing a history of repaying previous financial obligations
  • Personal credit profile — a lender can pull this on your behalf with your authorization

Additionally, lenders will generally ask for other common documents, such as:

  • Business license
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Information detailing how many trucks you want to finance, the make and model of each truck, as well as the intended use of each truck you are financing
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Financial records, in some cases

Potential problem areas include a short operating history, financial losses or a bad credit history. When in doubt, the more documentation you can provide, the better.

When you seek fleet financing, lenders know you’re looking for a lot more money than an owner-operator looking to finance on truck. Because of this, you can expect stricter lending requirements as the increase loan amount also poses some increased risk for the lender. But with the right documents, good credit and positive history in business, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a lender that will finance your fleet.

What Are the Terms?

Repayment terms for fleet financing can be anywhere from six months to around six years, depending on the lender and amount of financing you get. A longer repayment period can make for more affordable monthly payments but will ultimately cost you more money in interest. Whereas a shorter term will save you money on interest but could make for less affordable monthly payments. Look for a payment term that is a happy medium for you, so you can enjoy both reasonable monthly payments as well as save some money on interest.


How to Finance your Semi-Truck

Semi-truck financing is its own separate category because it pertains to a certain type of trucking. Whereas other commercial truck financing may apply to vocational trucks, such as delivery trucks or other short-haul vehicles, a semi-truck is specifically designed to carry heavy freight loads over long distances. As such, lenders view these loans a bit differently as they carry different risk characteristics. The extra loads and miles that semi-trucks bear means they require diligent maintenance and may last for shorter periods than less heavily used trucks.

The truck itself is typically the primary loan collateral, lenders may require a truck appraisal before you’re offered a loan. This is particularly true if you’re buying a used semi-truck.

How Does It Work?

Commercial truck financing is an exchange of promises. A lender promises to pay for your new truck, and you promise to pay that money back plus interest. Since lending is a business, however, your word isn’t likely to go very far when it comes to qualifying for a loan. A lender will want to review your credit history and overall financial position to determine the likelihood that you can pay back your loan. The greater your ability to meet your financial obligations, the better the loan terms you’ll be able to get.

Financing for semi-trucks, in particular, is a delicate balance between risk and reward, both for operators and for lenders. On the plus side, semi-trucks are capable of generating tremendous revenue, due to their ability to carry large amounts of cargo over long distances. On the downside, semi-trucks are expensive, and their heavy workloads can make them more prone to service outages and maintenance downtime.

When a lender reviews your application, it will take all of these truck characteristics into account. If your finances, credit history and business plan are all in order, you’re more likely to get approved with favorable terms.

What Are the Rates?

Loan rates of all kinds vary based on the risk-reward characteristics of the transaction. With semi-truck financing, the lowest rates are available to established operators with multiple sources of collateral and proven profitability. On the other end of the spectrum, new operators with no assets and bad credit aren’t likely to qualify for any type of semi-truck loan at all.

For the average commercial truck operator with a credit profile somewhere in the middle, rates are likely to be found in the 7% to 10% range. The more you can clean up your credit and show a positive operating history, the more likely you are to snag a more favorable rate.

Since semi-truck financing can be challenging to obtain, make sure you have all your finances in order before you begin applying. At the very least, ensure that you have as clean a credit history as possible, with no missed payments or overdue obligations.

Am I Eligible?

If you’re financing a semi-truck, you’re “in the big leagues” when it comes to truck financing. Fully outfitted semi-trucks can easily cost $80,000 or more. Whether you plan on buying one semi-truck or a fleet, you’re going to have to demonstrate that you’re extremely likely to pay your lender back.

As discussed above, from the perspective of a lender, loans are all about risk and reward. Since semi-trucks are both expensive and take a lot of beating from the heavy loads they carry over long distances, they’re a bit of a risk. If you’re using your semi-truck as collateral and that truck becomes incapacitated, the lender stands to be out a lot of money.

To help alleviate this risk, you’ll want to be prepared with a solid business plan and top-tier credit before you apply for a semi-truck loan. The more likely that you can keep your trucks operating and providing revenue, the more a lender is likely to believe that you’ll have no problem paying back what you owe.

For startup companies, this can prove to be a challenge. You’re much more likely to secure semi-truck finance if you’ve already been operating for a number of years as a profitable trucking company, even if you have only been using local commercial vehicles. If you’ve got borderline credit and/or a short operating history, your best bet for getting a semi-truck loan is to deal with an alternative lender that specializes in trucking loans for newcomers.

How Much Can I Get?

If you qualify, the amount of your semi-truck loan is likely to be large. Semis are expensive pieces of equipment, and if you’re financing the bulk of the vehicle, you’re likely to need a loan north of $50,000. If you’re looking to finance a fleet of semis, with good credit and a positive operating history you can likely take out a loan as large as $500,000.

What Documents Do I Need?

Regardless of the type of truck you’re looking to finance, you’ll likely need a combination of the following documents to get approved for any loan:

  • Business license
  • Permits
  • Commercial driver’s license
  • Personal information, such as a Social Security number, to pull your credit report
  • Information on which types of trucks you want to finance and information on how you’ll use them
  • Tax records, in some cases
  • Business financial records, in some cases
  • Proof that you can acquire insurance for your semi-truck

If you’re looking to finance a semi-truck, you’ll need to provide evidence that the truck you’re buying or leasing is in good working order. For one thing, a financed truck that can’t deliver cargo is essentially worthless, because you won’t be able to use it to earn money to pay your loan. Equally as important, your lender needs to know that your truck is a viable asset that can pay off your obligation if repossession becomes necessary.

What Are the Terms?

Repayment terms for semi-truck financing can be flexible, depending on your credit qualifications and the lender you choose. For some companies, a longer term, such as 5 to 10 years, might prove more flexible in terms of a monthly payment, which would be lower. However, you’ll end up paying more interest than if you took a 2- or 4-year loan, for example.

Some lenders may not be willing to extend a loan longer than five years, as that’s the useful life of a semi for accounting purposes, according to Trucker’s Life. In that case, you’ll have to determine if the payments required for a loan of 5 years or less are affordable when compared with your expected revenue stream.

FAQs About Truck Financing

Financing a truck or fleet is a complex endeavor, especially the first time. The process can be confusing, so it’s important to ask questions along the way. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about truck financing:

What Is Commercial Truck Financing?

Commercial trucks are a vital component of many businesses, but they aren’t cheap. Even a used Freightliner semi-truck can cost $80,000 or more, while used box trucks might run $25,000 to $40,000 or more. As some businesses have to plow a significant portion of their working capital into growing and expanding the business, there’s often not a lot left over to purchase trucks outright, particularly for small businesses.

This is where commercial truck financing comes into play. Companies can turn to the commercial truck financing market to raise the needed funds to get one or more trucks. Lenders are willing to make these loans, even to young or growing businesses, because financed trucks can be used as collateral. While investing in an unknown business can be risky, if a business defaults on a commercial truck loan, the lender can usually repossess the financed truck to make good on the loan.

Will Bad Credit Prevent Me From Getting Commercial Truck Financing?

The commercial truck financing industry is accustomed to working with clients that have bad credit, so there are options available to those with poor credit. While bad credit might limit your options or come with higher rates, you still have options. You also have the option to improve your credit.

Don’t fret if you don’t already have top-tier credit. Credit scores are a snapshot of your financial situation on a particular date. Over time, credit scores change. With some work and dedication, you can improve your credit score, thereby improving your options for commercial truck financing.

Credit scores are determined by an analysis of five different variables: your payment history, amount owed, credit mix, length of credit history and new credit. For the most part, time is your friend when it comes to improving your credit score. With few exceptions, it’s hard to immediately improve your score by 50 points of more. However, demonstrating a history of reliable credit practices will get your score moving in the right direction. For some financing companies, the trend of your credit score can go a long way towards overlooking a low absolute score that was the result of long-ago credit missteps.

For the most part, improving your credit score is pretty straightforward. Payment history is the single largest credit score component, so the longer you can make on-time payments, the more your score will improve. Similarly, the length of your credit history obviously improves over time, which will improve your credit score, as long as you aren’t continually opening new accounts or closing old accounts that shorten your average account life.

The one area where you can make a large and nearly immediate improvement to your score is with your amount owed. If a large outstanding balance is weighing on your credit score, paying that off will immediately perk up your score. If you’re looking to apply for a new commercial truck loan, wiping out any of your existing loans first can go a long way towards improving your loan options.

Will A Short Operating History Or Low Profits Prevent Me From Getting A Commercial Truck Loan Or Lease?

Your credit score isn’t the only factor that can improve your truck financing terms. Getting your company on solid financial footing can play an even bigger role. Of course, this isn’t a quick fix either. But if you can put the time and effort in to make your company profitable — or at least moving in that direction — you’ll have a much easier time finding acceptable lending terms.

For some businesses, waiting for profit trends to improve could mean at least temporarily shelving the plans to expand by financing a commercial truck. This is a business decision that must be made by company owners and management. Some companies might choose instead to forge on — perhaps with a second-tier lender — in order to finance a truck and keep revenues growing. Once the company becomes more established, additional trucks can perhaps be financed with first-tier lenders, as company revenues will have grown and a more solid credit history will have been built.

Some businesses, such as startups, might not have the option to wait for improving revenues. For many of these companies, the simple truth is that without a truck, there will be no revenues to speak of. If your company is in the position that it needs a truck to get moving, know that even startup companies have financing options.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Commercial Truck Financing?

Commercial truck financing can solve a lot of problems for businesses that have an immediate need to deliver their products. However, no financial transaction is completely one-sided. To get the benefits of a commercial truck loan or lease, your business will have to be willing to accept the drawbacks as well. For this option to make sense for your company, the pros will have to outweigh the cons.

Pros of Commercial Truck Financing

There are many positives to financing trucks, namely it gets your business up and running. Here are some major pros to financing a truck:

Commercial truck financing can give you a competitive edge. For startup companies, having access to a commercial truck loan can literally mean life and death for the business. Without a way to get products to customers, startup companies can’t generate revenue. However, even for more established companies, access to truck financing can be critical as well. In a competitive world, companies can’t simply sit still and expect to succeed. Even successful companies eventually have a need to expand their existing equipment, or at the very least upgrade and repair it, so access to financing is essential to keep up with or surpass competitors. Borrowing money from outside lenders means you don’t have to use your own. In a perfect world, companies would have enough excess cash to buy all of the equipment they needed without impairing their cash flow. The reality for most businesses, however, is that free cash flow is critical to fund ongoing day-to-day expenses. If your business needs a fleet or three or four trucks, for example, that might require a cash outlay of $300,000 or more for a straight purchase. This is simply unrealistic for many small- or medium-sized businesses, and it’s likely impossible for a startup. Having access to the commercial truck financing market can be the only feasible option for these types of businesses to grow.

You can structure a finance arrangement to best meet the needs of your business. For some companies, leasing a truck is a better option than a purchase finance option. For others, the opposite could be true. Assuming you can qualify for financing, this ability to tailor your contract can be a huge benefit for your business. For example, if your business requires that your fleet makes numerous high-mileage trips, you might prefer leasing, as the leasing company has to take the truck back at the end of your term. If, on the other hand, you prefer to do your own maintenance and squeeze as much value as possible out of your fleet, you might want to hold your trucks long-term via a purchase finance agreement.

Whatever your needs, the diverse commercial truck financing options that are available can help your business thrive. Cons of Commercial Truck Financing

As with anything, there can be downsides as well. It’s up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. Here are some cons of commercial truck financing:

Borrowing money raises your total cost of doing business. Any time your business borrows money, you’ll have to pay interest on the amount you owe. Even if you have great credit and your business has a spotless operating history, you’ll likely be looking at an interest rate of 5.99% or more on the amount you borrow. This might not seem like a lot, but here’s how the numbers play out. Let’s say you borrow $50,000 to finance one or more trucks over five years at an interest rate of 5.99%. This translates to a monthly payment of $966. After 60 months of payments, you’ll have paid $57,960. If you could have managed to buy the truck outright, you could have saved $7,960 in interest. That said, the money you pay in interest could be worth the ability to have consistent cash flow over time while paying down your debts slowly.

You’ll still have to put up some money. One of the primary benefits of financing a commercial truck is that you don’t have to pay for the whole truck upfront. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need any cash to finance a commercial vehicle. While there are some no money down financing options, they aren’t that common. Lenders will almost always require some type of down payment up front, typically at least 10 to 20 percent. For borrowers with poor credit, this requirement can jump as high as 50 percent. If your company doesn’t have any working capital at all, even the commercial truck financing market isn’t likely to be of much service, particularly the largest lenders.

You might have to pin the future of your entire business on your ability to make payments. When you take out a commercial truck loan, the truck itself will be the collateral that secures the loan. If you’re unable to keep up with your payments, your lender could have the right to repossess your truck to satisfy your obligations. Although you might be able to work out some type of arrangement with certain lenders if your cash flow suddenly tightens, other lenders could be less forgiving. If you lose your truck because you can’t make your payments, your entire business could go under, a consequence you’ll want to avoid at all costs. The reality is, despite some cons, commercial truck financing might be your only route to starting your business or expanding your fleet. If you’re truly committed to your trucking business, commercial truck financing is a necessity.

How Does Commercial Truck Financing Work?

In its most basic form, commercial truck financing is a lot like getting a personal loan. Lenders will evaluate your financial condition and determine whether or not you qualify for a loan, and at what interest rate they are willing to accept for the risk of financing you.

However, the actual process of commercial truck financing is a bit different than it is for personal loans. With a commercial loan, the financial history of your business can often be more important than your personal credit report, depending on the lender and type of financing you seek.

Lenders will traditionally ask for at least three years of your company’s financial statements so they can evaluate your profitability. The more successful your company is, the more likely you are to be approved for a commercial loan with modest interest rates.

Even companies that aren’t profitable can be approved for commercial loans, however. If your company generates significant cash flow or is moving towards profitability, a lender might still be willing to work with you.

Just as with personal loans, there is no shortage of banks, credit unions and other finance companies that are looking for additional customers. Each of these lenders has their own requirements for qualification, and some could be a better match for your needs than others.

For example, credit unions aren’t likely to offer semi-truck title loans or other large commercial vehicle loans, but they could be an avenue of financing for smaller vehicles such as box delivery trucks. Traditional banks tend to lend primarily to well-established businesses that have a demonstrated history of generating profits. The application process for these types of loans can be lengthy. Other options, such as Seek Business Capital, serve customers like startups that might not have the time or ability to qualify for bank loans. These types of companies have a more streamlined application process and can be a good option for non-traditional or non-qualifying borrowers.

What Documents Do I Need To Apply For Commercial Truck Financing?

When you apply for commercial truck financing, your lender will need to understand the complete picture of your business and your finances. As the business owner, you’re intimately familiar with all the workings of your business, but to a lender, you are a blank slate. You’ll need to provide extensive documentation to show that your business is up and running, with the lifeblood of revenue already flowing through it.

The type of lender you ultimately work with will likely be a function of the size, operating history and profitability of your business. However, no matter the lender you’re looking to work with, you’ll need to provide certain basic documents. Remember, you’re trying to show your potential lender that you have a legitimate, fully functioning business, so the more you can offer to paint that picture, the better. You should expect to provide the following documents to any potential sources of capital financing:

Financial statements Tax records Business license Applicable permits Commercial driver’s license Legal name and Social Security number to pull your credit report Personal financial information, especially anything pertaining to your credit history Proof of insurance or the ability to acquire it at the time of financing Information on the type of truck(s) to be financed, including their intended use

Documentation required are at the discretion of the lender. Some lenders might not require all of this documentation, while others might request much more in-depth information. Providing what a lender needs is the first step to qualifying for commercial truck financing.

What Are The Best Commercial Truck Loans?

There isn’t one single “best” commercial truck loan available to all borrowers. The best loan for you is the one that you can get with the most favorable terms. If you’re a long-standing, well-established company, you might be able to get the best combination of rates and servicing from a large, traditional bank. Startup companies, or those with limited operating histories or other negative factors, might find that alternative options like Seek Business Capital offer the best available options. Bad credit borrowers might be best served by a lender that specializes in lending to similar credit profiles. In fact, for newer companies, online and specialized lenders might be the only options.

Should I Buy A Truck From A Truck Vendor Or Private Seller?

If you’re buying a truck from a reputable truck dealer, you’re more likely to get your loan approved because you’re reducing risk for the lender.

When working with a licensed dealer, your truck will have a paper trail attached to it, including information on the truck’s history of owners and its maintenance schedule. With a private seller, this information might not be available.

You might be able to buy the truck for a cheaper price from a private seller, but you could lose out on the back end if your loan comes in with a higher interest rate.

Do I Need Truck Insurance To Finance A Truck?

Since your truck acts as collateral for your loan, your lender will no doubt require insurance on your truck. Otherwise, the loss of your truck could prove catastrophic to both you and your lender. Without a truck, you might not be able to do business any more, thus eliminating your ability to repay your loan. Since damage to commercial trucks is fairly common, insurance is a must.

Truck insurance can be expensive. In fact, insurance can be one of the biggest fixed costs that you’ll face, so you’ll have to factor that in to the overall cost of financing your truck. On top of liability insurance — of which you might need coverage of at least $750,000, or $5,000,000 if you’re a hazmat hauler — here’s just a small sampling of the insurance types you might need:

Bobtail insurance, which protects you when driving a truck without a trailer Physical damage insurance Non-trucking liability General liability Workers’ compensation Umbrella insurance Trailer interchange insurance Cargo insurance

Depending on the type of truck you are financing and the particulars of your business, your lender might specify minimum insurance amounts as well.

What Costs Will I Pay After I Finance A Truck?

When determining your budget for a commercial vehicle loan, don’t overlook the ancillary costs that come with owning and operating a truck. On top of your lease or loan payments, you’ll have to factor in these additional expenses, among others:

Repair Maintenance Fuel Tires Tolls Insurance premiums Licenses Permits Driver wages Driver benefits

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, these marginal costs added up to $1.691 per mile in 2017, the most recent year for which summary data is available. This translates to additional operating costs of $66.65 per hour, on average.

If you use your entire capital budget to acquire or pay for a truck, you might not have much flexibility in your business when these additional costs trickle down to your bottom line. It’s important to consider your entire financial picture when deciding how much truck you are willing to finance.

Another element to consider is your future trucking needs. If you intend to stay in business for the long-haul — and that should be the goal of any business — the time when you need newer or additional trucks might not be that far in the future. Even if you intend to stay with a one-truck fleet, the average truck-tractor is replaced after just 7.6 years, or 695,000 miles, also according to the ATRI.

The good news is that if you’ve found a reputable lender, you shouldn’t be making these calculations alone. As a lender has a vested interest in the success of your business, so some will even help you break down your anticipated future costs and how they could affect your ability to pay off your loan. At the end of the day, neither a borrower nor a lender should be interested in a loan that can’t be repaid.

Which Is Better: An Operating Lease Or Capital Lease?

Both operating and capital leases have their pros and cons. The needs of your company will dictate which is the better option for your company.

Operating leases are best for companies with limited cash flow, as monthly payments are lower. Businesses that need or prefer newer vehicles in their fleet are also good candidates for operating leases, as you’ll constantly be getting new vehicles every time your original lease matures.

Capital leases can end up being cheaper in the long run for companies that maintain their vehicles well. As you’ll own your commercial truck outright at the end of your lease term, you’ll want to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape so that it will remain in service long after your lease matures.

With a capital lease, you won’t be signing up for an endless stream of monthly payments as you would with an operating lease. Although your fleet of vehicles won’t always be brand new, you will have an asset on your balance sheet. Of course, you’ll also have all of the responsibilities of ownership, such as maintenance.

How Does The Type Of Truck Affect Financing?

Certain types of trucks are less risky for lenders to finance than others. Vehicles used for long-haul trucking, for example, are riskier than trucks which are used for local deliveries. The reason is simple math. Trucks which remain in a relatively limited area don’t rack up the miles as much as those which are going back and forth across the country, and a truck with less mileage is more valuable.

Additionally, high-mileage trucks that are in constant motion are more likely to need repairs. Repairs not only drain a business of cash flow but also reduce revenue, as a disabled truck can no longer generate cash flow for a company.

How Does The Age Of The Truck Affect Financing?

The newer the truck you are looking to finance, the more likely you’ll be able to get a loan. Older trucks tend to break down more often, posing the risk of lost revenue for a business. Lost revenue means the higher risk of missed payments, something lenders try to avoid when issuing loans. This makes used truck financing harder to come by, and typically more expensive.

It’s true that not all older trucks are in poor condition or have high mileage. However, even older trucks that are well-maintained can be problematic for lenders. If for some reason you can no longer make payments on your truck, your finance company will repossess it. While this might seemingly make your lender “whole,” in reality, your lender is stuck with an old truck that it has to sell to recoup its loan loss. By their very nature, older trucks are harder to sell, even if they are in good condition, which makes it more likely that the lender will lose money on the transaction.

For this reason, it’s nearly impossible to get a lease on an older truck, as opposed to straight financing. Unlike the above scenario, which is perhaps unlikely, with a lease arrangement, a lender must take the truck back at the end of the contract. At that point, the lender is in the same predicament — it must sell an old truck to make money on the transaction, which can be hard to do.

How Does The Condition Of The Truck Affect Financing?

The condition of the truck being financed is an extremely important factor in determining the risk involved with any particular loan. Since the truck itself serves as the collateral for the loan, a truck with little or no value won’t be worth the risk of extending the loan.

Imagine this scenario: A borrower gets a loan for a truck with over 1 million miles. After a few months, the borrower can no longer make payments. The lender repossesses the truck, which now has 1,100,000 miles and is on the verge of breaking down. The lender ends up losing money, as it wouldn’t be able to sell the broken-down truck for enough money to cover the outstanding loan balance. It’s just not worth it for the lender, therefore they typically will not finance trucks in such conditions.

How Does Having Business Cash Reserves Affect Truck Financing?

Having a long-term, profitable business and making a large down payment might be enough to qualify you for a loan, but lenders still need to know that you can afford to make the payments on that loan. Your odds of qualifying for a loan with a low interest rate can improve dramatically if you show a high level of cash reserves.

Cash reserves are important because every company is subject to the business cycle. There will inevitably be leaner times when your business isn’t pulling in the cash flow that it might earn when times are good. No matter what your current business situation, your lender will expect you to continue making your regular loan payments. With significant cash reserves, you’ll be more likely to make those payments regardless of the current business environment, thereby making you less of a risk for the lender.

Cash reserves are also necessary to cover the ancillary expenses involved with financing a commercial truck. Without extra cash on hand — or a high revenue stream or cash flow — your business might be stretched to cover daily operating expenses on top of the strain of a new commercial vehicle loan. Lenders take all of this into account, so having additional cash reserves can make it much more likely that you’ll get approved for your loan.

Can I Get Commercial Truck Financing From An Online Lender?

Online lenders have a lot to offer when it comes to commercial truck financing — primarily convenience. A quick search online can turn up a number of nontraditional lenders that operate primarily or solely online, which can make the entire financing process more streamlined.

Another benefit of online lenders is that they tend to have less restrictive credit requirements for borrowers. Whereas an established bank might require years of profitability, a sparkling personal credit score and a significant down payment to finance certain businesses, online lenders might offer more flexibility and leniency.

That said, online lenders might have higher interest rates and no in-person customer service. Decide what matters to you most and weigh your options.

The Bottom Line

The world of commercial truck financing has lots of moving parts. However, at its core, it’s not too different from financing a personal car. Companies with the best cash flow, no credit delinquencies and a long operating history are the most likely candidates for loans with good terms. Startup companies, or those looking to finance a single truck, might run into more difficulties obtaining financing. However, specialized lenders do exist that can tailor financing to the needs of even new businesses. Whatever your financial position, try to present the most positive financial and credit history you can before you begin the application process. Research lenders that might be a better fit for your business and you’ll have the best luck at securing your commercial truck financing.

As with many relationships in life, the match you make with your commercial truck lender has to be right for everything to go smoothly. What might seem like the most popular or the most generous lender might not be the right one for you and your company. In addition to getting approved for the financing you want, it’s also important to look for appropriate servicing and support when choosing a lender.

A lender that understands your specific needs might be able to better come up with solutions to your financing needs and might even anticipate potential problems in your industry that you might not see coming. These types of lenders can prove invaluable to growing companies, even if the interest rates they charge could be slightly higher those offered by other institutions.

The bottom line is that you should consider the entirety of a working relationship with a finance company before making a decision that could impact the success or failure of your company. It’s not all about interest rates, terms or the name on the lending company’s stationery. The lender that can best help you company succeed overall is the right one for your business.

What Is Equipment Finance?

If you can’t pay cash for the full value of your equipment, you’ll have to take out a loan for the remaining balance. This is equipment finance. Just like when you finance a car, you’ll put up a cash down payment and then borrow money to cover the rest. The interest rate you pay on the amount borrowed will depend on your credit history and other factors.

How Does Equipment Financing Work?

The first step in equipment financing is selecting the equipment you want to buy. Since financing equipment will cost you additional money over buying it outright, you’ll want to make sure you only buy the equipment you need and that the equipment you select will generate revenue for your business.

Once you’ve figured out the equipment you need, it’s time to start shopping for lenders. There are plenty of banks and finance companies to choose from, so you’ll have to select the one that is the best match for your needs. Do you need help with the entire financing process, or are you an experienced veteran when it comes to finance? Does your credit profile support a loan application at big banks, or will you need to work with an alternative lender? Do you want to work with a company that understands startup and special needs financing, or do you just need a generic business loan or line of credit? These are starter questions that can help direct you to the most appropriate lender.

What Is Equipment Lease Financing?

Just like with a car, you can either finance or lease your new business equipment. When you finance equipment, you’ll make regular payments that cover the entire equipment value plus interest over the life of the loan. When the loan matures, you’ll own the equipment outright. With a lease, you’ll make payments over the life of the lease that generally correspond with the depreciation of the underlying equipment. At the end of the lease, you’ll return the equipment to the leasing company and have neither further payment obligations nor any ownership claim in the equipment.

The pros and cons of equipment leasing vs. financing are varied. In a general sense, you’ll want to finance equipment when you want to own it at the end of the loan. This makes financing better for longer-term assets that will still have a useful life at the end of the finance period, such as heavy, durable machinery. Leasing often makes more sense for assets with a short-term life, such as computers or other high-tech equipment that rapidly becomes obsolete.

You’ll also have to consider factors such as cash flow and upfront payments when it comes to equipment leasing and financing. For example, if you go the leasing route, you may have an endless string of payments, as you’ll have to pick up a new lease every time an old one matures. With financing, once you’ve paid off your loan, that’s it — you own the equipment, and you won’t have to keep making payments. On the flip side, financing often requires a significant down payment, which means you’ll be forking over cash before your equipment generates any revenue. With leasing, you often won’t have any down payment at all and can use your ongoing revenue to cover your lease payments.

The lease or loan argument is quite common when it comes to financing of any type. You’ll have to do the math and see which option has the lowest total cost of borrowing to help you make the choice of leasing vs financing equipment.

What Is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring is also known as invoice financing or accounts receivable financing. This is a type of financing that can be used by businesses with proven receipts in order to finance other projects, including equipment. In a nutshell, invoice factoring involves putting your accounts receivable up as collateral for a loan; when the invoices are paid off, you use that money to pay back your loan. In this way, you can essentially get a cash advance on revenue that is on its way to you but just hasn’t arrived yet. Invoice financing has its drawbacks — including the fact that it is usually an expensive way to raise capital — but it’s also fast and gives you money when you need it. It’s not an ideal source of replacement financing for a long-term equipment loan, for example, but it is a way that businesses can generate short-term cash.

What Is A Captive Lessor?

A captive lessor is a financing agency that’s tied to a producer or manufacturer, usually in an effort to help sales or profits. The most common example of a captive lessor is the financing arm of a car manufacturer. When you buy a car from Ford, for example, you’ll always be offered the chance to finance your vehicle through Ford Credit. From the perspective of the lender, having an in-house finance company helps keep more customer money within the company. From the perspective of the customer, it’s often easier to finance through a lender that works hand-in-hand with the item financed.

If you’re looking to finance equipment, you may encounter captive lessors that are subsidiaries of or otherwise affiliated with the equipment manufacturer. You’ll have to weigh the costs and the rewards yourself to determine if working with a captive lessor is to your advantage as a business.

What Are Some Ways I Can Improve My Credit To Get A Better Interest Rate When I Finance Or Lease Equipment?

When it comes to financing of any kind, including equipment loans and leases, your credit score is a huge contributor to both your ability to get financing and the rate you’ll receive. If you want to lower your borrowing costs, improving your credit score is probably the single greatest step you can take. To improve your credit score, you’ll need to understand its components.

One of the most widely used credit scoring systems is the FICO score. There are five components in the FICO score, with the following weightings:

Payment History: 35 percent Amounts Owed: 30 percent Length of Credit History: 15 percent Credit Mix: 10 percent New Credit: 10 percent

Time is your ally when it comes to building a credit score. Just by making on-time payments, more than one-third of your credit score will be solid. As time goes by, an additional 15 percent of your score will be stellar, meaning if you can make on-time payments over a long period of time, 50 percent of your FICO score will be top-notch.

The best move you can make over the short-term to improve your score is to pay off as much debt as possible. This counts for 30 percent of your score and is the only factor that you can improve quickly.

If you have large capital reserves, consider if paying off some of your debt is a good move ahead of applying for equipment financing. Although cash reserves are a plus during the application process, you’ll have to weigh whether a higher credit score is more important to your potential lenders.

You can use credit score simulators to see what effect paying down your debt may have on your score. You might also want to consult a financial advisor or accountant to review your best financing options.

What Are Some Of The Risks Involved In Borrowing To Purchase Equipment?

All business endeavors involve some level of risk, and financing equipment is no different. For starters, there’s a cost involved in financing equipment. Cash that goes towards your loan or lease payments is cash that can’t be used for other purposes, such as expansion, marketing or other business uses. You’ll also be paying interest on the money you borrow. If the equipment you finance can’t generate enough revenue to overcome both of these costs, than it can damage the profitability of your business.

In some cases, borrowers can be overly eager to accept the first loan offer that they see, overlooking the bad terms or exorbitant interest rates that may be baked into the deal. Others may choose leasing when financing would be a better option overall, and vice versa.

The bottom line is that any financial transaction is a risk, but you can mitigate those risks by working with a lender that understands your situation and helps you with the best financing deal available. It’s a win-win for both you and your lending company if you can make a good deal, as you can then get the equipment you need to generate revenue for your business and pay off your financing with room to spare.