Merchant Cash Advances
By Dan Ollman
Opens Doors to the Financial World for Many Retailers. The merchant cash advance industry is growing at an astonishing clip. This growth is because traditional banks are not meeting the needs of small businesses.
This product is very unique. It's a purchase of an asset, not a loan, so we have to use specific language consistent with a purchase of an asset, like retrieval rate and discount rate instead of interest rate. A lot like factoring but it's of a sale that hasn't yet happened.
A cash advance provider gives merchants a lump sum cash advance up front. In exchange, merchants agree to pay back the principal and fee, by giving the company an agreed percentage of their credit card sales until their balance is zero. This percentage is between 12%-24%. The payback time-frame is only 5-12 months.
Merchants generally must use the providers' credit card processor because the advance is paid back automatically as a percentage of each batch's proceeds. A small number of merchant cash advance companies do not require the merchant to change credit card processors. So if this would be a problem, make sure to ask the merchant cash advance company you are thinking about working with.
Cash advances are very different from traditional funding programs. In essence merchant cash advance providers purchase a small percentage of future MasterCard and Visa revenues, and the merchant repays this as a daily percentage of those revenues.
Getting cash from traditional financing institutions can be difficult for some businesses, particularly retail, restaurant, franchisees or seasonal businesses. These merchants most heavily use credit card processing, so merchant cash advance programs offer a number of benefits.
Why Do Merchants Like It
The cash is usually available more quickly than it is with traditional loans. These programs appeal especially to retail and restaurant merchants not only because these types of businesses can rarely get traditional funding, but also because of the immediate liquidity.
Most cash advance providers advertise that the cash can be available in about 10 days. Unlike a loan with a fixed rate of interest, amount due and set due date each month, with merchant cash advances the money is paid back as credit card receivables come in.
Merchant Cash Advance programs are cash flow friendly, especially during seasonally slow periods. Traditional loans and leases require a set payment every month, whether the business has made a sale or not. Because payments are calculated as a percentage of sales, if sales are growing, the amortization could be quicker, but if the proprietor experiences some interruption or downturn in business, the payments will be lower.
In most cases, business owners put up no personal collateral and make no personal guarantee.
How Providers Make Money
Finance charges can vary widely, not just from one provider to another, but from one advance to another. As an example, the range of financing on a $10,000 advance could be as low as $1500 or as high as $4,000. That's a 60% difference.
There is no fixed interest rate; the effective interest rate varies depending on the business. If the merchant's business is doing well and sales are up, the advance provider collects the money sooner and the interest rate is rather high. Since there is no time limit on paying back the loan, the effective annual rate decreases as the payments are extended over time, although the cash provider typically forecasts a fairly short period for payback, usually less than a year.
There's no question that the merchant's cost for this kind of financing is going to come in more than a conventional loan, but it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that a conventional bank will reject this merchant for their much needed loan.
The merchants interested in a program like this may have a sketchy or distressed credit history. They'll have things like past tax issues, a list of delinquencies, collection matters, liens or judgments that would be an automatic red flag for a conventional bank. The merchant cash advance industry caters to businesses that can't get traditional funding.
A Risk Worth Taking
There is a risk to cash advance providers and a fairly high risk (hence the higher cost to the merchant for the money), but they use sophisticated models to determine the future likely credit card purchases. They also offer the cash with relatively short payback periods to help mitigate risk.
Although approval isn't as difficult as it is for most bank loans, few cash advance providers will approve new merchants without a history of credit card transactions. Even fewer will approve sums larger than what merchants can reasonably expect to earn from credit card transactions in a year.
The provider of the merchant cash advance takes all of the risk, the risk is high, but since it is paid out of projected future sales, it is typically a risk worth taking. Seasonal businesses that need cash to carry them through lean seasons or merchants who have an unexpected downturn in business (say because of road construction, building repairs or extended illness) might find a need for a cash advance until business picks up again.
However, merchant cash advance companies say that ailing businesses are not the only merchants interested in this kind of program. Many types of businesses are often underserved by traditional funding institutions. Take for example a restaurant, it could be a very successful business, but a traditional bank wants to see tangible assets. Perishable foods or used restaurant equipment just won't make the cut, even if that restaurant is packed every night.
There are many examples of times when owners of healthy small businesses could use cash to help build their businesses but can't get the traditional funding necessary. These include franchisees who have exhausted their savings to purchase their first franchise and want to open a second one; merchants whose competitors have closed and have the chance to buy their competitor's old inventory or move into a new location; expansions; buyouts; or simply the desire to move quickly on a perceived new opportunity.
Dan Ollman is President of Crown Financial Services. Crown Financial Services is a proud member of the American Cash Flow Association, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Better Business Bureau. They provide working capital to businesses by purchasing a small portion of their future credit card sales.
Crown Financial Services helps you turn your future credit card sales [http://www.crownfinancialservices.net] into cash. We provide small business cash advances for merchants who currently have credit card processing. You can get a cash advance on future credit card sales with a merchant account cash advance [http://www.crownfinancialservices.net] loan. Merchant account financing, also called credit card receivable factoring, is an excellent alternative to restaurant loans and other business loans.
For a free- booklet, please log onto 10 Ways to Get Working Capital [http://www.crownfinancialservices.net/apply]
Choosing a Merchant Cash Advance Lender
By Gaston Castro
Marcel opened his dream candy store a little over a year ago. His store is the only one of its kind within miles, and everyone goes to his shop when they need to satisfy a sweet tooth. Since business is prospering, and Marcel has had some time to get his feet wet as a business owner, he is now ready to take on a new challenge; opening a new location in another city. All he needs now is a little more money to finance his latest business venture.
Marcel decided that applying for a merchant cash advance would be the most lucrative route for him and his business. But after conducting an online search for "merchant cash advances," he was astonished by the abundance of merchant cash advance lenders, and struggled in his decision of which company to work with.
As a business owner, you can probably relate to this story. Choosing a merchant cash advance lender can be a difficult process. In order to eliminate the confusion of this process, there are a few things that you should consider when choosing the merchant cash advance lender that is best for you.
Most lenders will not charge a slew of additional costs upon approval of a merchant cash advance. With some business transactions, closing costs are required. These are costs beyond the price of your item of purchase that are usually paid at the close of your transaction. Before choosing a merchant cash advance lender, make sure that there will be know closing costs in addition to the fee for the cash advance.
You also should not have to pay interest on a merchant cash advance. Unlike business loans, most merchant cash advance companies will not impose interest rates.
Monthly Credit Card Sales
The amount of credit card sales that your business processes each month can be one of the factors that determine which lender you can receive a merchant cash advance from. Before approving a loan, most lenders will require you to submit a certain amount of your business' most recent, consecutive credit card statements. This is to determine whether or not your business can support a merchant cash advance repayment. Usually, you will be required to provide three to six months of credit card statements, giving lenders an idea of your average monthly income.
You may be required to process anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 in monthly credit card sales. If your company is seasonal and you are not sure if your monthly credit card sales will drop below the requirement during the off season, consider choosing a lender with a lower minimum monthly requirement, or a lender that requires submission of at least 12 months of credit card sales documentation.
How Long Have You Been In Business?
Some merchant cash advance lenders require that a person owns a particular business for at least one year before becoming eligible to receive a merchant cash advance. Others only require the lender to have been in business for 60 days. If you have been in business for over a year and process over $5,000 each month in credit card sales, you obviously have a wider range of options when it comes to choosing a merchant cash advance lender. However, if you have only been in business for a few months, and you need cash immediately, you will have to look for a lender that does not have a requirement of one-year business ownership.
How Quickly Do You Need the Money?
With any lender, the initial application for a merchant cash advance is not a very long process. And after receiving all of the necessary documentation, most lenders can approve your cash advance in a couple of days. But, the amount of documentation that is required to process and approve a merchant cash advance may vary.
Some lenders require only an application and documentation of monthly credit card sales. Other lenders require these in addition to bank statements, lease agreements, photo IDs, voided checks, etc. If you are in a hurry, try choosing a company that requires the least documentation, this may make for a speedier process. Making sure that you have all of your documents ready to go, can also expedite the process. In an ideal situation, you may be able to have your money within seven to 14 days of approval.
How Much Money Do You Need?
Most lending companies can fund up to $600,000 in a merchant cash advance. If you have multiple locations, there are also lenders that can fund you a specific amount of money per location. But the amount of money that you get really depends on the amount of credit card sales that your business processes every month. More or less, regardless of the merchant cash advance lender that you choose, the more money your business brings in, the more money you can get in your merchant cash advance. You can typically be funded 20 to 30 percent more than what your business makes every month.