In the face of a growing commercial finance funding crisis, many small business owners are exploring new options for commercial financing. Credit card loans and business cash advances are two working capital financing strategies which are proving to be practical and effective sources of operating cash for commercial borrowers.
The use of credit card financing often refers to business cash advances in which working capital is obtained by business owners based upon future credit card processing activity. Alternatively the use of personal credit cards to obtain a cash advance is also referred to as a credit card loan. With business finance funding shortages, small business owners are increasingly using both approaches to obtain operating cash for their business. The two financing approaches are not equal in terms of how they are viewed by commercial financing experts although the strategies might be called by the same name occasionally.
Many commercial lenders have suddenly reduced or cancelled business lines of credit and other forms of working capital loans. In response, many business owners have been forced to rely on cash obtained via their personal credit cards to sustain their businesses. We strongly urge all commercial borrowers to review our predatory lending discussion in The Working Capital Journal in order to prepare for some of the most undesirable actions being taken by many lenders which have a substantial credit card loan exposure.
There are two particular observations we want to emphasize about small business owners using personal credit cards to obtain operating cash: (1) This really is a business financing method of last resort that should be avoided whenever possible. Before assuming that this is the only source of capital available, commercial borrowers should consult with a working capital finance expert. The possibility of business cash advances and working capital loans should be thoroughly explored. (2) This questionable method of obtaining commercial finance funding will prove to be increasingly more difficult because credit card issuers are already cutting back on their unsecured lending programs.
Like reductions in their lending programs for business lines of credit, most banks are now making similar cutbacks in credit card lending. They are reducing or cancelling credit lines even when borrowers have a superb payment record. The rationale for banks reducing both credit card lines and commercial lines of credit is similar. With unsecured commercial loans or personal loans, banks fear that massive defaults are almost inevitable due to a very shaky economy and business lending climate. Unlike residential real estate financing in which real property is pledged as collateral, banks know that they have no collateral to fall back on with working capital loans and credit card loans because they are unsecured. Many small business owners use home equity lines of credit to obtain operating cash, and these funding sources are also diminishing in most areas of the United States. Although these lending programs are backed by collateral, the value of homes in many areas has decreased to the point that many outstanding loans exceed the current property value.
One of the most disturbing and frustrating occurrences in the current difficult commercial financing environment is the lack of clear information for many business owners about which funding options are realistic and possible. This factor alone has probably led thousands of commercial borrowers to obtain operating cash from their personal credit cards when there were better alternatives.
Due to the growing tendency of several major credit card issuers to exhibit predatory lending practices, the use of personal credit card loans should be avoided. At a minimum, each business owner should contact a business finance funding expert to determine if a business cash advance program or a working capital loan program can be used to obtain needed cash.