An SBA preferred lender is a bank or other financial institution that has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to participate in the agency’s lending programs. Preferred lenders have a proven track record of successfully processing SBA loans and have demonstrated a high level of expertise in underwriting and servicing these loans.
The benefits of using an SBA preferred lender include:
- Faster loan processing: Preferred lenders have the authority to make lending decisions without prior SBA approval, which can lead to faster loan processing times.
- More flexibility: Preferred lenders may have more flexibility in structuring SBA loans to meet the needs of their clients.
- Access to SBA resources: Preferred lenders have access to SBA training and resources, which can help them better serve their clients.
Overall, using an SBA preferred lender can be a great option for small business owners looking to secure financing through the SBA’s lending programs.
The SBA just recently received the most active SBA banks for the past year, which we utilize to created our SBA Preferred List – 2023. The familiar suspects – Live Oak, Byline Bank, and U.S. Bank top the list in terms of loan volume. Live Oak Bank, was well ahead of second place Byline Bank in terms of loan volume. Live Oak achieved this goal with an average loan size of almost $1.4 million. Live Oak is more comfortable doing bigger loans than some of its banking peers as its SBA bank loans focus only on a dozen of so niches. When ranking loan activity by number of loans approved, Huntington Bank actually issued approximately three times as many loans as Live Oak even though Huntington’s footprint is limited to around a dozen stats.
The top 25 most active SBA lenders are below. If you are looking for a small business SBA loan for your business, there is no better place to look than than this table of the most active SBA banks for 7(a) loans:
Top SBA Lenders
|Rank||SBA Lender||Total Loan $$$||# of Loans||Avg Loan||Avg Rate|
|2||Newtek Small Business Finance||$945,317,357||1,353||$698,682||6.1%|
|3||The Huntington National Bank||$914,412,500||4,534||$201,679||5.5%|
|6||Readycap Lending, LLC||$578,732,700||489||$1,183,502||5.4%|
|8||Harvest Small Business Finance||$450,384,800||382||$1,179,018||5.6%|
|9||Enterprise Bank & Trust||$442,756,800||394||$1,123,748||5.1%|
|12||MUFG Union Bank||$396,324,100||243||$1,630,963||4.0%|
|13||Commonwealth Business Bank||$381,635,000||240||$1,590,146||4.7%|
|15||Metro City Bank||$307,953,300||154||$1,999,697||4.4%|
|17||United Midwest Savings Bank||$304,385,700||1,060||$287,156||6.0%|
|20||Bank of Hope||$294,203,000||288||$1,021,538||4.9%|
|21||Bank of the West||$285,548,600||297||$961,443||4.6%|
|23||Bank of George||$273,089,900||118||$2,314,321||5.2%|
- Our SBA preferred lender list 2023 ranking are based on 2022 loan activity.
Top SBA Lenders FAQs
Who is the largest SBA lender?
Live Oak Bank is the largest lender based on loan dollars. Huntington Bank is the largest lender based on number of loans. Live Oak has been #1 for several years after overtaking Wells Fargo, which has dramatically reduced its SBA lending program.
How do I choose an SBA lender?
The most important criteria in selecting an SBA lender (from most to least important) from our years of experience matching borrowers with lenders are:
SBA lending experience – Many banks focus on commercial lending and only do a handful of SBA loans a year, which slows down the approval process and decreases the approval rate. SBA loans have different requirements and processes than traditional loans, and lenders who are experienced in SBA lending will have a better understanding of the process, requirements, and regulations involved. Selecting an SBA lender with extensive SBA lending experience can improve your chances of getting approved for a loan and ensure that your loan application process is as smooth as possible. We believe the best SBA lenders are the ones that focus mostly or exclusively on SBA loans ( as opposed to banks that do traditional lending and only occasionally do SBA loans). Focusing on the largest SBA lenders, perhaps the top 25 or at worst top 100 SBA lenders, is a good strategy.
Geographical focus – Some banks only will lend in certain states or geographical areas. For example, U.S. Bank only provides SBA lending in areas within a certain number of miles from a physical branch. Selecting an SBA lender with industry expertise in your specific business sector can provide several advantages, such as a better understanding of the unique needs and challenges of your industry, faster loan processing times, most importantly, a much higher likelihood your project will be financed.
Note that many of the SBA bankers to whom we refer borrowers are national lenders. Having a lender in your neck of the woods may sound like a great idea, but if the bank doesn’t have significant SBA lending experience, the opposite is usually true.
Industry focus – Some banks love certain industries. Other banks have been burned before and will avoid said industries.
Interest rates – Cost are important, but the SBA does regulate how much SBA banks can charge for their loans. We publish the maximum SBA loan rates weekly so borrowers have a sense for current rates.
Because the four criteria above are very important in selecting an SBA lender, we publish information throughout SBAlenders.com related to SBA loan activity, geographical and industry focus, and SBA interest rates by bank. In addition, borrowers who want introductions to banks that would be a good fit based on the criteria above can simply answers a few questions on our Find me a Lender page, and we will make an introduction(s) to banks we believe would be a great match.
What is the largest SBA loan you can get?
SBA loans range from $25,000 up to $5,000,000. For loan amounts above $5M, we can introduce borrowers to SBA lenders that may couple an SBA loan with a commercial loan and possibly a USDA loan if in a rural area.
Are the biggest SBA lenders the best SBA loan lenders?
In general, we believe the top 25 SBA lenders are the best as they have large teams of specialized lenders who understand the nuisances of SBA lending, which most banks lack. There are some exceptions depending on the top of business, but for the vast majority of borrowers the biggest lenders are an excellent choice. Our Lender Connect tool will match you with an ideal SBA lender for your business or project.
Are all the top SBA lenders on the SBA preferred lender list?
Yes, because the top SBA lenders do the majority of all SBA loan volume, all the big SBA lenders are on the SBA preferred lender list, which provides faster loan turnaround times than non-preferred lenders.
What credit score is needed to obtain an SBA loan?
A credit score of 680 or better is ideal for an SBA loan. Some SBA banks will work with borrowers in the 640 – 680 range. A credit score below 640 is very challenging, and we do not see borrowers with credit scores below 600 obtaining SBA loans in this environment.