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Why revolving lines of credit suit growing SMBs

Team Waddle  •  15 August, 2015

We’re going to explain the extremely popular revolving line of credit, why it's perfect for growing businesses and how to spot the imitations.

Before you sign up for a revolving line of credit, it’s important to know more about how this business finance tool works, what it’s used for, and how you can get the best overall fit for your business as well as the most competitive rates.

What is a revolving line of credit?

Business owners get confused about the basic meaning of a revolving line of credit or “revolver”. Instead of taking a lump sum of money and repaying this in fixed instalments over a fixed period of time, a revolver is an approved set credit limit that you can draw down against, repay, redraw over and over again up to the approved limit. You only ever pay interest on the outstanding balance, thus providing the most cost effective rates compared to other types of products.

For example, if your business gets approved for a $50,000 revolving line of credit, your business can borrow a total of $50,000. But you don’t have to borrow all of that money at the same time. You can borrow $50,000 at once, or you can borrow any smaller amount (whether it’s $5,000, $10,000, or more) that you need, repaying or borrowing again and again without re-applying.

With a revolver, you pay back money you borrow on a flexible basis. There is no fixed monthly payment that you have to make and with Waddle there are no set loan terms or period, which is sometimes referred to as evergreen accounts.

For example, if you borrow $2,000 from your revolver, you can pay it back all at once with one payment the following month/day/week, or you can pay back $400 per month for 5 months (plus interest), or you can pay back $200 one month, $700 the next month, and $1,100 over the next three months, depending on your available cash flow. As long as you don’t exceed your limit you don’t ever have to repay principal however, keep in the mind the interest will run on any outstanding balances so it’s best to pay down the balance when you can. Applying for a Waddle loan is as simple as linking your accounting app. Try it out today.

How does a revolving line of credit compare with a fixed term loan?

A revolving line of credit is an “open-ended” financing tool. That means that you have approval to borrow as much money as you want without having to re-apply every time, it’s like “cash on demand” finance.

This is another advantage of revolvers compared to fixed-term business loans, where you would have to go to the bank or non-bank lender, talk to someone, fill out an application or get a re-assessment done, wait for your credit file to be checked again and most likely hand over some updated financials to be checked.

With fixed term loans you need to ensure you can meet the repayment obligations. Some repayment schedules are daily, weekly or monthly. If you don’t have cash available or remember to make a repayment you can wind up in default or at least be forced to stump late fees and penalties each time you go over.

Fixed-term loans are mostly suited to more of a long-term financial proposition. Fixed terms are typically used for bigger and more expensive investments in your business, such as new equipment, capital expenditures, or building a new facility.

You should keep in mind that fixed term loans have an end date. This means you have a specific date by which the entire loan must be paid in full and you can’t redraw until it’s fully paid off. You pay the same interest amount on the original amount you borrowed, instead of what’s outstanding which can be costly.

How to spot the fakes

When shopping around, specifically for a revolving line of credit you can come against terms like “line of credit”, “credit line” and “unsecured business loans”. On the surface you might not tell the difference, however there are critical variations in how these loans work.

Remember how the “true” revolver only charged you interest on the outstanding balance allowing you to repay and re-draw at any time up to an approved limit? There are some loan options in the marketplace that seemingly offer this solution, however when you look closely at your offer you might find that the lender offers a series of fixed term loans bundled together. Let’s say you borrow $10,000 today, then another $5,000 a week later. Each loan draw-down you took is treated as a separate fixed term loan with a set repayment schedule and repayment date that run in parallel to each other. This significantly increases the cost of the loan compared to a “true” revolver as the interest is charged on the each original loan amount until the end of the term.

Any loan you apply for that has fixed repayments or requires full repayment by a set date is not a revolving line of credit.

A revolver is a simpler, cleaner method if you are seeking a facility that allows flexible drawdowns and repayments with any end date for repayment or fixed repayment obligations.

Borrowing money is a fact of life for most businesses. Sometimes you have to take loans that suit your immediate need or offer the fasted way to get money in the bank. Whether it’s a revolving line of credit or fixed term loan, both can help give your business access to cash when you need it most.

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