Dangers of Merchant Cash Advances

Merchant cash advances may seem like a quick and easy type of commercial loan, but do the benefits really outweigh the risks?

First what is a merchant cash advance? Broadly speaking it is a lump sum issued and then paid off with a percentage of future sales (most often credit card transactions). This means any time your customer pays with their credit card, a specific percentage of that transaction will go towards paying off the outstanding debt. Another feature of this type of loan is that you pay a factor, rather than an interest rate. A factor rate is a number multiplied by the amount borrowed, which gives you the total amount you owe. For example if you borrow 2,000 dollars on an MCA with factor rate of 1.5 then you owe 3000 dollars. This payment structure has very specific implications. But who would want to get an MCA in the first place?

This type of commercial loan can appeal to borrowers with bad credit, little in the way of collateral or those without an established business track record. Issuers of MCA’s often don’t ask for the same amount of documentation and usually have a broader criteria of who can qualify for their loans than traditional lending sources. Getting an MCA is also faster and easier than getting traditional financing. Obviously, this model appeals to business owners who don’t qualify elsewhere or those who need money quickly.

But consider the many downsides to this type of loan. MCA issuers don’t have to abide by the same regulations as other lenders and therefore they can charge exorbitant interest. MCA’s can be very expensive and it is not unheard of for borrowers to pay triple-digits in the way of APR. The fact that the amount owed is fixed based on a factor rate, also means there is no benefit to paying off these types of loans early. You will always owe the same amount for an MCA ( i.e. amount borrowed x factor rate), regardless of when you pay it off. The unique payment structure of MCAs however presents the greatest risk to borrowers.

What are the implications?

Because MCAs are often paid off on the basis of credit card transactions, they can consistently eat away at your revenue streams. The lender could be entitled to as much as 45 percent (depending on the agreement) of your daily credit card sales. Therefore if this type of loan isn’t paid off quickly, your revenue is deferred to paying back the loan rather than expanding your business (defeating the purpose of getting the loan in the first place). In the worse case scenario, you could find yourself trapped in a cycle of debt, taking out another advance just to pay off the previous one or getting new loans simply to continue operating your business.

Even though a Merchant Cash Advance may seem attractive if you have poor credit, consider the expense and risk involved in this type of commercial loan.

Considering the risks involved in Merchant cash advances you should probably consider them a last resort when seeking financing. While every business is different, the benefits of MCAs are few while the risks are numerous.

Dennis Dahlberg

Level 4 Funding LLC  Private Hard Money Lender
Arizona Tel:  (623) 582-4444
Texas Tel:      (512) 516-1177
Dennis@level4funding.com NMLS 1057378 | AZMB 0923961 | MLO 1057378
22601 N 19th Ave Suite 112 | Phoenix | AZ | 85027
111 Congress Ave |Austin | Texas | 78701

About the Author:  Dennis has been working in the real estate industry in some capacity for the last 40 years. He purchased his first property when he was just 18 years old. He quickly learned about the amazing investment opportunities provided by trust deed investing and hard money loans. His desire to help others make money in real estate investing led him to specialize in alternative funding for real estate investors who may have trouble getting a traditional bank loan. Dennis is passionate about alternative funding sources and sharing his knowledge with others to help make their dreams come true. Dennis has been married to his wonderful wife for 42 years. They have 2 beautiful daughters 5 amazing grandchildren. Dennis has been an Arizona resident for the past 40 years.

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