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FastUpFront is an alternative business lending company specializing in cash advances for small businesses. While the company began operations in 2007, FastUpFront saw tremendous growth in 2009 when small businesses were struggling during the recession. The company made it its mission then, as it is now, to take on new borrowers and extend as much small business financing as possible to help existing businesses grow and expand. Consumers who choose FastUpFront should remember that they must have a credit score of 550 or higher.

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The Good

  • Business Cash Advances
  • Simple Application Process
  • Business Types
  • Flexible Repayment
  • Blog

Business Cash Advances

The biggest selling point of FastUpFront is that its small business cash advances are available to almost everyone. The company does not request any credit score information, so businesses with bad credit can still qualify for funding (although this is mostly inferred because they do not provide any information on minimum requirements). FastUpFront also does not require collateral or an established business plan, and it has an advertised 95 percent approval rate for its unsecured cash advances.

Simple Application Process

The quick online application is free and is also available to be downloaded and either faxed or emailed. Applications can be approved within 24 hours and funding can be received within seven days. Although FastUpFront advertises cash advances of up to $250,000, it has recently begun to extend that amount with larger loans.

Business Types

Unlike traditional bank loans or other small business loans, small business cash advances (also called credit card factoring) can be used for anything related to the business, making them more flexible and appealing to a wide range of businesses. FastUpFront particularly appeals to businesses in industries that may typically have a difficult time securing traditional loans and financing, such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Automotive businesses
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Construction businesses>
  • Beauty salons
  • Motels/hotels
  • Seasonal businesses
  • Small retailers
  • Trucking businesses
  • Medical practices
  • Dental practices

Flexible Repayment

Another main selling point for FastUpFront is that its repayment plans are flexible and automated. Its cash advances are based on future sales, so instead of determining a fixed repayment amount for a finite term, payments are a percentage of future sales with repayment terms generally varying from two months to two years. This means that when sales are down, the payment amounts go down as well, making it easier to keep the business running normally. The payments are automatically withdrawn from credit card sales or from a bank account. FastUpFront does not require businesses to switch to a new credit processor or terminal in order to make those payments.

Blog

Although the most accessible information on FastUpFront's website is dedicated to the advantages of business cash advances, the company's blog and associated articles cover a broad range of business-related topics that could prove helpful to small business owners.

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The Bad

  • Approval Based on Credit Card Sales
  • Limited Information
  • Cash Access
  • Additional Fees
  • Biased Information
  • Limited Customer Service

Approval Based on Credit Card Sales

FastUpFront seems to base its approvals in large part on the credit card sales of the applying businesses. The company requires information about a business's monthly credit card sales and revenue. This means FastUpFront is also only interested in companies that are established and have been operating and generating revenue for some time.

Limited Information

FastUpFront's website is missing important information, including the following:

  • Minimum application requirements (annual revenue, time in business, credits score)
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Interest rates
  • Which locations are eligible for funding

Cash Access

Alternative lenders typically provide fast access to cash (one to three days). However, FastUpFront takes a week for funds to be available.

Additional Fees

Though there are no application or upfront fees, there can be additional fees later on if a company successfully finds financing through FastUpFront's services. The bulk of negative online reviews revolve around both the higher interest rates and fees that were not refunded; however, the number of negative reviews was small.

Biased Information

While the blog posts and linked articles on the website provide information and tips helpful to small business owners, FastUpFront is not an unbiased source of information. Although the information on its website seems far reaching in scope, much of it is focused solely on the advantages of a business cash advance. Instead of providing specific information about particular industries or acting as a resource for different types of loans, the selling points of the FastUpFront cash advance system are repeated.

Limited Customer Service

FastUpFront has been around for several years, but it still seems to be a small company with limited customer service. The live chat often does not have an available representative and representatives do not respond rapidly (or at all) to emailed inquiries. It can also be extremely difficult to reach them by phone, though they do respond quickly to voicemails.

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The Bottom Line

FastUpFront and its small business cash advances are a viable funding alternative to traditional bank loans and other forms of financing. Because FastUpFront's system relies heavily on credit card sales for repayment, its funding is namely for established, revenue-producing small businesses that take credit cards. Because it doesn't have many of the requirements established by banks and other lenders (such as good credit, a business plan, and collateral), its cash advances are easier to obtain.

Be aware, however, of the potentially higher interest rates and understand that businesses that are doing well are more likely to get lower rates. Approval and funding times could be shorter, and the repayments are based on a percentage of future sales, making them less of a drain on a company's cash flow during slower times. Because of the lack of information, we do not recommend working with FastUpFront at this time.

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