Celtic Bank is a great option for those who have strong enough credit scores, cash flow and collateral to borrow from a bank but are also interested in working with a lender that has a lot of experience handling SBA loans. Celtic Bank also allows applicants to apply for loans online, which is far simpler than the process at other banks. However, Celtic Bank does carry stricter requirements and has a longer overall application process than most alternative lenders. If you're looking for an SBA 7(a) or 504 loan from a lender with proven experience, we highly recommend you consider Celtic Bank.
Celtic Bank Review: Should You Apply?
Borrowers looking to get an SBA 7(a) or 504 loan should consider Celtic Bank. The bank doesn't advertise that it handles other types of SBA loans, but the 7(a) and 504 loans are two of the most popular SBA products. Therefore, borrowers should be able to find a good fit. According to the SBA, Celtic Bank has originated more than 7,300 SBA 7(a) loans since 2010, which makes it one of the top 10 SBA lenders in the nation in terms of volume.
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Celtic Bank Pros
Other than being one of the most experienced SBA lenders in the nation, Celtic Bank's biggest benefit to borrowers is that its operations are entirely online. This is a plus because it means that applications of both SBA and non-SBA loans will be simpler to fill out. Rather than visiting a local branch to apply, Celtic Bank offers a digital experience, which most business owners will value. SBA loans have notoriously long processing time frames, and this helps expedite the process.
Additionally, Celtic Bank is a part of the SBA's Preferred Lending Program (PLP). As a result, Celtic Bank is allowed more control by the SBA than other lenders with issuing SBA loans, which means Celtic can likely process SBA loans faster than non-PLP lenders. While Celtic Bank doesn't disclose exactly how long its application process takes for both SBA and non-SBA loans, we'd still strongly recommend Celtic Bank to any borrower looking for an SBA loan given its online presence and PLP status.
Celtic Bank Cons
Celtic Bank's advantage as an online bank is also its biggest downfall. It lacks a human feel to it—and to many business owners, being able to talk with someone is important. The trade-off for using an online platform that doesn't allow you to build a relationship with the bank is that applications are simpler and faster to complete. Additionally, Celtic Bank doesn't publicize much information about its SBA loans aside from the maximum term length offered. Celtic isn't unique in this as other banks also don't offer much insight to their rates and loan details, but we'd still consider this a con because it makes it tough to compare loans from lenders before committing to lengthy applications.
Those interested in SBA loans should research general SBA requirements. Celtic Bank will also have a separate set of requirements, though it doesn't fully disclose all of them. In general, borrowers should have:
- A personal credit score above 680.
- At least a year of profitability.
- No recent bankruptcies or existing liens.
- A few years in business.
- Collateral to guarantee loans.
Features, Rates and Terms
Celtic Bank may not fully disclose its rates, but the SBA's maximum is the prime rate + 4.75% for the 7(a) loans. That means Celtic Bank's rates must fall below that ceiling. Borrowers can expect to make a 10% down payment on 7(a) loans. Any loans for real estate, inventory and large equipment require collateral.
Celtic Bank's Application Process
Celtic Bank's application is simple and can be completed online. Depending on your application, you'll likely have to speak with advisers throughout the application process. Despite Celtic Bank's PLP status, the application process can still take days or weeks.
To help expedite the process, we recommend gathering the following documents before applying:
- Social Security numbers for all business owners and your company's employer identification number (EIN)
- Both personal and business tax returns
- Your resume
- Personal and business bank statements
- Relevant operating licenses
- Business legal documents
An alternative is to apply for a loan with an online lender instead, as most online lenders process applications within hours or a few business days. However, you'll be trading speed for cost, as loans through online banks tend to be smaller and much more expensive.
How Does Celtic Bank Compare to Other Lenders?
Celtic Bank is one of our strongest recommendations for SBA 7(a) and 504 loans. Its strongest points are in the sheer volume of SBA loans it processes, its status as an SBA PLP lender and its online application process. However, other lenders can be as competitive as Celtic Bank, and there are plenty of viable alternatives.
Celtic Bank vs Live Oak Bank
Live Oak Bank is one of Celtic Bank's closest competitors. The two are SBA PLP lenders and issue a similar volume of SBA loans, but we give the edge to Live Oak Bank. It is far more transparent with the details of its loans, and if your business operates in an industry the bank serves, you're eligible to work with high-quality advisers.
Celtic Bank vs Smart Biz
Smart Biz is more of a marketplace that connects lenders to borrowers looking for SBA loans. Smart Biz is likely to charge more expensive rates, but it's an excellent option for those who simply want to be connected with lenders rather than testing the market on their own.
Celtic Bank vs Online Lenders
Celtic Bank's strengths are larger loan sizes and cheaper rates compared to online lenders. Online lenders are a great option for those who want fast funding but can't yet qualify for loans from a bank or guaranteed by the SBA. If you're looking for a small amount of working capital and don't mind paying much higher fees for the sake of funding speed, we'd recommend working with an online lender.