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Pros and Cons of Using a Personal Line of Credit for Business Expenses
February 14, 2018
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Pros and Cons of Using a Personal Line of Credit for Business Expenses

Let’s face it; even for well-established business, cash flow will fluctuate. Unfortunately, bills are due whether you have cash or not, which is why many business owners turn to a personal line of credit to fill in cash flow gaps. Still, we don’t suggest blindly following the crowd.

Instead, understand the pros and cons of using a personal line of credit. That way, you’ll be equipped to:

  • Understand if it’s right for you.
  • Know how to use it.
  • Compare it to other financing options.

To review, a personal line of credit works like this:

After opening an account with a financial institution, you get immediate and ongoing access to a certain amount of money for an agreed-upon time-frame. It’s flexible because you can access the money and pay it back as soon as you like. Remember, though, since it’s a loan, you’ll be charged interest on the money you borrow!

The Pros of Using a Personal Line of Credit for Business

Pay Bills Fast

You may have a payment of $500,000 coming in next month, but without that cash on hand to pay your monthly rent, you’re in trouble. With a personal line of credit, you have immediate access to cash that you can use how you want, when you want.

Less Red Tape than a Business Line of Credit

Business lines of credit tend to have more stringent requirements than personal lines. NerdWallet has found that traditional lenders usually “require businesses to have strong revenue and at least a few years of history to qualify for a [business] line of credit.”

Should you go for a personal line of credit instead, you won’t face as much scrutiny. In a Bankrate article, Brent Vallat, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo said “underwriters are likely to approve borrowers with a strong credit history, a good relationship with the bank and verifiable earnings.”

Pay for What You Use

With a term loan, you’ll be given a set amount of money, unlike a personal line of credit. Instead of paying interest on a lump sum of money, you only pay interest on the money you use. That’s why a line of credit is such an effective tool for evening out cash flow.

With a line of credit, you have security in knowing that anytime you need cash, you can tap your line of credit to bridge the gap. It’s like a cash flow insurance policy. The best part? Unlike insurance, there’s no monthly premium with a personal line of credit.

The Cons of Using a Personal Line of Credit for Business

Can be Damaging if Used Improperly

You wouldn’t use a toaster oven to make coffee, right? Well, that’s essentially what some people do with personal lines of credit. Instead of using it for the occasional cash flow shortfall, people may use it to, for example, pay for a vacation they can’t afford.

With a personal line of credit, you must be very careful deciding when and how you plan to use it. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting stuck with high interest debt.

Mixes Personal Funds with Business

You should tread lightly when mixing personal credit (and cash) into your business. It can cause problems when filing your taxes, especially if you’re not diligent about keeping personal and business expenses separate.

Moreover, when you use a personal line of credit, you run the risk of damaging your personal credit score. This is especially true if you use most of the funds available through your line of credit, because your credit utilization score will rise.

More Expensive than Traditional Secured Loans

Personal lines of credit are unsecured, meaning you don’t need to put up collateral to secure the loan. Due to this, lenders can’t easily seize your assets for your failure to pay, so they’ll charge more in interest than they would for a traditional secured loan.

Conclusion

You should approach using a personal line of credit for business expenses with caution and due diligence. It’s an extremely effective tool when used properly. Plus, if you pay back what you borrow in full and in a timely manner, you’ll build your personal credit. If you have a good personal credit score, it’ll boost your chances of qualifying for a business line of credit, so you won’t have to utilize a personal line of credit for business expenses.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].
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