Bar Financing: Best Business Loans and Lines of Credit
Owning and operating a bar or buying new equipment takes a large chunk of start-up capital. Our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked the best small business lenders to help you get the bar financing you need.
Reviewed by: Sarah Brooks, Personal Finance Writer and Editor
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may affect which companies we write about and where the company appears on a page. However, any analyses, or reviews expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been approved or endorsed by any partner.
While operating a bar might look simple from the outside, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars just to get one up and running. If you’re looking to open in an urban area or operate a combination of a bar and restaurant, though, you’re likely looking at start-up costs into seven figures. When opening a bar, there are many expenses to think about, such as:
Rent or mortgage for the physical space of the bar
Funds to renovate or update the space
Money to make necessary repairs
Financing to buy equipment and supplies
Enough capital to help you operate at a loss for the first few months
When you’re looking for bar financing, it can be smart to apply with multiple lenders to see who can help you get the best deal with the lowest interest rates. In this review we highlight the rates, fees and terms of each lender and explain what makes them a good option. We also share potential downsides of each lender, and provide a methodology you can use to select the best option for your needs.
Best Bar Financing Loans and Lines of Credit
Kabbage - Best for Bars with Fair Monthly Revenues
Kabbage is backed by American Express and focuses on small business lines of credit. A line of credit differs from a term loan in that you draw on the money up to the maximum amount, pay it back with interest, and then can borrow it again. It’s a revolving type of loan, similar to a credit card.
Kabbage offers bar businesses lines of credit from $2,000 to $250,000. Terms are six, 12, or 18 months from each draw. For six-month loans, rates are 2-9%; for 12-month loans, rates are 7.5-18%; and for 18-month loans, rates are 15.75-27%.
To qualify, you’ll need to be in business for at least one year and you’ll need a minimum credit score of 640. Monthly revenue requirements are $3,000, which is typically much lower than you’ll see with other lenders.
The Bottom Line
Kabbage is a solid choice if you’re looking for a line of credit and meet their minimum requirements. An advantage of a line of credit is you can continue to use the funds as long as your line isn’t maxed out. This allows you to access your money when you need it, as opposed to in one lump sum.
With an equipment loan from National Funding, you can receive the cash you need to ensure your bar has the latest and greatest equipment. Depending on your finances and unique situation, you may get approved for up to $250,000 to cover the cost of ice machines, cocktail strainers and shakers, high tables, stools, and more.
National Funding’s equipment loans go up to $150,000 with repayment terms between two and five years. You can expect a starting pay rate of 1.10 and will need to repay what you borrow every month.
To qualify for an equipment loan, you’ll need a credit score of at least 600, two years or more of business history, and $250,000 or more in annual revenue.
The Bottom Line
If your bar earns at least $250,000 in annual revenue and you’d like to upgrade your equipment, a National Funding equipment loan may help. You can receive your funds within 24 hours and won’t have to come up with a down payment.
Since its founding in 2007, Biz2Credit has provided over $7 billion in loans to thousands of small businesses. After completing their online application, your small business is automatically matched with the best funding sources for your needs. Biz2Credit specializes in loan products such as working capital, term loans, and commercial real estate loans.
If you’re looking for bar financing, Biz2Credit offers a number of different loan products that can help to fill your unique financing gaps. They offer working capital loans starting at $25,000, term loans up to $500,000, and commercial real estate loans up to $6 million. Rates will vary by loan type and lender, but typically start at 8.99%.
To qualify for a loan from Biz2Credit, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 575 for working capital loans and 660 for term loans and commercial real estate loans. Minimum annual revenue is $250,000 across all three products, and you need to be in business for at least six months for a working capital loan. For term loans and CRE loans, the minimum time in business is 18 months.
The Bottom Line
Biz2Credit offers high loan limits for qualified borrowers. If your bar business meets the minimum qualifications, they are a lender worth pursuing.
Fora Financial is an online, alternative lender offering merchant cash advances and short-term loans for small businesses. Their one-page application is simple, and funds can be available to borrowers in as little as 72 hours.
Fora Financial offers merchant cash advances and short-term business loans up to $750,000. Terms are up to 15 months for short-term loans and no collateral is required. With a merchant cash advance, you pay back the loan with a percentage of credit and debit card sales.
Fora Financial looks at more than your credit score when it comes to approving you for a loan. For short-term loans, you’ll need to be in business for at least six months, be able to show $12,000 per month in revenue, and have no open bankruptcies. For a merchant cash advance, you’ll need to show $5,000 per month in credit card transactions.
The Bottom Line
If you need a high loan amount in a short period of time, Fora Financial is worth considering. And since they look at more than just your credit score, those with less-than-ideal credit are advised to apply, too.
Bluevine - Best for Business Lines of Credit for Bars
Bluevine is an online lender that offers small business lines of credit. The application takes just a few minutes to fill out, and you can receive a funding decision in as little as five minutes.
Bluevine offers bar owners lines of credit up to $250,000 with rates starting at 4.8%. Each draw is paid back weekly or monthly over six or 12 months, and your available credit will automatically increase as you make your payments.
To qualify for a line of credit from Bluevine, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 625, $10,000 in monthly revenue, and to have been in business for at least six months.
The Bottom Line
A line of credit from Bluevine can help your bar business pay for operating expenses, open a new location, or purchase inventory. It works great for those that think they’ll need continuous access to funds.
Fundbox offers both loans and lines of credit to small businesses up to $150,000. You can apply without it affecting your credit score, and you’ll receive an approval decision in as little as three minutes. If approved, funds can be in your account as soon as the next business day.
Fundbox loans and lines of credit range from $1,000 to $150,000. Term loans have a repayment period of 24 or 52 weeks, with interest rates starting at 8.33% for 24-week terms. Lines of credit have a repayment period of 12 or 24 weeks, with rates starting at 4.66% for 12-week terms.
To qualify for a loan or line of credit, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 600 and $100,000 in annual revenue. You’ll also need to be in business for at least six months.
The Bottom Line
Fundbox is a great option for bar owners who need up to $150,000 and can pay it back in a short period of time. Their customer service is excellent, and you can reach out to representatives via phone, email, or social media.
If you're worried about your credit score and are still in need of a line of credit, Fundbox is a great option. It offers loans for small businesses with 500 and higher and doesn't require collateral.
Credibly is an online lender that offers a variety of small business loans, including merchant cash advances, term loans, business lines of credit, and SBA loans. SBA loans are backed by the Small Business Administration and, because of that, typically come with lower interest rates and better terms.
Credibly offers a variety of loan types that can be used for a number of different purposes. One of their most popular loan options is the SBA loan, which offers fixed interest rates as low as 6.99% and terms from two to five years. It typically takes longer to get funded with an SBA loan compared to other options, but the difference in savings may make it well worth your time.
To qualify for an SBA loan, you’ll need to have two years in business, a minimum credit score of 620, and a minimum annual revenue of $100,000. You cannot have any outstanding tax liens nor any bankruptcies or foreclosures in the last three years.
The Bottom Line
An SBA loan from Credibly can get you the funds you need for your bar business with a lower interest rate and longer terms than you may see otherwise. The funding time is longer, but if you can wait a few weeks for your loan, an SBA loan is a fantastic lending option.
Bars may not suffer from seasonality as much as a hotel on the beach does, but a bar does often experience changes in pace during the course of a year.
Savvy managers may have money put aside for at least six months. However, most bar businesses primarily rely on the money they get from their customers.
Let’s take a look at some of the expenses bar owners will have to incur.
Rent or real estate purchase: You'll either be renting or buying your bar location. Although renting adds a substantial amount to your monthly expenses, buying will require a huge amount of starting capital.
Construction or renovations: Not all spaces come as you imagine them. Chances are that you'll need to do some renovations and construction work. You will also need to pay for permits, materials, and workers.
Sound and lighting: A bar business should have a wow factor to set you apart from the competition. Having professional lighting and sound equipment is often necessary for bars.
Taxes, licenses, and permits: When you serve alcohol and food, you will need to pay a fee to the local authorities. Learn what these fees are and include them in your financial plan.
Utilities: Utilities will be one of your largest recurring payment categories, including heating and cooling during the warm and cold seasons.
Payroll: While you might need to consider contractor payments when you are starting out, your basic payroll should be predictable and constant.
Marketing: While word-of-mouth and events might help you with your advertising, don't forget to invest in your online presence. Use social media ads to expand your audience and promote your brand.
Inventory: Drink mixers, cocktail glasses, and attributes all cost money. These are part of your brand, so you might want to spend a little on these items. Alcohol and soft drink purchases may take up a large bulk of your resources, both in the initial stage and during operation.
Cash Flow Tips for Bar Owners
While a small business loan can help you fill a cash flow gap or purchase a new piece of equipment, the day-to-day operations of your bar are dependent on your ability to manage your cash flow. Here are a few tips.
Prepare for unexpected expenses: Whether it’s a piece of equipment needing repair or hiring and training a new employee, unexpected expenses are always popping up for small businesses. Have a small slush fund.
Sign up for a business bank account: A business bank account is necessary for you to get business financing and separate your business and personal finances.
Get a business credit card: A business credit card can help you to manage small cash flow gaps by paying for large expenses over time.
Use a business savings account for emergencies: A business savings account allows you to set aside funds to help pay for emergencies. Keeping this money in a savings account makes it just a little bit harder to spend without planning ahead.
No matter what business you operate, getting a loan can be a time-consuming activity. And, it can be challenging to get approved. Luckily, our experts have hand-picked the top small business loans for bar owners, simplifying the process for you and helping you find the best rates and terms available today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much of a loan can I get for a bar?
How much financing you can get for your bar will depend greatly on your business, your annual revenue, and what collateral you have to put up for the loan. Each lender will have slightly different qualification requirements and will be able to offer you differing loan amounts. You may need to apply at multiple lenders to get the amount of bar financing you need.
Can you get a bank loan to open a bar?
Yes, you can get a bank loan to open a bar or start a bakery, but the requirements are stricter and it will take longer to get approved and funded. Banks want a guarantee that you’ll be able to pay back your loan. With a new business, they have very little data and information to base their assessments on. If you’re looking to get a loan for a new business, you’ll likely have to offer a personal guarantee and personal financial information in return.
What licenses do you need to open a bar?
As a business, your bar will need a business license to be open and operate. Additionally, because bars serve alcohol, you will be required to obtain a license from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is the federal licensing body for alcohol and tobacco sales. The cost of your license will depend on your state, and you may need additional licenses on top of it.
How much does it cost to run a nightclub?
Your monthly cash flow needs will depend greatly on the size of your bar or nightclub. If you’re operating in a small town, your expenses and income will be much lower than if you’re operating a large establishment in an urban setting.