Merchant cash advances (MCAs) are a type of financing that has become increasingly popular among small business owners. While they offer quick access to capital, MCAs also come with risks that entrepreneurs should be aware of before deciding to use this form of financing.
The first thing that entrepreneurs need to understand about MCAs is how they work. With an MCA, a business receives a lump sum payment in exchange for a percentage of its future credit card sales. The repayment of the MCA is based on a daily or weekly percentage of those sales, which is automatically deducted from the business’s credit card transactions until the advance is repaid in full.
One of the benefits of MCAs is that they offer quick access to capital. Unlike traditional loans, which can take weeks or even months to be approved and funded, MCAs can often be approved and funded within days. This can be a lifesaver for small businesses that need cash quickly to cover unexpected expenses or take advantage of new opportunities.
However, the convenience of Merchant Cash Advance comes with a cost. MCAs can be very expensive, with interest rates that can range from 20% to 200% or more. This is because MCAs are not regulated like traditional loans, which means that MCA providers can charge whatever fees and interest rates they choose.
Another risk of MCAs is that they can be a trap for businesses with unpredictable revenue streams. Because the repayment of an MCA is based on a percentage of future credit card sales, businesses that experience a dip in sales may struggle to make their payments. This can lead to a cycle of debt and financial instability that can be difficult to break out of.
To navigate the risks and rewards of MCAs, entrepreneurs should take the following steps
Research MCA providers carefully. Look for providers that are transparent about their fees and interest rates, and that have a good reputation in the industry.
Consider alternative financing options. MCAs should be a last resort, after all other financing options have been explored. Traditional loans, lines of credit, and crowdfunding are all potential alternatives.
Calculate the true cost of the MCA. Before signing on the dotted line, entrepreneurs should calculate the total cost of the MCA, including all fees and interest. This will help them determine if the MCA is worth the cost.
Have a plan for repayment. Entrepreneurs should have a plan in place for how they will repay the MCA, including what they will do if their credit card sales decline.