Fighting the debt fight

Recent credit card usage is up among small businesses, according to CreditCards.com, with numbers soaring above those from 10 years ago. Loans are harder to get and interest rates are climbing, so start looking at your long-term financial plan to make sure you're not digging yourself into a debt hole.

Right now the National Small Business Association says about 45 percent of businesses meet at least 10 percent of their annual financing needs with credit cards. Nearly half of companies surveyed reported interest rates of 15 percent and up with 79 percent saying their terms have gotten worse in the last five years.

With credit card lending getting out of control it may seem like a business loan would be a wiser choice. The problem there is that lenders will consider your credit score as one of the primary factors influencing the kind of loan your business is eligible for, if they can offer you anything at all.

According to credit reporting agency Experian, just carrying a large amount of credit card debt can negatively impact a credit score and make loans harder to obtain. The NSBA's report found about a third of small businesses were regularly carrying a balance of at least $10,000 month to month on their credit cards. The situation gets worse as the same report shows half of businesses are using these cards to pay their loans, making it a vicious cycle of debt.

If you know there's a problem, seek help immediately. That might mean taking a fixed-rate loan to get rid of credit card debt – a much better alternative for the NSBA respondents who noted mutable billing dates, decreased credit limits and neurotic interest rates as some of the chief complaints regarding their existing card agreements.

Even if you're in a situation where you may feel it's impossible to get a business loan, tax expert Linda Keith encourages small businesses to be honest with potential lenders and try to make them an offer on terms as this may convince them to extend some assistance.

If you have questions about business financing stop by and speak with a My Bank representative about loan options that might be right for you.

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