Refinancing Short-Term Debt with Short-Term Debt: The Good and The Bad

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Whether you’re just starting a business or moving a new product to market, it’s crucial to keep your money flowing. A common way to do this is to take out a loan to finance the purchases and operations of your business. Short-term loans are an increasingly popular way to do this, especially for those who can’t qualify for larger and longer funding. The amount of money that non-bank lenders provided for short-term loans doubled between 2012 and 2013, increasing from $1.5 billion to $3 billion.

The thought of taking out a new short-term loan to refinance your existing short-term debt can be a bit scary. After all, you’re accumulating more debt with the potential for quite a bit more interest. However, in certain situations, it’s a smart option for small business owners. The key is to know which situations

Here are some of the most relevant pros and cons you should consider before refinancing short-term debt with another short-term loan.

The Good

  1. INCREASE WORKING CAPITAL

Refinancing a short-term loan with another short-term loan isn’t always a last resort when you have no other options. In some cases, it’ll make sense to pursue a new loan in order to help grow a business. Business owners might need an infusion of fresh working capital to invest in the company or to take advantage of a profitable, one-time only business opportunity.

If you’re borrowing more money for a project that should have a significantly positive impact on the health of your business, and it’s fairly low risk, additional short-term borrowing could be worth the cost.

  1. EXTEND LOAN TERM – LOWER DAILY PAYMENT

The loan terms that made sense for your business a year ago might not work as well for you today. Conditions are always changing, obstacles are always popping up—you know how it goes..

Refinancing your existing debt with a new short-term loan can extend your payment horizon, letting you adapt to business circumstances as they change. By extending the term of your small business loan, you could significantly lower your payments, freeing up cash to invest in other things.

The Bad

  1. PAYING INTEREST ON INTEREST

The most serious drawback to pursuing a new short-term loan to refinance existing debt is the financial cost. Since you’ll typically pay back your existing loan balance and the interest attached as part of the new loan, you might wind up paying interest on interest.

Generally speaking, refinancing with a new short-term loan isn’t going to be the most cost-effective outcome.

  1. OTHER LENDERS MIGHT NOT LET YOU REFINANCE

The more flexibility you have as a business owner, the better off you are. It’s always good to keep your options open so that you can adapt to emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. But if you decide to refinance short-term debt with another short-term loan, those options could become a bit narrower.

A new loan might prevent your existing balance from becoming low enough to qualify for service by another lender. While this might not be a problem for business owners who are happy with their existing lender, it does limit your ability to shop around for a more competitive deal.

  1. IT MAY BE A TEMPORARY SOLUTION TO A LARGER PROBLEM

Business owners on the verge of default or closure are often looking for any port in a storm. When your choices are to take out another loan or lose the business, then paying added interest doesn’t seem like much of a deal breaker.

Still, it’s important to take a good hard look at the state of your business and give yourself an honest appraisal. Going further into debt might be the best choice if that new debt serves as a bridge to something better. If you’re using a new loan as a form of “corporate triage,” though, you might want to reevaluate your position. If the loan is just a temporary fix for a deeper, more systemic problem, adding new debt might only prolong the issue.

 

Refinancing your existing short-term debt with a new short-term loan could make sense under certain conditions, though there are significant downsides you should be aware of. But if your business could grow by refinancing that short-term debt with a longer-term loan, that’s ideal—you’ll save money and stress with lower, less frequent payments.