Wells Fargo is a long-time American financial institution, with roots reaching back to the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. Wells Fargo was founded in 1852 and opened for business in San Francisco and Sacramento, California. Since then, they have expanded with over 6,000 locations across the United States.
The six-horse stagecoach is an easily recognizable symbol for Wells Fargo and dates back to the period of time when Wells Fargo operated a stagecoach line across the western part of the U.S. Wells Fargo is currently the fourth largest banking institution in the United States.
- Discounts on rates available
- SBA approved lender
Business Loan Terms
Wells Fargo's business loan and credit options are geared mainly toward small businesses, even more so than other banking institutions. Their BusinessLoan™ term loan amounts range from $10,000 to $5 million and are unsecured, meaning they do not require collateral. The repayment terms range from two to six years and interest rates start at 6.5 percent. They also offer a 0.25 percent discount on that rate if a business applicant sets up automatic payments from a Wells Fargo business checking account.
Wells Fargo is an SBA approved lender for SBA 7(a) and 504 term loans. Wells Fargo also offers four more types of business loans. Their equipment loan is very similar to a business term loan except that the vehicle or equipment purchased with the loan is used as collateral. The other three types of loans offer higher loan amounts ($50,000 to $500,000), prime-based interest rates, and require commercial real estate as collateral.
Lines of Credit
The Wells Fargo business lines of credit are marketed to both established businesses and new businesses. For businesses that are more than two years old, the credit amounts extend from $5,000 to $100,000 and do not require collateral. For new business, a secured line of credit with a Wells Fargo savings or CD account is available. The interest rates for each of these credit lines is tied to the prime rate.
- Application process
- Documentation fee
- Lacking transparency
There is a substantial amount of business and personal information needed to complete an application. The needed information includes:
- The business name, address, phone and fax numbers, and tax identification number
- The date the business was established
- Ownership type and the number of owners
- Annual revenue
- Business banking account numbers and balances
- The applicant's name, address, phone number, citizenship, and social security number
- Annual household income
- Personal banking account numbers and balances
- Primary contact information
For a BusinessLoan™ term loan, as well as an equipment loan, there is a $150 flat documentation fee; however, it can be waived if the business loan is part of a Business Services Package. For secured loans of larger amounts, there are larger closing costs based on a percentage of the loan amount. It is similar for the business lines of credit. There is an opening fee of $0 to $250, depending on the loan amount, with a similar renewal fee each year. For larger lines of credit, the fees are correspondingly larger as well.
Overall, there were several items that Wells Fargo left undisclosed about their loans:
- APR range
- Minimum application requirements (credit score, time in business, annual revenue)
- Time to Funding
Wells Fargo focuses mainly on financing for established businesses with a predictable revenue. Startups and new businesses will have a more difficult time finding funding through Wells Fargo.
Wells Fargo has a fair number of online positive reviews, but there are many more easily found negative reviews. Most of the complaints are related to excessive or seemingly unnecessary fees and overdrafts. Many complaints also specifically pointed to a lack of reliable customer service in an industry that relies on in-person processes and relationships. However, even some of the negative reviewers acknowledge that the lack of customer service indicates a focus on effective fiscal management; in other words, that Wells Fargo is more concerned with managing its financially responsibly than to catering to customers.
Several U.S. states do not have physical Wells Fargo locations, which leads us to believe that you cannot take out of a business loan if you are in one of those states. States without Wells Fargo locations include...
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
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The Bottom Line
Wells Fargo is a well-established banking institution that offers financing options to small businesses through a variety of loan and line of credit types. By providing unsecured loan and line of credit options, small business owners have more opportunities to qualify for and secure financing.
The company is also an SBA lender, giving both established and emerging businesses the opportunity of apply for and securing SBA loans. Wells Fargo does charge upfront fees for several of the financing options, but the fees for the unsecured and smaller funding sources are fairly minimal while more extensive financing requires larger closing costs. While Wells Fargo has received a large number of negative reviews, they continue to be one of the most prominent banks in the United States.
Those who do not apply for business loans from Wells Fargo or other big banks should consider seeking financing through alternative lenders.
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