Wells Fargo is one of the US’s largest and most recognizable banks. The traditional financial institution is mainly known for consumer and commercial banking services but also offers some small business financing.
If you’re a small business owner considering Wells Fargo business loans, we can help guide you with this review. Specifically, we’ll answer these questions:
Wells Fargo bank is one of the country’s largest and longest-running commercial banks. The bank is primarily known for consumer-facing banking services.
However, Wells Fargo offers business financing as well. It’s one of the few traditional brick-and-mortar banks that offer programs specifically for small businesses.
Wells Fargo has recently reduced its small business offerings, eliminating term loans, but it still provides several financing products. You should know that the qualifications tend to run high as most applicants need to have an established business and a high credit score.
Let’s look at the specifics of each type of financing.
Business credit lines act like credit cards. You get a set credit limit and can draw funds from that credit limit. Wells Fargo lets you connect your line of credit to a Mastercard access card to facilitate payments.
When you draw funds, you repay them plus interest. As you pay off the balance, the credit limit replenishes in a revolving line of credit. A business line of credit helps with cash flow and everyday business expenses.
Wells Fargo offers two unsecured business lines of credit: BusinessLine® and Small Business Advantage®. Both include automatic enrollment in the free rewards program. An unsecured business line means it doesn’t require collateral.
The Business line of credit ranges between $10,000 and $100,000 in revolving credit. Interest rates start as low as the Prime rate plus 1.75%. There is an annual fee of $95 for business lines up to $25,000 and $175 for lines over $25,000.
The Small Business Advantage® has a smaller credit limit, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. Rates start at the prime rate plus 4.75%. There is no annual fee. This product is available to businesses younger than two years and has a term of five years.
The Wells Fargo Prime Line of Credit is available for businesses that average $2 million to $5 million in sales. Credit limits range from $100,000 to $500,000. The interest rates range from prime plus 0%-5%.
Prime lines of credit are secured with business assets as collateral. Assets include inventory, accounts receivable, equipment, and more. Wells Fargo retains the right to use a UCC blanket lien on business assets.
Wells Fargo offers several types of commercial real estate financing. Borrowers can get a loan to purchase or upgrade commercial properties or refinance an existing commercial real estate loan for a lower rate and better terms. Financing ranges from $50,000 to $1 million, and terms go up to 25 years.
Additionally, the bank offers commercial real estate equity loans, where a business can receive financing based on the value of its commercial property. Another option is to take out a commercial real estate equity line of credit.
Loans and lines of credit range from $50,000 to $500,000. Terms for an equity loan go up to 25 years. Borrowers can draw against the line of credit for 5 years. After that, the line of credit becomes an adjustable 15-year amortizing loan.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are considered the gold standard of small business financing. Wells Fargo is an SBA-preferred lender, meaning the company can approve SBA loans with its internal underwriting process.
Wells Fargo offers SBA 7(a) loans, 504 loans, and an SBA Line of Credit. The funds can finance a wide range of business expenses and investments, including equipment purchases, commercial real estate, marketing, purchasing inventory, and more.
The bank’s SBA 7(a) loans go up to $5 million, and SBA 504 loans go up to $6.5 million. If using the funds for commercial real estate, the terms go up to 25 years. Otherwise, the terms are 10 years.
Wells Fargo’s SBA line of credit runs between $5,000 and $50,000. Terms go up to five years.
Healthcare practices can apply for special financing with Wells Fargo. The bank doesn’t disclose much detail on the lending options available, but if your practice is acquiring commercial real estate, loan amounts go up to $5 million.
Wells Fargo equipment financing is available for a wide range of business equipment, machinery, and tools. The bank offers equipment loans or leases starting at $100,000. Wells Fargo provides general equipment financing for manufacturing equipment, material handling, and office equipment.
Wells Fargo offers specialty equipment financing for:
In addition, Wells Fargo Rail is the largest rail equipment lessor in the US. The bank’s equipment financing website also includes a resource to place ads for selling used equipment.
Qualifications vary depending on the type of financing and the amount requested. Wells Fargo considers your credit score, annual revenue, and years in business in their underwriting process.
The bank doesn’t publish specific credit score requirements, but most online reviews suggest you need an established credit score of 700 or 650 for select products. Nearly every loan type requires a minimum of two years in business, except for the Small Business Advantage line of credit.
The only absolute requirement that we know of is for SBA loans, and borrowers need to meet the minimum SBA loan requirements to qualify.
Beyond that, you need to apply and speak to someone at the bank to see if you qualify.
The interest rates are some of the most affordable in business financing. The specific rate you get depends on your creditworthiness, but generally, the rates are highly competitive.
Funding takes longer than other business lenders. Most online and alternative lenders provide funding within a few business days. That’s one of the significant advantages of alternative lenders versus traditional lenders like Wells Fargo.
It could take several weeks to receive your loan disbursement. Lines of credit have quicker turnaround times, averaging about 10 business days. For comparison, some online lenders can fund a line of credit within 24 hours of applying.
You’ll most likely need to apply in person or over the phone.
You can apply for a Wells Fargo business line of credit if you already have a WF account. Opening an account is quick and easy.
You need to contact the bank to apply for all loans. It’s possible to apply over the phone, but applying in person might be easier since so much paperwork is involved.
You can complete a brief questionnaire for commercial real estate loans online, and a Wells Fargo banker will call you the next day to discuss your application.
Be prepared to supply extensive documentation when applying to Wells Fargo.
You’ll need to provide general information about your business:
Information about any owner with a 20% stake or greater:
At least one owner must provide the following:
When applying for a Prime Line of Credit, you also need to provide the following:
All Wells Fargo business financing products follow a monthly repayment schedule. You’ll usually set up automatic monthly payments, but you can make other arrangements if necessary.
If you opened a business line of credit with Wells Fargo, it is a revolving line. This means as you repay what you borrowed, your credit line replenishes.
Beyond that, the bank’s website doesn’t provide much information on post-funding activities. The most important thing is to pay on time to avoid late charges.
Traditional banks like Wells Fargo typically offer the lowest interest rates and fees for business financing. The bank provides high borrowing amounts and longer repayment terms as well.
Wells Fargo is also one of the most active SBA lenders in the country. The bank secured over $156 million in SBA 7(a) loans in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
While the application process still takes time and requires a hefty amount of paperwork, the process is more efficient than other brick-and-mortar lenders. Existing WF customers can apply for business lines of credit online.
Wells Fargo also offers a wide range of business financing products. While they’ve eliminated business term loans, the bank still offers commercial real estate loans, various business lines of credit, and equipment financing.
Wells Fargo doesn’t publish interest rates and qualification requirements upfront, making it difficult to compare with other lenders. The only way to discover if you qualify and your interest rate is to apply and receive an offer letter.
While the bank doesn’t publish qualification requirements, most indications are that small businesses need high credit scores and annual revenue. Most WF small business financing products require a minimum of two years in business, except for the Small Business Advantage line of credit.
Unless you’re an existing WF customer and only applying for a business line of credit, you must apply in person or over the phone. Luckily, Wells Fargo has locations throughout the country.
As we discussed, recent Wells Fargo scandals have negatively impacted the bank’s image and reputation. While most scandals dealt with consumer-facing accounts (except for the “FX” scandal), there is a genuine question of business ethics with the bank.
Most positive reviews talk about the efficiency of the application process compared to other traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Small business customers talked about how streamlined the process is, despite not being able to apply online.
Other positive reviews discuss the interest rates being lower than some of the faster alternative lenders. This comes down to what provides more value for a small business owner: lower interest rates or faster funding times.
Another positive is that the bank is willing to work with small businesses. Many traditional lenders prefer larger businesses. Since Wells Fargo is a national bank, its small business loans are available in every state.
Negative reviews talk about the lack of customer service and difficulty resolving issues. We should note that many of these complaints are from personal banking customers.
Some customers discussed technical issues, making accessing accounts and banking services difficult. Wells Fargo is improving its online presence but doesn’t offer the same level of online expediency that alternative lenders provide.
Wells Fargo is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has an F rating on the site. It also has a 1.3 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot. We should note that most negative reviews are from consumer banking customers and are likely impacted by recent fraud and government intervention.
In 2016, Wells Fargo was embroiled in a fake account scandal that opened the proverbial pandora’s box. Over the next several years, the bank found itself in various scandals that didn’t seem to disappear. Yahoo! News provides a complete timeline for the scandals from 2016-2019. There are just too many to list here.
Things haven’t improved much since then, as the bank was recently sued in 2021 for fraud that primarily affected small and medium-sized businesses. The bank settled that lawsuit for around $35 million.
In the summer of 2022, Wells Fargo was again in the hot seat as new allegations came forth regarding fake interviews with minority job candidates. The Manhattan US Attorney’s civil rights unit is investigating the allegations.
Wells Fargo business loans have high qualification requirements; the only way to know if you qualify is to apply with them. There are several reasons why the bank might deny your request.
Your personal credit score, business credit score, time in business, and annual revenue all impact credit approval. A deficiency in any of these areas could trigger a denial.
In addition, Wells Fargo will probably deny the application if you or any business owner has filed for bankruptcy in the previous seven years. There are other factors, too, such as your location and the services available there.
If you applied and were rejected, the denial letter should explain why. If not, or you need more clarification, you can call the bank to discuss the denial in further detail.
If Wells Fargo doesn’t work for your business, plenty of other lenders offer small business financing. You shouldn’t have an issue finding a lender for a business line of credit or equipment financing. Commercial real estate and SBA Loans are more difficult to acquire, but there are plenty of online lenders for either.
Wells Fargo is best for established businesses with a good to excellent credit score and high annual revenue. In addition, it is suitable for companies that don’t need a quick turnaround on funding and aren’t worried about the bank’s history of scandal and fraud.
Younger small businesses or those still building their business credit might benefit more from an alternative lender. If you want to compare prices before applying, Wells Fargo wouldn’t be the right choice.
We rate Wells Fargo financing as 3.5 out of 5 for small businesses. The bank’s product offerings and interest rates are excellent, but the strict requirements and negative reviews leave a lot to be desired.
Disclaimer: The Wells Fargo trademark is owned by Wells Fargo and its use herein is for reference purposes only and it does not indicate sponsorship or endorsement from Wells Fargo.