If you want a personal loan from a large bank, Wells Fargo may be right for you. (Keep in mind that three of the country's largest lenders -- Bank of America, Chase and Capital One -- don't offer personal loans.) This Wells Fargo Bank personal loan review contains the fast facts, how to apply, pros and cons, and in-depth evaluation so you can confidently choose the best personal loan for your needs.
Why Should I Apply With Wells Fargo?
Is Wells Fargo a good fit for your personal loan requirements? Here are some highlights from its offering to help you decide:
- No origination fee
- An annual percentage rate (APR) as low as 5.24% - though, as with all lenders, higher if you're less than exceptionally creditworthy
- Great range of loan sizes - all the way from $3,000 to $100,000
- Quick turnaround - you may get your money on the next business day after your application is approved
- Special discounts for existing Wells Fargo customers
- You can add a co-signer to get a better deal
Sounds good? Then read on for more details
How Does Wells Fargo Work?
Wells Fargo is a huge bank that's over 160 years old. So it's a direct lender. In other words, it's lending you its own money. Under the hood, that makes it very different from a peer-to-peer (P2P) lender, which introduces you to individual investors who want to lend to you.
But, in practical terms, it most obviously means that you might get your loan approved and the money in your bank faster. And that it doesn't charge origination fees, which nearly all P2P lenders do.
What Kind of Loans Does Wells Fargo Offer?
Here are the quick FAQs you should know about Wells Fargo personal loans:
- Minimum loan amount of $3,000, rising to a maximum of $100,000
- APRs start at 5.49% and can go as high as 24.49% - That's as of this writing and includes a relationship discount of 0.25% that's available only to Wells Fargo customers
- Loan terms of 12, 24 or 36 months for loans of $5,000 or less and of 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72 or 84 months on higher amounts
- Wells Fargo doesn't publish a minimum credit score - But online reviewers suggest you needn't apply if yours is less than 600 and you're unlikely to secure an affordable rate if yours is under 660
- Maximum DTI* isn't published but expect it to be relatively low, especially if you don't have an existing relationship with Wells Fargo
- No prepayment fee -- So you can reduce or pay down completely your loan balance at any time without penalty
- Co-signers are allowed
- No prequalification -- When you apply, Wells Fargo will make a hard credit inquiry which should deliver a small hit to your credit score
- Fixed rates only
- Lender fees are not levied on originations
*DTI stands for debt-to-income ratio. It's the percentage of your pretax income that you spend for rent or mortgage plus monthly accounts like auto loans and credit cards. Not utilities or living expenses.
How Do I Apply With Wells Fargo?
In theory, you can apply online, by telephone or in person at a branch. But it may be that a branch visit could be necessary if you don't have an existing relationship with the bank.
Wells Fargo's requirements for supporting documentation are similar to most other conservative lenders. Besides proof of your identity and address, expect to provide recent pay stubs, W2s or tax returns and to give permission for the bank to verify information directly with your employer, bank and the IRS.
Despite this, the bank says it can make decisions very quickly. But to allow it to achieve that, you'll want that documentation ready to upload when you make your application.
How Soon Can I Get My Money With Wells Fargo?
A big question for many is how long does it take to get your money. Once it has approved your application, Wells Fargo says it should act quickly. To quote its website, you can "Get your funds, often by the next business day, if approved."
Still even a huge lender such as this one presumably occasionally struggles to cope with demand during peak periods, such as the holiday season. So you may have to be a little more patient if you apply during those.
And you can speed the process by having your documentation ready to upload and being ready to answer any obvious queries. Those may well arise if you've bounced a check or allowed an account to become delinquent recently.
Wells Fargo BBB Rating
Most of the public is aware that Wells Fargo was hit by scandals in recent years. And, as a result of those and failures to respond to complaints, the Better Business Bureau gives it an F rating. That's its lowest.
When those scandals emerged, the bank changed its leadership, altered its structures and processes, and set about reestablishing its reputation. Some may think that means it's now less likely to rip off its customers than certain other lenders.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Wells Fargo
Federal regulator the CFPB maintains a database of consumer complaints it receives. In 2019, 27 such complaints were filed against Wells Fargo under the "installment loan" category, which covers personal loans. That seems relatively few for such a big lender.
The biggest single issue was that customers felt they'd been charged fees or interest they weren't expecting. So make sure you read your loan agreement carefully so you're not similarly surprised.
MoneyRates Editorial Wells Fargo Rating
Star rating -- 4 stars
Some readers won't be able to get past the scandals that dogged Wells Fargo a few years ago. And only you can decide whether for you those remain an issue today.
But leaving that aside, the bank has a lot going for it. To start with, it has 7,400 locations, which is important for those who don't like making online applications. And it's big, with assets of $1.9 trillion and 260,000 employees at the end of 2019, which might prove valuable during a downturn.
As for its personal loan offerings, they stack up reasonably well against the competition, with low rates, big loans, no fees and flexibility over terms - at least for good borrowers.
What Are the Alternatives to Wells Fargo?
Whether or not you go further with Wells Fargo, you should compare personal loans from multiple other lenders. That's the only way to search out the best deal. But which others might suit you? Here are some ideas:
Unlike with Wells Fargo, your credit score won't take an initial hit when you ask LendingClub for a quote. And this lender is especially helpful to those who wish to consolidate their debts. It even offers to settle directly with your creditors if you prefer to avoid the temptation of having a lump sum in your checking account. Other pros include being able to have a co-signer, and decent customer satisfaction scores.
Payoff specializes in consolidating credit card debt. It offers competitive rates and online help to get you to your goal of being free of debt. It doesn't charge late fees and has a reputation for being sympathetic to those who get into financial trouble later on. And you can get an initial quote without affecting your credit score. However, you won't be able to apply with a co-signer.
Best Egg's known for turning around personal loans quickly. And your initial quote shouldn't impact your credit score. Best of all, some say its interest rates are lower than most of its competitors'.
Upgrade is another lender that allows co-signers. And it has a hardship program that might help if you have financial issues down the line. Loans of up to $50,000, which is higher than many - though not ones like Wells Fargo, which let you have up to $100,000. Interest rates are competitive.
The same high loan limits as Upgrade. And you can get a co-signer on your application. Worth getting a quote from because doing so shouldn't harm your credit score.
SoFi is more like Wells Fargo and LightStream than others on this list. That's because it offers high-value loans, without fees, at very low APRs. But, as you'd expect, it requires good credit to be approved and exceptional credit to get its lowest interest rates.
As the last entry implied, LightStream caters to creditworthy borrowers with sound finances. But it offers them exceptional deals. Indeed, its interest rates begin at 3.49% APR. No fees and co-signers welcome. The only drawback it's that - like Wells Fargo but unlike most others on this list - requesting a quote will give your credit score a small hit.
How to Find Your Best Personal Loan
Never apply to just one lender for a personal loan, even if that's your own bank or credit union. This is an exceptionally competitive market and you may well find better quotes if you shop around. That's especially important because different lenders specialize in borrowers with different profiles. So one may give you a worse rate than another, not because there's anything wrong with you but because it prefers working with people who are different from you.
If possible, plan ahead and improve your credit score and finances before you apply. Lending decisions are made by computers and a score that's just a point or two higher can shift you into a more creditworthy category. And that could earn you a lower rate.
Finally, try to match how long your loan lasts to the purpose behind your borrowing. You could be making your last payment to Wells Fargo in eight years' time. And you don't want to be doing that if you've used the money to buy gaming equipment that you've had to replace two or three times by then. On the other hand, you may be perfectly fine doing so if you used the cash to invest in home improvements or a classic car. So try to align the length of time you're going to be making payments with the period for which your expenditure will bring you joy, satisfaction or peace of mind.