Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Review
Wells Fargo, one of the oldest and largest banks in the United States has debt consolidation loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market as long as you’re a customer with good credit and don’t mind a less-than-streamlined online application.
Borrowers who are in over their heads with high-interest credit cards and spiraling finances looking to consolidate debt often turn to startup online lenders and fintech companies for a solution. But don’t dismiss old-school solutions.
One of the oldest banks in the U.S., Wells Fargo, offers affordable debt consolidation loans for borrowers.
Wells Fargo has debt consolidation loans that can be applied for online, though it is still hanging on to some old-school ways of doing business that may not work for everyone.
The bank has traditionally focused on in-person banking, but it recently closed dozens of branches nationwide, which would indicate a move toward strengthening its digital product. But applying for a Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan online is not the quick streamlined experience that other online lenders offer. Added to that, Wells Fargo is only offering personal loans to existing customers. Non-customers are urged to make an appointment at a local branch to apply for a loan, which will make many potential borrowers skip to a lender that offers a more efficient online application.
Wells Fargo is not a credit union, which is a member-owned nonprofit lending institution that offers lower rates and fewer fees. Wells Fargo may refer to customers as members, but it’s a for-profit, publicly traded bank – the fourth largest in the U.S. Unlike many banks, though, it says only existing members get a loan, similar to credit unions.
If you are a Wells Fargo customer, loan rates are competitive and worth looking at. Wells Fargo’s debt consolidation loans are $3,000-$100,000, with APRs from 7.49%-23.24%. The bank offers flexible terms and joint loan options.
Those with a relationship with the bank – which means having a deposit account – get a 0.25%-0.50% discount on APR as long as they use auto pay from a Wells Fargo deposit account. The amount of the discount depends on what kind of checking account you have.
Wells Fargo has undergone restructuring after a major scandal and government complaints cost it billions in fines in recent years. The bank has also closed dozens of branches since 2022, but is having trouble letting go, saying its customers still prefer an in-person experience.
Wells Fargo was founded on March 18, 1852, in San Francisco, by Henry Wells and William Fargo. They wanted to create a bank that met the needs of a rapidly changing world, including connecting with far-off towns and cities. Back then, the bank connected New York to California by stagecoach, revolutionizing banking and communications at the time. Nearly two centuries later, it is entering the digital banking world with more trepidation than its younger and more tech-focused competitors are.
Let’s take a closer look at Wells Fargo debt consolidation loans.
- Type of Debt Relief – Debt consolidation loan.
- Eligibility and Requirements – Wells Fargo banking customer; no minimum credit score specified but expect minimum 660-670.
- Rates and Fees – 7.49%-23.24% APR (with 0.25%-0.50% relationship discount and auto pay), $39 late payment fee; $39 insufficient funds fee; no origination fee.
- Credit score impact – Minimal to check rates; hard inquiry to fully apply.
- Consumer Reviews – Poor.
How Wells Fargo’s Debt Consolidation Loan Works
Wells Fargo debt consolidation loans range from $3,000-$100,000, with terms of 12-26 months for loans of $3,000-$4,999, and 12-84 months for loans of $5,000-$100,000.
The annual percentage rate (APR) is based on credit history, the amount of the loan and the loan term.
Personal loans are only available to existing Wells Fargo bank customers. The website suggests that those who want to apply for a loan and are not a customer set up an appointment with one of the bank’s 4,900 branches in 37 states. There is also a toll-free number, but the website seems to favor an in-person appointment.
Non-customers can open a checking account online, but it’s not clear if doing that is enough to open the door for a personal loan application.
If you are a customer, you can apply online for a Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan, and a decision will be made on the day of application in most cases. Applicants who want to track their progress online can do it if they share their email status when they apply, or on the mobile app.
Once approved, Wells Fargo will email the closing documents. Borrowers review and sign them and email them back. You can get your money as soon as the next business day.
Once the money is in your Wells Fargo deposit account, you can direct the bank to use it to pay your creditors. You can also get a cashier’s check for your loan amount in the mail.
To get the relationship discount, be sure to enroll in auto pay when you apply, and make sure you have a checking account that qualifies.
How to Apply for a Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loan
Visit the Wells Fargo website and click “personal loans” then “consolidate debt” then “see my loan options.” The first question it will ask is if you are a Wells Fargo member.
If you click “no” it advises you to make an appointment at a local branch. If you click “yes,” you sign into your online account, which will fill in some information, or continue by filling out the application.
The initial rate-check requires providing how much you want to borrow, the purpose of the loan and some personal information. This is a soft inquiry to your credit report and won’t have an impact on your credit score. If you continue, it will be a hard inquiry, which may have a brief negative impact on your credit score.
If you proceed with the application, you can expect to provide:
- Personal information including Social Security number, date of birth, citizenship status, email address, phone number, physical address, and Wisconsin residents must also supply marital status.
- Employment and income information including place of employment, status, a contact number, gross monthly income amount, all sources of income, monthly mortgage or rent amount.
- Loan information including amount, purpose, desired term, preferred payment due date.
Once your application is reviewed, Wells Fargo may also ask for documents that include:
- Recent pay stubs, W2s, or tax returns.
- Utility bills (to verify address).
- Copy of driver’s license or Social Security card.
- Information to pay off current credit card and debt accounts.
- IRS Form 4506C – Request for Transcript of Tax Return (PDF).
- Power of Attorney (PDF).
- Applicant employment and income authorization form (PDF).
This is not the minutes-quick streamlined application of many of the new fintech loan marketplaces or other online lenders. Even so, most customers who are approved will be notified the day they apply.
The final step after approval is to verify your information and then complete the closing process. Money will be deposited into your Wells Fargo deposit account as soon as the next day. The bank can also mail a cashier’s check upon request to customers who don’t want the money transferred digitally.
Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loan Eligibility and Requirements
It’s worth stressing again that you must be an existing Wells Fargo member to get a personal loan.
The bank doesn’t specify a credit score requirement, but you’ll need at least a 660 to get an initial offer.
Wells Fargo doesn’t list an income requirement for its debt consolidation loans, but like most loans, income is a factor in deciding your approval, as is debt-to-income ratio and your credit history.
Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loans Rates and Fees
Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan APRs are 7.49%-23.24% if you have either the 0.25% or 0.50% discount that comes with having a Wells Fargo checking account and being enrolled in auto pay. The 0.25% discount is for those with more basic checking accounts, and the 0.50% comes with premium checking accounts. The bank lists on its website which of its many checking accounts trigger which discount.
As with all lenders, the better your credit, the lower APR your loan will carry.
If you choose not to enroll in auto pay, or have too many insufficient fund incidents, you lose the discount.
Wells Fargo personal loans don’t have origination fees or prepayment penalties, but the late and insufficient fund fees are higher than many other lenders, at $39.
Pros and Cons of Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loans
If you’re a Wells Fargo member and have good credit, the pros of getting a loan with the bank likely outweigh the cons. The rates are competitive, there is no origination fee, and the maximum loan amount is more than many online lenders offer. If you’re not a member, particularly if you live in one of the 13 states without a branch or your local branch has recently closed, the cons likely win.
Wells Fargo Pros
- Loans up to $100,000.
- Interest rates as low as 7.74%.
- 25%-0.50% relationship discount.
- No origination fee.
Wells Fargo Cons
- Loans not available to non-members.
- Online applications are tedious, even for members.
- Ongoing issues are causing upheaval at the bank and products could change.
- Branches are preferred method of banking, but are only in 37 states, and more are closing all the time.
Is Wells Fargo Right for Me?
A Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan is only right for you if you’re already a customer of Wells Fargo bank.
If you have good to excellent credit, its APRs are low and lack of an origination fee is a plus, since so many online lenders charge them, even for borrowers with good credit. Be sure to have the right kind of checking account, and enroll in auto pay, to get the relationship discount.
If you are looking for an easy, streamlined application process, you may want to look elsewhere even if you are a customer.
Wells Fargo Reputation and Customer Reviews
Wells Fargo has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. It’s still dealing with the fallout from a cross-selling scandal that began in 2013 when it was revealed a number of its employees were opening credit and debit accounts without customer consent. Some 5,300 employees were fired over five years and Wells Fargo was hit with a $3 billion fine.
In December 2022, Wells Fargo settled a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for $3.7 billion, after the agency found that the bank caused customer’s vehicles to be repossessed and homes to be foreclosed on because of systemic failures servicing auto loans and denying mortgage loan modifications; charging overdraft fees to customers who had enough money in their account to cover transactions; and freezing more than a million accounts because of faulty automated filters.
In March 2023, The Federal Reserve Board and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced separate penalties charged to Wells Fargo totaling $97.8 million for banking violations.
These are just the most recent fines for issues the bank has dealt with since 2013. In the midst of these issues, Wells Fargo announced in 2021, it was closing personal lines of credit, then announced it wasn’t doing that after all. In early 2023, it indicated it was pulling back on offering mortgages. It has closed dozens of branches since mid-2022.
That’s all a lot for customers to deal with, and their reviews show it.
Many customers on several online sites complain about poor customer service; the company denying requests for interest reduction without proper consideration; long wait times on the phone and misinformation about paid-off accounts. For instance, the customer is still being told an account is open and is now in arrears when the loan was paid off.
Some customers were aghast that when they had issues with an account, a representative on the phone suggested that they drive to the nearest branch and talk to someone to clear it up, even if the nearest branch was hours away.
Positive reviews come mostly from customers who have good experiences with individual employees in-person at branches.
Of 1,012 customer reviews on Trust Pilot, its rating was 1.4 out of 5, with 88% of reviews 1 star.
Consumer Reports gives Wells Fargo an 81 out of 100 rating, with 3 out of 5 for customer service, convenience of hours, and wait times; and 4 out of 5 for ease of online transactions, website usefulness and convenience of locations.
Alternatives to Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loans
If Wells Fargo debt consolidation doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of online options that may, even if you have bad credit and need a loan.
- Lending Club is one of the nation’s biggest online banks. Its debt consolidation loans range from $1,000-$40,000 for terms of either 36 or 60 months. Applicants can have a credit score as low as 600 and debt-to-income ratio is capped at 40%. Origination fee is 3%-6% and APR is 9.57%-36%.
- PenFed Credit Union has been around since 1936, not as long as Wells Fargo, but still enough to establish a reputation. It’s a credit union, with low 7.74%-17.99% APRs to prove it. Like Wells Fargo, you have to join to get a debt consolidation loan. Unlike Wells Fargo, this is an easy online experience, requiring opening a checking account with a minimum of $5. APR is based on credit worthiness and length of membership. Loans can be for as much as $50,000 with terms of up to 60 months.
- Upstart uses artificial intelligence to determine how much of a credit risk a borrower is, and has one of the fastest, easiest online applications for a debt consolidation loan out there. There’s no credit score minimum. Rates and origination fees are high – 4.74%-35.99% APRs – and origination fees up to 12%. Loan terms are for 36 or 60 months, with a maximum of $50,000.
Alternatives to a Debt Consolidation Loan
A debt consolidation loan may not be the answer if you are having trouble making minimum payments on credit cards or have more debt than you’d like.
Credit counseling at a nonprofit credit counseling agency may help you come up with a better solution, one that doesn’t involve taking on more debt to get rid of debt. A consultation with a counselor at a nonprofit credit counseling agency is free. They are required by law to offer advice that’s in your best interest, rather than pitch a product.
Counselors will review your finances, help you create a budget and make recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate debt.
The credit counselor may suggest a debt management plan. This isn’t a loan, but a program offered by nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The nonprofit agency works with credit card companies to lower your interest rates and reduce the monthly payment to an affordable amount. You make a fixed monthly payment, and it eliminates credit card debt in 3-5 years, while improving your credit score.
About The Author
Bents Dulcio writes with a humble, field-level view on personal finance. He learned how to cut financial corners while acquiring a B.S. degree in Political Science at Florida State University. Bents has experience with student loans, affordable housing, budgeting to include an auto loan and other personal finance matters that greet all Millennials when they graduate. He has a prodigious appetite for reading, which he helps feed with writing from Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, the “Father of Capitalism.” Bents writing also has been published by JPMorgan Chase, TheSimpleDollar and Interest.com.
- N.A. (ND) Better Business Bureau Profile Wells Fargo. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/san-francisco/profile/bank/wells-fargo-1116-11547
- N.A. (ND) History of Wells Fargo. Retrieved from https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate/history/
- N.A. (ND) Personal Loan Rates. Retrieved from https://www.wellsfargo.com/personal-loans/rates/
- N.A. (ND) Wells Fargo Bank & Credit Union Rating. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/money/banks-credit-unions/na-wells-fargo/m380838/
- N.A. (2023, July 24) Customer Reviews Wells Fargo. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/san-francisco/profile/bank/wells-fargo-1116-11547/customer-reviews
- N.A. (2023, July 24) Wellsfargo. Retrieved from https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.wellsfargo.com
- N.A. (2023, July 24) Wells Fargo Bank and Credit Union. Retrieve from https://www.consumerreports.org/money/banks-credit-unions/na-wells-fargo/m380838/
- N.A. (2023, March 23) Federal Reserve Board fines Wells Fargo $67.8 million for inadequate oversight of sanctions risk at its subsidiary bank. Retrieved from https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/enforcement20230330a.htm
- Reinhard, A. (2023, May 5) Major Banks, Including Wells Fargo, Are Closing Even More Branches. Retrieved from https://bestlifeonline.com/wells-fargo-jpmorgan-chase-closing-branches-news/
- Swett, K. (2022, December 22) Wells Fargo to pay $3.7B over consumer law violations. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/wells-fargo-consumer-loan-violations-a67b9070da60e5cb5134db6de364c747