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Wells Fargo Review

Founded in 1851, Wells Fargo is one of the oldest and largest banks in the United States, holding over $1.97 trillion in assets. Though it wasn’t offering debt consolidation options back in the 19th century, the Wells Fargo of today has debt consolidation loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market.

Borrowers who are in over their heads with high-interest credit cards and spiraling finances, can consolidate debts into a single payment. This process is called debt consolidation and a debt consolidation loan is just one of the  ways of going about it.

Wells Fargo’s low-interest debt consolidation loans offer high loan amounts ($100,000), flexible term options, and joint-loan options, which gives access to an even broader range of consumers. A quick word of warning about Wells Fargo: the company has poor consumer reviews because of a scandal that damaged its reputation.

Below, we’ll get more into that and run through the basics of consolidating your debt with Wells Fargo, then give you some tips on how to qualify.

Snapshot:

  • Type of Debt Relief – Debt Consolidation Loan
  • Eligibility & Requirements – 600 credit score; 18 years old; U.S. citizen or permanent resident; SSN or ITIN
  • Fees – $39 late payment fee; $39 insufficient funds fee; $75 origination fee (secured loan only)
  • Credit score impact – Minimal
  • Consumer Reviews – Poor

How Wells Fargo’s Debt Consolidation Loan Works

Wells Fargo offers unsecured loans for debt consolidation ranging from $3,000-$100,000. Interest rates never change over the life of the loan. If you need more cash, you can consider a CD/savings secured loan. As the name implies, these are secured loans that let you borrow up to $250,000 in exchange for collateral in the form of a CD or savings account.

A CD/savings secured loan could lock in an even lower interest rate. It also lets you avoid the early withdrawal penalties you’d acquire by pulling the money straight out of your CD or savings; instead, you can use this money as collateral for a loan of the same amount. The interest on your CD or savings account will continue to accrue.

However, unlike Wells Fargo’s unsecured debt consolidation loan, which comes with no origination fee, a CD/savings secured loan will cost you a $75 origination fee.

Your loan terms will depend on the amount you borrow and the type of loan you go with. A debt consolidation loan of under $5,000 will limit you to 12-36-month term options. If you borrow over $5,000, Wells Fargo is a little more lenient and will offer you up to 84-month terms. CD/savings secured loans can be extended up to 120 months.

How to Apply for a Debt Consolidation Loan with Wells Fargo

If you have a Wells Fargo account, head to their website and click the “Loans and Credit” tab. Follow the links for personal loans and debt consolidation.

The process is pretty straightforward:

  • fill out personal and contact info
  • fill out employment and income info
  • give your desired amount and terms

Most people will know whether they’ve been approved within minutes or hours. The final step after approval is to verify your information and then complete the closing process. Funds arrive, often as soon as the next business day.

Wells Fargo uses a system called yourLoanTracker that lets you track where you are in the approval process. You can use it to check your application status, upload documents, review disclosures, and electronically complete the closing process.

If you don’t have an account with Wells Fargo, you’ll need to head to a physical location and ask a representative about applying for a debt consolidation loan. Wells Fargo operates over 7,000 branches in 37 states.

Here is a list of states where Wells Fargo is not located:

  •  Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

You may still be able to qualify while living in these states. Call directly and ask about your eligibility for a debt consolidation loan.

Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loan Eligibility & Requirements

For a good shot at qualifying for a debt consolidation loan with Wells Fargo, you should have a credit score of at least 660, though it accepts scores as low as 600.

Other requirements are pretty standard: you’re above 18 years old; you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; You have an SSN or ITIN. 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, typically the higher the better.

A few more things concerning eligibility for a Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loan: 

  • There is no citizenship requirement when consolidating with a CD/savings secured loan.
  • Borrowers from Wisconsin will have to disclose their marital status.
  • You may need to provide recent pay stubs, W2s, or tax returns to verify income
  • You may need to provide utility bills to verify address
  • You may need to provide a copy of your driver’s license or Social Security card

Fees for Wells Fargo’s Debt Consolidation Loan

There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties with a Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan. However, there is a $39 late fee and a $39 insufficient funds fee. Consolidating debt with a CD/savings secured loan will cost you a $75 origination fee.

Wells Fargo has interest rates as low as 5.74%, but It won’t offer this rate to just any average credit user. To get the lowest rates from Wells Fargo, you will need impeccable credit and be willing to enroll in autopay to qualify for a customer relationship discount, which you can get by opening certain Wells Fargo accounts.

Interest rates go up to 24.99%. Borrowers with low credit scores and incomes will pay a rate closer to this.

Your payment amount (the amount you owe Wells Fargo once a month) is determined by the amount you borrow, the loan terms, and the interest rate.

Another thing: If you default on your CD-secured loan, Wells Fargo will use the money in your CD or savings account to pay itself back. You may even suffer an early withdrawal penalty on your CD. Using your savings account as collateral is a major risk you shouldn’t take before understanding what you stand to lose.

Pros & Cons of Debt Consolidation with Wells Fargo

Pros of Wells Fargo

  • Loans up to $100,000 ($250,000 with collateral)
  • Joint-loan options
  • Interest rates low as 5.74%
  • 50% relationship discount

Cons of Wells Fargo

  • F BBB rating
  • Must be a member of Wells Fargo to apply online
  • No prequalification options

Wells Fargo offers low-interest rates, high loan amounts, and rate discounts that allow you to save even more. However, its F rating and lack of accreditation are hard to ignore.

Is Wells Fargo Right for Me?

A Wells Fargo debt consolidation loan is right for existing Wells Fargo customers with good credit scores, who could take advantage of the low-interest rates and high loan amounts. It’s worth considering becoming a Wells Fargo customer, solely to apply for its debt consolidation loan, especially if you fit the high income, high credit score profile.

According to Wells Fargo, at least 10% of approved applicants qualified for the lowest rate available.

If your credit is not so good, it may still be worth applying as Wells Fargo accepts credit scores as low as 600, and it offers higher loan amounts than many other online lenders.

Make sure you know what you’re getting into before applying. Debt consolidation, no matter how low the rates, isn’t for everyone. It will simplify your payment schedule, but depending on your terms, it may extend the life of the loan and cost you more money in the long run. However, this can be a good strategy if you’re overwhelmed and looking for lower monthly payments. You can make your payments lower by getting a lower interest rate or extending the loan terms or both.

Alternatives to Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo will not work for everyone. Its lowest rates are hard to come by and its recent scandal has left many consumers ill-at-ease. Here are some alternatives for consolidating your debt:

Debt Management

A debt management plan (DMP) is a way to consolidate your debts without pulling out another loan. DMP agencies work with card companies to drop the interest rates on your debt to levels you can afford. You pay the DMP agency once a month, and it pays your creditors.

LightStream Debt Consolidation Loan

LightStream offers rates comparable to Wells Fargo; it goes as low as 5.97% and it never exceeds 20.49%. It also won’t charge you fees. If you have good credit but live outside of Wells Fargo’s coverage, check out LightStream.

Avant Debt Consolidation Loan

Avant is for consumers who have trouble getting approved for a debt consolidation loan. A lot of lenders won’t go near credit scores under 660, but Avant accepts scores as low as 580. Be prepared to pay various fees and interest rates up to 35.99%.

Wells Fargo Reputation & Consumer Reviews

Wells Fargo has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. It lost its accreditation after the 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. Wells Fargo’s senior management and board of directors claimed this was done by a minority of employees desperate to keep their jobs, “99 percent of the people were getting it right, 1 percent of people in community banking were not … It was people trying to meet minimum goals to hang on to their jobs.”

Nevertheless, 5,300 employees were fired over five years and Wells Fargo was hit with a $3 billion fine. It issued apologies and refunds to those affected by the scandal. These accounts received an average refund of $25.

Wells Fargo has 3,276 complaints closed in the last 3 years and 1,230 complaints closed in the last 12 months.

Some customers complained about getting stuck with high interest rates. They claim Wells Fargo refused to work with them and denied their application for an interest reduction without proper consideration. Other customers complain of poor customer service and long wait times to speak with a representative. A lot of these are the same problems you’ll see with many large financial institutions where it can be harder to find solid guidance compared to smaller banks or credit unions.

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.

Sources:

  1. N.A. (ND) About Wells Fargo. Retrieved from https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/
  2. N.A. (ND) Wells Fargo. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/san-francisco/profile/bank/wells-fargo-1116-11547/complaints
  3. N.A. (2020 July) Wells Fargo Today. Retrieved from https://www08.wellsfargomedia.com/assets/pdf/about/corporate/wells-fargo-today.pdf
  4. Horsley, S. (2020 February 21) Wells Fargo Paying $3 Billion To Settle U.S. Case Over Fraudulent Customer Accounts. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/02/21/808205303/wells-fargo-paying-3-billion-to-settle-u-s-case-over-illegal-sales-practices
  5. Tayan, B. (2019 February 6) The Wells Fargo Cross-Selling Scandal. Retrieved from: https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2019/02/06/the-wells-fargo-cross-selling-scandal-2/