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If you want to work with a bank for your business financing, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are two of the largest banks in the United States. Bank of America offers a variety of loan types, including term loans, lines of credit, SBA loans and equipment financing, while Wells Fargo focuses on SBA loans and lines of credit.
Either lender can be a good choice depending on your needs. Let’s compare the offerings of each bank to see who is the best small business lender.
- Bank of America and Wells Fargo both offer business loans for companies with good-to-excellent credit
- Bank of America has more variety, including term loans, SBA loans and equipment financing
- Wells Fargo offers multiple lines of credit that earn rewards and SBA loans
- Choose Bank of America for term loans and even business credit cards
- Choose Wells Fargo for unsecured business lines of credit
Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo at a glance
The right lender for you will depend on your business needs. Bank of America offers flexible business loans with repayment terms that may start as soon as six months, but go as high as 15 years. Wells Fargo helps small business owners that only need a small amount of business financing, with starting amounts of $5,000 for its Small Business Advantage® line of credit.
|Bank of America
|Unsecured lines of credit
|Number of loan products
|Starting at $10,000
|$5,000 to $6.5 million
|As low as 5.5% APR
|Starting at 8.75% APR (Prime plus 0.5%)
|6 months to 15 years
|Up to 25 years
|Personal credit score
|Minimum time in business
|Minimum business revenue
Bank of America business loans
Bank of America small business loans have low starting rates. If you have great credit, it’s possible to secure financing with rates as low as 6.75 percent APR for equipment financing and secured loans. Commercial real estate loans go even lower, with rates starting at 5.50 percent.
The lender also is one of the few banks to offer a credit-builder line of credit. Businesses that don’t need a loan but want to build their business credit can open a cash-secured line of credit with a $1,000 minimum security deposit. Bank of America also offers several other types of business loans, including healthcare practice loans and auto loans.
Where Bank of America business loans shine is with businesses that make use of its business banking services. Your cash deposits can help serve as collateral for your business loans, making them easier to qualify for. You’ll also benefit from Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program based on your balance at the bank. That can help avoid banking fees, get interest rate discounts and more.
- Variety of loan types
- Low rates for well-qualified applicants
- Rewards program for companies that also bank with Bank of America
- High eligibility requirements
- Applications can be slow
- Limited information available online
Wells Fargo business loans
Wells Fargo has a strong focus on business lines of credit. It has three different options, each tailored to different businesses. One focuses on newer companies, one on established businesses and the third on large companies producing at least $2 million in annual revenue.
The bank also offers other business bank accounts and services, including checking accounts and payroll services.
Despite its focus on business lines of credit, Wells Fargo is one of the largest SBA lenders in the United States. Wells Fargo SBA loans include:
- Multiple lines of credit tailored to different businesses
- Major originator of SBA loans
- Rewards program for lines of credit
- Annual fees for lines of credit
- High credit score requirements
- Requires a personal guarantee
Want to learn more about Wells Fargo business loans? Our Chase vs. Wells Fargo review shows you how this lender stacks up against another giant in the banking industry.
How to choose between Bank of America and Wells Fargo
If you bank with Bank of America or Wells Fargo, using that bank as your business lender is a natural choice. But if you don’t have a relationship with either bank, each meets slightly different needs.
Choose Bank of America for variety of business loans
Bank of America offers more small business loans to businesses with good-to-excellent credit than many other lenders. It also has a cash-secured business line of credit that can help business owners improve their business credit scores and qualify for affordable loans down the road.
Choose Wells Fargo for unsecured business lines of credit
Wells Fargo has three different lines of credit available to borrowers, two of which don’t require collateral. One is aimed at established businesses with two years of operating history, while the other is for newer companies that are just starting out.
Choose Bank of America for business credit cards
Bank of America business credit cards cover a variety of business needs. Business owners can choose between travel rewards cards, cash back cards and even a customizable rewards card that lets you choose from a selection of rewards categories.
While Bank of America offers some of the best business credit cards around, Wells Fargo isn’t accepting new applications for business cards. But the lender states new offerings are coming soon.
Wells Fargo and Bank of America are both banks and tend to focus on slightly more established companies rather than smaller or newer businesses.
A natural alternative to these bank business lenders is Chase. Chase is another large bank that offers various business services, including business loans and business credit cards. It offers unsecured term loans, SBA loans, commercial real estate financing and lines of credit.
Companies that have bad credit may want to consider online lenders. While banks tend to work with business owners with good-to-excellent credit and strong business financials, online lenders offer more accessible loans.
For example, Fundible and SMB Compass offer several loans, including lines of credit and term loans. SMB Compass has relaxed eligibility requirements for some loans, but if you have good-to-excellent credit, you can qualify for low-interest business loans comparable to bank lenders. Fundible is more accessible. It partners with other lenders and may approve borrowers with credit scores as low as 450.
Large banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America prefer lending to established companies with strong credit, even when offering SBA insured loans. But there are special SBA programs that are more accessible than the SBA loans found at traditional banks.
For example, SBA microloans are special loans for $50,000 or less and typically target underserved communities like veterans and women-owned businesses. The SBA maintains a list of microlenders that you can use to find one in your area.
You can also apply for an SBA Community Advantage loan. These loans have a limit of $350,000 and usually come from Certified Development Centers, SBA microlender, or Community Development Financial Institutions, all of which are local, community-based groups that help small businesses.
Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America are top SBA 7(a) lenders, but Wells Fargo currently outpaces Bank of America. According to the SBA weekly lender report, Wells Fargo currently has approved close to $324 million in SBA 7(a) loans in 2023 compared to Bank of America, which has only approved close to $313 million.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo are two large national banks offering business loans. Bank of America has more variety, while Wells Fargo excels at offering lines of credit.
Before settling on either lender, take the time to look at your other options. Compare rates and fees to try to find the best possible deal.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, some banks offer loans to help newer businesses, but these are harder to qualify for than if you’re running an established company. Expect to pay higher rates and fees and offer a personal guarantee.
An SBA loan is insured by the U.S. Small Business Administration. This reduces lenders’ risk, letting them offer larger loans with longer repayment periods than traditional ones. The SBA has several loan programs and tries to help many businesses, including startups and business owners in low-income and underserved communities.
Most lenders require a business plan and a business checking account to qualify for a business loan. But qualifying for a business loan also depends on your credit score, financial profile and the lender you apply with.If you have a long operating history, adequate business revenue, and a strong credit score, you may easily qualify for a business loan from banks, credit unions and online lenders. If you are a startup business or have limited revenue or bad credit, you’ll have to try and work with online lenders, many of which offer different types of bad credit business loans open to businesses that need relaxed eligibility requirements.If you struggle to gain access to traditional financing, you may also want to try and work with an SBA-approved lender. Many types of SBA loans can help different types of borrowers.