Small business owners across the country contacted their banks on Friday to apply for a loan via the federally implemented Paycheck Protection Program, only to face additional bank-specific restrictions.
The program — a $349 billion fund backed by the Small Business Administration — was created as part of the multi-trillion-dollar CARES Act stimulus package and designed specifically to help small businesses recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.
Per the bill’s language, any small business (500 or fewer employees, unless otherwise stated by the Small Business Administration) that’s independently owned and operated, and not a dominant player in its field, is eligible to receive up to $10 million. All the company had to do was apply through its FDIC-insured bank.
But it’s proving to be a little more complicated than that, as banks set their own, individual guidelines on Friday, catching applicants off guard.
Bank of America initially required applicants to have both a borrowing relationship and a core banking relationship, based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department, a bank spokesperson told Money via email.
"The more an institution like ours knows about a client, the faster we can process a loan," the spokesperson said. The company has since changed its requirements, requiring only a Bank of America checking account and not a loan...but it doesn't allow an applicant to have a line of credit with another bank.
Things are moving quickly. Here’s the latest on where the big players stand with the Payment Protection Program. We'll continue to update this story as new information comes in.
Bank of America
Bank of America requires all communication about the Paycheck Protection Program (“applications, information and correspondence”) to be done online and through email.
Companies are eligible for this loan through Bank of America if, as of February 15, 2020, if the business:
- Has a Small Business lending and a Small Business checking relationship with Bank of America OR
- Has a checking account with Bank of America, but doesn’t have a business credit or borrowing relationship with another bank
"A client’s pre-existing lending relationship with [Bank of America] may include small business, commercial or corporate credit cards, conventional business loan or lease, business lines of credit, business auto loans, practice solutions loans, trade and asset-based loans," according to Bank of America's coronavirus small business page.
If you meet one of these requirements and all federally mandated ones, you can apply here.
On Monday afternoon, JPMorgan Chase re-published a link to its application, having taken it down temporarily to work out the process. Chase’s requirements for applying companies are that the business:
- Has a Chase Business checking account as of February 15, 2020
- Hasn’t applied anywhere else
If you meet these requirements as well as the federally mandated ones, you can apply here (log in required).
On Sunday night, two days after the Paycheck Protection Program rolled out, Wells Fargo announced it would stop taking additional applications.
“Given the exceptionally high volume of requests we have already received, we will not be able to accept any additional requests for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program,” the company’s COVID-19 page read earlier this week.
The bank saw more than 170,000 "indications of interest from [its] customers," in the first two days alone, per a press release shared on Wednesday, and plans on going through all applications submitted through Sunday, April 5.
Any additional applicants are now encouraged to start the process by going into their online account and clicking on “Get Access to the Paycheck Protection Program – Learn More. They'll be asked to answer about five minutes' worth of questions, after which Wells Fargo will "email you with next steps within a few days, and will keep you updated regularly by email on progress."
The bank's only requirements, other than what’s been federally mandated, are that the company:
- Has an eligible Wells Fargo Business Checking account as of February 15, 2020
- Is enrolled in Wells Fargo Business Online
Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank officially joined in on the Paycheck Protection Program on Monday. At the time, the notice on the company's Paycheck Protection Program page said it will be assisting current customers first, and “expects to begin servicing non-customers later in April.”
Other than that, their requirements are pretty standard. To apply, the company has to comply with one of the following:
- Have a Fifth Third Online Banking Profile OR
- Be a user of Fifth Third Direct, the bank's money management platform for organizations
Customers should log in through 53.com or Fifth Third Direct to apply.
U.S. Bank hasn’t outlined any additional requirements on its Paycheck Protection Program site, except that it’s currently only accepting applications from a company if it is:
- Currently a U.S. Bank customer
- Enrolled in its online banking program
- A single-owner business or single-owner non-profit
If your company checks these boxes, you can go to the website, which prompts you through the application. And U.S. Bank customers who are enrolled but don't fulfill the last bullet point should keep an eye out.
"In the coming days, we look to have the ability to begin accepting applications from multi-owner businesses and non-profits, as well all other eligible businesses with an existing U.S. Bank relationship," a spokesperson told Money in an email on Tuesday. The bank also hopes to have an update on non-customers next week.
Like most of its competitors, TD Bank is currently only accepting applications if the company:
- Is an existing TD Business Customer
- Has an existing business deposit account with the bank
If your company already has a TD checking account, you can apply for a loan by clicking on "Submit a Paycheck Protection Program application" under the PPP Application section on this page.
However, TD Bank does say it plans to consider non-customers upon capacity in the coming weeks.
"We will evaluate expanding this program to other eligible businesses in our Maine to Florida footprint as soon as possible," the company said in an email to Money. You can apply for a TD checking account here.
- Be a current Regions customer
- Have online banking credentials, which you can create here
- Have created a “banking relationship” by March 1, 2020 (two weeks later than the February 15 specified by most of the others)
As of April 9, CitiBank is officially accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program — but not all at once and the bank will be reaching out to eligible small businesses among its clients, not the other way around.
“To manage volume, we are accepting applications from Citi small business clients that meet the SBA eligibility criteria in phases," a spokesperson told Money in an emailed statement.
Citibank plans on reaching out to the first group of eligible clients with a digital application for them to fill out and submit. Money has reached out for comment about how this first group will be chosen and when it'll move on to the next, but has not yet heard back.
Per its Paycheck Protection Program website, the bank will be contacting existing clients using the email addresses it has on file. You can provide your contact details here to make sure CitiBank the most updated information on hand.