Wells Fargo Checking Account Review

Wells Fargo checking accounts come in several different varieties. These accounts come with few perks and moderate fees, so they might not be a good fit unless you already bank with Wells Fargo.

Min. Deposit
$25
Number of Fees
N/A
Free Transactions
N/A
SimpleScore
3.6 / 5.0
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SimpleScore Wells Fargo 3.6
Min. Deposit 4
Overdraft Protection 4
Customer Satisfaction 2
Support 3
Additional Accounts 5

Founded in 1852, Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the nation. The bank is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has branches throughout the United States. While many customers bank with Wells Fargo because of its ubiquitous branches and for the sake of convenience, it might not be the best option for most consumers. In recent years, Wells Fargo has been beset by a variety of consumer scandals, including creating accounts without customers’ permission, discriminating against black and Latino borrowers, contributing to the housing bubble and more.

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In this article

    Wells Fargo at a glance

    BankMinimum DepositATMsJ.D. Power Survey ScoreKey Benefit
    Wells Fargo$2513,000+2/5Thousands of branches around the country

    What we like about it

    One of the main benefits of a checking account at Wells Fargo is the convenience of banking with a national bank with thousands of branches around the country. As of 2020, it has over 7,400 branch locations and over 13,000 ATMs nationwide. If you ever have a problem with your account, need to access in-person services like depositing cash or getting a cashiers check or if you simply prefer to conduct most of your banking in-person, Wells Fargo has the advantage in terms of sheer ubiquity. Wells Fargo also has a mobile banking app, which can be handy if you prefer to view your accounts and do your banking on the go, and they also offer overdraft protection through a linked savings account or credit card. Some Wells Fargo checking accounts, including Preferred Checking and Portfolio Checking, earn interest, which is a perk not all banks offer.

    Things to consider

    While Wells Fargo does have some positive aspects, we don’t recommend Wells Fargo checking accounts for most consumers. Wells Fargo has a history of misconduct, including a fake account scandal, illegally repossessing cars, wage violations and more. When it comes to checking accounts, Wells Fargo charges monthly maintenance fees of up to $30 per month. While there are a variety of ways these fees can be avoided, they still pose an unnecessary cost to some consumers. Wells Fargo does offer overdraft protection if you link a savings account or credit card to your checking account, but this is accompanied by an overdraft services fee. Ultimately, Wells Fargo doesn’t offer much in the way of perks to outstrip its competitors and has a variety of downsides along with a history of mistreating customers and employees.

    [Read: 19 Black-Owned Banks and How to Support Them]

    What you need to know

    Wells Fargo offers several different types of checking accounts: Everyday Checking, Preferred Checking, Portfolio Checking, Teen Checking and Opportunity Checking.

    • Everyday Checking – Wells Fargo Everyday Checking has a $10 monthly service fee, a $25 minimum opening deposit and is a good choice for students and young adults.
    • Preferred Checking – Preferred Checking has a $15 monthly service fee, a $25 minimum opening deposit and earns 0.01% APY.
    • Portfolio Checking – Portfolio Checking has a $30 monthly service fee, a $25 minimum opening deposit, earns interest at a rate of .01% APY and comes with access to the Wells Fargo Premier Banking Team for 24/7 personalized phone service.
    • Teen Checking – Teen Checking is available for teenagers from 13-17 years old, who can open an account with an adult co-owner. The account has a $0 monthly service fee and is the only Wells Fargo free checking account. Teen Checking has a $25 minimum opening deposit and parents can set limits on purchases and withdrawals.
    • Opportunity Checking – Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking is a good choice if you don’t qualify for another kind of checking account. This account comes with a $10 monthly service fee and a $25 minimum opening deposit.

    Mobile app

    Wells Fargo does have a mobile app available for Apple and Android devices. Using the app, customers can deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills and set up alerts. They can also quickly and easily review their accounts, turn cards on or off and view recurring payments. According to J.D. Power’s mobile app satisfaction study, Wells Fargo’s mobile app receives an impressive 5/5 score.

    Fees and penalties

    Wells Fargo checking account fees vary depending on the type of account. Almost all Wells Fargo Checking accounts (with the exception of Teen Checking) come with monthly maintenance fees of $10 to $30. Wells Fargo also charges ATM fees, overdraft services fees, and fees for cashier’s checks, cashed or deposited returned items, check printing, excessive activity, international debit card purchases, money orders, stop payments and wire transfers.

    [Read: Balancing Your Checkbook in the Era of Debit Cards and Online Banking]

    Wells Fargo vs. Alliant Credit Union

    If you’re looking for the ease and convenience of a national bank along with the customer satisfaction of a credit union, you might want to consider Alliant Credit Union. Alliant offers a high-interest checking account with .25% APY, which is 25 times the rate that Wells Fargo offers. While Wells Fargo may have more branches and ATMs around the country, Alliant offers access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs, along with an out-of-network ATM fee rebate of up to $20/month. However, Alliant doesn’t have as many brick and mortar locations as Wells Fargo. Alliant also offers a mobile app, and a checking account comes with a free debit card and first box of checks. Alliant has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements and no maximum balance limits. Like Wells Fargo, Alliant does charge foreign transaction fees, non-sufficient funds fees and check printing fees.

    Compare top bank accounts

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the checking accounts we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best checking accounts of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare the savings account offered by Chase, it scores a 3.8 out of 5. However, when we compare the checking account offered by Chase with the checking account SimpleScore metrics, it scores a 4.4 out of 5. We change and tweak the methodologies for different categories based on industry standards to paint a complete picture of products and brands.

    Have questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Minimum deposit

    We awarded checking account providers that require low or no minimum deposits to open an account.

    Overdraft protection

    It sucks when your account gets overdrafted and you’re hit with fees. Brands that offer more overdraft protections are awarded higher SimpleScores.

    Customer satisfaction

    We leveraged J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study and 2020 U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study to rate each brand for customer satisfaction. The higher the satisfaction score, the higher the SimpleScore.

    Customer support

    The checking account providers that have the most channels of customer support score higher than providers that don’t. We considered e-chat, email, phone, mobile app support and social media as channels of support for this metric.

    Additional products

    When it comes to banking, it’s nice to have options. If you want a checking and savings account in one place, that’s great, but we also considered other financial products like MMAs, CDs, IRAs, loans and more. Providers that have more additional products score higher.

    Margaret Wack

    Contributing Writer

    Margaret Wack writes about personal finance, health, wellness, arts and culture, among other topics.