Wells Fargo Bank Review

Originally founded in 1852 during California’s Gold Rush, Wells Fargo Bank started out as a banking and express delivery business. After the West Coast-based bank acquired Wachovia in 2008, it became one of the largest banks in the region. These days, Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has nearly 6,000 branches in 39 states and about 13,000 ATMs.

Wells Fargo has had some bad press in recent years, mostly related to the $100 million in fines it was ordered to pay by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after a 2016 investigation revealed a widespread issue with employees opening secret, unauthorized accounts in customers’ names at the bank. Wells Fargo addressed the issue and launched ad campaigns on improving their practices. It also agreed to a $575 million settlement to resolve claims that it violated state consumer protection laws in all 50 states.

This bank offers wholesale, community and wealth, brokerage and retirement banking, and banking products include checking, savings and money market accounts, mortgages and CDs.

Wells Fargo at a glance

Bank Min Savings Deposit Max Savings APY 1-Year CD Rate J.D. Power Survey Score Key Benefit
Wells Fargo Bank $25 0.01% 0.15% 3 out of 5 6,000 physical branches for people who like in-person banking; no fees on Wells Fargo ATMs

What we like about it

Wells Fargo Bank has several helpful banking and benefits customers can enjoy. Their 13,000 ATM locations are fee-free. With almost 6,000 physical branches, customers who like in-person banking can usually find a local branch to stop in at. Customers can also bank conveniently online or by phone via text or voice.

Checking accounts often include sign-up bonuses and fees for overdrafts are easy to avoid. Wells Fargo also offers something called Overdraft Rewind to customers who accidentally overdraw their accounts. With Overdraft Rewind, if Wells Fargo receives your direct deposit by 9 a.m. your time, it will reevaluate the prior day’s transactions and refund overdraft or NSF item fees when appropriate.

Wells Fargo Bank is also FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 per depositor account and gives its customers access to convenient apps, like Mint, to help them manage their money.

Things to consider

There are a few concerns about banking with Wells Fargo, including the yields on CDs and standard savings accounts, which are lower than the national average. Customers will also incur fees totaling $2.50 for using a foreign ATM if they have checking accounts with Wells Fargo. And, while Wells Fargo has banking locations in 39 different states, people looking for a bank with a local presence that do not live in these states may want to bank elsewhere.

Another concern that banking customers might have is with overdraft fees. Unless customers sign up for Overdraft Rewind, overdraft fees of $35 a piece can quickly add up, especially considering that these fees can be charged up to three times a day.

Wells Fargo checking accounts

Wells Fargo offers several different types of checking accounts, including:

  • Preferred Checking: This interest-bearing account requires a minimum $25 deposit. To avoid the $15 monthly fee, customers have to keep $10,000 or more in the account. Customers may also be able to avoid that fee by adding direct deposit that’s higher than $1,000 or linking their Wells Fargo mortgage to their checking account.
  • Opportunity Checking: This account is for customers who want to rebuild their credit.
  • Everyday Checking: This account has avoidable $10 monthly fees.
  • Teen Checking: This account is for teens aged 13 to 17.
  • Portfolio Checking: The interest-bearing account is ideal for customers who maintain larger balances.

Wells Fargo savings accounts

Wells Fargo Bank offers two types of savings accounts. The Way2Save Savings account requires a $25 opening balance. A $5 monthly maintenance fee is avoidable if customers maintain daily balances of $300 or higher. The fee is waived if customers set up direct debits into the account. They can also use an automatic savings program that transfers $1 into savings each time they use an ATM or pay bills.

Platinum Savings accounts require a $3,500 daily balance or a $12 fee is charged. Customers can write checks and use overdraft protection with this account, though. Unfortunately, the APY for this account is below the national average, making it less appealing than other options.

Wells Fargo money market accounts

Customers who want an account that earns a high interest rate might want to explore the Platinum Savings account. Wells Fargo treats its Platinum Savings account like a money market account. You’ll have the option to write checks, but the annual percentage yield on the Platinum Savings account is lower than the national average.

The APY offered for the Platinum Savings account is the highest yield across all Wells Fargo accounts, though. Still, while there are special rates if customers keep balances higher than $100,000, banks are offering higher rates elsewhere.

Drawbacks for the Platinum Savings account include a $12 monthly maintenance fee. Customers can have the fee waived, but they have to maintain a $3,500 minimum account balance to do so.

Wells Fargo CDs

Wells Fargo Bank has several types of certificates of deposit (CDs) options for customers. While they offer several types of CD terms, the lowest minimum deposit is $2,500 for a 3-month CD.

A 9-month CD with Wells Fargo has a high APY. However, it requires $5,000 to open the account, and the $2,500 CDs that are locked in for longer terms include a yield that’s lower than the national average. There are no fees on the CD accounts with Wells Fargo, but there is an early withdrawal fee, as is the case with most banks.

Standard CDs have a lower minimum deposit, but the yields are also lower. Potential customers may find that other banks offer better CD options.

Wells Fargo IRA accounts

Customers can transfer 401(k)s into individual retirement accounts (IRAs) at Wells Fargo. Destination IRAs can be set up as traditional or Roth IRAs. The minimum opening deposit for an IRA at this bank is $100 and there are no fees. Wells Fargo has a convenient IRA eligibility calculator to help customers choose an IRA.

The WellsTrade IRA requires no minimum opening deposit, but it has a $30 avoidable monthly fee. The Intuitive Investor IRA requires a minimum deposit of $10,000 and has a 0.50% annual advisory fee. The Full Service Brokerage IRA has no minimum opening deposit, but an avoidable fee of $125 to $300 is added monthly.

Wells Fargo credit cards

Wells Fargo Bank offers a number of credit cards on its site:

    • The Wells Fargo Platinum Card has the lowest intro APR — 0% APR — for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, and balance transfers made within 120 of opening the account qualify for the intro rate and fees. You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify.
    • The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card offers customers a 30,000 bonus point promotion if they spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Customers can also earn 3x the points on popular categories, making this AmEx a strong contender against the card competition from this bank.
    • The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card offers a $150 cash rewards bonus when you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months, making it a more feasible option than the American Express for low spenders. This card also offers unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases.

Customers who would like to explore credit card alternatives might want to check with TD Bank. TD Bank offers the TD Cash Credit Card. As a special offer, customers can earn up to $200 in cash-back rewards when they spend up to $500 within the first three months.

Another card to explore is the TD First Class Visa Signature credit card. Customers can earn up to a total of 25,000 bonus miles. They will need to spend a total of $3,000 within their first six billing cycles.

Wells Fargo investing

Wells Fargo Advisors, a separate investing subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, employs about 19,000 different financial advisors, but customers will need a $100,000 deposit to access all the available products.

Wells Fargo offers technologically advanced services like Intuitive Investor, its robo-advising service. It’s ideal for customers who want self-directed investment options. In order to access it, though, customers have to have accounts with a minimum balance of $10,000, which is higher than the deposit requirements for other banks.

Other investing options include IRA accounts if customers roll over 401(k) savings. Additionally, online trading is available at $5.95 per trade. Fees drop to $2.95 per trade for customers with Portfolio Checking accounts.

The bottom line

Wells Fargo Bank is one of the largest banks in the U.S., and with a 2016 investigation behind it, the bank is working hard to rebuild customer trust with banking products and online features that make it more convenient to manage your money. Perks include free ATMs and low initial balances for accounts. Customers can also benefit from overdraft protection.

A few drawbacks include APYs that are below the national average and overdraft fees that can total $105 per day. Customers who prefer in-person banking might find Wells Fargo is a good fit. However, if you’re looking for high APYs, you might want to bank elsewhere.

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