Wells Fargo Checking Account Review

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers several different checking accounts with low minimum opening deposits and moderate fees.

APY
0.01%
J.D. Power
2/5
Overdraft Protection
Yes
SimpleScore
3.4 / 5.0
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SimpleScore
Wells Fargo
3.4
  • Interest APY
    3
  • 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.
Full review

Our Two Cents — 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.

Wells Fargo at a glance

Bank Minimum Deposit ATMs J.D. Power Survey Score Key Benefit
Wells Fargo $25 13,000+ 2/5 Thousands 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.

Too long, didn’t read?

A checking account from Wells Fargo might be a good choice if you already bank with Wells Fargo, or if you enjoy the ease and convenience of a national bank with brick and mortar locations throughout the country. However, Wells Fargo may not the best option for most consumers. With a checkered history, moderate fees and few additional perks, Wells Fargo doesn’t provide as much value to customers as other banks and credit unions with comparable offerings.

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Methodology

The SimpleScore is our proprietary scoring metric to compare products and services at The Simple Dollar in a transparent, evidence-based way. Our editorial team identifies five quantifiable aspects to compare for every brand, determines the rating criteria for each aspect score, then averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore. For checking accounts, we compared interest rates, overdraft protection options, customer satisfaction, additional accounts and customer support for every major checking account. Our ratings are meant to be a directional tool to help you in the process of choosing a checking account. Be sure to continue your research and shop around for the best checking account that fits your specific needs.

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.

Reviewed by

  • Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.