Wells Fargo Bank Checking and Savings Account Review

Finding the right checking and savings account to fit your lifestyle can be challenging. Not only are there more options than ever in the marketplace, but many banks appear to have identical services. Understanding the difference between checking and savings accounts can be tough.
One of the country’s top national banks, Wells Fargo, is one of the most trusted financial institutions with brick-and-mortar and online banking options. While many Americans turn to Wells Fargo for checking and savings account services, they may not be right for you. I’ll explain everything you need to know about Wells Fargo’s checking and savings accounts below.

What is Wells Fargo Bank?

Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) has been a financial services company in the United States for over 160 years. Wells Fargo was first established in 1852 as Wells, Fargo & Co and later rebranded to Wells Fargo. Today, Wells Fargo is the 3rd largest bank in the world and has over 5,320 locations across the United States.
Today, Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco and has over $1.97 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo is insured by the federal government as an n.a. member FDIC as well as members SIPC. It offers a large selection of banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, small business and commercial banking, credit cards, loans, mortgage equal housing lender, wealth management, and investing through Wellstrade as broker-dealers, and provider of insurance products and insurance services.

How do Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts work?

You can choose from four different checking accounts and three different savings accounts when banking with Wells Fargo. They also offer access to a large network of over 13,000 in-network ATMs across the country, which is beneficial to anyone who does not live near a physical Wells Fargo branch.
To open a checking or savings account, you can visit a Wells Fargo bank branch or apply directly online.
These are Wells Fargo’s available checking account types:
  • Everyday Checking. Best for college students and individuals looking for a low-cost checking option with low balance requirements.
  • Clear Access Banking. Best for anyone who does not need paper checks, needs access to basic banking tools, and wants overdraft protection.
  • Preferred Checking. Best for anyone with high bank account balances looking to earn interest on checking deposits.
  • Portfolio by Wells Fargo. Best for individuals with high balances looking for the highest tier of checking services, benefits, and rewards.
While Wells Fargo only offers free checking services for college students, I do like that their Everyday Checking account has easy ways to waive monthly fees, while their Clear Access Banking account has a low monthly fee. On the downside, I’m not a fan of Wells Fargo’s minimum account deposit requirements. If you want to earn interest on your checking deposits, you’ll need to maintain a fairly high balance of $10,000+.
These are the three savings account types at Wells Fargo:
  • Way2Save Savings. Best for new savers looking to build up savings automatically.
  • Platinum Savings. Best for intermediate savers looking to earn higher interest rates on deposits.
  • Wells Fargo CDs. Best for individuals looking to earn interest on deposits over set increments of time.
Wells Fargo’s savings accounts are clearly defined, which is not always the case for most banks. While even their basic savings account has a monthly fee, Wells Fargo offers numerous ways to waive this fee which will be easy for most individuals to meet. On the downside, even Wells Fargo’s highest savings rates are below many online banks’ rates, though they’re on par with national competitors.
Next, I’ll take you through the different fees and requirements to expect with each of these Wells Fargo accounts.

How much does Wells Fargo Cost?

There are different charges and requirements you’ll want to be aware of when opening a Wells Fargo checking or savings accounts, including monthly charges, waiver options, and minimum deposit requirements for each account:
Checking AccountMonthly FeeFees waivedMinimum Deposit
Everyday$10 (free for ages 17 - 24)$500/mo direct deposit OR average balance of $500$25
Clear Access$5 (free for ages 13 - 24)N/A$25
Preferred$15$1,000/mo direct deposit OR average account balance of $10,000 OR link Wells Fargo mortgage$25
Portfolio$30$25,000/mo direct deposit OR average account balance of $50,000$25
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Here are the fees and requirements for Wells Fargo’s savings accounts:
Savings AccountMonthly FeeFees waivedMinimum Deposit
Way2Save$5 (free under 18)Save-as-you-go transfers OR $300 daily balance OR automatic transfers$25
Platinum$12$3,500 daily balance$25
Wells Fargo CDs$0N/A$2,500

Wells Fargo Features

Now that you understand the main checking and savings accounts Wells Fargo offers, I’ll take you through some key features this bank provides.

Low monthly charges

I wish Wells Fargo had at least one free monthly account for anyone who isn’t a student, but I do love that the monthly fees are much lower than competitors. Wells Fargo also makes it easy to waive these monthly fees, with more and lower minimum requirements than most other national banks.

Simple account tiers

While many national banks offer a variety of checking and savings accounts, it’s often difficult to understand which account is best for you. I like that Wells Fargo’s accounts are all easily explained, with fees and requirements detailed.

Free checking and savings for college students and minors

If you’re under 18 or a college student (under 24), Wells Fargo offers free checking and savings accounts with no balance requirements. You will have to meet the minimum opening deposit requirement ($25) to open an account, but won’t be required to maintain a specific balance going forward.

Built-in overdraft protection

Wells Fargo has high overdraft fees but offers the Clear Access Banking checking account designed to protect you from these fees. If you’ve overdrafted in the past or worry about possibly spending more than you may have from time to time, this feature is worth looking into.

Large network of branches and ATMs

As a national bank, you’d expect Wells Fargo to be pretty well-spread across the country. This bank delivers with over 5,000 branch locations and more than 13,000 in-network ATMs. Their large selection of service locations makes them a better choice than most national banks, especially if you don’t live near a Wells Fargo.

Who is Wells Fargo best for?

College students

Balancing schoolwork should be your main priority during college, which is why I love that Wells Fargo offers completely free checking and savings account for students up to 24 years of age. Many national banks offer free checking or savings, but Wells Fargo delivers on both fronts.

Existing Wells Fargo customers

If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, particularly a home mortgage or a brokerage customer, you’ll have access to a variety of checking and savings account features. Wells Fargo’s Preferred Checking Account, for example, allows you to earn interest on your deposits with no monthly fee if you’re already a Wells Fargo Mortgage customer.

Anyone searching for affordable checking and savings

Although Wells Fargo doesn’t have the highest rates, they certainly have some of the most affordable, low-price checking and savings accounts around. If you feel more comfortable with an established bank that has both brick-and-mortar locations and a digital presence, Wells Fargo is one of the most affordable national banks available.

Who shouldn’t use Wells Fargo?

Some individuals outside of Wells Fargo’s 37 serviced states

It’s no longer important to have a physical bank branch nearby to enjoy great checking and savings accounts. However, I understand some people may prefer to have a bank close by (or within reasonable driving distance) just in case. If you’re one of those people and you live outside of Wells Fargo’s 37-serviced states, including Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia, you might want to find a different banking option.

Anyone interested in high interest rates

Wells Fargo’s savings rates aren’t very impressive, though they are on par with other premier national banks. If you’re looking for a savings account that can grow your money, you’re better off looking for a high-yield savings account with a competitive rate.

Wells Fargo Pros and Cons

Now that you understand if Wells Fargo is a good fit for you, I’ll run you through some additional pros and cons you’ll want to be aware of when banking here.
Pros
  • Access to 5,000+ branches and 13,000+ ATMs. When looking at some of the top national banks, Wells Fargo blows the competition away when it comes to banking presence.
  • Affordable checking and savings options. Wells Fargo makes it easy to afford a checking and savings account with low monthly fees and numerous ways to waive these fees. The minimum balance and transfer requirements to waive fees are also much lower than competitors with similar accounts.
  • Free money transfers with Zelle. Like many other national banks, Wells Fargo allows you to easily transfer money to family and friends using Zelle. Wells Fargo offers Zelle transfers through Wells Fargo Online and Mobile interfaces and does not charge a fee for this service.
Cons
  • Minimum deposits required. Although I love Wells Fargo’s checking and savings account options, it was disappointing to see that nearly all of them require a $25 minimum deposit to open an account. Although this is a small requirement compared to some other banks, you can find several national banking institutions without minimum deposit requirements.
  • Complex overdraft structure. Unless you’re signed up for the Clear Access Banking account, Wells Fargo’s overdraft policies may seem a bit confusing. If you do overdraw on your account, you can be charged an overdraft fee of $35 up to three times a day. You can link your checking and savings account to prevent this fee, but if the bank moves money from your savings to your checking to avoid overdrawing on your account, you’ll be charged a $12.50 transfer fee for each transaction. On the bright side, Wells Fargo also offers an “Overdraft Rewind” feature that eliminates overdraft fees if your direct deposit clears the day after an overdraft transaction occurs. Still, all these fees can add up and put a real dent in your finances.
  • High out-of-network ATM fees. Wells Fargo has tens of thousands of in-network ATMs, but if you’re unable to find one or happen to not live near one, you’ll be charged a hefty $2.50 ATM service fee for any out-of-network transactions.

Wells Fargo vs. competitors

Now that you have a thorough understanding of all the features, benefits, and drawbacks of Wells Fargo, I’ll show you how this banking giant stacks up against other top banks in the country.

Wells Fargo vs. Citibank

One of Wells Fargo’s main competitors is Citibank. This top financial institution offers many of the same services as Wells Fargo, but there are important differences you should be aware of between these two banks.
Both Wells Fargo and Citibank offer a good selection of checking and savings accounts. Citibank offers more, but their account tiers are a little more confusing and not as well laid-out and defined as Wells Fargo’s. They also both have hefty overdraft fees.
Wells Fargo does have more locations and in-network ATMs than Citibank and seems to have more options for low-to-mid-level income earners. On the other hand, Citibank has no minimum deposit requirements to open an account.
Lastly, Citibank’s biggest advantage over Wells Fargo is its high-yield savings account, which can earn you up to 0.70% APY on your deposits. Not all zip codes qualify for this APY, but if yours does, you can grow your savings faster than you could with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo vs. PNC Bank

PNC Bank is another top competitor of Wells Fargo. Both of these banks also have similar checking and savings account options with a few distinctions worth highlighting.
Both Wells Fargo and PNC Bank offer free checking and savings options for college students and minors. They also both have high overdraft fees and require monthly fees for most of their accounts. Neither of these banks has particularly great savings rates, either.
Wells Fargo, however, has more physical branch locations than PNC Bank, which might be a benefit for some individuals. PNC Bank offers more robust digital tools than Wells Fargo and does not require a minimum deposit to open an account.
BankMinimum DepositMonthly FeeSavings APYOverdraft FeeNumber of Branches
Wells Fargo$25$100.01% – 0.04%$35 each, 3/day5,400
Citibank$0$4.50 - $300.04% – 0.70%$34 each, 4/day700
PNC Bank$0$7 - $250.01% – 0.065%$36 each, 4/day2,300

FAQs

How much money do I have to keep in my Wells Fargo account?
Wells Fargo does not have a minimum balance requirement. However, if you want to avoid monthly fees, maintaining a certain balance per day might be a way to waive this fee.
How much does it cost to open a checking and savings account at Wells Fargo?
For most individuals, it will cost $25 to open a checking and/or savings account with Wells Fargo. $25 is the minimum deposit for most of Wells Fargo’s personal accounts.
Is Wells Fargo’s savings account good?
Wells Fargo’s savings accounts have a lot of unique options, such as automatic transfer rules. However, Wells Fargo’s savings account rates are on the low side and won’t earn you as much interest as other accounts.
Does Wells Fargo have a spending limit?
There is a maximum amount you can spend each day with your Wells Fargo debit card. This amount varies but can be found by logging into Wells Fargo’s online portal or mobile app, going to Open Card Details, and selecting Limits for This Card.
Does Wells Fargo have senior discounts?
Wells Fargo does waive account fees for seniors who maintain a certain account balance (typically $1,500). Other competitors offer free checking and savings for seniors without account balance requirements.

The bottom line

Wells Fargo is one of the oldest and strongest banks in the nation with a large physical presence throughout the country and comprehensive digital tools. I’m a fan of this bank’s easy-to-understand account options and affordable checking and savings plans. I also like that they offer over 13,000 in-network ATMs.
You can bank with Wells Fargo whether you live near a branch or not, but if you’re outside of this bank’s serviced area, you might want to search for a comparable bank nearby. You should also shop around if you’re looking to build your savings in a high-yield account.
You can learn more at wellsfargo.com.

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