Wells Fargo Bank Review - Everything You Need to Know

America's third-largest bank offers a range of services and ATMs in every state

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Who is Wells Fargo Bank Best For?

Wells Fargo was founded in 1852 as a bank designed to serve customers in California, many of whom arrived to take advantage of the Gold Rush. Through growth and a flurry of acquisitions, it became one of the largest banks in the United States, absorbing many major competitors, including Wachovia. It is now the third-largest bank in America based on market capitalization and offers a wide range of checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, mortgages and other loans, and brokerage services.

It has more than 8,050 branches and 13,000 ATMs in all 50 states.

Wells Fargo Bank is appropriate for anyone who:

  • Wants easy access to branches and ATMs
  • Wants to bank online and via a mobile app
  • Desires a checking account with low minimum deposits and fees
  • Prefers the breadth of products and services offered by a big bank
  • Is a student

Pros

  • Access to more than 8,050 branches and 13,000 ATMs

  • $25 minimum opening deposit on checking accounts

  • Online and mobile banking

  • Access to debit and credit cards

Cons

  • Relatively low interest rates on savings accounts and CDs

  • Monthly service fees on savings and checking accounts

  • In 2016, the company was forced to pay millions of dollars in fines after improperly opening accounts without authorization

Types of Accounts

Wells Fargo Bank offers the following types of accounts:

  • Way2Save Savings Account
  • Platinum Savings Account
  • Everyday Checking Account
  • Preferred Checking
  • Teen Checking
  • Portfolio By Wells Fargo Checking
  • CD Accounts
  • IRA Accounts
  • Loan Options
  • Other Investment Accounts

All bank accounts and CDs are FDIC insured up to $250,000. 

Way2Save Savings Account

The Way2Save savings account is ideal for those just starting their savings journey. It has a low $25 minimum balance to open, with optional overdraft protection. A $5 monthly service fee can be waived by maintaining a monthly balance of more than $300, or by setting up an automatic recurring transfer.

As of December 2018, the Way2Save account offered a 0.01% APY, compounded daily. You can link your Way2Save account to a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card and access your account through Wells Fargo Online or Wells Fargo Mobile.

Many Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts have monthly fees, but it’s fairly easy to avoid those fees if you know the rules. Fees can be waived if you set up direct deposit, make a certain number of transactions per month, keep a balance above a certain level, or maintain a mortgage through Wells Fargo.

Platinum Savings Account

For those looking for slightly higher returns on their cash savings, the Platinum Savings Account offers an APY of 0.03% for balances under $100,000 and 0.05% APY for balances above $100,000. However, it’s possible to get even higher rates if you deposit $25,000 in new funds or have a Portfolio by Wells Fargo relationship.

There is a $12 monthly service fee on the Platinum Savings Account that can be waived if you have a monthly balance above $3,500.

Everyday Checking Account

This standard checking account can be opened with a $25 minimum deposit and the $10 monthly service fee is waived for anyone between 17 and 24, making it a great option for college students. The fee can also be waived if monthly account balances stay above $1,500, or if the account holder makes more than 10 transactions with a linked debit card.

Everyday Checking Accounts can be accessed on Wells Fargo’s website and through the mobile app, and customers can set up text alerts. Note there is no interest earned on Everyday Checking Accounts.

Preferred Checking

For those customers who want to earn some interest from money in their checking accounts, Preferred Checking is an option. You can open an account with a $25 minimum and can get an APY of 0.01% on balances of more than $500.

There is a $15 monthly account fee, but that can be waived for Wells Fargo Mortgage customers. It can also be waived if you have a combined monthly balance of $10,000 or direct deposit of at least $1,000 each month.

This checking account comes with a Platinum Debit Card with chip technology and access to online and mobile banking. Linking to a Way2Save Savings Account can help you avoid overdraft fees.

Portfolio by Wells Fargo Checking

This checking account comes with Wells Fargo’s highest interest rates and level of service and is designed for those with larger cash savings. Accounts can be opened with a $25 minimum, but there will be a $30 monthly service fee unless you maintain a balance of $25,000 on all linked bank accounts. You can also avoid fees if your bank, brokerage, and credit balances clear $50,000.

Customers with balances above $5,000 will earn interest rates of 0.05%. Those with lower balances will earn 0.01%. Portfolio customers can have fees waived if they withdraw money from a non-Wells Fargo ATM.

Other benefits include lower interest rates on auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans, and credit cards with special purchase and travel protection.

Teen Checking

This is a perfect account for young people who need access to cash but continued monitoring from their parents. Teens between ages 13 and 17 with an adult co-owner can get a debit card and 24/7 account access online. Parents can place limits on purchases and withdrawals and move money from their own accounts to their teen’s accounts. Perks include no monthly service fee and free money management tools.

CD Accounts

Wells Fargo offers several certificates of deposit, including fixed rate and step-up rate CDs. With certificates of deposit, you can get higher rates of return than a normal savings account. In exchange, you are usually unable to withdraw your money for a specific length of time.

Wells Fargo offers standard rates and “bonus” rates if you link the CD to a Portfolio by Wells Fargo account.

As of December 2018, the APY on Wells Fargo standard CDs were as follows:

Standard CDs
Term APY Bonus APY
3 months .05% .1%
6 months .3% .35%
1 year 1.35% 1.40%

Wells Fargo also offers higher rates and different terms for those who can make larger deposits of $5,000 or more.Those rates are as follows:

CD Rates
Term APY Bonus APY
9 months 1.45% 1.5%
19 months 2.5% 2.55%
39 months 2.55% 2.60%
58 months 2.60% 2.65%

Most Wells Fargo CDs have early withdrawal penalties of three months interest for terms of six months or less, and six month’s interest for terms between six months and a year. For terms over 24 months, the penalty for early withdrawal is 12 months interest.

Wells Fargo offers step-rate CDs with a 24-month term that allow for one penalty-free withdrawal every six months. The APY is 1.88% on the CD, based on guaranteed rate increases at 7, 13, and 19 months.

IRA Accounts

Wells Fargo offers three different individual retirement account options. All allow for the opening of traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs. Those options include:

  • WellsTrade IRA – An online brokerage account for managing your own investments and making trades. It offers access to no-load mutual funds and target date funds, plus stocks, bonds, and ETFs. There are no minimums, but there is a $30 account fee.
  • Intuitive Investor IRA – Can be opened with a minimum deposit of $10,000 and a 0.5% annual advisory fee. Account holders can provide Wells Fargo with their investment needs and risk tolerances, and the bank will create a managed and diversified portfolio. This includes access to financial advisors, plus account monitoring and rebalancing.
  • Full-Service Brokerage IRA – Can also be opened with a $10,000 minimum. This account allows for a direct relationship with a financial advisor who will develop a personalized investment strategy. Annual fees range from $100 to $150. 

Loan Options

Wells Fargo won’t just help you save money, it will help you borrow it when you need to. If you qualify, the bank will lend you money for:

  • Home mortgages, with products including 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed mortgages, plus adjustable rate mortgages and Jumbo loans.
  • Home equity lines, so you can repair your roof, remodel your kitchen, or just gain access to some cash flow by putting the equity of your house to work.
  • Personal loans ranging from $3,000 to $100,000 with no collateral required.
  • Student loans that allow you to borrow up to 100% of your education expenses. Loan offerings are for those in undergraduate or graduate school, and there are also refinancing options for those looking to consolidate their loans.
  • Auto loans, with terms as long as 72 months with competitive rates to help pay for new or used cars from a dealer, a lease buyout, or a private party purchase.
  • Credit Cards, many of which offer rewards including cash back. It also offers secured cards for those looking to establish their credit history. 

Wells Fargo encourages customers to open multiple accounts and offers perks to those who do. For example, CD customers can get higher interest rates if they also have Portfolio by Wells Fargo Checking Accounts. Customers may also be able to avoid fees based on the combined balances in savings, checking, and brokerage accounts.

Customer Service

You can reach Wells Fargo customer service by chat via their website or over the phone at 1-800-869-3557 where representatives are available 24/7.

Deaf and hard of hearing customers can also receive phones support 24/7 by calling 1-800-877-4833.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in the United States based on market capitalization and has total assets of nearly $2 trillion. The San Francisco-based bank is publicly traded with the ticker symbol WFC on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wells Fargo offers service to all retail customers, with savings accounts, checking accounts, and CDs, plus investment products and individual retirement accounts and financial advisors. In addition, it offers loan products ranging from mortgages and auto loans to personal loans and home equity lines of credit.

The Bottom Line

BENEFITS

Wells Fargo is a big bank that offers easy access to branches and ATMs for most people. Its products and services are competitive compared to other banks of its size, though you may find higher interest rates and a broader range of CD products elsewhere, especially at smaller banks.

Wells Fargo customers get access to online banking and bill pay, plus banking through the Wells Fargo smartphone app. If you experience any issues or need help, you can reach a customer service representative 24/7 via online chat or phone.

DRAWBACKS

Potential customers should be aware that the company was forced to pay hefty fines after it was revealed in 2016 that it opened millions of fraudulent bank and credit card accounts over the course of many years. As of December of 2018, the bank was operating under an asset cap restriction imposed by the Federal Reserve.