Wells Fargo Review: We Love the Sign-up Bonuses but Can’t Ignore the Fees
Wells Fargo is a Big Four bank that made big headlines back in 2016 and 2017 over a scandal where employees created millions of fake accounts to hit their sales targets.
But it’s up to you to decide whether you should or shouldn’t trust Wells Fargo with your money. We’re here to give you an honest look at the bank’s checking and savings features for individuals and small businesses, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features in this Wells Fargo review.
Wells Fargo Review: Pros and Cons
What we like:
- The monthly service fees for Wells Fargo’s basic checking and savings accounts are easily waived.
- The Automatic Refund feature is free and will reverse some overdraft fees.
- Low-fee checking and savings options for small businesses.
- Wells Fargo is currently offering a $400 bonus to new customers who open a checking account and set up at least $4,000 of monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months.
What we don’t like:
- The APY on savings accounts is well below the national average.
- Not for habitual overdrafters: The standard overdraft fee is $35, and overdraft protection costs $12.50 per transfer.
- The trust factor: Remember that whole fake account scandal?
Wells Fargo’s most popular checking option, the Everyday Checking account, has a pretty standard minimum opening deposit of $25.
It has a $10 monthly service fee, but Wells Fargo will waive it if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You have 10 or more debit transactions.
- Have $500 or more in direct deposits.
- Maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more.
- Are between the ages of 17 and 24.
The money you keep in the Everyday Checking account won’t earn you interest, but if you opt for the Preferred Checking account, you’ll earn a minuscule 0.01% APY if you maintain a balance of at least $500.
Wells Fargo’s overdraft fees are a steep $35, with a limit of three per day. Overdraft protection is available if you have a linked Wells Fargo savings account or credit card — but the transfer to cover your overdraft will cost you a hefty $12.50.
However, we do like the Automatic Refund feature, which will waive some overdraft fees if Wells Fargo receives an automatic transfer that covers at least the amount you overdrafted by before 9 a.m. the following business day. This feature is free and is automatically applied to all checking accounts.
Wells Fargo is known for pretty sweet bonus offers for new customers: If you’re a new customer and you open a checking account, you’ll receive a $400 bonus if you set up and receive at least $4,000 in monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months. The offer is good through July 31, 2020. To see how this bonus stacks up against competitors, check out our a list of our current bank promotions.
Wells Fargo’s basic savings account, the Way2Save Account, also has a $25 minimum opening deposit.
There’s a $5 monthly service fee that’s waived if:
- You maintain a daily balance of at least $300.
- You set up at least one automatic transfer.
- You’re under 18.
We’re also fans of the optional Save As You Go program, which transfers $1 into your savings account for each non-recurring debit purchase and automatic online bill pay transaction.
But the Way2Save Account isn’t exactly a way to earn interest, as your balance will earn just 0.01% APY, which is well below the national average. The Platinum Savings Account has a standard APY of 0.05%, still below average, and requires a minimum balance of $3,500 to avoid the $12 a month service fee.
Small Business Banking
We think Wells Fargo is one of the best banks for small businesses in general. What we like its small business checking and savings account offerings because of their low fees.
The Simple Business Checking Account has a $25 minimum opening deposit. There’s a $10 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. You’ll also get 50 free transactions and $3,000 worth of free cash deposits each month.
The Business Market Rate Savings Account also requires just $25 to open. It has a $6 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. The account comes with 20 free check deposits and $5,000 worth of free cash deposits per month.
Wells Fargo is hard to beat on convenience, with more than 5,400 branches and 13,000 ATMs in the U.S. There’s also 24/7 customer service.
Of course, like most big banks, Wells Fargo offers a lot of digital features (more on these in a minute) like mobile deposit and text banking that make it less important to be able to visit a physical location or interact with an actual human.
While this Wells Fargo review is limited to its checking and savings options, it’s a convenient place to bank if you want a full suite of financial products, like credit cards, mortgages, car loans and investment accounts, all under the same roof.
Customers give the Wells Fargo Mobile app solid reviews. It gets 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.6 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store.
We also like the Control Tower option that lets you easily turn your card off if you’ve misplaced it. There’s also a cool cardless ATM option that allows you to access cash using your mobile phone — no debit card required.
The app has several neat financial management tools that let you track your spending in real time, create a budget and make a savings plan. Granted, there are tons of other budgeting apps that do the same things, but it’s nice to have these features rolled into your banking app.
Our Bank Review Methodology
The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.
To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.
For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.
Banks are graded across the following categories:
- Personal checking accounts
- Personal savings accounts
- Small-business banking
- Mobile banking
Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.
Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.