Wells Fargo checking accounts

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As one of the biggest banks in the U.S. in terms of assets and physical footprint, Wells Fargo offers several checking accounts with different features. Wells Fargo is  insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., so its checking accounts are safe places to deposit your paycheck, Social Security benefits or other income. And it doesn’t matter whether you prefer to visit a branch or bank online because Wells Fargo has more than 13,000 ATMs and 7,200 brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S., in addition to digital banking tools.

Wells Fargo checking accounts

Wells Fargo’s main checking account offerings include:

Account name APY Minimum deposit Monthly fee
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking None $25 $10
Wells Fargo Preferred Checking 0.01% $25 to open, $500 to earn APY $15
Portfolio by Wells Fargo 0.01% $25 to open, $10,000 to stay enrolled $30

Note: The APY (Annual Percentage Yield) shown is as of May 3, 2021. The APY may vary by region.

Here are more details about Wells Fargo’s three main checking accounts.

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

Everyday Checking is best for college students and others who keep lower account balances. The opening deposit is only $25. The account comes with access to budgeting and spending tools, online bill pay and 24/7 customer service.

There are two overdraft protection options for Everyday Checking: Customers can link their Everyday Checking account to a Wells Fargo savings account or credit account. Transfers from a savings account count toward the monthly limit set by the Federal Reserve Board of six withdrawals or transfers per month.

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Fees

The Everyday Checking account has a $10 monthly maintenance fee unless the account holder meets one of the following criteria:

  • Maintains a $500 minimum daily balance
  • Makes at least $500 in direct deposits per month
  • Is between 17 and 24 years old
  • Links the account to a Wells Fargo Campus ATM card or Campus Debit card

Some of the other fees an Everyday Checking account holder might incur:

  • Overdrafts and returned items, $35
  • Stop payment, $31
  • Wire transfers: $15 (for incoming domestic) to $30 (per outgoing domestic transfer)
  • Money order, $5
  • Cashier’s check, $10
  • Overdraft protection, $12.50 per transfer from a linked Wells Fargo savings account or line of credit account, such as a credit card
  • ATM fee, $2.50 for every cash withdrawal from a non-Wells Fargo ATM in the U.S.
  • International purchases with debit card, 3 percent of transaction amount

Wells Fargo Preferred Checking

The Wells Fargo Preferred Checking account is an interest-bearing account that is suited to customers who maintain higher balances and want to earn a little interest. The opening deposit is $25.

Interest is earned on Preferred Checking balances of $500 or more. The annual percentage yield is 0.01 percent. APYs can rise or fall, though, so inquire about it before you sign up.

In addition to earning a little bit of interest, Preferred Checking comes with a few other perks in the form of waived or reduced fees.

Wells Fargo Preferred Checking Fees

The Wells Fargo Preferred Checking account has a $15 monthly maintenance fee that can be avoided if the account holder meets one of the following criteria:

  • Maintains $10,000 in combined minimum deposit balances
  • Makes monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more of paychecks, pension, Social Security or other qualifying regular monthly income
  • Has a linked Wells Fargo home mortgage

The $5 fee for money orders is waived (up to $1,000) for Preferred Checking customers. So is the $10 fee for a cashier’s check. Preferred Checking customers also get a $10 discount on check printing and one free non-Wells Fargo ATM cash withdrawal per month. Overdraft fees can be avoided by linking the Preferred Checking account to a Wells Fargo savings account or credit card; however, you will pay a toll.

Some of the other fees a Preferred Checking account holder might incur:

  • Overdrafts and returned items, $35
  • Stop payment, $31
  • Wire transfers: $15 (per incoming domestic transfer) to $30 (per outgoing domestic transfer)
  • ATM fee, $2.50 for every cash withdrawal from a non-Wells Fargo ATM in the U.S.
  • Overdraft protection, $12.50 per transfer from a linked Wells Fargo savings account or line of credit advance to cover an overdraft
  • International purchases with debit card, 3 percent of transaction amount

Portfolio by Wells Fargo

Portfolio by Wells Fargo is an interest-bearing, relationship-based checking account that comes with Wells Fargo’s highest level of benefits and rewards. This account is for customers who want premium-level service and perks.

The annual percentage yield on balances of $0 and up for Portfolio by Wells Fargo customers is 0.01 percent. APYs can fluctuate and differ depending on where you live, so ask about the APY before you open an account.

To stay in the Portfolio by Wells Fargo program, the account holder must maintain $10,000 in banking, brokerage and credit balances, including 10 percent of mortgage balances.

Portfolio by Wells Fargo account holders have access to discounted interest rates on personal loans, home equity loans and lines of credit and other perks. They also get round-the-clock telephone customer support.

Portfolio by Wells Fargo Fees

The monthly service fee on this account is being lowered to $25 on May 28, 2021. The $25 fee can be avoided with $20,000 or more in linked account balances. In the meantime, the monthly service fee is $30 and the fee is charged unless the account holder meets one of the following balance requirements:

  • $25,000 or more in Wells Fargo linked bank deposit accounts (checking, savings, CD, IRA)
  • $50,000 or more in Wells Fargo linked bank, brokerage and credit balances

Portfolio account holders are not charged fees for services such as cashier’s checks and money orders (up to $1,000). Portfolio customers also get unlimited reimbursement of non-Wells Fargo ATM fees, both domestic and international.  Some other fees, such as stop payments, require a statement-ending qualifying balance of $250,000 or more to be waived.

Checking account features

Each of Wells Fargo’s three main checking accounts caters to a different type of consumer, but they share a few things in common. They all offer:

  • Wells Fargo mobile app. The bank’s highly rated mobile app lets customers make deposits, pay bills, get account alerts and track balances using a smartphone or tablet.
  • Fraud monitoring. Every account is monitored for fraud and account holders are notified if the bank spots unusual account activity.
  • Zero liability for fraudulent debit card transactions.
  • The ability to turn a debit card on and off with a mobile app.
  • Big network of Wells Fargo ATMs.
  • Free access to Zelle, a person-to-person payment platform for sending and receiving money.
  • Wells Fargo online with bill pay is free to all checking account holders.

Wells Fargo has a niche checking account called Clear Access Banking that is best for customers who want to avoid overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees, customers who don’t need to write checks and teens (13- to 16-year-olds need an adult account co-owner).

Instead of check-writing, the Clear Access Banking account offers a debit card with contactless and chip technology, mobile deposit, bill pay and digital payments. It’s a good account for customers who can’t open a standard account because they have a bad banking history or poor credit. It’s also a good account for teaching young teens about money and financial responsibility.

Alternatives to Wells Fargo Checking Accounts

If you’re not sure whether a Wells Fargo checking account is what you’re looking for, know that there are lots of other banks with similar or better offers.

If you want a checking account that earns a higher yield and you’re comfortable doing all your banking online, you might be happier with an online or challenger bank where it’s possible to find yields of 0.50 percent APY or more.

A credit union is another alternative, as long as you meet the membership requirements. Bankrate’s list of the best banks for checking accounts includes a couple of credit unions.

Written by
Libby Wells
Contributing writer
Libby Wells is a contributor covering banking and deposit products. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and online publications.