Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Which Is Best for You?

Amber Murakami-FesterOctober 28, 2019

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Comparing two giant banks can be like choosing between vanilla and French vanilla: What the heck is the difference? Wells Fargo and Bank of America, the second- and third-largest U.S. banks, respectively, offer similar flavors of traditional-style banking, packed with networks of ATMs and branches.

Here’s a quick look at how they stack up.

Snapshot comparison

Wells Fargo

Bank of America

Checking accounts

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

  • Monthly fee: $10 (See below for ways to waive it).

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25.

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking

  • Monthly fee $12 (See below for ways to waive it).

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25.

Savings accounts

Wells Fargo Way2Save

  • APY: 0.01%.

  • Monthly fee: $5 (See below for ways to waive it).

Bank of America Advantage Savings

  • Interest rate: 0.03%.

  • Monthly fee: $8 (See below for ways to waive it).

Certificates of deposit

Wells Fargo CD interest rates

  • 1 year: 0.15%.

  • 5 year: No standard rates available online beyond one-year terms. Call or visit a branch for rates.

  • Minimum deposit: $2,500.

Bank of America CD interest rates

  • 1 year: 0.03%.

  • 5 year: 0.03%

  • Minimum deposit: $1,000.

Overdrafts, ATMs, customer service

  • Overdraft fee: $35, maximum of 3 per day.

  • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $12.50.

  • ATMs: 13,000.

  • Branches: 5,400 in nearly 40 states.

  • Customer service: Available 24/7 by phone, as well as chat and social media.

  • Overdraft fee: $35, maximum of 4 per day.

  • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $12.

  • ATMs: 16,600.

  • Branches: About 4,300 in nearly 40 states.

  • Customer service: Available by phone Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. ET; Saturday - Sunday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET. Also chat, email and social media.

  • Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Overall Star Rating
    NerdWallet rating 
    Read review
    Bank of America Bank of America Overall Star Rating
    NerdWallet rating 
    Read review

    Choose Wells Fargo if:

    • You tend to have under $500 in your savings account.

    • You prioritize 24/7 access to customer service.

    Choose Bank of America if:

    • Your direct deposits total at least $250 in a month.

    • You want a rewards program connected to checking, savings and credit card use.

    • You want a larger ATM network.

    Or go with an alternative

    Unlike these brick-and-mortars, online banks don’t have thousands of branches. But they do have excellent annual percentage yields, or APYs, that make your savings grow faster. And fees tend to be low or nonexistent.

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Basic checking accounts

    Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

    Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking

    Monthly fee

    $10

    You must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Keep a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500.

  • Make $500 in direct deposits per month.

  • Make 10 debit card purchases per month.

  • Have a linked Wells Fargo Campus ATM™ or Campus Debit Card (for college students).

  • The fee will be reduced to $5 if the primary account owner is 17 to 24 years old.

  • $12

    You must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Keep a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500.

  • Make $250 in direct deposits per month.

  • Be enrolled in Preferred Awards, which requires at least $20,000 as the average combined balance across bank accounts.

  • Note: The fee is waived for students under 24.

    Minimum opening deposit

    $25

    $100

    Interest

    None

    None

    ATM network

    13,000 ATMs

    16,600 ATMs

    Out-of-network ATM fee

    $2.50

    $2.50

    Neither checking account earns interest. You’ll have to find another bank if you want to see your money grow there.

    The monthly fee is lower at Wells Fargo, but you need a higher direct deposit amount to avoid it. If you intend to use your debit card frequently, Wells Fargo offers a way to avoid its fee. Be aware that other banks charge no monthly fees with no strings attached.

    » Explore other options with NerdWallet’s list of best checking accounts

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Basic savings accounts

    Wells Fargo Way2Save

    Bank of America Advantage Savings

    Monthly fee

    $5

    You must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Keep an average balance of $300.

  • Set up a recurring auto-transfer from a linked account.

  • Note: There’s no fee if the primary account owner is 18 (19 in Alabama) or younger.

  • $8

    You must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Keep a minimum daily balance of $500.

  • Link to the interest checking account, Advantage Relationship Banking.

  • Be a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client.

  • Note: Students under 24 can waive the fee.

  • Interest rate

    0.01% APY

    0.03% APY

    Minimum opening deposit

    $25

    $100

    Automatic transfer from linked checking

    Yes

    Yes

    Bank of America has an edge: a slightly higher interest rate and a savings program. The interest rate can increase if you’re enrolled in Preferred Rewards, but even if you do this, the rate is still extremely low compared with other banks, which offer rates well over 1% APY.

    Bank of America’s Keep the Change program rounds up your Bank of America debit card purchases to the nearest dollar, and deposits the difference automatically into your savings account.

    » Find strong interest rates on our list of best savings accounts

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Certificates of deposit

    Wells Fargo

    Bank of America

    Minimum deposit

    $2,500

    $1,000

    Short-term rate

    0.15% APY for 1 year

    0.03% APY for 1 year

    Long-term rate

    No standard rates available online beyond one-year terms. Call or visit a branch for rates.

    0.03% APY for 3 years

    For more details:

    See our post on Wells Fargo CD rates

    See our post on Bank of America CD rates

    Rates may vary by location.

    Both banks have very low CD rates compared with national averages. Rates may also vary by ZIP code. Bank of America’s minimum deposit amounts are lower.

    » To compare, see the latest top CD rates

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Banking experience

    Wells Fargo

    Bank of America

    Branches

    5,400 in nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C.

    About 4,300 in nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C.

    Banking apps (ratings from app store users)

    4.8 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.6 for Android

    4.8 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.7 for Android

    Customer service

    • Available 24/7 by phone

    • Chat and social media contact also available

    • Available by phone Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. ET, Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. ET

    • Chat, email and social media contact also available

    Both banks cover roughly the same number of states, though Wells Fargo has the edge over Bank of America when it comes to branch count.

    Both have multiple ways to contact customer service. Unless you need 24/7 access to customer service, the two banks are roughly on par with each other.

    Note: Wells Fargo paid several penalties to government regulators in the past few years due to a series of abusive practices. This included bank employees opening roughly 1.5 million bank accounts without customers’ consent.

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Overdraft fees

    Wells Fargo

    Bank of America

    Overdraft fee

    $35, maximum of 3 per day

    $35, maximum of 4 per day

    Overdraft protection fee

    $12.50 per transfer

    $12 per transfer

    Extended overdraft fee

    None

    None

    Overdraft fees are high at both banks. Other banks charge less, or limit the number of times you can overdraft to once a day. The best banks may not charge a fee at all.

    Neither bank charges an extended overdraft fee, which is what banks can charge for having a negative account balance for a certain number of days.

    Similar but not identical

    Wells Fargo and Bank of America have similar offerings but slight differences in avoiding fees that might tip either bank in your favor. If you’re looking for competitive interest rates on savings accounts and CDs, however, you’ll have to check elsewhere.

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