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

Banking, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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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 backed with a lot of heft.

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 (How to waive it)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25

  • Bank of America Core Checking

  • Monthly fee $12 (How to waive it)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Savings accounts
    Wells Fargo Way2Save

  • Interest rate: 0.01%
  • Monthly fee: $5 (How to waive it)
  • Bank of America Rewards Savings

  • Interest rate: 0.03%
  • Monthly fee: $8 (How to waive it)
  • Certificates of deposit
    Wells Fargo CD interest rates

  • 1 year: 0.10%
  • Minimum deposit: $2,500

  • Bank of America CD interest rates

  • 1 year: 0.05%
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000
  • Overdrafts, ATMs, customer service
    • Overdraft fee: $35, maximum of 3 per day

    • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $12.50

    • ATMs: 12,800

    • Branches: 6,000 in nearly 40 states

    • 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: 16,000

    • Branches: About 4,500 in nearly 40 states

    • 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.

    Choose Wells Fargo if:

    Choose Wells Fargo if:

    • You tend to have under $500 in your savings account
    • You prioritize 24/7 access to customer service
    • You can’t meet any of the requirements to waive service fees on Bank of America’s accounts

    Choose Bank of America if:

    Choose Bank of America if:

    • Your direct deposits total between $250 and $500 in a month
    • You frequently access your bank through your phone
    • You can’t meet any of the requirements to waive service fees on Wells Fargo’s accounts

    Ready for more details? Read on for a breakdown of their offerings.

    Basic checking accounts

     Wells Fargo
    Everyday Checking
    Bank of America
    Core Checking
    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
    [Back to top]

    $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
    Note: The fee is waived for students under 24

    [Back to top]

    Minimum opening deposit$25$25
    InterestNoneNone


    ATM network12,800 ATMs16,000 ATMs
    Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50$2.50
    » Explore other options with NerdWallet’s list of best checking accounts
    You won’t earn any interest on either checking account. 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 balance to avoid it. If you intend to use your debit card frequently, Wells Fargo offers a way to avoid their fee. Be aware that other banks charge no monthly fees with no strings attached.

     

    Basic savings accounts

     Wells Fargo
    Way2Save
    Bank of America
    Rewards 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
    [Back to top]
    $8


    You must meet one of the following requirements:

    • Keep a minimum daily balance of $500
    • Link an interest checking account
    • Be a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client
    [Back to top]
    Interest rate0.01% APY0.03% APY
    Minimum opening deposit$25$100

    Automatic transfer from linked checkingYesYes
    » Find rates well above 1% on our list of best savings accounts
    Bank of America’s interest rate is higher by a smidge than Wells Fargo’s, but it’s still extremely low compared to other banks, which offer rates well over 1%.

    Both banks offer savings programs. Wells Fargo has an optional Daily Change app that helps you set savings challenges and goals. 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.

     

    Certificates of deposit

     Wells FargoBank of America
    Minimum deposit$2,500 $1,000
    Short-term rate 0.10% APY for 1 year0.05% APY for 1 year
    Long-term rate 1.01% APY (with $5,000 minimum) for 58 months0.75% APY for 5 years

    » To compare, see the latest top CD rates
    Both banks have very low CD rates compared to national averages. Rates may also vary by ZIP code.

    If you have $5,000, Wells Fargo has better rates. Otherwise, Bank of America’s minimum deposit amounts are lower.

     

    Bank experience

     Wells FargoBank of America
    Branches6,000 in nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C.About 4,500 in nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C.
    WebsiteWell-organized website covers all product linesEasily navigable website with most rates and fees clearly displayed
    Banking apps (ratings from app store users)3.2 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.3 for Android4.7 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.4 for Android
    Customer serviceAvailable 24/7 by phone, as well as chat and social mediaAvailable 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
    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.

    Last year, Wells Fargo’s CEO admitted the bank had engaged in “unethical” practices after employees of the bank opened roughly 1.5 million bank accounts and about 565,000 credit card accounts that may not have been authorized, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bank paid out a $185 million settlement.

     

    Overdraft fees

     Wells FargoBank of America
    Overdraft fee$35, maximum of 3 per day$35, maximum of 4 per day
    Overdraft protection transfer fee$12.50$12, but free for certain account holders
    Extended overdraft feeNoneNone
    International debit card fee3% of transaction amount3% of transaction amount
    Neither bank charges an extended overdraft fee, which is what banks can charge for having a negative account balance for a certain amount of days.

    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.

     

    Similar but not identical

    Wells Fargo and Bank of America are large national banks with similar product offerings, though with slight differences that might tip either bank in your favor. Look closely at variations on how to avoid fees on checking and savings accounts. You’ll want to make sure there are ATMs and branches in your vicinity as well. If you’re looking for good interest rates on savings accounts, however, you’ll have to check elsewhere.

    » Explore NerdWallet’s best banks and credit unions

    You might be interested in:

    Wells Fargo

    Read full review
    on NerdWallet
    Bank+of+AmericaRead full review
    on NerdWallet


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    Monthly Savings Fee

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    Bonus Features

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    Savings APY

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    Monthly Savings Fee

    $8





    Bonus Features

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    Savings APY

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    Monthly Savings Fee

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    Bonus Features

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    *Effective 2/16/18; rates are variable and subject to change

    Amber Murakami-Fester is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: amufe@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @iamyams. Jeanne Lee contributed to this report.

    Updated April 13, 2018.