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

Oct. 28, 2019
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, 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 (How to waive it).
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25.

  • Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking

  • 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 Advantage Savings

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

    • 1 year: 0.15%.

    • 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: 13,000.
  • Branches: 5,400 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: 16,600.
  • Branches: About 4,300 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 want higher CD yields.

    Choose Bank of America if:

    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.

    Online alternatives

    Bank
    Savings APY
    Bonus features
    Ally Bank
    1.70%

    24/7 customer service

    Barclays
    Learn more
    1.70%
    Excellent CD options

    Discover Bank

    1.70%

    Good checking account

    » Want to know more? Check out NerdWallet’s best high-yield online savings accounts

    Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Basic checking

     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
    InterestNoneNone


    ATM network13,000 ATMs16,600 ATMs
    Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50$2.50
    » Explore other options with NerdWallet’s list of best checking accounts
    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.

    Basic savings

     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 rate0.01% APY
    0.03% 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 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.

    Certificates of deposit

     Wells FargoBank of America
    Minimum deposit$2,500 $1,000
    Short-term rate 0.15% APY for 1 year0.05% APY for 1 year
    Long-term rate 1.15% APY (with $5,000 minimum) for 39 months0.75% APY for 5 years

    For more details:See our post on Wells Fargo CD ratesSee our post on Bank of America CD rates
    » To compare, see the latest top CD rates
    Both banks have very low CD rates compared with 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
    Branches5,400 in nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C.About 4,300 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)4.8 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.6 for Android4.8 out of 5 stars for iPhone; 4.7 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.

    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.

    Overdraft fees

     Wells FargoBank 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 feeNoneNone
    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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