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Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Which Is Best for You?

Nov. 16, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Two of the biggest U.S. banks, Wells Fargo and Chase, offer many ATMs and branches to make it convenient to bank in person. The biggest difference: Chase has bonuses on checking and savings. Keep in mind, though, the interest rates they pay are low compared with other banks.

Here’s a quick look at how they stack up against each other:

Snapshot comparison

Chase
Wells Fargo
Checking accounts
Chase Total Checking®

  • Monthly fee $12 (How to waive it)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

  • Monthly fee: $10 (How to waive it)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Savings accounts
    Chase Savings℠

  • Interest rate: 0.01%
    (effective 9/14/18; rates are variable and subject to change)
  • Monthly fee: $5 (How to waive it)

  • Wells Fargo Way2Save

  • Interest rate: 0.01%
  • Monthly fee: $5 (How to waive it)

  • Skip ahead to see how Chase's and Wells Fargo's rates compare with competitors
    Certificates of deposit
    Chase interest rates on CDs

  • 1 year: 0.02%
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000
  • Wells Fargo interest rates on CDs

  • 1 year: 0.10% for standard CDs; 0.15% APY bonus rate for customers with premium linked accounts
  • Minimum deposit: $2,500

  • Overdrafts, ATMs, customer service
    • Overdraft fee: $34, maximum of three per day
    • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $0 per transfer
    • Extended overdraft fee: $15 each time your account stays overdrawn for five or more consecutive business days
    • ATMs: 16,000
    • Branches: about 5,100
    • Customer service: available via email and social media, and 24/7 by phone
    • Overdraft fee: $35, maximum of three per day
    • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $12.50 per transfer
    • ATMs: 13,000
    • Branches: 5,800
    • Customer service: available via email and social media, and 24/7 by phone

    Choose Chase if:

    Choose Chase if:


    Chase

    at Chase,

    Member, FDIC

      • You want to qualify for a $200 checking sign-up bonus; and $150 for savings (expires 1/14/2019)
      • You want a larger ATM network
      • You prefer lower minimums for certificates of deposit

    Choose Wells Fargo if:

    Choose Wells Fargo if:


    Wells Fargo

    at Wells Fargo,

    Member, FDIC

      • You prefer lower monthly checking fees
      • You want access to more branches

    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 (APYs) that make your savings grow faster. And fees tend to be low or nonexistent.

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

    Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Basic checking accounts

     Chase Total Checking®Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
    Sign-up bonus$200 (expires 1/14/2019); our bonuses roundup explains how to qualify


    No nationwide offers


    Monthly fees$12 ($144/year)



    • Receive $500 or more in direct deposits each month

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

    • Have a daily balance of at least $5,000 spread across qualifying Chase accounts



    $10 ($120/year)



    • Make 10 or more debit card purchases each month

    • Receive $500 or more in direct deposits each month

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

    • Link a Wells Fargo Campus ATM or Debit Card (available for college students)
    • Fee waived for ages 17 through 24


    Minimum opening deposit$25
    $25

    ATM network16,000 Chase ATMs13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs
    ATM fee$2.50 for using out-of-network ATMs in the U.S.; $5 for ATM withdrawals abroad$2.50 per withdrawal for out-of-network ATMs in the U.S.; $5 per withdrawal for international out-of-network ATMs
    » Want to see how other banks stack up? Read NerdWallet’s best checking accounts
    Chase tips the scale with its current bonus offer. However, the Chase Total Checking® and Wells Fargo Everyday Checking accounts are comparable, including fees and ATM access. Both banks also offer premium checking accounts that earn interest but have higher minimum deposits.

    Basic savings accounts

     Chase Savings℠Wells Fargo Ways2Save
    Sign-up bonus$150; see how to qualify
    (expires 1/14/19)
    None nationwide
    Monthly fees$5



    • Have a daily balance of at least $300

    • Set up an automatic transfer of at least $25 a month from a Chase checking account

    • Link to a premium Chase checking account
    • Fee waived for those younger than 18


    $5



    • Have a daily balance of at least $300

    • Set up a recurring automatic transfer from a Wells Fargo checking account

    • Fee waived for those younger than 18 (19 in Alabama)


    Interest rate0.01% APY
    (effective 9/14/18; rates are variable and subject to change)
    0.01% APY
    Minimum opening deposit$25$25
    » For more great options, check out NerdWallet’s best savings accounts
    Chase gets the edge because it has a savings bonus. Not counting that perk, having a $10,000 balance would earn you just $1 in interest over a year with either account. Both accounts have monthly fees, but they are easy to avoid.

     

    Certificates of deposit

     ChaseWells Fargo
    Minimum opening deposit$1,000$2,500
    APY on 1-year CD 0.02%
    0.10%
    APY on 3-year CD 0.95%39-month Special CD rate of 2.40%, but requires $5,000 minimum deposit
    APY on 5-year CD1.01%58-month Special CD rate of 2.45%, but requires $5,000 minimum balance
    CD rates may vary by state. Those displayed above are based on ZIP codes in the state where each bank has its headquarters.
    » To compare see our latest top CD rates
    Chase’s minimum opening deposit is less than half of Wells Fargo’s requirement for a standard CD. But neither bank’s standard one-year certificate beats the federal national average, which is currently 0.47% APY. Meanwhile, some online banks, such as Marcus by Goldman Sachs, have one-year CD rates north of 2%.

    » See more details about Marcus CD rates

     

    Bank experience

     ChaseWells Fargo
    Branches5,100

    5,800
    WebsiteEasy to compare accounts side by side, detailed information on ATMs and branches, large online banking menuCan compare different accounts on the same page, easy to find information on ATMs and branches, large online banking menu
    Banking apps (current ratings from app store users)4.8 out of 5 stars for iOS; 4.6 out of 5 for Android4.8 out of 5 stars for iOS; 4.4 out of 5 for Android
    Customer serviceAvailable via email and social media, and 24/7 by phoneAvailable via email and social media, and 24/7 by phone
    Wells Fargo has about 700 more branches than Chase, but in general their methods of customer support and mobile app ratings are similar. Wells Fargo has a recent history of government penalties, including one over the scandal in which employees opened more than 2 million unauthorized accounts. The bank has since taken steps to alter practices and reimburse customers.

     

    Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Overdraft fees

     ChaseWells Fargo
    Overdraft fee$34, maximum of three per day$35, maximum of three per day
    Overdraft protection fee$0 per transfer$12.50 per transfer
    Extended overdraft fee$15 each time your account stays overdrawn for five or more consecutive business daysNone
    Neither bank is lenient on overdraft fees, but Chase also adds in extended overdraft fees if you don’t quickly get back to a positive balance, even if you’re overdrawn less than $5. Wells Fargo doesn’t have this type of fee. Both offer overdraft protection for moving money from a linked account to cover you. Chase offers this free for transfers from savings accounts, while Wells Fargo charges $12.50 per transfer from savings or a line of credit.

     

    Big banks, small rates

    If you’re seeking the broad reach and expansive product selection of a national bank, you’ll find those at Wells Fargo or Chase. For similar banks, see our roundup of best national banks. If the low interest rates or hefty fees at these institutions don’t work for you, however, check out other top bank options such as credit unions or online banks.