Wells Fargo Business Checking: 2022 Review

A one-stop shop for business banking with the typical fees and restrictions of a brick-and-mortar bank.

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

The main selling point of Wells Fargo’s business checking accounts is everything the bank offers beyond the account itself, including SBA loans and merchant accounts. But high fees limit its appeal even for business owners looking for a one-stop shop.

Wells Fargo Initiate Business Checking℠ Account
Wells Fargo Initiate Business Checking℠ Account

Checking

Member FDIC

Monthly fee
$10.00
Waived with $500 minimum balance
Overdraft star rating
Not yet rated

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • More branch locations than any bank in the U.S.

  • Business accounts can be opened entirely online.

  • Extended customer service availability.

Cons

  • No free business checking account option.

  • Stingy transaction allowance.

  • Fees for using out-of-network ATMs.

How does Wells Fargo compare?

Bluevine Business Checking

Bluevine Business Checking

Deposits are FDIC Insured

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.0

/5

Monthly fee

$0

Monthly fee

$0

Monthly fee

$0

APY

2.00%

With $0 min. balance for APY

APY

N/A

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

$200

Requirements to qualify

Bonus

$400

Requirements to qualify

Full Review

Wells Fargo is a household name, but not just because it is one of the largest banks in the United States. Scandals surrounding fake accounts, fee disclosures and other sketchy activity dating back to 2016 has led to billions of dollars in fines and still casts a shadow over this megabank.

That past may be a deciding factor in whether to open a business account with Wells Fargo, but should be considered alongside the finer points of the bank’s three core business checking accounts: Initiate Business Checking, Navigate Business Checking and Optimize Business Checking.

While this review includes information on all three accounts, the star rating indicated above is specific to Wells Fargo’s Initiate Business Checking account.

Wells Fargo business checking is best for small-business owners who:

  • Prioritize in-person banking at a brick-and-mortar branch.

  • Qualify to waive the monthly service fee.

  • Can utilize Wells Fargo's other business banking services.

Wells Fargo business checking at a glance

Initiate Business Checking

Navigate Business Checking

Optimize Business Checking

Monthly fee:

$10, waived with a minimum daily balance of $500 or $1,000 average ledger balance.

$25, waived with a minimum daily balance of $10,000 or $15,000 average combined business deposit balances.

$75; earnings allowance included with account can be used to offset monthly fees.

Minimum opening deposit requirement:

$25.

$25.

$25.

APY:

None.

Rates vary based on your location.

None.

Transactions:

Up to 100 fee-free transactions per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.

Up to 250 fee-free transactions per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.

Up to 250 fee-free transactions per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.

Cash deposits:

Up to $5,000 per month with no fee, after that 30 cents per $100 deposited.

Up to $20,000 per month with no fee, after that 30 cents per $100 deposited.

30 cents per $1 deposited.

Bonus:

None.

None.

None.

How to apply for a Wells Fargo business checking account

Most businesses can open a Wells Fargo business checking account online, in person or over the phone. But trusts, government agencies, publicly traded companies and Indian tribal governments must apply in person at a local branch. Wells Fargo operates roughly 4,900 retail branches and more than 12,000 ATMs across 40 states and Washington, D.C.

What you'll need to open a Wells Fargo business account

Business owners need to provide the following documents and information, as well as an opening deposit of at least $25.

  • Personal information, including name, Social Security number and date of birth.

  • Business name, legal structure, date of formation and state where registered.

  • Business tax ID (EIN or SSN).

  • Annual revenue and a brief description of your business.

  • Legal business documentation, including business license, DBA certificate, partnership agreement or articles of organization, depending on your business entity type.

If you apply online or over the phone, Wells Fargo will provide you with instructions on how to supply your documentation. If you visit a branch location to apply, all owners, partners and key executives will need to be present in order to complete an application.

Where Wells Fargo business checking stands out

Caters to growing businesses: Wells Fargo offers three core business checking accounts, each with an increasing number of features. If your business outgrows one account, simply upgrade to one that allows more transactions and deposits.

You can also take advantage of other services — from Wells Fargo's business loans (including SBA loans) to merchant services — as your business needs change, making Wells Fargo a true one-stop shop for small-business owners.

How Much Do You Need?

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Expansive branch access: With more physical branch locations than any other bank in the United States, you’re never far from a Wells Fargo banker. This is a major plus for business owners who travel frequently throughout the U.S.

Business owners can also withdraw cash, deposit checks, transfer funds between their Wells Fargo accounts and deposit cash for no additional charge at any of Wells Fargo’s more than 12,000 ATMs. But be aware, there are fees (from Wells Fargo and the ATM owner) for using your debit card at non-Wells Fargo ATMs in the U.S. and internationally.

Ability to open an account online: Wells Fargo allows customers to open a business checking account online. That even applies to businesses located outside of Wells Fargo’s 40-state coverage area.

While that’s a novel feature from a brick-and-mortar bank — most require you open an account in person — there are plenty of online business accounts with more perks and far fewer fees.

Customer service: Your business isn’t limited to banker’s hours, and neither is Wells Fargo’s customer service. Business owners can contact customer service for general account issues Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Need help with online banking or bill pay? Customer support is available 24/7.

Where Wells Fargo business checking falls short

No free checking option: All three Wells Fargo business checking accounts carry a monthly maintenance fee, ranging from $10 to $75 per month, depending on the account. Business owners can avoid the fee by maintaining a certain balance, but that bar could be too high for some companies.

With the Navigate Business Checking account, for example, the threshold to waive is a minimum of $10,000, compared with $500 with the Initiate Business Checking account. While monthly fees are not uncommon, there are plenty of options for free business checking accounts at both brick-and-mortar and online competitors.

Stingy transaction limitations: It’s not uncommon for banks to cap transactions on business accounts, but Wells Fargo’s limits are much lower than its competitors. The bank’s entry-level account, Initiate Business Checking, includes 100 fee-free transactions per month, with each additional transaction costing 50 cents. Bank of America’s Business Advantage Fundamentals Checking offers twice as many free transactions (up to 200) and charges less for overage.

Don’t want to worry about transaction limits? Consider an online bank like Axos or NBKC, which offer free business checking accounts with unlimited fee-free transactions.

High ATM and incidental fees: Using your Wells Fargo business debit card at a non-Wells Fargo ATM will cost you $2.50 per withdrawal, transfer and balance inquiry ($5 if you’re outside of the U.S.). That’s on top of any fees charged by the ATM owner. While Wells Fargo’s 12,000+ ATM network is large, it’s not nearly as expansive as competitors like Capital One, Citibank and U.S. Bank, which partner with ATM networks like AllPoint and MoneyPass to give customers fee-free access to tens of thousands of ATMs.

Wells Fargo also charges a variety of incidental fees that can add up quickly, including $35 overdrafts and returned items, $31 stop payment fees, and wire fees that range from $15 to $30. Wells Fargo waives some of these fees for Navigate and Optimize Business Checking customers.

Methodology

NerdWallet's business checking reviews look at multiple factors, including monthly fee, APY, ATM access, transaction limits, cash deposit allowance, customer service, additional features and incidental fees, such as overdraft, NSF and stop payment charges.