The bottom line:
Wells Fargo offers a one-stop shop for business banking, with three checking account options, business loans (including SBA loans) and even merchant services. But monthly fees and added ATM fees are a drawback, particularly for startups and businesses with tight margins.
Wells Fargo Initiate Business Checking℠ Account
Waived with $500 minimum balance
Pros & Cons
- More than 4,900 branch locations — the most of any bank in the U.S.
- Business accounts can be opened entirely online.
- Online, mobile and security banking features included with all accounts.
- Customer service available weekends, late nights (and 24/7 online banking and bill pay assistance).
- No free business checking account option.
- Stingy free transaction allowance.
- Fees for using non-Wells Fargo ATMs.
How does Wells Fargo compare?
Wells Fargo offers 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:
Qualify to waive the monthly service fee.
Anticipate making between 100 and 250 account transactions per month.
Prioritize in-person banking at a brick-and-mortar branch.
Wells Fargo business checking at a glance
Initiate Business Checking
Navigate Business Checking
Optimize Business Checking
$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:
Rates vary based on your location.
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 (withdrawals/debits posted to your account and electronic check deposits) per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.
Non-electronic deposits cost $1.50 per deposit plus 20 cents per check deposited.
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.
0.25 cent per $1 deposited.
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 information, as well as an opening deposit of at least $25.
Required information: Basic information about yourself and your business, including your business tax ID number, or employer identification number, as well as a Social Security number and valid driver’s license or state identification for all owners, partners or key executives.
Required documentation: You will need to provide legal business documentation, such as business licence, ficticious name statement, partnership agreement and/or articles of incorporation, depending on your 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, it’s important to note that 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 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.
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 is one of the few brick-and-mortar banks that allow customers to open a business checking account entirely online. That also applies to businesses located outside of Wells Fargo’s 40-state coverage area.
Other comparable banks limit online applications — Chase, for example, allows only certain business entities to apply online — or require you to open an account in person. Still, there are plenty of online banks that allow business owners to apply online, with many offering free business checking accounts.
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.
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.
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.