Our goal at Prosperopedia.com is to help you be informed about things that affect your financial well-being so that you can make decisions. In this article, we will discuss Wells Fargo Bank. I’ll explain some of the details about the bank and what products and services it offers as well as summarizing reviews that the experts and regular people have given the bank so that you can decide if Wells Fargo is a good fit for you.
As you consider some of the loan products offered by Wells Fargo and any other financial institution that does lending, keep in mind that it’s easy to overextend yourself, putting yourself into financial trouble. You can’t leave it to the bank to decide whether you should take on debt in the form of a mortgage, a student loan, or any other situation where you’re having to repay a bank creditor.
Intro to Wells Fargo Bank
Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, California. The bank was founded in 1852 by Henry Wells and William Fargo to provide banking services to individuals and businesses in Califoria.
Wells Fargo is one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States. As of 2019, Wells Fargo has the most branches of any bank in the United States, with over 5,500 total branches. Chase Bank has the second most branches with just over 5,000. Bank of America is behind Chase, with about 4,300 branch locations through the country.
Wells Fargo provides banking and other financial services to individuals, small businesses, and larger commercial enterprises. Their vast selection of banking and other financial products include:
- savings and checking accounts
- debit, prepaid and credit cards
- loans for mortgages, home equity lines of credit, student loans, personal lines
Wells Fargo Branch Locations
Although Wells Fargo is a nationwide bank, there are many areas where you won’t be able to find a Wells Fargo branch, which can limit you on certain banking activities that include opening new accounts or closing existing accounts, wiring money beyond the Wells Fargo online wiring threshold, and other reasons you’d need to have access to a local branch. For those who travel or move around a lot and find themselves needing access to a branch location, you’ll want to pay attention to where Wells Fargo is and is not. I’ll include a map below to help you spot areas where Wells Fargo branch locations are scarce so you can plan accordingly.
As you can see from the map, if you live in Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine, you’ll have to do some traveling to get to the nearest Wells Fargo branch to you. If that’s an issue for you, then you may want to consider banking with a local bank, or have a look at the coverage map for Chase, Bank of America, or one of the other large national or regional banks that might have branches closer to you.
Reviews of Wells Fargo
NerdWallet: NerdWallet gives Wells Fargo a 3.5 out of 5 rating, citing that they have over 13,000 ATMs throughout the country that are free to use, in addition to the 5,500 branch locations. Cons of using Wells Fargo include very low interest rates on savings accounts and excessive fees.
ConsumerAffairs: Actual users of Wells Fargo are much more critical of the bank than the NerdWallet editors. Wells Fargo has a 1.5 out of 5 star rating on ConsumerAffairs.com, where hundreds of consumers have left reviews for the bank. The most common complaints are excessive fees, strict and confusing policies regarding deposits and other local bank transactions, and an overall sense of not caring about individual account holders.
Setting Up a Wells Fargo Account
Setting up a Wells Fargo account, including checking, savings, credit card, loan, or line of credit, can be done over the internet using their online account application. Accounts can also be set up over the phone by calling them at 866-245-3452. Also, if you live close to a branch location, you can walk in and set up your account in person.
Wells Fargo Banking Products and Services
Checking Accounts: Wells Fargo personal checking accounts are branded Everyday Checking. A checking account can be opened with only $25. However, there is a $10 monthly fee charged for checking accounts unless they meet criteria, such as maintaining a minimum daily balance, having direct deposits coming into the account regularly, or for account holders between the ages of 17 and 24.
Savings Accounts: Wells Fargo has two types of savings accounts, Way2Save Savings and Platinum Savings. Both have a minimum opening deposit of $25.
The Way2Save savings account has automatic savings features that move money from your other accounts into your Way2Save account to help you build savings. There is a $5 monthly fee associated with the Way2Save savings account unless certain criteria are met, including maintaining a minimum daily balance of $300.
Wells Fargo’s Platinum Savings account have higher interest rates than Way2Save, but still not impressive at around 0.10% APY currently.
If you’re looking strictly for a savings account, and you want to earn more interest, you’d be better off going with an online savings account like what’s available with Wealthfront and other online only savings accounts. Because those accounts don’t have the overhead of branch offices, they can pay much higher interest rates on your savings.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Wells Fargo CD accounts have a minimum initial deposit of $2,500. CDs are less flexible than savings account, meaning that you don’t have access to your money (without being penalized) until the CD “term” is up. CD rates at Wells Fargo are higher than savings account interest rates, but still not impressive compared to alternatives for saving your money.
Debit and Prepaid Cards: Wells Fargo offers debit cards that connect to your Wells Fargo checking account, giving you access to your money through its network of ATMs throughout the US and internationally. You can also use your Wells Fargo debit card to make purchases at stores.
Wells Fargo prepaid cards can be loaded with funds that can be used until they’re exhausted (or sooner, which is more practical). Prepaid cards are normally used to help people stick to a budget.
Wells Fargo has a range of credit cards that are designed to fit various interests, including getting rewards or cash back from purchases, transferring balances, and building credit. Many of the Wells Fargo credit cards have annual fees, but some do not. You can shop for specific cards that don’t have annual fees in the credit card section of Wells Fargo’s website.
Foreign Exchange: Wells Fargo bank branches can exchange US currency into other currencies, which is helpful for situations where you’re going on a trip and need to ensure that you have cash that can be spent in whatever country you’re going to. As with most foreign exchange transactions, Wells Fargo charges a fee (a commission) that is built into the exchange rate you get for your money.
Wells Fargo also exchanges most currencies back into the US dollar.
ExpressSend Global Remittance Service: Wells Fargo’s ExpressSend allows you to send money person-to-person to payout locations established with partners in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Asia.
Mortgage Loans: Wells Fargo is one of the largest home lenders in the United States. They do nearly $100 billion in home loans for buying homes, refinancing, home equity lines of credit, and for other purposes related to home ownership.
Personal Credit Lines and Loans: Wells Fargo provides personal lines of credit and loans that can be used for various purposes. For a personal loan, the entire amount of the loan is deposited into your account, and you begin owing interest on the entire amount. A personal line of credit acts similar to a home equity line of credit. You’re given approval to use up to a designated amount, but you’re only charged interest on the amount you use.
Student Loans: Wells Fargo provides student loans for financing undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as for obtaining education through community trade schools. Wells Fargo also provides loans for parents who are paying for their children’s education. If you already have student loans, you can also
A word of caution about applying for and obtaining student loans from Wells Fargo or anywhere else. There is a major crisis in the United States related to student loan debt. I highly encourage you not to become another one of those who borrows money to attend college, only to find yourself digging out of a hole too deep, too stressful, and ultimately reflecting a bad choice. There are other alternatives to debt-funded higher education.
Auto Loans: Wells Fargo auto loans can be obtained to purchase new or used vehicles. The bank partners with over 11,000 car dealers throughout the US. Wells Fargo also does refinances of existing car loans.
Another word of caution here. Although it has become the status quo in the United States, financing a car is not always necessary. We recommend (as do all who warn of the dangers of debt) paying cash for whatever vehicle you drive wherever possible instead of taking on debt to finance a car purchase.
Investing and Retirement: Wells Fargo has a range of investment instruments, including things like IRAs, mutual funds, 401k rollovers, education savings plans like 529s and custodial accounts, and other products. Wells Fargo investments can be made online with WellsTrade. You can work with a Wells Fargo advisor, or you can use their Intuitive Investor product to simply automate you investment portfolio based upon your investment goals.
Wealth Management: Wells Fargo has a large team of wealth management experts who provide advice for investing and match up specific Wells Fargo and other investment and wealth planning products to help account holders prepare for retirement and other objectives.
Wells Fargo Online Banking
Wells Fargo has an online banking portal that can be accessed using a computer or on a mobile device. They have mobile apps published for both iOS and Android devices that allow you to deposit checks, transfer funds between accounts, keep up with credit card and other account transactions and perform lots of other banking functions on the go.
As one of the largest banks in the world, Wells Fargo has lots of tools and resources at its disposal to help you build your wealth. I hope this explanation of the bank gives you a solid foundation to decide whether using Wells Fargo is right for you in light of other choices that exist.