Wells Fargo Checking Account Fees: How to Avoid Them

Jul 28, 2017 | 6 Comments

Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the country, so it's no surprise that you're considering it during the search for your next checking account. The bank operates the most extensive branch and ATM network in the U.S., which is great from a convenience standpoint. You can gain access by opening one of several Wells Fargo checking accounts, all of which come with monthly fees -- and they can be waived if certain criteria are met.

Find out more about these checking accounts and what you can do to avoid save hundreds of dollars per year in checking account fees:

Multiple Checking Options Available

Like many banks, Wells Fargo has different checking accounts that cater to different types of consumers -- ranging from basic checking to premium checking:

  • Everyday Checking
  • Preferred Checking
  • Portfolio by Wells Fargo®
  • Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking®

Everyday Checking

Everyday Checking is the basic checking account available from Wells Fargo. It has a $10 monthly fee ($5 discount if you're age 17-24) that can be waived with one of the following:

  • 10 or more debit card purchase/payments
  • Qualifying direct deposits totaling $500 or more
  • $1,500 minimum daily balance
  • Have a linked Wells Fargo Campus ATM or debit card

Note: Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking® has the same fee and fee waivers (minus the linked Wells Fargo Campus ATM/debit card option). With this account, you cannot write checks because it is designed for people who have trouble getting a bank account.

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Account Fees

Type Fee
Monthly Maintenance Fee $10
Out-of-Network ATM Fee $2.50
Overdraft Fee $35
Overdraft Protection Transfer $12.50
Returned Item $35
Stop Payment $31
Deposited Item Returned or Cashed Check Returned $12
Incoming Domestic Wire Transfer $15
Incoming International Wire Transfer $16
Money Order $5
Cashiers Check $10

Preferred Checking

Preferred Checking is the next-tier checking account that you can get. It has a $15 monthly fee, which can be waived with any of the following:

  • $10,000 in combined minimum deposit balances
  • Qualifying direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more
  • A linked Wells Fargo mortgage

Wells Fargo Preferred Checking Account Fees

Type Fee
Monthly Maintenance Fee $15
Out-of-Network ATM Fee $2.50 (waived once per statement cycle)
Overdraft Fee $35
Overdraft Protection Transfer $12.50
Returned Item $35
Stop Payment $31
Deposited Item Returned or Cashed Check Returned $12
Incoming Domestic Wire Transfer $15
Incoming International Wire Transfer $16
Money Order $0
Cashiers Check $0

Portfolio by Wells Fargo®

This is the top-tier interest-checking account from Wells Fargo -- ideal for people who manage a large amount of their finances with the bank. It has a hefty $30 monthly fee that can be waive with either of:

  • $25,000 or more in linked qualifying bank deposits
  • $50,000 or more in linked qualifying bank, brokerage, and credit balances

Portfolio by Wells Fargo® Checking Account Fees

Type Fee
Monthly Maintenance Fee $30
Out-of-Network ATM Fee $0 (ATM operator fees may still apply)
Overdraft Fee $35
Overdraft Protection Transfer $12.50
Returned Item $35
Stop Payment $31 ($0 with a $250,000 balance)
Deposited Item Returned or Cashed Check Returned $12
Incoming Domestic Wire Transfer $15 ($0 with a $250,000 balance)
Incoming International Wire Transfer $16
Money Order $0
Cashiers Check $0

How to Avoid the Wells Fargo Value Checking Monthly Account Fee

Most banking customers do not keep a substantial amount of money in their checking accounts, usually because they either feel that is it more profitable to save the money in a high-yield savings account or simply don’t have that much money.

Others don’t necessarily have the option of receiving direct deposit from wages, Social Security income, or other retirement benefits. Hope isn’t lost yet for free checking from Wells Fargo.

Try an ACH credit transfer

Wells Fargo may consider certain ACH credit transfers to be direct deposits. Current Wells Fargo customers have been able to transfer funds from online savings accounts, through banks such as Ally Bank and PayPal into their Wells Fargo checking accounts to find that these ACH credit transfers triggered a direct deposit alert. It would be a viable method of curtailing the monthly account fee for customers trying to maintain “free” checking.

It would not hurt for current Wells Fargo Value Checking account customers to give it a try.

  1. Set up account alerts to notify you when a direct deposit of $250 or more is posted to your account.
  2. Initiate a $250 transfer from an external bank account into your checking account.
  3. If the ACH credit triggers an account alert, you can set up monthly automatic transfers to move money back and forth with little effort and, all the while, avoiding the $5 monthly account fee.

Note: Wells Fargo may change their computer systems and nullify this method at any time.

Make small debit card purchases

For some people, it's not the best to make purchases with debit cards. More often than not, you'd probably prefer to use a rewards credit card to get something back from your spending.

If you want to use your debit card to avoid the monthly fees on your checking account, you can always just limit the debit card usage on minor purchases. Meanwhile, save the bigger purchases on a rewards credit card.

Making a Stronger Case for Online Checking Accounts

Many people can bank without using a physical branch -- online banks may be a better alternative. The major benefit is that checking accounts from online banks are able to charge lower fees and offer higher interest rates. Most online checking accounts don't have any monthly fees, so there are no waiver requirements to worry about.

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Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 8:52 PM
<p>I am so distraught right now. A double withdrawal on my checking account cost me $75 in over draft fees. The first over draft was my fault, however. The first over draft fee I can accept because it's my oversight; however, the second fee was because of a $2.03 Red Box movie fee that was charged to my account on the 26th and showed in pending on the 27th but did not actually post to the account until the 29th which is two days after the day of the 27th when my account went seriously in the negative. Anyway, I called and spoke with two people about this and explained the situation and even took credit for the first over draft but BEGGED that the overdraft fee for the $2.03 be put back into my account. The customer service rep kept saying "I understand but I can't." I told him that he did not understand because that $35 for $2.03 is unreal and could be the difference between life and death. I will be ok, but something like this could really push someone who's already struggling over the edge. Although my feelings and my pocket is hurting right now, I Thank God that I have faith and know that it will work out. I know this is long and may not make a lot of since, but it's sad how business want to make a dollar off of consumers no matter what the cost.</p>
Monday, 27 Jan 2014 9:34 PM
<p>Not only paying monthly for checking/saving fees but they talked me into overdraft protection and save as you go services. It sounded good at the time plus they promised $50.00 to me when signing up. But I never saw the $50.00 and the two plans to help me from losing money is costing me. Not only do I get charged monthly for these services, they move money back and forth to my checking to saving causing conflict between the services racking up extra fees. Along with charging me each time I transfer to avoid them having to move funds and they still move money around regardless if it needs it or not.</p>
joegrumpy
Saturday, 24 Nov 2012 7:58 PM
<p>To my suprise I found out that since September 2012 Wells fargo charges a $15.00 monthly fee on my checking account.I had never less than $1000 on that account.That is why I am switching now to a credit union.</p>
Monday, 16 Jan 2012 8:40 PM
<p>I was Totally outraged by my last statement to find a $30.00 new monthly sevice charge [NOT REFUNDABLE] for an account which paid .35 cents for that month;   I've been with Wells Fargo for 28 yrs------so much for customer appreciation</p><p></p>
SimonMBT
Friday, 11 Feb 2011 7:52 PM
<p>I agree that new checking account fees is an example of banks making the attempt to compensate for the decrease in revenue. They're trying to "adapt" more so than trying to cheat the new regulatory environment - poor choice of words on my part. But, there have been cases of unscrupulous tactics such as offering credit cards with insanely high starting APRs.</p>
Friday, 11 Feb 2011 6:29 PM
<p>How is Wells Fargo "circumventing the rules?" They are simply making up for lost revenue from new overdraft regulations. That is a misleading statement and is more opinion of the writer than fact and should be stated as such.</p>