Wells Fargo was the first of the big banks to discontinue its free checking accounts in response to new federal laws that were sure to negatively affect revenues. It’s new basic checking account, called Wells Fargo Value Checking, now imposes a $5 monthly fee unless certain requirements are met.

The many years that we’ve enjoyed free checking accounts have spoiled us. Now, as big banks cut down on free checking account offers, banking customers are in a state of unrest. While banks come up with ways to adapt to the new rules, some customers are coming up with ways to avoid monthly checking account fees.

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Changes to the Free Wells Fargo Checking Account

Taking the place of the Wells Fargo free checking accounts is the Wells Fargo Value Checking account. The new checking account keeps many of the standard features such as Online and Mobile Banking, free access to Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Wachovia ATMs, and free debit cards.

One frequently used feature that disappeared is free Online Bill Pay – customers are eligible for a free 2-month trial but costs $6.95 per month after trial period ends. The most alarming change is the addition of a $5 monthly fee.

The new Wells Fargo Value Checking account requires one of the following to waive the monthly fee:

  • Maintain an average daily balance of $1,500
  • Or, receive a monthly direct deposit of $250 or more (multiple direct deposits totaling $250 will not qualify)

Read the review of the Wells Fargo Checking Account Fees in 2011 to compare the other Wells Fargo checking products.

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.

Presently, Wells Fargo considers 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 ING Direct and 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 that Wells Fargo may change their computer systems and nullify this method at any time.

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  • Shelby

    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.

    • Simon

      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.

  • Dorothycornelison

    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

  • Joe Grumpy

    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.

  • brandy

    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.

    • Unreal

      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.