Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Which Is the Right Bank for You?

Wells Fargo vs Bank of America
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As measured by assets, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the second and third-largest banks in the United States. Both banks operate branches across the country — an obvious benefit to Americans who travel or move frequently. And both banks offer branches in convenient locations, easy access to ATMs and online and mobile banking.

Despite the similarities, there are differences you should know about if you’re considering a switch. Learn more in this comparison between Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

Bank of America

Bank of America began as Nantucket Pacific Bank in 1804. Over time, it has evolved into a “global company with a local focus.” The bank operates in 35 countries. In the U.S., it serves 67 million individual and small business customers at 4,200 retail financial centers and about 17,000 ATMs.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo opened its first branch in San Francisco in 1852 amid the California gold rush. Like Bank of America, it has grown into a global bank. Today, it operates over 7,200 locations and more than13,000 ATMs and serves about one in three American households.

A Better Way to Bank

Account Comparison

Both banks offer a wide array of FDIC-insured account types, including checking, savings, certificates of deposit and youth-friendly options. Checking and savings accounts come with monthly maintenance fees in most cases.

Here’s a quick look at the various account types each bank offers, so you can compare.

Savings

Bank of American and Wells Fargo both have savings accounts with fees you can have waived by maintaining a certain balance or linking other accounts.

Bank of America: Advantage Savings

Bank of America’s Advantage Savings account rewards higher balances with higher rates.

  • Tiered interest rates based on deposits and Preferred Rewards membership status
  • $100 minimum opening deposit
  • $8 monthly maintenance fee (waived under certain conditions)
  • Automatic savings options available
  • No overdraft fees
  • Online, mobile banking available

Wells Fargo: Way2Save, Platinum Savings

Link your savings account to your Wells Fargo checking account to avoid high overdraft fees.

  • Same rate for all balances
  • $25 minimum opening deposit
  • $5, $12 monthly maintenance fee (waived under certain conditions)
  • Automatic savings options available
  • Use for overdraft protection for linked checking account
  • Online, mobile banking available
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Checking

Both banks’ checking accounts are very similar in terms of fees and perks.

Bank of America: Advantage SafeBalance, Advantage Plus, Advantage Relationship

Bank of America offers three checking accounts, one of which is a debit-only account — no checks.

  • $4.95, $12, or $25 monthly maintenance fee (waived under certain conditions)
  • $25 to open Advantage SafeBalance, $100 to open Advantage Plus or Relationship
  • Relationship account pays interest
  • Paper checks available for Plus and Relationship accounts
  • Mobile deposits
  • Budgeting tools
  • Debit card controls
  • Can link with Zelle

Wells Fargo: Clear Access, Everyday and Portfolio

Wells Fargo has three checking options, including an interest-bearing account.

  • $5, $10, $25 monthly maintenance fee (waived under certain conditions)
  • $25 to open
  • Portfolio account pays interest
  • Mobile deposits
  • Budgeting tools
  • Debit card controls
  • Can link with Zelle

CDs

As you’d expect, both banks offer CDs. However, Bank of America has better rates and a wider choice of terms.

Bank of America: Standard Term, Featured Term

Bank of America has two CDs to choose from.

  • Standard Term
    • Minimum Deposit: $1,000
    • Terms: 28 days to 10 years
    • APY: 0.03%
    • Automatic renewals
  • Featured Term
    • Minimum Deposit: $10,000
    • Terms: 7-37 months
    • APY: 0.05%
    • Automatic renewals
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Wells Fargo: Fixed Rate CD

Wells Fargo offers a standard fixed-rate CD.

  • Minimum Deposits: $2,500
  • Terms: 3 months to 1 year (check with a branch about availability of other terms)
  • APY: 0.01%0.02%
  • Automatic renewals

Youth Savings

Youth savings accounts are a great way to teach your kids about saving and managing money. Bank of America and Wells Fargo both have ways for kids to save.

Bank of America: Advantage Savings

Bank of America’s Advantage Savings account isn’t a youth account, per se, but account owners under age 18 — 25, if a Student — won’t pay a monthly maintenance fee. Kids under 16 must apply with a co-applicant age 18 or older.

  • Tiered interest rates
  • $100 minimum opening deposit
  • Automatic savings options available
  • No overdraft fees
  • Online, mobile banking available

Wells Fargo: Way2Save

Wells Fargo doesn’t have a dedicated youth account, but Way2Save offers joint ownership as well as Uniform Transfers/Gifts to Minors Act and “minor by” options. The monthly maintenance fee is waived for account owners under age 24.

  • $25 minimum opening deposit
  • Online access beginning at age 13
  • UTMA/UGMA options available

Rate Comparison

Here’s a side-by-side look at rates for Bank of America and Wells Fargo savings, checking and CD accounts.

Rates Bank of America Wells Fargo
Savings Account Rates
  • Standard: 0.01% APY
  • Gold Tier Preferred Rewards: 0.02% APY
  • Platinum Tier Preferred Rewards: 0.03% APY
  • Platinium Honors Tier Preferred Rewards: 0.04% APY
  • Way2Save: 0.15%0.01% APY
  • Platinum Savings
    • Standard Rate: 0.15% APY
    • Portfolio Relationship Rate: 0.26% APY
Checking Account Rates
  • Under $50,000: 0.01% APY (Advantage Relationship Account only)
  • $50,000 and over: 0.00% APY (Advantage Relationship Account Only
  • Portfolio Checking: 0.01% APY
CD Rates
  • Standard Term: 0.03% APY
  • Featured: 0.05% APY
  • Standard Fixed Rate: 0.01% APY
  • Portfolio Relationship Rate: 0.02% APY

Fee Comparison

Both banks charge fees for a wide array of services. However, the account maintenance fees and the overdraft fees are the ones that are most likely to affect you.

Regarding Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees add up quickly. Both banks charge a fairly typical $35, but you can reduce or eliminate the high fee with overdraft protection.

Both banks charge a maintenance fee on both savings and checking accounts. However, customers can get that fee waived by activities like maintaining a minimum balance, linking accounts, enrolling in a rewards program or completing a certain number of transactions per statement period. Fees might also be waived for minors or Students.

Below are some of the fees you could encounter:

Type of fee Bank of America Wells Fargo
Monthly Maintenance $4.95 – $25 $5 – $25
Overdraft/Nonsufficient Funds $35 $35
Overdraft Protection Transfers $12 $0
ATM
  • Non-Bank of America domestic: $2.50
  • Non-Bank of America international: $5.00
  • Non-Wells Fargo domestic: $2.50
  • Non-Wells Fargo international: $5.00
Replacement Debit Card $5 per card $0
Cashier’s Check $15 $10
Wire Transfers Varies by account, will be disclosed at the time of transfer
  • Incoming domestic: $15
  • Outgoing domestic: $30

Bank of America or Wells Fargo?

The two financial institutions are quite similar in terms of accounts offered, interest rates and the option to avoid most fees. The question of which is better might come down to personal preferences. To help, here’s a quick look at some features to consider, and which bank appears to have the advantage.

FEature Facts Advantage
ATM Locations
  • Bank of America: 17,000
  • Wells Fargo: 13,000
Bank of America
Branch Locations
  • Bank of America: 4,200
  • Wells Fargo: 7,200
Wells Fargo
Minimum Opening Deposits
  • Bank of America: $25 – $100
  • Wells Fargo: $25
Wells Fargo
Savings Account Interest Rates
  • Bank of America: 0.01%0.01%- 0.04%0.04%
  • Wells Fargo: 0.00%0.01% – 0.26%0.02%
Bank of America
Fees Wells Fargo doesn’t charge a fee for overdraft protection transfers, and its fees for cashier’s checks and debit card replacement are lower than Bank of America’s. Wells Fargo

The Overall Choice

In general, you might gain a slight advantage by choosing Wells Fargo. However, that edge is small, and Bank of America could serve specific customers better. In the end, your best bet is to choose the bank that offers more convenience and is less likely to impose fees on the products and services you use most.

Will Healy contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates may vary by region. To verify rates in your area, check the credit card issuer’s website for details.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of March 25, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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A Better Way to Bank

About the Author

Daria Uhlig is a personal finance, real estate and travel writer and editor with over 25 years of editorial experience. Her work has been featured on The Motley Fool, MSN, AOL, Yahoo! Finance, CNBC and USA Today. Daria studied journalism at the County College of Morris and earned a degree in communications at Centenary University, both in New Jersey.
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