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 and have been ranked among the Top Banks of 2023 by GOBankingRates. It’s a tight foot race between these two financial institutions as both also offer branches in convenient locations, easy access to ATMs and mobile and online 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 Overview

Bank of America, Member FDIC, 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 offers thousands of ATMs and financial centers, serving 67 million individual and small business customers.

Wells Fargo Overview

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 4,700 banking locations and more than 12,000 ATMs and serves about one in three American households.

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: Pros and Cons

Bank Pros Cons
Bank of America -Large variety of accounts and services
-Highly rated mobile app
-High fees
-Low rates on CD accounts
Wells Fargo -User-friendly online banking
-Rewards and bonus interest rates for high balance accounts
-Numerous convenient locations
-Monthly service fees on checking and savings accounts

Bank Account Comparisons

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.

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

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: Savings

Bank of America 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
  • Up to Annual Percentage Yield

Wells Fargo: Way2Save, Platinum Savings

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

  • $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
  • Up to APY

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: 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 — or under the age of 25 — 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
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Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: Checking

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

Bank of America: Advantage SafeBalance Banking®, Advantage Plus Banking® and Advantage Relationship Banking®

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

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: CDs

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

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
    • Automatic renewals
  • Featured Term
    • Minimum deposit: $1,000
    • Terms: 7 to 37 months
    • Automatic renewals

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
  • Automatic renewals

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo: Fees

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.

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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 preferred rewards program or completing a certain number of transactions per statement period. Fees might also be waived for minors or Students/those under 25.

Fee Breakdown

Fee Type 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-Wells Fargo domestic: $2.50
Replacement Debit Card $5 per card $0
Cashier’s Check $15 $10

Final Take: 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.

More on Bank of America

FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo.
  • Is Bank of America better than Wells Fargo?
    • Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the second and third-largest banks in the United States. Both banks operate branches across the country and have been ranked among the Top Banks of 2023 by GOBankingRates. When it comes to which is better for you, it may depend on your unique banking needs. For example, Bank of America has more ATM locations where Wells Fargo has more branch locations.
  • Is Wells Fargo owned by Bank of America?
    • No, Wells Fargo is not owned by Bank of America. Though it was acquired by Norwest Corporation in 1998, it is currently owned in majority by institutional investors including, but not limited to the following:
      • BlackRock
      • FMR
      • Dodge and Cox
      • T. Rowe Price Associates
      • JP Morgan Chase & Co
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Will Healy and Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Data is accurate as of March 1, 2023, and is subject to change.

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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