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

Lauren Perez, CEPF®
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Which Is Better for You?
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Which Is Better for You?

The main plus of having a bank account with a big bank is the widespread access you have to your money. Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America provide their customers with thousands of ATMs and branches throughout the country. Both banks also offer a range of bank accounts, from a simple savings account to IRA CDs. But which bank is better? Read on to find out more about each bank and their fees, rates and more.

Who Should Bank With Wells Fargo?

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Wells Fargo has one of the largest banking presences in the U.S., with over 6,000 branches and 13,000 ATMs in 40 states. (You won’t have branch access if you live in Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont or West Virginia.) This makes accessing your accounts or speaking to a representative in-person pretty easy whether you’re at home or traveling the country. Plus, you’ll also have the bank at your fingertips online and on mobile.

Wells Fargo also has a huge suite of bank accounts to offer. You can choose from two savings accounts, three CD types in various term lengths, five checking accounts and various IRA options. This means you could keep all your accounts with Wells Fargo if you wanted to. It also helps you find the right account for yourself and financial situation. The bank even offers a Teen Checking account to help teenagers learn how to manage their money.

One downside is that the bank doen’t offer the most favorable interest rates on its accounts. This is usually the main drawback of big banks since they have to keep up with the costs of maintaining thousands of physical locations. For starters, Wells Fargo’s basic Way2Save® Savings account only earns at a 0.01% APY. While this is pretty standard for big banks, you can find much higher rates elsewhere.

Who Should Bank With Bank of America?

Bank of America has a slightly smaller reach than Wells Fargo with locations in 36 states and D.C. However, you can still certainly find the bank online and on mobile. That way, you can open an account and manage your account(s) wherever you are.

Bank of America has fewer account options, as well. You won’t find yourself at a loss of choices, though, with three checking accounts, four IRAs, two CDs and a savings account. You should pay attention to each account’s minimum deposit requirement and monthly fees. Those can help indicate whether an account is right for you or not. For example, you may want to earn interest on your checking account, but you can’t quite meet the Interest Checking® Account’s $25 monthly fee. In that case, you can open a Core Checking® Account instead, with its easily waivable $12 fee.

Just as with Wells Fargo, Bank of America offers some low interest rates. Its CD rates don’t quite reach as high, but its Rewards Savings account does earn at a 0.03% APY, slightly higher than Wells Fargo’s.

Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Bank Accounts

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

Both banks offer a standard suite of bank accounts complete with savings, checking and CD accounts. You can also start saving for retirement with a Wells Fargo or Bank of America IRA. Neither bank has a money market account option. Wells Fargo does offer a Teen Checking Account, geared toward teens just learning how to manage their money properly. While Bank of America does make fee allowances for students, it does not have specific accounts for younger owners.

Wells Fargo does offer more variety with its account options than Bank of America. There is no real winner, however, when it comes to account perks. Both big banks more or less match each other in ATM offerings, branch presence and online/mobile access.

Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Fees

Neither Wells Fargo nor Bank of America offer a unique fee schedule. Each account charges a monthly fee with the exact amount depending on the specific account. Wells Fargo’s monthly fees range from $5 to $30. Bank of America monthly fees range from $4.95 to $25. You can also often waive a monthly service fee by meeting certain requirements like a minimum account balance or setting up direct deposits.

You should also be aware of other fees that may crop up if you’re not careful. This includes fees for overdrafts, insufficient funds, out-of-network ATM transactions and more.

Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America: Rates

As big banks, neither Wells Fargo nor Bank of America offer very special interest rates. You can find many of the best rates in the industry with online banks like Ally Bank. Again, Wells Fargo’s simple savings account earns at a mere 0.01%. Bank of America’s account comes in higher at 0.03%, but doesn’t fare much better. You can, however, boost your rate here with more premium banking packages.

Wells Fargo does outperform Bank of America when it comes to CD rates. Wells Fargo offers three kinds of account types, each with decent rates for its balance tiers. You can also potentially earn bonus rates up to 1.45% by opening and linking a Portfolio by Wells Fargo® checking account. Bank of America, on the other hand, earns at a 1% APY at the highest.

Bottom Line

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

Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America offer their customers incredibly convenient access to their accounts. Thousands of branches and ATMs throughout the world paired with online and mobile banking allows you to deposit, withdraw or simply check on your money virtually anywhere. However, if you’re expecting high-earning interest rates, neither Wells Fargo nor Bank of America will be the bank for you. Their rates very rarely surpass 1%. You’ll also want to be wary of the fees these banks charge and the minimums they may require. That way you can avoid any unnecessary surprise charges.

Tips for Finding the Right Bank 

  • Finding the right bank, whether you’re switching banks or starting from scratch, isn’t always easy. While you might want to go straight for the nearest bank to open an account, that may not be the best option available to you. It helps to figure out what you’re looking for in a bank. If you want easy access to a branch no matter where you are, a big bank like Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase will suit your needs. But if you want a more community feel, then maybe you’ll want to turn to a credit union instead.

  • Since your bank houses your assets and funds, you’ll want to make sure you trust the bank completely. Do you feel comfortable with its customer service? Is it FDIC-insured? These are questions to ask before choosing a bank.

  • You should also pay attention to each bank’s fees. If money is tight, you should consider a free checking account. You should still familiarize yourself with the account’s other fees which can dampen your savings, like fees for overdrafts or foreign ATM transactions.

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