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Wells Fargo Appears to be Slowly Killing Wachovia's Way2Save Program

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Last October I reported on a Wells Fargo blog post which provided details of how Wells Fargo was going to convert Wachovia's Way2Save program. The best feature of the new Way2Save program was the bonus in which you could earn up to $150 after the first 13 months. The other features of the account, like the premium interest rate, provided very little benefit. Based on my recent experience, it appears that many former Wachovia Way2Save customers will not be eligible for the bonus when their accounts are converted to Wells Fargo Way2Save accounts. In addition, Wells Fargo has decided not to make the Way2Save account available for new accounts in some states. I've confirmed this for Texas and California.

Texas Conversion - Disclosure Details

Last weekend my Wachovia Way2Save account was converted to Wells Fargo Way2Save account as part of the branch conversions that took place in Texas. Over the weekend I finally had time to review the conversion packet that I received in the mail from Wells Fargo. In the disclosure it did state that the "savings account is not available to be opened as a new account." The premium interest rate was described, but without any rate details. However, there was no mention of the $150 bonus that was first described in the October Wells Fargo blog post (see pdf).

Problems with Wells Fargo's Customer Service

I then tried to find out about the premium interest rate and the bonus by contacting Wells Fargo. I first sent a secure message while logged into my account. This proved to be a waste of time. The first reply just requested me to call. I then clarified my questions. One of the questions was very basic: what is the premium interest rate. This isn't listed in the disclosure or on the website. Their reply again instructed me to call without providing any useful info.

My first call was on Sunday, and the CSR told me that there was no more premium interest rate. This conflicted with the disclosure so I had my doubts. The CSR didn't appear experienced, and since it was Sunday I thought I would just call back on Monday when more experienced CSRs would likely be available.

Confirmation of No Bonus

When I called back on Monday, the CSR was more knowledgeable. However, she was having some technical problems which resulted in a hold of more than 15 minutes. This is why I prefer using secure email for questions. Finally, the CSR confirmed that the disclosure was correct regarding the premium interest. The yields were consistent with what was reported in October: 3.00% APY for up to $500 and 0.05% for over $500 for first 13 months.

Regarding the bonus, the CSR said that I would NOT be eligible. From what she explained it appeared that some customers may qualify for the bonus based on when they opened their Wachovia Way2Save accounts. It appears that many customers may not qualify for this bonus. If your Way2Save account has been converted, don't assume that you will qualify for this bonus. Make sure you verify with Wells Fargo that you do qualify.

No New Accounts

The last thing I asked the CSR was about new accounts. The disclosure had informed me that new Way2Save accounts would not be opened in Texas. The CSR said this also applies to California. New Way2Save accounts do appear to be available in some states. Colorado is one state where it's shown to be available at this Wells Fargo's webpage. If you select a different state like California or Texas, it will list the Wells Fargo Goal Savings Account instead of the Way2Save Account. For states that do offer the Way2Save account, there is no mention of the $150 bonus. The premium interest rate is mentioned for the first 13 months, but there is no mention of what the rate is.

New Way2Save Account is Not Worth It

Without the $150 bonus, I don't see any advantage of using the Way2Save account. The $500 cap of the premium interest rate limits what you can earn to about $16 in 13 months. After the 13 months ends, the standard rate takes effect which is currently only 0.05%. In addition, there are monthly fees if you don't maintain a $300 balance or if you don't have automatic recurring transfers.

Old Way2Save Account Continues Until Your State Converts

According to the Wells Fargo blog post "NOTHING will change with your current Way2Save account until the Wachovia branches in your state convert to the Wells Fargo brand." I can confirm that my Wachovia Way2Save account continued to earn the original interest rates and bonuses until the conversion took place. My Way2Save account was into its second year in which the interest rate was 2% and a 2% bonus would be applied on the amount that I had transferred into the account during the year. I had 5 months of $100 transfers since the first year bonus was paid. The 2% bonus came out to $10, and this was credited just before the conversion.

Wells Fargo Conversion Process

On a positive note, the account conversion process went smoothly. I was able to register without problems for the Wells Fargo online banking, and I was able to immediately log in and confirm my account balances.

Wells Fargo has now completed the conversion of Wachovia branches in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California. For many of the Eastern states, the conversion will likely take place later this year or in 2011. Details are listed in this Wells Fargo Store Integration Map.

Way2Save Alternatives

If you want help in saving, the SmartyPig savings account is a much better option than this new Way2Save account. Not only is SmartyPig designed to help you save, but it also has a very competitive interest rate for up to $50K. It has no monthly fees, and it provides perks like an extra boost of your savings if you choose to convert your savings into a gift card.


Related Pages: Wells Fargo Bank, Wachovia Bank, savings account

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Comments
12 Comments.
Comment #1 by mystwu (anonymous) posted on
mystwu
I have 5 Wachovia checking accounts and 5 Wachovia Way2Save accounts and I live in NJ.

The first two of my 5 Way2Save accounts are now in the 2nd year.

If WFC does the conversion in early 2011 for all NJ branches, then I will have my 5% bonus for my 3rd, 4th and 5th Way2Save account and then I will ditch Wachovia/WFC. I was happy that I saw this kinda crap would come and that's why I opened the account really early. And I was able to open 5 checkings and 5 way2save, total of 10 accounts with Wachovia before the end of 2009.

Every time when the bank merges another, I am always the one that got hurt. For example, a small NJ bank named "Worlds Saving" used to offer super high CD rate before Wachovia took it over. But once Wachovia ate it, no more cool CD rates and many Worlds Saving branches were closed forever.  I have no power to stop banks from merging one to another but I will use my dollar to vote. If I dont like this bank, I will move my assets out and hope this bank goes to hell.

One good thing I learned last year was investing in stock market. I found that buying a S&P index ETF and then sell covered call won't let me take too much risk and give me a better than 6% CD's return. I know I wouldn't have FDIC on my back for this one but at the time like this, the interest rate is so low and I just feel the stock market is more attractive.

I hope you all get your 5% bouns from Wachovia / Wells Fargo.

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
WF is not only killing  WAY2SAVE slowly, but also anything good that   Wachovia had  as a bank. Wachovia's customer service and business philosophy  soon will   be gone

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Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I would like to formally welcome Ken to three months ago.  The folks over at Fatwallet apparently had all of this figured at the time of the California conversion back in April.

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Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I don't get people who lament the demise of Wachovia or other banks who pay great interest rates.  Yeah, sure, it's wonderful to get a great yield, especially when protected by the FDIC, but you just HAVE to know it's only going to for a short ride.  There's a REASON these banks pay great yields - they are going under!  Enjoy the "free" money while it's there for the taking, but don't expect a free lunch to last forever! 

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Comment #7 by Jo (anonymous) posted on
Jo
Mystwu, I'm completely on board with what you posted. I have a W2S account with free checking and an auto transfer each week. I agree that we can indeed vote with our hard earned dollars....and the part about them going to "hell" is spot on. The greed for as much of our money as possible yet with little in return has gotten out of control. But honestly, do they truly believe we have "Stupid" written across our foreheads?

I knew this was going to happen when Ken first posted about it. Ken, I'm glad you followed up on this, as it has made an impact on my decision whether to keep my account open or closed. The obvious answer to that is I will indeed be closing it. I refuse to park my money in accounts that offer nothing remotely worthwhile in return.

Great post yet again, Ken, and to all you guys who posted your thoughts as well......

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Comment #8 by Jo (anonymous) posted on
Jo
I am trying to figure out if I've been black listed, keeping me from posting here about something completely on topic.

I wrote a response, particularly to what mystwu commented about, as I was on board with his/her posts. When I clicked the "Submit" button, my reponse went "POOF." That's rather disconcerting....

I'm just saying......

1
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
When you say that you got the bonus right before the conversion, how much before? (Example: a week before the conversion)

1
Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
wells fargo is a terrible bank.  Best to avoid the big banks

2
Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
they just charged me $5 on 3 of the 5 accounts i have becuase i didnt use the debit card

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Comment #13 by Rodan (anonymous) posted on
Rodan
__________________________________________________

Wells Fargo's “Way2Save Premium Rate Account”

was described to
me as a savings account that will pay 3.0% APY for the first $500
in the account, and the regular Wells Fargo savings rate of 0.05%
(virtually zero return) on the balance above the first $500. 

It sounds like a good deal but there are special requirements not
mentioned by Wells Fargo salespersons.    The true requirements
have to be searched out on the Wells Fargo website until you find
this web page:
 
    https://www.wellsfargo.com/help/faqs/savings_cds/way2save
 
There you can see that:
 

1.)    The 3.0% interest rate incentive vanishes after the first year.
        The most this account can ever earn if all requirements are 
        met is $15.

2.)   There is a $5/month ($60/year) service fee that applies if any 
       of the special requirements are not met.   

3.)   You are required to have your checking acct linked to your
       Way2Save account and to automatically transfer in at least
       $25 per month ($300 per year from your checking account into
       your Way2Save Acct where it will earn zero interest after the
       initial $500 deposit     OR

       you must authorize “SaveAsYouGo” transfers of $1 every time
       a different kind of funds transfer payment occurs.        These
       annoying requirements only keep your personal checkbook
      register continuously out of date while putting your savings
       into a zero-return account at Wells Fargo.

 ______________________________________________

1
Comment #14 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The new Wells Fargo managment of Wachovia employees in NJ is terrible.

They are going to loose all of their good employees with their aggressive bully managment stlye.

Look for many employee lawsuits to start happening as they are pushing them beyond their limits.

2
Comment #16 by nancy (anonymous) posted on
nancy
Wachovia customers.    Now that my accounts are onverted to Wells Fargo I have noticed the following:::::

Did you know that Bill Pay can take up to 5-7 business days for the vendor to receive their money and some of them are printed check which are manully mailed.

Also, You will not see an updated balance on any of your on-line inquiries.  You will only see the end of day balance from the previous day. If you have transactions, get your calculaator out and figure your up dated balance    So, if you get a balance at an ATM the balance will be from the day before.    Sounds like a batch system instead of real time.

 

 

1