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Comparing U.S. Bank vs Wells Fargo


Written by Shen Lu | Published on 8/21/2019

U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo are among the largest banks in the U.S. by total assets. Wells Fargo operates the largest bank branch network in the country and U.S. Bank is not far behind, while both banks offer online banking options available nationwide. Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank are full-service operations that offer a full suite of banking products. If you are comparing U.S. Bank versus Wells Fargo, evaluate your banking needs and the amount of cash you’d like to deposit. The general rule of thumb is to choose the bank that offers higher rates and charges lower fees on its financial products. In this head-to-head review, we will round up each bank’s checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit to help you determine which bank better suits your needs.

In this article we will cover:

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: An overview

Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo has $1.9 trillion in assets. It is the third largest commercial bank by assets in the United States, according to Federal Reserve data. Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services. It has approximately 5,600 domestic branches and more than 13,000 ATMs across the country, in addition to offices in 32 countries and territories.

Wells Fargo is recovering from a series of scandals over the past several years. In 2016, it surfaced that the bank had opened 3.5 million unauthorized accounts. Separately, in 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) fined the bank $1 billion for an insurance scam related to its auto loans and for how it charged some borrowers for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions. Out of 40 banks evaluated in the 2019 American Banker/Reputation Institute Survey of Bank Reputations, Wells Fargo ranked last based on scores from both customers and non-customers.

Headquartered in Minnesota, U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest commercial bank in the U.S. by assets, with a total of $482 billion. It has 3,018 branches and a network of 4,681 ATMs, primarily in the midwestern and western regions of the U.S. Note that U.S. Bank’s reputation is much better than that of Wells Fargo: It ranks 18th based on customers’ scores in the American Banker/Reputation Institute survey.

U.S. Bank’s roots are in regional banking. Its traces its origins back to 1863, when First National Bank of Cincinnati opened. The current U.S. Bank is a result of several mergers that happened at the turn of the 21st century. Its businesses include retail and business banking, commercial banking and payment services, as well as wealth management and investment services.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Account options

Account options at U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo
U.S. Bank Wells Fargo
Checking account x x
Savings account x x
Certificates of deposit x x
Money market account x

Checking accounts

Both U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo offer multiple choices for checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs. U.S. Bank has five checking account options:

  • Easy Checking: Everyday Checking is U.S. Bank’s standard checking account. There is no minimum deposit requirement.
  • Platinum Checking Package: The Platinum Checking is suitable for those with a large sum of cash. Accounts with $25,000 in deposits, credit balances and/or other investments combined with the bank can avoid a monthly fee of $24.95.
  • Gold Checking Package: U.S. Bank credit card or loan customers can take advantage of Gold Checking account, which has $0 monthly maintenance fee for those customers.
  • Student Checking: There is no monthly fees associated with this account for student customers.
  • Safe Debit Account: This is a debit card-only account that charges a $4.95 monthly fee regardless of the deposit amount.

Wells Fargo requires a $25 opening deposit for all of its checking accounts. It also offers five checking account options:

  • Everyday Checking: This is the bank’s most popular checking account. Everyday Checking charges a $10 monthly fee, though it can be waived if the account meets certain requirements.
  • Opportunity Checking: Opportunity Checking charges a $10 monthly fee for accounts that don’t meet balance minimum requirements. This account is recommended for customers who don’t qualify for Wells Fargo’s standard checking accounts.
  • Preferred Checking: This account allows you to earn interest on your balance. The fee is $15 for Preferred Checking account holders, though it can be waived if the account meets certain requirements.
  • Portfolio by Wells Fargo®: The fee is $30 for customers with Portfolio by Wells Fargo® accounts unless certain balance minimums are met. This account offers the highest level of benefits and rewards.
  • Teen Checking: A checking account for teens ages 13 to 18 with an adult co-owner. The Teen Checking account has no monthly fee.

Savings accounts

U.S. Bank offers four savings accounts, three of which are money market accounts, which bear higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. All of its savings accounts have $25 minimum opening deposit requirement, except for the Elite Money Market Account, which requires a minimum opening deposit of $100.

Platinum Checking account holders are eligible for a Platinum Select Money Market Savings account. The Package Money Market Savings account is the corresponding savings account for Gold Checking account holders, while the Elite Money Market Account is for people with high balances.

In comparison, Wells Fargo only offers two savings accounts: Way2Save Savings and Platinum Savings. It does not offer any money market accounts.

Like U.S. Bank’s savings accounts, the minimum deposit requirement for both accounts is $25. Way2Save Savings is a more basic account intended to help customers build their savings, whereas Platinum Savings offers higher rates but requires a higher minimum balance to waive the monthly service fee.

CDs

U.S. Bank offers more CD options than Wells Fargo does. U.S. Bank’s standard CD product requires a $500 minimum opening deposit and up to a maximum of $249,999. Its promoted CD product CD Special, which has a minimum opening deposit of $1,000 and up to a maximum of $249,999, offers better rates. In addition, U.S. Bank offers the Step Up CD and the Trade Up CD, both of which also require a $1,000 minimum opening deposit.

Wells Fargo has two fixed-rate CD products, as well as a Step Rate CD. The Standard CD requires a minimum deposit opening account of $2,500. A Special CD account requires a minimum opening deposit of $5,000.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Rates (APY)

Rates at U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo
U.S. Bank Wells Fargo National average
Standard Checking 0% 0% 0.06%
Standard Savings 0.01% 0.01% 0.09%
1-year CD 0.10% 0.25% 0.56%
3-year CD 0.35% N/A 0.86%

Checking accounts

Neither of the standard checking accounts offered by U.S. Bank or Wells Fargo bear interest. However, both banks do have interest-bearing checking account options available.

U.S. Bank’s Platinum Checking Package has a 0.1% APY, but accounts with less than $25,000 in deposits, credit balances and/or other investments combined with the bank have to pay a monthly fee of $24.95.

For Wells Fargo interest-bearing accounts, Preferred Checking holders can earn a 0.01% APY if the balance is $500 or higher. Portfolio by Wells Fargo® accounts offer a 0.01% APY on balance under $5,000; the APY is 0.05% on deposits of $5,000 or higher.

Savings accounts

The APY on each bank’s standard savings account is the same: 0.01%. This is lower than the national average of 0.09%.

Both banks’ premium savings accounts offer better interest rates. At U.S. Bank, for Platinum Select Money Market Savings accounts, the APY ranges from 0.05% to 0.30%, depending on the daily balance in the account. For the Elite Money Market Savings account, the APY ranges from 0.04% to 0.06%, depending on the daily balance in the account. For Package Money Market Savings accounts, the APY ranges from 0.04% to 0.07%, depending on the daily balance in the account. Wells Fargo’s Platinum Savings accounts bear a standard APY of 0.05%, although balances over $25,000 earn 2% APY.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

The rates for the standard CD products that both Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank offer are lower than the national average.

The APY on U.S. Bank’s CD ranges from 0.05% to 0.75%, depending on the term of the CD. Its one-year CD’s APY, which is 0.10%, is not as good as that of the one-year CD offered by Wells Fargo at 0.25%, but U.S. Bank has a lower minimum deposit requirement than Wells Fargo.

U.S. Bank’s promoted CD product, called CD Special, yields better rates. With a minimum opening deposit of $1,000 and up to a maximum of $249,999, it offers an APY that ranges from 1.8% to 2%, depending on the term of the CD.

Wells Fargo’s Standard CD’s term only goes up to one year. It doesn’t have a three-year CD. The APY ranges from 0.05% to 0.25%, depending on the terms of the CD. The APY on a Wells Fargo Special CD, though, is higher, ranging from 1.40% to 1.90%, depending on the terms of the CD.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Fees

Fees at U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo
U.S. Bank Wells Fargo
Standard checking account $6.95 monthly maintenance fee $10 monthly maintenance fee
Standard savings account $4 monthly maintenance fee $5 monthly maintenance fee
ATM fee
  • $0 for at U.S. Bank ATMs
  • $2.50 at non-U.S. Bank ATMs
  • $0 at Wells Fargo ATMs
  • $2.50 at non-Wells Fargo ATMs in the U.S.
  • $5 at non-Wells Fargo ATMs outside of the U.S.
Overdraft fee $36 per item; $0 for each item of $5 or less $35 per item; $0 for per item of $5 or less

Both U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo charge similar amounts for overdraft fees, though Wells Fargo’s fee is slightly lower. However, Wells Fargo charges higher monthly maintenance fee for standard savings accounts and checking accounts than U.S. Bank does. U.S. Bank charges a $6.95 monthly maintenance fee if the total monthly direct deposits are under $1,000 or the average account balance is below $1,500. With Wells Fargo, the monthly maintenance fee for a standard checking account is $10 if the daily account balance is lower than $1,500 or the total direct deposits are lower than $500.

For account holders who are 65 years or older, U.S. Bank offers an additional perk. The bank waives its monthly fee for all senior account holders, regardless of their monthly deposit amount or account balance.

U.S. Bank is friendlier for international travellers as well. Unlike Wells Fargos, which charges a higher fee for cash withdrawals at ATMs outside of the U.S., U.S. Bank charges the same amount at non-U.S. Bank ATMs inside and outside of the country.

Who should bank with U.S. Bank?

  • If you care about the practice and reputation of the bank you use.
  • If you want lower monthly fees.
  • If you are 65 or older.
  • If you want more CD options.

Wells Fargo beats U.S. Bank in the number of branches it offers. However, if potential customers live in an area where there are U.S. Bank branches, they can take advantage of the bank’s standard checking account that charges a lower monthly maintenance fee than Wells Fargo does (if you don’t hit the parameters to waive the fee at Wells Fargo). If you are 65 or older, you are free from the monthly charges on a U.S. Bank checking account.

Compared with Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank also offers a wider variety of CD terms and lower minimum required deposits than Wells Fargo. For people who care about the reputation of the place they bank with, U.S. Bank is a no-brainer if they have to choose between U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

Who should bank with Wells Fargo?

  • If you prefer access to your bank wherever you go.
  • If you want a better rate on a one-year CD.

One nice thing about Wells Fargo is that it is one of the biggest banks in the country, which translates to it having more physical locations and ATMs across the country than U.S. Bank. You’d likely enjoy greater accessibility if you chose to bank with Wells Fargo over U.S. Bank.

Though Wells Fargo offers fewer options for CD products, its 12-month CD has a higher APY (0.25%) than the equivalent that U.S. Bank offers (0.10%). If you are looking to set aside a large amount of cash (more than $2,500) for one year, Wells Fargo is the better choice.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Which is better?

When it comes to choosing a bank, you should consider which products serve your needs better. Overall, U.S. Bank wins in terms of lower fees on checking accounts and more options for all deposit accounts. Plus, it has a better reputation than Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo, however, is more accessible than U.S. Bank in parts of the country.

Comments
Atticus
Atticus   |     |   Comment #1
Personally, I would never trust Wells Fargo or reward them by banking with them. It's disappointing that more of their current customers didn't ditch them and open accounts in other banks. But can you trust your bank?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2016/09/20/after-wells-fargo-how-much-can-you-trust-your-bank/

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