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Wells Fargo vs Chase


Written by Brynne Conroy | Published on 4/22/2019

Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are two of the top three largest banks in the United States. It may be expected, then, that their rates and fees are what you’d anticipate from a big bank, benefiting the establishment more than the consumer.

In our review of Wells Fargo vs Chase, you’ll see that Wells Fargo tends to come out ahead of Chase in some key categories like rates and account options. But these big banks both face stiff competition from a new wave of online banks, which tend to offer much higher rates and lower fees on their product offerings. Before you sign up with either of these banks, compare them to all banks using our helpful tools.

In this article we will cover:

Wells Fargo vs Chase: Rates

Both banks offer different rates in different parts of the country. For the following analysis we looked at rates in Wells Fargo’s headquarters in San Francisco with zip code 94105, and Chase’s headquarters in New York City with zip code 10017.

In every category, Wells Fargo beats out Chase’s rates. Wells Fargo even beats the online bank average for its highest-yield savings product in a time when online banks are known for offering some of the highest rates on the market. One area where Wells Fargo falls short of many online banks is its relatively high deposit requirements tied to these higher APY offerings.

Here’s a sample of rates below.

Wells Fargo Chase National average Online bank average
Savings 0.01%-1.55% APY 0.01%-0.11% APY 0.272% APY 1.52% APY
Checking 0.00%-0.05% APY 0.01% APY 0.191% APY 0.41% APY
1-year CD 0.05%-1.50% APY 0.01%-0.70% APY 1.373% APY 2.09% APY

When comparing Wells Fargo vs Chase, Wells Fargo wins as far as APY offerings go in this head-to-head matchup. Chase lags behind — sometimes by an entire percentage point.

These are the ranges of rates offered by each bank across each category, so there are certain requirements you would have to meet to qualify for these rates. For example, at Wells Fargo, the highest checking rate comes on its Portfolio by Wells Fargo checking product, which requires you to hold a minimum balance of $10,000 in your account by the end of the second month of account ownership. The rate is only applicable to balances of $5,000 or more. If you have less, your rate will be reduced down to 0.01%

Wells Fargo’s highest paying savings account option is its Platinum Savings Account, which can reward you with a special interest rate — however, that special rates only applies for 12 months, and to be eligible for it, you’ll need to have deposited at least $25,000 from an outside source, not another Wells Fargo account. The highest APY available comes via an additional bonus rate, on top of the special interest rate — to be eligible for this rate, you must also have the aforementioned Portfolio by Wells Fargo checking account. If you’ve been banking at Wells Fargo for a while, you may have a Prime checking account. This account can also qualify you for the additional bonus rate, even if you don’t have a Portfolio by Wells Fargo checking account.

If you fail to meet these requirements, your APY could drop as low as 0.05%. This will also happen if you have more than $1M held with Wells Fargo.

At Chase, your max interest rate on your checking account is a low 0.01%, but if you open the right one, like a Chase Premier Plus Checking Account or Chase Sapphire Checking, you will be able to gain access to the highest savings rates available under a Chase savings account. These are called Relationship Rates, and they are available on Chase Premier Savings Accounts. The highest rate doesn’t kick in until your account balance is $250,000 and you make at least five transactions per month with your checking account. However, FDIC coverage maxes out at $250,000, so pursuing this rate might not make sense, especially when you can find better savings accounts elsewhere.

Wells Fargo vs Chase: Account options

Chase’s and Wells Fargo’s base options for checking look very similar, but once you get beyond that, they diverge in very different directions. Each bank has three basic checking accounts, with each getting a little more expensive in fees which you can get waived if you hold or deposit more money. For Chase, those accounts are Chase Total Checking, Chase Premier Plus Checking and Chase Sapphire Checking. Wells Fargo has Everyday Checking, Preferred Checking and Portfolio by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo also offers a teen checking account, while Chase offers a checking account option for those in college.

From there, the target client base between the two banks looks drastically different. Those who might not traditionally qualify for a bank account because of a negative credit or banking history can potentially access banking services through Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking Account.

Meanwhile, Chase serves those with overall balances of $250,000 or more through its Private Client Checking and other banking services.

These differences extend beyond checking. While both banks offer two standard savings account options, Wells Fargo also offers Opportunity Savings Accounts, and your savings account will be considered as a part of your overall balance in order to qualify for Chase’s Private Client services.

Wells Fargo vs Chase: Fees

Wells Fargo Chase
Standard savings account $5 waivable monthly maintenance fee $5 waivable monthly maintenance fee
Standard checking account $10 waivable monthly maintenance fee $12 waivable monthly maintenance fee
ATM fee $2.50 to withdraw cash from a non-Wells Fargo ATM; $1 per ATM statement; 3% foreign transaction fee $2.50 per each transaction at all out-of-network, domestic ATMs; $5.00 per withdrawal and $2.50 per transfer or inquiry at foreign ATMs. Fees are not all applied in full to every single Chase deposit account.
Overdraft fee $35. Will only be charged if your account is overdrawn by more than $5. Charged up to three times per day on transactions greater than $5. $34. Will only be charged if your account is overdrawn by more than $5. Charged up to three times per day on transactions greater than $5.

Wells Fargo offers its lowest monthly maintenance fee on its Way2Save Savings Account. To avoid this $5 fee, you can maintain a balance of $300 or more; participate in the Save As You Go program, which transfers $1 to your Way2Save account for every non-recurring debit card purchase or online bill-pay transaction you make with your checking account; or automatically transfer either $25 or more from your Wells Fargo checking account into your Way2Save account, or $1 or more on each business day, over the course of a statement period. You can also dodge the monthly maintenance fee by being under the age of 18.

The bank’s lowest-fee checking account is its Everyday Checking. Here, the monthly maintenance fee is $10, but can be waived if you maintain a balance of $1,500, have direct deposits of at least $500/statement period set up, make 10 or more purchase with your debit card, or have a linked Wells Fargo Campus ATM/debit card. Those ages 17-24 are exempt from the monthly maintenance fee.

Chase’s monthly maintenance fees are also waivable under certain circumstances. The basic Chase Savings account comes with a monthly maintenance fee of $5, but only if you do not meet one of the following requirements: maintain a balance of $300; set up a recurring transfer of at least $25/month from your Chase checking account to this savings account; or link this account with a Chase Premier Checking, Chase Sapphire or Chase Private Client Checking account. Account owners under the age of 18 are also exempt from this fee.

You’ll find Chase’s lowest monthly maintenance fees for checking with the Chase Total Checking Account, which charges $12 per month. You can get this fee waived by maintaining a balance of $1,500 or more, setting up direct deposits of at least $500 per month, or have a $5,000 balance total across most Chase deposit accounts and some Chase investment accounts.

Chase’s ATM fees are progressively tapered down depending on which checking account you use. For example, if you upgrade from Chase Total Checking to Chase Premier Plus Checking, your first four ATM transactions per month at out-of-network ATMs will be free. If you go even further and open a Chase Sapphire Checking Account, you won’t have to pay any ATM fees at all.

Overall, the fees at both banks are not dissimilar. If ATM fees are a sticking point for you, you may want to go with Chase’s Sapphire Checking Account, but remember that you may be doing so at the expense of better interest rates at other financial institutions.

Who should bank with Wells Fargo?

If we were to look only at physical accessibility, Wells Fargo would win this battle. It has 5,700 branches nationwide, compared to Chase’s 5,000. Another area where Wells Fargo wins is APY, as its rates are more competitive than those offered by Chase.

But while Wells Fargo wins out in the APY battle in this specific head-to-head comparison, it does not offer the highest rates on the market. Furthermore, recent scandals have plagued the company with lots of bad publicity and may be reason to give consumers pause.

But if you cannot open a checking account elsewhere, Opportunity Checking does offer a place of refuge from the wild west of nontraditional banking services, which tend to operate with high APRs and tons of fees to the detriment of its consumers. If you aren’t a fan of Wells Fargo’s option in this arena, credit unions are a good place to check for these last-chance banking opportunities, as well.

Who should bank with Chase?

Chase is not competitive when it comes to interest rates on deposit accounts. If you have over $250,000 spread across your deposit and investment accounts, you’ll be able to get a lot of the fees charged by the megabank waived, though, and may enjoy the individualized attention that comes with being a Chase Private Client.

Otherwise, you can look to market alternatives to score higher APY offerings with much smaller balance and/or deposit requirements. You don’t have to be swimming in money to earn a competitive return on your checking and savings accounts.

Alternatives

Both Chase and Wells Fargo are huge banks that charge a fair amount of fees while offering lower interest rates. Chase is a particularly bad offender in the realm of low interest rate offerings, but you can even do better than Wells Fargo.

That being said, both these banks lag behind many online bank offerings today. Online-only banks tend to offer the highest rates and charge the lowest fees. You can check out your best checking account options using our tools here on DepositAccounts.com.

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