Wells Fargo No More Free Checking Accounts

Apparently Wells Fargo is making some changes.  Last week when I did the banking for my employer, and deposited my payroll check, the teller informed me that Wells Fargo is no longer allowing free checking accounts.  I have had this free checking account with Wells Fargo for almost twenty years.  She told me starting on September 12th, 2011 I will be charged $7 a month for my primary checking account unless I do one of three things:

  1. Set up a direct deposit during each billing cycle for $100500 or more
  2. Keep a minimum daily balance of $1500 in my account
  3. Open a savings account and set up an automatic transfer into that savings account*

The first two I can’t manage, since my employer refuses to do direct deposit.  The second is  impossible at this point in time. The third I’m not interested in because I already have too many accounts to track, I’m not opening another one.

I’d forgotten the amounts I was told by the personal banker who informed me of these changes, so I called Wells Fargo to find out the amounts. During this conversation I was informed that options one and two are available to me, but *option three is definitely not available.

So either the phone teller doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or the woman I talked to last week doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  I will be stopping by the bank next Thursday and will ask her to double check her information.  Maybe she knows something the guy on the phone doesn’t know, and if not, I would like to let her know she is giving out misinformation.

I don’t understand why Wells Fargo has not notified me of this change.  I have looked through the email correspondence I’ve received, and not one word.

So now it’s time to make a decision.  While talking to the personal banker, I already knew what I was planning to do: close this account.  As I left the bank, I thought how it would be silly to open another savings account, and thought of how it would be great to have one less account to track. I would have liked to keep the account open because I have had this account for almost twenty years… I have the account number memorized and it would just be easier to stick with it, but I also don’t want to pay $7 a month.

So now I’ve decided to close this account there are some things I need to do. I’ll address that in a post tomorrow: How To Close A Checking Account You’ve Been Using For Years.

 

 

 

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29 comments to Wells Fargo No More Free Checking Accounts

  • Bankers are the ones running this world and this is a sign that they finally have us right where they want us! At their mercy! Our only escape is through hope in Jesus Christ!

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  • MC

    A local bank decided to charge $2 fee per month if you fell below $20 in Savings at any time that month. The acct used to be free to those who had their SS checks deposited to their checking acct (which is still so far free). When I fell below the $20 in May and I was charged the $2 fee, I called the bank to protest. I was getting under .10 a month in interest at the best. I was told, “soooo sad, too bad.” I closed out the account. Moved it to a nearby bank. They pull that with the checking acct and that will be moved too.

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  • pam

    I am in a similar situation. My bank is Bank of AMerica. They have set up so many fees lately its terrible. I have been debating opening a new checking account with a regional bank. BUt like you I have had this account for years and years. I still haven’t decided yet.

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  • Mrs. Accountability, sorry to hear about your trouble with WF. This is exactly why I moved to a CU from BofA about a decade back.

    Close the account and move the money to a CU. Unlike big banks, they aren’t answerable to shareholders but to you, since you are the shareholder!

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @MoneyCone, actually I have an account with a credit union, and they recently began charging $3/month. Actually they charge $5/month, then they discount $2. So there is a $5 charge and $2 credit each month. My husband has his business accounts with another credit union, and they charge $7 each month the accounts are under $1500! At least with Wells Fargo I can set up automatic transfers to move the money back and forth each month and don’t have to pay anything. Silly game but I guess they think it will make some people save money.

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  • The problem is where do you go, since all the banks and credit unions are raising their requirements. My credit union raised their minimum deposit this year.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @krantcents, this has been my experience as well. As I said to Money Cone, at least with Wells Fargo I can transfer the money, then move it back out with an automatic transfer in a few days if I need the money. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  • I have Wells Fargo and had to open up a savings account and automatically deposit a set amount each month to continue with a free checking account. To me, it’s worth it. I really don’t want to pay a monthly fee!

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Little House, I went into Wells Fargo after work last Thursday and told them what the guy on the phone had said. The gal I talked to told me it is $500 minimum direct deposit and she said I *could* open a savings account and attach to my main account, they would just need to convert my checking to the new kind of account in order to do so. Now I don’t know who to believe. Sigh.

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    Laura Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, I’m a personal banker for wells fargo and the direct deposit requirement is $500 minimum (at least in MN). In order to keep your “free” account free you would either need to have that minimum direct deposit or a minimum balance of $1500. If the direct deposit minimum is impossible for you then I recommend converting your account to a different name. Even if you are meeting the balance requirements now, if at anytime (even for just a day) it falls below the $1500 you will be charged the service fee. It can be easily avoided by changing the name of your account and linking with a savings account. By having a minimum transfer of $25 (in the next most basic account) you will not have any fees in either your checking or savings. If you absolutely need the funds that had been transferred into your savings that you full access to it. If you don’t need it then you are building extra savings for yourself. Truth is, regulations have changed and all banks (and credit unions) have had to change the way they do business therefore they need to charge fees if they accounts aren’t meeting requirements. As a banker I really hate being the one to tell people face to face that they may be getting charged in the future. There are ways to avoid the fees. Just go in and sit down with a personal banker and see what options are going to work for you. Change is hard but it’s inevitable. Banks are a business and unfortunately like every other business, there are fees associated.

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  • JP

    I emailed Wells Fargo about my Free Checking account, and received the following reply:

    We have received your inquiry in regards to account changes. Please be advised, effective September 12, 2011 Wells Fargo Free Checking will be renamed to Wells Fargo Personal Checking and introduce a $7.00 monthly service fee.
    The Monthly service fee can be waived with one of the following:

    Maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance OR
    Qualifying direct deposits totaling $500.00 or more per statement cycle
    Customers who do not meet the criteria for waiving the monthly service fee can receive a $2.00 discount by signing up to receive online statements.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @JP, so a slightly different answer via email. It doesn’t seem they gave you the option of the monthly automatic transfer from checking to savings? That’s weird. But I would definitely go in person to a branch if I were you and ask about that option. It is painless for me to have the automatic transfer done once a month and I move money over automatically for my sinking funds anyway. You can also set up an automatic transfer to move the money into savings, and then the next day another one to move the money back into your checking if you are tight on money and don’t want to save right now. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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  • Mireya Ayala


    Argh!

    I have been a Wells Fargo customer for over ten years. While I have direct deposit, I am still disappointed with this move. Hopefully, enough customers will raise a stink and give Wells Fargo enough bad press that they would re-think this decision.

    This change is a direct result of Obama and other Democrats pushing their “bank overhauls” through Congress a couple of years ago. They thought that “overdraft charges” were “immoral” — so they passed a law to ban them.

    So, what is a bank to do?

    They have to find that money somewhere…so they are charging the rest of us because a few of Liberal politicians thought that it was the best thing. I suppose that this is a little more of that “spread the wealth around” that Obama spoke about during the 2008 campaign.

    Now, those who are bad with math (in regard to their banking) enjoy free passes while the rest of us are forced to pay for it.

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  • Jason

    I used to be a banker at wf, one of the worst jobs of my life, it’s like being a car salesman. If it does not say the transfer will work, it won’t. Bankers try and get their customers to open new accounts as it goes towards sales goals. So misinformation is common, especially if it can result in a new savings account. Oh, you would be shocked at how crooked the banking system is, especially with fees, it’s basically predatory as the only people affected are the poor, college kids, and the elderly (as this kind of stuff is often confusing).

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  • Zach

    I just got a call from a banker at Wells Fargo informing me of the new $7 a month fee. He said he has been setting up a $25 a month automatic transfer from checking to savings and then another transfer from savings back to checking the very next day.

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  • DoneWithWellsFargo

    I am closing my account at Wells Fargo this week due to this new policy. I’ve banked at WF for probably 15 years and never been in love with them, but because it was free, it was easy enough to stay there. I have an account at a credit union, they say they are happy to provide me with free checking.

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  • EAH

    What about using those pre-paid debt accounts?
    My girlfriend has her payroll check direct-deposited into a
    Wal-Mart debit account. I assume she pays no fees of any kind due
    to the direct-deposit. But I am also assume that she is not earning any kind of interest on her money…
    Whats your take on using these types of accounts, Mrs. Accountability?

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @EAH, I have not heard of these types of accounts, but I will try and look into them. Can she only spend her money at Walmart? Wow. I wouldn’t want to be locked in to that deal. Is it a pre-paid “debit” account or “debt” account?

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    EAH Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability,
    Not at all…It works like a debt Visa/Master Card.(has the logos on it) She use’s it everywhere! She can only spend the amount of money that is deposited into the account. Her payroll check is auto-deposited in the account with Wal-Mart…and if she has to deposit any kind of check, (i.e-money order, personal, cashiers, etc), she heads over to her local Wal-Mart customer service desk, and they can deposit it, or cash it. So its sort-of like Wal-Mart plays the role of a bank. She can even call a 24hr customer service line to check balance, stop payments, and get copies of her account activity mailed to her(w/ a charge, naturally).

    So in other words its both a pre-paid debt and a debt card…

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  • EAH

    UPDATE: its called “Walmart Money Card”, and its Master Card logo…tell me what you think?

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @EAH, let me take a look this weekend and I’ll tell you what I think. Best, Mrs. A

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  • Willy

    Just got my Wells Fargo fee increase notice today! I’ll take my business elsewhere.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Willy, sorry to hear about that. I wanted to open a second savings account with Wells Fargo and they said I could certainly do that but then I found out I have to do that stupid transfer $100 a month into a second savings, too. Really annoying. And my credit union started charging me $3/month for my account and just recently raised it to $5. Guess I need to start looking around for another bank that doesn’t charge fees. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Willy. Mrs. A

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  • Brian

    @ Mrs. Accountability:

    I basically had the exact same experience as you with Wells Fargo. I had my account for 18 years before they started imposing these new restrictions which are too burdensome for my wife and I, so we shut down the account two days ago. I’ve never been so disappointed in how a company has treated me. In 18 years I’ve never once had an overdraft on my account, but I guess Wells Fargo doesn’t care about that. They’d rather nickle and dime even if it means driving away good customers.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Brian, this is very frustrating. I asked about opening a second savings account so that I could put away money for upcoming tax payments and they said “Sure!” But I would have to move $100 into the 2nd savings every month in order to avoid fees. I hate the runaround. My credit union up and started to charge me $5 a month for my checking after no fees for over a decade and my husband’s business checking at a credit union charges him $7/month. Where did you move your account?

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  • Chris Braden

    Wells-Fargo is a commercial bank that is run for profit. Generally speaking, if you want lower fees (and generally lower interest rates on all types of loans), you should join a FEDERAL credit union. Federal credit unions, by law, must be non-profit and member owned, and therefore basically fees and loan interest rates are lower than commercial banks such as Wells-Fargo, Bank of America, Compass Bank, Key Bank, etc. However, you should pick and choose among federal credit unions because within those type of institutions fees can vary considerably, even if they are non-profit and member owned. Because of recent changes in laws, commercial banks (which are run for profit) are looking for more ways to generate income which equates to more fees, some of which are ridiculous, making you wonder to what length bank executives will go to come up with their new fees.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Chris Braden, we do belong to two federal credit unions. One charges $5/month and the other $7/month. I believe if we keep a balance of over $1000 the fees are waived, which we currently cannot do. Thanks for the information on this, I will keep my eyes out for some others that don’t charge monthly fees.

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  • Lisa

    I just received a notice about the $7 fee as well. I called the 800 number to complain about this but to no avail. The guy on the phone said “you’re receiving services” but I cut him off. Yes, my transactions are being processed but the bank is using my money (for free) to make investments etc. I am not being paid any interest or fees for the use of my money, yet WF feels I should pay them to use my money to make more profit for Wells Fargo. Unbelievable. I am closing my account. There are plenty of banks that have free checking accounts with either no minimum balance requirements or a $500 minimum. I guess WF didn’t read the news the day that thousands of customers left Bank of America over fees.

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