Wells Fargo Preferred Checking – My “New” “Free” Checking Account

I’ve enclosed the words new and free with quotation marks because this account is not actually new and while it does not have a monthly fee, it does require that I transfer at least $100 each month into my savings, so it’s not really free either.  Well, with regards to actual money it is free, but there is an action tied to it that must occur each month, or I will be changed a fee.  I can move that money back the next day if I wish but it has been my habit for some time now to automatically transfer money to savings to fund my sinking accounts.

The deed is finally done.  Thursday, after completing the banking deposit for my employer, I took the time to finalize the process of switching my checking account.

I first heard about Wells Fargo’s plan to eliminate all free checking accounts at the end of July.  Oh, and by the way, I finally received an email on August 15th to let me know this was going to happen.  So I guess Wells Fargo did plan to give us all about a month’s notice.  I am grateful to the teller who first pointed out this change to me as it gave me a couple of extra weeks to figure out what I wanted to do.

Initially I had a different plan, and that was to close my long standing checking account with Wells Fargo and use our secondary checking account.  But then I changed my mind, realizing it was going to necessitate some changes; for example, my checking account is tied to PayPal and my ING Direct accounts.  Little things that would need to be changed, but I have enough to worry about without taking on a bunch of little unnecessary tasks.

I am actually very pleased with the experience that I had at my local branch, and it helped to ease my discomfort for the situation I encountered there when opening my business account.   In a nutshell, when I opened my business account, two of the bankers were super nice to me, acted very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in my business.  Now it appears since they got what they wanted from me – a commission – for setting up a credit card for my business when I specifically declined a credit card – they act as if they don’t know me.  Truly stunning. And I also feel embarrassed for thinking they were being nice to me just because.  It’s just so weird how they act like they don’t know me at all.  There’s a part of me that wants to go up to them and ask them why they were so friendly when I opened the account, and now treat me like a complete stranger.

But as I said, this time I was very happy with the young woman who helped me make the changes to my accounts.  I thought I was going to be opening a new savings, and closing the secondary checking plus the savings that went with it.  But she was able to switch my old checking account to Preferred, and link it to the savings I’d been using.  I also discovered that basic checks are free with this account and I can get a box of 150 duplicates.  Awesome.  Designer checks are $10 from Wells Fargo, but I’m stoked with the free basic checks!  Free is better than any deal I can get from Costco or newspaper inserts. I was really happy about that since Mr. A recently asked me why both our names are not on the checks?  Oops.  I never did get around to ordering more checks after we remarried in 2007.  Mr. A doesn’t write checks anyway, he prefers to use the debit card. But now we’ll have checks with both our names.

Ah, speaking of debit cards, I ordered Mr. A a new one, since his expired and for some reason he did not receive a replacement.

And the nice young woman closed out the secondary checking account.  So now I have one less account to maintain. Yay!

Do you bank with Wells Fargo?  Did you have one of the “free” accounts?  What did you end up doing?



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10 comments to Wells Fargo Preferred Checking – My “New” “Free” Checking Account

  • Josie

    Just in case you hadn’t heard, Wells Fargo is planning on “testing” charging to use a debit card. They’re implementing the fee in only a few states for now, so you might want to check to see if they’re going to charge in your state. I know in mine (Oregon) they are. $3/month just to have a debit card. My husband and I have 4 debit cards so that would be $12/month just to have a debit card. Not cool! So we’re actually going to be switching banks sometime before October (when WF will start chargin)


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Josie, really?! That seems like a big mistake! What are they trying to do, make us go back to using checks? Probably in ten years it will be commonplace for banks to charge us fees for everything. My husband gets really irked by this because he says they are already using our money so why do they need more payment on top of that? Well, thanks for adding to the conversation, we’ll have to watch for this to happen in our area. I hope the tests “fail”!


    Jeff Reply:

    @Josie, It’s not $3/month per card, it’s per account. So if you each have a card for one account, that’s only $3, not $6.

    And actually, all of the big banks are going to be doing it in select states, they just haven’t publicly announced it yet – they’ll be charging between $5 and $8 month. The fees are directly tied to the Dodd-Frank act… (I have a lot of friends in the retail banking industry…)

    I’m not excited about it, but honestly, I don’t mind $3/month… As you said, the account itself is essentially “free,” so when you consider all the fraud protection, FDIC insurance, convenience, etc… ten cents a day seems pretty reasonable.


    Josie Reply:

    @Jeff, Thanks for the follow up! $3/account isn’t too bad. I had thought it was $3/card which could start to add up. And I guess if the rest of the big banks are going towards that direction too, no use switching everything up. ha ha. Thanks again!


  • I have a free account with Bank of America because I have direct deposit. So far, no fees or additional charges.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @krantcents, the banks seem to like the direct deposits a lot. I guess it is somewhat of a guarantee that the person is there to stay and won’t be going anywhere too soon for the hassle of having to move the direct deposit to another bank.


    krantcents Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, In my opinion, the banks like it because of float. Most people do not exhaust their paycheck in a day.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @krantcents, ahhhh, I’m sure you’re right on that one.

  • I know you



    Jeff Reply:

    @I know you, Legally, banks are only allowed to invest the money that is in some sort of Savings/CD. If it is in checking, it’s off limits. Also, if banks were actually lending, I’d probably side with you. I was speaking with my friend who is a District Manager w/ one of the big banks, and he told me that of the $500 million his district has on deposit, only $100 or so is currently invested via loans to other consumers, investments, etc. The other 80% is just sitting there because of fear from both consumers And banks. The banking industry isn’t (for the most part) flooded with profits like it used to be.


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