Wells Fargo Advances War On Free Checking With $7 Fee In 6 More States

Wells Fargo continues to phase out its free checking offerings, tacking on a $7 monthly fee in six states. Even existing customers whose free checking had been grandfathered in will have to start paying up. Oddly, the bank declined to name the six states affected.

CNNMoney, which identified New York as one of the states in which the fee will be implemented, reports the bank stopped offering free checking to new customers in 2010. Last year the bank started peeling back free checking in many areas, and now it’s thrown the six mystery states into the pile.

If you’re a Wells Fargo customer who faces the new fee, you can maintain your “free” checking by keeping $1,500 in your accounts every day or direct-depositing at least $500 monthly.

Or you can just use this as motivation to send Wells Fargo a message by moving on to another bank or credit union.

Wells Fargo to charge $7 fee on more checking accounts [CNNMoney]


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  1. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Wow, even the linked article doesn’t say WHICH states will be impacted by this change. :/

    • consumed says:

      I am in Texas and I just got a notice yesterday that my monthly service fee will be $15 unless I have a minimum $750 direct deposit.

      F*ck them. I’m closing my accounts.

  2. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    “If you’re a Wells Fargo customer who faces the new fee, you can maintain your “free” checking by keeping $1,500 in your accounts every day or direct-depositing at least $500 monthly.”

    It’s not just Wells Fargo. My credit union has similar requirements to avoid a monthly fee (Peoples Federal Credit Union). Requiring a direct deposit to avoid a monthly has been the norm in my state for quite some time.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I thought most banks had this type of fee.

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        My checking account has no minimum balance or direct deposit requirements. It is “free” but each month they take $1 as a donation to their foundation that sponsors housing for community programs, scholarships, etc. Can’t opt out of the donation, but $12 a year isn’t so bad for checking.

        • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

          No I have to correct myself. Turns out you can opt out of the donation.

  3. Torchwood says:

    So, why is “Direct Deposit” the magic factor in getting free checking?

    • Coles_Law says:

      My best guess? You’re not tying up a teller weekly with a payroll check.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        But it’s faster and easier to deposit paychecks via ATM, and the ATM doesn’t give any backtalk like “This isn’t signed,” or “You need to endorse the back.” Just ram it home, and the ATM is happy.

        • pdj79 says:

          Err…whenever I deposit a check into my Chase Business account via the ATM, it asks me, TWICE, during the process to verify that the check is endorsed and everything looks correct on the screen. If I go into the branch, the lady flips each check, runs them through the scanner, punches in some numbers, and hands me a receipt. It’s quicker via a teller if you’re doing what you’re SUPPOSED to be doing.

          • dolemite says:

            At the Wells Fargo ATM, I simply choose “deposit check without envelope”, input the check, and it asks if the amount is correct after it scans it, and I say yes, and I’m done. Literally takes 20 seconds.

            • Firethorn says:

              The bank still has the average expense of dealing with a check though. Yes, payroll checks are still occasionally dishonoured, that doesn’t happen with direct deposit.

              One concern I have – lose my job, lose my direct deposit, lose my free checking, at a time when I’m losing (most) of my income.

              Now, if unemployment + transfers from my standby mutual fund count towards the ‘direct deposit’ amount(I’ll have to ask), then I’m good.

    • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

      Because if you deposit your paycheck in the account odds are you are actually going to use it in a way that makes the bank money (debit card?) or use the banks other services that make them money.

    • CubeRat says:

      Direct deposit eliminates almost all costs associated with a deposit. If deposited in an ATM or inside at a teller window, or mailed in, the bank still has the fees associated with processing a check. A direct deposit is sent via electronic transfer and the sender is responsible for providing the correct account info. A computer transaction is cheaper and faster than one done with paper and people — think e-mail vs snail mail.

  4. frank64 says:

    Direct deposit $500 monthly seems like an easy thing to do. As long as it is your primary account. My company doesn’t do direct deposit though. I asked DCU about it because they reduce costs if you DD and they said a regular deposit would quality. Wells Fargo might not have the same policy though.

    I don’t think it is a war. I would just go somewhere else. I can see where they aren’t able to make much with the low interest rates, so reality is they may have to do something.

  5. Marlin says:

    In the process of dropping my WellFargo/Wachovia accounts now. Me and my wife are taking about 60-70k frm our 2 accounts and going to a Credit Union.

    Less fees and higher intrest rate.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      If any of those accounts are Wachovia investment accounts, good luck. It took me over 6 months to get Wachovia to get their greedy mitts off my money, and when they did, they charged me a $80 fee. Good riddance.

    • scottydog says:

      If you have 50-60k with Wells you would qualify for a free top level PMA account which includes many free benefits.

      • Marlin says:

        I did not pay fees for my checking my thing was the chance of being hit by a fee.

        That and their 0.0% intrest I was getting. Mind you all I get at a CU is .20 but thats .20 more than Wells Fargo.
        Also a CD at Pen Fed is 1.74%, WF its about 1.0% and has more penalities/fees.

  6. sirwired says:

    I don’t see this as a huge deal… to get my wonderful Credit Union checking account many years ago for free, I had to do Direct Deposit.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Many eons ago I started work for a new employer but didn’t have a bank account, yet. So I was getting checks, which I took directly to a branch of the employers bank and cashed them. Later, I got an account at a different bank on the same street block. But I had not updated to switch to direct deposit when the employer had a “banking difficulty”.

      Someone had not transferred the correct amount of money between banks, so the payroll account was too low to cover all payments. I was still able to cash my check at their bank because I did it at lunch break that day (and deposited the cash in my own account). They ran all the direct deposits, too, which ran the payroll account negative. A couple days later, their bank reversed all the direct deposit transfers. Yes, they were able to do that.

      So because I had used a check and cashed it directly, I had my money and it was not pulled back. Yet, everyone with DD had theirs pulled back a couple days later. People were furious, of course. Not only were the banks of these employees charging fees for some accounts gone negative, but they were also reversing some payments those people had made from money they did have at the time, generating more fees from the businesses they had made payment to.

      I looked on that as the big experience that over the past 30 years since then I refuse to use direct deposit whatever. As long as the banks can take the money back later (as opposed to merely not making the deposit in the first place), then it is an unsafe system.

  7. farker says:

    I balked at WF charging me monthly for checking, so they added one of their “Way2Save” savings accounts. I have to keep a minimum balance (forget the amount..) in there, use my debit card at least once a month, or use my account for direct deposit of my paycheck.

    It’s a few hoops to jump through, but not too bad.

  8. Danjalier says:

    They keep saying a run on the banks is not a good idea. It’s the same as a car dealer saying not to buy from anywhere else.

    Of course they don’t want you to take your money away from them.

    If you bank with Wells Fargo, liquidate your accounts and put them under already.

  9. Lisa W says:

    Hi, Lisa W. here from Wells Fargo. We want you to know that we are listening and I will be back shortly with more information.

    • Lisa W says:

      Hey, Lisa W. here back again. I think it’s important to note that we believe most customers will continue to have their monthly service fee waived. As mentioned in the story, each of the consumer checking and savings accounts we offer today has at least one, and in most cases, several ways to waive the monthly service fee. For example, many of our customers qualify for the fee waiver by having a monthly direct deposit of $500 or by maintaining a minimum balance of $1,500. Other accounts may qualify for a fee waiver by having a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. All of our accounts offer significant value to our customers and many services we provide come at no extra charge. We encourage our customers to speak with a banker if they have questions about the changes and to discuss which accounts and services best fit their financial needs.

      • Donathius says:

        Hi Lisa. The issue is that this is practically a bait and switch. Even the death star (AT&T) has let people get grandfathered into keeping unlimited data plans – although they are doing everything they can to piss those people off.

        I’ve had a free checking account with Wells Fargo since 2000. I have my paycheck direct deposited into a checking account with another bank to pay my bills, then I transfer my daily spending money (gas, food, etc.) into the Wells Fargo checking. If my free checking account suddenly starts costing me $7 per month it’s no longer free. If the fee hits me then Wells Fargo has taken away the reason I opened the account in the first place. The only reason I haven’t switched to a credit union is the nice high credit limit I have on my WF Mastercard. However this slap in the face for being a longtime customer will not stand and I will be moving to a local credit union.

        I don’t want to change my direct deposit, and I don’t want to keep $1,500 in the account just so I don’t have to pay anything for it. That money might as well not be mine if it needs to stay in the account. As soon as this hits Utah I’m gone.

      • vastrightwing says:

        Typically what has happened is banks will offer free accounts with low minimum balances. After they have critical mass, all of a sudden the terms of service agreements change and the minimum balance requirements go up to where it affects 50% of their customers. At this point, the bank charges fees and … profit! The banks make millions off the minimum fees they’ve now started charging customers who used to not pay fees. Sure a few customers close their accounts, most stay because they’re too lazy to close them.

      • incident_man says:

        I don’t envy your position as needing to come on a consumer blog and “explain” how this new fee is a good thing for Wells Fargo customers, cause it just won’t wash. The simple fact of the matter is that Wells Fargo, like other big banks, have decided that they aren’t making enough money and need more. They’re deciding to make their customers pay, rather than do the simple thing and erase one of the zeros from the CEO’s paycheck.

        What Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, et al, apparently haven’t figured out yet, despite the public furor over the BofA debit card fee fiasco, is that there are MANY OTHER OPTIONS out there for the public to use. In short, YOU need US more than WE need YOU.

        My advice is to spend some time talking with your bankster employers to try to get them to see the light: Start treating your customers like ASSETS instead of potential REVENUE SOURCES.

    • Marlin says:

      Hi Lisa.

      Sorry but “most” does not count.

      Not only that but having to have mortgage with WF to get out of said fees is even worse. Wells Fargo Mortgage rates are not competitive either in “processing cost” or interest rate. Me and my wife had over 50k in WF and still got our mortgage and refinance somewhere else. We make about 170k a year together and use ATM’s 99% of the time so we are not the devil customer’s big banks like yours don’t want anymore.

      Your CD rates are not competitive either, let alone your penalties are double what the CU we are now in are.

      I can go on and on. My wife hates to change banks but even after showing her the basic fees/interest rates she closed all of our accounts and we moved to a CU.

      Stop acting like customers are a hassle and/or problem and offer them a decent rate and we MIGHT come back.

      Former Wachovia/Wells Fargo customer.

    • akronharry says:

      So those having a hard time making ends meet are the ones that WF will prey upon with their fees.
      There comes a time when a line is crossed. You really need to feel ashamed of yourselves. Keep the shareholders happy and the rest be damned. So glad I do not have to deal with you. People are at a breaking point….something will give someday.

  10. homehome says:

    well I fall into those excpetions so I guess I’ll stay put until it’s not conveienent (sp) anymore

  11. Duke of URL says:

    Two things: (1) Paying a small fee for checking if not carrying a minimum balance has been the standard in credit unions and banks for many many years; no big deal. (2) If you don’t have at least $500/month coming in, you really have no business writing checks.

    • incident_man says:

      What an arrogant comment! I’d venture to say that most people who have bank/credit union accounts don’t write many checks. My wife and I have about $5000 per month coming in and write maybe 3 or 4 checks in that same span of time. Most of our transactions are debit/credit card. As long as a person is responsible with their money, what should it matter how much money they have in the bank?

  12. maxamus2 says:

    This is what kills me. I just called my branch, they had no clue what I was talking about. I had to tell them that WF announced $7 fees and wanted to know if our state was included and again she said she had no clue.

    So I asked if it is here would I at least be notified before charged. Her reply was “I guess they would do that”.

    I GUESS??

    These banks absolutely kill me.

  13. Felux says:

    Wow $7. I can see $1 or $2 but $7! That just seems greedy. Does it really take $84 dollars a year to maintain my account when most transactions are electronic?

    My account has been around for 20 years and eventually morphed into Wells Fargo. Guess its time to close it….

    • Felux says:

      Oh, and I wanted to point out – my account in in PA so that is one of the states. I received a notification in my messages on this.

      I already have an ING account that is free and will remain free. Ill just start writing checks from that.

    • floydfan says:

      Don’t forget how they recently took away your right to sue them or join a class action suit. That’s when I left.

  14. mikec041 says:

    I’m guessing N.C. is one of the “Fee” states. I keep getting a “service” fee added then deducted from my both my checking and saving accounts. BTW they NEVER notified me of and service charge changes and when i had Wacovia i know they were both free.

  15. ancientone567 says:

    I still can’t figure out why people use Wells Fargo at all. They charge 5- if you cash on of THEIR checks and don’t have an account! Their other fees are just as bad.

  16. Telekinesis123 says:

    Not really odd, they don’t want the affected states to have pre-warning so they can possibly mount a resistance, they want to spring it on them then shove it down their throats.

  17. wkm001 says:

    I’m betting the Venn Diagram for the AT&T top 5% of users and the customers that will have to pay for checking with WF looks like concentric circles.

  18. john2156 says:

    I would be worried, but as soon as I got a whiff of new fees a year ago I closed out my accounts and I’ve just finished paying off my credit card last month. Me and wellsfargo are on the outs.

    When I did go to close my account the guy I worked with made me give him a reason why I was doing so. All it took was a recitation of the benefits at my much smaller more credit union-like bank; including 3.25% interest on money in the account, repayment of $20 in ATM fees per month if I meet certain easy requirements, etc.

  19. kataisa says:

    According to the linked CNNMoney article, the six states affected by this new fee will be Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

  20. dush says:

    Does anyone work for a bank and can answer this?
    Why does an account in a computer database with $1400 digital dollars cost the bank money while an account sitting in a computer database with $1500 digital dollars can be free?

  21. CreditSense-CreditRecovery says:

    You know they’re going to to get their money. Interestingly not quite the outcry like BofA received over their $5 fee for debit cards. Do you think it’s because you can still avoid the fee by meeting certain criteria?
    We tell all of our clients when we are covering our section on dealing with creditors that now is a time when it is more important than ever to read the fine print. There is transparency, but it doesn’t mean they post it on a billboard.

  22. holocron says:

    I’m in Minnesota and WF just send me the notification of the changes to my account. YUP, looks like I’ll be making a switch. USAA here I come.