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Chase Bank vs Wells Fargo: Which is Better for You?

It can be hard to start a search for a new bank. Nowadays, there are so many banks to choose from, with online banks adding their names to the ranks of big banks. But if online banking isn’t for you, let’s take a look at two of the biggest names in the financial industry: Chase vs. Wells Fargo.

Who Should Bank With Chase?

You should consider banking with Chase if you want the convenience of over 5,100 branches and 16,000 ATMs in 26 U.S. states. Chase also offers an easily navigable website and mobile app to make accessing your money at any time simple.

You’ll have a variety of accounts to choose from if you bank with Chase. The bank has two savings account options, four checking accounts (including two student accounts) and CD terms ranging from one month to 120 months. Do keep in mind that each Chase account requires a minimum deposit to open. Every account, except the CDs, also charges a monthly fee. These fees range from $5 to $35. There are a number of ways you can have each fee waived. This often includes maintaining a certain account balance or completing certain transactions.

Like most other big banks, Chase falls short when it comes to offering high-earning savings accounts. Its basic savings account earns at a mere 0.01% APY. You can earn higher rates with a Chase Premier Savings account, by linking a checking account and/or increasing your balance. The highest rate goes to those with balances over $250,000.

Who Should Bank With Wells Fargo?

If you’re looking for more branches in more U.S. states, Wells Fargo could be the bank for you. The bank has over 6,000 physical branches and 13,000 ATMs in 40 states. You’ll also have access to thorough online and mobile offerings to access your money easily.

Wells Fargo allows you to take your pick of the bank accounts that work best for you. It offers two savings accounts, three CD accounts – each available in various term lengths – five checking account options and three IRAs. You can also open a Teen Checking account with Wells Fargo, to keep your family’s bank accounts at the same institution.

Each Wells Fargo account has a required minimum deposit to open the account, typically around $25. Each account, except the CDs, also charges a monthly maintenance fee, ranging from $2 to $30. You can have these fees waived in a number of ways, like maintaining a minimum balance or setting up direct deposit.

Despite its perks, Wells Fargo won’t be the bank for you if you’re looking for the best interest rates a bank can offer. Its highest rates come with some special CDs. You can often boost your rates by linking accounts or having high account balances. On the whole, though, the bank offers some low to mediocre interest rates.

Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Bank Accounts

Chase Bank vs Wells Fargo: Which is Better for You?

Both banks offer simple savings accounts and checking accounts to allow you to save and manage your money at the same institution. All your deposits to these banks are also FDIC-insured. However, Wells Fargo outperforms Chase with a wider variety of bank accounts available to its customers. Not only does Wells Fargo offer bank account IRAs (which Chase lacks), but Wells Fargo offers more choices of both CDs and checking accounts.

Wells Fargo offers its IRAs as CDs, a simple Way2Save® Retirement Savings Account and a Retirement High Yield Savings Account. These options allow you to open the account (or accounts) that work best for you and your retirement goals.

Wells Fargo’s Special CDs earn at much higher rates than the bank’s Standard CDs. The bank’s Step Rate CD earns at higher rates as well, plus has a rate boost every six months. Additionally, you can earn Bonus Rates with each CD account by linking a Portfolio by Wells Fargo® checking account. In comparison Chase’s CD offerings are only able to earn at better rates with larger balances or when you link your CD to a Chase checking account.

When it comes to checking accounts, both banks offer options for kids. Chase offers its High School Checking and College Checking accounts and Wells Fargo has its Teen Checking account. Wells Fargo does offer one more checking account type as well, the Opportunity Checking® account to help those with bad banking history or low funds.

Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Fees

While both banks charge monthly maintenance fees for their accounts, Wells Fargo fees tend to be lower. The bank also offers better opportunities to have the fees waived. For example, its Platinum Savings account charges a $12 monthly fee which you can have waived by maintaining at least $3,500 in the account. On the other hand, the Chase Premier Savings account charges a $25 monthly fee, waivable with either a minimum daily balance of at least $15,000 or a linked Chase Premier Plus Checking or Chase Premier Platinum Checking account. Wells Fargo makes it easier to waive the fee, but even if you can’t meet the requirement, the fee won’t take out as big of a chunk of your savings as Chase’s fee will.

Neither Chase nor Wells Fargo charges a fee to own a CD account. However, always be aware of the penalties you could face for early withdrawal. This is often a certain number of days of simple interest, lessening your withdrawal significantly.

Chase vs. Wells Fargo Fees
Chase Wells Fargo
Basic Checking Account $12 per month, (three ways to have fee waivesd) $10 per month, (four ways to have fee waived)
Basic Savings Account $5 per month, (four ways to have fee waived) $5 per month, (three ways to have fee waived)
Non-bank ATM in the U.S. $2.50 per transaction $2.50 per transaction
Overdraft $34 $35

Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Interest Rates

Chase and Wells Fargo offer relatively low interest rates when compared to many of their competitors. This is largely due to the costs of being a big bank with thousands of branches and employees. Essentially, the highest rates are reserved for each bank’s CDs. Both banks’ simple savings accounts earn at a 0.01% APY, the lowest you can go. A step up from there is Chase Premier Savings and Wells Fargo Platinum Savings. The Chase Premier Savings account earns at a 0.01% APY, unless you link the account with a Chase Premier Plus Checking or Chase Premier Platinum Checking account to unlock balance tiers with higher rates.

Each bank has two interest-earning checking accounts. Both Chase accounts, Chase Premier Plus Checking and Chase Premier Platinum Checking earn at a 0.01% APY. The same is true for the Wells Fargo Preferred Checking Account, on account balances of $500 and over. However, the Portfolio by Wells Fargo® Checking Account allows customers to earn up to 0.05%, depending on your balance.

The Takeaway

Chase Bank vs Wells Fargo: Which is Better for You?

When it comes to deciding between Chase vs. Wells Fargo for your banking needs, your decision will ultimately come down to your specific preferences. If you’re looking for better rates and lower fees, Wells Fargo will likely be your best bet. Wells Fargo also has a wider variety of bank accounts to choose from. However, whether you choose Chase or Wells Fargo, you can rest easy knowing you’ll always have quick and easy access to your accounts. Both banks have thousands of ATMs and branches throughout the U.S., plus their excellent mobile and online features.

Next Steps

  • If you’re unsure which bank to go with, it helps to evaluate your financial situation. Do you need a free checking account? Or do you need to save more with a high-interest savings account? Answering these kinds of questions can help narrow down your search.
  • Sometimes a bank isn’t the right option for you. In that case, you can check out your local credit unions. These offer more of a community feel to your banking experience. You can also likely secure much higher rates than you’ll receive with Chase or Wells Fargo.
  • Remember you’ll need more than just a quality bank to grow your money and get ready for retirement. A financial advisor is also a crucial piece of the equation. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and your goals. Then the program will narrow down your options to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Rawpixel, ©iStock.com/TARIK KIZILKAYA, ©iStock.com/RiverNorthPhotography

Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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