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U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo

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U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp, better known as U.S. Bank, are the third- and fifth-largest banks in America, respectively, so if you’re looking for prestige and confidence in opening a reliable checking account, they’re two options you may consider. But, of course, if you’re looking to understand the nuanced differences between the two big banks, we’ve got you covered. Here is a guide to the U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo comparison.

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What to Know About U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank has options that put the account holder in the driver’s seat. You can find U.S. Bank establishments scattered throughout 27 states. Whether you choose to utilize its silver, gold, platinum or premium checking accounts, you can access the entirety of your wealth through the institution’s banking app, its website or a standard ATM.

Furthermore, U.S. Bank ranks impressively on the national scale when it comes to its specialty options for students and seniors, demographics which some major banks do not cater to in any special way. However, for the rest of the general public, the ease and accessibility of an account with U.S. Bank might not outweigh the bank’s main drawback: its near-unavoidable monthly account fees.

U.S. Bank’s primary selling point might be its inclusionary tactics: if you’d most prefer to keep all your finances contained to one bank, U.S. Bank may be the place for you. In fact, the bank has checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, retirement accounts, wealth management accounts and more.

What to Know About Wells Fargo

Almost anywhere you go in the U.S., odds are you can stop by Wells Fargo when you get there. The third-largest bank in America as of December 2023 per the Federal Reserve, boasts thousands of physical branches and 11,000 ATMs scattered across 37 states. It’s buttressed by a highly rated app for Apple and Android devices. It also excels with easy-to-use online information with an easily navigable website.

Wells Fargo is also at the top of its game in terms of consumer options. It has an impressive array of account options: you can take your pick from two savings accounts, CDs with maturities that range from three to a year or more, and a handful of different IRAs. For those looking to localize their assets to one domain, Wells Fargo has you covered there, too. Finding the right account for your particular financial situation is key to reaping the benefits of a Wells Fargo bank account – including incurring savings. Among its many distinctive draws, Wells Fargo offers a Teen Checking account aimed at educating kids and adolescents on money management.

Unfortunately, for all of its benefits, Wells Fargo accounts don’t have particularly good interest rates. This is a major detriment big bank customers face. Since these big banks have to keep up with the costs of maintaining thousands of physical locations, they often can’t afford to offer the highest rates out there. For starters, Wells Fargo’s basic Way2Save® Savings account earns at a 0.01% APY. Admittedly, this number is slightly better than other big banks, but you can find much better rates with high-yield accounts especially at online banks.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Bank Accounts

US Bank vs. Wells Fargo

In the U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo matchup, U.S. Bank may win out when it comes to breadth of accounts. That’s because of its attentiveness to certain demographics. U.S. Bank offers strong options for students and seniors looking to make one singular bank their financial home base. To that end, U.S. Bank offers several different checking account options, tailored to suit the largest possible number of customers while still delivering prime service.

As mentioned earlier, U.S. Bank pays special attention to senior citizens and young adults. Members of these two groups, as well as members of the military, are exempt from U.S. Bank’s monthly maintenance fees. If you don’t fall into either camp but are still looking to waive the fee, you may have your fee waived if your average checking account balance is $1,500 or more, you have a U.S. Bank consumer credit card or your combined monthly direct deposits add up to at least $1,000.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Fees

By comparison, Wells Fargo may seem more reasonable with its fees, as it does not operate on a rigid charging schedule. Rather, with the bulk of its accounts, Wells Fargo customers will incur a monthly fee with the exact amount dependent on the value of their own account.

These monthly fees can be anywhere from as cheap as $5 to as steep as $35. However, unlike U.S. Bank, it is fairly easy to get out from under these fees, by such measures as setting up direct deposits through the Wells Fargo app or meeting an arbitrarily set account balance minimum. You can learn more about this by meeting with a representative at a bank branch. As with U.S. Bank, at Wells Fargo you can incur Wells Fargo fees through preventable measures. These include overdrafts, insufficient funds or out-of-network/international ATM transactions.

U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo: Rates

When making the U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo decision, it’s important to look at interest rates.

Wells Fargo’s simple savings account earns 0.15%. Wells Fargo offers three kinds of account types, each with decent rates at each tier. Wells Fargo also allows customers to earn bonus rates by creating and tending to a Wells Fargo Prime Checking account.

U.S. Bank offers a slightly better deal, particularly in terms of its CD rates and money market accounts. However, these rates can’t quite measure up to the high rates of banks whose operations are primarily online and on mobile apps. Unless working with a bank that has a substantial brick-and-mortar presence is at the top of your list, you might want to look elsewhere to secure higher rates.

Bottom Line

us bank vs wells fargo

In terms of sheer size, Wells Fargo is bigger than U.S. Bank, but all things considered, the fees and the rates you will find at both banks – assuming an average profile – come out to roughly the same. Additionally, you won’t earn much interest at either bank.

In the U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo comparison, U.S. Bank alone offers checking accounts at no cost for college students. It also curates options for people who may have a patchy bank history that may keep them from approval at other bank chains. But when it comes down to it, fees – and the ability to waive them – ultimately separate the two. If you bank with Wells Fargo and manage to make either $500 or $1,000 monthly direct deposits, fees are waived without discussion. U.S. Bank does not offer this. Ultimately, Wells Fargo scrapes by in first place for most consumers. But if you’re a teen or a senior citizen you might find U.S. Bank’s options better suited to you.

Long-Term Banking Tips

  • Before you decide to work with a bank for any financial need, make sure you have a thorough understanding of your current situation. Is it important for you to have a free checking account? Or are you in a solid spot to start contributing to a high-interest savings account? Take a close look at your balances, and go from there.
  • Don’t disregard credit unions. Companies like Western Union or Navy Federal are way more likely to provide high rates than are big chains like TD or Wells Fargo, who must pay the cost of operating brick-and-mortar establishments nationwide.
  • If you’re looking to save big for retirement, just picking the right bank alone won’t get you there. A financial advisor can help you build a long-term financial plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/andresr, ©iStock.com/Vladimir Vladimirov, ©iStock.com/millann

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