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Wells Fargo vs. Capital One


There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing a bank, including interest rates, fees, customer service and accessibility (both online and in-person). It can be a lot to wrap your head around, so it can help to narrow your decision to two or three banks and then compare the features most important to you. Here’s how two of the most popular retail banks, Wells Fargo and Capital One, stack up where it counts. A financial advisor can help you sift through all your banking options and how each one would fit into your overall financial plan.

Who Should Bank With Wells Fargo

You may be better suited for Wells Fargo over Capital One if you value accessibility. Wells Fargo has branches and ATMs in 37 states and maintains a presence in several overseas sites. It also has with a sophisticated website and mobile app. While Capital One likewise has great online and mobile offerings, it has a much smaller physical presence, with far fewer branches in the U.S. As such, it’s easier to access your money and get in-person customer service with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo has more than 4,900 retail branches and more than 12,000 ATMs nationwide. Capital One doesn’t make its number of branches publicly available, but it has branches primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. If you don’t live in one of those states and you’re looking to do your banking in person, Wells Fargo is more than likely your preferred choice.

Wells Fargo, which has more than 12,000 financial advisors, has three types of investing programs. One is for customers who want to invest online independently; another is for customers who want to invest online but with access to phone-based advisors; and the third type of arrangement is for customers who want a dedicated financial advisor who assists with customized planning and investing. The bank’s financial advisors can perform investment advisory services for a wrap fee that can range from 2% to 2.5% of assets under management, or they can also perform financial planning services for a flat fee that will depend on the complexity and nature of the services offered. Some of these advisors operate out of Wells Fargo Advisors offices, and many are located in retail banking locations. This could be enticing for banking customers who are looking to perform all their financial dealings under one roof.

Who Should Bank With Capital One

The strongest selling point for Capital One is its interest rates, which are significantly higher than those of Wells Fargo. If securing a high rate is your biggest priority, then you’ll likely prefer Capital One. The Capital One 360 Online Savings account has a 4.25% rate (as of 4/11/24). Compared to the 0.01% rate that Wells Fargo offers with its basic savings account, that’s quite attractive. (Bear in mind, though, that if you’re chasing the highest possible interest rate, you’ll find even higher rates on savings accounts from online banks like Ally, Bask Bank and Synchrony.)

Capital One also has much more competitive interest rates for checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts – the latter offering a 5.00% APY (as of 5/9/24) for a one-year CD and 3.90% (as of 4/11/24) for a five-year CD. There is no minimum balance required. It can offer these higher rates because it keeps its cost down by maintaining fewer physical branches and ancillary offerings. If you’re looking to grow your savings as much as possible, these higher rates can make a big difference, especially over the course of years or decades.

Capital One may have fewer branches than Wells Fargo, but it provides exceptional access to ATMs. As a Capital One customer, you’ll have access to more than 38,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATMs throughout the country.

wells fargo vs capital one

Wells Fargo vs Capital One: Accounts & Fees

Wells Fargo offers two different savings accounts, the Way2Save Savings account and the Platinum Savings account. Both accounts will require a $25 minimum deposit to open. The Platinum account will net you a higher interest rate. However, it will also require a $3,500 balance to waive the monthly fee.

The bank also offers two different types of certificates of deposit (CDs), standard and special. The minimum for the former is $2,500 and the latter is $5,000.

Finally, Wells Fargo has five different checking accounts to choose from:

  • Clear Access Banking, $25 to open and $5 monthly service fee, waived if the primary account holder is 13 to 24 years old
  • Everyday Checking, $25 to open and $10 monthly service fee, waived if one of the following conditions obtain: the minimum daily balance is $500; there is $500 or more in total qualifying direct deposits; the primary account holder is 17 to 24 years of age; the account is linked to certain Wells Fargo cards
  • Prime Checking, $25 to open and $25 monthly service fee, waived if there is $20,000 or more in statement-ending qualifying linked balances
  • Premier Checking, $25 to open and $35 monthly service fee, waived if there is $250,000 or more in statement-ending qualifying linked balances

In addition to these deposit accounts, Wells Fargo also offers credit cards, loans, mortgages and investing services. The bank offers both traditional and Roth IRAs.

Capital One doesn’t charge monthly service fees on its deposit accounts. It does, however, charge a $5 fee to generate a paper statement for your account. You’ll also have to pay a fee if you withdraw early from your CD, but that’s true of almost all CD accounts. It has fewer deposit accounts, but the accounts they have match up quite well with Wells Fargo. There’s one savings account, the 360 Savings account, which provides a 4.25% APY (as of 4/11/24) with no minimum deposit requirement or monthly fee. There’s also the 360 Money Market account, which earns a 0.80% APY.

Capital One offers CDs with terms from six months to five years, with no minimum deposit and with competitive rates. Plus, you can easily add beneficiaries to your CD accounts online. The bank also has a primary checking account, 360 Checking, and an account designed for teenagers. The 360 Checking account has no account minimums and earns interest according to three different balance tiers. Along with these accounts, you can also open a traditional or Roth IRA, apply for a credit card or apply for an auto loan with Capital One.

Wells Fargo vs Capital One: Rates

Across all deposit accounts, Capital One offers higher interest rates than Wells Fargo. Interest rates for savings accounts at Wells Fargo can rise as high as 2.51%, but only in rare circumstances. Most customers will have rates under 0.15%. The Capital One 360 Online Savings account offers a 4.25% rate (as of 4/11/24) regardless of account balance. The Capital One 360 Money Market account offers a 0.80% rate for balances below $10,000 and above $10,000.

Wells Fargo CD Rates start at 2.00% and can rise to as high as 2.51% for fixed rate CDs. You can also get a special term with up to a 5.01% rate if you deposit $5,000 or more. Capital One CD Rates range from 3.90% to 5.00% (as of 5/9/24).

In terms of checking accounts, Capital One comes out ahead yet again. The Capital One 360 Checking account offers a 0.10%. Both the Prime Checking account and the Premier Checking account by Wells Fargo can earn interest, but the highest interest rate you can earn is 0.50% if your balance is $100,000 or more.

wells fargo vs capital one

Bottom Line

Which bank you prefer will depend a lot on which features are most important to you. If high interest rates are your number-one priority then you should most likely opt for Capital One. If you’re looking for a traditional banking experience with plentiful branches and extra features, then Wells Fargo is probably the bank for you.

Tips for Banking Responsibly

  • If you’re looking to grow your savings, either through a high-interest savings account or a CD, a hands-off approach is best. Contribute to your account if you can, but otherwise just let compound interest work its magic. By only making withdrawals when absolutely necessary, you can give the interest you earn the opportunity to earn even more interest.
  • When you open any savings or checking account, it’s paramount to ensure you’re not paying fees for features you’re not using. Unnecessary fees are killer to your savings, and they can cut into any interest you earn. A great way to avoid this is to look for a free checking account when you’re shopping for a bank.
  • If saving money were easy, everybody would doing it in earnest. Luckily, a financial advisor can help to ease the process. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three 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.

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