Wells Fargo Business Checking and Savings Review: Avoid It for Now
Wells Fargo’s corrupt and fraudulent business practices force us to caution against this popular bank.
Wells Fargo is a popular bank with locations across the nation. And since it has a variety of business bank accounts (not to mention loans, merchant services, and other products), it’s easy to see why many entrepreneurs turn to Wells Fargo for business banking. But should they?
In this review, we’ll unpack the good (some of its bank accounts), the bad (its customer reviews), and the ugly (the government action) to help you decide if Wells Fargo is the right business bank for you.
Wells Fargo is best avoided
There are some obvious reasons you’d want to bank with Wells Fargo:
- You’ve heard of it, unlike some of those online banks.
- It’s pretty widespread, with locations in 36 states.
- You might already do personal banking with Wells Fargo.
- You’ve seen that Wells Fargo has a bunch of stuff for small businesses.
And honestly, we get it. Wells Fargo has some big brand-name recognition as one of the largest banks in the United States.
But much like with Chase Bank, we have a hard time actually recommending Wells Fargo to anyone.
You’ve probably already heard of the 2016 fake account scandal—you know, when we found out that Wells Fargo opened over two million unauthorized bank accounts in customers’ names?1 Yeah, that wasn’t great. But that was just the tip of the corrupt iceberg. Here are some other highlights from Wells Fargo’s last 10 years:
- Fined for price gouging via overdraft fees2
- Paid fines for violating credit card laws3
- Settled a racketeering lawsuit regarding overcharging on home appraisals4
- Agreed to pay customers $575 million to settle a suit about improper sales practices5
- Settled a lawsuit about fraudulently forcing customers to get auto insurance6
But let’s not forget the grand finale:
- Mandated by the U.S. Federal Reserve to no longer grow or expand “until it sufficiently improves its governance and controls”7
In other words, the Fed told Wells Fargo that it’s grounded until it cleans up its act. (That regulation is still in place, a year later.)
That’s a pretty big deal. In fact, Wells Fargo is the only bank the Fed has ever smacked down quite like that (and given Chase’s colorful history, that’s saying something). And when the Fed says that a bank needs to make some big changes, we think it’s wise to pay attention.
So we ask you: Is that the kind of institution you want to hand over your business’s hard-earned cash to? Because we can’t, in good conscience, recommend that you do so.
Maybe you don’t care. After all, the likelihood that the employees at your local branch are scheming about how to best scam you is, admittedly, small.
Of course, it’s ultimately your choice. We’ve told you why we don’t recommend Wells Fargo. But we’re also going to tell you all about the different bank accounts and other products that Wells Fargo can offer your business.
If you do decide to do your business banking with Wells Fargo—though we strongly suggest you go with one of the best online banks, one of the other big banks, or your local credit union instead—you’ll know full well what you’re getting into.
So let’s dive in.
Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts
Wells Fargo has the types of business bank accounts you’d expect to find: checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit (CDs) for your business.
Wells Fargo has several business checking accounts you can choose from. It has options for both flat-rate checking and analyzed checking accounts.
Analyzed checking accounts charge fees per transaction (with no freebies), but you can get earnings credits based on your account balances. Your earnings credit can offset the fees on your account—potentially making the account free if you maintain big balances.
|Feature||Simple Business Checking||Business Choice Checking||Platinum Business Checking||Analyzed Business Checking|
|Min. opening deposit||$25||$25||$25||$25|
|Monthly service fee||$10||$14||$40||$22|
|Monthly fee waivable?||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Out-of-network ATM fees||$2.50 per transaction||$2.50 per transaction||2 free withdrawals per period; then $2.50 per transaction||Unlisted|
|Additional transactions||$0.50 each||$0.50 each||$0.50 each||Varies|
|Free cash deposits||Up to $3,000||Up to $7,500||Up to $20,000||N/A|
|Cash deposit fee||$0.30 per $100||$0.30 per $100||$0.30 per $100||$0.0025 per $1|
|Open an account||Apply Now||Apply Now||Apply Now||Apply Now|
If you don’t plan on having loads of transactions and you keep a low account balance, Simple Business Checking is probably your best bet. It has the lowest monthly fee, which you can waive by keeping an average balance of $500 in your account. But this business checking account has the fewest freebies, so it’s not right for heavy users.
Business Choice Checking gives you more free transactions and cash deposits with only a slightly higher monthly fee, making it a solid everyday checking account. You have plenty of ways to waive that fee: keep a $7,500 average account balance, have a $10,000 combined balance across your business accounts, use Wells Fargo merchant services, make 10 or more business debit card transactions, or use Direct Pay through Wells Fargo Business Online.
If you tend to make a lot of debit card payments, don’t worry—each Wells Fargo business checking account comes with a debit card.
For the most free transactions and deposits, check out Platinum Business Checking. Its monthly fee is more than double Business Choice’s, but so are the number of free transactions and cash deposits it gives you. You can waive the fee with a $25,000 average balance or by keeping a minimum balance of $40,000 across your business accounts.
Then you’ve got Wells Fargo’s Analyzed Business Checking. Wells Fargo has several tiers of these analyzed checking accounts. They don’t give you any free transactions or cash deposits. So why get them? Easy—a higher ledger balance gives you credits that offset the per-item fees. That makes them ideal for power bank users.
Wells Fargo also has Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTAs) and Real Estate Trust Accounts (RETAs). You’ll have to talk to a banker for more information.
When it comes to savings, Wells Fargo gives you a few options. Let’s start with its standard savings accounts.
|Feature||Business Market Rate Savings||Business Platinum Savings|
|Min. opening deposit||$25||$25|
|Monthly maintenance fee||$6||$15|
|Monthly fee waivable?||✔||✔|
|Free cash deposits per cycle||Up to $5,000||Up to $5,000|
|Cash deposit fee||$0.30 per $100||$0.30 per $100|
|Penalty-free withdrawal||6 per cycle||6 per cycle|
|Open an account||Apply Now||Apply Now|
The Business Market Rate Savings account is your most basic option for business savings. It has a low monthly fee, which you can waive with an average account balance of $25 or by scheduling automatic monthly transfers of at least $25 into your savings account.
The Business Platinum Savings account has a higher service fee, but it gives you the potential to earn more with its higher APY (annual percentage yield). And of course, you can waive the monthly fee—in this case, by linking your account to a Platinum Checking account or by maintaining a $10,000 minimum balance.
Neither of these accounts gives you a great APY. If you’re looking for higher returns on your savings, then you’ll want to look at Wells Fargo’s certificates of deposit (CDs) instead. (Or get your savings account at Small Business Bank, which has APYs ranging from 0.75% to 1.76%.)
|Feature||Standard CD||Special CD||Step Rate CD|
|Min. opening deposit||$2,500||$5,000||$2,500|
|Monthly service fee||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Term length||1–144 mos.||9–29 mos.||24 mos.|
|Penalty-free withdrawal||✘||✘||1 every 6 mos.|
|Open an account||Apply Now||Apply Now||Apply Now|
Wells Fargo has three different CDs you can choose from, with varying APY and term lengths.
Standard CD has the lowest APY, but it also offers the shortest and longest terms. So if, say, you just want to stash some money for a handful of months, this will be your best bet.
You can get a higher APY with a Special CD, but you’ll have to lock your money away for longer. Plus, this CD has the highest minimum opening deposit.
Or you can go with the Step Rate CD, which has a competitive APY. This business account gives you one big advantage: the ability to withdraw funds before the full term is up. Every six months, you’ll have an opportunity to withdraw your money. Just note that the longer you leave your money alone, the higher your APY will get.
Other small-business products and services from Wells Fargo
While it might be best known for its bank accounts, Wells Fargo has far more than just those. Here are some of its other offerings for small businesses.
Wells Fargo is the biggest small-business lender in the United States.9 No surprise, then, that it has a wide range of financing options, from unsecured term loans to lines of credit to real estate loans.
|Loan type||Loan min./max.||Lowest listed rate||Term||Get a loan|
|Wells Fargo BusinessLoan||$10,000/$100,000||7%||1–5 yrs.||Apply Now|
|Fast Flex small business loan||$10,000/$35,000||14.99%||1 yr.||Apply Now|
|Equipment Express loan||$10,000/$100,000||5.75%||2–6 yrs.||Apply Now|
|Unsecured BusinessLine line of credit||$10,000/$100,000||Prime + 1.75%||Revolving||Apply Now|
|Secured BusinessLine line of credit||$5,000/$100,000||Prime + 1%||Revolving||Apply Now|
|Small Business Advantage line of credit||$5,000/$50,000||Prime + 1.75%||5 yr. revolving||Apply Now|
|Wells Fargo Advancing Term Loan||$100,000/$500,000||“Competitive”||1 yr. draw, then 5 yr. term||Apply Now|
|Prime Line of Credit||$100,000/$500,000||“Competitive”||1 yr. draw w/ annual renewal||Apply Now|
|Commercial Real Estate Purchase Loan||$50,000/$1 million||Unlisted||Unlisted||Apply Now|
|Commercial Real Estate Refinance Loan||$50,000/$1 million||Unlisted||Unlisted||Apply Now|
|Commercial Real Estate Equity Loan||$50,000/$500,000||Unlisted||Unlisted||Apply Now|
|Commercial Equity Line of Credit||$50,000/$500,000||Unlisted||Unlisted||Apply Now|
|Health care practice financing||$25,000/$1 million||Unlisted||Up to 10 yrs.||Apply Now|
Like most traditional lenders, Wells Fargo’s rates are quite low and competitive—if you can qualify for them. Wells Fargo expects your business to be at least three years old, have a healthy credit history, and make at least $1.50 in revenue for each $1 you’re trying to borrow.
You can learn more about Wells Fargo’s financing options in our Wells Fargo business loans review.
(Or if those requirements sound too strict for you, check out our ranking of the best alternative business loans to see some easier-to-qualify-for options.)
Small-business credit cards
Interested in a business credit card? Wells Fargo gives you three options: two Visas and one Mastercard. All three offer cash back rewards, but the fees and APR vary from card to card.
The right card for your business will depend on how established and healthy your business is. The Business Secured Credit Card works best for young businesses getting off the ground, while the Business Elite Signature Card is for businesses that make over $1 million a year. The Business Platinum Credit Card provides an option for businesses in between.
Finally, Wells Fargo has a few more services that might interest you:
- Merchant services/credit card processing
- Retirement investment accounts (including IRA and 401(k) plans)
- International services (including foreign payment and currency exchange)
What customers say about Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s customer reviews aren’t great. In fact, in most cases, they’re downright bad. Wells Fargo has a 1.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot and 1 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).10, 11 On the other hand, Wells Fargo did manage to earn a 3 out of 5 on Bank Branch Locator.12
The negative reviews range from annoyances (a bad app) to accusations of fraud (which, given all those lawsuits, are probably true). Many people complain that employees misled or outright lied to them, while others complain about horrendous customer support.
Most of the positive reviews are about specific interactions with employees, with customers writing to praise a local bank manager or a helpful customer service rep.
For what’s it’s worth, we asked small-business owners about their banks, and at least one person reported a (mostly) positive experience with Wells Fargo.
“For my business, I use Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking. Since my business is entirely online, I wanted a bank account that can transfer money electronically with minimal or no fees. They offer a unique feature for business owners, the ability to provide separate account access for your CPA so that they can keep the books up to date. It saves me from having to download and send data to them separately. I don’t use them for my merchant account, as their fees are slightly higher. Also, they don’t integrate with my website payment software. So for that, I use Stripe.”
So it’s entirely possible that you’ll have a nice experience at your local Wells Fargo branch. But it’s also possible that Wells Fargo will give you the runaround and charge you fraudulent fees.
Proceed with caution.
We’ll be blunt: we recommend that you take your business elsewhere—at least until Wells Fargo figures out what it will do differently. We’d rather see you get a business account (whether that’s checking, savings, or a CD) at a bank that doesn’t have quite as many scandals.
But, as always, we know that no one knows your business and your needs better than you do. We hope the information we provided can help you decide if Wells Fargo does, in fact, meet those needs.
Just be careful out there, okay?
We may not recommend Wells Fargo, but we do have some great alternatives. Check out our ranking of the 10 best banks for small business to find the right one for you.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
- USA Today, “Wells Fargo Fined $185M for Fake Accounts; 5,300 Were Fired”
- Los Angeles Times, “Wells Fargo Loses Consumer Case over Overdraft Fees”
- Reuters, “Wells Fargo to Pay $4 Million for Violations on Credit Card Accounts: New York”
- Reuters, “Wells Fargo Agrees to $50 Million Settlement over Homeowner Fees”
- Charlotte Business Journal, “Wells Fargo Agrees to $575M Payout for Improper Sales Practices”
- Charlotte Business Journal, “Wells Fargo Agrees to $385M Settlement for Auto Insurance Scheme”
- New York Times, “Wells Fargo Agrees to Settle Auto Insurance Suit for $386 Million”
- Reuters, “Fed Orders Wells Fargo to Halt Growth over Compliance Issues”
- Wells Fargo Works, “About Us”
- Trustpilot, “Wellsfargo”
- Better Business Bureau, “Wells Fargo”
- Bank Branch Locator, “Wells Fargo Bank”