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Banking

Wells Fargo vs Bank of America

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

When you hear the phrase, “big bank,” Wells Fargo and Bank of America likely come to mind. Founded in 1852, Wells Fargo is a San Francisco-based bank which has almost 8,000 locations. The Bank of America brand, on the other hand, first came about in 1998 and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has about 4,300 locations available to customers.Overall, they both provide the standard financial products and deposit accounts you’d expect from giants like these. For example, both offer savings and checking accounts as well as CDs, retirement accounts, credit cards and home and auto loans. As ubiquitous brands, they (as well as other big banks) stand in a category of their own, meaning they don’t really compete with the offerings you might find at an online bank, or even a credit union. So it’s important to shop around if you want to score the best accounts and rates.

Despite the similarities these two banks share, there are subtle differences in their offerings that will dictate which comes out on top for each individual’s circumstances.

Here’s how they stack up:

Wells Fargo vs Bank of America: How their rates compare

Interest rates are an important factor to consider when choosing a bank. Readers should be aware, however, that some offerings and products from both Wells Fargo and Bank of America will depend on your location. This includes interest rates. To keep things consistent, we’ve pulled information using the corresponding ZIP codes for each bank’s headquarters (Wells Fargo: 94104; Bank of America: 28256).

 Wells FargoBank of AmericaNational average*Online bank average*
Savings0.01% APY0.03% APY0.270% APY1.52% APY
Checking0.00% APY0.00% APY0.189% APY0.41% APY
1 year CD1.25% APY0.05% APY1.268% APY2.09% APY
5 year CDNot Available0.75% APY2.206% APY2.70% APY

Neither Wells Fargo nor Bank of America has accounts that come close to matching (let alone outpacing) the APYs for those from the average U.S. bank, as you can see from our table above.

The checking accounts from both banks, for example, do not pay out interest. And while the savings accounts do have an APY, those are extremely low within the context of the national average. Ultimately, neither bank is competing at the same level as others (especially online banks) when it comes to offering consumer-friendly interest rates.

Check out our roundups of the best savings, best CDs, and best checking accounts for better options.

Wells Fargo vs Bank of America: Which has better account options?

Overall, these two banks are fairly evenly matched. But Wells Fargo edges out Bank of America, particularly for those interested in the brick-and-mortar banking experience. Part of that is due to its size — Wells Fargo has almost double the amount of physical branches, which means it should be easier for the average American to access. (Of course the actual value of that increased availability will vary depending on your location and how often you travel.)

Another negative for Bank of America is its extremely low APYs. While it has an ever-so-slightly higher rate for its basic savings account than Wells Fargo (and it offers a five year CD while Wells Fargo does not), its overall offerings leave much to be desired. That’s especially true when you consider its CD products, which offer only an incrementally better return than its savings account. It’s one year CD, for example, falls short of the APY offered by online banks by more than two full percentage points. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, offers a rate higher than the national average for its one year CD. That difference that could mean a lot of lost interest earnings for those who opted for Bank of America.

Wells Fargo vs Bank of America: How they compare on fees

As noted above, a few of the offerings vary based on location. So we’ve used the banks’ respective headquarters’ ZIP codes for consistency.

 Wells FargoBank of America
Standard savings account$5 monthly service fee$5 per month

Standard checking account
$10 monthly service fee$14 per month maintenance fee per statement cycle
ATM fee$2.50 per transaction at a non-Wells Fargo ATM$2.50 for non-Bank of America ATMs
Overdraft fee$35 per item$35 per overdraft

These two banks are essentially evenly matched when it comes to fees (though Bank of America’s $14 monthly maintenance fee for its standard checking account is a bit higher than Wells Fargo’s.) So, at a surface level, Wells Fargo seems to come out just slightly ahead of Bank of America when it comes to fees.

However, it’s important to note that both banks offer consumers ways to avoid those monthly fees. In fact, both banks will waive the monthly fee for basic savings accounts for those who maintain a minimum balance of $300 (though there are other ways to do it, too). Both will waive the fee for basic checking accounts when customers maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more, among other options.

Check out our round-up of the best free checking accounts.

Who should bank with Wells Fargo?

If you’re someone who wants the convenience of a widely accessible bank, and the humans who work inside those, Wells Fargo is likely a better option since it has a more dominant physical presence in the U.S. than Bank of America. It also carries with it the security of a household name, over 150 years in business, plus $1.9 trillion in assets at its disposal.

That can provide a small confidence boost for the bank-weary consumer. Considering that level of security, it’s not that surprising that Wells Fargo also provides customers with better rates for their CDs — a product which is inherently a guaranteed return on your investment — than you would see from the average national bank.

So for those who aren’t too concerned about making interest off their more basic products, like checking and savings accounts, but crave that kind of financial assurance, it’s a solid option.

Who should bank with Bank of America?

Bank of America is best for those who prefer a no-frills approach to banking. Provided interest earnings aren’t your top priority, these accounts get the job done. And in addition to the many banks and ATMs, there’s also an app (available through Google/Android and for Apple users) customers can use to quickly check out their balances, make transfers, do mobile check deposits and use its virtual financial assistant function to help you manage your finances.

That’s useful for those who find themselves frequently using their phone to conduct business, or do things like budget. Lastly, Bank of America may be a good option for those who want to get a CD, but can’t afford the steep $2,500 minimum that comes with a Wells Fargo CD. Bank of America’s minimum for a standard term CD is just $1,000, making it much more accessible for those with less cash to spare.

Alternatives

When it comes to brick-and-mortar banking, these two giants are classic choices — they’re households names and they’re equipped to provide face-to-face services to customers across the country. But if you’re looking for rewards, you might be better served looking elsewhere. Online banks, for example, often offer lower fees and better rates on basic accounts like checking and savings, meaning you could stand to profit more off of your basic banking needs. Those who are open to an online banking experience can compare the best online banks at MagnifyMoney to find the best option for them and their finances.

*National and Online bank averages and any fees mentioned in this article were compiled and are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Devon Delfino
Devon Delfino |

Devon Delfino is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Devon here

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Banking

Make Saving Fun with the 52-Week Money Challenge

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Everyone should treat saving money as a serious effort to accomplish serious goals. Building an emergency fund, accumulating a down payment for a home or saving up for a big purchase are all key objectives for your financial life, after all.

But sometimes it’s OK to take a more lighthearted approach to savings, like the 52-week money challenge. It’s a great way to gamify the process of stashing cash — although just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s an easy win. If you keep up with this unusual challenge for a whole year, you could end up saving nearly $1,400.

The 52-week money challenge explained

The 52-week money challenge — also referred to as the 52-week savings plan — makes saving a decent sum feel achievable by breaking it down into small steps.

Here’s how it works: You start by putting $1 in your savings account in the first week of the challenge. Then you stash away $2 in week two, $3 in week three, $4 in week four, all the way to $52 in the final week. At the end, you’ll have saved $1,378.

The idea is that by saving a little bit more each week, you’ll see your savings grow quickly and stay motivated to continue putting away money after the challenge is over.

“The 52-week money challenge gives you a place to start and have it all mapped out. If you can focus on it once a week, you can make it happen and know where you’re going to end up at the end of the year,” said Kelly Crane, CFP, president and chief investment officer of Napa Valley Wealth Management.

Why the 52-week money challenge works

Many people credit the 52-week money challenge with jump-starting their savings game. Here’s why:

  • It makes saving a habit: The 52-week savings plan forces you to commit to saving. When you visit your bank and transfer money from your checking account into your savings account each week for 52 weeks, saving becomes a habit.
  • You end up with a decent amount saved in the end: An abstract goal of “saving money” may not motivate everybody. For some people, the big prize at the end of the year helps them follow through with the savings habit.
  • It helps you set bigger financial goals: Your savings account balance is just a number — what you do with the money is what really matters. The balance saved in the challenge lets you think about the financial goals you’d like to accomplish, such as paying down student loans or accumulating a down payment for a mortgage.

Tips for nailing the 52-week money challenge

Ready to take the challenge? Here are a few things you can do to ensure you stick with the plan from week one through week 52.

  • Automate your savings: Most banks allow you to schedule deposits into your savings account. The simplest way to accomplish the challenge is to arrange ahead of time transfers to your savings account for the correct amount for each of the 52 weeks.
  • Don’t go in order: The order of the scheduled deposits helps make the challenge simple, but you don’t have to follow it to a tee. If you feel like you need to make deposits out of order, print out a copy of the plan and cross off different weekly amounts as you accomplish them. For example, if you get a tax return in the spring and can afford to save $52—the biggest weekly deposit—do it then and cross it off.
  • Engage in friendly competition: Find a savings buddy and start the challenge at the same time. Competition will keep you motivated to save, and maybe even open the door to sharing financial tips with each other.
  • Set reminders and smaller goals to stay on track: If you don’t want to automate your savings, set reminders on your phone, calendar or computer so you won’t forget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the higher amounts later in the challenge, break them down into smaller goals. In week 40, you could save $20 on Monday and another $20 on a Friday to hit your weekly goal in more manageable chunks.
  • Keep the challenge going for a second year: Once you hit the end of the 52 weeks, keep the momentum going into a second year. You could even try doubling the amount you save each week in year two. Try cutting out expenses that match the amount you save in a given week. Stash the second year’s funds in a CD to boost your savings.

Who might not like the 52-week money challenge

While this 52-week savings plan has universal appeal, it might not be the right choice for everyone. For some people, there are reasons to think twice:

  • People with a large amount of high-interest debt: Saving money can feel pointless if you’ve got a lot of debt collecting interest, said Crane. You might consider using your funds to pay down high-interest debt before pursuing the 52-week money challenge.
  • People with inconsistent income: Does your paycheck fluctuate week to week? You might feel like your income isn’t consistent enough to keep up with the plan.
  • If you tap into the savings too early: As you start to see your savings grow, it can be tempting to withdraw money to cover expenses or buy something you want. But tapping the savings too early might throw you off track and undermine the driver of the whole challenge: Ending up with a full $1,378 at the end of the year.

The bottom line on the 52-week money challenge

If you want to save money but you’re not sure how to start, the 52-week money challenge can give you the structure you need to finally get your finances in order — but it’s just a tool. Don’t be afraid to modify the plan to suit your needs, or ditch it altogether in favor of a more aggressive savings strategy.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Joni Sweet
Joni Sweet |

Joni Sweet is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Joni here

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Banking

How to Ensure Your Mobile Check Deposit is Successful

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Banking on the go is one of the great conveniences of owning a smartphone. All major banks offer some form of mobile banking, and uptake among consumers is extremely strong. A 2018 Citibank ranked-choice survey found that 31% of respondents said mobile banking was their most-used app, behind only apps for social media and weather.

Not using mobile banking? Time to join the revolution. Read on for some basic tips that should help make you a mobile banking power user.

Get started with mobile banking

Mobile banking is broadly similar to logging on to your account online with a home PC or laptop. Nearly all banking apps let you check your balance, deposit checks, transfer money and set up custom account alerts. To get started, visit the app store offered by your mobile device and search for your bank or credit union. Carefully evaluate that you are selecting the correct app for your institution, then download and install the app.

Once you’ve installed the app, you will probably be required to set up a mobile account. This may be different than your existing online login, or the credentials may be the same for the standard online experience. Either way, the app should prompt you with easy-to-understand instructions.

One other point: Keep the app updated to ensure that the latest security measures are in place and bugs are fixed from previous versions. Newer versions of an app may have newer features. Many apps update automatically, but you should still check the settings on your phone to ensure you’re getting the updates you need.

Tips for a successful mobile check deposit

One of the premier features for mobile banking users is the mobile check deposit feature: Just take a photo with your device of the checks you wish to deposit, and submit them to the app. To ensure that the mobile check deposit process goes smoothly, follow these tips:

Take a clear photo

You want to make sure the photo is clear so that the information is prominently displayed. Consider putting the check on a table or a flat surface instead of holding the check. In addition, don’t have other objects in the frame such as other paperwork and use good lighting. Your mobile app may have a rectangular guide to show you how to take your photo, which makes sure you get it right.

Remove any check stubs

You want to make sure that your deposit only shows your check. If your check has a pay slip or another form of attachment like a check stub or voucher, detach it before taking a photo.

Enter the correct information

Even if your photo is clear, your deposit could get rejected if you’ve entered incorrect information. For example, your check may show an amount of $660, but if you accidentally enter $760 the deposit will be rejected. Double check all information before submitting your deposit.

Avoid redeposits

Mistakes happen. Maybe you forgot you’d already deposited a check, or someone in your family did so and never told you. If you redeposit a check, most places will either send you a notification of a duplicate deposit. Others may reject both deposits or charge you a fee. You may want to consider organizing your checks, perhaps by writing on the check itself that you deposited it, or putting it away in a separate folder.

Check to see if your mobile check deposit was successful

Your app should let you know if a mobile check deposit has gone through, and some banks also send a text or email confirmation message — but even if you receive this message, checks can still get rejected. Double-checking to see if the mobile check deposit went through is the safest bet, by looking at your account balance in your checking account. Depending on your bank, a mobile check deposit can take several business days to show up in your account.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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