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As two of the largest banks in the US, both Chase and Wells Fargo are popular options. Each offers a variety of checking and savings accounts, plus convenient branches and ATM locations.
Chase and Wells Fargo provide nearly the same number of branch locations. But Chase operates in 49 states and the District of Columbia, while Wells Fargo has branches in 36 states. Chase also has a larger ATM network, consisting of 16,000 machines compared to Wells Fargo’s 12,000. Both banks offer robust mobile banking options with strong customer reviews.
But where you bank is a personal choice, and your specific banking needs will best inform which is right for you. Annual yields (APYs) and account details are accurate as of Aug. 18, 2022.
Which Bank Is Better: Chase or Wells Fargo?
With 4,000 more ATM locations than Wells Fargo, reduced fees and a wider variety of welcome bonuses, Chase is a better option for most customers. Chase is also the clear winner for military personnel, offering waved fees on checking accounts and ATM withdrawals for active-duty service members and veterans. Chase further offers better options for kids and those who don’t qualify for free checking accounts.
For entrepreneurs, gig workers and other individuals without regular direct checking deposit income, Wells Fargo offers a solid option for free.
Chase Vs. Wells Fargo: Checking Accounts
Both Chase and Wells Fargo offer multiple checking accounts to meet your needs. Here’s a comparison of similar accounts between the two banks.
Chase Total Checking® and Wells Fargo Everyday Checking are similar, though the Chase account costs more. Chase Total Checking comes with a $12 monthly maintenance fee, while Wells Fargo Everyday Checking customers are charged $10 a month. Both banks waive the fees when the accounts take in direct deposits totaling $500 or more each month.
You also can avoid the monthly charges by maintaining a daily balance. It’s easier with Wells Fargo Everyday Checking, which requires that you keep at least $500 in your account—compared to $1,500 at Chase.
Both Chase and Wells Fargo offer basic checking accounts with fixed monthly fees: $4.95 for Chase Secure Banking℠ and $5 for Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking℠.
Between the two, the Chase account is a clear standout. It offers free money orders and cashier’s checks, while Wells Fargo’s basic account charges $5 for money orders and $10 for cashier’s checks.
Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts
Chase also has the edge if you’re looking for a checking account that earns interest.
Wells Fargo has two interest-bearing checking accounts, both currently paying 0.01% APY:
- Wells Fargo Prime Checking charges a monthly maintenance fee of $25 that you can avoid if you carry a minimum daily balance of $20,000.
- Wells Fargo Premier Checking comes with a monthly fee of that’s waived only if you keep a hefty minimum daily balance of $250,000.
But Chase offers three interest-bearing checking accounts, also paying 0.01% APY. And, one of the accounts gives you options for steering clear of fees:
- Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ has a monthly service fee. It can be avoided if you maintain an average balance of $15,000 or link a home loan backed by Chase.
- Chase Sapphire Banking comes with a $25 maintenance fee. The monthly charge is waived if you maintain a balance of $75,000.
- Chase Private Client costs $35 per month, though you can avoid those charges by keeping at least $150,000 in the account.
Chase and Wells Fargo have similar business checking options, but the Chase business accounts are often more expensive.
- Chase Business Complete Banking℠ for small businesses, an account that comes with a $15 monthly service fee. You can avoid it by maintaining a balance of $2,000.
- Chase Performance Business Checking® for midsize companies. The $30 monthly maintenance fee can be avoided if you carry a $35,000 balance.
- Chase Platinum Business Checking℠ for larger firms, an account with a $95 per-month charge that’s waived when you maintain a balance of $100,000.
Wells Fargo provides commercial and corporate accounts for larger enterprises and these choices for small businesses:
- Wells Fargo Initiate Business Checking℠, which has a monthly $10 monthly service fee fee that you can avoid if you maintain a $500 minimum daily balance.
- Wells Fargo Navigate Business Checking℠ Account,. The $25 monthly maintenance fee is waived when you keep a minimum daily balance of $10,000.
- Wells Fargo Optimize Business Checking® Account, with a $75 per-month fee that cannot be avoided.
For military service members and veterans, Chase is the better banking option. Chase Military Banking offers Chase Premier Plus Checking, which has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly service fee and no fee for the first four non-Chase ATMs each month.
Active-duty and reserve military members also benefit from no foreign transaction fees, no currency conversion fees and no fees from Chase for using out-of-network ATMs.
Wells Fargo military customers receive up to four domestic and four international fee-free out-of-network ATM withdrawals per month but do not receive access to upgraded checking.
Chase offers three kid and student checking accounts, while Wells Fargo offers two.
If you have younger kids, consider Chase First Banking, which is available to children ages 6 to 17. Wells Fargo’s Clear Access Checking account is not available to children until they are 13 years old.
While both banks charge similar overdraft fees—$34 at Chase and $35 at Wells Fargo—Chase’s overdraft policy is more generous.
Chase no longer charges an overdraft fee if the transaction that pushes you into the red is less than $5 or if your account is overdrawn by less than $50. You can also avoid Chase’s overdraft fee if you make a deposit and bring your account to less than $50 overdrawn by the next business day.
Chase Vs. Wells Fargo: Savings Accounts
Chase and Wells Fargo offer comparable savings options that don’t earn much interest. Both banks pay abysmal APYs of 0.01% on savings, or 0.02% if you link your savings account to checking.
Fees for the introductory savings accounts at both banks are easily waived with an auto transfer of $25 or more from your checking account. Both Wells Fargo’s Ways2Save and Chase’s Autosave allow for creative ways to build savings through automatic deposits.
If you don’t need your savings at the same bank as your checking account, consider opening one of the best high-yield savings accounts. These will easily outperform the Chase and Wells Fargo savings options, with no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees in most cases.
Chase offers slightly better certificate of deposit (CD) options with a greater variety of online terms, lower minimum opening deposits and higher potential APYs. But similar to the savings accounts, you would do better to open a high-yield CD elsewhere.
For high deposit CDs, Wells Fargo offers a “special” fixed-rate CD that earns up to 1.50% APY on a balance of $5,000 for 9 months, depending on where you live (this rate is based off a Colorado zip code). Chase provides a similar option, but requires a significantly higher minimum balance of $10,000. However, depending on your ZIP code, Chase pays APYs up to 1.51% APY for 9-month CDs and up to 2.02% APY for 12-month CDs. For Chase, the highest rates we found were in Utah, while rates in major metropolitan areas were lower. For those considering a CD for retirement savings, Wells Fargo offers IRA CDs while Chase does not.
Pros and Cons of Chase
- No minimum opening deposit to open checking accounts, although fees may apply
- 16,000 ATMs available and branch locations in 49 states and Washington, DC
- Lower requirements to open a certificate of deposit
- Greater variety of welcome bonuses
- Better options for children and members of the military
- Higher out-of-network ATMs fees
- Fee for urgent debit card replacement
- Higher monthly service fee for the most popular checking account
- Low APYs on savings accounts and CDs
Pros and Cons of Wells Fargo
- Branch locations in 36 states and 12,000 ATMs
- Lower minimum balance requirement to waive some checking fees
- Lower fees for using out-of-network ATMs
- No branches in Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont or West Virginia
- A less forgiving overdraft policy
- Low APYs on savings accounts and CDs
How to Transfer Money From Chase To Wells Fargo
To send money from a Chase account to a Wells Fargo account you own, add your Wells Fargo account as an external account with instant account verification (IAV). This process allows you to instantly verify that you own the account by securely providing Wells Fargo login credentials. You can also verify ownership by entering your account and routing numbers and waiting to receive two micro-deposits. This manual option will take two to three business days.
Once you’ve verified your Wells Fargo account, you can schedule a transfer online or in the Chase app. Digital transfers typically take two to three business days. You can also write yourself a check from your Chase account and digitally deposit it into your Wells Fargo account using the Wells Fargo app.
Both Chase and Wells Fargo also use Zelle, a peer-to-peer payment platform. You can use Zelle to easily send money from your Chase to your Wells Fargo account or another Wells Fargo account holder. Chase’s website and mobile app let you schedule future and recurring Zelle transfers.
How to Transfer Money From Wells Fargo to Chase
Transferring money from Wells Fargo to Chase is a similar process. Add your Chase account as an external account through IAV or by confirming micro-deposits. Once verified, you can schedule a one-time, future or recurring transfer to your Chase account. Wells Fargo indicates that transfers from Wells Fargo accounts are usually delivered in two business days. You can also use Zelle to send funds to your own Chase account or another Chase account holder.
While you can initiate a transfer from Wells Fargo using the Chase app, this process isn’t encouraging. This option doesn’t display the current balance of the external account, which could cause you to overdraw your account. For this reason, you should begin the transfer from the banking portal for the funding bank.
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