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Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Which of the Big 3 Is Right for You?

Jane Thier
bank of america vs. chase vs. wells fargo

If you’re looking for the best bank account to meet your needs, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are all going to be excellent options. But how are you supposed to pick a winner? We make it easier with exhaustive comparison of America’s three largest banking institutions. Read on as you make the Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo decision.

Bank of America: Best Versatility

Despite its vast size and national presence, Bank of America, does not feature the nation’s highest-earning interest rates on its accounts. Unfortunately, Bank of America consistently fails to deliver robust annual savings growth for its account holders. But if you’re seeking additional benefits ahead of building your current savings, BoA could be a very viable choice. Its Rewards Savings Account offers benefits based on your spending patterns. Bank of America also offers a wide range of products tailored to its customers, including multiple savings accounts and more than 10 certificates of deposit (CDs). Whether you’re an avid spender or a frugal saver, you’ll probably find that Bank of American has what you’re after.

Chase Bank: Best for Waiving Fees

Chase is the largest bank in the U.S., across every metric. But for all its size, its interest rates are curiously unimpressive. Even so, like Bank of America, Chase Bank offers several distinct banking options, which enables it to provide services to customers at every income level. Its two basic savings accounts are called the Chase Savings and Chase Premier Savings accounts, the latter of which offers slightly better rates and benefits and is catered toward customers with higher balances. The Chase Savings account is the more standard of the two, without any extra perks. It also earns at the lowest APY, regardless of your account balance. There are several options for waiving the attached fees that Chase employs, but most of them hinge on maintaining certain account minimums. If you’re starting out unsteady, Chase may not be for you.

Wells Fargo: Best Range of Options

Wells Fargo, the third-largest bank in America, has more than 6,000 physical branches and 13,000 ATMs in 40 states. With user experience at the top of its perks, Wells Fargo also has a highly rated app and easy-to-use online portal that makes banking on the go a breeze. Wells Fargo is also at the top of its game in terms of options. It has a vast list of inventory: you can choose from two savings accounts, three CD types, five checking accounts and a group of different IRAs.

For those looking to consolidate their assets into one account, Wells Fargo has you covered there, too. Finding the right account for your particular financial situation is key to getting the most out of Wells Fargo.  But much like BoA and Chase, unfortunately, Wells Fargo accounts don’t have particularly good interest rates. For instance, Wells Fargo’s basic Way2Save Savings account only earns at a 0.01% APY.  This is a primary downfall of big banks like these three; the cost of maintaining thousands of physical locations means fees are higher. Convenience comes with a cost.

But when examining the Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo match-up, it’s important to take a deeper dive into how the accounts stack up.

Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Bank Accounts

Each of the banks offers a unique array of accounts to choose from. We’ve organized it into a definitive list, so you can see precisely what one bank has and another lacks as you make the Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo Decision.

Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Bank Account Offers Type of Account Bank of America Chase  Wells Fargo Checking – Personal “Core” Checking Account
– Interest Checking Account
– Student Banking
– Business Checking Account – Total Checking
– Premier Plus Checking
– Premier Platinum Checking
– Student Checking – Everyday Checking
– Preferred Checking
– Portfolio by Wells Fargo
– Teen Checking
– Opportunity Checking  Savings – Rewards Savings Account – Savings
– Premier Savings – Way2Save Savings
– Platinum Savings  CDs – Featured CD Account
– Standard Term CD Account – Standard CD – Wells Fargo CD Account MMAs – Money Market IRA – Not offered – Various term-length CD accounts
– Wells Fargo Business Platinum Savings Account IRAs – Savings IRAs
– Investment IRAs – Not offered – Available to help with retirement savings

All three banks offer a healthy list of bank accounts complete with savings, checking and CD accounts. You can start saving for retirement with a Wells Fargo or Bank of America IRA, something that Chase alone lacks. All offer teen and student checking accounts. While Bank of America does make fee allowances for students, it does not have specific accounts for younger owners.

Wells Fargo does offer more variety with its account options than Bank of America. There is no real winner, however, when it comes to account perks. Both big banks more or less match each other in ATM offerings, branch presence and online/mobile access.

But it’s important to examine how those fees could affect your account balance when making the Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo comparison.


Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo vs. Chase: Fees

Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo accounts all charge a monthly fee, with the exact amounts owed reliant on the specific account and the balance therein. On average, though, Wells Fargo’s monthly fees range anywhere from $5 to $30. Bank of America monthly fees range from $4.95 to $25. Chase Premier Savings account charges a $25 monthly fee. You can also often waive a monthly service fee by meeting certain requirements like a minimum account balance or setting up direct deposits. On average, despite the fact that all three banks charging monthly maintenance fees, Wells Fargo’s tend to be lower than those of the other two. It also provides more opportunities to have the fees waived.

Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo: Rates

Neither Bank of America nor Chase nor Wells Fargo offers very special interest rates. Wells Fargo’s and Chase’s simple savings accounts earn bare minimum interest at 0.01%. Bank of America’s account comes in a tiny bit higher at 0.03%. All three banks will provide opportunities to boost your rate, should you opt for premium banking packages.

When it comes to CD rates, Wells Fargo outperforms Bank of America just slightly, but Bank of America takes the cake with a 1% APY. Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo all offer fairly low interest rates, due to the costs required to operate thousands of branch locations. But despite their low fees, each of them offer a wealth of options to get around them—if you’re attentive and seek them out.

Bottom Line

bank of america vs chase vs wells fargo

The Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo decision is a tough one, because all offer their customers a wide array of benefits. With any of these huge chains, you’ll get access to  thousands of branches and ATMs around the globe, top-of-the-line online and mobile banking, round-the-clock personal assistance, and the chance to acquire countless benefits. However, if you’re expecting high-earning interest rates, neither of the big three will be the bank for you.

Due to their budget being drained by supporting brick-and-mortar establishments, the rates of these big banks very rarely surpass 1%. Online banks like Ally and Synchrony and credit unions live Navy Federal don’t pose the same problem. They have the capacity to provide more robust interest rates to their account holders, as they do not have the overhead costs of a big bank. So, while all three banks will likely provide what you need from a bank at a baseline level, the choice comes down to what particular service you believe to be the most important.

But don’t go it alone when making the Bank of America vs. Chase vs. Wells Fargo decision. If you’re considering switching banks, it’s best not to leave any room for guesswork. Find a financial advisor in your area who perfectly fits your financial needs with SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching calculator.

Tips for Finding the Right Bank

  • Before you pick a bank, make sure you know your current financial situation inside and out. Are you a good fit for a free checking account? Do you have a firm enough financial fallback to begin contributing to a high-interest savings account? Consider these factors and go from there.
  • Looking for more options? Don’t forget credit unions. Credit unions like Western Union and Navy Federal are known for providing high rates than are big chains like Chase Bank or Citibank. National banks must shoulder the cost of operating physical storefronts nationwide—credit unions usually do not.

Photo credits: ©iStock.com/Slphotography, ©iStock.com/shironosov, ©iStock.com/alexialex

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