Pros: Cheap checking accounts, Online access, Decent amount of ATMs (west coast)
Cons: Ridiculous overdraft fee system, pretty average bank overall
I turned 17 years old two years ago and I knew I needed a checking account soon so that I could professionally manage my huge sums of money (an astounding $45 at the time!). Where I live, southern california, finding a bank is pretty easy to come by. In the end however, Wells fargo was about the cheapest to attain a checking/savings account through, especially if you are a full time college student like myself where you get even more of a discount. At the moment, I am paying around $5 a month for both accounts and I get luxuries such as free checks, free online access, free replaceable check card if lost or stolen, and guaranteed fraud protection and more!
I am pretty frugal with my money and my card, but despite this, for some reason, I have lost my check card three times! The first time I lost it, I thought i was screwed and at the time didnt even know a bank would actually protect you in case fraudulent charges were made. Unfortunately, only five hours after I lost that card, someone had made unauthorized transactions on it, amounting to $135. So, in panic, I called wells fargo and in no more than 5 minutes, my claim was filed and I got my money back. They actually give you a provisional amount up front, equal to the amount stolen which is nice if you are on vacation or what not. Meanwhile, wells fargo investigators are assigned to your case to find the perp. Once the thief is found, the provisional money is finally confirmed. The other two times I lost my card were just because of carelessness. Luckily no money was stolen, but each time, it was incredibly easy to attain a new check card.
Overall, customer service is pretty efficient, however as always with banks, dont expect them to bend over backwards for you if you have a special request.
The check card works in coordination with your checking account. At first, I saw the mastercard logo on the front and thought it was a credit card with some lofty credit limit (chu ching! :), but it doesnt quite work like that. When transactions are made, the money is deducted straight from your checking account, what you have is what you get (pretty much). If for some really bizarre, out of this world, extremely rare reason you dont have enough money to cover the purchase, an overdraft fee is imposed on either your savings account or wells fargo credit line account if applicable. If you are like me and do not have money in your savings account nor possess a credit line, wells fargo simply negatives your checking account, so when you do a balance check, it will read something like "-8.50". This overdraft fee is bogus though. In typical bank style, they actually charge you an overdraft fee for every single transaction! I once ended up with $45 in overdraft fees because of a check that go through in time. Live and learn i guess.
Wells fargos does offer many services to the consumer. Services like home morgage options, school loans, credit lines, credit cards, online bill pay, and more. These services are quite easy to obtain and offer a fairly wide range of payment options.
Although wells fargo has been around for awhile (150 years now), their customer service is sketchy and unreliable. Personally I had some good luck, but some of my wells fargo friends say that service is somewhat bad. As with most banks these days, wells fargo customer service feels sterile and inhospitable, which in turn translates into giving you that "cautious trust".
The rule of thumb here is not to give your full attention to the large, intimidating banks even though theyre popular and glamorous. The larger they are, the more and more out of touch and insecure you feel with them. Smaller, more reputable banks are really the way to go. Wells Fargo fits in between the large and small, and has gained an uncertain reputation. It is for you to decide ultimately. My opinion regarding wells fargo, summed up in one word however, "ordinary".
I wish you the best of luck finding a nice, cozy home for your money!