Wells Fargo Fees: How to Avoid the New $7 Fee

Wells Fargo recently announced a new $7 monthly service fee for its checking accounts in six eastern states, which will be in addition to the 23 states where the fee is already being imposed.

The bank ended new free checking accounts in 2010 – so that any new accounts opened following that time would be imposed with the fee. However, free accounts that were previously opened remained free. That is, until now. Wells Fargo has again altered its policies, and will not impose the fee on all its checking account holders in applicable states.

How can you avoid the new fees? Here are some tips:

1) Maintain a minimum balance

Customers who maintain a minimum balance of $1,500 will not be charged the service fee for that month. Therefore, if you are a customer who has some cash in your savings account, you could transfer an appropriate proportion to your checking account to maintain this balance above that level and so avoid the fee.

2) Monthly direct deposits

An alternative to maintaining the minimum balance cited above, customers who receive monthly direct deposits of at least $500 will also avoid the fee.

Therefore, if you work for a company that offers direct deposit for your paycheck, you should sign up for that method of payment to avoid the new monthly fee.

3) If 1 and 2 do not apply, a third option is to try and get the fee reduced

Customers who sign up for online statements, as opposed to paper statements, are entitled to a $2 reduction on the service fee.

4) A final alternative…Switch banks!

Of course if you are really outraged with the new fee you can always switch banks. However, you should consider the inconvenience of transferring your monthly payments, and account registrations among other issues, before rushing into this action.

Local banks and credit unions have been gaining popularity following a mass outrage at checking fees being introduced by major banking chains like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase and CitiBank.

"The beneficiaries of the increased exodus from larger banks are (unsurprisingly) primarily smaller banks and credit unions," reads a Feb. 2012 article from The Financial Brand, according to a 2012 study from J.D. Power & Associates. "Acquisition of new customers by smaller banks and credit unions increased by 2.2 percentage points to an average of 10.3 percent."