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Wells Fargo Business Checking: 2021 Review

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Wells Fargo offers three core business checking accounts: Initiate Business Checking (formerly Simple Business Checking), Navigate Business Checking and Optimize Business Checking. It also offers additional account options based on your location and business type, such as Federal Agency Checking and the Real Estate Trust Account.

With locations and ATMs in 37 states, plus Washington D.C., Wells Fargo business checking is well-suited for small-business owners looking for customizable banking from a brick-and-mortar institution.

Although Wells Fargo doesn’t offer a truly free general business checking account or an account with unlimited fee-free transactions — features you may find with online-based competitors — it provides extended customer service hours and multiple ways to open an account, including online, over the phone and by visiting a branch.

Wells Fargo business checking is best for small-business owners who:

  • Can pay a monthly service fee or qualify to waive it.

  • Anticipate making between 100 and 250 account transactions per month.

  • Would prefer a business checking account from a brick-and-mortar bank instead of an online-only bank.

  • Want access to customer service representatives on a regular basis.

Pros & cons

  • Can choose from three core business checking accounts, plus additional options based on location and business type.

  • Access to over 13,000 fee-free Wells Fargo ATMs and 5,200 branches across 37 states.

  • Three ways to open a business checking account — online, over the phone or visiting a branch.

  • Online, mobile and security banking features included with all accounts.

  • Extended customer service hours for general banking inquiries; 24/7 customer service for online banking and bill pay assistance.

  • Fee-free transactions limited to 100-250 per month (based on the account).

  • Fees for withdrawals at non-Wells Fargo ATMs, $2.50 for U.S. ATMs, $5 for international ATMs (owner of the ATM may charge an additional fee).

Wells Fargo business checking at a glance

Initiate Business Checking

Navigate Business Checking

Optimize Business Checking

$10, waived with a minimum daily balance of $500 or $1,000 average ledger balance.

$25, waived with a minimum daily balance of $10,000 or $15,000 average combined business deposit balances.

$75, earnings allowance included with account can be used to offset monthly fees.

Minimum opening deposit requirement:

Rates vary based on your location.

Up to 100 fee-free transactions per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.

Up to 250 fee-free transactions per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that.

Up to 250 fee-free transactions (withdrawals/debits posted to your account and electronic check deposits) per month, then 50 cents per transaction after that. Non-electronic deposits cost $1 per deposit plus 20 cents per check deposited.

Up to $5,000 per month with no fee, after that 30 cents per $100 deposited.

Up to $20,000 per month with no fee, after that 30 cents per $100 deposited.

$0.0025 per $1 deposited.

No fees for stop payments, cashier’s checks, money orders, incoming wires, first two outgoing domestic wire transfers per month.

No fees for stop payments, cashier’s checks, money orders, incoming wires, up to five outgoing wires using the bank’s Commercial Electronic Office service per month.

How Wells Fargo business checking works

With Wells Fargo, you can choose from one of the bank’s three core business checking accounts — Initiate, Navigate or Optimize — or, depending on your industry or location, you may be eligible to explore additional business bank account options.

To open a Wells Fargo business checking account, you can complete and submit an application online, over the phone, or by visiting a branch location. Wells Fargo has branch locations in 37 states, plus Washington D.C.

To be eligible for a Wells Fargo business checking account, you will need to provide your business tax ID number, or employer identification number, as well as a Social Security number and valid driver’s license or state identification for all owners, partners or key executives.

You will also need to provide basic information about yourself, your business, and all owners, partners and key executives — plus a minimum $25 opening deposit.

In addition, you will need to provide legal business documentation, based on your entity type. If you apply online or over the phone, Wells Fargo will provide you with instructions on how to supply your documentation.

If you visit a branch location to apply, it’s important to note that all owners, partners and key executives will need to be present in order to complete an application.

After your submitted application has been reviewed and approved by Wells Fargo, you can start setting up your business banking and managing your finances. You can enroll in online banking, download the Wells Fargo mobile app, sign up for overdraft protection and order checks.

To add funds to your account, you can use merchant card deposits, ACH transfers, wire transfers, mail checks, mobile check deposits, as well as visit a Wells Fargo branch or ATM. You can add your Wells Fargo business debit card to your digital wallet, enable text banking and customize user access on your account.

Where Wells Fargo business checking stands out

Account options: With Wells Fargo, you are not locked into a single business bank account option, so you can choose the business checking account that best meets your financial needs in terms of fees, transaction volume, cash deposits and other included features. With three core business checking accounts — Initiate, Navigate and Optimize — each offering an increasing number of features, you also have the ability to start with a lower-tier account and upgrade in the future, if your business requires it.

Moreover, if you operate in a specific industry or location, you might be able to take advantage of the additional business checking account solutions Wells Fargo offers, such as its government business checking accounts, lawyers trust accounts, real estate trust account and analyzed business checking account.

ATM and branch access: Wells Fargo business checking includes access to over 13,000 fee-free ATMs, as well as 5,200 branches across 37 states, plus Washington D.C. With your business debit card, you will be able to withdraw cash, deposit checks, transfer funds between your Wells Fargo accounts and deposit cash at any Wells Fargo ATM.

You will also be able to use your debit card at non-Wells Fargo ATMs in the U.S. and internationally — however, Wells Fargo will charge fees for those transactions, and you may also face additional fees from the owner of the ATM.

Multiple ways to open an account: You can open a Wells Fargo business checking account in one of three ways — online, over the phone or by visiting a branch. Unlike some brick-and-mortar banks, Wells Fargo does not limit small-business applicants based on their location (some banks offer accounts only to businesses located in states where they have branches) or require that business owners apply in person.

Online, mobile and security banking features: All of the Wells Fargo business checking accounts provide access to online and banking tools, which include mobile check deposit, online bill pay, text banking and digital wallet capabilities. These tools allow you to customize account and user access, set up alerts and even turn your cards on and off.

Wells Fargo also offers 24/7 fraud monitoring and zero liability protection on its business checking accounts.

Customer service: With Wells Fargo business checking, you can visit any branch to make a transaction with a teller, consult with a banker or visit an on-site ATM, if available. In addition, you can access the National Business Banking Center to speak with a representative over the phone to address account issues.

For general account issues, customer service is available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. For assistance with business online banking and bill pay, customer support is available 24/7 and for direct pay, representatives are available Monday through Sunday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. PT.

To open a new Wells Fargo business checking account, representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.

Moreover, you can use Wells Fargo’s automated telephone banking service at any time, with free, unlimited access to your accounts. Wells Fargo does not charge any fees to speak to a customer service representative over the phone.

Where Wells Fargo business checking falls short

Monthly fees: Although all three Wells Fargo business checking accounts offer ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee, these fees are still something to keep in mind and budget for — especially when it comes to the Navigate Business Checking account, where the threshold to waive is a minimum of $10,000, compared with $500 with the Initiate Business Checking account. These types of monthly fees are not uncommon, but there are both brick-and-mortar and online competitors that can offer fee-free account options.

Transaction limitations: Each of the Wells Fargo business checking accounts places a limit on the number of fee-free transactions that you can make every month. With the basic-level Initiate Business Checking account, you receive up to 100 fee-free transactions per month, with each additional transaction costing 50 cents.

Like monthly fees, these limitations are not uncommon but they are something to look out for, as you may be able to find a business checking account alternative that offers similar features but higher transaction limits.

As an example, Bank of America’s entry-level account, Business Fundamentals Checking, offers up to 200 fee-free transactions per month, with each additional transaction costing 45 cents. Plus, Bank of America does not charge an excess transaction fee for ACH transfers, debit card transactions, electronic debits and mobile or online check deposit.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid these limitations altogether, online competitors like BlueVine or NBKC can offer business checking accounts with unlimited fee-free transactions.

Incidental fees: Wells Fargo can charge a variety of incidental fees associated with the use of your business checking account. Wells Fargo charges a $35 overdraft and returned items fee, $31 stop payment fee, as well as wire fees that range from $15 to $45, depending on the type of wire.

In addition, Wells Fargo will charge a fee for using your business debit card at non-Wells Fargo ATMs. You’ll face a $2.50 fee for transactions in the U.S. and a $5 fee for international transactions. You may also face a fee from the owner of the ATM on top of these fees from Wells Fargo.

With the Navigate and Optimize Business Checking accounts, Wells Fargo waives some of these fees, which is not the case with the Initiate Business Checking account.

Compare business checking accounts

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