Wells Fargo to charge checking fee

Posted at 7:35 AM, Mar 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-08 12:33:47-05

By Blake Ellis, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Wells Fargo will start charging $7 a month for checking accounts in six more states, expanding on its efforts to do away with free checking accounts altogether.

While Wells Fargo stopped offering free checking accounts to new customers in 2010, existing customers were able to hold onto their free accounts. But then last year, the bank transitioned a group of existing customers -- mainly in Western states -- to the same $7-a-month accounts that it provides new customers. And now existing customers in six more states are about to be hit with the fee.

The bank wouldn't disclose which states will be affected by the new fee, and wouldn't say how many states had already been impacted. However, CNNMoney received a Wells Fargo statement for a banking customer in New York on Wednesday that stated a new $7 fee would be applied to their account. A customer from Georgia said he was notified of a new $7 fee on Wednesday as well.

The $7 monthly service fee will be assessed on the bank's Essential Checking account. Customers can waive the fee by maintaining a $1,500 minimum daily balance or making direct deposits of $500 or more each month. They can also get a $2 discount on the fee by opting to only receive online statements.

The monthly fee will be effective May 4 in the six states, and will begin showing up on June statements (if the requirements for getting the charge waived aren't met).

The bank, which has branches in 39 states and Washington D.C., declined to comment on whether this will mark the end of its rollout.

"This has been a gradual change -- we've notified many customers that this change would be happening, and this is another extension of that," said a Wells Fargo spokeswoman. "We want our customers to come in and talk to us and make sure they are in the right account and getting the options they need."

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