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Wells Fargo Raised Checking-Account Fee, Slashed Bill-Pay Fee
Some new Wells Fargo checking account customers are facing a higher monthly service fee — and an even larger fee if they want to receive paper statements. However, the San Francisco-based bank made other changes that may benefit existing customers.

Wells Fargo quietly began charging a $9 monthly maintenance fee for its basic checking account, called Value Checking, in April. The change was first reported by San Francisco Business Times earlier this week. Customers who opt in for online statements face a $7 monthly fee, a $2 discount.

The move borrows a page from the playbook of U.S. Bank, which also imposes a higher monthly fee if customers want to receive paper statement.

Previously, Wells Fargo charged a flat $5 monthly fee for Value Checking. The change only affects new customers — existing customers continue to face a $5 monthly fee.

To avoid this monthly fee, Value Checking customers must maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance or post direct deposits of a certain amount per month. Well Fargo changed to the direct deposit criteria from “at least one single direct deposit of $250” to “direct deposits totaling $500 or more.”

For some customers, it may be more convenient. Customers who receive multiple direct deposits (e.g. $200 per week) would now be able to avoid the monthly fee. Previously, they could not, even if total direct deposits exceeded $250 per month.

Wells Fargo also reduced the monthly fee from $6.95 to $3 for online bill payment services. The fee is waived for higher-tier checking accounts. For Wells Fargo checking accounts without bill payment services, it is free for the first two months for new customers. Keeping a minimum balance of $5,000 across select deposit accounts will waive this fee.

In August, the bank will also be converting former Wachovia free checking accounts into fee-eligible accounts.

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