Wells Fargo announces limited-fee bank accounts and higher wages

Wells Fargo has vowed to earn back public trust in the wake of a series of scandals.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

The week before its top leaders testify on Capitol Hill, Wells Fargo & Co. announced two new bank accounts with limited fees for consumers and said it will boost the minimum wage it pays employees in most U.S. locations.

A check-less account with no overdraft fees, as well as one that includes checks and limits overdraft fees to one a month, will be available by early next year, the San Francisco bank said.

The bank’s chief executive, Charlie Scharf, is set to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. Wells Fargo Chairwoman Betsy Duke and board member James Quigley will appear for their own hearing the following day.

“This is something that we’ve really been working on for quite some time,” Ed Kadletz, who leads Wells Fargo’s deposit products group, said in an interview. “Charlie has brought an energy and a focus to the company to really get after the things that are most important, and so this has been able to bubble to the top.”


The check-less bank account with no overdraft fees will cost $5 a month, while the account with limited overdraft charges will cost $10 a month. Wells Fargo said Tuesday that it will reach out to existing customers to educate them about the no-overdraft-fee account once it becomes available.

The minimum-wage change, meanwhile, will increase pay for more than 20,000 workers, the bank said Wednesday. The bottom wage will range from $15 to $20 an hour, depending on location. Employees in San Francisco and New York will get minimum hourly pay of $20, while those in Charlotte, N.C., and Des Moines, Iowa, will receive at least $16 an hour, the bank said.

Wells Fargo has vowed to earn back public trust after a series of consumer scandals that began with the revelation — first reported by the Los Angeles Times — that to hit sales goals, branch employees opened millions of accounts in customers’ names without those customers’ knowledge or consent. The bank’s consumer operation, which has the largest branch network in the country, has slid behind peers in recent years as Wells Fargo retools incentives and products and works through outstanding regulatory issues.

Wells Fargo is the latest bank to raise wages for its lowest-paid workers. Bank of America Corp. said last year that it would boost its minimum wage to $20 an hour by the end of this month. In 2018, JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its minimum hourly pay to a range of $15 to $18 an hour.