Saving money takes on a new form with Wells Fargo’s Way2Save savings account program. On the surface, the program is a low barrier to entry and low to a no-fee savings account. But as you dig deeper, you’ll see that the account comes with some additional options to help drive your savings in a manageable and incremental way. The big drawback to the account is the interest rates are considerably lower than the industry average, which will have an impact on the growth of your account. For those looking for unique ways to begin saving, though, the Wells Fargo Way2Save program might be a good fit.
How Ways2Save stacks up
- Minimum opening deposit only $25
- Unique recurring savings tools available
- Low-interest rate compared to the industry average
- Checking account required for savings tools
What’s interesting about Way2Save
As this account is technically not fee-free, like many other options on the market, the criteria needed to eliminate the fees are easily obtainable by most people. The Wells Fargo savings account fees with Way2Save are $5 per month unless you meet one of three conditions — maintain a minimum daily balance of $300, utilize one of the recurring savings tools, or are under the age of 18 or 19 in Alabama. Unlike some savings accounts, the Wells Fargo Way2Save program has a low $25 minimum deposit to get started.
The most interesting and appealing part of the account, though, is the Save As You Go program. With this program, $1 is transferred into your savings account every time you make a non-recurring debit card purchase or pay a bill online. Instead of moving a large amount of money into your savings account that might seem challenging for new savers to do, the Save As You Go program slowly moves money in small increments every time you make a purchase. The idea is that these small incremental additions to saving are easier for those who are new to saving or have struggled with saving in the past.
Things to consider
While the low minimum starting balance, unique savings tools and easy-to-erase fees are attractive, there are a few major drawbacks to the Wells Fargo Way2save account. The biggest of these drawbacks is the interest rate of 0.01% APY. The idea behind a savings account is to secure money in a low-risk account that helps to grow your money. However, if the interest rate is too low, the growth will be negligible.
The key to savings account growth is the interest rate. Higher is always better, and unfortunately, Wells Fargo’s Way2Save savings account comes in far under the industry average. If Wells Fargo were to offer the program on its Platinum Savings account, the deal would be much more appealing as that account has a 0.05% APY as well as a bonus APY of 0.10% for those customers with a linked Prime Checking or Portfolio Checking account.
It’s additionally important to note that the Save As You Go Program can only be activated if you also hold a checking account with the bank. The company isn’t able to track your debit card and bill pay purchases if you hold your checking account with another bank.
As the Way2save program from Wells Fargo is a basic savings account, most banks offer something similar and potentially with better interest rates. The current average interest rate on savings accounts is around 0.03% for traditional banks and 2% for online savings accounts.
For those looking for alternatives to the Save As You Go Program associated with this savings account, there are more options as well. One of the most popular alternatives is the Keep the Change Savings Program from Bank of America. With this program, the bank rounds all of your debit card purchases up to the next whole dollar. The amount that is rounded up is then transferred into your savings account.
For example, if you purchase a coffee for $2.48, the bank will charge you $3.00 and transfer the difference of $0.52 into your savings account. While this might not seem like much, it adds up over time and in small enough increments that it seems manageable. Additionally, this program is available with any of Bank of America’s savings accounts, which offer higher interest rates between 0.03% and 0.06% depending on your account status.
Bank of America’s savings accounts do have a higher opening deposit of $100 and an $8 monthly fee if you don’t meet one of the criteria for getting the fee waived. These criteria include maintaining a daily minimum balance of $500, linking another Bank of America account to your savings account, or earning a higher customer status tier.
If you deposited $5,000 into the Wells Fargo Way2Save program and the Bank of America’s Keep the Change Program, the amount of money you’d have after five years would be different assuming the APY rates remained constant. With Wells Fargo, you’d have an additional $2.50 in interest earnings. With Bank of America, you’d have an additional $7.50. This might not seem like much, but as you continue to make contributions and time grows, the compounding will continue to widen the gap between your account balances with each provider.
The final word
For those fixated on using the Save As You Go Program, the Wells Fargo Way2Save account will be a good fit. That being said, the low-interest rates compared to other alternatives is a significant downside that will have a lasting impact on the growth of your savings. If you need the gimmick just to get started, go for it. But if you’re looking to make a lasting impact on your future financial success and can do it without the company’s recurring savings program, you can find better rates with the same easily avoidable account fees.