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September 16, 2006

Wells Fargo, WaMu

A few interesting differences between Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual I've discovered in my first two weeks of now banking with both of them:

ATMs
Wells Fargo's are all outdoors. WaMu's are all inside the bank, require an ATM card to enter, and only let one cardholder in at a time. Wells Fargo has the technically better machines themselves, though, as WaMu's have the most annoying buttons ever. Wells Fargo's ATM deposit envelopes have a better texture on the tongue, while WaMu's taste better.

WaMu also just has to be that eccentric kid that makes you insert the ATM deposit envelopes upside down. Seam side down? You're weird, kid. (Or at least it's upside down from Wells Fargo. Maybe everyone else does it the WaMu way. Heck if I know.)

Up-to-Date Information
WaMu updates your account information basically instantly. They also display holds against your account, which Wells Fargo—in my experience—doesn't. For example, I know there's a $1 hold on my checking account right now. I've never seen a hold reflect in the Wells Fargo "available balance" figure. Which one's better is a matter of personal taste... the Wells Fargo way, you have access to all your money. The WaMu way, you can't overdraft if the hold gets converted.

Conveniences
Also in the ATM vestibule at WaMu banks are a courtesy phone to speak to their customer service line, and a night drop you can use if (a) you don't trust the ATM or (b) you need to pay off any debt to WaMu (credit card, mortgage, loan). If you make a payment by 8PM at the drop box, you're on time.

Wells Fargo ATMs being holes in a wall, they don't have courtesy phones. And the night depository is only for merchants dropping off bags full of money.

Account Benefits
Wells Fargo has a gold Visa debit card. According to Wells Fargo, the gold status carries basically none of the gold Visa benefits. But it's a debit card! And it's gold-colored!

Wells Fargo charges $35 for a box of their house-branded checks, and much more for designer checks.

WaMu has a gold MasterCard debit card. The WaMu card carries all of MasterCard's gold benefits, including price protection, warranty extensions, 90 day purchase replacement, and roadside assistance. Each purchase made using your debit card is applied to the WaMu Debit Rewards or the WaMoola for Schools programs. The former gives you $0.03 back for each of your debit card purchases yearly (up to $200 or so, which requires an astounding 6,666 debit card purchases), while the latter accumulates points which convert into a cash donation to a school of your choice.

WaMu provides you with checks, for free, for life. They offer a variety of designs for free, and also offer premium designs for a modest price.

Total Recall
WaMu provides access to your past 13 months of statements from their web site. Older statements can be requested for free, and will be available online within 24 hours.

Wells Fargo provides access to your past 3 months of statements from their web site. Older statements are available within a couple weeks, and you are charged a "research fee" for making Wells dredge them up from storage. There is no standardized fee; the amount varies depending on which of their many defunct or current account types you have.

Neither bank offers a way to review the complete terms of your account (for example, the Wells Fargo research fee) should you have a question about them.

Posted by Colin at September 16, 2006 9:30 PM

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Comments

I ended up at WAMU because they were the last in a chain of banks that bought my original bank. I was with them before they came to Arizona, I actually mailed in my deposits - lol.

I am happy that they are not only here in state now, but I actually have a branch about 3 blocks from the office.

On an unrelated note, we are having a gathering of Arizona bloggers next Saturday in central Phoenix. The details are here: http://www.bkennelly.com/vox/archives/002528.html I hope you can make it.

Posted by: Vox at September 30, 2006 12:00 PM

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