Wells Fargo: Why the Bogus *Incoming* Wire Transfer Fee?

As my wife and I are rapidly approaching the “third half” of our lives, I’ve begun removing money from one of my brokerage accounts and wire transferring sums monthly to an account at Wells Fargo.

My wife noticed a “wire transfer fee” of $15 for each transfer. Hmm….Schwab (where we trade) has zero fees for outgoing wire transfers so I sent in this message to Wells Fargo customer support:

Never noticed before that you charge a $15 fee for **incoming** wire transfers until my wife alerted me to *her* wire transfer from Charles Schwab to Wells Fargo and it $15 fee.

This is ludicrous. A $15 fee for an incoming wire transfer? Schwab charges nothing for outgoing transfers so why does WF charge a fee for one coming in? This is nothing but bits across a wire and internal server gateways opening and closing. There is zero human cost in this equation (other than initial programming time) so a “fee” is NOT appropriate.

With all the personal and business money we have with WF, there is NO REASON to nickel-and-dime us on wire transfers like this one and I want someone in a managerial capacity to contact me directly and let me know why.

NOTE: Schwab actually has a $25 fee for outgoing wire transfers, but if you have enough dough in accounts like we do there they waive the fee and there is no fee for incoming transfers. With all the personal and business accounts we have at Wells Fargo — let alone the money we have there and transactions we run through our merchant gateway — my expectation was they’d not charge incoming wire transfer fees. The response from Annette in customer service came as no surprise as you’ll see below.

So Wells Fargo customer support replied late yesterday:

From : Customer Service
Received Date: 08/23/2017
Subject :  Re: Fee or service charge questions  (case number was here)

Dear Steven Borsch:

Thank you for contacting Wells Fargo. My name is Annette, and it is my pleasure to assist you today.

I am an Email Care Specialist and your concerns have been escalated to me for review. I apologize for the delay in responding to your email.

I understand your concern regarding the wire transfer fee that was recently assessed to your account.

As you are a long time and valued customer, I am happy to have reimbursed your accounts ending in #### and #### in the amounts of $15.00 each.

Please note: The fee for incoming wire transfers is $15.00 per domestic transfer and $16.00 for incoming international transfers.

When your account was opened, you accepted the Consumer Account Fee and Information Schedule, which, in combination with the Consumer Account Agreement, provides you with information you need to know about your account. By opening an account with Wells Fargo, you agree to pay for our services as described in the Consumer Account Fee and Information Schedule. To access a copy of the Consumer Account Agreement and Consumer Account Fee and Information Schedule, please visit (this page).

If we can be of further assistance, please respond to this email by clicking on the “Reply” button or call us anytime at 1-800-TO-WELLS (1-800-869-3557).

I apologize for any frustration and inconvenience this matter may have caused you. As part of our effort to better serve our customers, I have documented your concerns. We truly do value our relationship with you and hope to continue being your bank of choice.

On behalf of Wells Fargo, thank you for your business. We are happy to have you as our customer and appreciate the opportunity to assist you today.

Sincerely, Annette K. — Wells Fargo

So I guess I had sort of a “WTF?” moment since I know a thing-or-two about banking integrations, gateways, and the fact that there is basically zero incremental cost in moving monetary amounts from one account to another so I clicked on the “Reply” button:

Thank you for your reply. While I appreciate the credit of $15 for each account, it still does not answer the question as to why the fee exists in the first place AND why it is so incredibly high.

Creating and maintaining integrations for wire transfer is “table stakes” for Wells Fargo to be in the banking game. Wire transfers, once that integration is created, are bits moving across an encrypted connection. I’m guessing it costs the bank pennies in electricity and server-cooling. As such, there should not be any amortization across wire transfers — or at the very least 50 cents or a dollar — in order to pay for such integrations. Therefore I can only assume this is a profit-making fee only, regardless of the standing of a given customer.

Should my wife or I decide to ensure we are not charged that ridiculous $15 fee, the workaround is to have Schwab mail us a check. We would then take that check to our Wells Fargo branch and deposit it in the ATM (since mobile check deposit has limits on it) or hand it to a human teller. That process wastes our time, gas and wear-and-tear for our car, Wells Fargo employee time, and the fully burdened cost of just such a workaround process instead of a wire transfer is *significantly* higher for both Wells Fargo and us.

So do you see why I feel this is so ludicrous as a fee? Plus, all it does is make us angry at Wells Fargo and we’ve been personal, business and home mortgage customers for a very, very long time. We have impeccable credit as well so, I’m guessing, are target customers for the bank and ones you don’t want to leave. The recent Wells Fargo scandals have made it very difficult for us to remain loyal as customers so a trivial fee like this is just enough to tip us over the edge and follow-through on our consideration of USBank as an alternative.

In addition, please note that it’s not reasonable for a customer to go back and re-read every agreement entered in to with Wells Fargo. I’ll wager, for example, that you personally have not read the EULA that came with your smartphone? Or the EULA with your operating system software? You probably just clicked “Accept” like 99.9% of everyone and as such, companies rely upon that behavior in order to elicit tacit agreement on fees just like this one.

Please continue to escalate this matter as it is one I won’t let go of and would like a detailed and reasoned response on why this fee exists at all within the next five business days.

Thank you.

Obviously the “you accepted the agreement” may be Wells Fargo’s fallback position, but my fallback is pulling everything out of Wells Fargo and going with USBank.

I’ll update this post when I hear back from them.

UPDATE: 2:30pm CDT
Just received a call from Wells Fargo executive relations which was recorded. As expected, the woman informed me that “we’ve always had a wire transfer fee” and “there is nothing I can do to waive these fees going forward” so the call was a waste of time.

She said nothing about the fee itself. That’s also expected as she’s essentially an underling who makes these phone calls in the hopes of appeasing a customer vs. affecting policy in any way. As such, I hold out zero hope that anyone in the bank will give a crap so USBank here we come!

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  1. Steve Lieberman on December 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I agree with you, I am a wells Fargo customer, with 2 checking accounts, a savings account, my mortgage, IRA’s, etc. I receive incoming International wire transfers 3 times a month, and each time they hit me for $16.00, and true, we did both accepted the agreement (which we obviously did not read)
    My question is what do they do to earn that $16.00 fee, it’s all electronically transferd
    Just another big bank rip off!!!!!

  2. Peter Wickham on September 20, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    I recently made a wire transfer from a UK bank to a US bank (not Wells Fargo). Wells Fargo was the correspondent bank in New York. The transfer was made in US$ and my UK bank levied no charges. There was no exchange rate risk for Wells Fargo. Yet despite Wells Fargo’s published fees of $16 for international wire transfers, they in fact levied a $30 charge. What did they do? Pressed a button for the SWIFT transfer..and I am charged $30! No wonder Wells Fargo has such a lousy reputation. But I guess that is why they are so profitable and banks have learnt nothing from 2007-8.

  3. Serge Ansay on December 3, 2018 at 3:15 am

    Wow, this is very interesting. I am just about to receive my first international wire transfer to my WF account, so I know what to expect.
    This now gives me a good incentive to go shop for a fairer bank, if that can be found.
    Also I am curious as to end of your story. Could let us know please?

  4. Steve Borsch on December 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Serge: I should probably update this post but we ended up doing ACH transfers instead and that cut out the wire fee. Give that a try.

  5. Patrick Meredith on April 16, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    I just had this $15 charge because the way my employer paid me. WF reimbursed half and said they wouldn’t next time. I’m like the OP and tired of their scams, so time to move to a new bank after 12 years of being with WF.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.