Finance & Economics

How to apply for a Wells Fargo bank account as a foreigner

Today, we’ll cover the application process at Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

How to apply for a Wells Fargo bank account as a foreigner. Source:

Opening a bank account in a foreign country may seem extra complicated. Especially, when we speak of the US, where foreigners have faced difficulties in opening bank accounts or engaging in monetary transactions since the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Nevertheless, nothing is impossible. Although the application process may not be too easy, foreigners, non-residents, expats, or travelers can open a bank account in the US. In fact, the “Big Four” banks offer plenty of banking opportunities for foreign citizens. It’s worth saying that larger banks are generally more open to non-residents than smaller banks.

About the bank

Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in the US by total assets. Wells Fargo’s total assets for the quarter ending December 31, 2020, were $1,955.163B. As a community-based financial institution, it offers full-service banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, consumer, and commercial financial services.

Wells Fargo was founded in 1852. Lately, the bank has focused on consolidating and eliminating branches, however, it still has the most bricks-and-mortar branches among other banks in the country. Wells Fargo has a few mobile banking opportunities too. Its main mobile app is complemented by a savings app Daily Change. With exciting gamification elements, challenges, and goals, the app helps optimize savings strategies and make better financial decisions.

Opening an account

Wells Fargo offers to check and savings account options to both resident and non-resident foreigners. The accounts can usually be linked to a debit card or an ATM card – giving you quick access to cash – and can be managed online, as well as at ATMs. However, those who reside within the US have the advantage of opening their accounts online, which is a great benefit while pandemic health concerns still occur. Non-residents would have to visit one of the bank’s numerous branches in person.

To open a checking account online, you’ll have to indicate a zip code for the US city of your residence. That is necessary to show you appropriate offers and prices. You also have the opportunity to open both an individual and joint bank account, so you have to choose a suitable variant. With a joint account, you and your partner can pay shared household expenses, such as a mortgage, car payments, utilities, and groceries, from the same place. Moreover, joint account funding may help you meet the minimum balance requirements that qualify you for features like waived maintenance fees, a higher interest rate, or additional rewards.

While applying online, you’ll be required to provide personal details such as name, home and mailing address, ID details, etc. If you’ve lived at your current address for less than a year, prepare to indicate the previous address as well for proper identity verification. You’ll also have to fill in basic information about your employment.

The applicants need to have a Social Security Number (SSN) and a valid state ID/driver’s license or Matricula card (an identification card issued by the governments of Mexico, Argentina, or Guatemala) to prove their identity. Non-residents would need to present the same documents in person at the branch.

The bank also has a minimum opening deposit amount of $25. Once you’ve completed the application forms and passed the verification, you’ll need to fund your new account with a personal check (including routing and account numbers) that has your name on it. Your local Wells Fargo branch can also accept checks issued in many foreign countries and currencies.

Accounts available

Clear Access Banking

This account has no check-writing ability. Customers can use a debit card with contactless and chip technology instead, pay bills online, and make digital payments. There are no overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. Mobile deposit is only available through the Wells Fargo Mobile app. $5 monthly service fee is waived for primary account owners 13 to 24 years old, although teens 13 to 16 need an adult co-owner.

Everyday Checking

The most popular Wells Fargo checking account has custom text and email alerts to monitor account activities. It’s supplemented by a Platinum debit card with chip technology. Unlike Clear Access Banking, this account has a check-writing option. It also brings additional benefits to students if Wells Fargo Campus ATM or Campus Debit Card is linked. Account maintenance incurs $10 per month. The fee is waived if the owner has a $500 minimum daily balance or $500 and more in total qualifying direct deposits. You can also enjoy a zero service fee if you are 17 through 24 years old or have a linked Wells Fargo Campus Card.

Preferred Checking

This account allows customers to earn interest on their checking balances over $500. The account owners can order cashier’s checks from the bank without any additional fees. Since the typical fee is up to $10, those using cashier’s checks often can save significantly. If you prefer personal checks, you’ll also get a $10 discount. The monthly fee for preferred checking is $15, but it can be avoided if you have $10,000 minimum combined daily deposit balances (in linked consumer checking and savings accounts, Time Accounts (CDs), and FDIC-insured Retirement accounts); $1,000 or more in total qualifying direct deposits; or a Wells Fargo mortgage linked to this account.


Еhe premium service for eligible customers offers bonus interest rates as well as zero-commission at external ATMs (both domestic and those abroad). The account owners get interest on their account balance, earn rewards, receive loan discounts, and are served by the Premier support team. No fees incurred for Wells Fargo Personal Wallet checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. The monthly $30 fee is waived for those having $25,000 or more in qualifying linked bank deposits, or over $50,000 in qualifying linked bank, brokerage, and credit balances. Premium clients also get an annual Relationship bonus on the non-bonus rewards points they earn with the Wells Fargo Propel World American Express Card.

Way2Save Savings account

Provides a variety of automatic savings options if it’s linked to a Wells Fargo checking account. It has optional overdraft protection too. Teens and students under 24 are exempt from the $5 monthly fee. Even if you’re older, you can use the account for free by fulfilling minimum automatic deposit requirements.

Platinum savings

Gives customers unlimited branch and ATM withdrawals and the option to write checks. It’s FDIC-insured up to the maximum applicable limits. Optional overdraft protection for your checking account is another benefit. The account is better suited to those having higher savings goals. Thus, the monthly service fee of $12 is waived when you maintain a $3,500 minimum daily balance each fee period.

Wells Fargo CDs (Time Accounts)

Offers fixed savings rates and an opportunity to invest in both standard and step certificates of deposit (CDs) that may pay higher interest rates than other deposit products. CDs are low-risk savings tools and can be considered if you don’t need instant access to your invested funds. There’s no monthly service fee but the minimum deposit amount is $2500.


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