Is it Time to Jump Off the Wells Fargo Wagon?
Over the past few years, Wells Fargo has certainly not generated the most positive headlines. After it was discovered that bank employees had opened more than a million additional accounts that customers never requested or knew about, the company launched an entire apology campaign that declared the bank had been “re-established in 2018.” Unfortunately for them, the past two weeks have brought a different set of problems as the bank has experienced two major outages that may have put some customers in a lurch.
On February 1st, a network outage affected online and mobile banking for several hours. Then just a few days later on February 7th, similar issues reappeared. Moreover, the second outage also seemed to impact bank ATMs and, according to customer reports on Twitter, debit card purchases and direct deposits. In a statement obtained by CNBC, Wells Fargo said Friday, “As a result of the process to restore systems yesterday, some transactions and balances were not visible in online banking or ATMs. The transactions were processed normally, and customers can use their accounts with confidence. This issue has now been corrected, and all transactions are now visible.”
If you, like me, stuck with Wells Fargo through their account scandal and the first outage last week, surely this second and more severe outage has you asking some tough questions. Luckily for me, I don’t rely on my Wells Fargo debit card for most transactions, but there are many that do. For them, the type of interruption seen yesterday could spell disaster.
The question then becomes, what alternatives are there? Well, while there are other nationwide banks you could consider, perhaps an online institution is a better bet. Recently, I actually opened an account with Aspiration — an online bank that offers 1% APY on checking and savings accounts, reimbursed fees for any ATM in the world, and more. Additionally, I also have two accounts with Discover Bank, which includes a debit card that offers 1% cash back on transactions, access to thousands of free ATMs across the country, and currently a 2.10% APY on savings. Best of all, my Discover accounts come with no monthly fees while Aspiration offers a “Pay What is Fair” monthly fee policy, meaning you can select how much you pay.
Of course, even with the level of ATM access that’s offered with these accounts, there are still some downsides to consider before completely moving over to an online bank. For example, there are limits to how much cash you take from an ATM in a day. Thus, while you could visit a traditional bank branch and take as much out of your account as needed, such an option might not be available to you with online banks.
Ultimately, even if you don’t end up completely leaving Wells Fargo or any other national bank, you may want to at least consider having a back up by opening another checking and/or account with a local credit union or an online bank. Not only do these options typically offer better perks like better interest rates on your money but can also help minimize the damage done by an outage like the one we saw this week. In the meantime, hopefully whatever has been ailing Wells Fargo’s network has now been fixed for good.