Goodbye, Wells Fargo

After months of planning our switch to a local credit union, it felt great to shred our Wells Fargo debit cards.

Inspired by Bank Transfer Day and the spirit of the Occupy movement, my wife and I decided late last year to end our relationship with Wells Fargo Bank. We decided that we were fed up with the barrage of new fees and all the hassles that Wells Fargo and the other big banks bring into our financial lives every day. So instead of just sitting back and taking it, we decided to do something about it. We began transitioning our checking and savings business away from Wells Fargo and into a credit union instead.

My wife Tracy is all smiles after opening our EECU checking and savings accounts.

After crowdsouring among friends on Facebook for recommendations, we thoroughly researched our local options and looked at what services and specifics they had to offer. We decided to move our money to Educational Employees Credit Union. Since we both teach for State Center Community College District, we easily qualified for EECU membership. We were also pleased that EECU provided an easy-to-use switch kit that detailed the sequence we should follow to make the change. Because both my wife and I piece together our income from so many sources, it took us more than four months to change our direct deposits, our automatic withdrawals, and our bill pay information. In February, we finally had everything in place to take the final step.

Our Wells Fargo cards before shredding.

We walked into our local Wells Fargo branch a week ago to close our checking and savings accounts with them. The whole process took almost a whole hour because they made us wait in two long lines, first to withdraw all of our money and then again to meet with a banker to officially close the accounts. When the banker asked us why we were closing the accounts, I said simply that we preferred to move our money to a local credit union. The banker then snidely called EECU “an okay bank” and made several half-hearted attempts to keep us from closing the account. Here’s a summary of his poor salesmanship:

• The banker said that Wells Fargo had much better branch hours than EECU, which is true. But of course, we do most of our banking online and at the ATM, so the only reason we ever have to go into a branch is when the bank has found a new way to screw us.
• The banker said that Wells Fargo had many more ATM locations than EECU, which is also true. But EECU and other credit unions use the Co-Op Network and most 7-Eleven ATMs are part of that. (And also, duh: That’s why our ATM cards have a VISA logo on them, fool, so we can use them like a credit card anywhere.)
• The banker said that the new Wells Fargo fees could be “taken care of” at the branch if it caused a hardship and if we asked. But why should we have to beg the bank to be good to us? Shouldn’t they just be good to us as a matter of good business?

EECU gave us each a chocolate bar for joining.

In the end, we walked away from our Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts with confidence. We had done our research, and we had carefully considered our needs in putting together the switch. We still have much more work to do, to continue our move away from the big banks. We will continue to keep Wall Street occupied by sending the steady barrage of credit card solicitations we get back to their senders. We will next focus on phasing out our consumer credit cards with both Wells Fargo and Citibank. And the big test will finally be to pry our mortgage from the evil clutches of Bank of America. But for now, though, we feel great about putting our checking and savings money into better hands.

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