Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is not the best kids’ bank account on the market. It does make our list of the best bank accounts for kids, but only just.
Good thing Clear Access Banking isn’t only a kids’ bank account. Unlike most of its competitors, it’s designed for older teens and young adults as well, with a wider range of useful banking features and a monthly fee waiver through age 24. With loose application standards, it also works as a second-chance bank account for older adults with past financial troubles.
So whether you’re a parent looking to set your teen up with their first bank account or a recent college grad ready to get your financial life in order, Clear Access Banking might work for you.
What Is Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking?
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is a checking account designed for teens and young adults. Anyone 13 or older can apply, though kids aged 13 to 16 must have an adult co-owner on the account. People 17 and older can open an account on their own.
Clear Access Banking has relatively few fees, including no monthly maintenance fee for account holders 24 and under and no withdrawal fees at 12,000-plus Wells Fargo ATMs. It also has relaxed underwriting standards that make it appropriate for older applicants with checkered credit or banking histories. But it lacks some important banking features, including comprehensive overdraft protection and rewards or interest on balances.
What Sets Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking Apart?
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking has some key benefits — and downsides — worth noting upfront.
- Not just for teens. The minimum age to apply for Clear Access Banking is 13, which is standard for teen checking accounts. But there’s technically no maximum age, and the account has no monthly maintenance fee for primary account holders under 25. So it’s a good choice for college students and recent college graduates as well.
- Useful for second-chance banking. Clear Access Banking has relaxed qualification standards. A low credit score or previous banking issues (such as repeatedly overdrafting your account) won’t necessarily disqualify you. So Clear Access Banking is a legitimate alternative to traditional adult banking.
- Allows Zelle transfers. Zelle is standard on adult bank accounts but isn’t as common in the teen checking world. Fortunately, Clear Access Banking allows you to transfer funds to friends and family using Zelle.
- No rewards or interest. Clear Access Banking doesn’t earn rewards or interest. Some competitors in the teen market do, so this is a notable drawback.
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking’s most important features put it on the list of best kids checking accounts. But unlike other kids accounts, this one’s open to adults, making it a good choice for those with less-than-desirable banking histories. But it’s not the only option for either camp, so you should understand the features before signing up.
Eligible Ages, Maintenance Fees, & Opening Process
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is open to kids as young as 13. It’s marketed to people between the ages of 13 and 24, who pay no monthly maintenance fee. Though it technically has no upper age limit, a $5 monthly maintenance fee kicks in when the younger or sole account holder turns 25. There’s no way to avoid it, so if you’re 25 or older, there are better options unless you can’t open a regular bank account thanks to a poor banking history.
Account holders between 13 and 16 must open an account with an adult (generally a parent or guardian) in a Wells Fargo branch. Account holders age 17 and older don’t need an adult on the account, but 17-year-olds must still open in-branch. Applicants 18 and up can open online.
Wells Fargo has loose application standards for Clear Access Banking. Unlike mainstream bank accounts, Clear Access Banking doesn’t consider your credit score or past banking history when evaluating your application.
The minimum account opening deposit is $25. There’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement after that.
Visa Debit Card
Clear Access Banking comes with a Visa debit card accepted virtually anywhere Visa is. You can add it to popular mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay for contactless payments.
ATM Access & Fees
Wells Fargo has more than 12,000 fee-free ATMs. Cash withdrawals at non-Wells Fargo ATMs may incur third-party fees, so try to avoid them.
Parental Monitoring & Account Management
Clear Access Banking doesn’t have heavy parental controls, but parent co-owners can use their own login credentials to monitor younger users’ account activity and add or remove funds from the account. If you’re not comfortable with your kid’s financial behaviors, you have full withdrawal privileges.
Clear Access Banking denies most transactions that would result in a negative balance and has no formal overdraft protection program.
If an account balance does go negative because the final transaction amount is higher than the initial authorization — which typically happens when the account holder adds a tip — then Wells Fargo allows the overdraft to occur and doesn’t charge an overdraft fee. But it reserves the right to close accounts that aren’t quickly brought into the black.
The Wells Fargo mobile app has some useful mobile features for Clear Access Banking users:
- Free mobile check deposit with no envelopes required
- Fast person-to-person money transfers with Zelle, which isn’t included in many teen checking accounts
- A built-in digital wallet for contactless payments, which is useful if you don’t have Google Pay or Apple Pay
- One-tap debit card locking and unlocking for misplaced cards
Account Security Features
In addition to standard security features like 256-bit encryption, card lock, and strong password requirements, Clear Access Banking has optional biometric protections as well. You can set your mobile account to be accessible only with your unique fingerprint or facial ID.
Clear Access Banking balances are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. That should be plenty for most kids and young adults.
Advantages of Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking has some notable advantages, whether you’re a teen, their parent, or an older account holder who’s made mistakes in the past.
- Broader age range than some other accounts. Wells Fargo markets Clear Access Banking as a checking account for teens, but its appeal and eligibility are broader than that. With no monthly fee for account holders aged 13 to 24, it’s appropriate for anyone in that age range, though it has some limitations most other adult accounts don’t.
- Few credit or account history restrictions for adult account holders. Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking appeals to some adults because it’s a classic second-chance bank account. That means it doesn’t have the same qualification standards regarding applicant credit scores or past bank account usage. If you have a bad credit score or you’ve had a bank account closed due to repeated overdrafts, you may still qualify for Clear Access Banking.
- Strong account security. Wells Fargo’s account safeguards go beyond standard security measures like strong password requirements and 256-bit encryption. Notable safety features include biometric account access using your unique fingerprint or facial ID.
- Useful mobile features. Clear Access Banking is very mobile-friendly, with seamless mobile check deposit, mobile wallet integration, and person-to-person money transfers via Zelle.
- No ongoing minimum balance requirement. Clear Access Banking requires a $25 opening deposit, but there’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement. You don’t need a high net worth to use this account.
Disadvantages of Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking has some notable downsides compared to other kid-friendly bank accounts. The biggest disadvantages could be deal-breakers for some would-be account holders.
- No interest on balances. Clear Access Banking pays no interest on balances. That’s a drawback compared to kid-friendly interest checking accounts like Capital One MONEY Teen Checking.
- No rewards on debit card purchases. Clear Access Banking’s Visa debit card earns no rewards on purchases. Some kid-friendly debit cards offer up to the equivalent of a 5%, 7%, or even 10% return on eligible spending.
- Has a monthly fee for sole owners 25 and older. Clear Access Banking stops being a good deal at age 25, when the $5 monthly fee kicks in. At that point, it’s best to upgrade to an adult checking account if you qualify.
- Teens must open in-branch. If you’re under 18, you must apply for Clear Access Banking inside a Wells Fargo branch. That’s inconvenient if you don’t live near one or don’t have a reliable way to get there.
- Very limited overdraft allowance. Clear Access Banking technically allows overdrafts, but only if the final payment amount changes after initial authorization, such as restaurant bills with tips.
- No paper checks. Paper checks are increasingly rare, but every once in a while you find yourself in a situation where there’s no other way to pay. That’s easy enough to get around with money orders or certified checks you get from the bank, but if you prefer paper checks as an option, this may not be the account for you.
How Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking Stacks Up
If you’re not sure Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is the best choice for your teen’s money management needs, see how it stacks up against another popular teen-friendly checking account from a fellow big bank: Chase High School Checking.
|Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking
|Chase High School Checking
|13 to 17
|$5 after age 24
|Parent co-owner required under age 16
|Parent co-owner required
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is an entry point — or reentry point — into the world of adult banking.
Younger account holders share the account with a capable parent or guardian who can keep tabs on their activity and withdraw funds if they’re not happy with how the teen’s using the account. Older users have more flexibility but still live within the confines of a product that lacks overdraft protection and has no real perks to speak of.
But as an entry-level bank account, Clear Access Banking also isn’t meant to serve you forever. Wells Fargo has multiple adult bank accounts with more (and more generous) features, as do countless traditional and online banks. Once you’re comfortable managing your cash with Clear Access Banking, it’s time to trade up.