(Reposting 4/27/23: Added a few updates at the end of this post.)
We wrote about the massive $2,500 Wells Fargo Premier Checking bonus, an offer which is valid through
April July 1, 2023. The big catch is a $250,000 deposit requirement. Even someone who has $250,000 liquid won’t gain that much by doing this bonus given the interest being forfeited – the low .50% interest rate on the account is a pittance compared to what’s currently available. (We broke down the math in the original post.)
However, some readers have confirmed with bankers that having a linked WellsTrade investment account and utilizing the self-directed investing option will work for the deposit requirement. Having $250,000 in linked accounts will also keep the Premier checking account fee-free. (They also waive the monthly fee for the first 64 days after opening.)
I made an appointment at my local branch to open an account – this offer can not be done online. Following readers suggestion, I only opened the Premier Checking in-branch; I’ll separately open online the WellsTrade self-directed account by myself. Then, I’ll make sure the investment account is linked to my Premier Checking profile so that investment funds can help meet the bonus requirement and can keep the checking account fee-free. Read more about the linking process in this comments discussion.
The banker told me he’s been seeing some of these $2,500 codes recently. He also asked me if I wanted to open a savings account as well. I decided against doing the $525 savings bonus since readers have heard from bankers that the $25k deposit won’t count toward the $250,000 Premier checking requirement. Someone who has the extra $25k can still gain some amount by doing that bonus (I broke down the numbers more in the original post), but I decided against doing it.
The banker gave me a print-out with some account details which also contained a generic confirmation that a bonus offer was applied at sign up. Also contained somewhere in the customer copy of the print-out is the actual offer code which was applied. It doesn’t show the exact details of the offer in the print confirmations.
The branch visit was pleasant enough. It took around 30-40 minutes, and then I stayed in the branch for another 10 minutes with the banker helping me set up online access and setting up the app.
Readers have noted that your balances can not drop below $250,000 for the entire duration of days 45 through 90. Even if you initially deposit investments of more than $250,000, if the markets dip you’ll lose out on the bonus.
Someone who is cash-heavy has the easiest route by transferring over $250,000 in cash to the investment account and then buying U.S. Treasury bills or using a money market fund or bond fund which works similar to a high-yield savings account. (There’s some discussion in the comments about fees on Treasury Bill purchases – I haven’t followed that completely.)
I’ll transfer over whatever cash I have available. I’ll also transfer over some ETF investments. I’ll try to overshoot on the $250k and hope the market doesn’t tank me beneath the $250k threshold. I’ll begin the transfer process right away which gives me 45 days for any issues that might arise.
Readers have suggested VMRXX and FRBXX as good money market options which are available on WellsTrade. See a list of money market options from WellTrade here. I’ll convert my VUSXX to VMRXX. I’ll also convert my Vanguard mutual fund into an ETF for easier transfer (you might also be able to transfer some mutual funds directly). And then I’ll do an ACAT in-kind transfer of the VMRXX and the ETFs. Readers have also said you can use an IRA account to help meet this bonus.
Note, there is a
$95 $49.95 fee when closing the investment account. Leaving $.01 inside the investment account might stave off the fee indefinitely, but readers have said that once your account dips below $95 (or perhaps below $125) they’ll charge the fee. I don’t know the source of that, but I’m just mentally assuming a $95 $49.95 deduction from the $2,500 gain. Of course one can also just stay with Wells forever. Or you can transfer your funds over to a brokerage that offers to cover the account-closing fees. (If you do a mix of IRA and regular investments, I don’t know if you’ll get hit with two separate $95 fees.)
- I’ve already transferred over part of the required balance. It was easy to transfer assets within the online system (Brokerage > Transfer & Pay > Add Funds > Transfer assets) with an electronic signature.
- The transfer within the automated system appears to go through properly as an in-kind transfer without triggering any tax event.
- I was able to transfer my VTIAX Vanguard mutual fund without converting it into an ETF; the Wells system seems to accept most Vanguard mutual funds.
- You can check your officially recognized linked balances to ensure that your $250k in the brokerage account is counting to keep the monthly fee waived on the Premier Checking account, and that will presumably confirm that the $250k is counting toward the bonus as well. Find this option by going to your Premier checking details, then to ‘View Benefits’ in the upper bar (this is found right under your checking account number), then ‘Manage linked accounts’. Initially people were having issues with this showing the correct number, but they now seem to update it in real time and show the proper amount in linked accounts.
- After transferring over the assets, I updated the setting within my Wells login to automatically reinvest dividends. (On iPhone, I found this option within my login after clicking on the brokerage and then scrolling down.)
- The $95 outgoing account transfer fee has apparently been reduced to $49.95 (pdf)
FRBXX in Merrill Edge requires advisory services. Does anyone know if Wellstrade accepts FIGXX, FISXX, or FXIXX instead over a transfer? (these are available with a $1k minimum at Merrill Edge). Looking to move funds out of Preferred Deposit to one of these funds at Merrill Edge before transferring to Wellstrade to not loose too much interest during the transfer.
To answer my own question, FFTXX appears on both places as a money market option and should work for this purpose.
I had the 325 checking bonus show up. A few weeks later than the terms and P2, but it showed. I kept the regular checking open when I opened the Premier checking rather than upgrading. Now I wait on the $2500 (hopefully it doesn’t go the other way and invalidate that).
Given the debt ceiling discussion currently happening, can any expert weigh in on the likelihood that the two recommended funds here, vmrxx and frbxx, “break the buck” if a default does happen?
I looked at the composition of these two funds and see that both actually invest very little in actual treasuries, and most weights come from some form of repo agreement. Does it mean they are safer then?
“the massive $2,500 Wells Fargo Premier Checking bonus”
I assume that I should be eligible for this offer even if I just received the bonus for the regular personal checking offer? Can you confirm?
Chuck William Charles
Wells Fargo is now offering a $525 savings bonus, only requirement is to leave $25,000 for 60 days.
This offer has been existed for 2 months….
VUSXX can be transferred into Wellstrade. It just can’t be purchased.
Just an update – IRA finally transferred over from Vanguard into Wellstrade IRA. Took Vanguard over 30 days to make this happen (long story, see ep 42 for more details), but on the Wells Fargo end the ACATS took exactly 1 week to complete. The IRA shows up under our main Wellstrade account, and the full balance is showing as linked to the premier checking account. So for anyone wondering about IRA eligibility, at least on the web UI everything looks good… will update once the bonus posts.
Glad it came through in time!
Minimum Investment to get into FRBXX is 10 MILLION USD??
I don’t think I would be wasting my life visiting DOC if I had that much amount. LOL
the minimum is waived when going through wellstrade
Weird question, but let’s say on the 50th day, does purchasing mutual funds or treasury funds on that day bring your 250k balance to $0.00 temporarily to disqualify you from the maintain 250k through day 90 requirement?
I know it’s safer to buy the funds before the 45 day mark to avoid this scenario but wanted to see if I could wait and buy the treasuries after the 50th day.
For everyone that has already made the fund purchase, did any of your wells trade account balances ever go 0.00 temporarily for a day or more when making your initial purchase?
Good question – anyone has more info on this issue – I have money sitting in cash and have not signed up for wellstrade account yet.
Andrea Did you find out if the balance drops to $0 until the fund order is executed and credited to the account? I am past 45 days and I would like to know how you (anyone else) handled this. Thanks!
It doesn’t drop to 0. It’s kind of weird but it seems to double the amount in your wells trade account until it posts.
Looks like the fee for Outgoing account transfer and IRA termination fees went down to $49.95 according to an email just sent out.