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Way2Save Review – Savings Account from Wachovia & Wells Fargo

By Jason Steele

wells fargo wachovia way2saveThere is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a savings account, yet extremely low interest rates make them very unattractive. With rates hovering at around 1%, any money  you put into a savings account will be only be growing at the most glacial rate.

The other problem with savings accounts is that they are usually dependent on your own resolve when it comes to actually putting money away. The Way2Save program from Wachovia/Wells Fargo is an attempt to address these two weakness that affect traditional savings accounts.

Key Features

  • Transfers to Savings with Each Transaction. Every time you make a payment, Wachovia will transfer one dollar from your qualified checking account to a Way2Save savings account. Eligible payments include debit card transactions, online bill pay, and automated bill payments.
  • Automated Monthly Transfers to Savings. Account holders can also specify that a set amount each month gets transferred from their checking account to their Way2Save checking account – up to $100 a month.
  • Premium Interest Rates. The reason that transfers to savings are limited has to do with the relatively high interest rate that Way2Save account holders receive. The current rate is 3%, about triple what other savings accounts from competitive banks offer.
  • No Minimum Balance. Your balance will start at zero and go up from there. Even if you withdraw all of your funds, you will not have to worry about going below a minimum balance.
  • Fees. To make this account attractive, Wachovia has limited the fees that are normally charged to these kinds of accounts. For example, there are no fees to open or close an account. There are also no monthly fees the first year, but you do have to continue to generate automatic transfers in order to avoid a $5 a month service fee after your first year.
  • Easy Access to Funds. Although it is difficult to add money to this account, making withdrawals is easy. You can transfer money to your checking account online or you can make a cash withdrawal at a teller or an ATM.

Advantages

  1. Forced Savings. Any bank will allow you to set up an automated monthly transfer. Wachovia’s Way2Save program is unique in its automatic transfer of one dollar with each debit card purchase or bill pay. For people who are not in the habit of saving, automatic transfers can make the difference between growing a savings account and living month to month.
  2. Super High Interest Rates. You don’t have to shop around much to realize that this is an unbeatable rate. At these rates, it is clear why you are only allowed to transfer $100 a month to this account.

Disadvantages

  1. Locked into Wachovia. Wachovia Bank has clearly come up with a creative way to ensure your loyalty. Banks earn interest on your checking account, but pay out little or none. The idea is that you will continue to bank with them regularly in order to maintain your Way2Save account. This is fine as long as you are a satisfied customer, but if you are not, you could feel trapped.
  2. Substitutes Credit Card Rewards for Savings. The other goal of this program is to get you to use their debit card instead of a credit card. If you have sworn off credit cards, this program’s high interest rates provide the equivalent of a reward. A cash back rewards credit card that returns as much as 2% on your spending is clearly a better deal than 0% cash back and 3% interest on your own contribution to your savings account.
  3. Limited Savings Potential. If you want to put much more than $100 a month into a savings account, you will have to open up another account. In this way Way2Save could even inhibit saving for some people.

Final Word

It can be really hard to motivate yourself to save, especially at today’s paltry interest rates. Way2Save offers a solution to these problems, but it is a limited remedy that comes with some significant opportunity costs. However, if have been trying to get yourself to save $100-200 a month, this may be a way for you meet your savings goals while earning interest at an unheard of savings rate.

Do you have a savings account with Way2Save? What are some of the pros and cons that you’ve experienced?

Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

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Comments

  • Kate

    I love my Way2Save… The APY is way better than other savings accounts at brick-and-mortar banks, and I’ve been able to save about $1,500 pretty effortlessly this year.

    The only major drawback I’ve encountered is that other than the monthly automatic transfer of up to $100 and the $1 transfers, you cannot make a deposit into the account. This pretty much demands an additional savings account for heavier savings (I have one at an online bank). I mostly use my Way2Save as a mini-emergency/life happens fund since it’s more accessible (linked to my checking) than my larger emergency fund (~3 days to tranfer funds).

    • Charlie Welcome

      U saved $1500. in a yr. with Wachovia Way 2 Save. The max allowed is $100/ mo.
      or $600/yr. which means that you had $900. transfered by using your debit card 900 times or had transfers etc. Is this really possible for the average user ??
      I’ve been trying to get the offial rules but can’t fin do you have a site name ?? For example they mention elegible balances, what are they ??? Can I use a debit card to withdra funds in an emergency ?? They mention 5% in year one and then 2% in year 2 and etc. what does that mean ? Do I get 5% on what accumulates in the first year and then it drops to 2% after ? If it drops to 2% and in year 2 I find a bank that pays 2.5 % can I get out easily without penalty and etc.
      If u know I’d appreciate more info..I can’t seem to get the info
      Thanks Charlie W.

      • Michael

        I think she saved on her own on top of way2save, to get $1500 saved….

  • Pedro

    the keep the change program at bank of Amercia is better, it would round up to next dollar for you. you actually make money.

  • http://www.artificialrobot.com Sean

    Sounds like an interesting plan, but I still can’t bring myself to bank at one of the big guys. I have an account with my local credit union. They offer a nice Rewards Checking program that gives me 2.5% APY up to $25,000 as long as I use my debit card 12 times a month, sign up for e-statements and log in to online banking once a month. When I originally signed up in 2007 the rate was 6%, but hey we all know what happened there. 2.5% is still great and I get it for doing what I would have anyway. Oh yeah, I also get my ATM fees refunded if I meet those requirements and I can talk to a live person as much as I want and use most other credit unions to deposit and withdraw my money for free. Look around for these offers, you might be surprised at what your small local bank can offer.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    Whoah, this program sounds like it forces you to save, whether you want to or not. Could be a great thing for some of us, as saving is not an easy thing to do. But it doesn’t actually make you any many like other deals out there as it just moves money from one account to another. I’ll stick to those savings accounts that offer better rates & force myself to transfer money instead of letting the bank do it.

  • Charlie Welcome

    I just wrote that u can only put $50/ mo in a Wachovia way 2 save account ?
    I’m wrong I put $100 / mo. in, but I’d still like 2 know what is meant by Eligible Balance and varying interest rate etc.
    Thanks, Charlie W.

  • steffy

    ok i guess they aint explain well to me about this an they were trying really hard to lower me in this way 2 save…. they told me it was for my overdraft protection if i ever overdraftd my account.,,,not to save money,,,they aint even tell me that the money they give they give you a percentage in a year …. why is it everytime i take out money from my account in a wachovia atm my balances always miss more than five to ten dollars everytime i take out money without making any purchases with my debit card which i quote i never use only if i really need it like for emergancy but i always withdraw…. please any one knows

  • Ray Martin

    Are there any other banks that offer programs like “Wat-to-Save”. I have found those that round up, but none that actually put 1$ into your savings. The reason I ask is that I am a Wachovia customer and love the account and use it as my alternative savings plan. That is why the low interest does not really bother me much since I have other accounts with other institutions that pay more. As said it forces a savings and we use it kinda like “mad money”. Sorry for rambling. Anyway, Wells Fargo is not in the picture since they bought Wachovia and not too happy with their takeover and new fees. Any other banks do the same?

  • Tom

    I think you missed a very important point. At the end of the first year, you get a 5% bonus of the amount in the account. If you accumulated 12 x $100 = $1200 , that results in a bonus $60 input on top of the $30+ interest on your monthly deposits. That nets out at a 10% interest rate on your deposits. Also at the end of the 2nd and 3rd year the W2Save pays a bonus of an additional 2% on top of the 2% monthly interest. I think that means a total of 4% interest on your savings during that period.

    I don’t know what will happen after the 3rd year, but I figure that I should have acrued a minimum of $306 interest, and have about $4000 in the W2Save account on about $3600 deposit. I don’t know of any current insured CD that would pay out that much.

    Oh, if anybody has a better scheme, I would love to hear of it.

  • Amanda

    I have their Way 2 Save program where they debit $1 out of your checking account everytime you use your Debit Card and put it into your savings. Great way for me to start a savings and also have overdraft protection. Well times are hard and I have been finding my checking account short a lot lately so I’ve been transferring money from my savings to my checking pretty much weekly. Everytime you transfer online it says that excessive transfers may incur a fee. I never really paid much attention to that because I didn’t think transferring once a week was excessive. Well Wells Fargo thinks differently then I do…..they charged me 2 fees of $15 each for transferring my money from one account to another. I called and spoke to customer service and they told me it’s federally regulated and not the banks doing! What a freakin joke!!!So in other words Wells Fargo can transfer my money from my checking to my savings several times a day or whenever I use my bank card and the government is all for it but I can’t transfer my own money when I need to without incurring a fee! Time to find a new bank!

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