Wells Fargo to charge $7 monthly fee for checking

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2008 file photo, an exterior view of Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, is shown. Wells Fargo is reporting a record first-quarter profit Wednesday, April 22, 2009, in line with its forecast. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

Paul Sakuma

(AP) NEW YORK - Wells Fargo (WFC) customers in six states who had free checking accounts will pay $7 a month starting in May.

The bank says it started moving customers in 23 states to the $7 fee last year and is expanding to six more - including Pennsylvania.

Customers can avoid the fee by keeping a minimum balance of $1,500 or making direct deposits of at least $500 a month. They can also get a $2 break on the fee by opting for online statements.

Wells Fargo says it hasn't offered free checking to new customers since 2010. The bank, based in San Francisco, has branches in 39 states. It will expand the fee to all 39, but a spokesman says the bank has not determined when.