I receive credit card offers from Wells Fargo once every month or so, and I wanted to take a closer to look at some of them to determine whether any are worth applying for. Note that I don’t bank with Wells Fargo, but as far as banks go, they’re one of the largest in the United States with a lot of account and credit card opportunities.
In fact, they currently over a dozen credit cards, each with different benefits, fees, and requirements. With that many offerings, it can be difficult to determine which, if any, are valuable to you, so I’ll try to take some of the headache away.
0% Wells Fargo Credit Card
We start with the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa(R) Credit Card. The card offers 0% introductory APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases. It has no annual fee, making it an ideal choice for those looking to take advantage of a no interest offers.
Wells Fargo also offers seven different rewards cards, issued through both American Express and Visa.
The Visa cards are essentially the exact same as their cash back counterparts: 5X points on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months. Wells Fargo offers 50% point bonuses when redeeming for airfare, which is certainly a nice perk.
Again, I think these Visa cards are only interesting if you’ve got a significant amount to spend in the first six months. After that, you won’t see the same amount of point accrual as you’d see with other bank programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest points.
The American Express offerings, specifically the Wells Fargo Propel American Express(R) Credit Card, has a tiered points earnings that doesn’t change over time.
Propel American Express
- 3X points at gas stations
- 2X points at restaurants
- 1X everywhere else
- No annual fee
- Annual “relationship bonus”
To be truthful, none of these cards is particularly compelling unless you bank with Wells Fargo and meet certain minimum account requirements. The Propel and Propel 365 have what I would consider average rewards structures, and many cards available today can earn better rewards.
The Costco Anywhere Visa, for example, has 1% more earnings across the board. The Propel World American is beneficial for frequent fliers, but I consider the $175 annual fee to be too high when compared with other cards like the Citi ThankYou Premier Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.
So when might you want one of these cards? The Propel or Propel 365 might be interesting if you have accounts with Wells Fargo.
Let’s dive into what exactly earns a “relationship bonus” on these cards. For the Propel, you’ll earn a 10% point bonus every year if you either have a checking or savings account with Wells Fargo. For the Propel 365, you can earn the same 10% bonus with checking or savings accounts, a 25% bonus if you have a Premier PMA Package checking account, and a 50% bonus if you have that same PMA checking account with a balance of $250,000 or more.
For most of us, that’s going to simply mean a 0.1% point bonus, which matches up with what some of the other larger banks do, like Bank of America. This still isn’t compelling enough for me to want the card, but if you happen to maintain a very large balance in a PMA checking account, you could be earning closer to 5X rewards points.
Cash Back Cards
The Cash Back Visa and Cash Back Visa Signature cards are intriguing for a short-term spender. For your first six months of owning the card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases. If you’ve got a large family and find yourself doing a lot of grocery shopping, or if you’re a commuter who spends a lot on gas, this can be a really huge benefit. But after those first six months, you’ll end up tossing this card in the sock drawer.
Note that there’s no annual fee with either of these cards, so their only real drawback is the initial credit pull that you’ll undergo when applying.
These cards can also be cautiously beneficial to those interested in manufactured spending, or the practice of making “fake” purchases on cards to earn cash back. This might be a great card for that purpose (and again, just for those first six months), but there are many reports that Wells Fargo has been notifying those who spend a lot of money (in the tens of thousands of dollars per month) that they’re abusing the rewards system, with possible penalties of having their accounts closed and rewards points revoked. Proceed with caution.
Overall, this card can be helpful in the short term, but savvy spenders will end up with another card in their pockets after six months. I don’t think it’s necessarily worth the hard credit pull unless you have some really big spending to do.
Wells Fargo also offers two other cash back offerings: the College Visa card and the Home Rebate Visa (and Visa Signature) cards. The Home Rebate card is essentially the exact same as the Cash Back card, except it comes with the convenience of being able to apply your cash back directly to your Wells Fargo mortgage account.
There’s no additional earning, so I see it as having the same capabilities as the Cash Back card. The College Visa may seem interesting to students, and perhaps it’s easier to obtain for those without an established credit history. But its cash back structure is just 3% versus the Cash Back card’s 5%. Nothing interesting there unless you’re really struggling with your credit.
One less well known benefit of Wells Fargo credit cards is that they offer cell phone protection and insurance. If you pay your monthly cell bill with a credit card like the Cash Back Visa, you’ll get up to $600 protection for damage or theft of your phone with a $25 deductible.
That’s actually a really nice benefit that is unique to Wells Fargo and covers up to four cell phones, so if you’re prone to dropping or damaging your phone, you might consider one of the cards with no annual fee just for the peace of mind. Just make a habit of using the card to pay your monthly cell phone bill to net this unusual benefit.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, none of the card offerings from Wells Fargo definitively beat out any of the competition. The cash back and rewards offerings compete with the industry at-large, but better cash back cards like the Costco Visa, and better rewards cards like the American Express SPG, are already out there.
If you’ve got a strong (and high dollar) relationship with Wells Fargo, or if you see yourself using the unique phone insurance program with some frequency, one of the no-annual-fee cards may be interesting, but most of us would be better off passing on Wells Fargo for now.