The Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card is a rewards credit card with a $45 annual fee (waived in the first year) and a fairly generous rewards program that favors everyday spending categories, such as gas station and restaurant purchases. It also has a nice portfolio of travel benefits, including potentially deep discounts on hotels and airfare, as well as a better-than-average suite of value-added benefits such as extended warranties and cell phone protection insurance. Nice welcome offers and annual relationship bonuses round out Propel 365’s perks.
If you need a card that pays you back for everyday spending and offers a wide range of redemption opportunities, this is worth a closer look – provided you can spend enough to offset the annual fee. However, applicants need to be aware of Wells Fargo’s pesky sign-up requirements: You either have to have an existing relationship with the bank (such as by having a Wells Faro checking or savings account), or be willing to apply in person at a Wells Fargo branch. Non-customers are not allowed to apply by phone or online. Needless to say, if you live far from a Wells Fargo branch, you probably don’t want to go through the trouble of applying.
Propel 365 is similar to, but more generous than, the Wells Fargo Propel credit card. Propel’s rewards program is identical, but it does not have a welcome offer or annual fee. Furthermore, its relationship bonus is a flat 10% for all customers, it has a 3% foreign transaction fee, and it has a longer introductory APR period.
When you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening, you get 20,000 bonus points. That’s worth up to $200 when redeemed for cash or gift cards.
The Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express Card earns 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations, 2 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere. There are no limits on any point category. However, in the 2x and 3x categories, point earnings are divided into “base points” and “bonus points,” with all purchases earning a maximum of 1 base point. For instance, purchases in the 3x category earn 1 base point and 2 bonus points per $1 spent, while purchases in the 2x category earn 1 base point and 1 bonus point. All points earned in the 1x category are base points, and all welcome offer points are bonus points. This distinction is relevant for the relationship bonus described below.
Accumulated points are redeemable by phone or via Wells Fargo’s online portal for cash (options include bank account deposits, paper checks, and statement credits), gift cards, merchandise purchases, and travel purchases (including airfare and hotels). If you have a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card connected to a Wells Fargo deposit account, you can also redeem for cash at Wells Fargo ATMs.
Points are generally worth $0.01 apiece at redemption. However, merchandise redemptions can have variable point values. Cash and gift card redemptions require at least 2,500 points ($25 equivalent) to redeem, except ATM redemptions (2,000 points or $20 equivalent). Redemption thresholds for merchandise and travel vary.
Propel 365 comes with a 12-month 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfers. The balance transfer rate applies to transfers made at any time during the promotional period.
Annual Relationship Bonus
If you have a Wells Fargo checking or savings account and your Propel 365 remains open and in good standing, you qualify for an annual relationship bonus ranging from 10% to 50% of your annual base point earnings.
If you simply have a checking or savings account, you earn a 10% bonus (for instance, 500 bonus points on 5,000 base points). If you own the primary checking account within a PMA package, you earn a 25% bonus (1,250 bonus points on 5,000 base points). If you own the primary PMA package checking account and maintain a balance of at least $250,000 (or belong to Wells Fargo Private Banking service), you earn a 50% bonus (2,500 bonus points on 5,000 base points).
Remember that this relationship bonus doesn’t apply to welcome offer points, nor to bonus points earned in the 2x and 3x categories.
Overdraft Protection for Wells Fargo Deposit Account Holders
Propel 365 cardholders enjoy Wells Fargo’s overdraft protection service, which protects against checking overdrafts by linking checking accounts with Propel 365 credit cards. When you attempt a checking transaction that would normally cause an overdraft, Wells Fargo automatically draws a cash advance on your Propel 365 card’s credit line to cover the negative balance.
Every transfer (multiple transfers conducted on the same day count as a single transfer) carries a $12.50 fee for transfer amounts less than $50, and $20 for transfer amounts greater than $50. The regular cash advance interest rate applies to all overdraft protection transfers.
There is a $45 annual fee, waived in the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Late and returned payments cost $37, and balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
Propel 365 cardholders can take advantage of Wells Fargo’s travel discount program, which offers deep discounts on a variety of travel purchase types: up to 20% off car rentals with major rental companies, up to $100 off select vacation packages, and up to 25% off regular room rates at 18,000 hotels worldwide.
Additional Travel and Cardholder Benefits
Propel comes with an additional load of useful travel and non-travel benefits. These include extended warranties (double original length) on items with original warranties of 12 months or less, complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to your card, complimentary 24/7 travel concierge service, and cell phone theft and damage protection worth up to $600 per incident and $1,200 per year.
This card requires excellent credit.
- Unlimited Earnings in All Categories. Propel 365 doesn’t cap point earnings in any spending categories, including the 3x gas stations category. That’s a big contrast with some popular competitors – for example, BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card caps grocery store (2% cash back) and gas station (3% cash back) earnings at a combined $2,500 across both categories per quarter.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, which is a huge benefit for regular international travelers. Many competing cards have foreign transactions ranging from 2% to 3%.
- Nice 0% APR Introductory Promotion. Propel 365 charges no interest on purchases or balance transfers for a full 12 months from your account opening date. That’s long enough to pay down a high-interest transferred balance or finance a large purchase.
- Solid Welcome Offer. This card’s welcome offer is worth up to $200 when redeemed for cash and gift cards – more than comparable cards such as Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card ($100) and Chase Freedom ($150). Though you do have to spend $3,000 within 3 months to get the bonus, that’s certainly doable when you make Propel 365 an everyday spending card.
- No Penalty APR. Propel 365 doesn’t charge penalty interest. That gives it a big advantage over many of its competitors, whose penalty interest rates approach 30% and remain in force indefinitely once cardholders miss a payment due date.
- Solid Annual Relationship Bonus. Propel 365’s annual relationship bonus is worth up to 50% of annual base point earnings – not a bad haul. That can turn 10,000 base points into 15,000. Even if you can’t swing the $250,000 daily balance necessary to earn the 50% bonus, the 25% bonus can turn 10,000 points into 12,500.
- Lots of Travel and Value-Added Benefits. Propel 365’s nonexistent foreign transaction fee isn’t its only traveler-friendly benefit. It also offers potentially deep discounts on hotel, airfare, cruise, rental car, and vacation package purchases. Moreover, its value-added benefits – including 24/7 concierge service and cell phone protection – offer a grab-bag of perks for cardholders from all different walks of life. If you’re looking for a rewards card with an above-average set of benefits, Propel 365 is certainly worthy of consideration.
- Has an Annual Fee. Propel 365’s $45 annual fee is problematic for light spenders who don’t expect to earn rewards quickly enough to offset the recurring charge. Applicants in that boat would be better served by an annual-fee-free alternative such as The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express.
- Requires Existing Relationship or In-Person Application. To apply for Propel 365 online or by phone, you need to have a preexisting relationship with Wells Fargo (for example, having a Wells Fargo checking or savings account). This is annoying for people who already have bank accounts and don’t need another, particularly in light of the fact that Wells Fargo’s cheapest non-student bank account carries a $10 monthly maintenance fee. To avoid this fee, you need to maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, receive at least $500 in monthly direct deposits, or execute at least 10 debit/ATM card transactions per month. Alternatively, you can apply for your Propel 365 card in person without an existing Wells Fargo account. However, this is difficult to impossible (and probably isn’t worth it anyway) for people who don’t live close to Wells Fargo branches, which are sparse to nonexistent in most of New England and parts of the southern and central U.S.
- Minimum Cash Redemption Requirement. To redeem for cash or cash equivalents, you need at least 2,500 points ($25 value). By contrast, competitors such as Chase Freedom Unlimited and Discover it allow you to redeem for cash in any amount.
- Requires Excellent Credit. This card requires applicants to demonstrate excellent credit. Even a minor blemish or two could be enough to disqualify your application.
The Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card is an objectively good credit card. It’s got something for several different audiences: for heavy drivers, accelerated point earnings on gas; for loyal Wells Fargo customers, a potentially lucrative relationship bonus; and for frequent travelers, no foreign transaction fees and potentially deep discounts on travel purchases.
However, like other Wells Fargo credit cards, Propel 365 is hamstrung by the requirement that applicants either have a preexisting relationship with Wells Fargo, or apply in person at a bank branch. For prospective customers in New England and certain parts of the southern and central United States, where Wells Fargo branches are scarce, this is a tough hill to climb. Fortunately, there are plenty of comparable alternatives out there.