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The Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® Card is a no-annual-fee rewards credit card. Cardholders earn Go Far Rewards, Wells Fargo’s far-reaching rewards currency. Due to favorable redemption rates on airfare, Wells Fargo Rewards is useful for travelers who aren’t loyal to specific airlines, but a wide range of other redemption options – including cash – broaden the card’s appeal. A sign-up bonus that favors gas, grocery, and drugstore spending – plus a long introductory APR – sweeten the deal further.
On the downside, Wells Fargo Rewards Visa has an inconvenient aspect that disadvantages its cardholders relative to consumers who use competitors such as Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver: Wells Fargo does not allow you to apply for this card (or any Wells Fargo-branded credit card) online or by phone unless you have an existing Wells Fargo checking or savings account. If you do not have an existing relationship with Wells Fargo and do not want to open a deposit account online, you must visit the nearest Wells Fargo branch to sign up for this card in person.
Needless to say, this is an inconvenient requirement if you have no desire to switch banks or add new bank accounts, have trouble meeting Wells Fargo’s requirements to waive its deposit accounts’ monthly maintenance fees, or live far from the nearest Wells Fargo branch.
During the first 6 months your credit card account is open, Wells Fargo Rewards earns 5 Go Far Rewards points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores, up to $12,500 in total category spending. After 6 months, purchases in these categories earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
Wells Fargo Rewards earns an unlimited 1 Go Far Rewards point per $1 spent on all purchases, every day, except for gas station, grocery store, and drugstore purchases made during the first 6 months your account is open.
The best way to redeem your accumulated rewards is for airline tickets purchased through Wells Fargo’s Go Far Rewards portal. Points redeemed for airfare are worth $0.015 apiece, meaning a $300 ticket requires 20,000 points. You can also redeem for other types of travel (including hotels and car rentals), general merchandise, gift cards, and cash.
Cash redemptions are worth $0.01 per point, subject to a $25 minimum redemption threshold ($20 for ATM redemptions only). For other redemption methods, point values and minimum redemption requirements vary, but values are generally less than $0.015 per point.
Wells Fargo Rewards has a 15-month 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfers, with the balance transfer rate good on transfers made at any time during the promotional period.
Overdraft Protection for Wells Fargo Deposit Account Holders
Wells Fargo Rewards comes with Wells Fargo’s overdraft protection service, which is available to all cardholders who also have Wells Fargo checking accounts – in practice, the majority of the cardholder population. Overdraft protection connects your credit card account with your checking account and prevents checking account overdrafts by executing a cash advance on your credit line every time you attempt a checking transaction for which you have insufficient funds.
For transfers less than $50, the per-transfer (or per-day, if multiple transfers occur in one day) is $12.50. For transfers greater than $50, the per-transfer or per-day cost is $20. The regular cash advance interest rate begins accruing immediately on all overdraft protection transfers.
This card has no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments both cost $37.
Wells Fargo Rewards’ additional benefits include:
- A cell phone protection plan for damaged or stolen cell phones, up to $600 per incident and $1,200 per year
- Travel inconvenience insurance, which reimburses for lost or damaged carry-on baggage
- Extended warranties on items with original warranties of 12 months or less
This card requires good to excellent credit.
- No Annual Fee. This card doesn’t have an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who don’t want to use this as their primary card, but don’t want to close their card accounts (which can negatively impact credit).
- Solid Value on Airfare Redemptions. Wells Fargo Rewards’ $0.015-per-point airfare redemption value compares favorably to many competing cards’, including Capital One Venture Rewards ($0.01 per point) and Chase Sapphire Preferred ($0.0125 per point when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards portal). However, it’s important to note that both cards earn points at higher rates than Wells Fargo Rewards (at least outside Wells Fargo Rewards’ sign-up bonus window). Capital One Venture Rewards earns 2 points per $1 spent on everything, and Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel.
- Good Sign-up Bonus in Key Categories. If you spend heavily at gas stations, grocery stores, drugstores, or all of the above, Wells Fargo Rewards’ sign-up bonus is potentially very generous. If you’re able to spend $12,500 total in those three categories during the 6-month sign-up period – you’ll end the period with 62,500 Go Far points, which is enough to redeem for $937.50 in airfare or $625 in cash.
- Long Introductory APR Period. This card’s 15-month 0% APR promotion is great for new cardholders who wish to transfer existing high-interest balances or finance large purchases upfront. In fact, it’s nearly equivalent to the intro periods offered by some low APR credit cards for which introductory interest promotions are major selling points, such as the Chase Slate Credit Card.
- No Penalty APR. This card’s lack of penalty APR is a nice perk for cardholders who occasionally miss payments due to circumstances beyond their control. Other cards charge penalty interest ranging up to 30% indefinitely.
- Mediocre Point-Earning Rate Outside Sign-up Bonus Window. Outside the sign-up bonus categories during the 6-month bonus window, this card earns rewards at an anemic pace: just 1 point per $1 spent. That’s slower than Chase Sapphire Preferred (2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel; $95 annual fee) and BankAmericard Travel Rewards (unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on everything; no annual fee), though those cards’ airfare redemption values aren’t quite as generous as those of Wells Fargo Rewards Visa.
- Must Have a Wells Fargo Deposit Account or Apply in Person. If you don’t have an existing Wells Fargo deposit account, you need to open one online or in person prior to applying for a Wells Fargo Rewards credit card. If you’d prefer not to open a new bank account, but nevertheless want this card, you need to visit a Wells Fargo branch and complete your credit card application in person. If there isn’t a Wells Fargo branch within easy reach of your house, this is likely to be difficult or impossible. And, even if you don’t mind opening a new bank account to get this credit card, you need to deal with a minimum $10 monthly maintenance fee (the cost of Wells Fargo Everyday Checking, the institution’s cheapest non-student deposit account) unless you can do one of the following: maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, accept at least $500 in direct deposits each month, or make at least 10 monthly debit card purchases or payments.
- Minimum Redemption Threshold for Cash Redemptions. This card requires you to accumulate at least $25 in Go Far Rewards (2,500 points) before you can redeem for bank account deposits and statement credits, or $20 in rewards (2,000 points) before you can redeem at the ATM. Many competitors, including Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Discover it family of cards, don’t have minimum cash redemption thresholds at all.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card’s 3% foreign transaction fee is problematic for people who venture outside the U.S. with any regularity. Given the Wells Fargo Rewards credit card’s appeal to regular flyers, this fee definitely lessens the card’s appeal to a key audience demographic.
The Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® Card is an interesting twist on the typical rewards credit card story. Unlike many competitors, it doesn’t have a single clear selling point. Rather, it provides different benefits to different cardholders: a great sign-up bonus tool for people who buy lots of gas and groceries, a nice interest-free financing or balance transfer mechanism for people who wish to avoid being overwhelmed by interest, and a solid way to get free airfare for people who aren’t loyal to specific airlines. While it doesn’t absolutely excel in any one area, its appeal is broad enough to make it worthy of consideration – at least, if you can sync its various and sundry benefits with your lifestyle.