Wells Fargo Cash Wise review: No annual fees and up to 1.8% cash back
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- New cardholders earn an introductory cash-back bonus of $150 after spending $500 in the first three months, and new card members also enjoy a reward rate of 1.8% cash back for the first 12 months when making qualifying digital wallet purchases, otherwise it's 1.5% on all purchases. Redeem your cash rewards in a variety of ways, including directly from a Wells Fargo ATM.
- Pay your cellular bill with your card and get up to $600 of protection on your cell phone (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage and theft.
- At 15 months, the 0% APR intro period for purchases and qualifying balance transfers is a great feature (then, 13.99%-25.99% Variable). Remember that fees apply and transfers must be made within 120 days.
- While it does offer a reward percentage boost for making qualifying digital wallet purchases such as those with Google Pay™ or Apple Pay® in the first 12 months, there are cards out there that offer higher ongoing rewards than the 1.5%.
Launched in June 2016, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card jumped into the popular flat-rate cash-back credit card market with its offer of unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases— a solid offer, albeit, not really a unique one. However, to set it apart from the other flat-rate cards on the market, Wells Fargo tacked on an additional offer: 1.8% cash back on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Google Pay™ or Apple Pay®, made during the first 12 months of account membership. Not a huge boost, but certainly enough to give the card a competitve edge.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card comes with no annual fee, making it an easy card to carry even if you aren't a heavy credit card user. You have nothing to lose in that there's no annual fee to offset by earning maximum rewards, and who doesn't appreciate getting something for nothing? There's even a $150 cash-back bonus for new cardholders who spend $500 in the first three months of account membership to further sweeten the deal.
Additionally, there's 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.99%-25.99% Variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee. So the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card could also be a good fit if you have credit card debt you'd like to consolidate or a large purchase you'd like to make in the near future.
There is a lot to like about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, especially for credit card users who seek simplicity when it comes to rewards. With the flat 1.5% cash back, you don't have to think about rotating categories or purchase caps. Plus, there's that unique offer of an even higher introductory rewards opportunity of 1.8% for the first 12 months for cardholders who are tech-savvy and like to pay with their qualified digital wallet.
There's also a neat little perk of getting up to $600 protection on your cellphone against damage or theft, subject to a $25 deductible, whenever you use your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card to make pay your monthly cellphone bill.
Between the intro APR offer, the easy-to-understand rewards and great flexibility in how you can redeem your cash back rewards, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card is an excellent option for cardholders in the market for a new cash-back credit card.
- Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
Wells Fargo doesn't explicitly say what credit score applicants need in order to be approved for the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card; however, it is stated that this card is available to those with scores ranging from good to excellent. According to the credit scoring agency Experian, FICO scores at and above 670 are considered good. Scores from 740-799 are very good and those above 800 are exceptional. Please note, however, that these numbers can vary between different bureaus.
While there is a lot to like about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, one downside is that it charges foreign transaction fees. This fee is applied every time you make a purchase in a foreign currency. It equals 3% of the total amount converted to U.S. dollars, and that easily wipes out the cash back you earn on those purchases.For instance, if you take a vacation overseas and spend $1,000 (without a digital wallet), you'll earn $15 in cash back but spend $30 in foreign transaction fees. That means this card may not be the best choice for those who often travel internationally or frequently buy from overseas websites that process payments in a foreign currency.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card vs. Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
With the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer you get rewards earnings without hoops to jump through, calendars to keep track of, or cash back activations necessary. The Citi® Double Cash card earns 1% when you make a purchase plus an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases, for a total of 2% cash back. To earn cash back, just be sure pay at least the minimum due on time.
This is a higher earnings rate than the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card which earns 1.5% cash back on purchases. However, during the first 12 months of card ownership, the Cash Wise card earns 1.8% cash back on purchases made with qualified digital wallet purchases, like Google Pay™ or Apple Pay®, which is closer to the 2% earned by the Double Cash card.
The Citi® Double Cash card is not currently offering a new card member bonus. This is worth consideration as the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card has a $150 cash-rewards bonus after spending $500 on the card within the first three months.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, like the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases in non-rotating categories, however with the Chase card there is no boost for mobile wallet purchases. There is, however, a chance to earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and 3% back at drugstores. Plus, new cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) during your first year as a cardholder. Both cards have no annual fee and have flexible redemption options including redeeming for cash back at any time with no minimums.
The Chase card has a higher signup bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 in the first three months.
Overall, these two cards are very similar. The Wells Fargo card does have the 1.8% cash-back offer on mobile wallet purchases for 12 months to think about though, as well as up to $600 in cellphone protection.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card vs. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
With no annual fee, an a good new cardholder bonus, and generous points earning opportunities, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is a solid rewards card worth your consideration. For new cardmembers, the Wells Fargo Propel card is currently offering 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months - which is worth $200 in cash redemption value. This is a bit more than the value of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card which is currently offering a $150 cash-rewards bonus after spending $500 on the card within the first three months. While the value of the Propel’s new cardmember bonus is a bit higher than the Cash Wise, it is worth noting that the Propel card requires a higher minimum spend to get the bonus.
For points earning, the Wells Fargo Propel card earns 3X points on dining, travel, gas stations, rideshares, transit, and popular streaming services including Netflix and 1X point earned on all other purchases. Compared to the flat 1.5% cash back earned by Cash Wise card, the Propel card offers a tremendous value in many popular spending categories.
Credit card customers looking for an affordable credit card that offers easy-to-understand cash-back rewards should take a close look at the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card. With no annual fee and a generous intro APR 0% offer on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months (then, 13.99%-25.99% Variable); balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise is a smart choice for anyone who doesn't want to keep up with categories or spending caps.
Its reward rate is competitive with other flat-rate cards at 1.5% and the added boost to 1.8% for a year for customers who like to pay with qualifying digital wallet options is a nice touch. If you like your credit card rewards simple and unlimited, this is a great card to check out.