Full Review of Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card
A choice in how you receive your rewards
Helpful account-management tools
Annual fee applies after first year
High spending required for bonus
- A Choice in How You Receive Rewards: The Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card allows you to elect the rewards structure that works best for your needs. The option to receive 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent is probably the best choice for many businesses, except perhaps for those with five-figure monthly card spending. You can also choose to earn one Wells-Fargo point per dollar spent; with each point worth one cent apiece, that represents a 1% rewards rate. Spending $10,000 or more in a month earns a bonus of 5,000 points, which essentially allows you to match the cash-back rate. And redeeming rewards online provides a 10% points bonus, which would allow big spenders to slightly exceed the cash-back rewards rate.
- Helpful Account-Management Tools: Cardholders gain access to Wells Fargo's Business Elite Online Reporting. This free service is a robust platform that helps you manage your business expenses. Among other functions, you can track and manage your spending, analyze spending by category, and create custom reports. You can also set up spending controls on each card, allowing only certain types of purchases on them or limit spending to a certain threshold.
- Annual Fee Applies After First Year: There's no annual fee in your first year as a cardmember. After that, the fee increases to $125. While that fee isn’t especially high, some other business credit cards with similar rewards have no annual fee at all.
- High Spending Required for the Bonus: The Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card does have a bonus for new cardmembers, but it requires five or six times the spending of some other business cards with comparable bonuses. You’ll earn $1,000 or 100,000 bonus points when you spend $25,000 within the first three months of opening an account. For freelancers and most independent contractors and owners of new businesses, it will be far more difficult to hit that spending threshold than those for some competing cards.
- Wells-Fargo Customer Service is Below Average: Most people don't interact with their credit card issuer very often. But when that’s necessary, it’s often a matter of some urgency and even stress, and you want a satisfying experience. Unfortunately, that’s less likely to be the case with Wells Fargo than with almost any other card issuer, according to the J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. In its 2019 survey, Wells Fargo ranks 9th out of the 12 card issuers, with a score that places it among the least satisfying companies for credit-card customer service.
This Card is Best For
Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card is best suited to businesses that will charge a lot to the card. For one, to collect on the card's hefty bonus requires spending $25,000 in the first three months after you open an account.
Also, if you spend big on the card but have a small or nonexistent accounting staff, you might especially benefit from Business Elite Online Reporting, the free service that comes with the card and provides tools to help track and manage card spending. This card's also a decent option for use on business travel. It has no foreign transaction fee, a plus for overseas trips, and it offers comprehensive travel benefits, including travel accident insurance, auto rental coverage, and lost luggage reimbursement. You’ll also get up to $100 as reimbursement for incidental travel fees each year.
Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card Bonus
New cardmembers can get a $1,000 cash-back bonus or 100,000 bonus points after spending at least $25,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
While $1,000 is a huge bonus, a number of other business cards offer comparable incentives, and for far smaller "spends" over three months than the $25,000 the Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card requires to earn its bonus. For example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months, a bonus that’s worth $1,000 in cash back or at least $1,250 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard allows you to earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles if you spend at least $4,000 in your first four months with the card; Investopedia values that bonus at around $1,500 if used to book flights with American Airlines.
Rewards Earning Details
When you apply for the Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card, you have the option of choosing to earn cash back rewards or rewards points.
- Cash back option: Earn 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent
- Rewards points option: Earn 1 point per dollar spent and receive 5,000 bonus points whenever your company spends $10,000 or more within a monthly billing period
If you choose the points option, you can also earn bonus points (of between 1 and 10 points per dollar spent) by purchasing from more than 150 Wells-Fargo partners. Those companies range from Ace Hardware and Office Depot to Danskin and the Gap through Best Western and Hertz.
Rewards Redemption Details
If you opt for the cash back structure, your cash back is redeemable for statement credits or deposits to a Wells-Fargo checking or savings account. But you must wait longer to receive those rewards than with some competing cards. Earned cash back is credited only quarterly (in March, June, September, and December), where that credit is made monthly for the Chase Ink Business cards, for example.
If you decide to use rewards points, you have a number of redemption options. You can purchase gift cards in denominations of $50 (6,500 points), $100 (10,000 points), $200 (20,000 points), or $300 (30,000 points). For travel, you can redeem points to buy flights "at a reduced price," according to Wells-Fargo, or use them directly to buy flights, starting at 25,000 points per domestic flight. (There's a $24 fee for every redemption for an airline ticket.)
When you redeem points online, you'll get a 10% point credit. For example, if you had 20,000 points and redeemed them online, you'd actually have 22,000 points to use. Because of the 10% bonus, opting for rewards points can give you more value than if you decided to use cash back rewards.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most value from your card, use it for all of your business purchases. On all purchases, you'll earn 1.5% cash back or 1 point per dollar spent.
Opting for points makes the most sense if you plan to spend at least $10,000 a month on the card, since that qualifies you to earn 5,000 bonus points for each month. And plan, too, to redeem your points online, since you'll get a 10% points bonus by doing so.
To put that in perspective, let's say your business spent $10,000 per month for three months, for a total of $30,000 spent. If you used the cash back option, you’d earn $450 in rewards.
If you spent that same amount but went with rewards points, you'd earn 30,000 rewards points. Plus, you'd get 15,000 bonus points—5,000 for every month that you spent at least $10,000—giving you a total of 45,000 points (though it's important to note that the "return on spending would diminish down to the equivalent to 1 point per dollar on all monthly spend beyond $10,000"). Redeem those points online, and you’d get a 10% bonus—giving you 49,500 points. Your points are worth 1 cent each, so those points are worth $495, or $45 more value than if you opted for cash back rewards.
You can earn additional points by patronizing Wells-Fargo partners, which number more than 150. The rewards include 4 or 5 points per dollar spent at a host of online apparel retailers, including Northface.com, Timberland.con, Gap.com, and JJill.com. Buying $500 a year of clothing at these retailers would earn you points worth $20 to $25.
Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card's Outstanding Benefits
This card offers some exceptional perks, including:
- Travel incidental fee reimbursement: Each year, you'll get up to $100 in reimbursement for incidental travel costs, such as baggage fees.
- Travel accident insurance
- Travel cancellation/interruption with weather
- Trip-delay reimbursement
- Lost-luggage coverage
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Secondary auto-rental insurance
- Visa extended warranty protection
- Visa purchase protection
- Free cards for employees
If you’re looking for a new credit card, it's helpful to consider the issuer’s customer service. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo has a subpar reputation when it comes to customer support.
According to the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study, Wells Fargo ranks ninth out of the 12 card issuers it surveyed. Its score of 783 is well below the average of 806 for all issuers.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can contact customer support through its online platform or by calling 1-800-642-4720.
The Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature card offers basic security features that are standard for business credit cards. You'll get perks like:
- Business credit card account alerts
- Fraud monitoring
- Zero liability protection
While the Wells-Fargo Elite Business Elite Signature card offers respectable rewards, especially in the form of cash-back, the card has a number of drawbacks that put it at a competitive disadvantage with many competitors.
Those begin with this card's bonus, which requires hefty spending of $25,000 in the first three months, for a reward that’s on a par with those for other cards that require a "spend" of no more than $15,000.
After having no annual fee for the first year, this card charges $125 annually, yet only offers rewards you can readily receive with cards that charge no annual fee. For example, the no-fee Discover it Business card allows you to earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.
Also of concern is Wells-Fargo's below-average performance in satisfying its credit-card customers, according to J.D. Power's annual survey.
A suite of expense-management tools do add value to this card, for businesses who could use assistance with managing expenses charged to its company cards. The card also offers a broader selection of travel benefits than most business cards with relatively low fees.
Those advantages, though, should be weighed carefully against the shortcomings of this card and its issuer before choosing it over other options in small-business cards.