Full Review of Wells Fargo Cash Wise Credit Card
Flat-rate cash-back rewards on all purchases
Introductory 0% APR offer and cash bonus
Cell phone protection
Wells-Fargo customer satisfaction for credit cards is below average
Rewards can't be redeemed continuously
- Flat-Rate Cash-Back Rewards Rate on All Purchases: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card hardly offers the highest rewards rates. But its rewards are simple: delivered in cash rather than points and without the restricted categories of some more-rewarding cards, or their need to register for rotating categories that have spending caps. Instead, you'll earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase you make. The card even offers an incentive to use an app to make your purchases with it, at least on an introductory basis. During the first 12 months after opening an account, cash back rewards are increased to 1.8% when you use the card through a qualified mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.
- Introductory 0% APR Offer and Cash Bonus: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card has an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 months from account opening for purchases and balance transfers. While that’s a fairly average offer for a card with no annual fee, it nonetheless gives you more than a year to pay down high-interest credit card debt or finance a major purchase without paying interest charges. Similarly, you can enjoy a bigger introductory bonus with some cards than the $150 this one provides. But those bigger bonuses typically require big spending, too, where the Wells Fargo Cash Wise demands only that you spend $500 within your first three months with the card, which should be easy for almost any cardholder to manage.
- Cell Phone Protection: If you use your Wells Fargo Cash Wise card to pay your monthly phone bill, you’ll get up to $600 in protection for your cell phone, subject to a $25 deductible. Several other credit cards also offer cell phone protection, but most of them charge an annual fee, so this is an unusual benefit for a no-fee card. However welcome this coverage is, it comes with caveats. While theft is covered, a simple loss of the phone is not. And any eligible damage must affect the phone’s functionality, which precludes repairs for cosmetic reasons alone, or due to electronic or software failures that didn’t arise from physical damage. Finally, this is secondary coverage that kicks in after you've received the benefits from any other insurance coverage, including that from home or auto insurance.
- Wells Fargo Customer Satisfaction Is Below Average: Most people don't interact with their credit card issuer very often. But when you need to do so, 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 the J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. In its 2019 survey, Wells Fargo ranks ninth out of the 12 card issuers, with a score that places it among the least satisfying companies for credit-card customer service.
- Rewards Can't Be Redeemed Continuously: Many other credit cards allow you to redeem rewards when you have accrued as little as one cent of them in your account—in other words, continuously if you wish. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise, however, is among the cards that require that rewards reach a certain minimum before they can be redeemed. Most cash redemption options, such as deposits into a checking or savings account, are redeemable in $25 increments only, so you have to accrue enough rewards before you can redeem them. While that's not a major problem, it is an inconvenience and a slight drawback compared with many cards.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise credit card is best for people who want a simple card that offers universal flat-rate cash back rewards, with no need to keep track of differing rates on certain purchases or to register for time-limited bonus rates on certain categories. You’ll earn 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase you make, with no limit to how much you can earn.
This card is also worth considering if you have no insurance on your cell phone, since it extends $600 in coverage provided you pay your cell phone bill with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise. While there are caveats to the protection, including that it covers a total loss only when the phone is stolen, it still provides some peace of mind about the most valuable item most of us ever carry around with us.
With a 15-month 0% APR offer on balance transfers and purchases, the Wells-Fargo Cash Wise is also a decent option if you’re looking to pay down debt acquired on another card or to make some new purchases that may take a while to pay off. You'll get 15 months without having to pay interest on either or both of the above.
That said, be aware that balance transfers come with a fee of at least 3% of the amount transferred, which isn’t uncommon. Also, when it comes to new purchases, be careful not to buy more than you can readily pay off by the end of the 0% APR period, or at least very shortly thereafter. As with all such offers, the regular APR kicks in when the promotion expires, and its interest charges immediately begin to cut into the savings you've enjoyed.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise One-Time Offer
While many credit cards provide one-time offers for new members, these offers often require spending thousands of dollars to qualify. By contrast, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card is among those cards that make their cash or points bonus easy to earn, even for those who are relatively small spenders.
You’ll earn the card’s $150 bonus if you spend just $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. That’s an attainable goal for most people merely by using their card for such essentials as gas and groceries, perhaps even within the first month or two with the card.
Rewards Earning Details
With the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card, you'll earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase you make. If you spent $5,000 per year with your credit card, that means you'd earn $75 in cash rewards, and with no annual fee to offset those savings.
You can earn a higher rate initially if you're prepared to load the card’s details into a mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. You then earn 1.8% cash rewards during your first year as a cardmember. For example, if you used Google Pay to pay for $5,000 in transactions over the first year, you’d earn $90 in rewards, an additional $15 more than if you simply pulled out your card for those transactions.
Rewards Redemption Details
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card offers a range of redemption options, including:
- Cash: Use a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card to redeem your rewards for cash at Wells Fargo ATMs, in increments of $20.
- Direct deposit: You can transfer your cash rewards to a Wells Fargo savings or checking account.
- Mortgage payments: If your mortgage is through Wells Fargo, you can apply your rewards as a credit toward your mortgage principal balance.
- Charitable donations: Rewards can be directly donated to select charities.
- Gift cards: Redeem your rewards for either electronic or physical gift cards.
- Travel: Redeem your cash rewards for travel arrangements, such as flights or hotels with GoFarRewards. No blackout dates apply, Wells-Fargo says.
Note that rewards, such as those deposited into a checking or savings account, can be redeemed in $25 increments only. That’s in contrast to other credit cards that essentially allow you to redeem your rewards continuously.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most value from your card, use it to pay for as many expenses as you can, including any categories for which you don't have another card that pays a higher rewards rate. If you immediately begin to use the card to pay for such staples as food, you should be able to easily spend the $500 required within three months to earn the $150 one-time offer—which represents a 30% return on that spending.
If possible, sync your Apple Pay or Google Pay accounts with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise card to boost your cash rewards. By doing so, you’ll earn 1.8% cash rewards on mobile-wallet transactions during your first year as a cardmember, an edge of 0.3% compared with using the card outside such a wallet. If you're the average American consumer, and you indeed use a mobile wallet, we estimate that you can earn more than $450 on this card within the first year of ownership. Let's say you use this card to purchase items including food, apparel, fuel, entertainment, and personal care products and services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'd spend around $16,000 in all of those categories combined over a year.
In addition, let's assume you take one trip per year that costs a total of $1,500, including airfare, hotels, ground transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
You would earn a total of $465 on this card in that first year, including earning 1.8% cash back (using the wallet) for every purchase you make and the first-year bonus of $150. If you skipped using the mobile wallet, you'd lose $53 of the total, and so earn about $412 for the year. After the first year, without either the bonus offer or the mobile-wallet bump up in rewards, you'd still earn a respectable $263 in cash back for that annual spending.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise's Outstanding Benefits
For a card with no annual fee, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card has one standout benefit: cell phone protection.
If you use your card to pay for your cell phone bill, you'll get up to $600 in coverage against theft or damage, subject to a $25 deductible.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: Use your card to pay for your car rental and decline the rental company’s insurance and you'll get secondary coverage for theft or collision damage.
- Travel and emergency assistance: As a cardholder, you can access emergency travel services, including legal referrals, emergency transportation, translation services, and prescription assistance.
- Roadside dispatch: If you need a towing service or help changing a flat tire, you can get emergency roadside assistance. You’ll have to pay a fee for any services provided, but you don't have to pay a membership fee.
- Travel accident insurance: Use your card to pay for your entire fare on a common carrier and you’ll receive up to $150,000 in travel accident insurance.
If you're looking for a new credit card, it’s helpful to consider the issuer’s customer service. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo doesn’t have a great 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.
Wells Fargo's array of security features is typical of most credit cards. It provides account monitoring for suspicious activity, and will send you alerts if there are fraudulent transactions. You are covered by zero liability protection, meaning you’re not liable for unauthorized transactions.
If your card is lost or stolen, Wells Fargo offers emergency card replacement and cash disbursement.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card is a simple, flat-rate rewards card that offers an appealing combination of offers for the first year in which you own it. Those introductory perks include a $150 cash bonus for a mere $150 in spending, a 0.3% boost in rewards rate if you use a mobile wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Play, and a 15-month introductory 0% APR offer, albeit with a fee for balance transfers.
There's also the intriguing perk of coverage against damage or theft for your cell phone, which comes automatically if you bill your monthly carrier bill to the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card.
The 1.5% cash rewards rate is fairly typical for a rewards credit card with no annual fee, but there are some cards available that offer a higher rewards rate. For example, the Citi Double cash card allows you to earn up to 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% cash back when you buy, and an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.