Full Review of Wells Fargo Propel American Express Credit Card
3 points per dollar spent in a variety of popular spending categories
Decent bonus for a no-annual fee card
Introductory 0% APR offer
Cell phone protection
Wells-Fargo customer satisfaction for credit cards is below average
Rewards have minimum redemption thresholds
- Earn 3 Points per Dollar Spent in a Variety of Popular Spending Categories: If the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card offers modest rewards on most of its spending, its bonus spending category rewards are a standout for a card with no annual fee. They offer an unlimited 3 points per dollar spent and do not rotate or have spending caps, as do the high-rewards categories with some competing cards. The categories with the 3-points rate are travel, gas, and dining, along with spending on the Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify streaming services.
- Decent Bonus for a Card With No Annual Fee: This card's 20,000 point bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership is worth $200 for most redemption options and is a strong offer for a card with no annual fee. While larger $500+ bonuses do exist, they are almost always found on cards that have an annual fee in their first year or beyond.
- Introductory 0% APR Offer and Cash Bonus: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card has an introductory 0% APR offer for balance transfers, which runs for 12 months, provided the transfer is requested within four months of receiving the card. While that term is a little below the norm for such offers, even for a card with no annual fee, it nonetheless gives you a year to pay down high-interest credit card debt without paying interest charges. The purchase APR is 0% for 12 months as well.
- Cell Phone Protection: If you use your Wells Fargo Propel American Express 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 if not all 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 (although it will cover any deductible you incur with that other coverage).
- 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 Have Minimum Redemption Thresholds: Many other credit cards allow you to redeem rewards when you have accrued as little as one cent of them in your account—so there are no redemption thresholds to meet. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express is, however, among the cards that require that rewards reach a certain minimum before they can be redeemed. Cash redemption options, such as deposits into a checking or savings account, are redeemable only in 2,500-point increments (worth $25) by phone or online, or 2,000-point increments (worth $20) at an ATM. While these requirements are not a major problem, they’re an inconvenience and a slight drawback compared with many cards.
This Card is Best For
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
This card is best for people who want to earn unlimited high rewards rates in a selection of popular categories without having to carry multiple credit cards or worry about rewards caps.
In particular, people who eat out and travel (or simply commute) regularly can take advantage of this card's 3-points-per-dollar-spent rewards on dining and a broad range of travel purchases, including such local expenses as public transit. It’s also ideal if you spend more than the norm (of $29 a month, on average) on streaming services, which also qualify for that premium rate.
This card is also worth considering if you have no other 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 12-month 0% APR offer on balance transfers, the Wells-Fargo Propel is also a passable 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. That said, be aware that balance transfers come with a fee of at least 3% of the amount transferred, which isn't uncommon.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Credit Card One-Time Offer
If you haven't opened a new Wells Fargo credit card within the last 15 months, you may qualify for a 20,000 point bonus for spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months from the date you open your account.
While the bonus is issued at 20,000 points, these points are worth $200 according to our points valuations when used for travel, gift cards, cash back or experiences. The bonus points will show up as redeemable within one to two billing periods after they are earned. Compared to other cards with no annual fee, this bonus is substantial. Most no-annual-fee cards offer bonuses that are worth between $50 to $250, if they offer one at all.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers unlimited 3 points per dollar spent that don’t expire on dining, travel, gas station and select streaming purchases.
Wells-Fargo's definition of travel is fairly broad. It includes not only spending on airlines, hotels, cruises, car rentals, and passenger rail but timeshares, commuter trains, local taxi and limo services, campgrounds, ferries, automotive tolls, and parking expenses.
Gas stations include the purchase of fuel at stations proper, but does not include that from warehouse clubs and other retailers that may not be coded as gas stations, primarily.
Similarly, dining purchases encompass spending at not only restaurants, both fine-dining and fast food, but at drinking establishments. However, spending at other dining locations, such as caterers, bakeries, and grocery stores do not qualify for the dining rate.
Select streaming services where the premium rate applies include Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, SiriusXM and Spotify.
This card also offers unlimited 1x points on all other purchases.
Rewards Redemption Details
Your rewards can be redeemed in many ways, but cash back is usually your best option. You can request cash at Wells Fargo ATMs, as a paper check or as a deposit or credit to a qualifying account. Cash back redemptions start at 2,000 points for $20 cash back at ATMs or 2,500 points for $25 cash back when redeemed online or over the phone.
Through GoFarRewards, the Wells-Fargo rewards program, you can also redeem your cash rewards for travel arrangements, such as flights or hotel. No blackout dates apply for these bookings, Wells-Fargo says.
Gift cards, travel, and experiences all result in a value of a penny per point when redeemed. One notable exception from that ratio applies when buying merchandise from Apple, when each point is worth only 0.712 cents.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Maximizing rewards with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is fairly straightforward. Make sure to put all of your qualifying dining, travel, gas and fuel, and streaming purchases on the card, since you earn an unlimited 3 points per dollar in these categories, with no spending caps.
It's especially important to ensure you maximize spending on this card during the early months in which you own it. That way, you can ensure you meet the required spending of $1,000 within three months that qualifies for the card's 20,000-point bonus. And those purchases can come from either the premium-rewards categories or from other spending, whose 1 point per dollar rewards can also help increase your points balance.
One strategy to maximize earnings with this card is to consider areas in which you might increase spending in the categories that qualify for premium rewards. One is to factor in the 3-point-per-dollar rewards you earn on streaming services when deciding on your TV-service provider.
For example, you might drop your cable or satellite service and instead signed on for $45 a month with Hulu+ Live TV, which combines a lineup of 60 broadcast and cable channels plus Hulu’s streaming service. That spending would earn you $16 a year in rewards--hardly a windfall, admittedly, but you might also save money compared with what you’re now paying for live-TV service.
Another tip: When you're traveling or dining out with friends or family members that aren’t concerned with earning rewards, you can have them pay you in cash and then pay for the entire bill with your card to earn even more points. You can also make sure that purchases made by other household members that you end up paying for anyway are earning rewards by getting free authorized user cards.
Even if your spending is decidedly normal, this card can be attractively rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household in 2017 spent $280 per month on dining out, $65 per month on travel (for lodging away from home), $164 per month at gas stations, and $29 per month on streaming services. Over a year, that spending could earn 19,368 points, worth about $194, with this card.
And that's before considering all other purchases at a point per dollar spent, which might easily add as much or more if this card was used for that spending as well. The benefit of bumping up other spending would be especially great during the first three months of the card, when the introductory bonus can be earned. The spending above would quickly satisfy the $1,000 required to earn the 20,000 bonus points. This would bring the first year’s rewards value to just under $400.
Let's imagine a more travel-inclined family who takes several trips a year that would add $1,500 a year to their travel and and an additional $1,500 to dining spending (in addition to the $780 ($65 * 12) in lodging we included for our average family above). The resulting $3,000 in spending would, at 3-point-per-dollar earnings, add 9,000 points to annual rewards earnings. At their redeemed value of $90, and adding the $194 in earnings from our average scenario, the spending on those trips would swell the annual value of this card’s rewards to $284. (Again, earnings at the 1 point-per-dollar rate, and the annual bonus, are not considered in this total.)
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Cell phone protection
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Provides up to $1,000 of secondary reimbursement per covered trip due to a travel inconvenience caused by lost or damaged baggage when travel is purchased with the card.
- Advance access to buy concert, theater and special events tickets (under the American Express program)
- Extended warranty
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Return protection
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Travel emergency assistance
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 9th 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.
Also, keep in mind that this is an American Express card. That means it may not be as widely accepted as a Visa or Mastercard credit card when traveling in the United States or, especially, abroad.
This American Express card is issued by Wells Fargo, so not all of the traditional American Express benefits apply.
Rather than having access to free credit reports and report alerts, as some cards do, Wells Fargo only gives you access to your FICO Score for free. Your FICO Score updates monthly.
Otherwise, 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.
Fees to Watch Out For
This card's fees are mostly in line with its competitors with a couple of notable exceptions. First, you can find cards that do not charge the balance transfer fee that this and some other cards with introductory 0% APR offers do. Lower cash advance fees can be found, as well. That said, finding cards with lower fees for these features are of course important only if you plan to use them.
This card stands out by offering, with no annual fee, a hefty three-points-per-dollar reward on dining, travel, gas, and select streaming subscription purchases. There’s no spending limit on these earnings. As such, the Wells-Fargo Propel American Express is a versatile card that provides generous rewards on many purchases without the need to track earnings against an annual fee or to register for rotating categories in order to earn maximum rewards.
While that 3-points per dollar rate is generous, some other no-annual fee cards offer even better rewards in certain categories. However, you’ll likely need to trade the wide range of the Wells-Fargo Propel American Express’s best rate for rich rewards that are more tightly focused. For example, some no-annual-fee cards offer 4% cash back (or 4 points per dollar spent) on dining purchases, but only 1% cash back (or 1 cent per dollar spent) on almost all other categories, or 5% cash back/5-points-per-dollar rewards on a selection of bonus categories that rotates quarterly.
Because the best rewards with this card are constrained to a few categories, then, also consider adding another broad-based card that offers rewards on all other purchases that are richer than the 1 point-per-dollar that the Wells-Fargo Propel American Express offers. For example, the Citi Double cash card offers 1% cash back on purchases, plus an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases. Using this card for non-bonus category purchases would be an amazing compliment to the 3x points you earn on the Wells Fargo Propel Card.
Also, while many other cards extend more generous 0% APR introductory offers, the one with Wells-Fargo Propel American Express is still a decent additional perk for those drawn primarily by the card’s rich rewards but who also have a high-interest balance on another card. It allows you to transfer those balances and carry them without interest for the year as well as avoid interest on new purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening.
There’s also the intriguing benefit of coverage against damage or theft for your cell phone, which comes automatically if you bill your monthly carrier bill to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card.