Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card Review: A Rewards Card for Students

Kailey is an industry specialist covering bank accounts, credit cards, and all things personal finance. Her work has appeared on USA Today, CNN Money, Fox Business, and MSN Money.

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The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card stands out from the growing sea of student credit cards not so much for its rewards as for its other perks. These include a free monthly FICO® Score update, a six-month 0% introductory APR, cell phone protection, and travel assistance services. The rewards-earning potential after the six-month introductory period is modest, but you can still earn cash back on every purchase. Plus, you're building a credit history that can pave the way to better rewards credit cards later.

Ratings Methodology
Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card
Rewards

Have cash automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments or apply rewards as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo product.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, six months
Balance Transfers: 0%, six months

Ongoing APR

11.15% to 21.15%

Bonuses & Perks

Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases up to $2,500 spent for the first 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases. Also, extra cash rewards earning potential and deals at participating merchants of the Earn More Mall®.

Highlights
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases up to $2,500 spent for the first 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.
  • Have cash automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments or apply rewards as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo product.
  • Request a paper check or redeem in $20 increments at a Wells Fargo ATM.
  • Redeem rewards for travel, gift cards, and more.
  • Extra cash rewards earning potential and deals at participating merchants of the Earn More Mall®.

All information on the page was collected independently from Wells Fargo. Some offer details may be out of date.

Top perks

Earn rewards on everyday purchases: In addition to helping college students establish a credit history, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card enables you to earn up to 3% cash back on up to $2,500 in spending at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores during your first six months as a cardholder. That amounts to $75 in cash back rewards. You'll also earn an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases during the introductory period. After the first six months are up, you'll receive 1% cash back on everything.

No annual fee: Wells Fargo doesn't charge you an annual fee for adding the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card to your wallet.

0% introductory APR for six months: The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers in the first six months. This is a rare benefit among student credit cards and may be useful if you need to finance a large purchase or pay down credit card debt.

Flexible reward redemption: You can redeem your Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card rewards via deposit into a Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments, at a Wells Fargo ATM in $20 increments, or by requesting a check. You can also redeem your cash back for gift cards, travel rewards, and merchandise.

Access to your FICO® Score: All Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card holders receive free FICO® Scores once per month. You can access yours by logging into your online Wells Fargo account. FICO is the most popular credit scoring model in use today and knowing your score can help you assess your chances of being approved for new credit.

Travel and cell phone protection: Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card holders receive several protections rarely found with student credit cards. These include:

  • Cell phone protection: Wells Fargo will pay you up to $600 to repair or replace a stolen or damaged smartphone, subject to a $25 deductible. You must enroll in automatic payments and pay your cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card in order to qualify. There's a $1,200 maximum annual benefit.
  • Roadside dispatch: Wells Fargo will call someone to assist you if your vehicle breaks down.
  • Travel and emergency assistance: Travel and emergency assistance helps connect you with medical, legal, and other emergency services in your area when you are traveling.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: This waiver protects most rental cars for up to 15 days within the United States or 31 days outside of it. It is secondary coverage, so you must first rely on any other car insurance you have. But it can help cover your car insurance deductible or any damages to the rental car not covered by your auto insurance.

What could be improved

Rewards-earning rate drops after six months: The 3% cash back rate on drugstore, grocery, and gas purchases drops to 1% after six months. Student credit cards aren't known for their great rewards, but there are some that offer these bonus categories to cardholders for as long as they own the card. One of these might suit you better if you're interested in maximizing your rewards-earning potential.

No automatic card upgrades: Some credit card issuers automatically upgrade student credit card holders to regular rewards credit cards when they graduate, or sometimes after a few months of responsible use. Wells Fargo does not do this, so you will have to call to request an upgrade or apply for a new card yourself.

Existing Wells Fargo relationship required to apply online: You may only apply for the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card online if you already have a checking or savings account or have taken out a loan with the bank. If you don't already have one of these, you'll have to contact Wells Fargo by phone or visit a branch in person in order to apply. It's not a huge deal, but most other student credit cards enable you to sign up online, which many people find to be easier and faster.

An alternative card to consider

There's no student credit card that will appeal to all college students. If the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card doesn't seem like the right fit, try the Discover it® Student Cash Back Card instead. It offers cash back on rotating categories each quarter, plus more cash back on everything else and Discover will match all the cash back new cardholders earn in their first year. Students who maintain a high enough GPA are also eligible for a statement credit each school year for up to five years.

As of Mar. 18, 2020
Discover it® Student Cash Back

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
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Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
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On Discover's Secure Website.

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Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement: Fair/New to Credit: Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Fair/New to Credit: Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back Bonus: Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases up to $2,500 spent for the first 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.
Rewards Program: Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else Rewards Program: Have cash automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments or apply rewards as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo product.
Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, six months Balance Transfers: 0%, six months
Regular APR: 12.99% - 21.99% Variable Regular APR: 11.15% to 21.15%
Annual Fee: $0 Annual Fee: $0

Highlights:

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

Highlights:

  • Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases up to $2,500 spent for the first 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.
  • Have cash automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments or apply rewards as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo product.
  • Request a paper check or redeem in $20 increments at a Wells Fargo ATM.
  • Redeem rewards for travel, gift cards, and more.
  • Extra cash rewards earning potential and deals at participating merchants of the Earn More Mall®.

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Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

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This card is right for you if:

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card is a solid choice for college students who are interested in financing a large purchase or are already carrying some credit card debt because it's one of the only student credit cards to offer a 0% introductory APR. Students interested in its cell phone protection and travel services should also move this card up on their list because it's one of the few student credit cards to offer these perks.

It does give college students an opportunity to earn rewards while building credit. But those interested in maximizing their credit card rewards may prefer a student credit card that doesn't drop the rewards-earning rate on their bonus categories after the card's introductory period is up. When it comes to earning rewards, college students -- and credit card users generally -- should avoid chasing the most rewards points if doing so would cause them to accumulate credit card debt. A student credit card is first and foremost a tool to help you establish a responsible credit history, and the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ card can help you do that while still giving you some modest rewards in the process.

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