Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review: A Leading Cash-Back Card With a Big Sign-up Bonus
The $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 within three months, along with a long list of valuable perks, explains why this credit card is one of the most versatile and lucrative I’ve come across. Let's dive in to see if it's a fit for you.
Great for: Big cash sign-up bonus Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
- Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
- No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.74%-27.74% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
- $0 Annual Fee
- Select “Apply Now” to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
What I like
$200 cash rewards bonus -- New cardholders can earn this if they use the card for $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of the account being opened. The $200 cash rewards bonus is delivered within two billing periods after the three-month period ends.
1.5% cash back -- This base rate on qualifying purchases is high among cash-back cards.No annual fee -- The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card eliminates this much-disliked cost item.
1.8% mobile wallet cash back -- Cardholders can earn a 1.8% cash back if they use a qualifying mobile wallet app to purchase goods and services, either online or in the real world. This is a promotion for new cardholders, and is in force for 12 months after the account opening.
The mobile wallet apps that qualify for these bonus earnings are as follows:
Wells Fargo Wallet -- this can be accessed through the Wells Fargo mobile app.
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months -- You can buy big-ticket items, then pay them off gradually -- and interest-free -- within the promotional period.
0% intro APR on balance transfer for 12 months -- We should stress that a balance transfer fee applies; the rate depends on when the transfer is made:
During the introductory 12-month period, it’s 3% of the balance transferred. The minimum fee is $5.
After that, it rises to 5% of the balance transferred, with the minimum fee still $5.
FICO® Score for free -- The very useful feature can be accessed through Wells Fargo’s online banking site, and via its mobile app.
ATM cash back redemptions -- This is a very convenient feature, and the bar is fairly low -- redemptions are available in increments of $20. It’s a handy option when you’re in a situation where you need a little cash in your hand more or less immediately.
Cell phone protection -- Insurance is included for customers who pay their device’s bill with a Wells Fargo credit card. The policy covers loss or theft up to $600 per claim, with a maximum $1,200 per 12-month period.
Why you can trust me
I have been active in financial media of one kind or another since 1994. Across that span of time I’ve been a broadcaster, reporter, editor, publisher, and even an equity analyst at a large European banking group. I’ve written thousands of articles on business and finance. I moved back to the U.S. in 2007 from a long stint abroad, at which point I started using credit cards (these were hard to obtain in the country where I formerly lived). My family currently holds six cards, with all three major brands -- Visa, Mastercard, and American Express -- represented in our portfolio. For me, credit cards are not only a topic I’ve reported on and analyzed over the years, they’re a mainstay in my family’s financial life. With that mix of analysis and experience, I feel confident in my reporting and evaluation of individual cards.
What could be improved
Balance transfer fee -- Even during the intro 12-month period for new cardholders, customers have to pay a balance transfer of 3% for the first 120 days and 5% after.
Bonus cash back opportunities -- Outside of the limited e-wallet bonuses, there are no elevated cash back earnings rewards with this card. Some competing cash-back credit cards feature bonus categories for purchases of certain kinds of goods or services.
What to look for in a cash-back card
The aim of a good cash back card is, of course, to earn enough in rewards to make it worthwhile. This naturally depends on the cash back rate, and what type of consumer you are.
There are basically two types of cash back cards, each suitable for a different type of customer:
Flat-rate cards -- These pay only a single rate across the board, no matter the type of good or service being purchased. Flat-rate cards tend to have a slightly higher base rate than competitors in the below category. People preferring a one-card wallet or those with general spending habits that don’t tilt too far in any direction would likely be better off with such a card.
Bonus category cards -- Elevated cash back rewards for purchases in certain categories -- occasionally up to as much as 5% -- are the key feature of these products. Sometimes the elevated categories are permanent, and sometimes they rotate (usually on a quarterly basis; typically a cardholder must activate their bonus eligibility online). The base cash back rate tends to be minimal (1% is common). So this kind of card is suitable for customers that spend plenty of money in the elevated rewards categories.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card credit score
Good to excellent credit is suggested for this card. Worth noting, online anecdotes and personal reviews seem to indicate that people with numbers at or above 700 don’t have a hard time getting approval.
In a note accompanying the fine print for the FICO® Score on the card, Wells Fargo states that:
There are many factors that Wells Fargo looks at to determine your credit options; therefore, a specific FICO® Score or Wells Fargo credit rating does not necessarily guarantee a better loan rate, approval of a loan, or an automatic upgrade on a credit card.
It’s very possible, then, that the same applies to a fresh credit card application.
How much cash back you can earn
For those with a relatively generous budget, the amount of cash back you can earn on a Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card can certainly add up. Let’s take a peek at how much an annual tally of $10,000 in purchases would generate when divided between the card’s two rates. We’ll pit this against a generic rival card earning at a 1% flat rate.
|Credit Card||Spend on general purchases||Spend on purchases through app (earning 1.8%)||Total Cash Back Earned|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||$7,500||$2,500||$112.50 + $45.00 = $157.50|
|1% flat rate rival card||$10,000||-||$100|
At the end of the year, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card holder would have earned nearly 60% more in cash back than if they had used the 1% flat rate rival card.
This card is right for you if...
This is a suitable card for fans of cash back products, in spite of its dearth of bonus cash-back rewards categories.
That’s because it has a relatively high base rate and isn’t high maintenance -- again, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card has no annual fee, and outside of the limited bonus category its cash-back program earns at that flat 1.5% rate, or 1.8% when using the app. On top of that the card’s sign-up bonus is one of the most generous on the market, given the low spending hurdle to qualify.