Wells Fargo has entered the 2% cash back market with a credit card that may grab your attention.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is a no-annual-fee credit card that offers an unlimited 2% cash back on qualified purchases.
Money expert Clark Howard recommends keeping a 2% cash back credit card in your wallet for everyday purchases, but how does this card stack up to those he’s long recommended like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and Fidelity Rewards Visa?
In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into the Wells Fargo offering and compare it to the top competitors in the category.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card?
- Card Specs and Perks
- Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card vs. Other 2% Cash Back Cards
- Pros and Cons
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Wells Fargo Active Cash to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice because of its steady cash back rewards and the fact that it doesn’t carry an annual fee.
As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card?
The Wells Fargo Active Cash is a no-annual-fee card that offers unlimited 2% cash back on qualified purchases.
Though it does carry the Wells Fargo branding, which has rightfully received scrutiny in recent years due to the bank’s abuse of customer data, this card does offer some perks that some competing 2% cash back cards don’t.
For example, you’ll get cell phone protection coverage included at no additional charge and the chance to earn a cash welcome bonus. I’ll talk about those perks in a little more detail later in the article.
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks.
Cash Back Rewards
The premise of this rewards program is pretty straightforward. There are no category qualifiers or spending limitations on your purchases. You simply get a 2% cash back reward for each purchase you make with the card.
There are a few notable limitations and purchase exclusions, but those caveats are similar to those you’ll find with this card’s primary competitors.
Here’s a quick list of some of the things that will not earn you rewards:
- ATM transactions
- Cash advances
- Balance transfers
- Money orders
- Prepaid gift cards
- Casino gaming chips
- Wire transfers
- Wagers or bets placed online
- Lottery tickets
Cash Back Redemption
You will have several options for accessing your 2% cash back once it is earned.
Wells Fargo offers the following paths to cash back redemption:
- Money (Redeemable in $25 increments either by paper check or deposited into a qualified Wells Fargo checking or savings account)
- Balance credit to an elligible Wells Fargo credit product (mortgage, auto loan, credit card balance, etc.)
- Charitable donations
- Gift cards
If you don’t choose a cash or balance credit redemption, you can convert your cash back to points for the Go Far Rewards program. You can redeem these points for items such a plane tickets and gift cards. The redemption value of those points will vary based on each offer.
Unless there is a strong promotion to make the points worth your while, Team Clark typically recommends that you opt for redeeming your rewards at a 2% cash value to assure that you get a solid return on using the card.
Other Cardholder Benefits
- Welcome Bonus: This card offers a $200 welcome bonus if you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months of card membership. In the grand scheme of credit card welcome bonuses this is not the best, but it actually ranks really well when compared to other 2% cash back cards. Many of them don’t offer a welcome bonus at all.
- Cell Phone Protection Coverage: This card is one of a select few that offers you protection for your cellphone. The card offers up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft as long as you pay your monthly wireless bill with the Active Cash card. There is a $25 deductible for approved claims, but otherwise this coverage is provided free of charge.
- Zero Liability Fraud Protection: As long as you report fraudulent activity on your card in a prompt manner, Wells Fargo says that you will not be held responsible for any transactions made by unauthorized parties.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees with the Wells Fargo Active Cash card:
- Annual Fee: None
- Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of the transfer for the first 120 days, then 5% of the amount of the transfer moving forward. (There is a $5 minimum fee.)
- Cash Advance Fee: 5% of the amount of each advance ($10 minimum)
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $40
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card vs. Other 2% Cash Back Cards
If you’re considering applying for the Wells Fargo Active Cash card, it’s probably because of the 2% cash back reward.
You have the right idea. Money expert Clark Howard has two 2% cash back cards in his wallet right now: the Citi Double Cash and the Navy Federal cashRewards card. (Clark earns 2% on the Navy Federal card through a special promotion. It offers only 1.5% cash back to new customers.)
“It means everything you buy is essentially discounted 2%,” Clark says.
So is this card better than the Double Cash? What about the PayPal Cashback Mastercard and Fifth Third Preferred Credit Card?
Let’s take a look at all of them with this side-by-side comparison:
|Card Characteristic||Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer||PayPal Cashback Mastercard||Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature||SoFi Credit Card||Fifth Third Preferred||TD Bank Double Up||Wells Fargo Active Cash|
|Cash Back Rate||Unlimited 2% (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay for those purchases)||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2% (1% when you buy, 1% when you redeem in TD Bank account)||Unlimited 2%|
|Cash Back Redemption Options||Check, statement credit or credit for linked Citi bank account||PayPal balance credit||Investment account credit, travel, merchandise, gift cards, statement credit||Must use toward qualified SoFi product for full value, drops to 1% as statement credit||Check, statement credit, credit for a connected Fifth Third account or loan||Must deposit rewards into TD Bank account to receive full 2%, value drops to 1% otherwise||Check, Wells Fargo account credit, travel, gift cards|
|Welcome Bonus||None||None||None||None||None||$100 if you spend $1,00 or more within the first 3 months||$200 if you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3% in U.S. dollars per transaction||3%||1%||None||None||3% in U.S. dollars per transaction||3% in U.S. dollars per transaction|
|Cell Phone Protection||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
The Big Takeaways
Here are some things to consider coming out of that comparison:
- As you can see, flashy welcome bonuses are hard to find in this card category. Wells Fargo’s Active Cash really shines in this area compared to the rest of the lot. The $200 welcome bonus offer is the top offer.
- If cell phone protection is important to you, note that this card is one of the few 2% cards that does have it. Clark says this is a better way to protect your cell phone than paying for insurance through your wireless provider.
- The 3% foreign transaction fee attached to this card is one of the worst in this group of cards. If you’re someone who travels abroad often, you may want to consider the SoFi or Fifth Third cards instead.
- Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this chart is that these cards are more alike than they are different. That means there’s not much incentive to carry more than one or two of them in your wallet. Instead of duplicates from this chart, you may want to consider carrying one of the 2% cards and one other rewards card that gives you more than 2% in categories in which you frequently spend.
Pros and Cons of the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Are you considering adding the Wells Fargo Active Cash to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
|Unlimited 2% cash back on purchases||Relatively high fees for balance transfers and foreign transactions|
|Free cell phone protection coverage||Past transgressions by Wells Fargo may make some customers uncomfortable doing business with them.|
|Welcome bonus opportunity for new customers||You may not qualify for this card with Wells Fargo if you’ve opened another card with Wells Fargo in the past six months.|
Final Thoughts: Money expert Clark Howard puts his full support behinds 2% cash back credit cards because they don’t put category limits on the rewards you can earn.
However, he may not be as wild about the bank backing this particular option because of Wells Fargo’s poor reputation.
So that means you have to decide if you’re willing to overlook some of that to choose this card over competing 2% cards on the market.
Clark carries the Citi Double Cash in his wallet, and I have the Fidelity Rewards Visa Card in mine, but you may find that the welcome bonus and cell phone protection associated with this Wells Fargo card worth it for your financial life.
Do you have experience with the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!