Executive Summary -
Wells Fargo is not one of the major issuers and has relatively few cards in their portfolio. It is a basic offering where you earn 1X for everything though there is a teaser 5X for gas, grocery and drugstore for the first six months. In terms of earning points, it lags behind most of it's competition because they do not offer 2X on any category expenses.
Summary - The Wells Fargo Rewards Card is their new rewards card and an improvement over the old version (which required a $19 annual fee if you opted in for the reward program). In this review, we'll see how it stacks up versus the reward cards from the big boys.
Reward Formula - The Wells Fargo Rewards Card allows you to earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card. Points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards like travel, cash back, merchandise and gift cards.
Fees - There is no annual fee for this card.
A closer Look At Wells Fargo Rewards
To figure out how good this card is, we have to take a look at the reward program. At first glance, this reward program resembles many other credit card programs as in they offer travel rewards, cash back, merchandise and gift cards. So dissect them and see how it stacks up.
Travel Rewards - The Wells Fargo reward program appears to be the old style reward system whereby you need a certain amount of points to get a flight within the Continental USA. In the example that they gave on their website, you need a minimum of 25,000 points. It comes with the usual restrictions like Saturday stays and booking 21 days in advance.
Cash Back - If you wish to exchange your points for cash back, you need to exchange at least 25,000 points to get 1% cash back. As you can see from the reward table (or rather pictures below), if you exchange less than 25,000 points, the rebates you get are less than 1%.
Gift Cards - You can also exchange your points for gift cards. However, the rebate equivalent when you exchange points for gift cards is less than 1%. What I mean? Well, for example, you need 650 points to get a $5 gift card and 1300 points to get a $10 gift card. The better program like Chase Ultimate Rewards program allows you to redeem 500 points for a $5 gift card and 1000 points for a $10 gift card as well.
Online Shopping Portal - Like Discover, Chase and Citi, Wells Fargo have come up with their own online shopping portal whereby you can earn extra points when you shop with their merchant partner. You can see a full list of their merchant partners here.
Other Rewards - The Wells Fargo Reward Program also has a merchandise catalog where you can exchange points for various merchandise. You can also donate your points to charity.
Wells Fargo Reward Peer Comparison
Comparing this card to others is essentially comparing their reward programs. There are a few things I do not like about this program. Firstly, the cash back option is less than desirable because you have to redeem 25,000 points just to get back 1%. In the past, that was how most reward programs operated and hence most folks have to choose between rewards or cash back. But today, the Chase Ultimate Reward program allows you to redeem points for cash at 1% for any level. The number of points required to redeem for gift cards also results in a payout of less than 1%. Many credit card reward programs like Citi ThankYou and BOA's WorldPoints also have this problem. But once again, programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex's Membership Rewards have a 1% payout for gift card redemption.
The online shopping portal is a great feature to have and many other issuers have that program as well. For example, Discover has shopdiscover.com, Citi has their Citi Bonus Cash Center and Ultimate Rewards also has an online shopping mall.
Wells Fargo Rewards Card - Good Enough?
Verdict - The Wells Fargo Reward program on the whole is typical of most credit card reward program. But it is rather average and not the best. In my opinion, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is perhaps the best (or top 2) reward program out there and is clearly better than Wells Fargo. Therefore, the question you have to ask yourself is why are you applying for this card? If it is for the rewards, then you are probably better offer looking at some of Chase credit cards.
For example, the Chase Freedom Card that I have has the Ultimate Rewards program (which is better than Wells Fargo). But while Wells Fargo allows you to earn 1% cash back on every purchase (except for the online shopping portal), the Chase Freedom gives you to opportunity to earn 5% cask back on rotating categories. The Chase Sapphire Card allows you to earn double points when you book your travels with Chase's travel portal.
So while the Wells Fargo Rewards Card is decent, it is simple an average card with an average reward program. I would high recommend that you consider the Chase cards that I have mentioned simply because they are better cards.