By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wells Fargo has announced a new rewards credit card called the Wells Fargo American Express Card, and it is surprisingly good, considering Wells Fargo’s history as a credit card lender. We generally think of Wells Fargo as a “me too” player in credit cards, often launching copycat cards with slightly worse rewards long after other issuers have established similar cards. This new card is different. It is actually a re-tooling of a “brand” — Propel — that Wells Fargo has already used in the past, but a brand that never got much traction, so it will probably be new to many potential card customers.
A No-Annual-Fee Card with Strong Rewards
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is a no annual fee credit card with a points rewards system. You can use your points for cash back, gift cards, travel, rewards, merchandise, etc. In general, those points are worth a penny each, though possibly a bit more on travel purchases and a bit less on merchandise, but your experience may vary slightly. That said, we are going to treat this card mainly as a cash back card in reviewing it, because the points line up pretty well with their corresponding cash-back percentages — for example, 3 points per dollar generally is the same as 3% cash back.
Here are the reward specifics:
- 3 points per dollar, or 3%, on dining purchases
- 3 points, or 3%, on travel and transit, meaning not only things like airfare and hotels but also gas station purchases, public transportation, taxis, tolls and parking, etc.
- 3 points, or 3% on streaming services, specifically Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Sirius XM (but not Amazon)
- 1 point per dollar, or 1%, on everything else
- Bonus opportunity: You’ll earn an extra $300 if you use the card for at least $3000 in purchases in the first 3 months of having the card. A nice bonus but also a rather high hurdle to get it.
- No foreign transaction fees – No fee on purchases outside of the U.S. makes it good for international spending.
- 0% interest rate on new card purchases for 12 months as well as on balance transfers (3% fee on transfers during that 12 months, though).
How It Stacks Up
You could compare this card’s enhanced earning categories to any number of other cards on the market, but two in particular have multiple similarities.
First, let’s compare the Wells Fargo Propel vs. the Uber Visa. The Uber Visa offers 4% cash back on dining (a little better than this Wells Fargo card), 3% on travel (but not gas/transit like this card), 2% on streaming services (a bit less) but also 2% on other online purchases (a bit better), and 1% everywhere else.
Second, we’ll look at the Wells Fargo Propel American Express vs. the Costco Anywhere Visa. The Costco card requires a paid Costco membership, so this is actually a bit of an unfair comparison. Noting that, the Costco credit card offers 4% cash back on gas (better), 3% on restaurants and travel (but not on transit), 2% on Costco, and 1% everywhere else.
Overall, we see this as a strong rewards card to consider. As mentioned, the 3% reward on transit purchases in particular is interesting. You don’t see that often, especially on a no-annual-fee credit card. In addition, you have a nice bonus opportunity if you can hit the high spending requirement in the first few months.
Anytime we see a credit card like this that offers enhanced rewards in specific spending categories, we suggest that you pair it up with a flat cash back card that you can use on those purchases that would otherwise only give you a 1% rebate. The Citi Double Cash Card and the PayPal Cashback Mastercard are our two favorite options, each offering a flat 2% rebate on all purchases.