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Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card review: Sky-high travel rewards, but the card doesn’t soar

It packs top-tier rewards rates and protections on major travel expenses, but its everyday value and transfer partner options aren’t nearly as competitive.

 /  16 min
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Snapshot

3.9

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3.9 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This new premium travel card makes a name for itself in a competitive market with sky-high airline and hotel rewards rates often only available with issuer-booked travel. The Autograph Journey opens the door to a proper Wells Fargo travel card combination without sacrificing rewards flexibility, but the limited transfer partners and travel-focused categories may be a deal-breaker.

  • Rewards value
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 1 stars out of 5
    1 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
    3.5 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

1X - 5X

Rewards rate

Info

$95

Annual fee

60,000 bonus points

Intro offer

Info

21.24%, 26.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card overview

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card and its new transfer partner program are just the exciting shake-up Wells Fargo’s rewards program needed. The Autograph Journey isn’t just a premium version of the base Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card with higher rewards rates like several other “sibling” credit card pairs settle for. Instead, the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey trims a few less lucrative categories to pack some of the highest travel rewards rates on the market — all without requiring you to book through an issuer portal. 

A new card needs more than stellar rewards rates to make a splash in the competitive $95-tier travel card market, though, and Wells Fargo rounds out their new product with solid travel perks and welcome offer points. However, this travel card still falls short of the exceptional status several of its main competitors hold. The Autograph Journey is an excellent partner card, but it can be challenging standalone card for both reward aficionados and less-frequent travelers since the roster of transfer partners and everyday reward categories are far more limited than what rival cards offer for the same annual fee.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 5X points on hotels purchases
    • 4X points on airline purchases
    • 3X points on restaurant and other travel purchases
    • 1X points on other purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $95 annual fee
    • No intro APR on purchases
    • No intro APR on balance transfers
    • 21.24%, 26.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • $50 annual statement credit for airline purchases (toward a $50 minimum airline purchase)
    • Travel insurance including trip cancellation and interruption protection, lost baggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, 24/7 pay-per-use roadside dispatch and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage
    • Up to $1,000 of cellphone protection against damage or theft (minus a $25 deductible; up to two claims each 12 month period)
    • Visa Signature benefits, including 24/7 Visa Concierge travel assistance and Luxury Hotel Collection privileges
    • Wells Fargo features, such as My Wells Fargo Deals reward opportunities and “Autograph Card Exclusives” pre-sale tickets

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Offers some of the highest rewards rates on travel without needing to book through an issuer travel portal, especially for airline and hotel purchases.

  • Checkmark

    The $50 annual airline purchase credit (on a $50 minimum purchase) helps you easily offset more than half of the annual fee.

  • Checkmark

    Offers plenty of peace of mind with extensive travel insurance, including some of the best cellphone protection and trip cancellation and interruption protection on the market.

  • Checkmark

    Wells Fargo’s new transfer partner redemption option makes the Autograph Journey a great travel card to pair with other Wells Fargo-branded rewards cards.

Cons

  • It doesn’t offer as many annual credits as similar cards do to offset the $95 annual fee.

  • There are only six travel transfer partners to work with — when similar cards usually have at least 15 — and there are no popular options for U.S.-based travel.

  • Some spenders could earn more rewards on a wider variety of purchases with this card’s no-annual-fee counterpart — all without a yearly cost eating into the points value.

Why you might want the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card

This newcomer to the competitive premium travel card space may be the right fit if you prioritize solid travel insurance, flexible redemption options and excellent rewards rates outside an issuer travel portal.

Rewards: Sky-high travel rates without an issuer portal

Unlike other premium travel cards, the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey focuses on earning some of the highest unlimited rewards rates on airline, hotel and general travel purchases without forcing you to book through an issuer travel portal. This approach is a breath of fresh air since it doesn’t force you to choose between earning more rewards or getting a better deal on your booking. 

Plus, Wells Fargo Rewards points are some of the few travel rewards that can be redeemed toward travel and cash back at an equal 1-cent value. Your redemption flexibility doesn’t end there — your points can even be fashioned into custom travel packages, sporting activities and other special events. If your travel plans get put on hold, though, you’ll also have some of the most versatile cash back redemption options at your fingertips, including ATM cash withdrawals and automatic redemptions at certain time or rewards intervals.

However, there are two major drawbacks to the rewards program that can drastically affect who this card will be good for: the only non-travel bonus category is for restaurants, and the transfer partner options and rates are much weaker than rival cards’. Rewards-savvy travelers can easily find an alternative since a good selection of valuable transfer partners is a major factor in choosing a premium rewards card. Many of these competing cards added bonus categories tailored for everyday spending during the pandemic as well, so less-frequent travelers may also have a hard time earning enough rewards to justify this one-track travel card. 

The Autograph Journey can be a lucrative card if you travel a lot and don’t like the hassle of transfer partners, but make sure to check how much you usually spend on travel to make sure this rewards program will be lucrative enough.

Perks: Impressive travel insurance and decent airline savings

The most eye-catching perk the Autograph Journey card brings to the table is its $50 annual airline purchase statement credit, which goes a decent way toward recouping the card’s yearly cost. Annual airline and hotel credits of this value are relatively common among $95-tier premium travel cards, but it’s worth noting this credit must be used on a single airline purchase of at least $50. This isn’t a hard minimum to meet considering the airfare and fee costs, but similar perks on several other cards don’t require the credits to go toward a single purchase.

The Autograph Journey card’s other travel perks are mainly travel insurance. Although it's missing the baggage delay and trip delay insurance a few other cards have, the Autograph Journey maximizes the key protections you’ll probably get the most use from. The trip cancellation and interruption protection is perhaps the best available on a credit card — offering more coverage per claim than even the luxury travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provide. Plus, the Autograph Journey upgrades Wells Fargo’s signature cellphone protection perk for some of the best cellphone insurance you’ll find.

Welcome offer: Solid market value

The 60,000-bonus point intro bonus carries the usual $600 value most $95-tier premium travel cards currently offer, and the required $4,000 spend in purchases in the first three months is typical as well. You may also get a bit more value out of the offer if you redeem it through the right transfer partner.

That’s a good kickstart to your rewards balance, and the requirements should be well within the average person’s spending. The current welcome offer value is certainly worth applying for, especially if you want to prepare for summer travel. But if you’re in no rush, the bonus may hopefully increase considering we’ve seen similar cards carry sign-up bonuses worth 70,000 to 80,000 points or miles before.

Why you might want a different travel rewards card

Frequent flyers and hotel guests may net plenty of value from the solid reward opportunities, travel perks and welcome offer. On the other hand, both occasional travelers and strategists who lean on transfer partners may have trouble justifying the annual fee compared to other options in the Autograph Journey card’s class.

Rates and fees: The annual fee may be too steep for some spenders

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card’s rates and fees are standard for premium travel cards in its class, but the $95 annual fee may be a bit high for some spenders. You can thankfully make up for a little over half of the fee with the yearly $50 annual airline purchase credit ($50 minimum airline purchase required), but you’ll have to rely on the value from your rewards spending to offset the remaining $45. That amounts to spending at least $900 at hotels, $1,125 on airline purchases or $1,500 on dining and other travel every year to break even with rewards redeemed through Wells Fargo.

The catch is that several similar cards don’t require as much effort to recoup their $95 annual fee. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers up to $100 in annual airline incidental credits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could earn more than $95 in yearly value from its annual hotel credits and account anniversary bonus points. So, unless you spend a good bit on travel — especially with airlines and hotels — another premium travel card may be more cost effective.

Transfer partners: A short list with limited value

The Autograph Journey card’s launch included a much-needed addition to Wells Fargo’s rewards program: the ability to transfer rewards to partner travel programs. This standard feature brings the Autograph Journey closer to competing with rival rewards cards from Chase, Citi, Capital One and American Express, but Wells Fargo’s transfer partners pale in comparison.

There are currently only six partners and none are for U.S.-based travel other than Choice Privileges®, which only includes budget hotel brands.

Wells Fargo Rewards transfer partners

According to Bankrate’s latest rewards valuation, a few of the Autograph Journey card’s transfer partners could offer more than 1 cent per point in redemption value, and Wells Fargo Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 rate to all partner programs, except for Choice Privileges, to which points transfer at a 1:2 rate. Bankrate values Wells Fargo’s partner rewards as follows:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub (Avios): 1.8 cents
  • Air France (Flying Blue): 1.5 cents
  • Avianca Airlines LifeMiles: 0.9 cents
  • British Airways Executive Club (Avios): 0.7 cents
  • Iberia Airlines Plus (Avios): 0.9 cents
  • KLM (Flying Blue): 1.1 cents

Rival rewards programs typically offer at least 15 transfer partners, which usually include at least one major U.S. hotel brand in addition to most of Wells Fargo’s transfer partners. Bankrate’s latest rewards valuations also list a high potential redemption value with several other issuers. For example, Bankrate values Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and Amex Membership Rewards points at about 2 cents each, Capital One miles at about 1.7 cent each and Citi ThankYou points at about 1.6 cents each.

Wells Fargo promises to add more transfer partners in the future, but there is no indication of when that may be. While the current list is decent, its limited options make the Autograph Journey card hard to recommend to early adopters unless you already have a Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card you can funnel rewards from.

How the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card compares to other travel cards

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card is certainly no slouch when stacked up to the competition. Its welcome bonus rises to the market standard, the travel-related rewards rates outpaces the typical 3X rate and it offers stronger perks than some popular picks.

However, the Autograph Journey falls short of becoming a top recommendation since some rivals offer a combination of stronger transfer partners, a better mix of everyday rewards categories and enough annual credits to offset the annual fee without relying on rewards.

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card
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on Wells Fargo's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 5X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Wells Fargo's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

20,000 bonus points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

75,000 bonus points
Info

Rewards rate

1x - 5x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey

Now that Wells Fargo Autograph cards allows you to transfer rewards to partner travel programs, it’s finally possible to create a solid Wells Fargo card pairing to maximize your rewards’ value like you can with other issuers’ card combinations. The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey, no-annual-fee Autograph card and the Wells Fargo Active Cash card rounds out the Wells Fargo trifecta of cards for the optimal reward earnings on your spending.

However, Wells Fargo doesn’t have many travel transfer partners available at the moment, so it could also be smart to look outside the issuer for another rewards card for travel or day-to-day spending — especially if you mostly travel with U.S. airline and hotel brands.

Who is the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey right for?

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is a solid pick if the transfer partners fit into your travel plans and you’re stacking Wells Fargo cards for your rewards strategy. Otherwise, you might want to look into a more versatile option.

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Bankrate’s Take — Is the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card worth it?

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is an exciting new option in the premium travel card space, and its flexible redemption options, sky-high travel rewards rates and quality travel perks set it up to be a quality travel partner.

However, it seems Wells Fargo hasn’t adapted the Autograph Journey card’s features to how $95-tier travel cards have evolved since the pandemic. These low-cost premium cards nowadays carry more everyday reward categories and enough annual credits to offset the annual fee. Although the travel protections are impressive, the annual fee isn’t as easy to recoup as its peers and it’s difficult to overlook the glaringly weak list of transfer partners. These shortcomings feel like Wells Fargo pushed the card to the market to capitalize on summer travel before the card’s features had enough time to fully bake.

All things considered, the Autograph Journey is a decent credit card. But it’s hard to recommend a decent card when the alternatives are exceptional and the no-annual-fee Autograph card is also a top competitor. Unless you prefer your cards to be from the same issuer you bank with, or you already have an everyday card to support the Autograph Journey, a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better use of a $95 annual fee.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest).

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

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Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Writer, Credit Cards

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.