Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card with No Annual Fee review: Unique, no annual fee recreation rewards
A passable supplemental card best used for short-term experiences like amusement parks, sporting events and weekend getaways. It’s a perfect option for road trippers who need to fill a gap in their rewards strategy without paying an annual fee.
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The Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card with No Annual Fee is a solid rewards credit card geared toward recreational purchases, including national parks, sporting events and amusement parks. Since many of the card’s bonus categories cover areas not typically found with travel rewards cards, like aquariums, zoos and campgrounds, the no-annual-fee wander card is a good, low-risk option for anyone who likes to take road trips.
Despite being one of the best Credit One cards available, the no-annual-fee Wander card has some stumbling blocks. It doesn’t have much to offer outside of the recreational rewards, and it’s not the best option for covering entertainment expenses. It also doesn’t earn the highest rewards for dining purchases. Depending on your spending habits, this Credit One Bank Wander Card may work best as a supplemental card.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Doesn’t reward common entertainment category merchants like concerts, movie theaters and streaming services
- Requires a higher credit level (excellent) than the premium version of the Credit One Wander card (requires fair to good credit) but comes with weaker rewards and no welcome offer
- No welcome offer or intro APR offers
- High ongoing 24.24 percent (variable) APR
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards Rate: 3X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases, 2X points on restaurant and lodging purchases plus 1X points on all other purchases (terms apply)
- Welcome Offer: N/A
- Annual Fee: $0 (terms apply)
- Purchase Intro APR: N/A
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 24.24 percent (variable)
Current welcome offers
The Credit One Bank Wander card with No Annual Fee does not currently come with a welcome offer, which is disappointing and falls short of the annual-fee version of this card, the Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card. For a $95 annual fee, Wander cardholders who opt for the premium card can receive an up to $80 statement credit for purchasing a National Park Pass as part of that card’s welcome offer.
While there’s no welcome offer on this card, there is also no annual fee. Although a marked drawback for those who like to maximize the rewards value of their cards with welcome bonuses, the Wander card can be a great low stakes card for a summer of amusement parks and outdoor entertainment.
Credit One’s Wander cards has a different rewards program compared to the issuer’s other credit cards, but it works just like any other point-based tiered bonus category rewards card. Purchases within your designated bonus categories will earn two to three Wander Rewards Program points per dollar spent and all other spending will earn one Wander Rewards point per dollar spent. Your rewards won’t expire for the life of your account while it’s in good standing.
Also like other rewards cards, cash-like transactions (foreign currency exchanges, money orders, wire transfers, etc.), account activity expenses (interest and account fees, cash advances, balance transfers, etc.) and unauthorized purchases won’t earn rewards.
How you earn
The no annual fee Credit One Wander card earns 3X points on qualifying recreational and amusement park spending, 2X points for eligible restaurant and lodging purchases along with 1X points on other purchases.
This card’s recreational, amusement park and lodging categories are impressive because they include a variety of options you won’t find with other rewards credit cards. Here’s a look at what qualifies:
- Recreation and amusement park purchases—Eligible merchants: National parks, amusement parks, professional live sporting events, theatrical productions, tourist attractions, museums, aquariums and zoos.
Ineligible merchants include: college sporting events, golf courses, casinos, movie theaters, gyms, streaming services, concerts and more.
- Restaurants—Eligible merchants: Dine-in restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, lounges and fast food chains.
Ineligible merchants include: Grocery stores, superstores like Wal-Mart and Target, wholesale clubs like Costco, specialty stores like bakeries and more.
- Lodging—Eligible merchants: Hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, campgrounds, motor home/RV rentals, Airbnb bookings (according to MCC reports).
Ineligible merchants include: Cruise lines, timeshares, hostels, various rental properties and property booking companies like HomeAway and Vrbo (according to MCC reports).
As you can see, the Wander card’s entertainment category omits a few staple expenses, including concerts, movie theaters and streaming services. It’s strange that the Credit One Wander cards ignore those key merchants and food establishments like bakeries and specialty merchants since they’re covered by the Capital One SavorOne’s bonus categories. But unlike Capital One’s entertainment coverage, Credit One’s entertainment category rewards purchases beyond the entry ticket.
The no-annual-fee Wander card is a handy card for road trips because it combines traditional hotel credit card and dining credit card categories into one convenient rewards card. If you don’t fly often, this could be a great card on the road to see some sights or eligible events along with your regular lodging expenses.
How to redeem
Both Wander credit cards provide a more robust selection of reward redemption options than typical Credit One cards, which only allow you to receive rewards as an automatic monthly statement credit. The card’s terms and conditions only state that you can redeem points for cash back, gift cards “and other consumer goods and services.” These terms aren’t fully clarified without logging into your card account, but by digging into the rewards program agreement, we can infer that this is the full list of redemption options:
- Cash back—in the form of statement credits
- Gift cards
- Travel—in the form of air travel, hotel stay, car rental, cruise line, railway or tour operator experience/”activity” bookings through Aspire Travel Solutions
- Merchandise—including entertainment media (books, DVDs and videos, electronics, music and video games), TVs and computers, outdoor living and kitchen products (like tools and hardware), apparel (plus jewelry and accessories), gourmet food (like candy and gift baskets) and health and personal care products
However, Wander reward program points come with much more red tape compared to loyalty programs like Chase Ultimate Reward points or Capital One Miles. You must redeem your points for cash back in 1,000-point increments—equivalent to $10 back — and you can then expect your statement credit to appear in your account within three business days of redemption.
Travel redemptions are also cumbersome. Your travel plans are subject to blackout dates, minimum/maximum stays, eligibility requirements, wait-list restrictions, reservation validation limitations of up to a year and a myriad of other restrictions. Once you can book your trip, you usually must reserve at least 72 hours in advance, but no more than 11 months in advance, and how long you book is limited by your type of travel (hotel stays cap out at 21 days, for example). Your reward points may also not cover travel upgrades and you can’t use them for travel incidentals or other fees (like baggage fees or service) whatsoever.
How much are the rewards worth?
Credit One keeps it cut-and-dry when it comes to your points’ monetary value: all points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed toward cash back.
Just keep in mind that, as always, the actual value you’ll get from using your points for travel or gift cards may fluctuate compared to putting 1:1 cash back toward store-specific or travel purchases through other means, such as third-party travel booking sites.
Other cardholder perks
This card carries the exact same barebones benefits found with other Credit One cards. You’ll have access to a few card-linked cash back and discount offer programs and basic Visa network perks, but you’ll miss out on additional features found with other no-annual-fee rewards cards. These may include cost-saving benefits like extended warranty and auto rental collision damage waiver.
Credit One More Rewards and Visa Offers + Perks
Card-linked programs like Credit One More Rewards and Visa Offers + Perks can put a bit more cash in your pocket by activating regularly rotating deals in the issuer’s online portal—similar to how features like Shop Through Chase and Amex Offers work. Through Credit One,the More Rewards program provides limited-time offers for cardholders to earn 10 percent cash back with participating merchants while Visa Offers + Perks focuses on providing discounts. Some of these merchant offers come from recreation-oriented brands like Maverick and RVshare, but you may also find exclusive offers for apparel retailers, restaurants and more.
Traditional Visa benefits
All Visa credit cards carry network benefits associated with one of three tiers, which are determined by various factors such as the issuer and card characteristics like your credit limit.
Credit Protection Program
All Credit One’s credit cards come with the option to enroll in the issuer’s Credit Protection Program, but you may want a more cost-effective debt management plan instead, considering the potential risks versus the limited payoff.
In exchange for paying 96 cents per $100 of your new balance each month, Credit One will waive your minimum payment for up to six months if you’re involuntarily unemployed or disabled. The catch is you’ll have to wait 30 days for your policy to take effect, and while your protection is active, your account is frozen and still accruing compound interest you’ll need to pay off—which may overextend and even close your account.
Rates and Fees
Credit One cards have a reputation for being riddled with hidden fees, and this version of the Wander credit card is no exception. Thankfully, you won’t have an annual fee eating into your minimum $300 initial credit limit, but until you hopefully qualify for an automatic credit line increase, your potentially meager starting limit may invite a slew of fees since lodging and other vacation-related purchases can quickly pile up to that low ceiling, and the risk of spending beyond your credit limit is higher.
There’s no apparent overlimit fee to worry about, but a small credit limit on a card like this could be risky because Credit One can close your account if you’re 20 percent over the limit. Carrying a balance could also spell danger considering the 24.24 percent variable APR is much higher than the average current credit card interest rate, and there are no 0 percent intro APRs to shield your balance. Additionally, stacking an up to $39 late fee (terms apply) or 3 percent (or $1, whichever is greater) foreign transaction fee (if you’re vacationing abroad) can widen the gap between what you owe and what you have..
Make sure to read your card terms very carefully, or you might be blindsided by additional costs like a credit limit request fee or customer service fee (depending on your creditworthiness and the context) if you need to contact the issuer to get ahead of these pitfalls.
How the Credit One Wander with No Annual Fee compares to other rewards cards
The Credit One Wander card with No Annual Fee is a decent, low-stakes rewards card that can be to the benefit of road trippers and light to moderate travelers. However, it lacks some everyday value found on competing cards like grocery and gas rewards, which together can add up to some hefty cash back or points for some cardholders. See how the card compares to its premium option and a competitor’s option below.
The Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee vs. The Credit One Bank Wander Card
The premium Credit One Bank Wander Card comes with a $95 annual fee and features slightly different card art. Unlike the no-annual-fee version, you get a lot more value thanks to an up to $80 statement credit for a National Park Pass, an extra 2X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases and extra 1X points on eligible restaurant and lodging purchases.
Which Credit One Wander is the better option depends on how often you make recreation purchases and overnight vacation trips. Many cardholders’ budgets may find the no-annual-fee card easier to justify. Plus, if you’re planning to use the Wander card as a supplemental card in your current card strategy, it’ll be a great, low-impact way to scoop extra rewards for purchases at sporting events and at amusement parks.
Although the annual fee on the premium Wander card is nearly offset by the up to $80 statement credit for the National Park Pass, not everyone is planning to visit multiple National Parks in a year. You’ll need to visit at least three parks like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park in order to make the $80 value of the National Park Pass cheaper than if you were to drive through those three parks without it (at $35 per vehicle, a total of $105). That said, if your travel plans for the next year include adventuring to several National Parks, it’s a nice perk on a card that will reward you for your niche expenses.
Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee vs. The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One SavorOne cash back card would probably be more useful day-to-day for many cardholders than the no-annual-fee Wander card. It earns 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target). Plus, you’ll get 8 percent cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Since grocery store purchases are one of the most common household expenditures, it’s a wise choice to have a card that earns rewards or cash back for spending in that category.
Even outside the wider category coverage for more common expenses, its entertainment category covers all the no-annual-fee Wander card’s recreation category’s merchants and builds upon them by also covering movie theaters, concerts (with the Vivid Seats category), other tourist attractions (like museums and landmarks), bowling alleys, record stores, dance halls and pool halls. Both cards’ dining categories are similar, but the SavorOne earns more rewards on these purchases and covers specialty food stores like bakeries while the Wander card earns dining rewards at nightclubs.
The biggest leg up the no-annual-fee Credit One Wander has on the SavorOne card is that Capital One only rewards the initial ticket purchases in its entertainment category while the Credit One card implies it earns purchases at these locations beyond the entry cost. With costs at amusement parks and other recreational events being notably high, it could benefit Wander cardholders to curb a bit of that cost with card rewards.
Best cards to pair with this card
Because the no annual fee Wander card uses a different rewards system than other Credit One cards, it doesn’t necessarily pair well with another card from the issuer. Instead, look at your biggest expenses outside of entertainment and get a card that covers those categories.
For instance, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express covers everyday expenses like U.S. supermarket (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) and U.S. gas station purchases, but it also adds unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services — a category neglected by the no annual fee Wander card—to your arsenal.
A travel card to cover other expenses on your vacation could be good, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (which now rewards select streaming services), or a flat-rate cash rewards card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card to reward your other purchases at the same rewards rate as the no-annual-fee Wander card’s restaurant and lodging categories. If you are opting for the Wander card, be sure to supplement it with an option that rewards you in categories you spend the most in. Since you’ll be paying no annual fee, it might be a wise choice to opt for a card with an annual fee that also includes a welcome bonus with high rewards rates in key categories.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Credit One Wander with No Annual Fee worth it?
Ultimately, the Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee stands as one of the issuer’s best cards, as well as one of the better rewards cards for recreational purchases like amusement parks. Its extra restaurant and lodging purchases make an interesting complement by covering several key travel-related purchases, but these categories don’t foster as much day-to-day value as some competing cash back or general-purpose travel cards.
That said, its relatively niche categories, sky-high 24.24 percent variable APR, barebones benefits and other Credit One trappings make this version of the Wander better as a supplementary card than a primary rewards card.