Credit One Bank Wander® Card review: Earn travel rewards with fair credit
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Credit One Bank Wander Card Overview
While it’s far from the best travel credit card out there, the Credit One Wander Card fills a big gap in the travel rewards card market: It’s one of the few travel cards available with only fair credit.
Since nearly all competing travel cards require applicants to have at least good credit to be approved, the Credit One Wander Card may make sense for people who are working on their score but still want a chance to earn rewards on a variety of travel-related purchases. Even if you only have a 600 credit score, the Credit One Wander Card could be a good fit, especially if you spend a lot of time on the road or in hotels (thanks to its elevated rewards rates on eligible hotel and rental car bookings as well as eligible travel and gas). It’s also an unsecured credit card, so you won’t have to tie up hundreds in a security deposit just to get started as you would with a secured card.
That said, the card comes at a high cost of $95 per year. That’s on par with the annual fee charged by some of the best travel and rewards credit cards on the market — cards that tend to carry more valuable rewards and better travel perks and bonuses. The card’s APR is also quite high, so it could be a risky choice if you think you’ll need to carry a balance from time to time. And while the card offers a nice mix of redemption options, its rewards program simply can’t compete with those of the top travel cards from Chase, Amex and Capital One when it comes to rewards flexibility.
Credit-builders eager to earn rewards on travel could get plenty of value out of the Credit One Wander Card, but a lower-cost credit-building card may make more sense for others.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Rewards program and redemption options come with some red tape
- The $95 annual fee is very high for a card available with fair credit
- You must use Credit One’s designated travel provider to book rewards travel, and these providers are subject to change, which could be a hassle to keep up with when booking
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 10X points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked using the Credit One Bank travel site, 5X points on eligible travel, dining, and gas purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 26.24 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
The Credit One Bank Wander Card is currently offering 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases in your first 90 days as a cardholder. These points are worth 1 cent each, giving this bonus a value of $100 if you redeem for a statement credit, gift cards or travel.
This bonus is a bit of a mixed bag: On one hand, sign-up bonuses are hard to find on cards available with only fair credit and the Wander card’s bonus could completely cover its annual fee in the first year. Assuming you already spend $1,000 over 90 days on everyday purchases, this bonus could make the Wander card a less risky option than many unsecured credit-building cards that charge a lower annual fee but offer no bonus or rewards.
On the other hand, the card’s bonus is low compared to the offers you’ll find on most of the travel and rewards cards available at this price level (and even compared to most no-annual-fee travel cards). While those cards may be out of reach with only a fair credit score, their bonuses — often at least double the value of the Wander card’s — may make them worth waiting for as you work to improve your score.
While only a handful of cards available with fair credit carry sign-up bonuses that can compete with the Wander card’s, they may offer better overall value given the Wander card’s high annual fee. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card, for example, comes with a first year Cashback Match™, with Discover matching all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Considering the Discover it Secured charges no annual fee, that could easily beat out the total value offered by the Wander card. Meanwhile, the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®* is one of the few unsecured cards available with fair credit that comes with a welcome bonus. It charges no annual fee and offers a bonus of 5 percent cash back in Walmart stores for your first 12 months when you use Walmart Pay.
For a credit card available with fair credit, the Credit One Bank Wander Card offers very generous rewards rates — perhaps the highest and widest-reaching rates available in the credit-building card category. The card’s rates even rival those of some of the premier travel rewards cards on the market, making it a competitive rewards option for frequent travelers who don’t prioritize travel perks like credits for expedited security screening or transferring points to travel partners (neither of which are available with the Wander card).
How you earn
Credit One Bank Wander cardholders earn 10X points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked using the Credit One Bank travel partner, 5X points on eligible travel, including flights, dining, and gas purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases. That’s an impressive set of rewards rates and mix of bonus categories which could help you rack up a lot of points. You’ll also earn a flat 1X points on all other purchases.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, two of the top travel rewards cards on the market, both offer 10X points or miles respectively when you make eligible hotel and rental car bookings through their designated travel portals, but their annual fees eclipse those of the Wander card. Keep in mind, however, that those cards offer plenty of value via other perks that could easily justify a higher fee.
How to redeem
When it comes to redeeming your rewards, there are quite a few options on the table. For example, you can redeem your points for statement credits (in 1,000-point increments), gift cards, merchandise and travel.
While the statement credit, gift card and merchandise options are pretty cut and dry, travel redemptions come with a few caveats. For starters, your points do not have a baseline redemption value when you use them for travel. Where many travel card rewards programs guarantee at least 1 cent per point in redemption value when you opt for travel, the value you get out of your Wander card points will vary based on the details of your booking.
You can also only redeem for travel through Credit One Bank’s own travel portal, which partners with Aspire Loyalty Travel Solutions, LLC. This means you can’t use or transfer your points to book directly with airlines, hotels and other travel vendors for a potentially better deal. The top travel cards at this price level usually offer either a higher point value when you book through an issuer portal or let you transfer points to other travel loyalty programs to top off an existing balance or squeeze more value out of your points.
How much are the rewards worth?
Rewards earned with the Credit One Bank Wander Card are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for statement credits. With this redemption rate, 1,000 points are worth $10. However, the value for your rewards can vary if you redeem for gift cards, merchandise or travel.
Other cardholder perks
The Credit One Bank Wander Card doesn’t have a ton of meaningful cardholder perks, but this is common among credit cards for fair credit. If you want a credit card that comes with all the bells and whistles, you’ll need to improve your credit score until it’s in the “good” range or better and try for a higher-tier rewards card.
You can expect the following benefits if you sign up for the Credit One Bank Wander Card.
More Cash Back Rewards Program
The Credit One Bank Wander Card has a bonus program called the More Cash Back Rewards Program that lets you earn up to 10 percent more cash back with participating merchants (depending on the offer’s terms). New offers are added all the time, similar to other issuers’ card-linked offer programs, such as Amex Offers, so you can always check in and see which stores are available.
Zero fraud liability
If you’re just getting the hang of using a credit card, you should know this card offers zero fraud liability for unauthorized charges. This perk can provide you with considerable peace of mind and some protection if a hacker or thief gets their hands on your credit card or your card number by ensuring that you won’t have to pay promptly reported, unauthorized purchases.
However, this account protection is an industry standard for nearly any credit card, so it’s not a unique perk to hinge your card decision on.
Optional Credit Protection Program
Like other Credit One cards, the Credit One Wander also comes with the option to enroll in the issuer’s Credit Protection Program. It can waive your card’s minimum payment for up to six months in the event you’re involuntarily unemployed or disabled if you pay 96 cents per $100 of your new balance each month, but comes with a considerable catch. Rather than activating immediately, it will take 30 days for your policy to take effect, which then freezes your account while allowing compound interest to keep accruing.
Since this can snowball your balance during a time when you might not be able to make your minimum payment to begin with, you might want to consider a more cost-effective debt management plan instead that won’t pose the risk of over-extending and closing your account.
Rates and fees
The Credit One Bank Wander Card charges a $95 annual fee, which is higher than many cards available with fair credit charge (some cards charge no fee at all). It’s worth factoring into your budget ahead of time since it has the potential to offset a big chunk of your yearly rewards. If your main goal is building credit, you can almost certainly find a lower-cost card option, even if you want to avoid a security deposit. However, the fee may be worth it if you’re looking to earn rewards and think you’ll spend enough in the Wander card’s categories.
The card’s ongoing APR (26.24 percent, variable) is also well above the average credit card APR, but it’s not the worst rate available among credit-building cards. Other fees to be aware of include late payment and returned payment fees up to $39 (terms apply) and a 5 percent cash advance fee (minimum $10) you’ll pay if you use your card to get cash at an ATM.
On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad (an ideal feature for a travel card).
All things considered, most of the fees for the Credit One Bank Wander Card are about average when you compare them to the fees you’ll find on similar options, but the annual fee may be a deal-breaker if you’re focused on building credit over earning travel rewards.
How the Credit One Wander compares to other rewards cards
As you decide which credit card to sign up for, you should make sure you compare at least two or three of the top options. A few other credit cards for fair credit feature their own rewards programs and value proposition. You may even find that a different card would leave you with more rewards at the end of the year, or charge a lower — or no — annual fee.
Credit One Bank Wander Card vs. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you have a fair credit score, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is an excellent credit-building cash back card with more of a focus on your day-to-day expenses. Its unlimited flat 1.5 percent cash back rate can help you rake in rewards from almost any purchase, including all of the categories covered on the Wander Card.
While it doesn’t carry the same tiered bonus category structure as the Wander card, the QuicksilverOne’s flat-rate rewards may be more lucrative for the average spender. Based on a $15,900 annual spend, the QuicksilverOne would earn about $239 in cash back or around $200 after subtracting the card’s $39 annual fee. Unless you spend heavily in the Wander card’s bonus categories, that could beat the Wander card’s earnings. The $39 annual fee is also much lower than the Wander card’s $95 annual fee, and could add more value for less cost, depending on your spending habits.
However, if you see yourself carrying a balance, it’s best to pick the Wander card over the QuicksilverOne. The QuicksilverOne’s high 28.49 percent variable APR will cost you slightly more in interest charges than the Wander’s 26.24 percent variable APR, though carrying a balance with either card will be costly and neither card offers a breaks on interest via intro APR offers.
Credit One Bank Wander Card vs. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
The *Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card carries no annual fee and its flexible cash rewards program offers bonus rewards in a wide variety of spending categories that may appeal to you if you’re considering the Credit One Wander card. These include dining and travel, with the latter category covering amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, campgrounds, hotels, tourist attractions and more.
The Customized Cash Rewards Secured lets you pick one of six 3 percent cash back categories, which can be swapped once each calendar month, and also offers consistency via its fixed 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. But keep in mind that those categories will share a $2,500 quarterly spending limit before your cash back drops to 1 percent.
And while you’ll have to put down a security deposit to get started with the Customized Cash Secured card, this feature could actually help you build credit more easily with responsible use. With a matching security deposit, you can get access to a credit line of $300 to $5,000. Compared to the Wander card’s $500 minimum credit line, the Customized Cash Secured’s credit limit offering could give you much more wiggle room to keep your credit utilization — a key credit scoring factor — in check.
Best cards to pair with the Credit One Wander card
If you’re still working on your credit score, it may be better to hold off on applying to multiple credit cards. This can make it easier to keep your balances low and avoid unnecessary dings to your score courtesy of hard inquiries. If you’re feeling confident in your score and are ready to optimize your rewards strategy, having a second card can not only help you earn more rewards, but also help you lower your credit utilization ratio via more available credit.
Since the Credit One Bank Wander Card only offers 1X points on purchases outside its bonus categories, you may want to pair it with a card that offers a higher rewards rate on general purchases. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card may be a good card to pair with since you earn 1.5 percent cash back right off the bat.
Similarly, the Bank of America Customized Cash Secured or Capital One SavorOne Student Rewards Credit Card may also be helpful for their bonus categories the Wander card is missing, especially everyday categories like grocery stores.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Credit One Bank Wander Card worth it?
The Credit One Bank Wander Card can definitely be worth it due to its generous earning rates in several different categories. However, you’ll have to pay a $95 annual fee each year you have the card, and this fee will wipe out the first $95 in rewards value you get each year. Meanwhile, the fact you only earn 1X points on regular spending also makes the Credit One Bank Wander Card slightly disappointing when there are plenty of flat-rate rewards cards that earn at least 1.5 percent back or more, even for the fair credit credit tier.
That said, this card does let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and you get the chance to use it to build your credit over time.
Our advice: The Credit One Bank Wander Card is worth a look if you’re set on earning travel rewards while you work on your credit score, but you may be better off building your score with a lower-cost credit-building card before applying for a more flexible and potentially more rewarding travel card.
*The information about Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.