Credit One Bank Wander® Card review: Earn travel rewards with fair credit
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This card is one of the best and only travel cards on the market for people with fair credit, with rewards rates rivaling those of some premium travel cards. However, these perks come at a high price, making the card less than ideal if your main goal is building credit, not earning rewards.
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?
Get prequalified online, without a hard inquiry on your credit report, which is a major plus if you’re not sure you want to apply.
Qualify with “fair” credit, which is rare for a travel rewards card.
Generous rewards rates for a credit card that is geared to people with imperfect credit.
Rewards program and redemption options come with some red tape.
The $95 annual fee is very high for a card available for consumers with fair credit.
Credit One Bank's rewards travel providers may change, which can make it hard to plan redeeming your points far in advance.
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 from account opening and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 28.24 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
The Credit One Bank Wander Card is currently offering 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, gift cards or travel. 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 to consumers with fair credit, the Credit One Bank Wander Card offers very generous rewards rates — perhaps the highest and widest-reaching rates available in a 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 a solid mix of bonus categories, which could help you rack up a lot of points.
Comparatively, 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. Their annual fees and credit requirements, however, eclipse those of the Wander card.
A closer comparison would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which charges the same $95 annual fee, yet still has a higher credit requirement. However this card, unlike the Credit One Wander, does not reward 10X points for hotels and car rentals and carries the same 5X points for travel purchases made exclusively through the issuer’s portal. It earns a lower 3X points for dining purchases and doesn’t reward for gas.
Despite the credit requirements of higher tier rewards cards, they can be less rewarding than the Credit One Wander in some ways. However, these cards may come with several high-value perks and benefits that bring tertiary value you won't find on the Credit One Bank Wander card.
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 detail 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 detail 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 offers 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. However, there's 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 element 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 what you'd find on many credit cards for fair credit (some cards charge no fee at all). This fee is 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 (28.24 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 cards in this credit score range. 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 could leave you with more rewards at the end of the year, or charge a lower — or no — annual fee.
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score
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 than on travel. 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 cardholder who doesn’t travel or dine out as frequently.
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.
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 28.24 percent variable APR, though carrying a balance with either card will be costly and neither card offers a break 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 you can swap once each calendar month, and also offers consistency via its fixed 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Keep in mind that those categories will share a $2,500 quarterly spending limit before your cash back drops to 1 percent.
You’ll have to put down a security deposit to get started with the Customized Cash Secured card, but this feature could actually help you build credit 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 while you build your credit. Doing so 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, 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 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. 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, even for the fair credit credit tier.
That said, this card does let you see if you're prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and you can use it to build your credit over time.
Overall, 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. However, you may be better off building your score with a more cost effective credit-building while working your way up to 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.
* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.
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.