Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card review: Best flat-rate cash back card?
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Wells Fargo Active Cash Card Overview
Cash rewards cards that earn 2 percent on purchases aren’t unheard of, but the Active Cash card cuts the strings typically attached to that sky-high rate and leads the pack when it comes to Wells Fargo cards, even earning a top spot on our list of the best no annual fee credit cards. In fact, the Active Cash may even topple the Citi® Double Cash Card as the long-reigning MVP of flat-rate cash rewards cards.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- 3 percent foreign transaction fee
- To earn the $200 cash rewards sign-up bonus, you’ll need to spend $1,000 within the first three months, which is high compared to other no-annual-fee cash rewards cards
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 15 months from account opening
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
- Regular APR: 18.74 percent, 23.74 percent, or 28.74 percent (Variable APR)
Current welcome offer
The Active Cash card’s sign-up bonus is typical for a no-annual-fee cash rewards card, but the spending requirement is a bit steep for the payoff. Cardholders will earn $200 cash rewards after they’ve spent $1,000 in combined purchases within the first three months. Considering other cash rewards card sign-up bonuses offer $200 in rewards for spending half that, this isn’t the strongest welcome offer we’ve seen. Even so, it should be easily attainable since the Active Cash rewards purchases.
It’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to sign up for the Active Cash card or be eligible for its welcome bonus if you’ve opened a Wells Fargo credit card in the past six months. This buffer is standard for Wells Fargo credit cards, and a number of other issuers—like Capital One—make you wait between credit card applications for just as long. However, a few issuers, including Bank of America and American Express, have much shorter approval period wait times.
With the Wells Fargo Active Cash card, you’ll earn unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases. As far as choosing a cash rewards card goes, it doesn’t get more flexible than a flat-rate card since you’ll generally earn unlimited rewards on virtually any purchase without worrying about bonus categories or spending limits. Besides being easier to use for first-time cardholders than higher-maintenance bonus category cards, the Wells Fargo Active Cash could be key to maximizing your cash rewards.
How you earn
Although other flat-rate cards can earn unlimited 2 percent cash rewards, the Active Cash is one of the few that wipes away any footnotes attached to the claim. For example, the Citi Double Cash technically only earns up to 2 percent on all purchases since you earn 1 percent when you pay and another 1 percent when you pay off the purchase. The PayPal Cashback Mastercard®* earns 2 percent cash back on all purchases, but you’ll need to maintain an eligible PayPal account to redeem or transfer your rewards.
How to redeem
You have an impressive variety of options, compared to other cash rewards cards, in which you can redeem your cash rewards with the Active Cash card:
- Statement credits: Redeem rewards to offset eligible purchases made on your credit card account. Redeem for
purchases as little as $1.
- Physical cash in $20 increments at Wells Fargo ATMs (using a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card)
- Direct deposits into Wells Fargo savings or checking accounts
- Gift cards (via Wells Fargo Rewards)
- Travel, including flights, car rentals and hotel stays (via Wells Fargo Rewards)
How much are rewards worth?
Your Active Cash rewards work like those of other cash rewards programs: Each percentage point of cash rewards is worth 1 cent. That means every purchase will recoup 2 cents per dollar.
Other cardholder perks
Alongside its excellent rewards rate, the Wells Fargo Active Cash carries a solid portfolio of benefits as a Visa credit card—plus Wells Fargo’s staple cellphone protection. However, the card’s extra features aren’t as strong as those you may get with other 2 percent cash rewards cards that carry World Elite Mastercard benefits.
As you can expect from a Wells Fargo credit card, the Active Cash card covers your cellphone against damage or theft for up to $600 per claim (subject to a $25 deductible) each month you pay your cellphone bill with the card.
This perk comes in handy both at home and on the road, saving you on cellphone insurance while delivering one of the best cash rewards rates on your bill at the same time. Plus, Wells Fargo’s protection plan can be a bit better than the World Elite Mastercard cellphone protection you’d get with the Citi Double Cash: You’ll have a two claim/$1,200 annual limit instead of Mastercard’s $1,000 annual limit (carries the same $600 per claim limit).
Visa Signature perks
On top of the basic Visa Traditional features like auto rental collision damage waiver coverage, zero liability for unauthorized purchases and roadside dispatch, you’ll also qualify for Visa Signature benefits. These include travel perks like Visa Signature Concierge Services and additional perks at Luxury Hotel Collection properties. You’ll also get extra peace of mind from travel and emergency assistance services, extended warranty protection and online product registration for easier claim filing.
Rates and fees
Part of what makes the Wells Fargo Active Cash so enticing is its low ongoing cost and well-rounded zero-interest offers. There is no annual fee, no penalty APR and a 15-month 0 percent intro APR for purchases from account opening and qualifying balance transfers from account opening. Depending on your creditworthiness, the 18.74 percent, 23.74 percent, or 28.74 percent Variable APR can be lower than the current average interest rate. Not a ton of rewards cards offer zero-interest on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers at the moment, so the Active Cash is one of your better options if you want to transfer a balance to a Wells Fargo card or if you have a big purchase coming up.
Just keep in mind there’s an intro 3 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) for the first 120 days from account opening, then up to 5 percent ($5 minimum). It’s also worth being aware of the 3 percent foreign transaction fee if you plan to travel with your card.
How the Wells Fargo Active Cash card compares to other cash rewards cards
The Wells Fargo Active Cash is an excellent cash rewards credit card for people looking for a no-frills card with a generous sign-up bonus, no annual fee and a simple rewards structure—but experienced credit card users may find it lacking additional benefits typical of cash back cards or feel that they would not be able to maximize earnings.
Given this, it may be worthwhile to compare the Active Cash card to some of the best cash rewards cards on the market to decide which would be the right choice for you.
Wells Fargo Active Cash vs. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular no-annual-fee cards for straightforward rewards, but the Wells Fargo Active Cash beats its 1.5% flat-rate cash back and is perhaps just as low maintenance.
You can’t set automatic redemption intervals with the Active Cash like you can with the Quicksilver although you can simply withdraw cash back from issuer ATMs. Still, the Active Cash card removes much of the fine print you’ll find on other cards that earn unlimited 2 percent cash rewards.
Wells Fargo Active Cash vs. Citi Double Cash
While the Citi Double Cash card is the most popular 2 percent cash back card, you might not actually earn 2 percent rewards. You’ll only earn 1 percent back until you pay off your purchase, and carrying a balance would eat through those extra rewards anyway.
Granted, the Double Cash card has a slightly longer 0 percent intro balance transfer APR period (18 months) and lower ongoing interest rate (17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable APR), but it doesn’t carry a zero-interest purchase APR—which is more helpful for a flat-rate card focused on new spending. However, the Double Cash does have a slight advantage over the Active Cash when it comes to benefits because of its network’s higher-tier World Elite Mastercard perks.
Best cards to pair with the Wells Fargo Active Cash
The beauty of flat-rate cash rewards cards is that they pair well with almost any card combination you already use. The best way to maximize your flat-rate cash back card is to pair it with a card that earns a higher rewards rate on your biggest specialized spending categories, such as groceries, dining or gas. Then, use the Wells Fargo Active Cash to earn more rewards on spending outside those categories.
For example, you can use a card like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to earn cash back on your U.S. supermarket, select U.S. streaming subscription, transit and U.S. gas station spending, while the Active Cash would cover everything else or any U.S. supermarket purchases not eligible for the Blue Cash Preferred card’s full cash back rate.
Bankrate’s Take—Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash card worth it?
In short: Yes, wholeheartedly. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has debuted as one of the best flat-rate cash rewards credit cards on the market. The Active Cash is a low-maintenance rewards card with top-rate rewards potential and redemption options that make it an easy fit in any wallet. Its unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases doesn’t come with strings attached, plus it offers a well-rounded roster of intro APR periods and other benefits—all for no annual fee.
*The information about PayPal Cashback Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.