Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Review

Get Cash Back and a Low Introductory APR on Your Student Credit Card

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The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa has a few noteworthy features for a student card. Not only does it offer rewards, which is not very common among student cards, but it also has a balance transfer offer and an introductory period where you can carry a balance without paying interest. But be careful: These features aren’t meant to be used together. It takes discipline to use rewards and promotional financing responsibly.

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠

overall rating
4.4
Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.15% - 21.15% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 6 Months
Rewards Earning Rate 3% cash rewards earned for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months. 1% cash rewards for each $1 spent on virtually all other purchases with your card.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
3.5
for Fees
3.2
for Rewards
3.7
for Credit
3.7

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Savvy Saver

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa is best for three types of students: ones who want to earn rewards, finance a large purchase, or pay off credit card debt. You should not use this card for all three of these things (or even two of them) at once, because you could easily fall into debt.

Pros
  • No annual fee 

  • Earns rewards

  • Introductory 0% APR deal for purchases

  • Introductory 0% APR deal for balance transfers

Cons
  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Requires an existing Wells Fargo account

Pros Explained 

  • No annual fee: While common among student cards, this benefit maximizes the card’s value. The lack of an annual fee saves you money every year.
  • Earns rewards: You can earn cash back on all qualifying purchases. Not all student cards offer this perk, making it a clear strength. Plus, for the first six months, you earn a bonus 3% on grocery, gas, and drug store purchases. That’s a generous bonus for a student card.
  • Introductory 0% APR deal for purchases: Promotional periods in which you pay no interest on purchases are another rare feature among student credit cards. You could use this perk to finance large purchases like textbooks or a laptop. Just make sure you make a plan to pay off the balance before the introductory period ends, and avoid adding purchases to your balance until then. 
  • Introductory 0% APR deal for purchases: This is another rare feature on student credit cards. If you have a balance on another credit card, this could be your opportunity to pay it down and save money on interest. As long as balances are transferred in the first 120 days, you get six months when you’ll pay no interest on the balance. But do the math first: Balance transfers carry fees. (See more in the fees section below.) 

Cons Explained

  • Foreign transaction fees: This isn’t the card to go on a trip to another country with. Other student credit cards don’t charge this fee, and are a better option if you plan to spend a semester abroad or travel often.
  • Requires an existing Wells Fargo account to apply online: If you don’t have a Wells Fargo account, you have to go into a branch to sign up. This presents a problem if there are no Wells Fargo branches near you. Also, this isn’t something other student credit cards tend to require.

Bonus for New Cardholders

For the first six months, you can earn 3% cash back on the first $2,500 you spend on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases. (Other purchases earn 1% cash back.) According to The Balance’s calculations, which are based partly on Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data, the average college student spends $137 on gas and groceries alone each month. If you use this card for those purchases during the bonus-earning period, you’ll earn $25 cash back—plus whatever you earn on drug store purchases. Most student cards don’t offer any bonus for new cardholders, so this is a nice feature.

Earning Points & Rewards


The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa’s six-month period of 3% cash back in those popular spending areas is a good deal. However,the cash-back percentage drops to 1% on all purchases after the bonus period ends. Other student cards have higher rewards-earning rates at all times. For instance, the Discover it Chrome for Students offers a good grades bonus, higher rewards in certain categories (up to a quarterly limit), and a one-time cash-back match after the first year.

Redeeming Rewards 

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College’s most interesting feature is all the ways you can redeem for cash back:

  • Cash or statement credits 
  • Gift cards
  • Travel 
  • Merchandise 

On top of statement credits and checks, you can get cash back straight from a Wells Fargo ATM in $20 increments. Gift cards, travel, and merchandise are redeemable at a 1-cent-per-point rate. Thus, 2,000 points equals $20.

You can also pool points with friends who earn Wells Fargo rewards. A pool would be a great way to gather rewards if you and your friends are planning a vacation. 

The person designated as the pool owner can redeem the rewards you contribute. So, designate someone you trust to be the owner. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Use this card to establish smart credit and budgeting patterns—that’s what student credit cards are for. Don’t worry about spending $2,500 in the first six months to max out the 3% cash back on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases.

Set a budget for expenses in these categories and stick to it. If you earn $30 from $1,000 in purchases made in these categories and you didn’t overspend, you win all around. Even though the card doesn’t charge interest during the first six months, get in the habit of paying your bill on time and in full.


Making on-time payments is one of the best things you can do to build your credit score. Using very little of your credit limit helps a lot, too. 

Wells Fargo College Cash Back Visa’s Excellent Perks

Some credit card perks offer more value than the typical ones you get on most cards—what The Balance’s editors deem “excellent perks”—and this card has a couple of them.

  • Cellphone coverage: You get $600 of insurance coverage for cellphone damage if you pay your entire phone bill with the card. There’s a $25 deductible.
  • Free towing and other roadside services: The “free” part only applies to up to five miles of towing. This perk includes complimentary tire changes (if you have a spare), fuel delivery (you pay for the gas), and lockout service as long as you don’t require a key replacement.

Wells Fargo College Cash Back Visa’s Other Features

  • Travel and emergency hotline 
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)

Customer Experience

Wells Fargo ranks ninth of 11 card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Wells Fargo was 23 points below the industry average of 806, scoring 783 out of a possible 1,000 points.

You can access your accounts on the Wells Fargo mobile app, which also features a free credit score. Credit education is included too, as well as 24/7 phone-based customer service. 

Security Features  

Wells Fargo’s credit cards have industry-standard security features, including zero liability protection and security alerts by text or email. 

Fees to Watch Out For

The Wells Fargo College Cash Back has fees in line with industry standards. However, you should be aware that you can’t add an authorized user and there is a foreign transaction fee. Also,there’s a 3% or $5 fee (whichever is greater) if you transfer a balance in the first 120 days.If you transfer balances after 120 days, the fee jumps to the greater of 5% or $5.

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CURRENT CARD
Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.15% - 21.15% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 6 Months
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Wells Fargo. "Wells Fargo Cash Back College." Accessed April 23, 2020.

  2. Wells Fargo. "Cellular Phone Protection." Accessed April 23, 2020.

  3. Wells Fargo. "Your Visa Card Guide to Benefits." Accessed April 23, 2020.

  4. J.D. Power. "2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed April 23, 2020.

  5. Wells Fargo. "Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Terms and Conditions." Accessed April 23, 2020.