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.
No annual fee
Introductory 0% APR deal for purchases
Introductory 0% APR deal for balance transfers
Foreign transaction fee
Requires an existing Wells Fargo account
- 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 drugstore 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 balance transfers: 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.)
- 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.
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
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.
- Towing and other roadside services: For a set price per service call, you'll receive roadside assistance. This includes up to five miles of towing, 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)
Wells Fargo ranks eighth of 11 card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Wells Fargo was 10 points below the industry average of 810, scoring 800 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.
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.