Wells Fargo Cash Back College Review

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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 not every student card does, 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
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
for Fees
for Rewards
for Credit

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 (or even two) of these things at once, because you could easily fall into debt.

  • No annual fee 

  • Rewards

  • Introductory purchase APR

  • Balance transfer offer

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Higher rewards rate ends after six months

  • Requires an existing Wells Fargo account

Pros Explained 

  • No annual fee: It’s best to keep it simple while you’re a student, so it’s great you don’t have to worry about an annual fee. This is common for student credit cards. 
  • Rewards: Not all student cards offer them.
  • Introductory purchase APR: Few student cards offer a period where it won’t charge interest. You could use this to pay off some purchases over time. 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. 
  • Balance transfer offer: This is another rare feature on student credit cards. If you happen to already have a credit card and took on debt, 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 of 0% APR on the balance. 

Cons Explained

  • Foreign transaction fees: This isn’t the card to go on a trip abroad with.
  • Higher rewards rate ends after the first six months: After six months, the cash-back offer drops to 1% in all categories.
  • Requires an existing Wells Fargo account: If you don’t already have a relationship with Wells Fargo, you can’t apply for this card. This generally isn’t something other student credit cards require.

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Sign-Up Bonus

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.) That shakes out to about $417 of spending in the bonus categories each month during that time, for a maximum reward of $75 cash back. Most student cards don’t offer a sign-up bonus, 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, but the cash-back percentage drops to 1% cash back on all purchases after it ends. Other student cards have higher rewards-earning rates at all times. For instance, the Discover it Chrome card offers a good grades bonus, higher rewards in certain categories (up to the quarterly limit), and a one-time bonus after the first year.

Redeeming Rewards 

The card has several 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 to earn rewards faster. Stick to doing this with friends that you really trust and have known for a long time.

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 get 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. 

Excellent Perks

Some credit card rewards offer more value than the typical perks 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 tows up to 5 miles.

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 24 points below the industry average of 806, scoring 783 out of a possible 1,000 points. 

Wells Fargo Cash Back Visa cardholders can access their accounts on the Wells Fargo mobile app, which also features a free credit score.

Security Features  

Wells Fargo’s credit cards have industry-standard security features for the most part.

Fees to Watch Out For

The Wells Fargo College Cash Back has fees in line with industry standards. However, there is a foreign transaction fee. And if you want to take advantage of the introductory balance transfer offer, take note: There’s a 3% or $5 fee (whichever is greater), and if you transfer balances after the intro period ends, the fee jumps to a minimum of $5 (or 5%).

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Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠
overall rating
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.