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
Introductory purchase APR
Balance transfer offer
Foreign transaction fee
Higher rewards rate ends after six months
Requires an existing Wells Fargo account
- 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.
- 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.
The card has several 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 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.
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)
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.
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%).