If you want to build (or rebuild) credit, then the Wells Fargo Secured Visa card is a viable option if you’re not looking for any bells and whistles. It has decent terms for a secured card (a not-too-terrible annual fee and APR), but other cards in this category offer better benefits, such as rewards. Nonresident aliens can also apply for this card, although only U.S. citizens and permanent residents can upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
Because the card is designed for those who wish to improve their credit, more leeway is given with credit qualifications than you’d find with an unsecured card application.
A higher credit limit can be helpful if building credit is your primary goal. You’ll have more wiggle room when it comes to credit utilization (the amount of available credit that you are using at any given time). Credit experts advise staying below 30% utilization when you’re trying to increase your credit score—the lower the better. It’s easier to do that with, say, a $6,000 limit (just keep your balance below $2,000) versus a $300 limit (for which you’d want to stay under $100).
Reports to all three credit bureaus
Higher credit limit than many secured credit cards
No rewards or sign-up offers
- Reports to all three credit bureaus: The Wells Fargo Secured card reports your account activity to all three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This guarantees that you’ll get “credit” for your good behavior.
- Solid perks: Because it’s a Visa card, you’ll get access to a couple of strong perks, such as rental car and cell phone insurance.
- Higher credit limit than many secured credit cards: You may be approved for a credit limit as high as $10,000 on this card—higher than many secured cards offer. Of course, your deposit amount must match your credit line, and you should only put down a sum of money that you can truly afford to part ways with for a while.
- Annual fee: It’s only $25, but considering that there are some secured cards without any annual fee, this is a turnoff.
- No rewards or sign-up offers: You won’t earn cash back, points or bonuses of any kind, but those are things you can strive for when you reach a higher tier of credit.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Make no mistake—this card is a temporary solution for your credit woes. Make sure you use the card, but keep your credit utilization low, and pay your balance on time and in full each month. Hopefully, over time, you’ll improve your credit score. Use Wells Fargo’s bill pay, free alerts, and budgeting and spending tracking tools to ensure you don’t miss payments.
Wells Fargo will periodically review your account and will automatically upgrade you and return your security deposit (within 30 days) once you meet their qualifications.
Wells Fargo Secured Card’s Excellent Perks
There are scores of potential perks you could get from your credit card company. But some stand out for their exceptional value. The Wells Fargo Secured Card offers a couple of perks our editors have deemed “excellent”:
- Travel accident insurance: Get coverage of up to $150,000 for you and your family members for accidental death and dismemberment when you use your card to purchase travel tickets.
- Cell phone protection: If you pay your cell phone bill using your Wells Fargo Secured card, you can be reimbursed up to $600 if your phone is damaged or stolen, less a $25 deductible, up to $1,200 per year.
Wells Fargo Secured Card’s Other Features
- Roadside assistance, and travel and emergency assistance service via hotlines
- Secondary auto rental collision damage waiver
Wells Fargo ranked No. 9 out of 11 credit card companies in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. That said, the company still provides some valuable tools to help you build credit, including access to your FICO credit score.
You can log in to your account online and via the Wells Fargo mobile app, which was rated above average in a 2019 J.D. Power study. And customer service is available via the 24/7 hotline and on Twitter and Facebook. Wells Fargo also offers cardholders a complimentary conversation with a Wells Fargo Financial Health banker to discuss financial goals.
- Account alerts can notify you via text or email of activity on your account to help you spot potential fraud.
- If you lose your card, Wells Fargo will ship a new one to you immediately for free. But if you need it expedited, additional fees may apply.
Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card’s Fees That Stand Out
The Wells Fargo Secured Card doesn’t really do its customers any favors when it comes to fees. For instance, it charges an annual fee. That’s not unusual among secured cards, but there are a couple of that don’t have annual fees. A 3% foreign transaction fee also makes it extra pricey if you plan to use the card abroad.