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Wells Fargo Credit Cards7 min read
Wells Fargo issues cards that cover many common expenses, like gas and groceries, along with an excellent flat-rate card that’s good for variable spending. You’ll also find a selection of business cards.
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If you’ve ever taken even a cursory glance into the world of finance, whether to seek out a personal loan or to determine where you’d like to open your savings account, the odds are quite high that you’re familiar with the Wells Fargo name.
Since its founding in 1852, the company has grown exponentially, now owning its position as America’s third-largest bank with thousands of locations across the country and an extensive assortment of financial services.
Like many banks of its caliber, Wells Fargo counts credit cards among this list of services. Its current selection features cash back rewards cards, business cards, and numerous additional cards that cover a broad spectrum of spending habits.
Wells Fargo issues three personal credit cards that earn rewards points, redeemable for cash, gift cards, travel, and more, and each offers something that sets it apart from the rest of the Wells Fargo family. Some even feature lengthy 0% APR introductory periods with reduced introductory balance transfer fees.
The Wells Fargo Rewards Card features a fairly unique signup bonus that provides a high rewards rate for specific categories up to a certain spending limit. It also delivers an impressive introductory APR period, which makes it a good choice if you’re planning to rack up some big purchases to maximize your rewards.
The Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card is very similar to the Wells Fargo Rewards Card, but there’s a bonus if you redeem your points for airfare. It also adds Visa Signature benefits and has a minimum credit limit of $5,000, rather than $1,000.
Low Interest Rate
The Wells Fargo Platinum card (Learn More) (Review) is a no-nonsense credit card that provides a lengthy 0% intro APR period for both purchases and balance transfers, before its regular variable APR kicks in.
A good choice for students just stepping into the world of credit, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card offers a higher rewards rate on certain purchases for the first six months before delivering flat-rate cash back on every purchase.
Business Credit Cards
The Wells Fargo family of credit cards includes three business cards, all of which share a unique rewards structure where you choose between cash back and rewards points. You must manually enroll in one of these programs before you’ll earn any rewards, unlike most cards where it’s automatic.
The three Wells Fargo business cards are designed for businesses in different situations — the secured card, for example, caters more to new blood and business owners with poor credit, while the Business Elite card is targeted toward businesses that bring in over $1 million in sales annually.
At first glance, the Wells Fargo® Business Secured Credit Card is pretty much what you’d expect from a secured business card. You provide a deposit, and that’s your credit line. But it has an interesting rewards system where you choose between two programs that each work a bit differently.
The Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card features the same rewards options as the secured business card. The most notable difference is that this card isn’t secured, so you don’t have to provide a deposit up front, but you’ll also get an introductory bonus, a 0% APR period, and up to 99 free employee cards. Oh, and there’s no annual fee.
The Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card is tailored to companies with big sales numbers. Its rewards structure may seem similar to the other Wells Fargo business cards, but it works a bit differently. You have to opt in before you can earn any points or cash back (like the other business cards), but in this case you’ll be charged an annual fee for the rewards program itself — rather than for the card — after the first year.
Wells Fargo Advisors Clients
Wells Fargo Advisors is a Wells Fargo subsidiary that offers investment guidance and a comprehensive range of financial planning services. Its clients are afforded the opportunity to use special credit cards that come complete with point-based rewards systems and some valuable benefits.
The Wells Fargo Advisors By Invitation® Visa Signature® is a travel card with a solid rewards program and a beefed up anniversary bonus.
There’s no annual fee, but there’s a slight catch — the card is only available for Wells Fargo Advisors clients with at least $1 million in assets under management between Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Bank.
Wells Fargo Credit Card Features
Most of the Wells Fargo credit cards share at least a few basic product features to help improve your experience as a cardholder. Check your card’s documentation and Guide to Benefits once you’ve received it for more information on the exact selection of benefits you’ll have at your disposal.
Benefits you can expect to see may include:
- Alerts: Wells Fargo offers customizable alerts via email, text, or push notification. These can be sent when a purchase exceeds a specified amount, when your credit card is used for certain types of purchases, and more.
- Free FICO credit scores: Depending on your card, you may be able to check your FICO Score 9, based on your Experian credit report, for free.
- Fraud protections: Wells Fargo’s credit cards come with fraud protection measures and a zero-liability policy for unauthorized charges. They also generally come with features like Rapid Alert, which helps you identify suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.
- My Spending Report with Budget Watch: This online money management tool offers budgeting capabilities, allowing you to set goals, track income, and keep an eye on your spending.
- Overdraft protection: Link your card to your Wells Fargo checking account to protect yourself from overdraft fees. Transfers from your credit card to your bank account will be considered cash advances, with fees applied accordingly.
- Cell phone protection: Wells Fargo’s consumer credit cards include a phone protection program that provides reimbursement for covered damage if you use them to pay your monthly cellular telephone bill.
- Visa, Mastercard, or American Express benefits: Most Wells Fargo credit cards are offered through Visa, but there’s a Mastercard and two American Express cards as well. Regardless, these networks all provide certain basic benefits. These usually include (but aren’t limited to) a variety of shopping and travel features, such as extended warranty protection, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, and collision damage waivers for car rentals.
A Brief History of Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has firmly established itself as a household name in American banking. However, it wasn’t always the nationwide finance giant it is now. The company spent decades operating in a highly regional capacity, and much of its fame was gained through its express services, rather than through banking.
The Golden Age
Like many of the most exciting tales of the Old West, Wells Fargo’s story stems from the frenzy of the California Gold Rush. The year? 1852. Location? Sunny San Fran.
Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, already versed in the world of business and loath to pass up an opportunity to fill a dire need, decided to form “a banking and express company” known as Wells, Fargo & Co. At this point in time, “banking” actually referred to buying gold and selling bank drafts as good as gold, and the company’s express services encompassed the speedy delivery not only of gold, but basically anything of value.
It wasn’t long before the company achieved success with the all-star duo of Wells and Fargo at the helm. Each had previously worked with other express companies, and two years earlier, had even helped found another financial heavyweight with which you might be familiar: American Express.
As a matter of fact, Wells, Fargo & Co. was only started when American Express directors objected to the idea of moving Amex operations to the Golden State.
By now, though, it’s likely clear that those objections weren’t much of an obstacle.
Messengers of the West
Wells Fargo’s expertise and customer base grew steadily, and its selection of services followed suit. It soon entered the realm of communications with involvement in the Overland Mail Company and the now-legendary Pony Express, each of which sought to increase the interconnectedness of the burgeoning United States.
By 1866, Wells Fargo had expanded its reach all throughout the west, covering more than 3,000 miles of territory and serving customers from Nebraska to California and everywhere in between.
Today, the bank attributes this rapid success to its unwavering dedication to finding the fastest and most reliable ways to serve its customers. This was clearly demonstrated through the many modes of transportation used in the heyday of Wells Fargo’s express operations — from steamboat to stagecoach, the company employed any means necessary to get the job done in a timely manner.
Arrival of the Rail
The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, allowing Wells Fargo to stretch its arms even farther from its home base in California. Over the next few decades the company edged ever eastward, and by 1888, it earned the title of America’s first-ever nationwide express company.
Wells Fargo celebrated this milestone by adopting the mottos “Ocean-to-Ocean,” which highlighted its massive continental reach, and “Over-the-Seas,” which showcased its role in furthering the nation’s participation in the global economy.
Express operations aside, Wells Fargo continued to serve communities with everyday financial services. These included telegraph transfers and money orders, though the company still placed heavy emphasis on dealing with gold in mining communities.
As the 19th century came to a close, the needs of America were evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, and Wells Fargo acknowledged that it was time for a major change.
Wells Fargo & Co’s Bank, San Francisco, separated from Wells Fargo & Co. Express in 1905. The latter company operated for over a decade afterward before being scooped up by the federal government as the nation plunged into the First World War, leaving the remainder of Wells Fargo’s operations squarely in the financial industry.
Just a year later, the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake struck, wreaking massive damage not only throughout San Francisco but in several nearby cities, including Santa Rosa. The earthquake leveled Wells Fargo’s building, but the bank’s president at the time — I.W. Hellman — sent a now-famous(ish) telegraph reading “Building destroyed. Vault intact. Our position unimpaired.” that still serves as a testament to the bank’s hardy, long-lasting nature.
Wells Fargo in the 20th Century
In the wake of the 1906 earthquake, Wells Fargo dominated downtown San Francisco’s banking scene, powering through the Great Depression and lending its assistance during World War II. But while it retained a strong position in the area, the bank eventually began to look beyond the confines of the Bay Area.
Wells Fargo established itself in communities all throughout Northern California during the 1960s. By the time the ’80s came around, Wells Fargo had spread across the state and was one of the nation’s largest banks.
The 1990s saw Wells Fargo taking this growth to the next level as locations sprang up all over the U.S., and the decade heralded the reclamation of the bank’s age-old “Ocean-to-Ocean” and “Over-the-Seas” mottos.
Welcoming the New Millennium
Now one of America’s largest corporations, Wells Fargo remains based in its heritage HQ of San Francisco, but it serves millions upon millions of customers through more than 8,000 physical locations.
The bank has offices in 37 different countries, and it employs more than 250,000 team members. Wells Fargo is active in diverse areas of the finance sector, from commercial real estate to wealth management and beyond.
The bank is also among the nation’s most significant charitable donors, distributing $286.5 million among 14,500 nonprofits in 2017 alone.
Interested in digging even deeper into Wells Fargo’s colorful backstory? The bank currently operates 12 history museums throughout the U.S., each offering free access and tours to visitors of all ages.
Sean Messier works to empower individuals with the knowledge required to use credit cards responsibly and to their advantage. His writing- and research-based background has granted him experience in an array of topics, from finance to business and beyond. Sean distills the knowledge accumulated over years of experience in the credit space into consistent, actionable articles, guides, and reviews.
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