Wells Fargo was founded on March 18, 1852 by Henry Wells and William Fargo as Wells, Fargo & Co. offering banking and express delivery stagecoach services by stagecoach, steamship, railroad, pony rides or telegraph. By 1918, Wells Fargo was part of 10,000 communities across the country. After the federal government took the company over during World War I, leaving Wells Fargo with just one bank in San Francisco, Wells Fargo & Co’s Bank. Through the 20th Century, Wells Fargo rebuilt from just one office in San Francisco to two marbled banking halls, becoming the “banker’s bank” that served the entire west. Today, Wells Fargo offers banking services throughout the United States, reporting $5.6 billion in net income.
Annual fee range
Wells Fargo’s annual fees range from $0 to $25. A select few credit card companies offer unsecured credit cards this competitive. All of their cards have zero annual fees with the exception of their Wells Fargo® Secured Card, which is $25/year. Depending on your APR creditworthiness, their low annual fees may make getting a Wells Fargo card a cost-effective effort.
If you need customer support, Wells Fargo is available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We liked that they had different 24/7 numbers for specialized needs. For example, if your card is lost or stolen, there is a specific number for that; if you want to apply for a new credit card, there is also a number for that. Quite a few companies we reviewed offered limited phone support hours, such as business hours Monday to Friday. Some did not offer Sunday hours while others only offer 24/7 automated phone hours, not a live representative. Similar to many companies, Wells Fargo offers an international phone number also available 24/7 where customers can call collect. One unique thing they offer is an online community thread, where you can ask questions and get answers from peers and Wells Fargo representatives. This lets you take a pulse on what other Wells Fargo customers are experiencing and allows you to get tips and tricks you may not otherwise get from a regular customer service phone call.
Foreign Transaction Fees
Foreign Transaction fees for Wells Fargo are 3% for every transaction made in another country outside the United States in other currencies. Although we have found one or more companies offering a lower range of 0-3% and even fewer offering zero transaction fees for all of their cards(rare) along with several companies offering 1-2 cards without foreign transaction fees (typically rewards cards), 3% is on par with most companies offering credit cards.
Wells Fargo offers a wide range of Visa and American Express credit cards to consumers, including:
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
- Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Secured Visa® Credit Card
- Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Home Rebate Visa® Card
- Wells Fargo Home Rebate Visa Signature® Card
- Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card
Options for Rewards
When it comes to rewards, Wells Fargo is competitive with more rewards choices than many companies we reviewed. Here are the cards with the best rewards options:
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card:
- 3X points at U.S. gas stations, 2X points at U.S. restaurants, 1X point on other net purchases every day
- Earn an annual bonus of 10% on non-bonus rewards points if you maintain a qualifying Consumer Wells Fargo Checking or Savings Account, or PMA® Package
- 5 full years to redeem your points from the date you earn them
Go FarTM Rewards
- gives you the flexibility to redeem for rewards however you like.
- Find unique travel experiences and exclusive offers on airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
- Cash redemption options such as a credit to your qualifying Wells Fargo credit product, a deposit to your qualifying consumer Wells Fargo Checking or Savings account, or a check.
- Ability to purchase Brand-name merchandise and gift cards or send points as a gift to other Go Far Rewards customers, bid on special items, etc. in our online auctions.
- Earn 3X points at U.S. gas stations, 2X points at U.S. restaurants, and 1X point on other net purchases every day.
- You will earn an annual bonus of 10% on non-bonus rewards points if you maintain a qualifying consumer Wells Fargo Checking or Savings Account, or PMA® Package. There is no limit to the number of points you can earn.
Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card offers
- 5X rewards points on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases for 6 months
Building Credit/Student Cards
Fortunately, a major bank like Wells Fargo offers opportunities for customers to start, build, and/or repair their credit. They not only have a secured credit card, their Wells Fargo Secured Visa® Credit Card, but they have a student “starter” card as well, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa® Card for college students. Most companies we found did not offer BOTH a secured card and a student card. In the majority of cases, the companies we reviewed had one or the other—most of the time they had a secured card. There were very few companies we found who offer student cards for young people starting out.
Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) for Wells Fargo credit cards have introductory APR offers of 0.00% introductory APR for 15 months. Once the introductory period ends, Wells Fargo’s ongoing APRs are variable, ranging from 13.24% to 25.24%. Their 0% Intro APR for 15 months is competitive with the other companies we reviewed with the same offer, some only offering an Intro period of up to 6 or 12 months, while others don’t offer intro APRs at all.
Regarding ongoing APRs, their high point of 25.24% is the highest we’ve seen. Most companies fall between 10-23.24%. If you have average or less than average credit, we do not recommend Wells Fargo for you.
Customers who miss a payment or make late payments will be charged a penalty fee of up to $37. In the credit card marketplace, $37 is the average price ceiling to late fees for most companies. This makes Wells Fargo on par with most competitors. However, although the range of up to $37 is the average, it is a high fee. In fact, we found that the 2010 Credit Card Act says that the late fee limit should be $25 to protect consumer interests. A very tiny handful of companies stay within the $25 and under late fee range, but most do not. If making payments on time is an issue for you, we do not recommend getting a Wells Fargo credit card.
What sets Wells Fargo apart is that they require you to become a Wells Fargo bank account customer in order to apply for any of their credit cards, i.e. opening a Wells Fargo checking account. They call this having a ‘Wells Fargo Relationship’. Since many companies don’t require this (with the exception of secured credit cards), we did not find this fact appealing for customers only interested in their credit cards. It adds on another layer of work to get approved for a credit card, since you have to first open a Wells Fargo bank account. Plus, you may have to go into a physical branch to open this bank account, so if you do not live in an area where there is a Wells Fargo branch, you will not be able to open an account—and thus get a card.
In case your Wells Fargo credit card is lost or stolen, Wells Fargo has a 24/7 phone number to report such fraudulent occurrences. Once that call is made, Wells Fargo will take the necessary actions. We did not like the fact that Wells Fargo does not have a Zero Liability policy to go with this. Almost all credit card companies offer cardholders Zero Liability to protect their customers from being responsible for fraudulent purchases.
Wells Fargo also offers an Identity Theft protection service, which costs $12.99/month. You get a set of preparatory tools intended to protect you from future identity theft. We did not find value in such a ‘service’ which no other credit card company we reviewed charged a fee for. Not only that, but other companies offer more comprehensive security features at no additional cost. For a company of its size and longevity, Wells Fargo falls short on this one.
As a preventative measure, you can set up real-time updates on activity that occurs on your credit card. Wells Fargo sends you notifications by email, text message, or push notification for a variety of transaction types including:
- Purchases exceeding a set amount
- Cash advances at ATMs
- Purchases at a gas station
- Foreign transactions
- Online, phone, or mail purchases