Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Review

Wells Fargo Cash Back Card Reviews
The Wells Fargo Cash Back Credit Card is a $0 annual fee card that allows you to build credit and earn rewards, but that's about it.
  • Annual Fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    12.15% - 22.15%
  • Recommended Credit Score:
    Limited Credit History

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As a college student, you have a number of financial needs. You’ve got to pay for everything from textbooks to takeout, and you probably don’t qualify for most credit cards.

What you need is a card that helps you build credit while allowing you to cover basic expenses. If it pays cash back rewards, that’s even better.

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card ticks all these boxes; let’s see what else it brings to the table!

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Triple rewards for the first six months
  • 0% introductory APR
  • Robust features, including cell phone protection
  • No annual fee
  • Supports contactless payments

Cons:

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Poor customer service compared to most other card issuers

What Is the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card?

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is a cash back card offered through Wells Fargo bank. If you’re an existing Wells Fargo customer, applying is as easy as visiting your local branch.

You can pay directly from your checking or savings account without setting up any complicated transactions.

The card is primarily designed for college students, with a relatively low-interest rate and a 1% cash back reward on all purchases. There are also additional perks during your first six months as a new cardholder.

How Does the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Work?

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card requires an application, where the bank will ask you several questions.

You’ll need to provide information about your income and savings, as well as your Social Security Number.

A credit score is not required, but Wells Fargo will run a check and consider the results.

Provided you qualify, you’ll get an introductory APR of 0% for the first six months. During this same time, you’ll get 3% cash back rewards on gas, grocery, and drug store purchases, up to $2,500. All other purchases will earn cash back at the base 1% rate.

After the six-month introductory period, the APR goes up to an 11.15% to 22.15% variable rate, depending on your credit score. You’ll also continue to receive the 1% cash back reward.

If you’re a college student, this is a pretty good deal. If you’re a working professional with established credit, you can probably get better rewards.

If nothing else, you can get a 12-month introductory APR or a higher payout percentage.

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Review

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Annual APR: Variable – 11.15% to 21.15%, 0% for first 15 months
  • Rewards: 1% cash back
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Rewards

Earning Rewards

The rewards system for the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is two-tiered. To begin with, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases, with no limit.

This benefit applies for the lifetime of the card. It applies for in-person and online purchases, as well as bill payments.

In addition to that, you’ll also get 3% cash back on gas, groceries, and drug store purchases.

However, this benefit only applies for the first six months and only up to $2,500. 3% of $2,500 is $75, which is less than the signup bonus on some comparable cards.

On the other hand, you’re going to buy food and gas anyway. Why not get rewarded for it?

Redeeming Rewards

There are a number of ways to redeem your Wells Fargo cash back rewards. To begin with, Wells Fargo bank account holders can accept automatic transfers in increments of $25.

Each time you earn $25 in rewards, it will automatically transfer to your bank account at the end of the month.

Along the same lines, you can redeem rewards directly from a Wells Fargo ATM if you have a Wells Fargo debit card.

You can also apply your cash back towards your account balance. Basically, it will function as a discount on your monthly bill. If you prefer, you can apply it towards another Wells Fargo loan or mortgage instead.

In addition to all those options, you’ll have access to Wells Fargo’s GoFar rewards program. There, you can redeem your rewards for travel, hotels, and gift cards.

On a student’s budget, you’re probably not spending enough for travel rewards to be worthwhile. But the gift card market is reasonably useful.

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Features and Benefits

0% Introductory APR for 6 Months

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card provides a 0% APR for the first six months. If it takes you a few months to pay off the cost of your textbooks, you won’t get hit with interest payments immediately.

Not only that, but you get 0% on balance transfers as well. Most people won’t be transferring a balance to this card in practice, but it’s nice to have the option.

Be warned: your costs will go up after this introductory period. While the 11.15% to 21.15% variable APR isn’t excessive, there’s an additional 5% fee on balance transfers, which is fairly steep.

No Annual Fees

As a college student, the last thing you need is to spend extra money on annual card fees. Many cards charge $100 or more per year simply for the privilege of carrying their particular piece of plastic.

The Wells Fargo card charges no fees. As long as you pay your bill on time, using this card will cost you nothing.

Unlimited Cash Back

With a lot of cash back cards, there’s a limit to how much you can earn. Oftentimes, you’ll get a high payout percentage, but a limit of $1,000 or so.

No matter how much you spend on the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card, you’ll continue to earn your full 1%.

Cell Phone Protection

If you use the Wells Fargo college card to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll automatically receive $600 in insurance coverage.

If your phone is stolen or damaged, you pay a $25 deductible, and Wells Fargo reimbursed you for your purchase.

Contactless Payments

In addition to all of these features, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card supports contactless payments.

With more and more retailers building NFC technology into their point-of-sale systems, this is a welcome feature.

How Does the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Compare to Other Cards?

#1. Deserve EDU Mastercard vs. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

The Deserve EDU Mastercard is geared towards international students. You don’t need a Social Security number to sign up, nor do you need a US credit record.

Moreover, there are no foreign transaction fees, so you can use your card in your home country without penalty.

That said, the Deserve card doesn’t offer any bonus categories or other perks. The cash back rewards are a flat 1%.

#2. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back

The Discover it® Student Cash Back Card provides fantastic payout rates, depending on what you’re buying. The base cash back rate is 1% on all purchases, right in line with the Wells Fargo card.

However, you also get an additional 5% cash back on purchases in particular categories. There’s a new category in each quarter, so a lot depends on your own spending habits.

For example, here’s a look at the rotating 5% categories for 2021:

  • January-March: Grocery stores, Walgreens, & CVS
  • April-June: Gas stations, wholesale clubs, some streaming services
  • July-September: Restaurants, as well as all PayPal transactions
  • October-December: Amazon.com, Target.com, & Walmart.com

In addition to increased rewards in these categories, Discover it® Student Cash Back Card also matches your rewards at the end of your first year, with no limit on the amount. If you managed to earn $200 in rewards, you’ll receive an additional $200 check.

#3. Discover it® Student Chrome vs. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

The Discover it® Student Chrome card offers the same 1% cash back rate as the Wells Fargo card. The APR is also in the same ballpark, which provides a ton of superficial similarity. That said, there are some important differences between these two cards.

To begin with, the Discover it® Student Chrome card only rewards you for the first $1,000 you spend each quarter. At 1%, that’s only $10 in rewards per quarter or $40 per year.

To be fair, the card also provides a $20 annual bonus for students with a 3.0 GPA or better. But that only brings your total to $60.

On the other hand, the Chrome card has no foreign transaction fee, so it’s better for students who are going abroad.

#4. Capital One Journey Student Credit Card vs. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

The Capital One Journey Student Credit Card is built to reward you for making your payments on time. The base reward rate of 1% is the same as the Wells Fargo card.

However, every time you pay your bill on time, you earn an extra 0.25%, for a total of 1.25%. If you’re consistent about paying off your balance every month, that’s a few free dollars every month for doing something you would have done anyway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Wells Fargo College Credit Card?

It doesn’t need to be very high. The Wells Fargo College Credit Card is made for people with no credit or poor to moderate credit.

You most likely won’t qualify if you have very bad credit, such as a recent bankruptcy. But if you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Can You Upgrade from the Wells Fargo College Credit Card?

Yes, you can. There’s no guarantee of this; you need to improve your credit score to the point where you qualify for a card with richer rewards. But if you use the Cash Back College Card to build credit while you’re in school, you’re likely to qualify by the time you graduate.

Is the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card a Good Credit Card?

Yes, for the first six months. The extra bonus cash back is worth far too much to pass up. After that, the only exciting feature is easier payments from Wells Fargo bank accounts.

Who Should Get the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card?

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is good for college students and others with no credit. It’s also worth considering for anyone with an existing Wells Fargo account.

Bottom Line: Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Review

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is a middling cash back card with a lot of upfront benefits. The 0% introductory APR and extra grocery and gas rewards are great for brand new students.

That said, the 1% cashback afterwards is fairly average. If you can qualify for a card that pays more, you’ll want to go that direction instead. That said, this is still a very good card for someone with no credit.

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer, Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional financial writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Leveraging her personal experience, Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finances and make simple financial decisions.