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Card Comparisons

Best credit card issuers: Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo

Are you considering getting a credit card from one of these two major issuers? Here's what you should know

Summary

Bank of America and Wells Fargo have similar offers for credit card categories like rewards, cash back, balance transfers and more. Read on to find out which card issuer might be the best for your needs.

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Choosing the best credit card for your financial needs can be difficult – especially when you are comparing cards from different issuers. The problem comes when issuers have similar credit card offerings. If you plan to pair cards, combine rewards or even earn some “loyalty” kudos by sticking with an issuer, how would you choose the best credit card company to start with and perhaps stay with for the long term?

When it comes to picking a winner, it might come down to the finer details such as card perks, customer experience or rewards flexibility. This article will compare credit cards from two major banks: Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo

Bank of America is almost twice the size of Wells Fargo (when comparing market capitalization figures). But as far as banks go, they each have unique credit products.

Bank of America is known for extra rewards and benefits for banking clients with higher bank balances, while Wells Fargo has some surprisingly good rewards cards for travel.

Here’s how the issuers compare in areas like customer experience, rewards flexibility and credit card offerings.

Comparing Bank of America and Wells Fargo

Customer experience

Even if a card has great terms and generous rewards, it helps to know about the experience you’ll have as a customer. This is especially useful to know with rewards cards that offer perks and benefits.

These programs can have specific guidelines on using your rewards and card benefits, so there’s the potential for confusion and misunderstanding. A card issuer with a good customer experience can make all the difference for cardholders.

Bank of America

Bank of America has a positive rating for customer experience. In J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, the bank fared pretty well – earning 812 points out of 1,000 and ranking third among the 11 banks rated in the survey.

Bank of America’s app is rated 4.7 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store. The issuer also has 24/7 customer service and online chat for its customers.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has mixed reviews regarding customer experience. In J.D. Power’s 2020 survey, Wells Fargo scored an 800 out of 1,000, ranking eighth out of 11 major banks. However, like Bank of America, there’s also 24/7 customer service and an online chat feature for cardholders who need immediate attention.

The Wells Fargo app has similar ratings to Bank of America: 4.8 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.

Rewards flexibility

Rewards credit cards are great, and the ones with flexible rewards are even better. Flexible rewards mean you have more options to earn, redeem, combine or save points for a longer period of time (as opposed to points that quickly expire).

Here’s how each issue comes out when comparing rewards flexibility:

Bank of America

Bank of America has dozens of credit cards. These cards offer cash back and miles with some limitations for amount, categories, airlines, etc. Cardholders who are looking for flexibility in rewards would likely want to check out the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card or the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

The Customized Cash Rewards card offers a 3% cash back rewards rate on your category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvements and furnishings), plus 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases. There is a $2,500 annual limit on cash back for both. For everything else, there’s 1% unlimited cash back. With this card, cash rewards don’t expire, and there’s the option to redeem cash as a deposit, statement credit, check or even as a contribution to a qualifying 529 plan.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is fairly flexible for travel purposes. There’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn and no blackout dates. After 12 months, your rewards can be redeemed for a statement credit.

The card’s rewards rate is 1.5 points per dollar spent, but booking through the Bank of America Travel Center earns an additional 1.5 points per dollar for a total of 3 points per dollar. The flexibility and high rewards earning potential make this a good travel card with no annual fee.

If travel rewards or tiered category bonuses aren’t your thing, there’s a flat-rate cash back option that might appeal to you. The newly launched Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card offers unlimited cash back of 1.5% on all purchases, with rates that can go as high as 2.62% back for Preferred Rewards members in the highest tier. There’s also a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening along with a 0% APR offer for purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles. 

With most Bank of America credit cards, you can maximize your rewards by becoming a Bank of America Preferred Rewards program member. Membership requirements include maintaining a certain account balance with a qualifying Bank of America (or Merrill) account. If you qualify for a Preferred Rewards tier, you could boost your rewards with any Bank of America credit card between 25% and 75%.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has far fewer credit cards than Bank of America, and the selection of Wells Fargo rewards cards is even smaller. Still, you can rack up rewards if you take advantage of sign-up bonuses and introductory APRs.

Wells Fargo’s newest rewards credit card is the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ card. The card’s 2% cash back rate on all purchases sets it apart as the best cash back offer from Wells Fargo. You can also earn a $200 cash back bonus when you spend $1,000 in purchases with the Active Cash in the first three months. Additionally, the card offers 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (a 14.99% to 24.99% variable APR applies after that).

The issuer’s other flat-rate card, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, earns just 1.5% cash rewards back on your purchases and 1.8% cash back on Google Pay and Apple Pay purchases for the first 12 months from account opening. The cash back is unlimited and not specific to any spending category.

Rewards enthusiasts may also consider the Wells Fargo Visa Signature credit card. It offers 5X rewards on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases for the first six months (up to $12,500.) After that, all other spending earns 1X rewards. Rewards redeemed for travel are worth 50% more and all rewards expire after five years if you don’t use them. Cash can be redeemed in $25 (2,500-point) increments. You can apply it to an eligible bank account or as a statement credit. You can also request a paper check.

Although points can be used on travel, gift cards, cash, merchandise or a statement credit, travel must be booked through Wells Fargo’s rewards program, Go Far Rewards.

One plus: You can transfer points between Wells Fargo cards, including the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card, to score the 50% travel redemption bonus.

Comparing cards from both issuers


Now that you know a little more about each bank in the categories of customer experience and rewards flexibility, it could help to see how their individual cards compare with one another.

Here’s a quick look at how these cards compare in various categories:

Cash back

Card nameRewards rateBest for
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvements and furnishings), 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases ($2,500 combined spend limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter) and 1% cash back on other purchasesBest for flexible cash back categories
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases; boosted cash back rates for Preferred Rewards membersBank of America loyalists
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card 2% unlimited cash back on purchases; $200 cash back bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 monthsBest for flat-rate cash back
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card1.5% cash rewards on purchasesBest for easy sign-up bonus

Travel

Card nameRewards rateBest for
Bank of America® Travel Rewards1.5 points per dollar on every purchaseBest for flexible cash back categories

Balance transfer

Card nameBalance transfer offerBest for
Bank of America Travel Rewards
  • Introductory 0% APR for first 18 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made within 60 days of opening account
  • Regular APR: 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Best for low interest
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchase and qualifying balance transfers made in the first 3 months
  • Regular APR: 14.99% to 24.99% variable
Best for 0% APR
Wells Fargo Platinum card
  • 0% intro APR for 18 months on qualifying transfers made in first 120 days
  • Regular APR: 16.49 percent to 24.49  percent variable
Best for 0% APR

Does Bank of America or Wells Fargo have better credit cards?

Bank of America and Wells Fargo are both reputable credit card issuers with similar card offerings. Bank of America comes out slightly ahead in the areas of customer service and flexible rewards, whereas the Wells Fargo cards (with no annual fees) could be better for travel – especially when it comes to earning and combining points from different cards.

If you need more flexibility with your rewards along with a top-notch customer service experience, Bank of America might be the issuer for you. If you’d like to earn more for travel while avoiding annual fees, Wells Fargo might be your best choice. In the end, you’ll choose the issuer with the cards that make the most sense for your needs.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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Credit Card Rate Report
Business
14.22%
Airline
15.51%
Cash Back
16.10%
Reward
15.90%
Student
16.78%

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