|Rewards Rating:||2.3 / 5|
|Issuer Customer Experience||1.0|
In a Nutshell:
Though it charges no annual fee and offers a decent rewards rate in niche categories like recreational purchases and amusement parks, this version of the Credit One Wander card falls flat compared to the typical travel rewards card.
Average Yearly Rewards Value (estimate, including sign-up bonus averaged over three years, annual credits and $1,325 monthly spend)
Other notable features: More Cash Back Rewards program, credit protection program, zero fraud liability
Credit One Bank is best known for its suite of unsecured credit cards geared toward people with bad credit or no credit history, so it’s no surprise that the issuer has never put up a strong contender for our list of the best rewards cards.
However, the new Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee holds its own, charging no annual fee and boasting a solid rewards rate in a unique array of travel categories, including recreational spending at sites like national parks, amusement parks and sporting events, as well as lodging and restaurant purchases.
But since its bonus categories exclude some of the biggest costs of travel – airfare and gas – it may not be the most rewarding option long term.
Earning cash back
One of the issuer’s first travel rewards cards, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee is geared toward families, nature lovers and frequent road-trippers who love to visit places like national parks, amusement parks and campgrounds. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on eligible recreational purchases, 2 points per dollar on eligible restaurants and lodging purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
The card stands out most for its recreational spending rewards category, which is relatively unique and broader than it may seem at first glance, encompassing purchases made at national parks, amusement parks, live sporting events, theatrical producers, tourist attractions, aquariums and zoos. The inclusion of restaurants and lodging as bonus categories further cement this card as a solid choice for those who love to hit the road and explore the U.S.
However, neither airfare and gas earn more than 1 point per dollar with the card, so the card may fall short for frequent travelers looking to maximize their rewards with a single card. Depending on how it categorizes travel spending, you may be able to cover more ground and enjoy better long-term value with a dedicated travel rewards card.
See related: Best credit cards for entertainment spending
Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee spending example
How much value you get out of the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee will depend on how much you spend in the card’s bonus rewards categories. But since this card features a mix of everyday and niche categories, it can be tough to get a clear sense of this card’s rewards potential.
Let’s say a family of four takes a road trip with the following estimated spending breakdown:
- $200 on gas (30 miles per gallon, 2,000-miles each way, $3 per gallon of gas)
- $600 on lodging (six nights in hotels at $100 per night)
- $320 on dining ($20 per person, per day, for four days)
- $1,000 on recreation (assuming one $250 amusement park ticket per person)
Based on this trip, you’d earn a total of 5,040 points (3 points per dollar on the tickets, 2 points per dollar on the lodging and dining and 1 point per dollar on the gas). At a value of 1 cent per point, this would be worth just over $50 in cash back rewards. That beats out the cash back you’d earn with one of the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (about $42 in cash rewards back, given a 2% flat cash rewards rate and a total spend of $2,120).
But what about the rest of the year? Given its specialized categories, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee may not beat out a flat-rate cash back or rewards card if used for the majority of your everyday spending.
To demonstrate this, let’s say you take two road trips per year and assume the same spending breakdown and $2,120 cost per trip as before, for a total of $4,240. Add to this about $150 per month in restaurant purchases ($1,800 per year) and $850 per month in general purchases ($10,020 per year), giving you a total of:
- $2,000 on recreation per year (3 points per dollar)
- $1,200 on lodging per year (2 points per dollar)
- $2,440 on dining (2 points per dollar)
- $10,600 on general purchases (1 point per dollar)
Assuming this annual spend and a point value of 1 cent per point, a good no annual fee flat-rate cash back card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash or Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card will likely come out on top.
|Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee||($2,000 x 3 points per dollar) + ($3,640 x 2 points per dollar) + ($10,600 x 1 point per dollar) =||$238|
|Wells Fargo Active Cash Card||$16,240 x 2% back =||$324|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||$16,240 x 1.5% back =||$243|
Assuming you don’t spend heavily year-round in most of the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee’s bonus categories, you’ll likely be better off sticking with a flat-rate card. While there’s little risk in adding this version of the Wander Card to your wallet given it charges no annual fee, it may not be the best choice as an everyday spending card.
That said, it could make a lot of sense as a supplementary card for vacation-loving families if you pair it with a card that earns rewards at a flat-rate in more practical spending categories like grocery store purchases.
Redeeming cash back
Though the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee offers a decent mix of redemption options, its redemption scheme is a bit inflexible.
To start, you can redeem as cash back rewards in the form of a statement credit. However, Credit One requires you to request cash back rewards in increments of 1,000 points, with points worth 1 cent apiece. In other words, you’ll need to earn at least $10 worth of cash back rewards before you can redeem, and you can only redeem in $10 increments. This means if you had a $60 balance and $55 worth of cash back rewards (5,500 points), you could only get a statement credit of up to $50.
Along with cash back rewards, you can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise and travel, though it’s unclear whether you’ll consistently get the same 1-cent-per-point value if you take this route. And unlike some of the best travel cards, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee doesn’t get you a higher point value if you redeem through an issuer portal or let you transfer points to outside airline or hotel loyalty programs. Your points are stuck with Credit One, for better or worse.
Indeed, it may be best to think of the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee as closer to a cash back card than a flexible rewards card. Though you’ll earn points, redeeming as cash back rewards is likely to get you the best value for your points.
No sign-up bonus
Unlike many no annual fee cash back cards, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee does not offer any sign-up bonus. While you wouldn’t expect to find a sign-up bonus on the typical Credit One credit-building card, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee is geared toward people with good to excellent credit. This makes the lack of a sign-up bonus disappointing.
Plenty of no annual fee cash back and rewards cards available at this credit level offer sign-up bonuses of $200 after a $500 spend in your first three months, including the Chase Freedom Flex℠, Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Quicksilver card.
To add insult to injury, the annual fee version of this card, the Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card, comes with an $80 bonus as a statement credit if you use your new Wander card to cover a qualifying purchase a National Park Pass or other Interagency Annual Pass purchase. While that card carries a $95 annual fee, it’s available with a fair or average credit score.
Card rates and fees
While the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee won’t cost you anything upfront, it could prove pricey if you wind up carrying a balance. Unlike most rewards cards available at this credit level, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee does not offer a range of possible APRs based on your creditworthiness. Instead, all cardholders get the same 24.24% variable APR, regardless of credit history. Even if you have near-perfect credit, you’ll be stuck with a rate that’s far higher than the average credit card APR.
The Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee also lacks a 0% introductory APR offer on new purchases and balance transfers, so it won’t be of much use if you need time to pay down debt or finance large purchases while avoiding interest. While these features are not common among travel cards, having a chance at interest-free breathing room is always a plus.
And though the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee is billed as a travel card, it will only make sense if you stick to the U.S., as every purchase made with the card overseas will incur a 3% foreign transaction fee ($1 minimum), which would wipe out the rewards you’d earn on that purchase. If you plan to travel abroad, you may want to look for a card that charges no foreign transaction fee to pair with this card.
The good news is that as long as you pay your balance in full each month and only use the card in the U.S., it should cost you nothing to keep the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee in your wallet. This makes it viable as a second credit card and a fairly low-risk option if you’re looking to earn rewards on recreation, dining and lodging.
Aside from its ongoing rewards, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee is thin on cardholder perks, especially compared to the typical rewards card for people with good credit. The Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee only comes with standard Visa benefits and a couple of shrug-worthy extras, including:
- Free credit score access – See your monthly educational Experian credit score for free and track how it changes over time based on your card use and other financial habits.
- Experian IdentityWorks℠ – You can get a free membership to this credit monitoring program from the credit bureau Experian, which comes with dark web, Social Security number and fraud alerts, $500,000 in identity theft insurance, FICO score tracking and more (a $120 annual value, per Experian).
- More Cash Back Rewards Program – A card-linked offer program similar to Amex Offers and Chase Offers, the More Cash Back Rewards Program lets you earn extra cash back at participating retailers.
While you typically won’t get any mind-blowing benefits on a rewards card that charges no annual fee, a few offer perks like streaming, rideshare or food delivery service credits.
Unlike most Credit One cards, which are typically available with a low or middle-of-the-road credit score, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee is designed for cardholders with good to excellent credit (a FICO score of 670 or higher).
Luckily, you can also check if you prequalify for a Credit One card through the issuer’s site or via CardMatch, which only requires a soft pull of your credit and should give you some peace of mind about your odds of approval before you apply.
That said, if you only have a fair or average credit score, you can still enjoy most of the benefits of the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee. If you apply for the Credit One Wander Card that charges a $95 annual fee instead, you’ll only need a fair credit score to qualify. Even better, you can get an $80 statement credit to cover the cost of a National Park Pass and will enjoy a higher ongoing rewards rate than you’d get with the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee: 5 points per dollar on eligible recreational & amusement park purchases, 3 points per dollar on eligible restaurant & lodging purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Indeed, according to our card scoring methodology, the annual fee version of this card actually scores higher as a credit-building card than the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee does as a rewards card.
How does the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee compare to other rewards cards?
The Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee makes for a decent starter travel card given its low cost and decent rewards rate in niche travel categories well-suited to road-trippers and families on the go. But it may not be the best fit even if you spend heavily in those categories. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
1.5 points per dollar on every purchase
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days
$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
$200 cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back)
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
This popular travel rewards card could be a great alternative since it also charges no annual fee and earns unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. While this is lower than the rate you’ll get in some of the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee’s bonus categories, it will likely come out on top in the long run since most people spend more on everyday purchases like groceries and gas than lodging and recreation purchases. Plus, depending on the size of your Bank of America bank account balances, you may be able to boost your rewards rate by 25% or more via the Preferred Rewards program.
Another no annual fee rewards card geared toward foodies and cardholders who spend heavily on family fun, the SavorOne card matches the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee’s rewards rate on purchases like amusement park tickets, but also extends that generous rate to a broad entertainment category that includes museums, movie theaters and more. It also comes with a generous sign-up bonus and carries a better cash back rate on everyday purchases at grocery stores and restaurants.
If you’re looking for maximum flexibility while avoiding an annual fee, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a terrific option. The card’s eligible bonus categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. Since it features such a high cash back rate and wide variety of categories, the Custom Cash should hold great long-term value. And while some recreation spending will only earn 1% back with the card, other travel and entertainment purchases like airfare, hotels, concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions and amusement parks are eligible for bonus cash back.
Who should get the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee?
- Cardholders who frequently stay in hotels, go camping and visit national parks, amusement parks and other recreation sites.
- Cardholders with good or better credit looking for a no annual fee travel card (if you have only fair or average credit, consider the Credit One Wander Card that carries an annual fee).
- Fans of Credit One looking to get started with a low-cost travel rewards card.
How to use the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee?
- Use the card for any eligible recreation purchases, such as amusement park tickets, national park passes and live sporting event tickets.
- Use the card for restaurant and lodging purchases, including campgrounds.
- Pay off your balance in full each month to avoid the 24.24% variable APR that’s assigned to all cardholders, regardless of credit history.
Is the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee worth it?
The Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee won’t cost you anything upfront, but unless you spend heavily in the card’s bonus categories – particularly its niche recreation category – it’s unlikely to be the most lucrative option, especially if you use it as your go-to rewards card. At this credit level, many flat-rate or tiered bonus category rewards and cash back cards should offer better value while also charging no annual fee.
That said, if you love visiting amusement parks, national parks and other recreation sites or do a lot of camping and family road trips, the Credit One Wander Card with No Annual Fee could be worth having in your wallet as part of your larger rewards strategy.
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