|Cash Back Rating:||4.1 / 5|
|Issuer Customer Experience||2.0|
2% cash rewards on purchases
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Wells Fargo Customer Service Ratings
Other notable features: Up to $600 cell phone protection ($25 deductible), zero fraud liability, Visa Signature concierge service, benefits via Visa Signature Hotel collection
Whether you’re a low-maintenance cardholder looking for an easy way to earn cash back on everything you buy or a rewards aficionado eager to fill a gap in your cash back strategy, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card should be on your radar.
Not only does this rewards card from Wells Fargo hold its own against the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market, but its rewards program, $0 annual fee, impressive sign-up bonus and introductory APR offers also make it a contender for the title of best cash back credit card overall. While no card is perfect, it’s hard to go wrong with a flat-rate card that offers the sort of short- and long-term value you’ll find with the Active Cash Card.
That said, it may not be the best fit for your goals and spending habits. To see if a rewards card that earns a higher rate in specific categories or offers more flexible rewards might be a better choice, size up where you spend the most and what type of rewards you hope to earn before taking the plunge.
Earning cash rewards
Only a handful of cards can compete with the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card’s cash rewards rate on general purchases. You’ll earn a flat 2% cash rewards on qualifying purchases, with no earning limit and no need to track spending or enroll in bonus categories.
Since most cards earn just 1% back on general purchases, a flat 2% cash rewards rate makes the Active Cash card tremendously valuable as both a standalone all-purpose rewards card and a supplementary card to combine with cards that earn rewards at higher rates in specific categories like groceries, dining or gas.
While it may not sound like much, getting 2% back on purchases can certainly add up over time. For example, if you spent $15,900 per year (our estimate of the average person’s spending) with your Active Cash card, you’d earn $318 in cash rewards per year, with no annual fee cutting into your rewards balance.
See related: How cash back credit cards work
Even among the best flat-rate cash back cards, unlimited 2% cash rewards is about as good as it gets. Assuming you pay off your purchases, the Active Cash card’s rewards rate matches that of the Citi® Double Cash Card, the PayPal Cash Back Mastercard and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card, and beats out the minimum rate you’ll find on other popular rewards cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Depending on your spending habits, though, a flat-rate card like the Active Cash may not be the most lucrative option. While the Active Cash will get you a great rate on general purchases, you could be missing out on even more cash back in your top spending categories. Used wisely, a card that earns more than 2% back in categories like groceries and dining could net more cash back than the Active Cash, while still charging no annual fee.
Active Cash card spending example
Whether the Active Cash makes sense as a standalone cash back card will depend on where and how much you spend. While a card that offers more than 2% back in specific categories can net you more cash back overall, big spenders may squeeze more value out of a flat-rate card.
Take another cash back card, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, as an example. The Custom Cash offers 5% back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (on up to $500 in purchases per cycle, then 1%), as well as 1% back on general purchases. If you were able to max out your top spending category each billing cycle and put a total of $15,900 on the card each year, you’d earn $399 per year with the Custom Cash, compared to just $318 per year for the same spend with the Active Cash.
|Wells Fargo Active Cash Card||$15,900 x 2% back =||$318|
|Citi Custom Cash Card||($6,000 x 5% back) + ($9,900 x 1% back) =||$399|
Then again, heavy spenders who want to stick with a single card can do especially well with a flat-rate card. For example, if you charged more than $24,000 per year with your card, the Active Cash would be a better choice than the Custom Cash Card, since after this point purchases would earn 2% cash rewards with the Active Cash, versus just 1% with the Custom Cash.
|Wells Fargo Active Cash Card||$24,000 x 2% back =||$480|
|Citi Custom Cash Card||($6,000 x 5% back) + ($18,000 x 1% back) =||$480|
See related: How to pick the best credit card for you
Redeeming cash rewards
Along with one of the best flat rewards rates you’ll find anywhere, the Active Cash card offers a decent variety of cash back redemption options and carries no minimum redemption thresholds. You can use your rewards for a statement credit, direct deposit into a Wells Fargo checking or savings account or withdraw cash back directly from a Wells Fargo ATM in $20 increments (if you have a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card). You can also redeem for gift cards, purchases and travel through the Wells Fargo Rewards program.
That said, some rewards cards earn points that can be redeemed at a higher value for travel. The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex℠, for example, give you a chance to boost the value of your points when you pair with a higher-tier Chase Ultimate Rewards card.
This may not be a deal-breaker if cash rewards are your sole focus, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re on the fence about how you plan to use your rewards.
Current sign-up bonus
One feature of the Active Cash Card that sets it apart from nearly all competing flat-rate cards is its sign-up bonus. You can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first three months.
While many cash back cards offer sign-up bonuses, none of the popular cash back cards that earn at least 2% back on every purchase come close to matching the Active Cash card’s welcome offer. In fact, most of the top flat-rate cash back cards – including the Citi Double Cash, PayPal Mastercard and Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card – carry no sign-up bonus at all.
The closest flat-rate competitor in this department is perhaps the Capital One Quicksilver, which also comes with a $200 sign-up bonus, but only requires you to spend $500 in your first three months. However, that card earns just 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
While a sign-up bonus should never be your only reason for getting a card, the Active Cash card’s generous offer gives it a clear advantage over the flat-rate cash back competition. After all, to earn $200 in cash back via card spend, you’d need to charge and pay off a whopping $10,000 with a card like the Citi Double Cash or PayPal Mastercard. Depending on your spending habits and rewards strategy, that could amount to an extra year’s worth of spending.
Card rates and fees
The Active Cash card is a no annual fee credit card, so it will cost nothing to keep in your wallet as long as you pay off your balance in full each month. Since there’s no need to weigh your rewards or card perks against an annual fee, deciding if you should apply for the Active Cash is more about how the card’s rewards scheme fits with your spending habits.
If you do wind up carrying a balance, though, the Active Cash card could prove costly. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could be assigned ongoing variable APR as low as 16.49% or as high as 26.49%. While the low-end rate is a bit lower than the current average credit card APR, the high-end is very high indeed, rivaling the rate you’ll find on cards designed for people with bad credit.
That said, the Active Cash card could also help you save on interest. The card comes with a 0% introductory APR for your first 15 months from account opening on purchases and on qualifying balance transfers made within the first 120 days, after which the variable go-to rate of 16.49%, 21.49% or 26.49% applies. This should make the Active Cash card especially useful if you could use some interest-free breathing room to chip away at debt or spread out payments on a big-ticket item.
While an intro APR offer on new purchases is a fairly common feature among the best cash back and rewards cards, finding a card that comes with an intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers can be tougher. The Citi Double Cash Card, for example, only offers an intro APR on balance transfers, not new spending.
The card’s intro balance transfer fee of 3% (or $5 minimum, whichever is greater) is also reasonable considering plenty of dedicated balance transfer cards charge a 5% balance transfer fee. Keep in mind that you must transfer your balance within the first 120 days; otherwise, your balance transfer fee will shoot up to 5% (or $5 minimum), which could add hundreds more to your balance.
On the downside, the card carries a 3% foreign transaction fee, which means your cash back will be eclipsed by fees when you use the card abroad. If you plan to travel overseas, be sure to have a backup card that charges no foreign transaction fee.
As is expected with a no annual fee card, the Active Cash card’s list of perks isn’t particularly robust, but you’ll still enjoy a handful of useful benefits, including:
- Cellphone protection – Pay your cellphone bill with the Active Cash card each month and you’ll enjoy complimentary cellphone insurance against covered damage and theft for up to $600 per claim (a $25 deductible applies).
- Visa Signature benefits – On top of standard perks like car rental insurance and a pay-per-use roadside dispatch service, you can take advantage of valuable travel and shopping protections like extended warranty coverage, perks like Visa Signature Concierge Services and discounts on experiences like luxury car rentals and wine country excursions.
While we don’t expect much in the way of perks with a card at this price level, the Active Cash even falls a bit short of some no annual fee cards. Along with cellphone protection, a number of these cards also carry Mastercard World Elite benefits, which include arguably more practical perks such as discounted meal-delivery subscription services and rideshare credits.
The Active Cash Card welcomes applicants with good to excellent credit (a FICO score of 670 or higher). Unfortunately, Wells Fargo does not currently offer preapproval for the Active Cash card on its website, though existing Wells Fargo customers may see a preapproved offer in their online account. Since you won’t be able to gauge your odds of approval before you apply, be sure to check your credit score to ensure you land in the card’s target range.
How does the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card compare to other cash back cards?
While the Active Cash Card is clearly a frontrunner in the flat-rate cash back category, it’s not necessarily the best fit for everyone. Depending on your spending habits and how much work you’re willing to put into earning cash rewards, a different style of rewards card could be a more lucrative long-term option. Here are a few other options to consider:
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
$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)
Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
If you’re willing to put a little bit more effort into maximizing your rewards, the Citi Custom Cash could be a great alternative to the Active Cash card. If you spend modestly overall but find that restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores or one of the card’s other eligible categories makes up a big enough portion of your budget to maximize the $500 cash back spending limit each billing cycle, the Custom Cash card could offer a more rewarding balance of consistency and flexibility than the Active Cash.
Though it lacks a sign-up bonus and earns the same flat-rate rewards as the Active Cash card (assuming you pay off your bill each month), the Double Cash has a couple of key advantages worth considering. For one, its balance transfer offer is a bit more generous than the Active Cash card’s. You’ll enjoy 18 months of 0% intro APR (15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that) on balance transfers, versus just 15 months from account opening of 0% intro APR on qualifying balance transfers (16.49%, 21.49% or 26.49% variable APR after that) with the Active Cash. The Double Cash also gives you a bit more flexibility over how you use your rewards, since you can pair the card with a Citi travel card to transfer points to travel partners – sometimes at a higher point value.
While its cash back rate on general purchases (1.5%) falls short of the Active Cash card’s, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers far more rewards flexibility toward travel. Instead of pure cash back, you’ll earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash back, travel and more. and These points can also be transferred to a higher-tier Chase card and redeemed for travel at an up to 50% higher value. Plus, along with the 1.5% cash back you’ll earn on general purchase, you’ll earn a higher flat rate in practical categories like travel booked with Chase, dining and drugstore purchases.
Who should get the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card?
- Cardholders who value simplicity and want to earn cash rewards on purchases without the hassle of tracking spending or enrolling in bonus categories.
- Cardholders who are currently earning less than 2% cash rewards on general purchases.
- Cardholders who have credit card debt and think they can pay off a significant amount in 15 months.
- Cardholders with large expenses on the horizon who could use time to pay their balance off while avoiding interest charges and risky deferred interest offers.
- Cardholders looking to avoid an annual fee.
How to use the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
- If you have multiple rewards cards, use the Active Cash card for all spending that earns less than 2% cash rewards back on your existing cards.
- Spend at least $1,000 in the first three months to secure the $200 cash rewards bonus.
- Take advantage of the card’s intro APR offer on qualifying balance transfers and new purchases to either chip away at existing card debt or finance large expenses while minimizing interest charges.
- If you need to transfer a balance, be sure to do so within the first 120 days of opening your account; otherwise, your balance transfer fee will jump from intro 3% up to 5% (or $5 minimum, whichever is higher).
- Pay your cellphone bill with the card for up to $600 of protection against covered damage or theft (keep in mind a $25 deductible applies).
Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card worth it?
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card charges no annual fee, carries one of the most competitive flat cash rewards rates on the market and even includes a generous sign-up bonus and intro APR offers – so for us it’s a no-brainer: Yes, the Active Cash is absolutely worth an application. If cash back is your focus and you want to avoid the headache of tracking categories or juggling multiple cards, the Active Cash should be one of your first stops.
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