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How to Earn 1.8% Cash Back on Every Purchase with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Credit Card

Aug. 12, 2016
5 min read
How to Earn 1.8% Cash Back on Every Purchase with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Credit Card
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The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Card is one of the latest cash-back options to arrive on the market, and it offers users the opportunity to earn 1.8% on select purchases for the first 12 months. Below, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Richard Kerr explains how to maximize this offer, and takes a look at whether this card is the best option for cash-back rewards.

Using Apple Pay is my favorite way to avoid carrying around all of my favorite travel rewards cards. In addition to the space-saving aspect of a mobile wallet, over the last couple years credit card companies have been incentivizing consumers who use Apple Pay or Android Pay.

The no-fee Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Credit Card was introduced by the bank as a flat 1.5% cash-back card — for more info, see our review here. This card isn't currently offering a sign-up bonus — though there have been $100-$200 offers since the product went live a few months ago — but it does offer a unique category bonus for mobile wallet users. For the first 12 months after account opening, you can boost earnings 20% to 1.8% cash back on all purchases made via Apple Pay or Android Pay.

Earning a 1.8% Return

The opportunity to earn 1.8% cash back on all purchases — provided you pay for everything through one of these mobile wallets — is nice. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to maximize your earnings with this card, as well as some limitations to consider if you're comparing the Cash Wise Card to other options:

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  • Not all stores accept Android Pay or Apple Pay (see a list of the eligible retailers here and here), and while you can use these mobile wallets with a variety of apps, you can't use either service for online purchases made through a website. So you'll need to make sure you shop at eligible retailers frequently enough to justify opening this card and maximizing the 20% bonus.
  • The 1.8% return on Android Pay and Apple Pay purchases is only available for the first year, after which your maximum return drops to 1.5%. Given its limited time, you'd think (or at least hope) the boost in cash back might be a bit more substantial.
  • The cash back you earn from this card can't be redeemed as points, unlike with the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited Card. With these two options, if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Plus Business Card, you can redeem cash-back rewards as points with one of the program's 11 transfer partners.

Other Options to Consider

Those issues aside, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Card fares poorly when you compare it to the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card and the Citi Double Cash Card, both of which offer 2% cash back on all purchases all the time (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay on the Citi card), and you aren't limited to merchants that support the near-field communication (NFC) technology of Android Pay and Apple Pay.

Where the card really loses to competition is when comparing it to the previously mentioned Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, both of which also charge no annual fee. Unlike the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Credit Card, both of these cards offer sign-up bonuses: You'll get $150 back after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening. The Freedom also has rotating categories that earn 5% cash back while the Freedom Unlimited, like the Cash Wise, earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. However, as mentioned above, cash back earned with these cards can be redeemed as Ultimate Rewards points provided you also hold a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Since TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece, that boosts your return to at least 2.1% — or up to 10.5% if you maximize the Freedom Card's rotating 5x bonus categories.

Finally, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Credit Card does offer cell phone insurance against covered damage and theft, but you must pay your monthly bill with the card — which means you'd miss out on earning 5x points when paying with the Chase Ink Plus Business Card.

Bottom Line

Even if you use Android Pay or Apple Pay routinely and prefer cash back over having to worry about the best strategies for redeeming Ultimate Rewards, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Credit Card isn't necessarily your best option. You can earn a flat 2% cash back with other cards — and that return isn't limited to purchases made with a mobile wallet.

What's your favorite cash-back card?