A great choice for points newbies: Wells Fargo Propel American Express card
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information. This page includes information about the Discover it Cash Back card that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.
Wells Fargo Propel Amex Overview
The no-annual-fee Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card offers solid earning rates, especially in millennial-friendly bonus categories such as streaming services, dining and travel. With more credit cards moving in the premium direction, there’s even more value today in a good card that has no annual fee. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The Wells Fargo Propel card is a much-needed breath of fresh air and simplicity in the increasingly complex world of loyalty programs and credit cards.
The information for the Wells Fargo Propel card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
This no-annual-fee beauty offers bonus categories that suggest a premium product. In combination with another no-annual-fee Wells Fargo credit card, the bank’s Wells Fargo Visa Signature® card, the Propel can make these categories some of the most valuable on the market.
Who is this credit card for?
This card has something for just about everyone. The lack of an annual fee makes it perfect for beginners who aren’t ready to commit to an expensive premium card or who may not feel as comfortable redeeming transferable points. The ease of redeeming your Go Far Rewards for cash back (or air travel) is great for anyone who doesn’t want to put too much time or effort into dealing with credit card rewards.
The 3x bonus categories — travel, dining (eating out and ordering in), gas stations and popular streaming services — are well-suited to people who are looking to maximize rewards from common everyday purchases. The latter two are especially interesting because you won’t find them on most other credit cards (especially ones with no annual fee) and you’ll reap rewards on them every month.
This card is now quite literally for everyone. Previously, it was difficult for a customer without an established banking relationship with Wells Fargo to get approved for a Propel card. Now it’s available to customers and non-customers alike.
Related reading: The best Wells Fargo credit cards of 2020
The Propel Amex is offering a bonus of 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening, which works out to $200 in either cash back, travel rewards or gift cards. And if you have the right one-two combo of Wells Fargo credit cards, you might be able to even get 50% more value out of this bonus, bringing your haul up to $300. More on that in a moment.
Wells Fargo has a slightly confusing restriction on welcome offers, so be sure to check your application history carefully before applying. You can only earn one Wells Fargo welcome offer every 15 months across all products, and you can only get one Wells Fargo card every six months, even when you forgo the bonus. This rule applies to the Propel Amex, meaning some people won’t be able to earn the bonus. But even if you’re not eligible, it still might be worth applying to get those bonus categories with no annual fee.
A no-annual-fee card won’t come with lots of perks and benefits, but the Propel Amex has a standout in its cellphone protection, also available on several other Wells Fargo cards. When you pay your monthly bill with the Propel, you can get up to $600 in protection (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft. That’s an impressive benefit for a card with no annual fee.
The Propel also comes with standard purchase and travel protections, including extended warranty coverage, return protection, coverage for lost or stolen items purchased with the card, travel accident insurance, lost baggage coverage and secondary car rental insurance in the U.S.
But the real highlight of this card is the bonus categories.
The Propel Amex does a great job of supplementing standard bonus categories with some new and exciting ones. You’ll earn 3x bonus points on travel (flights, hotels, taxis, ride-hailing and car rentals among others), dining (which Wells Fargo defines as “eating out and ordering in”), gas stations and popular streaming services. You’ll also earn 1x points back on other purchases.
This last category (popular streaming services) is especially interesting. So far, Amex has taken the lead in offering millennial-friendly perks such as Uber credits and SoulCycle benefits, but only on credit cards that cost a pretty penny every year. The Propel Amex has no annual fee and offers bonus points on a number of popular streaming services (including 12 new additions to their previously sparse list) such as Apple subscription services, Disney+, HBO Now, Headspace, Amazon Music Unlimited, Audible Netflix, Spotify Premium, Hulu and more.
In fact, when we speculated about the one card missing from Chase’s lineup, millennial-friendly perks ranked high on our wish list (although Chase has moved to address that by adding Lyft and DoorDash benefits to the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
Another positive here are the broad definitions given to these bonus categories. “Travel” means more than just flights booked directly with an airline, and “dining” includes restaurants but also fast food outlets and “drinking places.” The fact that all the bonus categories are the same uncapped 3x points means the Propel card can function as a one-stop option for many people by offering a competitive rewards structure without requiring too much work or any annual cost.
Your Go Far Rewards points, the Propel rewards currency, are worth a fixed 1 cent each. You can redeem your points for travel, gift cards, charity donations or cash back, but no matter how you plan on spending your rewards, most redemptions will get 1 cent per point. This means that although you don’t have the ability to score better-than-average redemptions (at least not with this card alone), you also don’t need to agonize over award charts, award availability or always getting the best redemption value.
And since you can pool your Go Far Rewards between Wells Fargo cards, you have the ability to earn a higher value from your points. Specifically, the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card lets you redeem for airfare via its portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point, and this jumps to 1.75 cents per point if you spend $50,000 a year or more on the Wells Fargo Visa Signature. Using this combination, your standard 3x bonus categories with the Propel can multiply to 4.5x points or even as high as 5.25x points, depending on your spending patterns. These cards, in tandem, offer some of the most valuable bonus categories on the market. That’s virtually an unprecedented return for a pair of cards with no annual fees.
The Wells Fargo Visa Signature currently comes with a nontraditional welcome bonus. Instead of earning a fixed amount of points, you can earn 5x on your first $12,500 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores during your first six months of card membership. Wells Fargo appears to be counting this 5x as a welcome bonus, so if you want to earn the bonus on both the Wells Fargo Propel and Wells Fargo Visa Signature you’ll have to wait 15 months in between. (The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by ThePointsGuy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
Which cards compete with the Wells Fargo Propel?
The key when you’re comparing other credit cards to the Wells Fargo Propel Amex card is that there’s no annual fee on this card. That means it’s already ahead of the usual suspects that charge between $95 and $550 a year.
There are three cards on the market that you can compare with the Propel Amex. One is the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers a fixed 2% return on all purchases — 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay. It has no annual fee and you redeem your rewards as cash back, letting you do as you please with them. Citi also added the ability to convert these rewards into transferable ThankYou Points, giving this card a huge leg up. It’s a simple and straightforward card, but it doesn’t offer any bonus categories like the Propel Amex.
The other two cards you might look at in comparison to the Propel Amex are the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and the Discover it Cash Back, both of which have rotating sets of 5% capped quarterly categories (after enrollment, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter). They both offer 1% cash back on all other purchases.
The information for the Chase Freedom and Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Those cards are good for people who are highly organized and like to plan out and track their card spending each month. But if you’re looking for simplicity, the Propel Amex is by far a better choice, since its 3x-point bonus categories never change and are never capped like the bonus categories on Chase and Discover’s offerings.
Related reading: Best no-annual-fee credit cards
Wells Fargo has made the Propel a serious competitor among no-annual-fee credit cards. I’m excited to see a rewards card with no annual fee and options for redeeming rewards that are both easy and forward-thinking. With its simple yet rewarding bonus categories (including two spending areas you won’t find on many other cards) and cellphone protection, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card offers solid value.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured photo courtesy of Mint Images via Getty Images.
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