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The new Wells Fargo Active CashSM Card, a 2% unlimited cash-rewards card with no annual fee, is sure to be one of the most popular options among flat-rate cash-rewards cards on the market.
Unlike other 2% cash-back cards like Citi® Double Cash Card (you earn 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay) and the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, the Active Cash Card comes with a welcome bonus of $200 if you spend $1,000 within three months of opening the card.
While travel credit cards come with the potential for you to score perks like hotel credits or free flight, cash-back cards are great because of their simplicity. You don’t have to understand redemption values for points or miles, and many cash-back cards come with no annual fee. Flat-rate cash-back cards are low effort because regardless of what you’re purchasing, you’ll get a fixed percentage of your money back.
When Select crunched the numbers and analyzed over 200 credit cards, we found that consumers can earn substantial rewards with the Active Cash Card over a five year period. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)
Below, we break down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Active Cash Card to help you decide if it’s the right card for you.
Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
$200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for the first 15 months from account opening
14.99% to 24.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Introductory fee of 3% ($5 minimum) for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5% ($5 minimum)
Foreign transaction fee
The Active Cash Card has a simple rewards program: Cardholders earn 2% cash rewards on all eligible purchases and there are no bonus categories to track. Before signing up for this card, you should consider your spending habits. Is your spending spread across categories or is it concentrated in certain areas like dining or travel? If you don’t tend to spend more in one category versus another, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card could be a good choice for your wallet.
You could pair the Active Cash Card with a cash-back card like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Discover it® Cash Back. To get the most rewards out of the cards, you could use the Freedom Flex or Discover card whenever you can take advantage of the 5% cash-back categories (up to the quarterly maximum after enrollment), and use the Active Cash Card on all other purchases.
For the Active Cash card, your cash rewards can be redeemed as a statement credit, through a Wells Fargo ATM by using a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card, as a direct deposit into a Wells Fargo savings or checking account or as a paper check.
Select calculated how much cash rewards the average American can earn in a year when using their Wells Fargo Active Cash Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).
Here’s a breakdown of how much cash rewards you can roughly earn in each category, annually (dollar amount is rounded up):
- Groceries: $104
- Gas: $44
- Dining out: $74
- Travel: $45
- Utilities: $97
- General purchases: $79
- Total: $443
We found that, in the first year of card membership, the Active Cash Card earned an estimated $643 in cash rewards, including the $200 cash rewards bonus. Over a five year period, cardholders could earn $2,415. Cardholders could earn more or less cash back depending on their annual spending habits.
This Active Cash Card is best for cardholders who want a flat-rate cash-rewards program and aren’t looking for a lot of extra benefits their credit card. The card provides minimal perks. Here’s the breakdown:
The Active Cash Card provides cardholders with cell phone protection if you use the card to pay your cell phone bill. If your phone is damaged or stolen, Wells Fargo will reimburse the replacement or repair of your cell phone for up to $600 (with a $25 deductible). (If your phone is lost, your phone is not covered by this protection plan.)
Active Cash cardholders will have access to Visa Signature Concierge, a 24/7 complimentary personal assistance service that provides information and referrals on travel, dining, entertainment and personal services. Cardholders also have access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. When cardholders book through the collection, you’ll get perks like a food and beverage credit and daily continental breakfast.
The Active Cash card has no annual fee and has a 15 month 0% APR introductory period on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then, a variable APR of 14.99% 19.99% or 24.99%), making it a good option for cardholders looking to do a balance transfer.
Balance transfers must be made within 120 days from account opening to qualify for the introductory APR rate. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater. After 120 days, the balance transfer fee is 5% or a minimum of $5.
The Active Cash card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use the card overseas. You might want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the American Express® Gold (see rates and fees) if you’ve got plans abroad, as neither card charges foreign transaction fees.
If your looking for a card that doesn’t require a lot of effort and gives you 2% cash rewards on all your purchases, look no further than the Active Cash Card. With no annual fee, a low spending requirement to earn the $200 cash reward (spend $1,000 within three months) and unlimited 2% cash-rewards on purchases, the Active Cash Card is a great choice for people who want cash back but don’t want to change their spending habits every quarter to maximize their rewards in rotating spending categories.
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
For rates and fees of the Discover it Cash Back, click here
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.