About Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is a cash rewards credit card that offers three different ways to earn points on purchases as well as a yearly bonus for Wells Fargo account holders.
Cash rewards credit cards emphasize how much cash you can earn with every purchase and so when you encounter a new cash rewards card, it’s important to understand how much money you can earn based on your spending.
As you figure that out, you’ll also want to understand how your Propel AmEx from Wells Fargo compares to other cash back cards.
We’re going to help you figure out those two major areas: cash back and comparison.
To do that, this review is going to cover the Wells Fargo Propel’s:
- Short-term benefits
- Long-term benefits
- Rates and fees
- Comparison with other cash back cards
Each one of these sections will help you understand what you’re getting into. Once we work through those topics, we’ll wrap up with the pros and cons.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express’ Short-Term Benefits
Every cash rewards card you look at is going to have a system of rewards that takes one of three forms. Either it will have a single rate for all purchases, bonus rates for some purchases and a single rate for everything else, or bonus rates that change every quarter and a single rate for everything.
The Propel card is the second type of card in that list – bonuses on certain purchases and a single rate for everything else.
30,000-Point Sign-up Bonus
The Wells Fargo Propel gives you 30,000 points as a sign-up bonus if you can spend $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card.
Those points are worth $300, which is something we’ll get into in the next section. According to Wells Fargo’s fine print, those points will take one to two billing cycles to show up in your account.
0% intro APR
The Propel offers new cardholders 0% interest on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months of owning the card.
At the time of publishing, this 12-month offer was the standard for the credit cards we reviewed in our Best Cash Back Rewards Card ranking.
Three of the credit cards in our cash card article have longer into periods than the Propel card. The Citi Double Cash leads the way with 18 months, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 15 months and the Discover it has a 14-month 0% period.
These 0% interest rates are really helpful if you have a big expense coming up that you can’t cover with cash. For example, if you know you have to get the transmission repaired on your card, you can use your Wells Fargo Propel to pay for the purchase and then use the remaining 0% period to pay it off before interest kicks in.
Another way to use this interest rate is for medical bills. Most medical facilities can give you an idea of how much a procedure will cost ahead of time.
The Wells Fargo Propel could be a big help to families who are preparing for birth and don’t have enough money to pay the average out-of-pocket cost of $2,700.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express’ Long-Term Benefits
This is where the Propel gets really interesting. The card’s short-term benefits – 0% APR and 30,000 bonus points – are average to above average. The card’s points-earning potential is just as strong.
3x Bonuses on Gas, Travel, Restaurants and Streaming
Whenever you talk about cash rewards credit cards, it’s a matter of identifying exactly how much cash you’re earning and what types of purchases get you more rewards than others.
The Propel card rewards you with three points per dollar whenever you use your card to travel, get gas, eat out, order in and pay for streaming services.
So, if you spend $50 on gas, you get 150 rewards points. A $100 tab at your favorite restaurant will get you 300 rewards points.
Each rewards point you earn is worth $0.01. So, using the previous example, $150 in spending is 450 points, which has a cash value of $4.50.
Thought that doesn’t sound like much, over the course of the year the rewards start to pile up. Based on our research of spending data, we believe that the average American household can spend $2,000 a year on gas, $1,500 on travel, $3,100 eating out and around $360 on streaming.
You’d earn $208 on those purchases. The card gives you 1% cash back on all the other purchases you make, which, based on our calculations, would earn you an additional $180 in rewards.
Your yearly total would be around $388, which is a few dollars more than the yearly rewards you could earn from the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Quicksilver from Capital One ($375).
The big difference between the Propel and the other two cards we mentioned are that the Chase and Capital One cards provide a $150 sign-up bonus, while the Propel offers nothing of the sort.
So, even though you could earn about $13 more a year with the Propel card, the fact that the other two cards give you a $150 sign up bonus means you’d have to own the Propel card for about 12 years to make up for the lack of sign-up bonus.
Pro tip: Rewards can only be redeemed in increments of $25.
Additional Information About Wells Fargo Rewards Points
According to Wells Fargo, there is no cap on how many points you can earn in a year and your points expire five years after you earn them.
Wells Fargo’s fine print also says that any points you rack up during a billing cycle will be deposited to your account within one or two billing cycles.
Another thing to keep in mind: Your points can be redeemed for travel booking, merchandise, and gift cards through the Go Far Rewards portal on Wells Fargo’s website.
Cell Phone Protection
Wells Fargo’s credit cards have another little benefit that can help virtually any cardholder: cell phone protection.
If your phone is damaged or stolen, Wells Fargo will reimburse you up to $600 for the phone as long as you pay your monthly cell bills with your Propel card. Lost phones are not covered.
The benefit has limitations, though: You can only use it twice a year for a total of $1,200 in claims. Also, you’ll pay a $25 deductible when you make a claim.
Also, it can act as a supplement to insurance you already have, in which case it would cover any eligible claims not fully covered by your primary cell phone insurance. Or, it can act as primary insurance.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Rates and Fees
Here’s a quick list of the interest rates and the fees you can expect with this card:
- APR: 14.24% - 26.74%
- Annual fee: None
- Balance transfer fee: 3% for 12 months, 5% after
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late/returned payment fee: Up to $37
- Cash advance APR/ fee: 24.24% - 26.74%/ 5%
The Wells Fargo Propel’s APR spread is a little wider than what you’d see with other cash rewards cards. While the 14.24% low-APR is competitive, the high APR of 26.74% is higher than the five cash-back cards we reviewed.
Also, notice that the balance transfer fee goes up from 3% to 5% after the first year.
How the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Compares to Other Cash Back Cards
Based on our research, we believe that the Wells Fargo Propel is a tough card to pin down when it comes to competing cards.
It’s a cash back card in the sense that you get rewards bonuses on buying gas and eating out (or ordering in), but it’s a travel card in the sense that you get bonuses for travel purchases like airfare.
In the end, we think this card is a cash back card mainly because, for the average person, you’re going to get more points from your gas/restaurant/streaming purchases than you will on your travel purchases.
So, with that in mind, we believe this card, while initially lucrative because of the 3x rewards, doesn’t quite measure up to the leading cash back cards because it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus.
The Freedom Unlimited and the Quicksilver’s sign-up bonuses more than make up for the $13 of extra cash rewards you get with the Propel.
As far as APR’s go, the Discover it (13.74%) and the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus (12.99%) have better rates. Based on this comparison, we believe that the Propel’s APR is among the best.
Pros and Cons
The Wells Fargo Propel doesn’t make it into many discussions about the industry’s best cash-back rewards cards, but it certainly has enough benefits to earn a spot in that dialogue.
We’d say the strongest perks of this card are the 30,000-point bonus, and the 3x rewards for gas, travel, restaurant and streaming purchases.
Based on average spending habits, this combination of bonuses could earn the average household around $388 a year.
Also, we like how you get cell phone coverage with this card. While the $600 per-claim cap won’t cover the full price of a new iPhone, the limit is high enough to cover many other phone brands and models.
The main downside to this card is that it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. So, while you can earn more rewards with this card each year than you could with the Freedom Unlimited and other cards, the fact that those other cards have sign-up bonuses make them more profitable.
Another drawback is the card’s high-end APR, which is higher than many of the cash-back cards we reviewed in our 2018 Best Of article.
If you have bad credit scores (650 and below), then there’s a good chance you’ll get the highest APR. Should you carry a balance in the future, the higher APR could cost you hundreds in interest payments over the course of the year.
For further reading, take a few minutes to check out our ranking of the best rewards credit cards of 2018. In it, we compare the top cards across multiple categories.