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The annual fees attached to most travel rewards cards can be well worth paying — for a while. Introductory points bonuses worth $300 or $400 in travel can mean that an annual fee of, say, $95, is money well spent for the first year or two.
But as time goes by and the points you earn no longer include a fat upfront bonus, the balance sheet can start to tip. Unless you spend enough on the card to regularly rack up lots of points, an annual fee can erode or even wipe out the value of your rewards.
If this concern plays on a loop in your mind every time you think about signing up for a travel rewards card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card could be a solution. Its $0 annual fee and impressive welcome offer helped make this card NerdWallet’s pick for best Wells Fargo travel rewards card.
Here’s a checklist to decide whether this card is right for you.
Can you responsibly spend enough to earn the welcome offer?
Here’s the current welcome offer on the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value.
If earning this fits smartly into your spending plans, the next thing you’ll want to think about is whether the redemption options for your rewards make sense.
Do you want flexible redemptions for travel — but other things too?
These points aren’t for redeeming at a specific airline or hotel. Instead, they’re Wells Fargo’s own Go Far Rewards, which you redeem through the bank’s portal at a value of 1 cent each. And though these points can’t be converted or transferred into other miles or points with a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program, they’re otherwise extremely flexible.
In the Go Far Rewards portal, you can redeem your points for flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, packages or experiences. You can also use points to apply credits in increments of $25 directly to your card balance, or withdraw cash in $20 increments from a Wells Fargo ATM. You can even use points to help pay down your mortgage or a personal loan; pay for gift cards, merchandise or digital downloads; or make charitable donations.
Do you spend across a wide range of categories?
Many cards multiply the rewards you earn in just a couple of categories, like travel and dining. With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent in a pretty wide range of categories: travel, dining, transit, food deliveries, gas stations, rideshares, homestays and some streaming services. In all other categories, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar.
» Learn more: Full review of the Wells Fargo Propel card
Do you plan to travel outside the country?
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has no foreign transaction fees, which is critical if you’ll use your card abroad. Cards without this feature often add a fee of around 3% to every purchase you make overseas, which can add up fast.
Do you shop at these retailers?
Wells Fargo’s Earn More Mall is similar to other online shopping portals hosted by rewards programs. You can log in and pick one of many participating retailers, including Apple, Macy’s and Home Depot. Then if you make a purchase using your card, you’ll get bonus points added to your Go Far Rewards points balance.
With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, you can also earn bonus points by shopping in person at select retailers. To take advantage of this feature, log in to the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall and browse offers on the site. You’ll see participating retailers where you can earn a points boost if you use your card in-store. But check the fine print: In some cases, you have to activate the offer by clicking it first.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies