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Wells Fargo Propel American Express Credit Card Deep Dive

I have to say, im in love with the current state of the US credit card market. Competition amongst banks is providing consumers with more options than ever before. While companies like Chase and American Express tend to dominate the conversation, other banks are launching products which are winning over consumers in a big way. Today we’re going to talk about one of those products, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card.

Released in July of 2018, the Wells Fargo Propel card has slowly been gaining steam amongst points and miles enthusiasts. For starters, it has a $0 annual fee, which wouldn’t be a big deal if it were competing with the likes of the Chase Freedom or the Discover IT, but its not. Instead, the Propel card from Wells Fargo has its sights set on the likes of the Citi Thank You Premier, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Premium Rewards Credit Card from Bank of America. All of which have annual fees of $95. So what makes this card so competitive? Lets take a look.

Sign-up Bonus

With any new card that you’re considering adding to your wallet, the first thing that you have to look at is the sign-up bonus. For most, this will be the single biggest points deposit into your account for the lifetime that you own the product. If the sign-up bonus isn’t worth a hard inquiry and the minimum spend, then its probably not worth getting the card at all. As of August 18, 2018, the Propel Amex has a sign-up bonus of 30k bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of the account opening. Note that cash advances and balance transfers do not count towards the minimum spend. Moreover, things like ATM transactions, wire transfers, and fees do not earn rewards points either.

Redeeming Points

The Propel card earns Go Far Rewards points, which are worth a fixed value of 1 cent per point. The GFR allows you to redeem your points in the following ways:

  • Travel
  • Gift Cards
  • Donations
  • Cash Back
  • Online Auctions
  • Digital Downloads
  • Merchandise

This means that your sign-up bonus has a $300 cash redemption value. With the Propel card and associated Go Far program, you cannot transfer points to travel partners, nor do your points have a bonus applied when redeeming for travel. That can be good because it simplifies the redemption process and means you don’t have to care about award charts or availability. Its bad because it reduces flexibility and means you’ll never be able to score an out-sized award.

Still, with a $0 annual fee, the fact that you can redeem your sign-up bonus for $300 is pretty impressive. Whats more, you can combine the points you have between your different Wells Fargo credit card products. The Wells Fargo Visa Signature card for instance lets you redeem your Go Far points at a 50% bonus when redeeming for travel. Meaning 20,000 Go Far points is worth $300 when redeemed for travel. So if you had both products, all of a sudden your Propel points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel because you can simply combine the point balances.

Earning Points with Wells Fargo Propel

While the sign-up bonus is great, a proper earnings structure is critical to ensuring that any card has a place in your wallet long term. Luckily, the Propel makes this easy as it allows you to earn 3x points on the following categories; gas, eating in & ordering out, ride shares, transit, flights, hotels, home-stays, car rentals, and popular streaming services. The included streaming services are Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Sirius XM Radio, and Spotify Premium. All other categories earn 1 point per $1 spent.

To put this into perspective, the $450 a year Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on travel and dining and is heralded as one fo the best cards out there. The Propel does that and more, for nothing!

Perks and Other Features

The biggest perk for the Propel, outside of its 3x earning structure, is its cell phone protection. When you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Propel card, you’ll get up to $600 in protection (subject to a $25 deductible). This coverage protects your phone against damage or theft, however it does not cover lost cell phones. The card also includes retail prediction which covers eligible items against damage or theft within 90 days of purchase. Extended warranty allows you to double the original manufacturer’s warranty of one year or less on eligible products purchased entirely with your card. Lost luggage reimbursement, roadside assistance, auto rental collision and liability insurance are also included with the card at no additional cost.

Fees and Rates

As discussed, the Propel has a $0 annual fee, so we’re good there. Its offers 0.00% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, after that your APR will range from 14.24% to 26.74% based on your “creditworthiness”. Be advised however that paying interest on your credit card is going to quickly eradicate any benefits you would’ve otherwise seen. While we’re including APR information for the sake of completeness, it is our hope that you will never have to worry about the card’s APR.

Pros/Cons

Now that we’ve talked through all of the basics, lets get to brass tacks about what makes this card great, and what areas it is lacking in.

Pros

$0 Annual Fee – Can’t say much more about it than we already have, even if you only paid your phone bill and streaming services with this card you’ll still come out ahead at the end of the year.

Earnings Structure – Dare I say its better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve? 3x on all the major categories and 1x everywhere else is pretty great.

Sign-up Bonus – $300 for a hard credit pull and $3,000 in spend is awesome. Most no annual fee cards offer somewhere in the neighborhood of $100-$150 as a sign-up bonus, $200 at best.

Points never expire – As long as your account remains open your points will never cease to exist.

Cons

Redemption Value – Without stacking, you’re looking at a flat rate of 1 cent per point in terms of redemption. While this isn’t bad, its not great, though it is on par with most other non-fee products.

Final Verdict

Through the course of writing this article I became gradually more excited about the prospect of adding the Wells Fargo Propel credit card to my wallet. I recently posted on Instagram about how I was thinking of moving on from my Delta Platinum Amex and I wasn’t sure which card might take its place, I think I found it. Even if I sign-up and only pay for Spotify + Netflix + ATT, ill earn $9 a year without having to do a thing and be covered against damage and theft to my phone, for free. Throw in the $300 sign-up bonus and things are looking up.

Now, the Propel won’t take the place of my Sapphire Reserve for travel and dining spend, but thats okay, it doesn’t have too. This hobby is all about maximizing your spend for the greatest reward, and I think the Propel card helps me do just that.

Stay tuned to the Pursuing Points podcast to see how it goes when I submit the application.

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