Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card review

Two college students hanging out in a coffee shopImage: Two college students hanging out in a coffee shop

In a Nutshell

There are plenty of student credit cards that could help you build credit, but where the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card really shines is with the cellphone insurance that can save you money the next time you drop your phone. There’s no annual fee, but the rewards are underwhelming.
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Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card is no longer available. For other options, check out more student credit cards.

Pros Cons
Helps students build credit with responsible use Missed payments could lead to hefty late fees
Students will enjoy a temporary boost in gas, grocery and drugstore rewards Cash back bonus categories disappear after first six months
Lower intro APR on purchases and balance transfers Interest rates go up after six months
No annual fee Foreign transaction fees make this card bad for travel
Cellphone insurance  

What you should know about the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

You can get a head start building credit

Many people don’t start building credit until after they graduate and get a full-time job, but the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card could give you a head start. It’s geared toward college students who are looking to demonstrate that they can be responsible with the money they borrow.

If you’re approved for a card, it’s important to take this opportunity seriously.

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card will report your payment history to the credit bureaus. That’s why paying your bills on time, every time is a key way to help improve your credit scores.

Rewards are nothing to write home about

The card offers 3% cash rewards for every $1 you spend on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases (on up to $2,500 spent), plus 1% on almost all other purchases. But those bonus categories disappear after the first six months from account opening. It’s a lame substitute for a sign-up bonus, which this card doesn’t have. After the first six months from account opening is up, you’ll earn 1% cash rewards on all the purchases you make — including any gas, grocery and drugstore purchases.

One good thing: There’s no limit to the cash rewards you can earn.

As a college student, you may be more concerned about building credit than earning rewards. We applaud that. Just keep in mind there are plenty of student cards out there that not only help you build credit, but also offer a more compelling rewards structure.

This card can help you out of a jam

We don’t recommend carrying a balance on your credit card. It’s a bad habit to get into. But if you have an emergency that you can’t afford to pay out of pocket, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card features an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first six months after account opening. You’ll also get a six-month introductory 0% APR for balance transfers made within 120 days of account opening — but watch out for the intro balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5). And if you transfer a balance after the first 120 days, the balance transfer fee can be up to 5% (minimum $5).

It might help you out in a pinch. Just don’t forget to pay off your balance as quickly as possible, because after the introductory rate ends you’ll be hit with a variable APR on both purchases and balance transfers between 11.15% and 21.15%, depending on your creditworthiness.

No annual fee

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Before you get too excited, we should point out this is standard for many decent student credit cards.

Other things worth considering

Here are a few more things you should consider before applying for the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card.

  • You must have an eligible Wells Fargo account to apply online.
  • College students who are glued to their phones will appreciate the complimentary cellphone insurance, which provides up to $600 in coverage per claim (after a $25 deductible) if your phone gets stolen or damaged. Note that this doesn’t cover lost phones, and there’s a limit of $1,200 in claims in a 12-month period.
  • We don’t recommend paying with the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card overseas, because the card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Understanding your points

Wells Fargo cash rewards are worth 1 cent each.

You can redeem for cash back (in $25 increments) that is deposited into your eligible Wells Fargo account, mailed to you by check, applied as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo credit product or withdrawn from an ATM (in $20 increments if by ATM). You can also redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards, charitable donations and merchandise.

Who this card is good for

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card is a good option for students who are looking to build credit without the hassle of an annual fee.

You’ll also appreciate the complimentary cellphone insurance. If you drop your phone, you won’t have to carry on with a broken screen. This provides peace of mind for college students who can’t afford a new phone if it’s stolen or damaged.

Before you apply for any student card, we recommend you check out Credit Karma’s guide to student credit cards for some helpful tips to get you started.

About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.