Expert Verdict

Expert take on Wells Fargo Autograph vs. Active Cash from Thomas Brock “A simple, financially-oriented way to decide between the Wells Fargo Autograph and Active Cash credit cards is to look at your spending behavior. If you spend an outsized proportion of your discretionary budget on dining, travel and transportation, go with the Wells Fargo Autograph. The 3% bonus in these categories cannot be beat. However, if you spend broadly across many different categories, go with the Active Cash. It gives you 2% on everything.”

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Thomas J. Brock
About the expert arrow-accordion

CFA and CPA with over 20 years of experience

Comparing the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ and Wells Fargo Active Cash®

Understanding the nuances between different credit cards can be difficult for anybody. Use this as your guide when considering whether the Active Cash or The Autograph card makes sense for your daily expenses.

Earning Rewards

Winner: Wells Fargo Autograph

When it comes to earning rewards, the Wells Fargo Autograph Card wins this matchup with higher rewards rates in a variety of popular bonus categories. This card is especially beneficial for those who enjoy dining out or who travel due to its high rewards rates in those categories. The card allows cardholders to earn unlimited 3x points per dollar spent in the following categories:

  • Restaurants (dining, take-out, catering, delivery, and more)
  • Travel (airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more)
  • Gas (gas stations and electric vehicle charging stations)
  • Transit (subways, ride shares, parking, tolls, and more)
  • Popular streaming services
  • Phone plans (cell phone and landline)

Plus, earn 1x points per dollar on all other purchases.

On the other hand, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases with no categories to track or quarterly activations.

Rewards redemption

Winner: Both Wells Fargo Autograph & Active Cash Credit Card

As outlined below, both cards have a variety of ways you can redeem rewards.

  • Cash redemption
  • Statement credit
  • Pay with rewards with participating merchants
  • Travel (including flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more)
  • Gift cards

Sign-up bonus

Winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card currently has a sign-up bonus of $200 cash when you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months. This bonus is easier to earn than the Wells Fargo Autograph Card, which offers 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months (a $200 cash redemption value).

Introductory APR offer

Winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash

The Wells Fargo Autograph Card offers new cardholders 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. On the other hand, new applicants for the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card will receive 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, making this card the clear choice for those looking for a solid 0% intro APR rate.

Balance transfer features

Winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash

Both cards have an introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer (with a minimum of $5). However, because the Active Cash Card has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, this card is the winner if you’re needing this service.

Fees

Winner: Wells Fargo Autograph
Annual fees Neither card has an annual fee, making each an affordable option for your wallet.
Foreign transaction fees The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has a 3% foreign currency conversion fee for each foreign transaction amount converted to U.S. dollars. However, the Wells Fargo Autograph Card doesn’t have this fee, making this a better choice for cardholders who make international purchases.

Additional perks

Winner: Both Wells Fargo Autograph and Active Cash

When it comes to additional perks, both cards offer the same benefits. Perks cardholders receive are outlined below.

  • Cell phone protectionIf you use your credit card to pay your cell phone bill, you can get up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft (subject to a $25 deductible).
  • Concierge serviceFind tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations, and more with the complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature Concierge.
  • Luxury hotel collectionEnjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of some of the world’s most prestigious properties via the Visa Signature Hotel Collection. Get the best available rate, automatic room upgrades, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and breakfast, a $25 USD food or beverage credit, late check-out, VIP Guest status, and more.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiverThis covers theft, damage, valid loss-of-use charges imposed by the rental company, administrative fees, and reasonable towing charges to the nearest qualified repair facility.

When should you choose the Wells Fargo Autograph℠?

Consider the Autograph card if your everyday expenses align with its bonus categories, and you frequently spend money on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. The 3X points in these categories can help you maximize your reward potential.

Additionally, if you’re a frequent traveler, this card may be of extra benefit. The Wells Fargo Autograph card provides rewards that you can redeem for travel, including flights, car rentals, and hotel stays (when redeemed through the Wells Fargo Travel Portal). Points are worth one cent each when redeemed this way.

You can also get some protection for features of your trip through the auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency services assistance program, and roadside dispatch, should you need assistance, towing, or a locksmith service while traveling.

The card’s lack of foreign transaction fees makes it an even more suitable travel companion.

Earn rewards on multiple categories with no annual fee

Apply now with Wells Fargo

Pros and cons of Wells Fargo Autograph℠

ProsCons
Elevated rewards rate in bonus categories like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Low base earning rate of only 1X points on other purchases.
No annual fees and no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for travelers.No intro APR offer on qualifying balance transfers.
Provides cell phone protection.
Thomas Brock's Expert Take on the Wells Fargo Autograph Thomas Brock's Expert Take on the Wells Fargo Autograph
With 3x bonus points on dining, travel and transportation and no foreign transaction fees, the Wells Fargo Autograph is a no-brainer for high-frequency domestic and international travelers. 3x bonus points on gasoline, streaming service subscriptions and cell phone plans and 1x bonus points on all other categories of spend make it even more compelling. One of the most attractive things about the Wells Fargo Autograph is the fact it has no spending limits on its bonuses. This, along with the absence of an annual fee, make it an excellent option for budget-conscious consumers.

When should you choose Wells Fargo Active Cash®?

Go for the Active Cash card if you prefer a straightforward rewards structure – without the hassle of tracking categories. The card’s flat 2% cash back on all purchases allows you to earn consistent rewards on everything, making it an excellent choice for individuals who prefer a no-fuss approach to earning rewards.

Because you earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases, there are no bonus categories to keep track of or enroll in. It also prevents you from having to carry several different cards for various expenses.

Additionally, the card’s 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers can be beneficial if you plan on making large purchases or need to transfer existing balances. Balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate plus a lower balance transfer fee (3% vs. 5%).

Earn flat 2% cash back on all purchases without worrying about the spending categories

Apply now with Wells Fargo

Pros and cons of Wells Fargo Active Cash®

ProsCons
Simple rewards rate with 2% cash back on all purchases. No bonus categories for higher rewards in specific spending areas.
No annual fee and offers intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. Charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Provides cell phone protection.
Thomas Brock’s Expert Tip on Wells Fargo Active Cash Thomas Brock’s Expert Tip on Wells Fargo Active Cash
Wells Fargo Active Cash makes great sense for people that spend broadly and want to get the biggest possible bang for their buck – without exerting a lot of effort to earn rewards. With a 2% bonus on all categories and no spending limits, Active Cash is the “go to” card for hassle-free spending. In addition to the highly rewarding, hassle-free and fee-free nature of Wells Fargo Active Cash, I really like its generous introductory incentives. This includes the opportunity to earn a $200 cash reward when you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months and 0% interest on all purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months.

When to get both Autograph and Active Cash cards

In some situation, it could make sense to apply for both the Autograph and Active Cash cards. Pertinent considerations are outlined below.

Simple redemptions:

Regardless how you redeem your rewards, they are typically worth one cent each. With so many ways to redeem, including for cash back, travel, gift cards, or directly for purchases from qualifying merchants, it’s easy to redeem and get consistent value for your rewards.

No annual fee:

Neither of these cards have an annual fee; so, you can spend and earn without extra fees, making them both great additions to your wallet.

Cell phone protection:

As long as you pay your cell phone bill with the card, both of these cards offer cell phone protection up to $600. This great perk can be useful if your phone is damaged or stolen and you need to purchase a replacement. That said, paying your bill with the Autograph card is even optimal, because it provides 3x the points on the expense.

Pairing both cards:

When you pair both cards, you can earn 3x points in the Autograph’s bonus categories and 2% cash back on all other spending. This can increase the earning potential for these cards, especially for those that have greater spending outside of the bonus categories. Maximize your earnings by taking advantage of the high rewards rates on everyday purchases.

When to get neither the Autograph nor the Active Cash cards

Direct transfer to airline partners:

Wells Fargo points can’t be transferred directly to airline loyalty programs. While the ability to do this adds a layer of complexity, it can maximize  rewards potential. If you are looking to do this, the Wells Fargo cards are not the best options for you.

Luxury travel benefits:

Compared to some other cards on the market, both the Wells Fargo Autograph and Active Cash cards are lacking in the luxury benefits department, particularly travel benefits. Other cards may offer perks like airport lounge access, travel insurance, lost baggage insurance, free seat upgrades, and more. If you’re looking for those types of benefits, these cards are not ideal.

Bottom line

In conclusion, the comparison between the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card and the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card unveils distinct features catering to diverse financial preferences. The Autograph℠ Card appeals to avid travelers with its exclusive travel benefits, offering a premium experience for those on the go. Conversely, the Active Cash® Card stands out for its simplicity, featuring a straightforward cash back structure suitable for individuals who prioritize ease and flexibility in their spending. It’s important to align your card choices with your personal financial goals and lifestyle preferences. When deciding between these Wells Fargo offerings, consumers should carefully evaluate their lifestyle and financial priorities to select the card that aligns with their specific needs.

  • Earning rewards
  • Rewards redemption
  • Sign-up bonus
  • Introducery apr offer
  • Balance transfer features
  • Fee
  • Additional perks
WINNER

FAQs

The credit limit for the Wells Fargo Active Cash card typically ranges from $1,000 to $20,000, but the limits vary by cardholder and depend on factors, such as annual income and credit history. Note that you can ask to get a credit limit increase by contacting the Wells Fargo customer service number on the back of the card.

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card can be worth it for individuals who frequently spend in its bonus categories, such as restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. With a generous 3X points earning rate in these areas, cardholders can accumulate rewards quickly. Additionally, the card’s lack of foreign transaction fees makes it an attractive option for frequent travelers. However, for those whose spending does not align with the bonus categories, the card’s low base earning rate of 1X points on other purchases may limit its overall value.

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card typically requires a good to excellent credit score, usually above 700, for approval. While credit scores are not the sole determinant of eligibility, having a credit score in this range improves the likelihood of being approved. Other factors, such as income, existing debts, and credit history, also play a role in the approval process. As with any credit card application, it’s important to maintain a good credit score and a healthy financial profile to increase the chances of approval.

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, like the Active Cash card, generally requires a good to excellent credit score for approval. A credit score above 700 is typically preferred by Wells Fargo to qualify for this rewards card. However, it’s important to note that credit score requirements can vary depending on the bank’s policies and your overall financial situation. Apart from credit scores, factors such as income, credit history, and existing debts are also considered during the application process. Maintaining a healthy credit profile will enhance your chances of securing approval for the Autograph card.

Still not sure which card to pick?

Check out other popular cards cash back cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Reward rate: 1.5% - 5%
Reward details: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back or more on all purchases, like 3% on dining and drugstores and 5% on travel purchased through Chase. close-icon

Card summary

Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 20.24% - 28.99%

Citi® Double Cash

Reward rate: 2.00%
Reward details: Earn cash back on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases close-icon

Card summary

Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 18.99% - 28.99%

Discover it® Cash Back

Reward rate: 1% - 5%
Reward details: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically. close-icon

Card summary

Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 16.49% - 27.49%

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