Choosing the right credit card can be daunting — especially when you’re a new credit user. If you’re ready to earn credit card rewards, but don’t want to strategize over spending categories and reward rates, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers an easy path forward.
This no-fuss option credit card option earns you unlimited 2% cash rewards on all your purchases. It’s one of CNET’s best credit card picks, and one of my favorites for a few reasons.
Here’s how I maximize the Wells Fargo Active Cash, and how you can get the most value out of this credit card.
Why I chose the Active Cash Card
After college, I took some time to understand how credit and credit cards work. I was ready to start earning rewards, but I didn’t want to lose sight of good credit habits. So I upgraded my college card to the Active Cash to start earning rewards the easy way: with a flat-rate cash-back credit card.
Flat-rate cash-back cards offer a fixed percentage of cash back on purchases, unlike other cards that might offer higher or lower rates by spending category. The Active Cash took the hassle out of rewards strategy — making it a straightforward way to guarantee cash rewards on bills, groceries, gas and more.
Over time, my husband and I both used the Active Cash as an easy means to earn rewards and build credit. I added him as an authorized user so he could reap the credit-building benefits of paying our bill in full each month.
We added most bills and everyday expenses to this card — our son’s daycare bill, household expenses and even our wedding expenses. After paying the bill in full and on time each month, it earned us $200 in cash rewards in six months. And since we knew we wanted to travel for less, we flipped the cash rewards to use toward flights to save money.
Now that we have the hang of how to use a credit card and earn rewards, we now use a travel credit card more regularly. Using the Active Cash helped me boost my credit to qualify for a card with better rewards. We still use the Active Cash occasionally, and it’s my longest-standing credit card.
How to get the most from your Active Cash
CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
$200 cash rewards
Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
19.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99% variable APR
A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.
670 – 850
Good – Excellent
Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Here’s how to take advantage of all the Active Cash has to offer based on what I learned:
Earn the welcome bonus (if you can)
The Active Cash offers a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases within the first three months. That’s approximately $167 in spending per month. To earn the bonus, consider using the card for purchases you’re already making, such as groceries, bills and other daily expenses. Or time your application for the card around a big, planned purchase to earn the welcome bonus even easier — such as patio furniture or a refrigerator.
Of course, you should never overspend simply to earn a welcome bonus — it’s not worth it. But if you normally spend $167 per month in food or everyday essentials, it may be an easy requirement to meet.
If you have another Wells Fargo card, like the college card I had, instead of upgrading, apply for this card. If you upgrade, like I did, you generally aren’t eligible to earn a welcome bonus.
Maximize cash rewards
The Active Cash is a good pick if you don’t want a complicated credit card rewards strategy with tiered or quarterly rewards since you can earn 2% cash rewards back on purchases. But if you want to boost your rewards potential, consider pairing this card with another high-tier Wells Fargo credit card, like the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, to earn higher rates on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Use the Autograph Card for purchases that earn higher rewards and the Active Cash for everything else.
But you don’t have to stick to the Wells Fargo suite of cards. I now use my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for purchases that earn higher rewards rates, like travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, dining out and select streaming services, and my Active Cash to earn 2% cash rewards on other purchases.
Pay off credit card debt or a new purchase
The Active Cash can also come in handy if you need to pay off a high-interest credit card balance or finance a big purchase. This card features a 0% introductory APR period for 15 months from account opening on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.99%, 24.99% or 29.99%. You’ll still earn 2% cash rewards, but remember that it’s important not to take on new debt while paying off outstanding balances.
Pay your cell phone bill with the card
Even though cell phone insurance is usually a few bucks with your provider, the Active Cash offers up to $600 in cell phone damage and theft protection after a $25 deductible. Cardholders can make two claims per year, up to a maximum of $1,200.
That means you can get rid of your phone plan provider’s insurance with this card, which could save you a little on your cell phone bill. However, you’ll need to pay your cell phone bill with the Active Cash card. I also schedule automatic payments each month for my cell phone bill, which helps me save even more with AT&T’s autopay discount.
Take advantage of travel perks
The Active Cash comes with two Visa Signature travel benefits that can make travel easy — 24/7 concierge service and the Luxury Hotel Collection. Complimentary concierge service can come in handy when planning your trip, getting restaurant reservations and delivering gifts for a special occasion. Although the service is a cardholder perk, any additional service or purchases come at a cost.
And you can use the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection to choose from several premium hotels with benefits such as food and beverage credits, rate guarantees and room upgrades, when available. While we haven’t used either perk yet, we plan to use the concierge service for recommendations for an upcoming family vacation to save us time planning the trip.
Choose from a variety of redemption options
I like that you have several ways to redeem your cash rewards with Wells Fargo. For instance, I may redeem my cash rewards to pay less on my credit card bill — which feels like savings to my brain — by redeeming for statement credits. Or I can redeem the rewards to my checking account as a direct deposit to pay for upcoming purchases like concert tickets or to have extra cash in my savings account.
You can also redeem the cash rewards for purchases made with PayPal, for travel, charitable donations, merchandise. You can also redeem rewards for gift cards in $25 increments, and you can redeem rewards in $20 increments via a Wells Fargo debit card or ATM.
We never used the Wells Fargo Rewards portal to book travel because we found better deals elsewhere, but we still use it to compare rates; then book the trip on the card and redeem the cash rewards as a statement credit to reduce the credit card bill — essentially paying for a portion of the trip.
Is the Active Cash a good fit for you?
The Active Cash card is a strong flat-rate credit card that makes it easy to earn rewards without strategizing. If you are looking to maximize your rewards, there are better cards out there — but the Active Cash can complement other higher value cards well. Whether you’re kick-starting your credit card rewards journey or learning about credit altogether, this card can yield extra cash and savings. Just remember to use the card responsibly and pay it in full each month, or else you may be on the hook for hefty interest charges.
Read more: Is Apple’s High-Yield Savings Account Worth It? See How It Compares
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