Can a credit card help you get out of debt? Surprisingly, yes – if you get the right card and use it wisely. What about making a major purchase and paying it off over time, interest-free? You can do that with the right card, too. The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa offers 18 months of no-interest payments, yours for the taking.
This card isn’t the best option for most consumers. But it’s a great tool if you need a year and a half to shape up your finances. Keep reading for a thorough look at this card’s benefits and drawbacks: We’ve scoured the fine print so you don’t have to.
Benefit 1: 18-month introductory APR of 0%
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa has a 0% annual percentage rate on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. Few cards offer a longer 0% APR period (though Citi Simplicity offers 21 months).
After that, the Platinum Visa’s APR increases (see terms), based on your creditworthiness. If you carry a balance, the interest you pay each year will be $17.74 to $27.24 for every $100 you owe. Because the rate is variable, it could be higher if the prime rate increases. If you read about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, you can bet that the prime rate and your variable credit card rate will go up.
Should you carry an interest-bearing balance after the 18 months are up, the bank will use a method called “average daily balance (including new purchases)” to calculate how much you owe. This method is more customer-friendly than others since any payments you make during your billing cycle will reduce the interest you’re charged.
What’s the catch? You must follow a few rules to get and keep the 0% introductory APR benefit.
-Have good to excellent credit. While Wells Fargo doesn’t disclose its score requirements, a good score is usually at least 670.
-Beware balance transfer fees. A balance transfer fee of 3% means that for every $100 you transfer, you’ll pay $3. The minimum fee is $5.
-Don’t dawdle. The 0% APR balance transfer is only available within 120 days of opening your account. Otherwise, you pay the regular rates stated above, and the balance transfer fee increases to 5%.
-Don’t miss your minimum monthly payment. If you do, your account will be in default, which gives Wells Fargo the option to require immediate payment of your total account balance. Your safest bet is to set up automatic payments.
Tip: When taking advantage of a 0% intro APR offer, your best bet is to pay more than the monthly minimum. Pay enough so your balance will be $0 before the offer expires and your rate shoots up.
-Don’t wear out your welcome. Consumers who’ve opened a Wells Fargo credit card within the last 15 months and already received a promotional offer may not be eligible for this card’s introductory rates.
Benefit 2: No annual fee. Some cards have an ongoing annual fee starting the minute you open your account. Others waive the annual fee in the first year but charge you after that. This card has no annual fee, period. It also provides free access to your FICO® credit score and zero liability for promptly reported unauthorized transactions.
What’s the catch? The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card offers no rewards and no signup bonus.
-Realize you’re missing out. Many other credit cards for consumers with good to excellent credit come with these features.
- If you want a Wells Fargo card with rewards and a bonus, consider the Propel American Express card.
- If you don’t need the introductory APR on purchases, but want the introductory APR on balance transfers plus ongoing cash back, consider the Citi Double Cash.
- And you can get a 15-month, 0% APR balance transfer with no balance transfer fee with the Chase Slate card.
And all three alternatives have no annual fee.
Benefit 3: Cell phone insurance. Wells Fargo says it will reimburse eligible cardholders for cell phone damage or theft. Given how expensive phones can be, this benefit sounds generous.
What’s the catch? If you try to get reimbursed, you’ll face a host of exclusions and limitations.
Payouts are capped. Reimbursement is limited to the repair or replacement cost of your phone, up to a maximum of $600 per claim and $1,200 per 12-month period—minus a $25 deductible. With the latest and greatest Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models costing $999 and up, this coverage might fall short—but it’s better than nothing.
Certain losses aren’t covered. If you got your phone as part of a prepaid plan, it’s not covered. If you lose your phone, it’s not covered. If it stops working because of electronic failure or software problems, it’s not covered.
Coverage is supplemental. If you have other insurance that covers your cell phone, such as homeowners or renters insurance, you must turn to that coverage first.
You’re not covered immediately. To secure the cell phone benefit, you must pay your cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo card. Fair enough. But coverage doesn’t kick in until the first day of the month after you pay your cell phone bill with your card, leaving you with a potential gap in coverage.
Benefit 4: This card’s other free benefits include an auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, travel accident insurance, and travel and emergency assistance.
What’s the catch? These features have limitations and costs that can make them less valuable than they might sound. For example, a roadside services call costs $69.95. That’s more than an annual AAA membership which comes with up to four service calls.
Wells Fargo describes this card as “great for taking control of your finances, paying down balances, [and] paying for large ticket items over time.” We agree with this assessment. Overall, however, this card is ideal for a limited subset of consumers because of its lack of ongoing rewards and above-average APR.
This card’s greatest value lies in allowing you to make a purchase that you need 18 months to pay off. It’s second greatest strength is the balance transfer offer, but only if you can’t get approved for the Chase Slate card.
For most people, a different card will provide more overall benefits than the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa.