Wells Fargo Autograph Journey: Better Than the Chase Sapphire Preferred?



CNET’S PICK


Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

7.4/10
CNET Rating



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

Intro Offer

60,000 bonus points



Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s $600 toward your next trip.

Annual fee
$95

APR
XX.XX%, XX.XX%, or XX.XX% Variable APR

Rewards rate

1x
– 5x



5X points on hotels; 4X points on airlines; 3X points on other travel and restaurants; 1X points on other purchases

3x

3X points on other travel and restaurants

1x

1X points on other purchases

At a glance

Award travelers typically love credit cards that offer points that can be transferred to airline and hotel partners, as it gives them flexibility that they can’t get from a single airline’s credit cards. Historically, these flexible travel rewards programs were the domain of American Express, Chase, Citi and Capital One. Until now, that is.

The new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card* offers point transfers to five airlines and one hotel program, but that’s just the beginning. It also offers some very generous and competitive bonus categories. Its reasonable annual fee and numerous travel benefits make this an ideal card for travelers looking to earn flexible travel rewards points from a new issuer. 

Our take

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is a new card — the first branded card from Wells Fargo to offer rewards that can be transferred to airline miles and hotel points. Its rewards rival popular incumbent cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Citi Premier® Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card*

Additionally, new cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. The card earns 5x points on hotel stays, 4x on airlines, and 3x on all other travel and dining charges. Rather uniquely, Its bonus categories don’t require you to book through a Wells Fargo travel portal, allowing you to earn equal to or more points than its top competitors. 

Points currently transfer to six travel partners including Choice Privileges, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways Executive Club, AerClub and Iberia Plus. 

While this is a modest list compared with its competitors, Wells Fargo has indicated that more partners will continue to be added throughout the year. As with other card issuers that offer point transfers, these points combine with rewards from other Wells Fargo cards, such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card and the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card.

The Autograph Journey also comes with a $50 annual statement credit toward airfare purchases with a $50 minimum airline purchase., which goes a long way toward offsetting its $95 annual fee. Other benefits include trip cancellation and interruption protection, lost luggage reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage.

If you were waiting for a new option to fill the vacant travel credit card spot in your wallet, this could be the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Pros and cons of the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey

Pros

  • Earn a good rewards rate no matter which hotel you book or which airline you fly

  • An annual $50 statement credit toward airline tickets

  • Points transfer to airline and hotel partners

  • Strong travel protection benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees

Who’s the card best for?

This card is ideal for frequent travelers looking for a new card to earn travel rewards that can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. This includes:

  • Travelers who don’t have a preferred hotel or airline. The Wells Fargo card offers 5x points on hotels and 4x points for airlines. Typically, you only see these rates on rewards programs that require you to book through the card issuer’s portal or with a specific brand.
  • Credit card users who are cautious about annual fees. This card has a fairly low $95 annual fee, and its $50 annual travel statement credit helps to offset it, so long as you can take advantage of it. The credit should be easy to use — booking a single flight or paying just the taxes and fees on some award trips will easily use up the full amount. 
  • Those who need travel protection. This card offers travel insurance that could protect your trip in various circumstances.

Who should skip it?

While this card has a lot going for it, it’s not for everyone. In particular, those who won’t get anything from having a flexible, travel rewards program. If any of these sound like you, another card might suit you better:

  • Credit card users who don’t want to play with frequent flier miles. Frequent flier programs can be complex and confusing, but the payoffs can be worth it for those who are persistent. If you’d rather earn cash back, this isn’t the card for you. 
  • Super-frequent travelers. The true road warriors who are in the air multiple times a month will want a more industrial-strength travel rewards card — one that comes with airport lounge access, credits for TSA PreCheck and even elite status with hotels and rental cars. This card is better for someone who travels about once a month or less. 
  • Those who carry a balance. Like all reward cards, the Autograph Journey has a higher variable interest rate than similar cards that don’t offer rewards. If you carry a balance on your credit cards, you should look for one with a low interest rate and possibly an introductory 0% APR promotional financing offer

A closer look at the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey

Rewards

Wells Fargo is just starting out with transferable rewards, so its program isn’t quite as mature as some of its competitors. 

Currently, it features only five airlines and one hotel partner. In contrast, Amex, Chase, Citi and Capital One all have at least a dozen airline partners and several hotel transfer options.

TPG — CNET’s sister site — hasn’t yet listed a points valuation for Wells Fargo Autograph Journey, but its competitors have valuations between 1.8 and 2.05 cents per point. Until Wells Fargo increases the number of its transfer partners, expect these reward points to be worth something on the lower end of this scale, perhaps around 1.7 cents per point. 

Point transfer opportunities

If you know how to do it right, point transfers are the not-so-secret way that award travel nerds squeeze more value from their card points.

When it comes to Wells Fargo’s new transferable points, some of the best deals could be had by transferring your points to Avianca LifeMiles, which is a Star Alliance partner. It offers business class awards to Europe on partners like Lufthansa for just 63,000 miles, and first class awards for 87,000 miles, which is a bargain. 

Transfer strategists will do well to look for Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards, which are regularly offered at a discount. Regarding hotels, transferring points to the Choice Privileges program can offer a very good value for award night stays in Europe, especially Scandinavia. 

Welcome offer

The current welcome offer is 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. With the valuations above, this could be worth $1,080 to $1,230.

The offer is about average for a card of this type. It’s identical to the current Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Premier offers, two of the card’s top competitors. 

However, it’s lower than the 75,000 miles offered by the Capital One Venture Rewards, which also requires spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. If you value Capital One points at 1.7 cents each, this card’s welcome offer would be worth just over $1,000.  

Card fees

This card has an annual fee of $95, the same as its main competitors. However, its $50 annual airline statement credit does much to mitigate that cost. And, as with other travel rewards cards, this card has no foreign transaction fees imposed on purchases made outside the US. 

Other card perks

This card includes several benefits such as:

  • Visa Signature Concierge Services
  • Visa Signature®  Luxury Hotel Collection 
  • Emergency cash disbursement and card replacement
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Auto rental collision damage coverage
  • Lost baggage reimbursement
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection
  • $1,000,000 worldwide automatic common carrier travel accident insurance 

This is about average for a card in this price range and is better than the benefits offered by the Capital One Venture Rewards card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a slightly longer list of benefits including trip delay coverage (though it charges a much higher annual fee), while Citi Premier offers no significant travel benefits. 

Comparable cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular travel rewards cards with transferable points. It has the same welcome offer as the Autograph Journey, but it features 11 airline and three hotel partners — almost double what the Wells Fargo card has.

Its cardholder benefits are slightly better than those offered by Wells Fargo, but it doesn’t have a $50 annual airline ticket credit to offset its identical $95 annual fee. Someone might want to choose the Sapphire Preferred due to the value of some of its transfer partners that Wells Fargo lacks, such as United, Southwest and Hyatt. 

On the other hand, Wells Fargo offers a superior 5x on hotels, 4x on airlines and 3x on dining and other travel, plus 1x on all other purchases. The Sapphire Preferred offers only 2x on travel and 3x on dining, unless you book directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards has a very different rewards earning structure, offering 2x miles on all purchases, with higher reward rates only for reservations booked through Capital One Travel. 

Capital One also has a more robust list of 15 airline and hotel transfer partners. Although the annual fees are the same, Capital One offers up to a $100 credit for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. Capital One could be the right card for those who want to earn 2x miles on everything, while the Autograph Journey is ideal for cardholders who prefer earning bonus points on their travel and dining purchases.

How Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card compares to other cards



CNET’S PICK


Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

7.4/10
CNET Rating



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

Intro Offer

60,000 bonus points



Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s $600 toward your next trip.

Annual fee
$95

APR
XX.XX%, XX.XX%, or XX.XX% Variable APR

Intro Purchase APR
N/A

Recommended Credit



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.

Good – Excellent

Rewards rate

1x
– 5x



5X points on hotels; 4X points on airlines; 3X points on other travel and restaurants; 1X points on other purchases


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

9/10
CNET Rating



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

Intro Offer

60,000 bonus points



Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual fee
$95

APR
21.49% – 28.49% Variable

Intro Purchase APR
N/A

Recommended Credit



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.

Good – Excellent

Rewards rate

1x
– 5x



5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.; 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.; 2x on all other travel purchases.; 1x on all other purchases.


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

7.5/10
CNET Rating



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

Intro Offer

75,000 miles



Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual fee
$95

APR
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)

Intro Purchase APR
N/A

Recommended Credit



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.

Good – Excellent

Rewards rate

2x
– 5x



Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options; Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

The bottom line

With the new Autograph Journey card, Wells Fargo throws its hat in the transferable travel rewards ring. Although it currently has a limited number of airline and hotel partners and an average welcome bonus, its bonus categories are superior to competitor cards from Chase, Capital One and Citi. And when you factor in its $50 annual air travel credit, it has the lowest annual fee of them all.

 

Still, this isn’t a card for travelers who won’t end up transferring points to airlines and hotels for the most value.

 

It’s also not a card for those who carry a balance, as these applicants would be better off with a card with a lower interest rate. But if you’re interested in trying a new card that offers compelling travel rewards, the new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is a very strong contender.

FAQs

The best card for you is the one that’s designed for your needs. The new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is ideal for frequent travelers, while the Bilt Mastercard® is also a strong travel rewards card designed for those who want to pay their rent with it, for no additional fees.

The Wells Fargo Active Cash card is a very competitive cash rewards card, and the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, with its long introductory balance transfer offer, will make more sense for those who need to carry a balance or are trying to pay off debt.

A co-branded card can offer very good rewards and benefits when used for purchases from the airline or hotel that it’s branded with. For example, an airline credit card may offer free checked bags and credit toward elite status, while a hotel card may offer status that results in room upgrades and late checkouts. 

 

Otherwise, a general travel rewards card, like the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey, can offer points that transfer to multiple airline and hotel partners. This gives you much more flexibility and allows you to take advantage of the best travel partners tailored to your preferences.

*All information about the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.


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