The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card wins because even modest cash rewards can top one-off balance transfer benefits
Most people will benefit more from the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card's moderate, simple rewards, solid introductory offer, and easy cash back redemption.
Meanwhile, the Citi Simplicity card doesn't feature any rewards or introductory offer.
However, the Citi Simplicity edges out the Cash Wise in one important area: balance transfers.
That's nearly two years of 0% interest on all your old credit card debt and any new purchases, should you move it over to the Simplicity card.
(The idea behind this is to get you to rack up a huge balance and then hit you with an APR, so be sure to pay off the full balance before the introductory offer is over.)
The Cash Wise card only offers 0% APR for 12 months. That means its okay for balance transfers, but not as good as the Simplicity.
That makes this somewhat of an apples to oranges comparison.
Another comparison we've made previously for the Cash Wise is against Barclay's CashForward World Mastercard.
These two cards target different audiences and serve different financial goals.
By understanding where these cards excel and where they fall short, you can choose which one better fits in your wallet.
Why to Consider These Cards
You should choose one of these cards if you want simple cash back rewards or a no-interest balance transfer
Wells Fargo Bank and CitiBank are two of the largest financial institutions in the world. Wells Fargo holds a whopping $1.9 trillion in assets, while Citi has $1.79 trillion.
Both also offer a full suite of banking services including investing, checking, and savings accounts, as well as credit cards.
You're the right customer for Wells Fargo if you want no-frills cash back rewards
You can tell whether the Cash Wise card is worth your consideration by using this checklist:
- Do you want a simple cash back rewards card?
- Do you already have a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card?
- Do you prefer cards with an introductory bonus?
- Do you have a credit score above 680?
If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, the Cash Wise is probably a good fit for your wallet.
You're the right customer for Citi Bank if you need a balance transfer card
The Citi Simplicity card offers a different set of incentives than the Cash Wise card.
If the following points sound like you, then think about choosing this card:
- Do you want a card that's great for balance transfers?
- Do you already have a rewards card?
- Do you have a credit score above 680?
If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, the Citi Simplicity might be a good fit for your wallet.
Choose the Cash Wise if you already bank with Wells Fargo, Citi Simplicity if you want a balance transfer.
The Winner's Strengths
The Cash Wise card is stronger because of its rewards program
Cash back on everything. With the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card, you get 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
That means if you spend $50, you get $0.75 in cash back.
Other cards offer higher levels of cash back on certain purchases.
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature gets you 5% cash back on Amazon purchases.
The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back on a rotating list of spending categories.
The strength of the Cash Wise card is its simplicity.
There's no fumbling through your wallet searching for the right credit card for the right purchase, or racking your brain trying to remember what types of expenses earn you extra points this month.
You just use the card and earn a little cash back.
Points don't expire. As long as your account remains in good standing with Wells Fargo, points you earn through this card won't expire.
Solid introductory offer. Spending $1,000 in the first three months of getting this card earns you an additional $200 in cash back.
That's an easy way of putting some extra money in your pocket.
No annual fee. Carrying this card won't cost you a cent in annual fees.
You also receive 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first year.
People love the Cash Wise card for its instant cash back
Great for Wells Fargo members. One thing that stood out in consumer reviews of this card was its literal approach to cash back for those that bank with Wells Fargo.
As long as you have a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card, you can redeem your cash rewards through any Wells Fargo ATM.
That's a big difference from the competition.
While other companies may have you waiting days or weeks for your rewards to hit your account, Wells Fargo puts that money in your hand instantly.
If you don't bank with Wells Fargo, you can still redeem your rewards online or through the Wells Fargo app.
You aren't limited to just ATMs.
The biggest customer complaint about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card is its minimum rewards redemption
$20 and up. The Cash Wise card only lets you redeem your cash back in certain increments.
Wells Fargo bank account holders who opt for redeeming their points at ATMs must get their cash back in $20 increments.
For those redeeming online, you have to get your cash in $25 increments.
That means you may not be able to redeem your entire rewards balance.
For instance, say you have $57 in rewards.
You would only be able to redeem $50 online, or $40 at an ATM.
That would leave you with either $7 or $17 in unclaimed rewards.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card offers a good introductory offer and simple cash back rewards, but you need to redeem cash back in increments of $20-$25.
Then again, the Citi Simplicity card could be better because of its balance transfers
0% APR for 21 months. The Citi Simplicity card blows the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card out of the water when it comes to its introductory offer — 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months.
No late payment fee or penalty rate. You aren't penalized for missing a payment with this card outside of accruing interest.
There's no late payment fee or penalty rate.
While the Cash Wise card doesn't charge a penalty rate, any late payments receive a $37 fee.
No annual fee. The Citi Simplicity card won't charge you a yearly fee for keeping it in your wallet.
The biggest customer complaint is its lack of rewards. Even though it's not advertised as a rewards card, many consumer reviews stated they were disappointed they couldn't earn cash back or other rewards through this card.
The Citi Simplicity card skips a rewards program in exchange for a 21 month 0% APR introductory offer, making it perfect for balance transfers.
Side by Side Comparison
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise||Citi Simplicity|
|How high of credit score do you need?||>680||>680|
|Average APR?||14.24% to 26.24%||15.24% to 25.24%|
|How big of sign-up bonus do you get?||$200||N/A|
|How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?||$1,000||N/A|
|How many points do you get for every dollar?||1.5 points||N/A|
|Any restrictions?||Only redeem points in increments of $20 or $25||N/A|
|If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?||$1.5||N/A|
|How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?||N/A||N/A|
Rewards and Bonuses
Earn more cash back with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card
The Cash Wise card from Wells Fargo lets you earn points on every purchase.
Meanwhile, the Citi Simplicity card doesn't offer any rewards.
Earn 1.5% or more cash back with the Cash Wise. The way you earn cash rewards with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card is simple.
Pay using the card, and get 1.5% back on every purchase.
That means if you spend $30 on the card, you earn $0.45.
Get more with Android Pay and Apple Pay. The one way of earning more points with the Cash Wise card is by using Android Pay or Apple Pay within the first 12 months.
Connect these services to your card, and every payment earns you 1.8% cash back within that time period.
That means if you use an Android Pay or Apple Pay for a $40 purchase, you would earn $0.72.
Use GoFar Rewards for extra points. Wells Fargo partners with retailers including Kohls, Lowes, and Neiman Marcus through its GoFar rewards program.
These stores will list special offers on merchandise through the Wells Fargo's online GoFar Rewards portal. Paying for these items will earn you up to 10% more cash back.
Points don't expire. Your points remain active as long as your account is active and in good standing with Wells Fargo.
Multiple options for redemption. You can redeem your points online, through the Wells Fargo app, or at a Wells Fargo ATM or branch.
$200 introductory offer. Spending $1,000 within three months of opening your account gets you $200 with this card.
The Citi Simplicity card doesn't offer any rewards or bonuses
Nothing here. The Citi Simplicity card keeps things a little too simple when it comes to rewarding its users. Its card doesn't offer any form of cash back or other rewards program
Wells Fargo offers rewards and bonuses. Citi doesn't.
Both of these cards help protect your purchases
Citi Simplicity and the Wells Fargo Cash Wish card both offer benefits other than just rewards or introductory rates.
Each company has different plans you can use for things like rental car insurance and extended warranties.
Keep your rental car and cell phone safe with the Cash Wise card
Insure your cell phone. Paying your cell phone bill with the Cash Wise means additional protection for your device.
Doing so means the company will reimburse you for up to $600, after a $25 deductible.
That means if your $500 phone gets damaged or is stolen, you would pay $25.
Wells Fargo would make up the remaining $475.
Rental cars get covered. If you pay for a rental car with your card, make sure to opt out of any rental insurance the car company may offer.
Doing so puts the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver this card offers into effect. It pays for the physical damage or theft of the vehicle.
There are a few exclusions — the insurance doesn't cover renting an exotic car like a Ferrari, for example — but this benefit could save you some money.
With Citi Simplicity, you pay the lowest amount possible for your purchases
Save with Citi Price Rewind. Say you use your Citi Simplicity card to buy an item through an online retailer like Amazon.
If you notice it's on sale at a lower price within 60 days, you can use the Citi Price Rewind program to get refunded the difference in cost.
So if you purchase a $50 product and see it on sale for $45 the next week, you get $15 back.
There are a few limitations with this program, though.
You can only get up to a $500 refund per item, and $2,500 back max per calendar year.
Extended warranties. Your Citi Simplicity card also automatically extends any manufacturer warranties by an extra two years.
So, for instance, if you buy a laptop with a six-month manufacturer warranty, you would be covered for 30 months total.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card is great for protecting phones and rental cars.
Using your Citi Simplicity card can help you save and protect your purchases through extended warranties.
Costs and Fees
Get a good introductory APR with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card, but watch out for foreign transaction fees
0% for 12 months. Sign up for this card and you won't pay any APR for the first 12 months on balance transfers and purchases.
After that, carrying a balance will cost you between 14.14–26.24% per month.
Know there's a balance transfer fee. A balance transfer fee is different than a balance transfer APR.
APR for balance transfers works just like it does for purchases.
Your unpaid balance gets charged a certain rate, in this case, 14.14–26.24%
A balance transfer fee is a one-time charge made every time you make a balance transfer.
For the Cash Wise card, that's $5 or 3% for the first 12 months, whichever is greater.
That means a $3,000 balance transfer would cost you $90.
After 12 months, the rate goes up to $10 or 5% of the amount.
At that point in time, making a $3,000 balance transfer would cost you $150.
Pay on time. While the Citi Simplicity card won't charge you for late payments, the Cash Wise card will.
Make sure to make your payments to avoid a $37 late fee.
High cash advance APR. Don't treat your Cash Wise card like a debit card. Using it for a cash advance will cost you 25.24–27.24% interest.
Buy within the country. You get charged a 3% foreign transaction fee with this card.
No annual fee. Wells Fargo won't charge you just for holding onto this card.
You'll get a better introductory APR with the Citi Simplicity card
Lower interest for longer. The potential for saving on balance transfers and large purchases is greater with the Citi Simplicity card than the Cash Wise card.
While its usual APR for balance transfers and purchases is 15.24–25.24%, the card offers 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months.
That can help you pay off a large credit card balance over time without breaking the bank.
For example, let's say you put $5,000 on this card through a balance transfer.
Both of these cards would charge you a balance transfer fee of 3%, putting your balance at $5,150.
You could pay that off over 21 months by paying $245.24 with the Citi Simplicity card without racking up any interest.
With the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card, you would have to pay $429.17 every month for 12 months if you want to avoid interest.
Read the fine print for balance transfers. That 0% APR on balance transfers is only applicable for transfers made within the first four months of opening your account.
Anything made after that gets charged the standard balance transfer APR.
Unchanging balance transfer fees. Unlike the Cash Wise card from Wells Fargo, the cost for balance transfer fees doesn't jump with this card.
You always pay either $5 or 3% of the balance transfer, whichever is greater.
No late fees or penalty APR. This card doesn't overly penalize you for missing a payment. You won't get charged a late fee or penalty APR.
Keep it for domestic spending. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. Don't use it out of the country.
No annual fee. There's no flat yearly cost for having this card.
Watch out for late payments with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card.
The intro APR makes the Citi Simplicity card perfect for balance transfers, just read the fine print.
Wells Fargo and Citi don't shine in this are
Let's state something up front — it's normal for large banks to receive a lot of complaints about customer service.
Servicing millions of customers means a few are bound to have less-than-stellar experiences.
With that said, neither of these companies have exemplary customer service track records.
Wells Fargo's recent regulatory issues have a silver lining
There's an elephant in the room. Wells Fargo has been in the news for the past year due to enrolling consumers in programs without their approval.
The company settled a lawsuit against it for this issue in September 2017.
Wells Fargo also lost its Better Business Bureau accreditation in October 2016. It also has over 4,000 complaints against it listed on the BBB's website.
Naturally, none of these things inspire consumer confidence that the company will deliver outstanding customer service.
Things may get better. All this has an upside for consumers.
Since the company is currently facing such close scrutiny from regulators, it's likely the company is trying to put its best foot forward and get back on the public's good side.
Frequent complaints. For right now, many customers still have quite a few complaints with the bank.
One reported they received differing answers on why the introductory bonus for their credit card wasn't added to their account.
Another complained about how their representatives just seemed unfriendly.
Customer service isn't Citi's strong suit
Failing grade. Unlike Wells Fargo, Citi has never been accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
However, it still has a grade from the BBB. Unfortunately, it's an F.
Like Wells Fargo, Citi has also received over 4,000 complaints on the website.
Common customer woes. A few problems with Citi popped up again and again in customer reviews.
Many people complained that Citi often took a long time to respond to their complaints or questions.
Others stated that the bank would freeze their credit card often due to suspicious activity, even when alerted in advance that they would be traveling or making a large purchase.
No good option. Neither Citi nor Wells Fargo is all that great at customer service. Be aware of this when considering their credit cards.
Key Digital Services
Manage your account online through websites and apps
A few extra benefits. Both banks offer the usual options for monitoring your balance and making payments through their online services.
However, each has a unique feature that helps you get the most out of their cards.
Earn extra points online with the Wells Fargo GoFar Rewards program
Shop online for more rewards. The Wells Fargo GoFar Rewards program lets you earn extra points for using your card at certain retailers.
Several retailers including Target, Under Armour, and Bed Bath & Beyond list their products on the site.
By paying for these items with your Cash Wise card, you can earn between 2–10% more points on these purchases.
The GoFar rewards site is easy to navigate and looks like any other online store.
One downside is that these companies only offer certain products on the GoFar Rewards website, not their entire inventory.
That can make your shopping options somewhat limited.
Websites and apps. The Wells Fargo website lets you manage and view your balance, make payments, and redeem rewards.
You can also use the company's app for all these features.
Pay the lowest possible price with Citi Price Rewind
Keeps costs low. The Citi Price Rewind program lets you make sure you don't overpay for items purchased on your Citi Simplicity card.
It all happens through an easy-to-use website.
All you have to do is visit the site and log any recent purchase you want to track.
Citi then monitors several online outlets to see whether they offer a lower price for 60 days following your purchase.
If they do, you receive an email notification to log back into the website and request a refund.
For refunds that cost $25 or less, you receive your money back within 2–3 days.
Refunds that cost over $25 will be processed within 14 business days.
Apps and websites. You can pay bills, check your account balance, and redeem rewards through Citi's website.
Alternatively, you can use the company's app for all these actions as well.
More rewards or lower costs. With Wells Fargo's digital services, you can get more rewards by shopping online through the GoFar Rewards program.
Enrolling your purchases in Citi's Price Rewind program makes sure you don't pay too much for items you buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card?
If you want to apply in person, use the Wells Fargo branch locator to find a brick-and-mortar location near you.
You can also apply online by visiting the company's website.
If you already have a Wells Fargo checking account, apply over the phone by calling 1-800-642-4720.
How do I get started with the Citi Simplicity card?
You can apply in person by using Citi's branch locator to find the nearest Citi location.
To apply online, visit the company's website.
Citi also lets you apply over the phone by calling 1-800-526-2323.
How do I cancel my Wells Fargo Cash Wise card?
To cancel, visit any Wells Fargo location.
You can also close your account by calling 1-800-642-4720.
How do I cancel my Citi Simplicity card?
You can cancel by stopping by any Citi location.
You can also call 1-800-347-4394 to cancel your card.
What's the best way to make sure I speak with a human when contacting Wells Fargo?
If you want to make sure you'll talk with an actual person when dealing with Wells Fargo, visit any of their locations.
What's the best way to make sure I speak with a human when contacting Citi?
Like Wells Fargo, you can stop in at any Citi location to talk with one of their employees.
If you want to get in touch with a person over the phone, saying, "Representative," at any point while speaking with a machine will get you transferred to a person.
How do I sign up for Wells Fargo's GoFar rewards program?
You automatically get enrolled in the GoFar Rewards Program as soon as you receive your Cash Wise card.
There's no further action required on your end.
Citi's Price Rewind program couldn't find a lower price on an item, but I did. Can I still receive a refund?
Since Citi can't track absolutely every price on every item, it allows customers to submit their own information for lower-priced products.
That means you can usually still receive a refund if you find a lower price.
It just needs to be submitted within 60 days of the original purchase.
To do so online, visit Citi's website to add this information about a lower price to your original request.
You can also update your request over the phone by calling 1-866-918-4670.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise's rewards put it ahead of Citi Simplicity's balance transfer prowess
You can get great value out of both the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card and the Citi Simplicity card.
For most people, rewards and the $200 introductory bonus offered by the Cash Wise card will put it ahead of the Citi Simplicity card.
If you know you want a card that's great for balance transfers, opt for the Citi Simplicity card. That way you get 21 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers instead of 12 months with the Cash Wise.
Here are the key takeaways:
- You should probably choose the Cash Wise if you already bank with Wells Fargo and the Citi Simplicity if you want a balance transfer.
- Get simple cash back rewards and $200 from the Wells Fargo Cash Wise, but you can only redeem them in $20–$25 increments.
- The Citi Simplicity card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months.
- Wells Fargo offers rewards and cash back, but Citi doesn't.
- The Cash Wise card's benefits can help protect your phone and rental car. The Citi Simplicity card extends manufacturer warranties by two years and helps you pay the least on purchases with Price Rewind.
- Wells Fargo charges late fees, but the Citi doesn't. Make sure to read the fine print about balance transfers with your Citi Simplicity card to lock in that 0% APR.
- Don't expect exceptional customer service from either Wells Fargo or Citi.
- The highlight of Wells Fargo's digital services is its GoFar rewards program, while Citi offers a strong showing with Price Rewind.
Do you use Wells Fargo or Citi?
How have these companies worked out for you?
Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below.