I’ve noticed a trend recently that some people are starting to become more interested in cash back cards than points and miles. This prompted me to write a post a few weeks ago on your current options for earning 5x, including several cash back options. The one I got the most questions on was the Wells Fargo 5x Visa because I mentioned I had an “interesting story” about this, so this post will explain how I got the card.
A few months back I decided to apply for the Wells Fargo 5x Rewards Visa. You can apply on the Wells Fargo website, but your chances of getting approved are very low if you don’t have existing accounts with Wells Fargo. I personally did not have an existing relationship with Wells Fargo at the time I first applied, and my application was denied. Oh well.
A few months later I decided I wanted the card again, and after a little FlyerTalk research I found out the only way I could get the card was if I went to a Wells Fargo branch to apply. I printed out the application landing page that mentions 5x and headed to the branch. I showed the paper to the first employee I saw and said I wanted to apply for the card, and was led to a gentleman at one of the desks to help me with my application.
The guy asked for all the normal information – my driver’s license, employment information, etc etc. He had to fill in the information himself so it was a little time consuming and annoying. Eventually he submitted the application and said it would take a minute to get the decision. At that point I said “Cool, I just really want that 5x on the card.” He replied “Well we don’t know if you’ll get approved for the 5x card just yet.”
At that point I said in my head “WTF is this guy talking about?!” Trying to stay calm, I pointed at the paper I printed and asked him “What do you mean? Didn’t you just submit my application for this specific credit card?” He replied that the application gets submitted for the Wells Fargo Rewards Visa card, and depending on my credit I may or may not be eligible for the 5x offer.
That’s when I started to get upset. People in the points world do a lot to take care of their credit scores, and to hear that I may have an unnecessary inquiry on my report was not something I wanted to hear. Further, he didn’t even know what type of rewards I’d be getting, so I started to show I was a bit upset.
I said “So hold on – you just ran my credit and you don’t even know what card you applied for? I specifically came here for this card,” again pointing at the paper. He could see I was getting upset, so he said “OK let’s just wait a minute and see if you’re approved first.”
He got the approval and he said my card should arrive in 7-10 days with a small $2K credit limit. But he still didn’t know what the rewards offer was, and he said we wouldn’t know until I received the card. I called BS – I said “You just approved me for a card – you have to know what I was approved for.” He said he’d make a call to try to find out.
He made a phone call and mentioned my application number and name. He asked about the rewards program, but apparently the person on the other end of the phone did not know either. He then told me I’d just have to wait until I got the card to find out. He said “You’re in finance – you know all these offers have the fine print that says ‘based on eligibility’ on it. It will all depend on your credit.” Little did he know that I actually read ALL the fine print. I replied “Look man, I read every last word of the fine print and nowhere did it say that eligibility for 5x was in question.”
So I started thinking – how can we figure this out? Then it hit me. If I was approved for a card, there’s always about a dozen pages of terms and conditions. In those T&Cs is always information regarding the rewards program. If I was approved for a card, he MUST have the T&Cs to print out. I asked “If I was approved, you must have the Terms and Conditions that list the interest rates and rewards program. Please print it out for me because I’m sure it’s listed there.”
He checked on his computer and found the T&Cs, then took a minute to print it out. He brought it back and started reading through it, highlighting a couple of things as he read. Then finally he said “looks like you got the 5x offer.” Finally I was able to relax. I apologized to him for getting a bit upset and he apologized for the confusion.
A couple of weeks later I got the card in the mail. Still uncertain, I called to activate it and confirmed that I received the 5x promotion for the first 6 months. I was finally all set to manufacture some cash! (Albeit with an annoyingly ultra-low $2K limit).
Lessons and Advice
If you have to apply at the bank like I did, I highly recommend you print out the 5x offer page like I did. Make sure you mention the 5x offer and this specific card several times when you talk to the bank employee. After your application is approved, ask for the T&Cs to be physically printed at the bank, and confirm the 5x offer.
Be wary of things that can go wrong. Kathy of Will Run for Miles had the most ridiculous experience ever trying to get this card recently – it sounded like the Murphy’s Law of trying to get a credit card. She posted a recent update as well. Be mindful of all of this when you apply.
Also note that while I was never asked to do this, some others on FlyerTalk reported their credit card application depended on them also opening a checking account that same day. I was prepared to do this since it’s only a “soft” inquiry on your credit, so it really wasn’t a big deal for me. If you’re really opposed to it you might be able to push back, or just say you’ll go to a different Wells Fargo instead.
While my story and Kathy’s sound a little stressful and annoying, there are plenty of other people who seem to have had very uneventful (i.e. good) experiences getting this card. The easiest way is obviously to do it online – but without a prior relationship it’s pretty much impossible to get approved. I haven’t heard of or read about a single approval for someone that didn’t have an existing account – if you were able to get one this way, I’d love to hear about it.
For everyone else, good luck!