May 26, 2024
How the New Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Compares With Other Entry-Level Travel Cards

How the New Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Compares With Other Entry-Level Travel Cards

Key Takeaways

  • The new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Visa Card has a rewards rate that competes with existing entry-level travel cards.
  • This rewards rate is a better option for those who spend heavily on dining out and travel with third-party providers, but not for every spender. 
  • Wells Fargo is only offering six travel transfer partners at the moment – far fewer than competitors. 

“Without a doubt, the Autograph Journey has shaken up the entry-level travel card market, and only time will tell if Wells Fargo’s latest offering manages to supplant its esteemed competitors,” says Andy Chang, founder and CEO of The Credit Review.

There’s tough competition in the travel card market, with many established cards offering similar benefits and rewards for the same $95 annual fee. Here’s how the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey stacks up.

The Competition

“This card poses strong competition to other entry-level travel cards, particularly the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred,” says Chang.

In the world of entry-level travel cards, users can expect to pay a $95 annual fee for travel-focused benefits and rewards earnings. While they cost more than no-annual-fee cards, they typically allow users to earn points more quickly. These cards are also far less expensive than luxury travel cards with benefits like airport lounge access.

The most popular on the market right now are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The better of the two cards is a hot debate among credit card enthusiasts, as it depends on your desired rewards earning scheme, travel transfer partners and more. The new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey adds another competitor to the mix, and similarly has benefits for the right kind of spender and drawbacks for the wrong one.

Rewards

Earning rewards is a key factor in choosing any travel credit card, as points or miles are what allow cardholders to book luxurious trips for little to no cost out of pocket. Wells Fargo Autograph Journey cardholders earn five points per dollar on hotel stays, four points per dollar on airline purchases, three points per dollar on all other travel and dining and one point per dollar on everything else.

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn five points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Travel; three points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online groceries; two points per dollar on non-Chase travel; and one point per dollar on everything else.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a slightly different earning scheme, offering a higher flat rate on general purchases in lieu of a bonus on travel. Cardholders earn 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One and 2 miles per dollar on everything else. (See Rates & Fees)

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey outshines Chase Sapphire Preferred in some regards – primarily with a higher earning rate on hotels, airlines and travel purchases made outside of an issuer portal. This makes it a standout choice for users who spend more heavily in these categories. Sapphire Preferred, with a lower earning rate on many kinds of travel purchases, offers the opportunity to earn bonus points in additional categories like streaming services and online grocery purchases. For those who spread their purchases among more general charges, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could come out ahead.

Transfer Partners

Hotel and airline transfer partners are often a travel junkie’s secret tool for scoring free flights or stays with a credit card. That’s because the average credit card point or mile is worth 1 cent, but many travel programs offer values higher – and you can redeem fewer rewards for more valuable purchases by transferring them.

“For transfer partners, Sapphire Preferred takes a lead with more versatile, international partners as opposed to Autograph Journey’s limited domestic portfolio,” says Chang.

Chase’s list of transfer partners is a fan favorite, because it includes valuable airline programs like United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards. Capital One is a little less competitive in this regard – primarily because its list lacks a major domestic airline – but it still offers some good choices.

Wells Fargo unfortunately falls flat. Right now, cardholders can only transfer their points to six programs: Choice Privileges, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Avianca Lifemiles, British Airways Executive Club, AerClub and Iberia Plus.

Although Wells Fargo says it plans to add more throughout the year, this means cardholders will be much more limited when it comes to strategic redemptions for great deals.

Benefits 

Beyond rewards, extra benefits like statement credits and travel protections can add a lot of value to a travel card. Each of the three popular entry-level travel cards has at least one statement credit that can help reduce its annual fee, but the usefulness of those credits will depend on the individual.

With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, cardholders are eligible for up to $100 every four years to cover the cost of their TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. With Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can get up to $50 per year for hotels booked through Chase Travel. And for Wells Fargo Autograph Journey, cardholders get up to $50 for purchases made with any airline.

The credit on Wells Fargo Autograph Journey is certainly more flexible than the Chase credit, as it doesn’t require users to book through the bank. But a PreCheck membership might be more valuable to certain travelers who hate lost time at the airport, making Capital One Venture Rewards the best choice.

Other perks are similar – none of the cards charges a foreign transaction fee – but there is one exception where the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey pulls ahead of the pack. It is the only card to offer an introductory annual percentage rate, though it only applies to purchases and not balance transfers. This can save cardholders who need time to pay down a large purchase.

Which Card Suits You Best? 

“The overall value is a closer call, as it depends largely on personal travel habits,” says Chang.

In the end, the best travel card for you will depend on your personal preferences. If you like the flexibility of earning the same rewards rate on general purchases, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is likely the best choice for you. It’s also the only card at this price that comes with a fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry applications.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, on the other hand, stands out for travel-focused earnings and a competitive list of transfer partners that help you get plenty of value out of your rewards.

The new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey definitely earns a place in the competition, setting itself apart with a high earning rate on travel purchases – especially those made outside of an issuer portal. If you’re shopping for a new travel card, don’t write the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey off.

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