Comparing The Wells Fargo Journey vs. Other Premium Travel Cards


The release of the new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey card in March may seem like a good option with competitive rewards rates, but how does it stack up to some of the best travel credit cards on the market today? And does it deserve a place in your wallet?

In this article, we’ll examine the cards’ welcome offers, rewards, benefits and travel partners to assess their overall value. Let’s see how the Autograph Journey measures up to these four competitors:

Welcome offers

The Wells Fargo Autograph JourneySM Card has a competitive welcome offer of 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. According to Bankrate’s valuations, Wells Fargo Rewards are worth about 1.0 cents per point, giving the welcome offer a value of $600. After completing the spending requirement, you could have anywhere from 64,000 to 80,000 points, depending on which categories you utilize to meet the spending requirement. That’s a return of 16 percent on the low end to 20 percent on the high end, though you’ll likely fall somewhere in the middle.

How the Autograph Journey stacks up

The welcome offer on the Autograph Journey matches up with the regular offers from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi Premier exactly. All three give the same bonus, for an identical spending requirement and timeframe, with the same annual fee. However, both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points are worth more, at about 2.0 cents and 1.6 cents per point, respectively, when transferred to a high-value travel partner. This gives the edge to both, with Chase being the most valuable at $1,200 and Citi at $960.

Looking around, the Capital One Venture X offers more miles for the same amount of spending requirement and timeframe. With this card, you’ll get 75,000 miles, but also pay a higher $395 annual fee. Capital One miles are also more valuable at about 1.7 cents per point, making its welcome offer worth $1,275.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the most points of any of these offers — at 80,000 Membership Rewards points — but it also requires the highest spending at $8,000, although you’ll get twice as long to meet that amount (six months). It also has the highest annual fee of these cards at $695. Since Membership Rewards points are valued at about 2.0 cents cents per point, this offer has a value of $1,600.

Our decision: Not as good as the competition

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey offers the lowest overall value of any of these welcome offers, due to the lower value of the Wells Fargo Rewards it earns.

When deciding between these cards, consider:

  • Whether you can meet the spending requirement
  • What you want the points for
  • The return on your spending

Based on these criteria, the best overall value comes from the Venture X since your return on spending will likely be a higher percentage — even though the Amex Platinum offers the most points and the highest value.

Rewards and benefits

Outside of its welcome bonus, the Wells Fargo Autograph Journey comes with excellent earning rates in numerous categories focusing on travel. Specifically, you’ll earn 5X points at hotels, 4X points on airlines and 3X points on other travel and restaurants. All other purchases earn 1X points.

You’ll also get a $50 annual statement credit with a $50 minimum airline purchase — utilizing this credit offsets more than half of the $95 annual fee. Additional benefits include:

  • Trip protection coverage
  • Auto rental collision coverage
  • Emergency/roadside assistance
  • Cell phone protection
  • My Wells Fargo deals
  • Visa Signature benefits

As it is, the card earns solidly enough to function as a standalone card, offering excellent protection and benefits. However, let’s compare this more closely with its competitors to assess its actual value.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Both of these cards come with a $95 fee. For travel purchases, the Autograph Journey gets 5X on hotels, 4X on airfare, and 3X on other travel, while the Sapphire Preferred only earns 2X on travel (but can earn 5X if you go through the Chase Travel portal or use Lyft). Chase points also get a 25 percent boost when booking travel through Chase Travel. While both cards earn 3X on dining, the Sapphire Preferred also earns 3X for streaming and online grocery purchases.

Whereas the Autograph Journey has a $50 air credit, the Sapphire Preferred has a $50 hotel credit instead. You’ll also get a points boost on your account anniversary equal to 10 percent of your spending from the prior year. Chase has more extensive transfer partners, including four of Wells Fargo’s airline partners. There are also more Chase cards available that can combine points with the Sapphire Preferred via the Chase trifecta, giving it an even further advantage.

You might choose the Autograph Journey if your travel spending aligns better with Wells Fargo’s bonus categories. However, for most people, the Sapphire Preferred will be the more flexible option.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey vs. Citi Premier®

These cards also have the same annual fee — and once again, the Autograph Journey earns slightly better on hotel and air purchases. While the Citi Premier has limited-time earnings of 10X on hotel and car rentals through the Citi Travel portal through June 30, 2024, it earns 3X in the following categories:

  • Hotels
  • Air travel
  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets
  • Gas stations

By covering a more comprehensive range of everyday expenses, Citi Premier gets the edge for earning rewards.

The Citi Premier also offers an annual $100 hotel credit on a stay of $500 or more when booked through the Citi Travel portal — more than double the Autograph Journey’s air credit. While Citi overlaps on a few of Wells Fargo’s transfer partners, it also offers a more extensive list than Wells Fargo. Citi also has the Citi trifecta that allows you to combine points from multiple cards.

As a result, the Citi Premier generally offers more value overall, unless your spending is primarily travel-focused.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey vs. Capital One Venture X

The Capital One Venture X comes with a higher annual fee than the Autograph Journey, coming in at $395 instead of $95. Still, this higher fee can be easily offset with the card’s $300 annual travel credit on the Capital One travel portal and the 10,000 bonus miles you’ll earn on your account anniversary (worth $100).

The main difference between the two is that the Venture X earns a flat rate of 2X miles on all purchases. If you book through the portal, you’ll get 5X on airfare and 10X on hotels and car rentals. If you book travel directly, the Autograph Journey is likely a better choice, but the Venture X still has the potential for higher returns. Non-bonus spending will do better on the Venture X, for example, but you’ll earn more with dining purchases on the Autograph Journey.

Overall, Capital One miles have a higher value and more transfer partners while overlapping most of Wells Fargo’s partners. You’ll also get more benefits and perks like extensive airport lounge access. Even with the higher annual fee, the Venture X is a clear favorite almost across the board.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

These two cards approach travel from opposite positions. While the Autograph Journey has a manageable annual fee and earns solid reward rates, the Amex Platinum has one of the highest annual fees out there and mediocre earning rates outside of its 5X rate on airfare and hotels purchased through Amex Travel. Beyond travel purchases, the Autograph Journey is superior for spending.

Where the Amex Platinum shines above the rest is its laundry list of perks and benefits. For as high as the $695 annual fee is, you can still come out ahead if you take advantage of all the credits offered, including:

  • $200 annual airline incidental credit with your selected airline
  • $200 Uber credit ($15 each month, $35 in December)
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit ($50 semi-annually)
  • $200 annual credit with Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • $240 entertainment credit ($20 monthly)
  • $189 annual CLEAR membership credit
  • $300 Equinox/SoulCycle annual credit
  • Walmart+ reimbursement ($12.95 monthly cost)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit once every four years
  • *Enrollment required for select benefits

Maximizing these credits more than compensates for the card’s annual fee, covering everything from travel and shopping to lifestyle purchases. In addition, you’ll get extensive airport lounge access, excellent travel protections, a superior list of transfer partners and complimentary elite status with Hilton, Marriott and several car rental companies. Here, the overall value offered by the Amex Platinum’s perks and credits far exceed any other card — if you can fully utilize them.

Our decision: Perks fall short but rewards measure up

These comparisons point to a glaring weakness of the Autograph Journey — its perks and benefits. Each main competitor card offers more value in credits, benefits and point value. Even the higher annual fee cards make up for that difference with superior returns in the benefits category. If you’re looking at this card specifically to handle your travel needs, you may want to consider one of the other cards, all of which give better returns.

However, the card holds up well with its reward-earning rates, particularly in the travel and dining categories. The rates for hotels and airfare purchases are strong and don’t require you to shop through a travel portal. This distinction can be helpful, as many hotel chains and airlines will deny your elite benefits when you book through a third party like this. With plenty of bonus categories, the Autograph Journey should be able to cover much of your everyday spending.

Airline and hotel transfer partners

Each card has its own set of airline and hotel transfer partners — multiple cards can cover some programs, while others may be unique to a single card. We’ve compiled a list of all the partners to help you decide which card is best for you. All transfer ratios are 1:1 unless otherwise noted.

Airline Program Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi Premier Capital One Venture X The Platinum Card by American Express
Air France/KLM Flying Blue x x x x x
British Airways Executive Club x x x x
Aer Lingus AerClub x x x
Iberia Plus x x x
Avianca LifeMiles x x x x
Air Canada Aeroplan x x x
Emirates Skywards x x x x
JetBlue TrueBlue x x 250:200
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer x x x x
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards x
United Airlines MileagePlus x
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club x x Through Virgin Red x
Aeromexico Rewards x x 1:1.6
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles x x x
Etihad Guest x x x
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands x 4:3
Qantas Frequent Flyer x x x
Qatar Airways Privilege Club x
Thai Royal Orchid Plus x
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles x x
Finnair Plus x
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go x
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club x
Delta SkyMiles x
HawaiianMiles x

 

Hotel Program Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi Premier Capital One Venture X The Platinum Card by American Express
Choice Privileges 1:2 1:2 x x
IHG One Rewards x
Marriott Bonvoy x x
World of Hyatt x
Wyndham Rewards x x
Hilton Honors 1:2
Accor Live Limitless 2:1 2:1
Leaders Club 5:1

Our decision: The Autograph Journey doesn’t measure up

As you can see, the Autograph Journey has the smallest number of transfer partners — each of which is covered by at least two competitors. Further, considering that the Autograph Journey comes with the lowest overall point value, the card’s competitors are likely to be a better choice if you’re looking for a specific transfer partner, given their wider selection and better value.

You could certainly use the Autograph Journey’s welcome offer to supplement the point balance in one of its partners, but in most cases, you shouldn’t use it as the primary method to accrue those points unless you’re spending in its top categories.

The bottom line

While introducing a travel card with transfer partners is a big milestone for Wells Fargo, the Autograph Journey unfortunately doesn’t quite rise to the level of its competition. While the reward rates are decent, the lower value of Wells Fargo points keeps it a step behind the competition. Given that, this card is best suited for people who may already have a solid portfolio of credit cards and are looking for a new program to supplement their points balances. But if you’re looking for your first premium travel card, you’ll likely get more value from one of the other cards in this space.



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