Wells Fargo Credit Cards: Putting the ‘WF’ in ‘WTF’

Back when I first got the moderately famous Wells Fargo 5% card, that bank’s execution struck me as amateurish. Neither the fulfillment package nor the credit card itself mentioned which credit card I was receiving (it just said “Wells Fargo”), nor was there any mention of the 6-month 5% promotion.

Other folks had worse experiences. Will Run For Miles (whose blog post title I more or less ripped off, by the way–sorry Kat!) published a lengthy account from which this is only a small excerpt:

I again made an insurmountable number of calls, and explained the situation to countless strangers.  If this was any sign of things to come, then maybe I should just run away fast?  But, noooo….,  of course I didn’t run.   Finally, finally, I reached a credit analyst. She located my information and then informed me – YOUR APPLICATION HAS BEEN DENIED.  I was dumbfounded.  What the F, WF?   I EXPLAINED THE SITUATION AGAIN.  I specifically asked if the denial was because this was technically my second application at WF, and hence, a second credit inquiry, even though the first application and cancellation was attributable to WF bank error.  Silence. She then said, “our records indicate that you canceled the first card as stolen.” WHAT?

Travel Summary had some issues as well:

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.

My wife was actually rejected for this card last fall despite actually having a WF checking account, whereas I was approved despite having no WF relationships whatsoever.

Or so I thought.

I recently received an email entitled “Special $100 offer for Personal Finance Digest, our valued mortgage customer” which urged me to “start managing your mortgage and checking accounts easily under one roof.”

It was quite a surprise to learn of my mortgage with Wells Fargo. You may recall that I blogged about my PenFed refi last year. For the record, I also have a HELOC, but not with Wells. Aside from my new credit card, I have never had any sort of product whatsoever from Wells. The closest I come on that count is having closed a Wachovia checking account in 2003.

I’ll take a moment to quote from Wells Fargo’s “Vision and Values” page:

The core of our vision-based strategy is “cross-selling”— the process of offering customers the products and services they need, when they need them, to help them succeed financially.

Got that? Cross-selling is their core strategy. (It’s, like, vision-based, dude.) This is what Wells does best! They’re so good at it that other banks copy their strategy! They’re so good at it they’re now able to cross-sell to people who don’t even have Wells products!

So there’s one WTF. The next came with my wife’s second application for the credit card: they deferred her application for three weeks (we take a laid back approach with reconsideration calls, mostly because we’re sleep-deprived and exhausted all the time), then we received a note saying, “After careful review, we are not able to approve your request for the following reasons: We are unable to verify income.”

We called up and apparently they “sent” us a letter–which we never received–asking us to document my wife’s income (she’s a homemaker, so my income apparently doesn’t show up on Equifax’s report for her). We called the number on the rejection notice and they said to bring copies of the last two years’ tax returns to a bank branch.

And that’s where we stand today with that. Future updates as events warrant–stay tuned!

But wait, there’s more Wells Fargo news! Did you know that Wells Fargo just bought the Dillard’s credit card portfolio from GE Money? And that one of the cards Mrs. PFD received from the Wife-o-rama was the Dillard’s Amex? Check out this clip from the Reuters article:

Dillard’s is a large banking customer of Wells Fargo, and issuing cards branded for specific retailers who do other business with the bank is a natural way for the credit card unit to expand, said Tom Wolfe, Wells Fargo’s executive vice president for consumer credit solutions.

The San Francisco-based bank has lagged rivals like Citigroup Inc. and Capital One Financial Corp in issuing these private label cards, according to data from the Nilson Report, an industry publication. But Wells Fargo hopes to win more of this business in the future.

“This is one area that we’d like to spend some more time expanding,” Wolfe said.

“We’d like to expand” is corporatespeak for “We’re going to give money to customers in exchange for increasing our market share, so y’all better get while the getting’s good.” We got the Dillard’s card to see if GE would come through with a sweet marketing program, but now I’m curious to see what Wells does with it. And the linked article said Wells is launching its Amex cards in the first half of 2014, so we have that to look forward to as well, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Until then, thanks to Wells for giving me enough material for a thousand-word blog post about a single bank. WTF WF, TGIF!

9 comments… add one

  • And here I thought Wells Fargo’s vision was to force black people with good credit into subprime mortgages even though they qualified for better rates.

    Learn something new every day.

  • This is the same outfit that cancelled many of our WF debit cards for excessive load/drain with a CC, although it did not seem to go against the T&Cs. Did they send us a closure letter with the typical mealy-mouthed language used to sever unprofitable relationships? No, they essentially accused us of engaging in illegal and/or fraudulent behavior. I took great offense at this and when the opportunity came to open a checking account and the 5% card I jumped on it – and guess what – they approved me despite my criminal tendencies. Idiots.

  • I had been looking at the Dillard’s Amex credit card for my next round of apps. It would be interesting if you’re able to find out what this benefit is: “Plus, Elite Cardmembers who spend $5,000 or more annually will receive a choice getaway. Choose from three amazing travel, spa or golf rewards.” T&Cs look like it can be any $5K of spend and not limited to Dillards.

    • If/when I find out, I’ll let you all know.

  • I’ve had a WF CC it seems like forever. Used to use it a lot but since I started in this hobby, it has remained in my metaphorical sock drawer. (As an aside, I have a suspicion that women are less likely to keep their out-of-use CCs in their sock drawers but my evidence is merely anecdotal and my H would tell me that doesn’t count. But he, unlike me, does have a ton of stuff hidden away in the sides of his sock drawer….)

    But the point of this comment is that perhaps I should call WF to see if they will move me to another version of the card. What I would love is a card that gives 5% cash back on groceries all the time, but this might be a step in the right direction.

    Given the amazing incompetence so many have described, I think I will wait until our refi is signed, sealed and delivered. I don’t want some over-eager or clueless CSR to pull my credit or something. Then I will give them a call. And I’ll report back here when I do, in case any other readers also have an old WF card hanging around a sock drawer.

  • I was warned against WF but got the reloadables back in the day. They actually stole money from me..$280 to be exact via their own ATM machines. They pushed me off to the the ATM company who supposedly investigated. Someone made a quick $280. Now, I’ve learned to listen closer when people warn me about things. Wells Fargo is unscrupulous…crooks. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

  • They’re idiots and have done me wrong in the past, but the 5% card worked well and I made about $1500 off it.

  • Just curious, have you ever worked in a bank? If you known Wells Fargo’s history, they have been around since 1852 for a reason; doing it right! Yes, when they merged with Norwest, Norwest was the surviving bank but took WFB as their name due to it’s rich history. Wells Fargo was the ONLY bank that did not need bail out funds from the government and was the ONLY bank to acquire a bank that would have failed and gone bancrupt. So, until you get your facts straight and get off your damn soapbox to stop whining, please don’t speak!

    • I worked in banking for many years. Which facts of mine are incorrect?


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