Our Point of View
January 18, 2017

Wells Fargo clarifies reason for declining Black Lives Matter card design

Personalized card image policy prohibits political designs, but explanation to customer fell short.

Recent news articles have reported that Wells Fargo rejected a customer’s request to personalize her debit card with a Black Lives Matter image because it was “anti-social and offensive” — a mischaracterization of the reason for the decline that was unfortunately communicated to the customer in error. Reports circulating in social media have also led some to call into question Wells Fargo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is core to the company’s values.

These are the facts regarding the situation.

Wells Fargo’s Card Design Studio® service gives customers the opportunity to personalize their cards by uploading an original image or selecting an image from the product’s image library.

When customers upload their own designs, Wells Fargo reviews their submissions against a policy that specifies several factors that can lead to a decline. For example, the policy prohibits political images in an aim to keep Wells Fargo products politically neutral, and prohibits the use of potentially trademarked or copyrighted images that may infringe the rights of third parties. The policy is consistent with that of other companies that offer similar services, and image guidelines are readily available in the frequently asked questions section of the Card Design Studio website.

In this instance, the card design submitted by the customer was rejected because of its political nature. Regrettably, when the customer called to speak with a customer service representative about the decline, she was given an inaccurate reason for the decision.

When made aware of the confusion, a Wells Fargo representative contacted the customer to apologize and share the correct reason for the decision.

“When we decline or approve a card design, it is not a rejection or endorsement of an individual’s point of view. Consistent with our policy, we aim to avoid having political content displayed on our cards, and we err on the side of caution in that regard,” said Katherine Yee, head of Debit and Prepaid Products. “The Card Design Studio service is not intended to be a forum for advocating political ideologies or other potentially controversial topics.”

Clockwise from left: Wells Fargo’s Diwali, PRIDE, Untold Stories and Lunar New Year collections are available in the Card Design Studio image library.
Clockwise from left: Wells Fargo’s Diwali, PRIDE, Untold Stories and Lunar New Year collections are available in the Card Design Studio image library.

As part of its Card Design Studio image library, Wells Fargo does offer collections that reflect its commitment to diverse communities. These collections include:

  • The Untold Stories collection, designed to depict the African-American experience and celebrate African-American culture.
  • The PRIDE collection, featuring four motifs celebrating the history and culture of the LGBT community, including the “Historical” design developed in partnership with the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives and the GLBT Historical Society.
  • The Lunar New Year collection, featuring commissioned art for The Year of the Rooster and eight other designs.
  • The Diwali collection, inspired by Asian Indian art.

Nearly 6 million Wells Fargo customers have chosen to customize their debit and credit cards. The most commonly submitted images are of pets, family members, and landscapes.