Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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U.S. Bank, which is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, is one of the largest banks in the U.S. With its fully-integrated suite of services, including banking, investment, mortgage, trust, and payment services, U.S. Bank has cemented itself as one of the largest legacy financial institutions out there.
So how does U.S. Bank’s loyalty program stack up to its major competitors? Compared to Citibank, Chase, and American Express, U.S. Bank has a more straightforward rewards program.
It can often be difficult to keep up with transferable partnerships, points valuations, and other nuances of your credit card rewards, but this is where U.S. Bank excels. For most of us out there, it’s too much work to optimize for premium cabin travel — instead, having cash-back rewards or points that can be used towards travel bookings are much more appealing.
In this guide, we’ll be examining U.S. Bank’s major rewards currency: Altitude points. We’ll be looking at what types of rewards are possible with Altitude points, what credit cards offer Altitude points, and the best ways to redeem your Altitude points.
Let’s get started!
U.S. Bank has a couple of rewards currencies, including FlexPerks, which is a program that has been reduced over the past couple of years in favor of U.S. Bank’s most popular rewards system: Altitude points.
U.S. Bank Altitude points is U.S. Bank’s travel-based rewards system, traditionally restricted to its most valued credit card clients.
Altitude points are phenomenal to accrue when using mobile payments. Your points don’t expire as long as you have an active account in good standing, and you can earn an unlimited number of points.
Let’s talk about all the credit cards you can use to earn U.S. Bank Altitude points!
Traditionally, it’s been difficult to earn U.S. Bank Altitude points because of the lack of card options. This is slowly changing as U.S. Bank slowly expands its portfolio of U.S. Bank Altitude cards.
You can open U.S. Bank credit cards anywhere in the U.S. — you won’t be restricted by your specific geographic location, though U.S. Bank is most prominent in the Midwest and West Coast.
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card is not only the flagship U.S. Bank credit card, but also the ultra-premium Altitude points credit card.
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card made a splash in 2017 when it was released. U.S. Bank was known mostly as a second-tier bank for credit cards, and the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has since drawn a lot of positive attention.
To apply for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card, you must first be an existing U.S. Bank customer. What does that mean? As long as you have a checking, savings, credit card, auto loan, investment, certificate of deposit, mortgage loan, or other existing relationship with U.S. Bank, you will be eligible for this card.
The easiest way to qualify is to open a fee-free checking or savings account. Once you open a U.S. Bank account, you must wait approximately a month to apply for the credit card. You might be able to get this timeframe reduced by contacting the underwriting and credit operations department, but it’s better to wait a month if you can.
Once you have this card in-hand, you’ll immediately have access to tons of perks:
This card offers an incredible way to earn bonus points just by using mobile payments, regardless of which merchant you’re transacting with! As long as you’re using a mobile wallet app like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or LG Pay, you’ll earn 3 Altitude points per $1 no matter where you’re shopping.
So how much are Altitude points worth? When you redeem them through the U.S. Bank online portal for travel, Altitude points are worth 1.5 cents each. For other redemptions, you’ll see a rate of 1 cent per point of value.
So with 5 points per $1, you can earn 7.5% on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 4.5% on travel and mobile wallet spending, and 1.5% everywhere else.
Hot Tip: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi only earns 2% on in-store or Costco.com purchases. If you use mobile payments with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card at Costco, you will earn a whopping 4.5%, which is more than double what you get with the Costco Anywhere card!
This ultra-premium credit card comes with a $400 annual fee (and $75 per authorized user), but it offers you some phenomenal benefits.
*You must enroll in perks like Priority Pass Select to receive them.
The U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card is one of U.S. Bank’s Altitude newest cards!
|CREDIT CARD||BENEFITS & INFO|
|U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card|
The card features the following additional benefits:
Here are the eligible streaming providers so far:
The U.S. Bank Altitude Go card debuted in the summer of 2020, and the card is effectively one of the most impressive rewards credit cards with no annual fee, particularly for dining.
The U.S. Bank Altitude Go card is intended to be the no annual fee option in the overall Altitude card line-up — but in many ways, it reigns superior to the more premium options. You do not need an existing U.S. Bank relationship to apply for this card.
This credit card offers:
Keep in mind that just like the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card, these points are worth 1 cent each, unlike the Altitude points from the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card. Also, the minimum redemption amount is 2,500 points.
U.S. Bank Altitude points can be used for a variety of purposes. As you will discover, the value you get from your U.S. Bank points can fluctuate by up to 50%, depending on the credit card you redeem points from and what you’re redeeming your points for.
Let’s take a look at all the great ways to redeem U.S. Bank Altitude points.
All 3 Altitude cards are capable of using Real-Time Mobile Rewards. Real-Time Mobile Rewards is a U.S. Bank feature that allows you to redeem points on travel purchases without having to use the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. This is only available with U.S. merchants.
This feature must be activated using the following steps:
Using Real-Time Mobile Rewards is much easier because you can make purchases and transactions without having to go through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. You can shop around for the best price, use discounts and coupons, and even utilize a shopping portal to get the best value possible. Then, you will simply use your rewards via text message.
However, there is a minimum of $500 on lodging and $250 on car rentals to redeem points.
You will receive 1.5 cents per point in value with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card on travel and a flat 1 cent per point in value with the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card and U.S. Bank Altitude Go card.
Another way for U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve cardholders-only to redeem their Altitude points is to use the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. Given the capabilities of Real-Time Mobile Rewards we described above, there aren’t a whole lot of situations in which you should use the U.S. Bank Travel Portal.
Also, the U.S. Bank Travel Portal has incredibly strict terms and conditions. For example, once you book travel through this portal using your Altitude points, you cannot get them back. You might be able to cancel the reservation and get a travel voucher, but you will not get your points back. Additionally, all rental car reservations are non-refundable and can’t be changed at all. In all other situations, the U.S. Bank Travel Portal will follow the governing rules of the airline, hotel, or other travel company.
Here’s how to book travel using the U.S. Bank Travel Portal:
The next best thing to do is just to get straight cash back with a cash back credit card. There are 2 ways to get cash back:
You’d want to use the statement credit option if you have transactions you want to redeem points for.
If you just have a bunch of points on a credit card account that you don’t use often, then you can pick the deposit option.
You can redeem your Altitude points for gift cards as well with a flat 1 cent per point value. You’ll receive 1 cent per point regardless of which U.S. Bank Altitude card you have.
To do this, log into your online account, visit the Rewards Center homepage, and click Redeem Rewards on the Rewards Details page.
You can choose from lots of different merchants like Amazon, Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s.
The last (and least preferred) way to redeem Altitude points is to purchase merchandise. You’ll receive the worst value of around 0.9 to 1 cent per point using this method.
It’s best to just use Real-Time Mobile Rewards or at the very least to redeem the points as a statement credit after you make your shopping purchase.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the U.S. Bank Altitude Rewards system. There used to only be 1 way to earn Altitude points, but there are now 2, with the third card option coming soon.
Interestingly, these cards each have their strong suits, including unique bonus categories. Therefore, it might make sense to add all 3 of these cards to create a comprehensive U.S. Bank Altitude points-earning portfolio machine.
Altitude points from the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card can be redeemed for up to 1.5 cents per point on travel purchases either via the Real-Time Mobile Rewards or through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. The other 2 cards will be redeemed at a value of 1 cent per point, except for merchandise.
There are also a lot of perks associated with each credit card beyond the bonus categories, so be sure to look into all of them in-depth!
The information regarding the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card and U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
In general, you can redeem your U.S. Bank Altitude points by following these steps:
You can also redeem via Real-Time Mobile Rewards, which is a super-convenient way to use text messaging to redeem your points. You can follow these steps below:
U.S. Bank points are worth up to 1.5 cents each in value. This is achieved when you have the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card and redeem your points towards travel, either through Real-Time Mobile Rewards or through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal.
In almost all other cases, your points are worth 1 cent per point, ranging from cash-back to gift cards. The other exception is purchasing merchandise, which will provide a lower 0.9 to 1 cent per point of value.
Generally, U.S. Bank is much more sensitive to credit report information, such as the number of inquiries and the number of new accounts opened recently.
For this reason, you’ll want to have a strong credit profile and rating if you want to maximize your chances at getting approved.
The rule of thumb is you should have a minimum of a mid-700 credit score before applying.
U.S. Bank pulls different bureaus depending on where your residential address is. For the most part, it pulls TransUnion, followed by Experian. Equifax is probably the least used by U.S. Bank.
You can open most of the accounts without a large balance — however, there will be monthly maintenance fees. If you have a minimum balance or have a direct deposit set up, you may be able to waive the fees.
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