The premium credit card space sure is heating up. For years The Platinum Card® from American Express was the go-to premium credit card, but in the past few years the Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® have given Amex some competition.
Now US Bank is throwing their hat in the premium card race with the new US Bank Altitude Reserve Card, which started accepting applications today. The first thing to note is that the card is only available to US Bank customers, so you need to have an account with them in order to be eligible for the bonus. Here are the basic details you need to know about the card:
US Bank Altitude Reserve Card welcome bonus
The card is offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,500 within 90 days. Each point can be redeemed for 1.5 cents towards a travel purchase, meaning that welcome bonus potentially gets you $750 worth of travel.
US Bank Altitude Reserve Card annual fee
The card has a $400 annual fee, which is a bit lower than the Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
US Bank Altitude Reserve Card annual travel credit
The card offers a $325 travel credit per cardmember year. Any purchase coded as travel is eligible for this credit, so I imagine almost everyone will have an easy time maximizing that. Unlike other premium cards, this travel credit is per cardmember year rather than per calendar year, meaning you’ll get exactly one credit per annual fee.
The way I see it, this essentially lowers the out of pocket on the card to $75 per year, when you subtract the $325 from the $400 annual fee.
US Bank Altitude Reserve Card return on spend
This is where the card is awesome. The card offers triple points on travel and mobile wallet purchases, including Android Pay, Apple Pay, Microsoft Wallet, and Samsung Pay. I’m surprisingly low tech, so I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used Apple Pay. This category is potentially a deal changer, given how mobile payment options are becoming increasingly popular.
At a value of 1.5 cents per point, that’s like getting a return of 4.5 cents on each dollar spent through a mobile wallet. That’s an incredible deal, and a bonus we haven’t seen on any other card.
US Bank Altitude Reserve Card perks
In addition to the $325 travel credit, the card offers all kinds of other perks, including:
- 12 complimentary Gogo Wi-Fi sessions per year
- A $100 statement credit to reimburse you for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
- A Priority Pass membership, though you only get four free visits per year, and have to pay $27 per visit thereafter
- Discounts with Silvercar
- Primary collision damage waiver coverage on car rentals
How good is the new US Bank Altitude Reserve Card?
When you remove all the fluff, you’re paying $75 per year in order to earn a ~4.5% return on mobile wallet purchases. The travel credit is nearly worth face value, and I don’t consider the triple points on travel to be especially unique, which is why I break it down that way. Some might also place quite a bit of value on the 12 Gogo passes you get per year, which for many will more than “wipe out” the annual fee.
The points you earn can’t be transferred to airline programs, though getting 1.5 cents of value from them towards airline purchases is pretty compelling. Mobile wallet purchases are becoming increasingly popular, so if it gets to the point where a good portion of my payments are through mobile wallets, then this is a card I’d consider.
However, personally I’m not sure with how many purchases I’d come out ahead at the moment. In other words, I’m already earning 3-5x points per dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, etc., so how many categories does that leave? I put my taxes on credit cards, so is there a way to make those purchases using a mobile wallet? 😉
There’s no denying that US Bank is introducing a unique product into the premium card market. While it’s somewhat similar to what other issuers have introduced, it has a unique bonus category that I think a lot of consumers will like. Given the $400 annual fee and $325 annual travel credit, it’s not an especially expensive card to hold onto either.
Do you plan on picking up the US Bank Altitude Reserve Card? Just how much do you value the 3x points on mobile wallet purchases?