Details have emerged via Travel After Work and Walla.by regarding the new U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — a new premium card that’s set to hit the market May 2, 2017. It looks like it’s going to be a strong contender and come with some unique perks that will be attractive to many.
Sign up bonus
- 50,000 points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,500
This is a higher than average minimum spending requirement, but for $750 worth of travel, it’s not bad. US Bank does not have airline or hotel transfer partners, so this bonus will work similar to how the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® works when redeeming a statement credit against a travel purchase.
You can also redeem for things like gift cards and cash back but the redemption rate will be lower (my guess is 1 cent per point).
The fact that this card has no transfer partners like Chase or American Express, severely limited my enthusiasm for the product, although I’ve been able to put these type of travel statement credit cards to use several times.
- 3X on travel booked directly with airlines, hotels, taxis, trains, etc. (but no OTAs)
- 3X on eligible mobile wallet purchases when using the Altitude Reserve card with your mobile device to pay through Apple Pay,® Android Pay,™ Samsung Pay and Microsoft Wallet
The 3X on select travel purchases is a great perk but is not as broad as some others like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3X even on online travel agency purchase.
The 3X on mobile wallet purchases is very exciting for many people and opens up a lot of possibilities to maximizing point earnings that other cards may not be able to compete with. The big drawback is that this will only work with NFC transactions, so you likely won’t be able to earn 3X on in-app purchases utilizing LoopPay. This means no 3X on RadPad, Plastiq, etc., which is a big bummer for many.
Update: it looks like the 3X will work with LoopPay opening up a lot of earning potential for many.
- $400 annual fee
- $75 per authorized user
The $400 annual fee is lower than other cards like the Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige, so it’s nice to see a premium card come down with the pricing (although the Priority Pass benefit is dumbed down).
$325 Travel credit
Another unique perk to this card is its travel credit. It comes with one of the highest travel credits out of any credit card at: $325, so that knocks your annual fee down to somewhere near $75, depending on how you utilize it.
Unfortunately, this travel credit will be issued per cardmember year, so you won’t be able to double dip after the turn of the calendar year.
- Allowed four visits with a guest each membership year
Typically, lounge membership really makes these premium cards worth it. In this case, the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is offering a basic version of Priority Pass that only comes with four entries per membership year.
This could be fine for those who only go on a couple of trips per year. However, the Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express are much better options for those like myself who utilize Priority Pass/airport lounges much more often than a couple of times per year.
- 12 complimentary passes each membership year
TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry
- Up to $100 credit issued once every four years
- Metal card
- GroundLink Black Car Service (15% discount and $30 off first ride)
- Silvercar discount (up to 30% off Audi rentals)
- Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
- Relais & Chateaux Boutique Luxury Hotels
- NetJets Private Aviation
- James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour
According to Wallaby, the Altitude Reserve will be offered exclusively to U.S. Bank customers who have an eligible consumer U.S. Bank account relationship, which consists of one of the following:
- U.S. Bank Checking or Savings account
- Certificate of Deposit
- Home Equity Loan
- Home Equity Line of Credit
- Auto/Boat/RV Loan
- Personal Loans and Lines
- Private Banking account
- Consumer Credit Card
It shouldn’t be too hard to open up some of these accounts but it’s yet another obstacle to getting a credit card, which for me means that I need to examine if such efforts are worth it.
US Bank approval process
Everyone should note that US Bank credit cards are notoriously difficult to get approved for when you’ve opened up a lot of cards recently or have tons of inquiries.
Thus, many applicants will likely struggle to get approved for this card. (This is one reason why I won’t be applying for this card.) So if you want to get approved for this card, make sure that you not only meet the pre-requisites for eligibility but try to put some distance between this credit card application and your prior applications if you have a lot of them
It looks like you’ll need to apply in-branch at least when the product is first launched.
As much as I find this card intriguing, I won’t be applying for it, at least not initially. For one, I don’t like my odds of getting approved for a US Bank credit card and I’m not currently a US Bank customer.
Secondly, while the bonus categories are nice, I’m not sure I use mobile wallet payments enough to justify going out of my way to get this card. Most of the places where I routinely would use mobile payments already offer me bonus categories (groceries, gas, some dining, etc.). For others, such as department stores, I usually purchase gift cards through MPX or with my Ink and earn 5X. The Sapphire Reserve also has me covered for 3X on a broader range of travel purchases.
Thus, while this card is a strong contender and well-suited for many, I just don’t think that it will be worth it to me, at least not any time soon.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.