US Bank Altitude Reserve Instant Approval Credit Card Review: Great for Mobile Payments


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Regular APR

16.99% – 23.99% Variable

Featured Reward

50,000 points after you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details
  •  

    Pros
    • Substantial welcome bonus and great earning opportunities, especially with mobile wallets
    • $325 annual travel and dining credit can offset most of the $400 annual fee
    • Top-notch travel insurance and protections
    Cons
    • You must have an existing relationship with US Bank to be approved
    • Limited to a 12-month complimentary Priority Pass membership with only four free visits for cardholder (plus a guest) included
    • No airline or hotel transfer partners

    Read Our Review

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    Review: Is the US Bank Altitude Reserve the best credit card for you?

    The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is an often-ignored premium travel credit card with a terrific return rate (one of the best on the market) and an extremely simple rewards program. If you’re new to the world of miles and points, this card could be a great place to start.

    To qualify for this card you must have an eligible US Bank account relationship (open and active) a minimum of five business days before you apply. Examples of eligible accounts are:

    • Another US Bank credit card
    • Checking account
    • Savings account
    • Certificate of deposit
    • Mortgage
    • Home equity loan
    • Home equity line of credit
    • Auto/boat/RV loan
    • Personal or small business loans/lines
    • Commercial loan and lease
    • Premier lines
    • Private banking account

    This card has a $400 annual fee, but it also comes with benefits like:

    • Annual statement credits that will reimburse the first $325 of travel and dining you make each year
    • Top-tier car rental insurance
    • Airport lounge access

    You’ll also receive 50,000 points after you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That bonus is worth $750 in travel — a compelling-enough reason to at least give the card a try for a year to see if it fits your lifestyle.

    However, if card benefits such as unlimited airport lounge access or rewards that you can transfer to airline and hotel partners interest you, this card is not for you. You’ll find significantly more value by opening and swiping cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express
    or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

    Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum: Which premium card is best for you?

    Here’s everything you need to know about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card.

    Comparison: US Bank Altitude Reserve vs other US Bank credit cards

    US Bank Altitude Reserve vs other premium travel credit cards

    How to earn rewards from the US Bank Altitude Reserve card

    The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card earns Altitude Rewards at the following rates:

    • 5 points per dollar for prepaid hotels and rental cars reserved through the Altitude Rewards Center
    • 3 points per dollar for travel purchases
    • 3 points per dollar for all purchases made through a mobile wallet
    • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases

    That third bullet offers one of the easiest ways to accrue points of any travel credit card. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar for all purchases made through the following mobile wallet platforms:

    That’s huge. Mobile wallets have become ubiquitous at checkout, whether you’re paying in-store or online. This effectively unlocks the ability to earn 3x points for just about everything. Altitude Rewards are worth 1.5 cents each when redeeming for travel, so earning 3x everywhere is like getting 4.5% back on all your purchases.

    Read more: Guide to the best travel rewards credit cards

    How to use rewards

    There are several ways to use Altitude Rewards. But, as with most other points currencies, you’ll get hands-down the best value when redeeming for travel.

    Book travel online through the US Bank Travel Portal

    After you sign into your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve account online, look under the “My Accounts” menu for “My Rewards.” This takes you to a page where you can choose to redeem your points through U.S. Bank’s travel portal.

    This portal is similar to the Chase Travel Portal in that you can choose to pay for your travel with a mix of points and cash. You’ll receive a value of 1.5 cents per point toward travel. You cannot transfer Altitude Rewards to airline and hotel partners as you can with many other bank points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Amex Membership Rewards points, and Capital One miles.

    Redeem points with Real-Time Mobile Rewards

    While clunky, Real-Time Mobile Rewards offer by far the biggest potential value for your points. There are four reasons for this:

    1. You’ll earn credit card rewards for your purchase.
    2. You can use shopping portals and/or coupons for your travel purchase
    3. You can book directly with travel companies, which come with a variety of benefits like member rates, elite status recognition, earning hotel points, etc.
    4. You can change your travel plans more easily

    Real-Time Rewards allows you to use points to offset a variety of purchases. Whenever you make a qualifying travel purchase on your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, you’ll get a text from US Bank asking if you would like to redeem points to offset your purchase. Simply reply with your answer.

    You can choose the categories you’d like to be notified about — but if you’re interested in maximizing your rewards, only set alerts for travel purchases. You’ll receive a value of 1.5 cents for travel, and significantly less for all other categories.

    Redeem for cash

    If you prefer cash, you can redeem Altitude Rewards at a rate of 1 cent each — a 33% decrease in value over travel redemptions. Still, the ability to earn 3% cash back everywhere thanks to this card’s mobile wallet bonus category is certainly not bad.

    But considering the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is a premium travel credit card, this is probably not your strategy. If you’re interested in cash back, read our guide to the best cash-back credit cards. Many of them have no annual fee.

    Read more: Guide to the best no-annual-fee credit cards

    Merchandise/gift cards

    Don’t redeem your points this way.

    You can purchase gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point (same as a cash redemption), and merchandise at a rate of around 1 cent each (sometimes lower).

    Read more: Credit card rewards can save you money on holiday shopping, but you may be better off saving them for post-pandemic travel

    Even if you’re interested in buying a gift card, it’s better to just buy the gift card with your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve and then redeem your points for cash to pay off your balance. At least you’ll earn points for your purchase this way.

    Benefits and features

    $325 annual credit

    You’ll receive up to $325 in statement credits to offset travel and dining purchases each cardmember year. This credit will automatically trigger for the first $325 in eligible purchases per year. There’s no enrollment required.

    This is one of the most practical annual credits of any travel rewards card on the market. For example:

    The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve credit can be used for both travel and dining. It’s also more valuable than any other annual travel credit. If you spend at least $325 between these two categories, this card’s $400 annual fee is effectively lowered to $75.

    TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit

    The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is one of the best credit cards for free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You’ll get up to $100 statement credit every four years to offset the application fee of Trusted Traveler Programs Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85).

    Read more: Which is better — TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?

    If you’ve got TSA PreCheck, you can keep your shoes and belt on when passing through TSA security checkpoints. You also can keep your laptop and carry-on approved toiletries in your bag. It makes airport security much less of a trial.

    Global Entry lets you skip the immigration line when you return to the US from abroad. This can save hours. You’ll also get TSA PreCheck when you enroll in Global Entry, so it’s the one to apply for.

    Priority Pass Select membership

    The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve comes with a very limited version of Priority Pass Select membership. You’ll receive access for 12 months, after which you’ll get four free cardholder visits each year, along with four guest visits per year.

    Many other cards with similar annual fees offer Priority Pass Select with carte blanche access to all 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges as often as you like — and you can even take two guests with you each time you visit.

    Further, some cards offer Priority Pass membership to authorized users — a huge value over the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.

    Travel insurance

    The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve comes with excellent travel insurance benefits — one of the most important factors when deciding which card you should use to reserve travel:

    • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Reimbursement of up to $2,000 per person for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses from the common carrier.
    • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per ticket in coverage for expenses like meals and lodging (that aren’t reimbursed by the airline or other “common carrier”) when your trip is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay.
    • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per person if you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost.
    • Rental car coverage: Primary coverage; up to $75,000 for theft and damage to rental cars in the US and abroad.
    • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 of accidental death or dismemberment coverage.
    • Emergency evacuation and transportation benefit: Up to $10,000 in coverage

    You can read more about this card’s benefits here (PDF download warning).

    Read more: Best credit cards for travel insurance

    Visa Infinite benefits

    All Visa Infinite cards come with inherent Visa Infinite benefits, such as:

    Regular APR

    16.99% – 23.99% Variable

    Featured Reward

    50,000 points after you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

    It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details
  •  

    Pros
    • Substantial welcome bonus and great earning opportunities, especially with mobile wallets
    • $325 annual travel and dining credit can offset most of the $400 annual fee
    • Top-notch travel insurance and protections
    Cons
    • You must have an existing relationship with US Bank to be approved
    • Limited to a 12-month complimentary Priority Pass membership with only four free visits for cardholder (plus a guest) included
    • No airline or hotel transfer partners

    Read Our Review

    A looong arrow, pointing right

    Fees and costs

    The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve comes with a $400 annual fee. The only other feels you’ll pay are due to late payments, returned payments, interest from carrying a balance (16.99% – 23.99% Variable), and fees for transferring a balance or cash advanaces.

    Read more: The best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

    This card does not charge foreign transaction fees, so it’s a great companion when traveling overseas.

    Featured credit cards from our partners
    Featured Reward

    60,000 points

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    3 free nights (each valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases and 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    About Shirley L. Kreger

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