About U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is a cash rewards card that gives you flexible options for which purchases earn you bonus points, a feature that makes it different than many of the cash rewards cards you can choose from.
While you have the ability to choose your bonus categories, it's important to look at the card as a whole. Does it have a reasonable interest rate just in case you carry a balance? Is there an annual fee? How does it compare to other cash rewards cards?
These are the kinds of questions that every consumer should ask before signing up for a credit card. It's not that there are dozens of cards with awful benefits that you need to avoid. Quite the opposite, actually – there are plenty of great cards out there.
Narrowing down which credit card is best, though, requires that you filter out all the options based on what you need, how you spend and what the card's pros and cons are.
This review is going to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. Bank Cash+, reviewing the following areas so you have a good sense of what this card's strengths and weaknesses are:
- Short-term benefits
- Long-term benefits
- Rates and fees
- Expert and consumer reviews
Along the way, we'll throw in some comparisons with other cash-back rewards cards we’ve reviewed. At the end of this article, we'll give you a quick list of the card’s pros and cons, as well as our thoughts on how this card is good for.
Short-Term Benefits of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
Have you ever wondered how credit card companies get customers?
Part of it is marketing – Capital One has done a great job of using Jennifer Garner and Samuel L. Jackson to push their Venture card – but part of it has to do with up-front offers designed to take the short-term benefits without thinking about the long-term benefits.
If you can grasp the basics of the Cash+ Visa Signature’s short-term and long-term benefits, you’ll put yourself in a great position to make a smart choice about whether or not the card is good for you.
0% Introductory APR
The Cash+ Visa Signature’s sole short-term benefit is that, for 12 months, you won’t pay any interest on balance transfers you make within the first 60 days you own the card.
This perk is something that’s popular with consumers who have balances on other credit cards. Often those balances are racking up interest charges.
So, to avoid paying interest charges on the balance, they transfer it to a card like the Cash+ that won’t charge any interest for, in this case, 12 months.
This balance transfer doesn’t come for free, though. You’ll be charged a certain percentage of your transferred balance (more on that in a few minutes).
The 0% interest rate is the only short-term benefit of this card. If you were to judge it solely on this category, the Cash+ wouldn’t seem like a great choice.
However, the card’s long-term benefits may change your mind because of the lucrative cash-back opportunities you have.
Pro tip: The 60-day deadline on balance transfers starts the day you're approved for the card, not the day you receive the card in the mail.
Long-Term Benefits of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
We classify a card’s long-term benefits as the perks you get during and after the first year of owning the card.
Yes, the Cash+ short-term benefits a pretty paltry. However, the long-term benefits are not.
Cash Back Rewards Rates
When we say “cash back rewards rate,” what we mean is the percentage of cash back you get whenever you make purchases. Some cash rewards cards make things simple by giving you one rewards rate – usually 1% or 1.5% – for all purchases you make.
What makes this part of owning a cash rewards card so interesting is that there are plenty of cards out there that offer different bonuses depending on what you're buying. Restaurants, groceries, gas and travel are typical categories that get 2x or 3x bonuses.
In some cases, you’ll have cards that give you 5% on certain purchases, and exactly which category of purchases get that bonus rate tends to change every quarter.
Sounds confusing, right? It’s really not, as the Chase Freedom, for example, will send you emails about when categories change. They also give you a calendar of which categories will earn the 5% bonus during their corresponding quarter.
The Cash+ is a rather unique consumer credit card because it gives you three rewards tiers – 5%, 2% and 1% – and you get to choose which purchases get the 5% and 2% rewards. You see, most cash rewards cards pick the bonus categories for you.
Choosing Your Rewards Categories
Every quarter (Jan.-Mar., April-June, etc.), you get to choose your 2% category and your pair of 5% categories.
According to U.S. Bank’s Cash Plus program page, you have three options from which to choose your 2% rewards (gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores) and the following 12 categories from which you choose your 5% rewards:
- Ground transportation
- 13 select clothing stores
- Cell phones
- Electronics stores
- Car rentals
- Gyms/fitness centers
- Fast food
- Sporting goods stores
- Department stores
- Furniture stores
- Movie theaters
You’ll have to choose your rewards categories every quarter, even if you’re going to keep the same ones you're using. If you don’t select your rewards categories, all purchases will get 1% cash back and you'll miss out on the 2% and 5% bonuses.
U.S. Bank’s fine print says that you have between 45 and 5 days before the new quarter to select your bonus categories.
Also, U.S. Bank says your 5% rewards rate will go down to 1% once you spend $2,000 in purchases in both categories combined.
When you’re ready to redeem the cash back you've racked up, you have three ways to get your money:
- Added as a statement credit
- Deposited onto a rewards card
- Deposited to a U.S. Bank savings, checking or money market account
If you can spend $2,000 in you 5% categories every quarter, you'll earn $400 in rewards every year and that's not even including your 2% and 1% categories.
Let’s say you choose groceries as your 2% category for every quarter during the year. If you're a three-person family, there’s a good chance you’re spending at least $600 a month on groceries.
At that rate ($7,200/year), you’ll get $144 in cash rewards to bring your running total to $544 for the year.
Here’s the trick to all this, though. Based on the categories in the 5% tier, you’ll have a hard time spending $2,000 every quarter to max out your rewards.
According to Statistics Brain, the average monthly gym fee is $58. Most single-person cell phone plans are less than $80. Those two bills come out to $138 a month and $414 a quarter. At a 5% rewards rate, that's about $27 a quarter.
Pro tip: U.S. Bank will deposit a bonus $25 to your rewards balance the first time you redeem at least $100 in one transaction.
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card’s Rates and Fees
Here’s a quick list of the rates and fees you may pay when using your Cash+ Visa Signature:
- APR: 14.99-23.99%, based on your credit scores when you apply
- Penalty APR: None
- Annual fee: None
- Balance transfer fee: 3%
- Foreign transaction fee: 2-3%
Whenever you make a balance transfer, you’ll be charged 3% on the balance you're moving over to your Cash+ card. If you transfer $3,000, your fee is $90. In most cases, paying $90 up front is cheaper than paying interest on the balance if you don't transfer it.
Based on the research we did for our Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Card of 2017, we believe the Cash+ Visa Signature's interest rate is among the worst we’ve seen by about 1%.
All the following popular cash-back rewards cards have lower APR’s than the U.S. Bank Cash+:
As for the foreign transaction fee, you’ll pay 2% whenever you make a purchase abroad in United States dollars and 3% in foreign currency. This comes into play at certain stores where you'll be asked if you want to complete the transaction in dollars or the country’s currency.
Expert and Consumer Reviews of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
The expert reviews we read were generally positive, with several sites saying that the Cash+ is one of the most flexible cash rewards cards on the market. One site knocked the card for having a cap on the 5% category.
As for consumers, a couple of the recent reviews we read praised the card's 5% rewards rate. However, there were two negative reviews on NerdWallet that brought up some interesting drawbacks.
One consumer chose “Furniture" as their 5% category, then bought a couch from a store listed under U.S. Bank’s examples of furniture stores. Their credit card statement, however, showed them getting 1% back. U.S. Bank’s explanation was that the merchant didn’t use the right transaction code for the purchase and nothing could be done.
Another reviewer said that U.S. Bank told him or her they didn’t offer the Cash+ in his or her state. We scoured the card's fine print and couldn't find any state-specific exceptions listed. We also called U.S. Bank, who told us that there were no state restrictions.
Our Closing Thoughts About the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
Based on our research of this card’s cash-back rewards rates and the rates of other similar cards, we believe that the U.S. Bank Cash+ is one of the better cash-rewards cards you can find. That doesn't mean, however, that it doesn't have its drawbacks.
Pros of the Cash+
The main benefit of this card is its 5%, 2%, 1% rewards rates and the fact that there is no cap on the 2% rewards.
Cons of the Cash+
The two main drawbacks we see for this card are the $2,000 cap on 5% bonuses each quarter and the fact that, unlike many cash rewards cards, the intro APR bonus is limited to balance transfers and doesn’t apply to purchases.
Who Is the Cash+ Good For?
In our opinion, the Cash+ Visa Signature is a great fit for those who want options for what earns them 5% and 2% cash back who won’t use the card for foreign transactions.
The Final Word: A Worthy Cash Back Card
Even with the limits on the 5% categories, we believe the U.S. Bank Cash+ card is a solid choice for those who want a cash back rewards card.