About Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card
Alliant Cashback Visa Signature is a cash-back credit card from Alliant Credit Union that gives cardholders a 3% promotional rewards rate for the first year and 2.5% every year thereafter.
Alliant is a credit union based in Chicago, IL. The good news is that you don’t have to be a member to get the Cashback Visa Signature. This particular card is one of three cash-back cards offered by the credit union. The other two offer less lucrative rewards.
We’ve conducted hours of research of cash back credit cards and have found that all the different cards you can choose from can make life very difficult for you if you are trying to pick the best cash rewards credit card.
In this review, we’re going to help you make that decision by presenting this card’s features and fees. We believe these two aspects of a credit card are the most important to you because they determine how beneficial the card will be.
The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature’s Features
When you’re deciding on which cash back card is best for you, one of the first aspects of a card that comes to mind is the rewards rate you get when you make purchases.
3.5% Cash Back the First Year, 2.5% After That
The Alliant Cashback card gives you two different cash back rates. The first one you get is 3 percent, which is something that is good for the first year you own the card. After the first year, that cash rewards rate drops to 2.5%.
Most cash rewards cards give you some sort of sign-up bonus or first-year perk. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver offer new cardmembers a $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.
The Discover it, on the other hand, skips the sign-up bonus and doubles the rewards you earn in the first year.
The Alliant Cashback diverges from these two main categories by offering you a boosted rewards rate the first year. So, if you spend $25,000 on the card in your first year, your rewards total at the end of the first 12 months would be $750.
After your first year, your rewards would be $625. So, that first-year boost is worth $125 for someone who spends $25,000, which is around the dollar amount we believe the average American household can spend on a credit card in a year.
In terms of sign-up bonuses or first-year rewards, the card doesn’t rank well against other cash back credit cards. However, one of the trademark features of these cards is that where sign-up bonuses are weak, yearly rewards are strong, and vice versa
And, based on our research, that’s exactly the case with this credit card. The first-year bonus does not match up well against competing cards but the rewards rate you get after the first year is the best among all cash-back credit cards we’ve reviewed.
For example, the Citi Double Cash is widely regarded as the best cash back card; its yearly rewards rate is 2%. The Quicksilver and Freedom Unlimited cards we mentioned earlier both have cash back rates of 1.5%. The Discover it? 1%.
Here’s a quick table to show you the cash rewards each of these cards can earn you over the course of one year without any additional bonuses:
|Card||Rewards Rate||Yearly Rewards|
|Citi Double Cash||2%||$500|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||1.5%||$375|
As you can see, the card’s 2.5% rewards rate provides the average family $125 more in rewards each year over the Citi Double Cash. In our opinion, this card is an excellent choice if you want to find a card that gives the most possible cash back per year.
The cash rewards you will show up on your statement as a credit, much like a return would. According to the fine print, you can redeem your rewards in chunks of $25. Also, your account needs to be in good standing in order to redeem your cash. So, make sure you’ve made your minimum payment; don’t let your account go past due.
Most cards give you a set of benefits in addition to rewards. One of the common ones is rental car insurance, something that the Alliant card offers.
in addition to this, you’ll get purchase protection, travel accident coverage and zero-liability in the event someone makes fraudulent purchases with your card.
Each one of these benefits has their own set of exclusions that you’ll need to read over when you receive your card in the mail.
For now, though, we want to point out that purchase protection is a benefit that sends you a refund if something you buy with your card goes down in price within 90 days of the purchase.
The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature’s Fees
As we mentioned earlier, a card’s rewards and its fees determine the value the card holds for you. Here is a quick list of this card’s interest rates and fees:
- Purchase and balance transfer APR: 11.74%-14.74%
- Cash advance APR: 19.74%
- Penalty APR: 24.74%
- Annual fee: None the first year, $59/year after that
- Balance transfer fee: 3%
- Cash advance fee: 2%
- Late fee: Up to $25
As we looked through this card’s fees, we found some interesting things. First, if you make a late payment or have a returned payment, Alliant will add a 24.74% penalty APR to your account that applies to future purchases.
That APR will stay on your account, the fine print says, until you make six consecutive minimum payments in a row.
If you pay late on a regular basis and you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, the penalty APR can really hurt you. It kicks in after the first late payment and any new balances you carry after It’s activated will get hit with that high APR. The Citi Double Cash has a penalty APR, too, but It’s higher than the Alliant card (29.99%) and can be permanent instead of temporary.
How the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Compares to Other Cash Back Cards
Based on our research, we believe that this card has some very distinct advantages and disadvantages when you compare it to other cards.
The cash back rate is better than all of the major credit cards we reviewed in our guide to the best cash back credit cards of 2018. Also, the card’s purchase and balance transfer APR is better than every card we listed in our guide.
So, in that sense, if you tend to carry balances and you want a cash rewards card that can cancel out the interest payments you make, this card would be a good fit. For comparison’s sake, the Alliant Cashback’s low APR is 11.74% while the Chase freedom Unlimited low APR is 16.49%.
As far as disadvantages go, the card’s annual fee of $59 is an anomaly when compared to most popular cash back cards because only one of them – the American Express Blue Cash Preferred ($95) -- has an annual fee.
Also, the penalty APR is another negative feature of the card that it shares with the Citi Double Cash, AmEx Blue Cash Preferred and Bank of America Cash Rewards.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature
Based on our research of this card, we believe its greatest strength is the combination of a high cash-rewards rate and low interest rates. This combination benefits you if you spend at least the household average each year – about $25,000, based on our research – and you tend to carry balances.
If you have an average daily balance of $2,000, then the 11.74% interest rate would cost you around $234 in payments each year, something that your $625 in rewards would cover. Ideally, though, you won’t carry a balance so that you can use this card’s industry-leading rewards rate to its fullest potential.
The card’s weaknesses are found in its penalty APR and its annual fee. The 24.74% penalty APR would cost you about $500 a year on a $2,000 daily balance as opposed to $234 a year for the 11.74% interest rate.
The annual fee is a definite drawback when compared to other cards but the 2.5% cash back rate makes this card’s yearly rewards higher than the competition even with the annual fee.
These downsides can be tempered by responsible card ownership – set up automatic payments so you’re never late and don’t spend more than what you can pay back at the end of the month.
In general, we believe that this card is among the best for those who spend at least $11,000 on their credit card. If you spend $10,000 a year or less, it makes more sense to get the Citi Double Cash because the Alliant’s annual fee will chop down your yearly rewards below what you’d earn with the Double Cash.