About Alliant Platinum Rewards Card
The Alliant Platinum Rewards is a cash back rewards credit card offering a combination of a 0% APR promotion as well as a sign-up bonus and a 2% rewards rate on purchases.
Alliant is a credit union based in Chicago. They offer three different credit cards, each with their own combination of rewards, perks, and interest rates. The other two cards are the Cashback Visa Signature and the Platinum.
The Platinum Rewards card is, based on our research, an excellent all-around card and, during the course of this review, we’ll tell you why we think so.
A lot of what makes this card a solid choice is the rewards you can earn with the card, which is what we’ll talk about in a few minutes.
In addition to covering the card’s rewards, we also will talk about extra benefits you get with it and the rates and fees you can expect to pay in the event that you make a late payment or you carry a balance.
A Quick Word About Alliant Credit Union Cards
You don’t have to be a member of Alliant Credit Union to apply for their credit cards. However, if your application is accepted, you’ll automatically become a member and Alliant will open up a savings account for you with a complimentary $5 balance.
The benefit of this account is that it earns 1.5% in interest each year. Basically, getting the credit card also gets you an interest-earning savings account. This perk isn’t something you get with mainstream rewards cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Discover it.
The Rewards You’ll Get with the Alliant Platinum Rewards
This credit card gives you two kinds of rewards: a sign-up bonus and a cash-back rate.
The sign-up bonus is 5,000 points and you’ll earn that when you spend $500 in the first 90 days. Once you hit the spending requirement, the bonus points will be deposited to your account within 30 days of the end of the 90-day deadline.
When we say that the sign-up bonus is “deposited” to your account, we mean that the points are added to your rewards balance. You can view that balance when you log into your account. The points you earn are worth $0.01. So, that 5,000-point bonus is worth $50.
Most cash-back credit cards we research provide a sign-up bonus of at least $100 when you spend $500 in the first three months. For example, both the Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver give you a $150 sign-up bonus.
So, in that sense, this card’s sign-up bonus is pretty weak. There are other aspects of the card that balance out this weakness, which is something we’ll talk about in a few seconds.
Earning Rewards on Purchases
Cash back credit cards are named that way because you get a certain percentage of cash back when you make a purchase. These cards can be divided into three groups: flat-rate, bonus rates and rotating categories.
The Platinum Rewards is a flat-rate card, which means you get one cash back rate for all your purchases.
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred is a bonus-rate card because it gives you varying bonuses depending on what you buy: 6% on groceries, for example.
The Chase Freedom is an example of a rotating-category card because certain categories of purchases get 5% cash back, but those categories change every three months.
Based on our research, there are few situations in which a bonus-rate or rotating-category card will earn you more points than a flat-rate card. That’s good news when it comes to the Platinum Rewards card, especially since its cash-back rate is 2%.
The fact that the card gives you 2% back is important because it will be the only way you earn rewards. Plus, the 2% rate is an industry leading rate for cash back cards that don’t have an annual fee (more on that later).
In terms of yearly rewards, our research shows the average household can spend around $25,000 a year on their card, which equals 50,000 points, or $500.
Both the Platinum Rewards and the Citi Double Cash can earn you $500 a year in rewards which is, as we mentioned earlier, the best you can get with credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee.
But what makes the Platinum Rewards card better or worse than the Double Cash if they both get you the same yearly rewards? The answer to this question has a lot to do with the other aspects of a cash back credit card, including the benefits and interest offers you get as well as the rates and fees you’ll pay.
The main non-rewards benefit you get with this card is 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers you make in the first 12 months of owning the card. Also, there are no balance transfer fees, which is a big deal because most cards will charge you between 3% and 5% to make a transfer to your card.
To give you an idea of what all that means for your wallet, here’s an example. You have a $2,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you carry that balance every day for a year, you’ll pay $340 in interest after 12 months.
If you transferred that balance to a card like the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you’d pay a $60 fee. The Platinum Rewards, however, skips that fee and lets you carry that balance for a year without paying interest.
As you can see, you can save yourself $340 in interest on a $2,000 balance and another $60 in fees over a card with a 3% balance transfer fee.
The Alliant Platinum Rewards’ Rates and Fees
The fees and rates you might pay on this card are pretty simple. The APR ranges from 14.74% to 24.74% and will depend on your credit score.
If you have a good credit score (700 or higher), there’s a good chance – although not a guarantee – that you’ll get the lowest interest rate. If you have bad credit scores (650 or below), then you’ll most likely get the 24.74%.
As we mentioned earlier, you won’t pay a balance transfer fee.
If you want to get a cash advance, you’ll pay a 3% fee and an APR of 18.99%. Returned and late payment fees are $35 per occurrence. These fees and rates aren’t available on the Alliant website; we had to call customer service to figure them out.
The APR for the Alliant Platinum Rewards is slightly below average for cash rewards cards. The low-end APR of 14.74% is higher than the Discover it and Quicksilver, equal to the Citi Double Cash and lower than the Freedom Unlimited.
How the Alliant Platinum Rewards Compares to Other Cash Rewards Cards
Based on our research, we believe that this card is one of the best cash back rewards cards without an annual fee.
Throughout this review, we’ve talked about several different cards, all of which are included in our guide to the best cash back credit cards of 2018.
We believe this card is one of the best because it offers an industry-best 2% cash back rate along with the Citi Double Cash. While the $50 sign-up bonus isn’t among the best but still puts it ahead of the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver for first-year rewards by a margin of $550 to $525.
While the 14.74% low APR isn’t as good as the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, the Platinum Rewards has the advantage because there is no penalty APR like the Blue Cash Preferred does.
If we were to stop the comparison here, we’d say the card gives the Citi Double Cash stiff competition for the best overall cash rewards card.
But, the fact that the card has no balance transfer fee and gives you a savings account with a 1.5% interest rate make this, in our opinion, the best cash back rewards card. This comes with a caveat, though, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Alliant Platinum Rewards
We believe, based on everything we’ve seen from this card, that its strengths are the trio of a 2% rewards rate, no balance transfer fee and the savings account that earns 1.5% per year.
If you have $5,000 in your savings account, for example, and spend $25,000 a year, then your potential interest earning and rewards could total $575.
The drawback to the card is that you’ll have to open up a new credit union account if you’re approved for the card. You may be put off by that and choose to go with a more mainstream card that doesn’t require opening a bank account.
Also, the interest rate could be a drawback for someone who tends to carry a balance. If that’s you, then you may want to consider the Discover it card because it’s got the lowest APR of any of the main cash back cards.