U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card Review
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite is a premium rewards credit card offering a 50,000-point sign-up bonus as well as three rewards points for every dollar you spend on travel and mobile wallet purchases.
The card is an interesting choice among leading luxury cards because it has a relatively low annual fee and provides a variety of different travel perks.
In this review, we will help you understand what this card has to offer and whether or not it’s worth owning. To do that, we are going to give you an in-depth analysis of how the card’s rewards work, what its additional travel benefits are, what its rates and fees are and how it compares to other luxury credit cards.
Editor’s note: The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is only available to you if you already have a U.S. Bank account.
Pros: Low annual fee, single interest rate and an industry-leading travel credit of $325.
Cons: Poor annual rewards and no points transfer partners.
Estimated Yearly Travel Rewards: 44,898 points
|Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee||Regular APR|
|Rewards Rate: 3x on travel and mobile wallet purchases, 1x on everything else|
This card’s rewards are split into two categories, the first of which is a sign-up bonus. If you can use the card to spend $4,500 within the first 90 days of having your account, U.S. Bank will give you 50,000 rewards points. These points should show up in your rewards account within six to eight weeks of hitting the spending limit.
You can log into your U.S. Bank account at any time to view your rewards balances.
The second way you can earn rewards is through everyday spending. The Altitude Reserve gives you two types of bonuses.
The first is a 3% bonus on travel and mobile wallet purchases. What this means is that you’ll earn three points for every dollar you spend on travel purchases and purchases you make with your mobile wallet.
Some of the purchases that U.S. Bank considers “travel” include:
- Car rental
- Passenger trains
The fine print mentions that these purchases qualify as “travel” if you make the purchases directly from the airline, for example, as opposed to a travel marketplace like Expedia or Orbitz.
In our opinion, luxury card users spend more on travel than the average person each year, which means we believe this 3x bonus can earn you at least 9,000 points a year.
Also, based on data from Statista, the average person spends around $1,949 a year via mobile wallet payments. Keep in mind, “mobile payment” means paying with ApplePay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and other mobile wallets, not purchases you make on your phone. At $1,949 a year, you’ll earn 5,847 rewards points.
When you add in the rewards points you get for all other purchases, we see your yearly rewards balance totaling around 44,898 points. In a few minutes, we’ll show you how that compares to other premium rewards cards.
The best way to redeem these points for travel is to do so through U.S. Bank’s travel portal. It’s through their site that your points have a cash value of $150 per every 10,000 points. Normally, 10,000 points would have a value of $100.
In this sense, the 1.5x bonus you get for booking with U.S. Bank is similar to the 1.5x bonus you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve for booking through the Chase travel portal.
As the owner of this card, you get some implicit benefits related to travel that are meant to provide you an elevated experience when you fly, stay at certain hotels and drive.
First, the card gives you $325 a year in travel credits. So, when you book travel, U.S. Bank recognizes the charge and adds an equivalent credit to your account.
The Altitude Reserve, like other leading premium cards, gives you complimentary membership in the Priority Pass Select program. Priority Pass is a network of airport lounges—more than 1,200 across the world—that provide a variety of amenities including comfortable seating and refreshments.
Also, U.S. Bank will reimburse you for the application fee you pay toward the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry programs. These two government initiatives give you expedited security check-in at U.S. airports, provided they accept your application.
Your Altitude Reserve gives you luxury car rental perks, too. You get a 15-percent discount and one-time $30 credit on GroundLink’s black car services, as well as discounted rentals from Silvercar ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent.
The final benefit worth mentioning is a VIP Welcome gift and free breakfast at Relaix & Chateaux hotels booked through the Relais & Chateau website. According to the site, the VIP Welcome gift would be something like a bottle of sparkling wine. The free breakfast perk is good for up to seven days during your stay.
Pro tip: The Altitude Reserve gives you 12 complimentary Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes each year. Airlines that use Gogo include British Airways, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.
Owning a credit card requires an understanding of what the card can provide you via rewards as well as what the card can take away from you via interest and fees. Here’s a quick list of those rates and fees:
- Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 17.99%
- Interest rate for cash advances: 26.24%
- Penalty interest rate: None
- Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late payment fee: Up to $39
- Returned payment fee: Up to $35
- Annual fee: $400
- Authorized user fee: $75
We like that this card has a single APR. This means you’ know the interest rate you’re getting ahead of time. Other cards either require you to pay your balance in full every month (Platinum Card from America Express) or they have a range of interest rates from which they choose one for you after they approve your application.
Now, even though you know ahead of time the interest rate you’ll get, you may not know how much that interest rate could cost you over time.
The following bullet points show you how much you’d pay in interest over the course of a year based on certain average daily balances:
- $1,000 daily balance: $179.90
- $2,000 daily balance: $359.80
- $3,000 daily balance: $539.70
- $4,000 daily balance: $719.60
- $5,000 daily balance: $899.50
- $6,000 daily balance: $1,079.40
- $7,000 daily balance: $1,259.30
Keep in mind, though, that the card’s interest rate only comes in to play when you don’t pay off your balance in full every month.
In addition to the potential payments you may have to make with the Altitude Reserve’s interest rate, we also want to note the $400 annual fee. While this fee is high compared to cash back cards or non-luxury travel cards, the comparisons we do in the next section reveal that this fee is actually pretty reasonable.
The chart we’ve created gives you a good idea of how the Altitude Reserve’s various rewards, perks, and rates compare to four other luxury travel cards and two popular luxury airline cards:
|U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card||Platinum Card from American Express||Mastercard Black Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Citi Prestige Card||Delta Reserve Credit Card||United MileagePlus Club Card|
|Sign-up bonus||50,000||60,000 points||None||50,000 points||50,000||40K miles/10K Medallion Qualification Miles||50,000 miles|
|Rewards rates||3x/3x/1x||5x/5x/1x||1x on all purchases||3x/3x/1x||5x/5x/3x/3x/1x||2x/1x||2x/1.5x|
|Yearly points on $35K annual spending||44,898 points||47,000 points||70,000 for airfare, 52,500 for cash||47,730 points||60,136 points||36,500 miles||53,250 miles|
|TSA/ Global Entry reimbursement||$100||$100||$100||$100||$100||Free Sky Priority expedited security||Free Premier Access expedited security|
|Airline/ Travel credit||$325||$200||$100||$300||$250||Priority boarding, first bag free, 20% savings on in-flight purchases||Priority boarding, first and second bag free|
|Travel partners||None||24 (19 int’l, 2 domestic, 3 hotels)||None||12 (6 int’l airlines, 3 domestic, 3 hotel)||15 (14 int'l, 1 domestic)||1||1|
|Lounge access||Priority Pass Select||AmEx Centurion, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, three others||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select||DeltaSkyClub||United Club|
|APR||17.99%||N/A||17.24%||19.24% to 26.24%||17.99% to 25.99%||17.99% to 26.99%||18.24% to 25.24%|
|Annual fee/ Authorized user fee||$400/$75||$550/NA||$495/$195||$450/$75||$495/$75||$450/NA||$450/NA|
The Altitude Reserve has some weaknesses when it comes to how many points you get with your sign-up bonus and via your yearly spending. The sign-up bonus is average but the yearly points are higher than only the Delta Reserve Credit Card.
When you combine your sign-up bonus with your yearly rewards, you get a first-year total that is about 15,000 points behind the Citi Prestige Card and around 5,000 points behind the United MileagePlus Club Card. The first-year total is nearly the same as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Another of the card’s weaknesses is its lack of travel transfer partners. Being able to transfer your points to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs gives your points even more value through rewards bookings that tend to cost less than what you’d pay in cash.
The card’s strength lies in its yearly travel credit, which is the highest of all the cards in the chart, its APR (second lowest) and its annual fee, which is lower than all other cards and $150 lower than the Platinum Card from American Express.
The yearly travel credit you get has the double benefit of being the biggest on the chart, as well as being virtually unlimited in the range of travel purchases it includes. This is important because the Mastercard Black Card, for example, provides a credit that’s only good for air travel.
In general, we think the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is one of the better travel rewards cards but not one of the best. The differentiating factor, in our opinion, is the low yearly rewards and the lack of transfer partners.
Based on our research, we believe that the Altitude Reserve’s strength is that its fees are low and its travel credit is high. So, while other cards may have better yearly rewards, their higher annual fees reduce their value slightly. The Altitude Reserve doesn’t have that issue.
However, we believe its lack of transfer partners and its low annual rewards deal a blow to its value that the low APR and annual fee can’t reconcile. Also, the fact that you have to already have a U.S. Bank account in order to get the card is a drawback for those used to getting a card regardless of your affiliation with the bank who issues it.
If you’re someone who is already a U.S. Bank customer and is looking for a luxury travel card with low fees, this is a great fit for you. You get to keep your account in-house and take advantage of a card that will ease the cost of travel through the 1.5x U.S. Bank-booking bonus, as well as the $325 yearly travel credit.
If you’d like to learn more about the top luxury cards, take a few minutes to read through our rankings of the best premium credit cards of 2019. We do a deep dive into each card’s characteristics and provide insight into which cards have the best yearly rewards, redemption options, perks and more.