About U.S. Bank Business Leverage Credit Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Sep 27, 2018

The Business Leverage Visa Signature is U.S. Bank’s newest business credit card, providing powerful cash rewards and a first-year rewards match that can provide up to $1,000 in cash back.

What makes the card unique is that it combines a flat cash-back rate of 1%, a 2% bonus on certain purchases and the ability to earn rewards not only payments you make but payments you process, too.

In a press release from U.S. Bank, the company said they added the card to their business credit card after consulting with small business owners who offered their ideas for the ideal business rewards card.

“We took a customer-centered approach and built this as a business card from the ground up, completely rethinking how businesses are rewarded,” a U.S. Bank executive was quoted as saying in the press release. “Plus, we give them business-sized spending power so they can use this card on their larger purchases, wherever Visa credit cards are accepted.”

In this review, we’re going to give you our analysis of the card’s rewards structure, talk about some of its benefits, then review its rates and fees.

After that, we’ll compare this card to other business cards so you can get a sense of how its rewards potential and rates/fees fare in the context of the competition.

At the end of our review, we provide a summary of the U.S. Bank Business Leverage card’s pros and cons.

The U.S. Bank Business Leverage Visa Signature Card’s Rewards

As we mentioned in the beginning of this review, the Leverage card has a powerful rewards structure. For most business cards, you get a cash bonus up front if you can spend between $3,000 and $5,000 in the first three months, along with rewards on most of your spending.

The U.S. Bank card differs from the other cards in that you get two rewards rates for purchases, a first-year match on your rewards and the opportunity to earn rewards on payments you process.

Rewards on Purchases

The Leverage’s rewards bonuses come in two forms: 2% on the two categories in which you spend the most money and 1% on everything else, excluding credit card fees, interest payments and similar charges.

Thankfully, you don’t have to tell U.S. Bank the two categories in which you spent the most. In fact, you don’t have to keep track of anything.

U.S. Bank classifies “categories” by the merchant code assigned to a transaction. For example, if you spend money at a gas station, the business most likely has a gas station code.

U.S. bank has a list of 48 different categories they track to figure out in which two you spend the most money. Some of the more pertinent categories are:

  • Office supply and stationery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Publishers and printers
  • Postal and courier service providers
  • Cable, satellite, TV and radio providers
  • Advertising firms
  • Commercial equipment
  • Construction material suppliers
  • Freight and transport services
  • Gas stations and fuel dealers

It’s really hard for us to estimate how much you’d spend in each of these categories. Our general rule of thumb is that businesses can spend around $30,000 a year on their card. Now, if you spend $3,000 a year in each bonus category, we believe your yearly rewards total could hover around $360.

In your first year, U.S. Bank will match the rewards you earn, so that $360 will actually be $720. The Discover it Business offers the same first-year match. The main difference is that the Leverage card’s fine print says your rewards match is added to your statement each month, whereas Discover gives you the bonus in a lump sum after your first year of being a customer.

Rewards on Payment Processing

U.S. Bank has a program called Encore Relationships Rewards that provides cash bonuses when you process your business’ customer payments through U.S. Bank.

According to their Encore page, you’ll earn $1 in rewards for every $2,000 in customer purchases you process, with a cap of $2,880 in rewards each year.

However, in order to capture these rewards, you’ll have to sign up for U.S. Bank payment processing. Their Encore page details the cost of using their payment processing terminal:

  • 2.65% fee and $0.19 for every card swipe
  • 3.5% fee and $0.19 for every keyed transaction
  • $10 monthly fee
  • Mobile payment processor is free
  • Terminal payment processor is $399

As a point of comparison, Square offers free swipe payment systems that charge 2.75% per transaction, which ends up being more expensive once transactions hit $200.

Benefits

Like most business credit cards, the Leverage gives you the ability to add employee cards to your account and track spending. The rewards your employees earn with the cards they use go to your account.

The card also comes with Visa-related benefits like purchase protection, rental car insurance and extended warranties. Each of these benefits applies only to things you buy with your leverage card and they have their own set of restrictions and limitations.

To learn more about them, read through the guide to benefits you get when U.S. Bank sends you your card.

Rates and Fees

The main way you can undercut the rewards you earn with this card is by not paying off your balance in full every month or paying late. Carrying a balance incurs interest payments that, over the course of one year, could exceed the cash rewards you earn from the card.

Here’s a quick list of the rates and fees of the Leverage card at the time of publishing:

  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 18.74%
  • Cash advance APR: 25.74%
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $0 first year, $95 after
  • Cash advance/balance transfer fee: 3% or 5%
  • Late/returned payment fee: $39

The main thing you need to remember as it pertains to rates and fees is that this card has a penalty APR. According to the fine print, your penalty APR will kick in when any one of the following four things happen:

  • You’re more than five days late on your payment twice in any 12-month period
  • You’re more than 30 days late once
  • Your payment is returned
  • You exceed your card’s credit limit twice in a 12-month period

This penalty APR stays on your account until you can make six consecutive on-time payments and not exceed your credit limit during that time.

The final point we’d like to highlight is that, if you sign-up for a balance transfer while you’re doing your application for the Leverage, you will pay a 5% fee for that transfer. Any transfers you make after you’re approved for the card have a fee of 3%.

How the U.S. Bank Business Leverage Visa Signature Compares to Other Business Cards

The following table includes data about the Leverage card and four other business credit cards:

U.S. Bank Leverage Discover it Business Chase Ink Business Unlimited Wells Fargo Business Platinum American Express SimplyCash Plus
Yearly rewards $360 $450 $450 $450 $367
Sign-up bonus $360 $450 $500 $500 $0
0% APR None 12 12 9 9
APR 18.74% 14.74% - 24.74% 14.99% - 20.99% 12.99% - 22.99% 13.99% - 20.99%
J.D. Power satisfaction rankings 3 circles 5 circles 3 circles 3 circles 5 circles

Based on our research of the cards in this table, we believe that the U.S. Bank card is a bit of a wild card because of several factors.

First, while its rewards rate on yearly rewards is lower than the other four cards in the table, how much you earn every year depends on how much you spend in certain categories and if you choose to allow U.S. Bank to process your payments.

If, for example, you spend $5,000 in two different categories, your yearly rewards are $400. If you process $100,000 in payments, then that rewards total goes up to $500, making this the best rewards card in the above group.

Keep in mind that the numbers we included above are based on $30,000 in spending and, for the Leverage, the rewards total includes $2,000 in the 2% bonus categories.

In terms of sign-up bonuses, we think that the Chase Ink Business Unlimited is the best choice simply because it sign-up bonus is bigger than everyone else’s. The only situation in which the Leverage would be the better choice would be if you’re spending at least $50,000 a year on the card, in which case your rewards would exceed $500.

As far as APR goes, U.S. Bank gives you the luxury of a single APR. So, whether your credit is good or bad won’t have a bearing on your APR. The other cards in the table have a range of APR’s, with the highest rates going to those with the lowest credit scores.

If APR is your top concern and you have credit scores above 700, then a card like the American Express SimplyCash or the Wells Fargo Business Platinum would be a better fit.

We based the final category, customer service, on the 2018 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study. According to their rankings, which are based on the experiences of actual customers, U.S. Bank was #8 out of 11 national credit card issuers.

J.D. Power assigned U.S. Bank three circles, which, according to a press release from the firm, indicates that the company’s customer service is “about average”.

Discover was #1 and American Express was #2; they both have finished in the top two for the past four years.

Bottom Line – Is This Card The Right Choice For You?

Based on our research of this credit card, we believe its greatest strength is that you have three different ways to earn rewards: 2% on two bonus categories, 1% on everything else and rewards from the Encore Relationship Rewards program.

We believe the card’s greatest weakness is that it’s not a great choice for those who don’t spend a lot of money in the bonus categories. If that’s you, then your rewards total will rely on the 1% rewards rate, a rate that will reap 30% lower rewards than what you’d get with the Discover it Business and the Chase Ink Business Unlimited.

In general, we think this card is a great fit for someone who can spend at least $40,000 a year and who uses U.S. Bank to process their customer payments because doing so will earn you more rewards per year than the cards we compared earlier in this review.

We also think that this card would be a good fit for a construction business that wants to maximize the rewards they earn from their equipment and material purchases, as two of the Leverage’s bonus categories are commercial equipment and construction material suppliers.

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