Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card review

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Snapshot

3.9

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

Despite an absence of first-year offers, its top-of-the-line cash back stands to accrue more long-term value for convenience-minded cardholders than competing flat-rate cards. Its minimal fees and maximal rewards can be easily reaped and redeemed for those needing a catch-all card experience, as long as they don’t mind maintaining a relatively low savings cache in an Alliant Credit Union checking account.

Alliant Credit Union Image

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Rewards rate

2.5%–3%

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

12.24% - 22.24% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent  (740 - 850)

Citi is a Bankrate advertising partner

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card Overview

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is ideal for Alliant Credit Union members who do a lot of spending that isn’t specific to certain bonus categories and want streamlined rewards in return. The maximum 2.5 percent cash back rate (on up to $10,000 in qualifying purchases per billing cycle, then 1.5 percent back) is one of the highest flat rates available on a cash back credit card, and the card’s cash back limit may as well be unlimited for most cardholders.

Previously, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card posed a $99 annual fee ($0 for the first year), but one of the card’s updates last year removed the fee in exchange for a few other caveats. Notably, in order to earn the 2.5 percent “Tier One Rewards” rate, you need to have an Alliant High-Rate Checking account with an average daily balance of at least $1,000 throughout the previous quarter. Otherwise, you earn a “Tier Two Rewards” 1.5 percent cash back rate on all purchases—a middle-of-the-road cash back rate for a flat-rate card.

This new structure is a better deal for many cardholders in the long run since you’ll only need to keep $1,000 in your account on average and you won’t have to spend a certain amount to recoup an annual fee (previously, offsetting the $99 required a minimum spend of $3,960 per year).

And while the card’s lack of intro APR and sign-up bonus offers make its first-year value lackluster compared to other no annual fee cards, its rewards rate and minimal costs provide stellar long-term value. For big spenders and minimalists with excellent credit, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature is one of the best cash back options you’ll find.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • One of the highest cash back rates on the market
  • No annual fee
  • Low ongoing interest rate
  • No foreign transaction fees or over limit fees, plus a low late payment fee of up to $27 (25.24 percent penalty APR may apply)

Cons

  • Must have an average daily account balance of $1,000 each month to qualify for the 2.5 percent rewards rate—otherwise, only earns 1.5 percent back
  • $50 minimum cash back redemption, plus a $10,000 spending limit per billing cycle for the 2.5 percent cash back rate (then 1.5 percent; although the spending limit won’t be an issue for most cardholders)
  • No cash sign-up bonus or intro APR offers available
  • Must be Alliant Credit Union member to qualify

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards Rate: 2.5 percent cash back on all purchases (on up to $10,000 in qualifying purchases each billing cycle, then 1.5 percent) with a qualifying Tier One Rewards status each quarter; otherwise, unlimited 1.5 percent cash back with Tier Two Rewards status
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase Intro APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 12.24 percent to 22.24 percent variable

Current welcome offer

While this card does not offer a specific incentive for new members, the long-term value offered by its extraordinarily high cash back rate may be more worthwhile for interested cardholders.

Compared to a 2% cash rewards flat-rate card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, the Alliant Cashback card will earn approximately $80 more cash back on a $15,900 estimated average yearly spend and a whopping $159 more than a 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back card like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card on the same spend. A typical no annual fee card’s $200 cash back sign-up bonus is more rewarding for the first two years, but the long-term rewards greatly outpace competing 2 percent cards after the third year—beating 1.5 percent cards after just the second year.

Other cash back rewards credit cards may seem more appealing due to their welcome bonuses, but it’s up to you to consider whether that one-time benefit is worth more than the longer-term earning of the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature’s high rewards rate.

Cash back

The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature is one of the best flat-rate cash back cards, meaning it earns rewards on all purchases at the same rate. That way, you don’t have to focus on making certain purchases to get the most rewards, like you would with a bonus category card.

However, you do have to make sure to keep your Tier One Rewards status or your rate will drop to 1.5 percent cash back until you uphold the Tier One requirements through an entire calendar quarter.

Earning cash back

Cardholders earn 2.5 percent cash back on qualifying purchases on up to $10,000 per billing cycle, which means the maximum cash back you can earn per cycle is $250 before reverting to 1.5 percent back.

Fortunately, you shouldn’t have to worry about this spending limit since it’s a great deal higher than what the average cardholder can expect to spend (153 percent higher than the approximately $1,325 average monthly spend, based on a $15,900 estimated yearly spend). If you’re an especially big spender, though, you might want to consider a charge card since they don’t have a preset spending limit, although boosted flat-rate rewards may be harder to come by.

However, you need to qualify for this rate by achieving “Tier One Rewards” status or you’ll earn 1.5 percent back on all purchases as a “Tier Two Rewards” rate. You can secure your 2.5 percent rate by maintaining an Alliant High-Rate Checking account and keeping an average daily balance of $1,000 or more each quarter. If your average daily balance dips, you’ll revert to Tier Two and earn 1.5 percent cash back until you regain the $1,000 daily average for a whole quarter. All things considered, this shouldn’t be an active concern if you have the required Alliant Credit Union account and good to excellent credit required to apply.

Purchases you make on the card through Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay can also earn cash back.

Redeeming cash back

Members need to earn a minimum of $50 in cash back before they can claim their rewards. You can redeem earnings as a statement credit or deposit them into your Alliant checking or savings account. Many comparable cards require half that minimum or allow you to redeem at any time, but the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature’s rewards rate also allows you to earn faster than you would with those cards.

Other rewards credit cards may offer different options for redeeming your rewards, such as gift cards, discounts or travel benefits. If those may be of more interest to you than just cash back, there may be a better option for you.

Any cash back you’ve earned is valid for four calendar years before expiring on your December cycle date. For example, any cash back that you earn in 2022 will expire in December 2026. Redeeming for a direct deposit will also get you your cash back faster than opting for a statement credit (up to five days later versus up to two whole billing cycles afterward) since Alliant seems keen on cardholders using their credit union checking account.

How much are the rewards worth?

Like other cash back programs, the cash rewards you redeem have a 1:1 value—meaning you’ll get 2.5 cents back per dollar spent at the 2.5 percent Tier One Rewards rate and 1.5 cents back likewise for the 1.5 percent rate.

Benefits

The major pull of this card is definitely the high rewards rate, but it also offers a few other benefits to round out its worthiness for your wallet. Although the card’s terms don’t state you’ll receive earn high-end Visa Signature perks like trip delay reimbursement or trip cancellation/trip interruption reimbursement, you’ll receive standard purchase protections and travel securities.

Visa Signature perks

Not every sought-after Visa Signature benefit is offered with the Alliant Cashback card—it doesn’t come with lost luggage reimbursement, airline incidental fees rebates and etc.—but it does line your card with must-have purchase and travel protections.

Your eligible purchases will be protected with 90-day purchase security and up to one year of extended warranty coverage, along with travel staples like travel accident insurance, 24/7 pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Of course, your account will also be protected with typical account safeguards against identity thieves like $0 fraud liability and up to $5,000 reimbursement from its Personal Identity Theft protection.

The majority of popular rewards cards with no annual fee you’ll find will carry most or all of these features, and their terms are pretty standard on the Alliant Cashback card as well. Still, these benefits can be generous compared to the barebones perks you’ll get with many other credit union cards (a low interest rate is usually the only defining feature) and are bound to come in handy for most cardholders.

Debt protection plan

Alliant also offers an optional debt protection plan in the case of death, disability or involuntary unemployment, which may cancel three to 12 potential payments or up to $100,000 in debt based on the eligible event. Coverage imposes a monthly cost of up to $1.99 per $1,000 of your outstanding balance.

This isn’t a common perk among most credit cards, and they may lean toward “predatory” depending on the product. Credit One Bank is one of the few issuers carrying this feature, and although the Alliant Credit Union’s protection plan is a better offer, considering another debt management option may be more cost-effective and helpful in a pinch.

Rates and Fees

Compared to the last version of the card that charged a $99 annual fee after the first year, the new-and-improved Alliant Cashback Visa Signature is a remarkably low-cost card for the fantastic rewards rate. There are no annual fees, over limit fees or foreign transaction fees to chomp into your cash back, and the up to $27 late payment and returned payment fees are below average as well (usually up to $40, but the penalty APR isn’t waived and poses a 25.24 percent rate). What’s more, the 12.24 percent to 22.24 percent (variable) APR can be far enough below the current average interest rate to be a genuine low-interest credit card.

If you’re looking to move your accounts to the Alliant Credit Union for this card, keep in mind that there is a 3 percent balance transfer fee but no 0 percent intro APR offers to stave off interest, so we wouldn’t recommend transferring your balance to this card.

How the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card compares to other cash rewards cards

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Not only is the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card one of the few unlimited 2 percent cash rewards flat-rate cards, but it also offers a better all-around value than the Alliant Cashback card can. The Active Cash card doesn’t pose a spending limit on your cash rewards—making it a better fit for extraordinarily big spenders—and offers Visa Signature perks to boot, on top of Wells Fargo’s staple cellphone protection (up to $600 per eligible claim when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card, up to $1,200 in yearly coverage minus a $25 deductible).

Although our estimated $15,900 yearly spend makes the Alliant Cashback more rewarding in the long run (netting a $398 yearly rewards average versus the Active Cash card’s $318 yearly average), the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has much more upfront appeal. It doesn’t pose any of the Alliant credit union’s eligibility and account maintenance hoops to keep your 2 percent cash rewards flat rate, and it offers a full platter of welcome offers, including a $200 cash rewards bonus (after spending $1,000 in purchases during the first three months) and a 15-month 0 percent intro APR for both purchases and qualifying balance transfers from account opening (transfers must be made within 120 days and incur an introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5.). These factors make it a much better option if you’re looking to switch to a new card, plus the Active Cash card’s ongoing 17.99 percent, 22.99 percent, or 27.99 percent (variable) APR isn’t much higher. Besides, carrying a balance on a rewards card isn’t advisable anyway since it swallows any potential rewards, so this rate difference shouldn’t impact your decision too much.

If you have a sizable balance to whittle down, however, the Citi® Double Cash Card may be a wiser choice. Its unlimited up to 2 percent cash back (1 percent at purchase, plus another 1 percent upon payment) also comes with no annual fee, but it grants a longer 18-month break from interest with its 0 percent intro balance transfer APR (must be within the first four months; 3 percent balance transfer fee or $5, whichever is greater) at the cost of an intro purchase APR (then 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent).

However, perhaps the only flat-rate card that may surpass the Alliant Cashback’s rewards is the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card. It only offers 1.5 percent cash back at first, but with at least a $100,000 three-month average balance across your Bank of America accounts, you can boost your rate to unlimited 2.62 percent cash back on all purchases via the Preferred Rewards program. Granted, the Alliant Cashback is likely much more accessible since it requires 100 times less saved up in your account for only a slightly lower maximum cash back rate, but the Unlimited Cash card is a noteworthy alternative if you have the resources.

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Speaking of a stronger all-around value, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card’s standard 1.5 percent flat cash back rate rises through the ranks because of its additional reward categories, strong welcome offer, issuer pairing opportunities and 15-month 0 percent intro purchase and balance transfer APR periods (then 17.24 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR)—all for no annual fee.

On top of your boosted flat-rate rewards, you can earn unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining and drugstore purchases plus 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and on Lyft purchases (Lyft offer through March 2022). This vaults your average yearly rewards value (based on an estimated yearly $15,900 spending average and Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent spending data) to about $353 cash back—weighing in under the Alliant Cashback’s $398 yearly cash back on the same budget. However, the Freedom Unlimited gets a leg up if you plan to pair it with premium Chase travel cards. Chase cards are notable for their stellar pairing potential, and redeeming the rewards you earn with the Freedom Unlimited through the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, will net you a 50 percent rewards value bump toward Chase Ultimate Rewards travel for up to about $530 in annual rewards on average.

Travelers will also enjoy the Freedom Unlimited’s richer perks, which include top-tier travel insurance features that generally aren’t found on no-annual-fee cards, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Ultimately, the Freedom Unlimited is a stronger card if your idea of long-term value includes well-rounded features and future-proofed card pairing possibilities. Besides, the Freedom Unlimited’s current welcome offer through Bankrate boosts your first year’s cash back by an extra 1.5 percent (on up to $20,000 in combined purchases), meaning the extra up to $300 can make the Freedom Unlimited a better cash back value than the Alliant card until most of the way through the fourth year with the card.

Alliant Credit Union Image

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

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3.9

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

2.5%–3%

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)
Wells Fargo Image

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200 cash rewards

Rewards rate

2%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Chase Image

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back

Rewards rate

1.5%–5%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Best cards to pair with the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card

Combining cards is great not only for getting you the most benefits and meeting all of your needs, but it also obliges each card’s individual shortcomings. You can maximize your flat-rate cash back card by pairing it with rewards cards with higher-rate bonus categories to cover those specific expenses.

A card like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is another excellent rock to lean on, raking in 5 percent cash back on a carousel of seasonal expenses with activated rotating 5 percent categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1 percent back). You’ll also be able to rely on the Freedom Flex for unlimited cash back with its permanent 3 percent dining and drugstore categories along with 5 percent Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and Lyft ride (Lyft offer through March 2022) categories. Plus, it offers a solid sign-up bonus and 15-month 0 percent intro purchase and balance transfer APR periods (then 17.24 percent to 25.99 percent variable) in case you’re trying to whittle down a balance before picking up an Alliant account.

It’s also worth considering a few other powerful bonus category cards depending on which everyday categories would earn you the most cash back. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card are both excellent options thanks to their wide-reaching category coverage as well.

Bankrate’s take—Is the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card worth it?

Although you’d have to join the Alliant Credit Union and maintain an eligible checking account, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card’s chart-topping rewards rate is well worth it if neither of those factors bother you.

It rakes in perhaps the highest flat-rate cash back of any card on the market—all with some of the lowest rates and fees you’ll find. Granted, there aren’t any intro APR or sign-up bonus offers and the Bank of America Unlimited Cash card potentially can slightly outpace it with no spending limit. if you have $100,000 lying around to stow away with Bank of America. However, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card’s $10,000 per billing cycle cap might as well be unlimited for most cardholders, and obtaining its 2.5 percent rate only takes keeping $1,000 in the bank compared to the $100,000 you’d need to sit on with Bank of America to reach the Unlimited Cash card’s up to 2.62 percent back.

Ultimately, the Alliant Cashback Visa offers one of the best cash back values available for those who have expenses that don’t fall under typical bonus categories (or expenses too big for category limits), need a general-use partner card to rely on or simply want streamlined rewards.

The information about the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions