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Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card review: The ultimate flat-rate card — with a few hurdles

It has one of the highest flat rates around and offers a chance at a low variable interest rate if you don’t mind the eligibility requirements and limited features.

 /  12 min
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Snapshot

3.9

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3.9 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The top-of-the-line cash back rewards offer more long-term value than competing flat-rate cards if you’re willing to join the Alliant Credit Union and maintain an eligible checking account.

Image of Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Rewards rate

1.5% - 2.5%
Info

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A
Info

Regular APR

15.24% – 25.24% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info

Citi is a Bankrate advertising partner

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card Overview

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card doesn’t get as much attention as other rewards cards despite offering one of the highest flat rates around. Eligible users earn a maximum 2.5 percent cash back rate (on up to $10,000 in qualifying purchases per billing cycle, then 1.5 percent back). On top of that, the card’s variable APR range (13.74 percent to 23.74 percent) beats out many of the best rewards cards, making it a good choice if you occasionally have to carry a balance.

Despite these top-of-the-line features, there are a few drawbacks that make the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card less appealing than other cards. The card lacks a sign-up bonus or intro APR offer, giving it lower short-term value compared to other no-annual-fee cards. Plus, this is a credit union rewards card, so you’ll have to join the Alliant Credit Union and open a savings account. You’ll also have to meet a few additional requirements to earn the card’s highest rate. This could be more work than you want to do, especially if you can qualify for another card that offers a great flat rate and comes with additional features.

Here’s what you need to know about the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card, including how it stacks up against some of the best rewards cards and the best alternatives if it’s not the right card for you.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    One of the highest cash back rates on the market

  • Checkmark

    No annual fee and low ongoing interest rate make it a good card to have if you can’t pay your balance in full each month

Cons

  • To qualify for the card and the best rate, you’ll have to meet numerous requirements — far more than you have to with a traditional credit card

  • $50 minimum cash back redemption makes it harder to redeem your rewards compared to cards with low or no redemption minimums

  • No cash sign-up bonus or intro APR offers available

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: 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable

Current welcome offer

Currently, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card has no welcome offer. While this card does not offer a specific incentive for new members, the long-term value offered by its cash back rate may be more worthwhile if you qualify for the card’s highest flat rate.

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. It will earn 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 Alliant Cashback card’s long-term rewards greatly outpace competing 2 percent cards after the third year. It beats 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 that one-time benefit may not be worth it compared to the long-term earning potential of the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card.

Cash back

Compared to bonus category cash back cards, you’ll have an easier time earning rewards with the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature. The card offers a flat rate on all purchases, without having to worry about tracking bonus categories.

The rate you earn depends on the tier you qualify for. To earn the maximum rewards rate, you have to be in Tier One, which is reserved for people who meet all of the following requirements:

  • Have an Alliant High-Rate Checking account
  • Opt in to receive e-statements
  • Have at least one electronic deposit posted to the account each month
  • Maintain an average daily balance of $1,000

Everyone else will be in Tier Two which earns a smaller rewards rate.

Earning cash back

Tier One 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 stepping down to 1.5 percent back.

That 2.5-percent rate is hard to beat, making the Alliant Cashback card one of the best flat-rate cash back cards around. And the spending cap is extremely generous. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spent $66,928 in 2021, or $5,577 per month. This includes expenses not typically paid for with a credit card, like housing. So many people will have no trouble staying under the $10,000 monthly spending cap.

If you don’t meet the minimum requirements to earn 2.5 percent cash back, Tier Two members earn 1.5 percent. This is still a great rate, and if you qualify for an APR near the low end of the card’s variable range, the Alliant card makes a better low-interest card than many of the other 1.5 percent cash back cards.

A low interest rate is essential, especially if you’re among the 60 percent of Americans who carry a balance for at least a year. If you can’t pay your balance off quickly, and you don’t take advantage of a credit card with an intro APR offer or a low ongoing interest rate, high interest charges can ruin your credit and push you further into debt.

But if you pay your balance in full each month, Tier Two of the Alliant card is likely not the best fit for you. Other flat-rate cash back cards offer more features and benefits compared to the Alliant Card, including sign-up bonuses worth hundreds of dollars and intro APR offers in case you want to carry a balance or pay off debt with no interest charges for a limited period of time. Plus, you won’t have to jump through so many hoops before you can start earning cash back: Just apply, get approved and wait for your card to show up in the mail.

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. You’ll also likely find more redemption options, like gift cards, discounts or travel benefits.

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. So you’ll get 2.5 cents back per dollar spent at the 2.5 percent rate ($25 for every $1,000 spent) and 1.5 cents back for the 1.5 percent rate ($15 for every $1,000 spent).

Benefits

The major pull of this card is the high rewards rate, but it also offers a few other benefits to help give it good long-term value.

Visa Signature perks

Not every sought-after Visa Signature perk is offered with the Alliant Cashback card. It doesn’t come with lost luggage reimbursement or airline incidental fees rebates. But it does add some must-have purchase and travel protections to your card.

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, such as $0 fraud liability and up to $5,000 reimbursement from its Personal Identity Theft protection.

These benefits are generous compared to the barebones perks you’ll get with many other cards and 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 is not a common perk found with most credit cards. This plan could cancel 3 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.

Rates and Fees

The Alliant Cashback card doesn’t have an intro APR offer, making this a poor choice if you’re looking for a promotional period to avoid interest charges while you pay off debt or purchases.

But 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 eat away at your cash back, and the up-to $27 late payment and returned payment fees are below average as well (usually up to $40).

Depending on the rate you qualify for, the card’s variable 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent APR can be far enough below the current average interest rate to be an amazing low-interest credit card.

If you make a late payment or make a payment that gets returned (such as due to having insufficient funds), you’ll get hit with a 26.74 penalty APR. Even if you make a late payment or have a returned check with another Alliant account, your Alliant Cashback card would get the penalty APR. If you are concerned about this, there are many cards, like the Wells Fargo Active Cash card, that don’t charge a penalty APR if you make a mistake.

The penalty APR will last until you make six on-time payments. This isn’t as long as some other cards, which set penalty APR to last for a year or longer. With the Citi Double Cash Card, Citi states the penalty APR may apply indefinitely, which isn’t reassuring.

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

Even though the Alliant Cashback card offers one of the best cash back rates around, and solid low-interest rates too, its limited features and eligibility requirements limit the card’s appeal. If you’re looking to maximize your rewards, you may also want a card that earns higher rewards in select bonus categories that match your everyday spending habits. If so, here are two alternatives to the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card.

Image of Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1.5% - 2.5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Image of Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200 cash rewards
Info

Rewards rate

2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
Info

Rewards rate

1.5% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card doesn’t match the Alliant card’s best cash back rate, but it’s one of the few unlimited 2 percent cash rewards flat-rate cards and could be a better fit if you’re a big spender or want a card with more perks. The Active Cash card doesn’t place a spending limit on your cash rewards, and it offers Visa Signature perks and 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 more upfront appeal. It doesn’t make cardholders jump through hoops, like the Alliant credit union’s eligibility and account maintenance requirements, to keep the 2 percent cash rewards flat rate.

The Active Cash card also offers a full platter of welcome offers, including a sign-up bonus. It also provides an intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers that gives you more than a year to pay off your debt. These factors could make it a much better option if you’re looking for a well-rounded, low-maintenance card that goes beyond a great rewards rate.

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

When it comes to all-around value, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a solid pick. The card has a standard 1.5 percent flat cash back rate and additional bonus cash back reward categories that offer higher rates. The card also has a strong welcome offer, issuer pairing opportunities and an intro purchase and balance transfer APR — all for no annual fee.

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. Plus, you’re able to pair it with premium Chase travel cards. Chase cards are notable for their stellar pairing potential. 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.

Ultimately, the Freedom Unlimited is a stronger card if your idea of long-term value includes well-rounded features and strong card pairing possibilities for travel rewards. 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). That’s an extra up to $300 in rewards, which could make the Freedom Unlimited a better cash back value than the Alliant card.

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

Combining cards is a great way to fix the shortcomings of each card and get you the best value. Pairing your Alliant card with a bonus-category cash back card lets you maximize your flat-rate cash back card while earning a higher rate bonus in popular categories.

A rotating category card like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ rakes 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). But the Freedom flex does more than just offer seasonal rewards. It also offers unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining and drugstore categories along with 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and Lyft rides(Lyft offer through March 2025).

Plus, it offers a solid sign-up bonus and 15-month 0 percent intro purchase and balance transfer APR periods (then 19.24 percent to 27.99 percent variable) in case you’re trying to whittle down a balance.

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 is a solid pick.

It rakes in perhaps the highest flat-rate cash back of any card on the market, and the $10,000 per billing cycle spending cap is so high that modest and budget spenders should have no problem with it.

If the limited features are too much of a drawback, you can pair the card with a rewards card that offsets these disadvantages and helps you maximize your 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

Written by
Robert Thorpe
Editor

Most recently before joining Bankrate.com, Robert worked as an editor and writer at The Ascent by The Motley Fool, covering a number of personal finance topics, including credit cards, mortgages and loans.

Edited by Credit Card Reviews Writer
Reviewed by Credit Cards Editor

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.