U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Credit Card review: an underrated but not understated luxe travel card
While not as recognizable as other premium travel cards, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite holds its own in the category.
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U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Credit Card Overview
The *U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Credit Card competes in the luxury card category by offering a string of elite benefits as well as an exclusive custom-engraved metal card. The 50,000-point welcome offer adds another layer of interest to this card. There’s a strong focus on mobile wallet apps, too, and linking the card to these apps could earn cardholders 3x points per dollar.
If you’re considering this card, take a close look at areas where it falls short compared to other cards. For example, getting only four free airport lounge visits a year might not be enough for frequent travelers, especially when some cards offer unlimited lounge access. The card issuer also took away the 3X points you could earn on dining and takeout in previous years while some competitors have extended a comparable benefit.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Only four complimentary visits to airport lounges in the Priority Pass network.
- On top of the $400 annual fee, you will be charged $75 for additional users
- Not very rewarding outside of direct travel purchases
A deeper look at the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked in the Altitude Rewards Center; 3x points on eligible mobile wallet spending and travel purchases
- Welcome offer: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,500 on eligible purchases within the first 90 days.
- Annual fee: $400
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 16.24 percent
Current sign-up bonus
There’s a one-time 50,000-point bonus offer available to cardholders who meet a few criteria. After card approval, cardholders must make eligible purchases totaling $4,500 within the first 90 days. If there are credits or returns, these are deducted from the net amount. It takes one to two billing cycles for the points to be credited to the account. According to U.S. Bank, 50,000 bonus points are worth $750 on travel, which makes it a decent offer.
Earning rewards with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve credit card is straightforward, especially for cardholders who make use of mobile payment apps and travel.
How you earn
Cardholders can earn 5x points on prepaid hotel stays and car rentals booked through the Altitude Rewards Center. If you link your card to mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay or LG Pay, you earn 3x points on your eligible purchases. You’ll also get 3x per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases.
How to redeem
Customers can redeem their points as statement credits to offset purchases. Travel must be purchased directly from airlines, hotels, car rental companies and other qualifying vendors to apply. Keep in mind you need at least 5,000 points to redeem a statement credit.
How much are points worth?
According to U.S. Bank, the 50,000 bonus points that customers can earn at sign-up are worth $750 on travel, setting the point value at 1.5 cents per dollar. Unlike other rewards programs, this value doesn’t change depending on how you redeem your points, which keeps the redemption process simple.
Key cardholder perks
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card has many competitive benefits you’ll find with other premium travel credit cards, making it an underrated player in the space.
Annual travel credits
Cardholders receive an annual $325 credit to offset eligible travel purchases. You can also receive up to $100 as a statement credit to reimburse application fees for TSA Precheck or Global Entry every four years. This is handy for frequent travelers who use these programs.
Complimentary lounge access and Wi-Fi
This card comes with 12 complimentary Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes per year.
You’ll also get a limited 12-month Priority Pass Select membership, which includes access to more than 1,300 VIP lounges around the world. It’s a great travel perk; however, cardholders receive only four free visits per year and four accompanying guest visits. You have to cover the cost for any additional visits.
TSA Precheck or Global Entry
Cardholders enjoy up to $100 statement credit to reimburse their application fees every four years.
Travelers who frequent Relais and Châteaux properties will have access to special privileges (a VIP welcome and complimentary breakfast) on eligible stays booked with your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve credit card. Cardholders may also be eligible for up to 30 percent off Silvercar rentals and access to the Visa Infinite Concierge.
No foreign transaction fees
Traveling is a lot less stressful when you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. This also applies to online purchases through foreign merchants.
At home or away, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card protects cardholders with fraud monitoring, warranty service, rental car protection and emergency evacuation and transportation coverage. You also receive access to ID Navigator by Norton LifeLock, which includes a range of tools to help warn you about any threats that may affect your identity. The service even searches any sales of your personal information on the dark web.
Rates and fees
The Altitude Reserve has an APR rate of 19.99 to 26.99 percent, variable. This is a standard interest rate for premium travel cards, so be mindful about carrying a balance on this card.
For balance transfers and convenience checks, there’s a 3 percent or $5 minimum fee, whichever is higher. For cash advances, you’ll be charged a 5 percent or $10 minimum fee, whichever is higher.
Balance transfers carry a variable APR of 19.99 percent to 26.99 percent, while cash advances carry a variable APR of 28.99 percent. Late and returned payments fees are up to $41.
On the bright side, there’s no fees on foreign transactions or overdraft protection, and there’s no penalty APR. If you use the ExtendPay feature, the monthly fee will not exceed 1.6 percent of the original principal amount.
The annual fee of the card is $400, which is a bit lower than other cards in this category. It also carries a charge of $75 for each additional card issued.
How the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card compares to other luxury credit cards
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve shares many of the features and benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige® Credit Card. All three cards offer great bonus points (though both Citi and Chase have transferable points that can help you get even more value out of your sign-up bonus). Like those cards, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve offers an appealing bonus on travel purchases.
US Bank Altitude Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is considered one of the big 3 premium travel cards, on par with the American Express Platinum card and Capital One Venture X. With a rewards rate up to 10X points when you use Chase Ultimate Rewards, earning rewards is easy for any frequent traveler holding this card. Its welcome bonus is also worth up to $900 (earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening), more than the Altitude’s welcome bonus of $750, based on Bankrate’s valuations.
That said, luxury perks are to be expected for the Sapphire Reserve’s hefty $550 annual fee, which is $150 higher than the Altitude Reserve’s. Bankrate values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents a piece, but that high valuation is based on transferring the points to Chase’s top transfer partners. The baseline point value without transfer partners is only 1.25 cents, while the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve’s value stays at 1.5 cents per point.
US Bank Altitude Reserve vs Citi Prestige Credit Card
Like the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, the Citi Prestige is for the all-around traveler. Whether going for a 14-hour flight or sailing across the seas, the Prestige is rewarding with 5X points earned on flights and restaurants and 3X points earned on cruises and hotels. You receive up to $250 in travel credits that can cover a range of travel expenses including travel agencies, ferries, flights, taxis and more. It also has lower APR at 16.99 to 23.99 percent (variable), versus the Altitude Reserve’s rate of 19.99 t0 26.99 percent (variable).
However, the Citi Prestige comes with a high annual fee of $495. Considering the lower bonus value and travel credit, this jump in price may not be justified.
Citi’s “basic” ThankYou points system can complicate point values and redemption options. If you prefer more straightforward rewards over versatility, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve may be a better choice.
Best cards to pair with U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card
A card that would act as a great companion to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is the Hilton Honors Card American Express Surpass® Card. There is an annual fee of $95, and new cardmembers can earn up to 130,000 in Hilton Honors bonus points after they spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months.
In addition to a relatively low annual fee, this card is a great companion because it includes a more generous Priority Pass membership. You can also transfer your Hilton points to airline partners, giving you more ways to turn your travel purchases into future trips.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card worth it?
This is a great card for the frequent traveler, especially since it focuses on more than just flights and airport comforts. While the $400 annual fee can be steep, the benefits, including the $325 annual travel credits and 3X points on travel purchases and mobile wallet purchases, quickly make up for it. As long as you don’t mind booking prepaid hotels and car rentals through the Altitude Rewards Center, earning rewards on your next trip is easy.
*The information about U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.