October 5, 2012
I don’t usually get excited about cash back credit cards. I prefer to earn points and miles that can be used for first class travel around the world. No matter how much cash I earn from credit cards, I can’t imagine ever spending $10,000 or more for an international first class flight, but I’ll gladly spend 135K miles or more. That being said, cash is the right solution for most other things, so if a credit card company wants to give me lots of money, I’ll take it.
Several months ago, U.S. Bank launched their Cash+ Visa Signature Card. Let’s look at its benefits:
- Earn 5% cash back on two categories that you choose, like department stores, restaurants…plus many more.
- Earn 2% cash back on gas, groceries or drug stores – choose one.
- Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
- Get a $25 Cash+ Bonus each time you redeem $100 or more cash back in a single redemption.
- No Annual Fee
2X and 5X Categories
Similar to the Chase Freedom and Discover cards, each quarter you’re required to enroll in bonus categories. Unlike either of those cards, though, the Cash+ lets you pick your own categories! As you can see below, you are allowed to pick one 2X category, and two 5X categories. For 2X you can choose gas stations, grocery stores, or drug stores. For the 5X categories there are many more options including department stores, restaurants, charities, etc. These categories may change in the future, but I’ve been told that they have held steady for two quarters now.
Unlike the Freedom and Discover cards that cap 5X categories to $1500 in spend per quarter, the Cash+ has no caps or limits!
For each $100 or more in points that you redeem, U.S. Bank will throw in a $25 bonus. This means that if you redeem points for cash in $100 increments (and you should!), you’ll earn 25% more cash. By doing so, 5X categories equate to 6.25% cash back, 2X categories equate to 2.5% cash back, and everything else becomes 1.25% cash back. Not bad!
No Annual Fee and Visa Acceptance
Arguably, the best rival cash back card is the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card which offers 6% cash back at supermarkets, and 3% cash back at gas stations and department stores. However, the Amex comes with a $75 annual fee and is not accepted in as many places as a Visa card. If you spend a lot at grocery stores and gas stations, I’d still recommend the Amex, but there would be no harm in getting both cards. Use the Amex for groceries and gas. Use the Cash+ elsewhere.
Taking it Further
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know what I’m thinking. How can we leverage the 5X categories to earn 5X everywhere? As a start, I know that my local Sears (which is classified as a department store) sells merchant gift cards including BP cards. So, right there, that’s a quick and easy way to earn 5X (6.25% cash back) on gas! Even better, go through an online cash back or points earning portal to Sears and use the Cash+ card to buy Sears gift cards. Then, go through the portal again to use the gift cards for merchandise, or go to Sears to use the gift cards to buy BP and other merchant gift cards. The possibilities are endless. I don’t have this card yet, but once I do it will be fun to conduct experiments like these within various categories.
What’s not to like
The card offers no signup bonus. Also, I’m not thrilled that you’re required to signup for bonus categories each quarter. However, those are small nits. Overall, this card appears to be a winner.
Hat Tip to Readers
I keep receiving emails and comments from readers about this card. I’ve had this on my to-do list for quite a while, but it took two recent comments for me to finally give this card a proper look.
For example, on Wednesday, MAC wrote:
One card IMO worth getting right now is the US BANK Cash+ card. You pick categories quarterly. One 2% category and 2 5% categories. Right now, I have Hotel and Bill Pay as the 5% categories. Airlines is another 5% category. Bill Pay includes satellite/cable/phone/electric/gas but also includes insurance when paid via their cc. You need to repick categories every quarter and they are subject to change but the choices have not changed since the card came out around June 2012. They used to have a $50 signup bonus via FB but not sure if it is still available.
And, on the same day, RestlessLocationSyndrome wrote:
The US Bank Cash+ Visa card will give up to 6.25% cash back. They give purchases from their 5% cash back category but when $100 in cash back is requested, they give an additional $25 bonus in cash back.
You’re right guys, this card is worth a look!