Cash+ Update

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

In my recent post “Cash+ Experiments in Progress,” I described some experiments I had launched with my new US Bank Cash+ credit card.  In the comments of that post, readers pointed me to some helpful threads on FatWallet and SlickDeals.  Based on reading those threads and some personal experience so far, I can now give an interim update.

Verify that the cash back rate is 6.25% when redeeming rewards $100 at a time.

Interim answer: True, but with a catch

When you cash out your awards in $100 increments, US Bank promises to give you a $25 bonus. What I didn’t realize before is that the $25 bonus is delivered as a bank gift card.  It’s still a very useful perk, but not as great as getting cash or a statement credit. 

Interim findings are based on multiple posts from FatWallet and SlickDeals.

Verify that checking account bonuses stack with other bonuses for up to 9.375% cash back. 

Interim answer: False

US Bank has two checking accounts that offer an automatic rewards bonus for Cash+ and FlexPerks cardholders. The Gold account offers a 25% monthly bonus, and the Platinum account offers a 50% monthly bonus.  You can find the checking account signup offers here.  In my last post I speculated that if these bonuses stack with the $25 bonus for each $100 withdrawn, then you can increase your 5% return to 7.8% or 9.375%, respectively! However, reports from FatWallet and SlickDeals assert that the 25% and 50% bonuses are on the 1% base rewards, not on the bonus category rewards.  If that’s true, then you can only increase your 5% return to 6.5625% or 6.875% depending on which account you get.

Interim findings are based on multiple posts from FatWallet and SlickDeals.

Platinum Checking Package

In order to get the 50% bonus on cash rewards, I signed up for Platinum Checking Package, which is a combination of a checking account and money market.  In the process, I discovered two nice bonuses: 1) I was able to fund the accounts up to $500 with a credit card; and 2) I don’t need to deposit $25K to get fees waived…

Upon sign-up, I was prompted to fund the checking account and money market and was given the option of using a credit card.  I used my Target Amex and put $300 into one account and $200 into the other.  It’s possible that some credit cards would treat this as a cash advance and charge a fee, but American Express prepaid cards do not.  This was a nice way to cash out $500 from that card!

Regarding fees, the signup page for the Platinum Checking Package says that monthly fees can be waived with “$25,000 in combined personal deposit, investment and/or credit balances.”  That sounded like a big hurdle to me until a US Bank rep told me that my combined credit limit across US Bank credit cards is more than $25,000, so my fees will be automatically waived.  I didn’t realize that “credit limit” was what they meant by “and/or credit balances”.  I sent a secure message to US Bank to double check this and they confirmed the same answer.  So, while getting an extra .25% cash back (over the Gold package) isn’t a big deal, it’s nice that one can qualify for that without having to maintain a large balance!

It’s also almost worth noting that the Platinum accounts accrue interest, but the current rates are so small that I almost didn’t bother mentioning it.

Check whether Kiva loans count as charity contributions

Interim answer: Yep.

See what counts as Department Store purchases

Thanks again to commenters from the earlier post, I learned about a great website that helps to figure out which stores count within different categories.  Please see “How to find bonus merchants“.  From this site, it is clear, for example, that Target will not count as a department store, but Kmart probably will.  I’ll do a test purchase at Kmart to confirm.

I also learned that information has been actively collected on SlickDeals already.  See this wiki page for details.  Most of the information on the Wiki so far relates to the Bill Pay and Electronics categories, but hopefully the list will grow over time.  One item about Department Stores struck me as odd: supposedly Sears counts as a department store, but Sears.com does not.  I find that hard to believe, so I’ll run my own experiment there.

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Comments

  1. What’s USBank’s policy regarding having 2 CC’s? I already have a flexperk card since 3+ years. I am considering getting this one.

    • Zz: That should be fine. I also have a flexperks card. I recently downgraded it to the free version so as to avoid the annual fee. They wouldn’t let me switch directly from flexperks to Cash+ though. I had to do a new application. Also note: I’ve read about a Facebook promotion in which you can get a sign-up bonus for the Cash+, but I think it may have expired. It’s worth Googling for it just in case.

  2. It might be better to hold off on opening a checking account. There have been reports on slickdeals and fatwallet of a $150 – $200 checking bonus that US Bank sends out to new customers who have one of their credit cards but not a checking account.

    • nep301: Great point. Thanks!

      MileageUpdate: Looking forward to the info

      gomike: Yes, I expect that would work. You could always ask US Bank to double check

      romsdeals: Yes. Subtract a bit to cover any Kiva losses. Note that Cash+ can change which categories are offered at any time, so Charities might not be an option every quarter.

  3. Not sure Kiva loans scale sufficiently to be an alternative investment option.

    Plus default rate is >1%, ‘refund rate’ is >1% and currency exchange risk in these third world countries could be significant. Per terms, you’ll bear losses above 10% threshold. Also, lack of macro reporting on loan delinquency is troubling. A delinquent loan has a high risk of defaulting.

    ‘Refunded loans’ is pretty ambiguous. Does that represent the total amount of funds ELIGIBLE for refund or funds actually recovered, remitted successfully to lenders? Imagine there ARE losses embedded somewhere in there, they’re just not particularly forthcoming. Refunded loans and Ended loans should be mutually exclusive, so the risks would be additive.

    If with their lackluster reporting you can expect 2.5% losses. Given that they’re taking your money for free and distributing it across a worldwide network of small scale affiliates I expect them to be pretty cagy and to not report all the facts…

  4. Just a comment on the Sears vs Sears.com

    I was targeted for a small promotion for my Barclays USAirways card that got me bonus points at department stores. Well, my purchases in store at my local Sears were coded as department stores, but the online purchases aren’t. I sent a secure message to them asking if it would qualify anyway since it is obviously a department store and they said no. Obviously, this could be different for USBank, but highly unlikely.

    • Brian: That’s very interesting. One reason I would find it very strange if they excluded Sears.com is that Sears is specifically listed in their example of department stores. If I don’t get credit I’ll see what happens if I call them on it.

      Visa MCC Code Rob: Thanks, good info.

  5. Alot of online sites code differently from their brick and mortar because at one point we use to order over the phone out of catalogs. Many merchants never switched MCC codes over. Remember the phone ordering and catalog business for department stores used to be owned subsidiaries of these companies. Not the same as the company itself. As always YMMV.

  6. @FM: There are two promotions going on @ Safeway.
    1. Buy $100 MasterCard get $10 coupon for next purchase at Safeway.
    2. Buy $150 of gift cards (includes Sears, Amazon but excludes Visa/MC) and get $25 off your next purchase of $50 of groceries.

    • Murtuza: Thanks, those sound like great promotions. I’ve stayed away from blogging about Safeway deals (which seem to come frequently) because I don’t have one nearby to try myself. I like to write about things I can verify as much as possible.

  7. @Murtuza: Where did you see this promo? I checked my store catalog for this week and didn’t see it. Was the promo in-store at the gift card rack or via newspaper insert? If you have purchased the gift cards, do the points count toward the 4x fuel rewards as well?

    Thanks for the tip.

  8. bill pays 5 % counts in payments to insurance (statefarm etc) is that huge ? most people have insurance on car(s), house on top of cables wireless internet and/or internet ( home) phone

  9. I have the USBank Cash+ card and just went online to check out the redemption options. There is option for getting a credit statement, transfer to a deposit account or get a US bank rewards visa card.

  10. B-Rad:

    Go to Safeway’s home page –> weekly specials –> type in your zip code in the search bar and select your store –> click on largest flyer/poster that shows up –> use the second from the top search box on the right and type in “gift cards”

    Now I need to figure out how to make best use of this:-)

  11. I am already a US Bank customer (checking account only). Will they do a “hard pull” for this card since it’s a credit card?

    Second, if I fund the first $500 with an AMEX DL card will it show as a purchase or a cash advance? I bought a few Vanilla Reloads & they posted as purchases.

    Thanks!

  12. “Cash+ and redeem at $100: 1.25% / 2.5% / 6.25%
    Cash+ and Gold Checking and redeem at $100: 1.5265% / 2.8125% / 6.5625%
    Cash+ and Platinum Checking and redeem at $100: 1.875% / 3.125% / 6.875%”

    should be 6.5625% with Gold and 6.875% with Platinum

  13. @FM: Do you have any experience with combined balances with other banks? I do not have a US bank credit card but I’d love to get benefits of my credit card limits for getting better Savings/ Checking accounts in other banks (Chase, Citibank).

  14. I see you meant Kiva Loans in the context of US Bank count in the charity contribution category, but not for IRS purposes. I was thinking because you eventually receive your money back (possibly not all), I don’t see how that is a charitable contribution.

    • Sun: I see what you mean. No, Kiva loans are definitely not counted as charitable contributions for IRS purposes. It is just that US Bank counts them as Charitable contributions for 5% back.

      JX: I have an email from US Bank confirming that my credit limit does count, but I won’t be surprised at all if I get hit with the monthly fee anyway. I’ll post about it once I know one way or another for certain.

  15. Thanks again for the great post.

    FYI –
    As for the Platinum package, I just called to ask for an upgrade from Gold as my combined limit is over 25K too. However, I was told that the 25K does not include credit card limit. I will need to transfer some money to my account to make it Platinum.

  16. Has anybody else had trouble finding a signup promo for the checking account? I can’t seem to find any working links for the recent bonuses that were offered as recently as 2 weeks ago ($200, $150, etc.)

    Thanks!

    Jason

  17. I was planning to get this card on my next cycle, but according to the U.S. Bank website, this card is currently only available in person at a branch.

    There are no U.S. Bank branches where I currently live, so this makes things challenging.

    Is the in-person application requirement new? I’m just wondering if they’ve tightened the reigns on this.

  18. I’ve found that the $25 GCs are good to use at Target for paying for prescriptions, since the Target Redcard debit doesn’t give you 5% back on those. The prescription still counts as one of the five towards a 5% storewide coupon.

  19. Got this clarification from customer support.

    Thank you for using U.S. Bank’s online services to contact us.

    We can certainly clarify the requirements of the Platinum Checking Package. The combined balance requirement means you must have on deposit, or owe, U.S. Bank at least $25,000.00 across all of your accounts to have the monthly maintenance fee waived for this account type. Having available credit limits that exceed $25,000.00 will not waive the fee.

    Again, thank you for contacting U.S. Bank via email. Please let us know if we can assist you with anything else.

    Sincerely,

    Kelli Doyle
    Email Operations
    U.S. Bank 24-Hour Banking and Financial Sales

    • Will Wong: That’s so strange. The email clarification I got was very different and confirmed my understanding. I also still have not been charged a fee in all this time. I only have $500 in my accounts.

  20. Update: A fee for my Platinum checking account showed up on my latest statement. When I called and explained that multiple reps had previously told me there would be no fee, they reversed the fee, but said that I would be charged in the future. So, I switched to a Gold account and will fund it to $2500. I’ll cancel that too if they remove the checking bonuses..

    Amol: I don’t know. Sounds like more of a devaluation…

  21. Interesting. I am actually opening a US Bank Gold checking account right now (was at Walmart filling up Bluebird and saw a $175 bonus for opening a Checking + Savings, so figured might as well).

    I manufacture a lot of spend on my FlexPerks, so even a .25-point bonus is welcome, even if just for 6 months before my AF is due.

  22. Quick question, when did you open your Checking Account in relation to your Cash+ card? I’ve had FlexPerks for about 6 months now and just opened my checking account, and want to see when my .25-point bonus will kick in.

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