An awesome new “everywhere” card hits the scene

2 point 5 everywhereAlliant Credit Union has launched an exciting new credit card: Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card.  In the first year, Alliant waives the annual fee and offers 3% cash back for all purchases.  But, that’s not what makes this card exciting.  After all, we already get no annual fee, plus $30 in annual flight credits, plus 3% cash back first year from the Discover It Miles card.

The exciting thing about the Alliant card is that it offers a standard cash back rate of 2.5%. And because this card has no foreign transaction fees, it nets 2.5% cash back everywhere.  After the first year, Alliant charges a $59 annual fee.  If you spend $30,000 per year on this card, you’ll net a total of 2.3% cash back after accounting for the annual fee.  That’s still terrific.

As you can see in the image below, and as reported by Miles to Memories, the Alliant card will be available to everyone in April 2017.  Presumably “everyone” means “everyone in the United States who joins Alliant”.  Fortunately, it is easy to join Alliant: Donate at least $10 to Foster Care to Success.

Alliant Credit Card

Is this the right “everywhere” card for you?

I’ve added the Alliant card to my Best rewards for everyday spend page.  Out of the 11 cards shown with better than 2% annual returns, Alliant shows up at number 9.  In other words, 8 other cards seem to have better everyday earning power than the Alliant card.  That said, most of “better than 2%” cards earn travel rewards.  Only 3 cards on the list earn more than 2% cash back past the first year:

While the Marukai card earns amazing returns it is only available to residents of California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon or Washington.  Plus, it is not accepted everywhere (it runs on the Discover network, but even then supposedly can’t be used everywhere that Discover is accepted), and it does charge a 1.1% foreign transaction fee.  In other words, it’s a great cash back earning card, but can hardly be thought of as a true “everywhere” card.

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards card is a true no-fee 2.5% cash back card with no foreign transaction fees.  If you want cash back and you can get this card, do so.  The problem is that the card is only available to USAA members.  According to Doctor of Credit, to become a member you or your spouse must serve or have served in the military, be an officer candidate in commissioning programs, be an adult whose eligible parents have or had a USAA auto or property insurance product, or be a widows or widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.

If you prefer travel rewards over cash back, there are several options that arguably offer better rewards than the Alliant card:

  • Amtrak cards offer 2.9% and 2.64% (after accounting for the annual fee) rewards towards Amtrak trips.  This is worthwhile only for those who travel Amtrak often and on routes where they can truly get 2.9% value per point (Many routes / times offer lesser value).
  • BankAmericard Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards offers 2.63% rewards that can be used towards any travel purchases.  The catch?  The Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards program requires $100K or more invested in BOA and Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.
  • Various Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards combinations offer great value for either purchasing travel with points or for transferring points to airline and hotel programs.  Those who cherry pick the best value awards can often do far better by earning transferable points rather than a fixed cash back percentage.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) cards didn’t make the cut for my Best rewards for everyday spend page (due to the specific formulas I used to estimate reward value), but there’s no doubt that it’s possible to get far more than 2.5% value from spend with those cards if you use points for high value awards.

Summary

The Alliant card is worth getting if:

  1. You prefer cash back over travel rewards.
  2. You don’t want to bother with category bonuses.
  3. You do not qualify for the USAA Limitless 2.5% card.
  4. You do not qualify or don’t want the headaches associated with the Marukai card.
  5. You plan to spend more than $12,000 per year on the card (the point at which this card breaks even with a no fee 2% card) or you plan to spend a lot on the card internationally.

Hat Tip: Doctor of Credit

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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    • This is my concern with them also. I’m opting not to incur the hard pull + new cc account due to this, at least for now, since I’d be primarily MSing with it and it wouldn’t be hard to guess looking at transactions & volume.

      It remains to be seen from data points, but being they are conservative and they seem to monitor their presence online, including MS-related blogs (i.e. they reacted to a DoC post about a $50 checking promo really fast), my guess is they will shot down MSers.

  1. I wonder how many of us really prefer cash back over travel rewards. For people do decent amount of travel each year, even just a couple of vacation trips, I think it is no brained that 1.5 Chase UR points bring more value than 2.5 cents cash. That’s why I don’t bother with pure cash back cards anymore.

    • Apparently more than you probably think. Logically, why else would the market support so many cash back earning cards?

      You determine what is and isn’t of value. Every situation is different. Right now at this point in my life travel is just isn’t of interest to me. Not in the travel community sense at least. We prefer homeaway/VRBO type places and with two kids under 2 years age we vacation locally. Show me a to use my points miles for this and I’ll jump aboard. So yeah, I’d happily take 2.5% versus 1.5x UR. This may very well change in the future, who knows.

      As with any other niche community, the perception of how many do what they do is typically overstated because you’re around like minded people who share the same life desires/beliefs.

        • Last time I checked I follow the same blogs. Many have crossover with deals and cash back cards as well. Those that don’t, I don’t follow.

          If your question is how many of us travelers then yeah, you’re probably right in that this card won’t be for them (#1 bullet in the summary).

    • Last year I would have agreed but this year I’m moving to the cash back card USAA 2.5% unlimited/no fees for everyday spending. I was using the SPG with it’s 2.7 value but I currently have more miles than time. With the Starwood merge with Marriott the future of the SPG card is unknown. I’ll revisit this plan later.

      If you don’t have a vet in the family for the USAA card then Discover IT (yr 1) or the new Alliant card seems like a good idea for some.

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