The Altitude Reserve Card is US Bank’s entry into the luxury card space, and it may be the single best challenge to-date to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card is targeted at “people who live life on the go and want to be rewarded generously for that lifestyle.”
Here is everything you need to know…
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Summary
- Standard Signup Bonus: 50,000 points after $4,500 spend in 90 days
- $400 Annual Fee
- Cardholders may redeem 35,000 points to cover the annual fee
- $325 in annual travel credits automatically applied to account for travel purchases charged to card. In this context, “annual” means the cardmember’s membership year.
- Points worth 1.5 cents each when used to purchase travel (flights, hotels, car rentals)
- Earn 3X points per dollar for travel and mobile wallet spend; 1X elsewhere
- There is no cap on 3X earnings
- Airport Lounge Access via Priority Pass Select (4 free visits per year)
- 12 complimentary Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes per year
- Primary car rental collision damage waiver (No benefit is provided for vehicles rented in Isreal, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland)
- Travel coverage: Emergency Evacuation and Transportation Coverage; Trip delay and trip cancellation reimbursement.
- Rental car discounts
- Global Entry or TSA Pre Fee Credit
- No foreign transaction fees
- Points transferable from FlexPerks but not to FlexPerks. You must call to transfer more than 20,000 points per calendar year from FlexPerks to Altitude Reserve.
- Points are freely transferable to other Altitude Reserve cardmembers but with a cap of 20,000 points per calendar year.
- Authorized User Fee: $75 per year (but if you pay points for the annual fee, authorized users are included at no extra charge)
- Issued as Visa Infinite
- Card composition: Engraved stainless steel
Key perks not supported by this card
- Priority Pass Select membership covers only 4 free cardholder visits and 4 free individual guest visits per year. After those 4 visits, you must pay $27 per person for lounge access.
- No ability to transfer points to loyalty programs
- No Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit. This perk offers $100 off domestic round trip flights for 2 or 3 passengers and is found on CNB’s Crystal Visa Infinite and Chase’s Ritz Carlton cards.
- No car rental elite membership. A number of cards offer National Executive Club membership, which can be quite valuable, but this one does not.
Getting the card
- The card will be available for signups beginning May 1, 2017.
- Standard Signup Bonus: 50,000 points after $4,500 spend in 3 months.
- You must be a US Bank customer to get the card. Many types of US Bank accounts qualify including checking and savings, credit cards, auto loans, investment relationships, CDs, mortgages, etc.
- What if I only have business accounts with US Bank? Currently, your application will be automatically declined, but if you apply through a US Bank banker, they can contact underwriting to ensure that your application for the card is not declined (see this Miles to Memories post for details). US Bank says that they are working to fix this later this year.
- Can I open a US Bank account today so that I can apply? Yes, but you must wait until your banking relationship is recognized before applying for the Altitude Reserve. Banking relationships are usually recognized in less than 5 days, but may occasionally take as long as 35 days.
- Can I expedite the process of becoming a US Bank customer so that I can apply right away? Yes, if you apply through a US Bank banker, they can contact underwriting to ensure that your application for the card is not declined (see this Miles to Memories post for details).
- You can sign up online or in-branch
Earning the 50,000 point signup bonus
- You must spend $4,500 within 90 days in order to earn the signup bonus
- When does the clock start? Upon approval.
- Does the $400 annual fee count towards the minimum spend requirement? No! In general, fees imposed by your credit card do not count towards spend bonuses.
- Can I buy gift cards to meet the spend bonus? Yes
- Will US Bank shut down my account if I buy $4,000 in gift cards? While I can’t predict what US Bank will do, I believe that is unlikely. That said, it’s always a good idea to mix in regular spend.
- Do you have advice on how to meet the spend requirements? Yes, please see: Manufactured Spending Complete Guide.
- What about the $325 travel credit? Will that increase the spend requirement? Suppose you spend exactly $4,500 within 3 months and receive $325 in travel credits (because some of your spend was on travel expenses). Will you then have to spend $325 more to meet the spend requirements? Tentative Answer: No. I expect that US Bank will count the $325 in travel purchases towards your minimum spend even if the $325 has been reimbursed. I’ll update this section with an official answer once I get it.
It’s important to note that US Bank has two different definitions for travel. To earn $325 in statement credits and to earn 3X points, they use one definition. To get 1.5 cents per point value, they use another.
Earning 3X and up to $325 in travel credits (“travel” defined)
For these purposes, travel is defined as: airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines.
Redeeming points for travel at 1.5 cents per point value (“travel” defined)
For this purpose, travel is defined as airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals booked through US Bank’s Rewards Center.
I assume that this is the same booking site used by US Bank FlexPerks customers. If so, that’s a problem for those wanting to book flights since the interface is seriously hobbled (see: FlexPerks nerfs online first class and multi-city flight awards). That said, it should be possible to call to redeem points for the flight you want.
Mobile Wallet Defined
The Altitude Reserve card earns 3X points for mobile wallet purchases. Specifically, the card earns 3X points when it is used with a mobile device to pay through Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Microsoft Wallet. Interestingly in-store, in-app, and online purchases are included.
From the Rewards Program Rules:
“Mobile Wallet” is defined as the method of paying for a transaction by use of a mobile device (in-store, in-app, or online) and includes Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Microsoft Wallet.
Also note that Samsung Pay MST (AKA LoopPay) payments will earn 3X rewards.
Info about Authorized User cards
- Annual fee: $75 per authorized user
- No annual fee if you pay with points for the primary user’s annual fee
- $325 travel credit? Authorized users do not get their own travel credits. Travel purchases made on authorized user cards do get reimbursed but it comes out of the same $325 per year bucket as the primary card.
- Airport Lounge Access? Authorized users will not get their own Priority Pass membership.
- Primary car rental collision damage waiver? Yes
Details About Altitude Reserve Points
Redeem points for flights, hotels, and car rentals in order to get 1.5 cents per point value. Points can be redeemed for cash, but only at 1 cent per point value. You can also redeem 35,000 points for the card’s annual fee, and this includes all authorized user cards. So, the more authorized user cards you have, the better the value of this redemption.
Points can be transferred to other Altitude Reserve cardmembers for no fee. There is a 20,000 point cap per year on such transfers.
Points can be transferred from FlexPerks to the Altitude Reserve, but not the other way around. Online, you will be able to transfer up to 20,000 points per year. Via phone, there is no known cap.
Points are not transferable to any airline or hotel programs.
You can buy Altitude Reserve points for 3 cents each, but I’m not sure why you would want to.
When redeeming points for travel, Hotels & cars must be paid in full with points. Airfare can be a combination of points and cash. Only airline tickets may be booked over the phone.
Card Perk Details
Points worth 1.5 cents each when used to purchase flights, hotels, and car rentals
With most bank programs, points are worth 1 cents each. For example, usually a $300 car rental would cost 30,000 points. With the Altitude Reserve card, though, points are worth 50% more. So, a $300 car rental would cost only 20,000 points.
$325 in travel credits per year
- $325 in travel credits is available each cardmember year.
- Authorized user travel charges are reimbursed, but they count towards the same $325 travel credit per account. In other words, you cannot get more than $325 back in total by adding authorized users.
- Any charge that codes as travel will be automatically reimbursed (up to $325 per cardmember year, total). See “Travel” Defined, above.
- Both large and small travel purchases count. Small purchases will be reimbursed until a total of $325 has been reimbursed in a calendar year. Large purchases will be reimbursed up to $325.
Global Entry or TSA Pre Fee Credit
- Simply pay the $100 Global Entry application fee or $85 TSA Pre application fee with the Altitude Reserve card and the fee will be automatically reimbursed.
- You can get reimbursed once every 4 years
- You can gift the once per 4 year fee credit to another person, but they would have to be an authorized user on your account, or you would have to let them use your credit card number to pay for their application.
Airport Lounge Access
- Cardholders are granted membership to Priority Pass Select.
- This membership covers only 4 free cardholder visits and 4 free individual guest visits per year.
- After the 4 free visits within your Priority Pass Select membership year (not cardmember year), cardholders must pay $27 per person for lounge access.
Rental car privileges and discounts
- Avis: Up to 30% off base rates
- National: Save up to 25%
- Silvercar: Up to 30% off rentals of 2 days or more
- Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
I’ll let the US Bank marketing team do the talking for these…
A note regarding rental car coverage: No benefit is provided for vehicles rented in Isreal, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland.
Have questions about the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve? Please comment below.