Both new and established U.S. Bank Altitude cards are offering solid sign-up bonuses and impressive ongoing rewards. See which card offers you the most value.
U.S. Bank recently launched a new rewards credit card as part of its Altitude rewards lineup. The new U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card joins the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card launched last year and the established, higher-tier U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card*.
All three cards offer respectable ongoing rewards and a relatively generous welcome bonus: The Altitude Go comes with 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, while the Altitude Connect offers 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 120 days. The Altitude Reserve also offers 50,000 points, but you’ll need to spend $4,500 in the first 90 days to get the bonus.
But which is best for you? The choice should become clear based on your lifestyle and spending habits. Here’s a quick look at how these cards stack up, how much you stand to earn with each and how to decide if you should apply.
See related: U.S. Bank launches new Altitude Go card
Comparing U.S. Bank rewards credit cards
While the Altitude cards are part of the same U.S. Bank rewards program, they are geared toward different cardholders and vary considerably in their bonus rewards categories, annual fees and luxury perks. Still, all three offer a competitive sign-up bonus and solid first-year value.
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
|Sign-up bonus||20,000 points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days||50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases in the first 120 days||50,000 points when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days|
|Annual fee||$0||$95 (waived the first year)||$400|
|Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)||$489||$831||$970|
Sign-up bonus value, rewards rate and annual fees
As you can see, the Altitude Reserve card is geared toward frequent travelers and people on the go, offering outsized rewards on hotel bookings, car rentals, mobile wallet purchases and other travel purchases, while the Altitude Go card is better suited to everyday spending.
According to our estimates, purchases like dining, groceries and gas make up a big chunk of most consumers’ budgets, giving the Altitude Go card an average rewards rate of 1.82 points per dollar. The Altitude Reserve card’s average rewards rate, on the other hand, is just 1.24 points per dollar. The new Connect card offers the most impressive average rewards rate of the three at 2.08 points per dollar.
This gives the Altitude Connect and Go cards great value in the first year and beyond. At a value of 1 cent per point, we estimate the average consumer stands to earn around $290 in rewards per year via card spend with the Altitude Go and $236 with the Altitude Connect (after the annual fee).
That said, Altitude Reserve points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel; the Altitude Go’s and Connect’s points are worth a flat 1 cent per point, however you redeem them. This helps the Altitude Reserve overtake the other two cards in terms of annual rewards earnings. Assuming they redeem points for travel, we estimate that the average consumer will earn $295 per year via card spend with the Altitude Reserve.
When you take into account its $400 annual fee and tack on the card’s sign-up bonus (worth $750 when redeemed for travel) and $325 annual travel credit, the Altitude Reserve should get you around $970 in net rewards in your first year. Meanwhile, the Altitude Go card comes in at a respectable $489 in total first-year value, thanks to its $0 annual fee and 20,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days (worth $200). The new Altitude Connect offers an incredible value of $831 in the first year, thanks to the 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 in the first 120 days and waived annual fee for the first year ($95 annual fee thereafter), but remember that its ongoing value is the lowest of the three cards.
Other bonuses and perks
Unlike the Altitude Reserve, the Altitude Go’s value lies primarily in its rewards earning potential, not its cardholder perks. Indeed, the Altitude Go card offers very little in the way of benefits, with its most notable perk being a $15 annual streaming credit available after you make 11 consecutive monthly streaming service purchases. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about an annual fee cutting into your rewards.
The Altitude Connect is the middle ground: The annual fee is much lower than what the Reserve charges, and you get better perks than you would with the Altitude Go, including up to $100 in statement credits for reimbursement toward your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee once every four years and an annual $30 credit for eligible streaming service purchases.
In contrast, the Altitude Reserve offers a number of valuable perks for frequent travelers that may help offset its annual fee.
Along with its $325 annual travel credit, the card comes with a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you four complimentary passes to Priority Pass lounges. You’ll also get up to a $100 credit for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee and 12 Complimentary Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year (a $228 value).
Whether these perks make the Altitude Reserve card’s annual fee worth it will depend on your travel habits and penchant for luxury benefits.
Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?
These bonuses are only available to new cardholders. Since the Altitude Connect is a brand-new card, anyone who applies should be eligible. The Altitude Reserve, on the other hand, has been around for a while, so if you currently or previously had an account, you’re no longer eligible for the bonus. Additionally, these cards are designed for cardholders with excellent credit.
Best ways to spend 50,000 Altitude points
By far the best way to use the Altitude Reserve’s 50,000-point bonus is for travel, as your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed in the Altitude Rewards travel portal. This means you can book $750 worth of travel. You can use points to book travel directly with airlines, hotels, cruise lines, car rental companies and other transit services like taxis and limousines. Just keep in mind that a minimum purchase of $250 is required for car rental redemptions and $500 for lodging redemptions.
Cash back redemptions with the Altitude Reserve will force you to sacrifice point value, garnering just 1 cent per point. Though this isn’t a terrible value, it certainly won’t do as much to make up the card’s $400 annual fee.
The Altitude Go’s 20,000-point bonus, on the other hand, is worth $200, however you redeem your points, and the Altitude Connect’s bonus value is $500. You can book travel, get a statement credit or opt for gift cards or merchandise, all at a flat value of 1 cent per point.
Should you apply for the Altitude Go, Altitude Connect or the Altitude Reserve?
Any of U.S. Bank’s Altitude cards will give you a chance to secure a relatively large sign-up bonus and could offer good long-term value if you fit their ideal user profile. But the differences between the three options are pretty clear cut.
If luxury travel is your priority, the Altitude Reserve card is worth a look – thanks to its generous sign-up bonus and inflated point value when you redeem for travel through the Altitude Rewards portal. Its annual travel credits and other perks should also help offset its large annual fee. Then again, $400 may be hard for frugal cardholders to stomach, regardless.
Most cardholders will likely find a better fit with the Altitude Connect card. It charges a much lower annual fee waived the first year and offers decent perks and a terrific average rewards rate, with bonus points in some of the most popular everyday spending categories. The intro bonus is the same as the Reserve’s, and even though its redemption value is lower, it’s also easier to earn.
If you’re opposed to annual fees, the Altitude Go is the best option for you. It offers great ongoing rewards value, and the 20,000-point bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days is not too shabby either, beating out plenty of comparable no-annual-fee rewards cards.
*All information about the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.