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U.S. Bank LATAM Visa Signature® Card review

U.S. Bank LATAM Visa Signature® Card review

Published: November 12, 2018
Published: November 12, 2018
Ratings Policy
Low Interest Rating:
0.9 rating
0.9 rating
0.9 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 0.6
Rewards: 1.9
Features: 5.0

In a Nutshell:

The LATAM Visa Signature Card comes with a relatively low interest rate for an airline rewards card; however, the rates and fees are pretty pricey.

Regular APR
14.99-24.99% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
None

Fees

  • $75 annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 4% cash advance fee

Penalties

  • $38 late payment fee
  • No penalty APR
  • $35 returned payment fee

Other Notable Features: 20 percent discount on LATAM purchases, three one-way upgrade coupons per year, zero fraud liability, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, concierge service, ticket presale and preferred seating, special dining privileges, no preset spending limit

Rewards Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.9
Rewards Flexibility: 2.6
Features: 5.0

In a Nutshell:

The LATAM Visa Signature Card isn’t as generous as some of its competitors; but for cardholders who travel frequently to South America, it offers some modest bonuses on airfare and a smattering of benefits, including an annual 20 percent discount on LATAM purchases and three discounted upgrades per year.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 on LATAM purchases
  • 1:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
20,000 bonus miles with first use

Annual Fee
$75, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$280

APR
14.99-24.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • One stopover is permitted
  • You can transfer your miles to 12 oneworld Alliance partners

Cons

  • Miles expire after 24 months
  • Blackout dates may apply
  • Only a limited number of rewards seats are available
  • Must purchase a round-trip ticket for rewards-funded trips

Other Notable Features: 20 percent discount on LATAM purchases, three one-way upgrade coupons per year, zero fraud liability, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, concierge service, ticket presale and preferred seating, special dining privileges, no preset spending limit

There’s not much going for this mediocre airline card unless you travel frequently to Latin America and prefer to fly on LATAM Air. For $75 a year, the LATAM Visa Signature Card offers a limited rewards program and a smattering of benefits – including a one-time annual discount on a flight of your choice – but few of the card’s perks justify its high annual fee.

You may be able to get some mileage out of the card’s oneworld Alliance membership if you travel frequently enough on LATAM Air to earn a significant number of miles. Thanks to LATAM Airline’s oneworld Alliance membership, you can transfer miles to any one of the airline’s oneworld partners, including American Airlines, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Qantas.

However, unless you have a particular fondness for the Chilean airline – or if you typically spend most of your frequent flyer miles on trips to South American hotspots such as Lima, Peru; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Columbia; or Sao Paulo – you can almost certainly do better with a different card.

Only frequent flyers need apply

Like many airline cards, the LATAM Visa Signature Card only awards bonus miles on select airline purchases. So if you don’t travel to South America frequently, you’ll have a hard time earning many points. Cardholders earn just two points for every dollar spent on purchases from LATAM and one point for every dollar spent on purchases from other merchants.

Modest bonuses

LATAM has tried to sweeten its rewards program by giving cardholders a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus – worth about $200 – after the card’s first use, and an additional 4,000-mile bonus every year. The annual bonus is only worth about $40, but it effectively cuts the card’s annual fee down to $35 if you use it for a flight.

If you’re a heavy enough spender, you may also be awarded another 25 percent bonus on earnings, but you have to spend a minimum of $15,000 a year to get it. The 25 percent bonus won’t get you very far if you don’t spend relatively heavily on the airline card. We estimate that a typical cardholder who spends just $1,325 a month, for example, will only take home about $280 a year.

On the plus side, the airline does give you three coupons a year to upgrade your seat, which can save you a significant amount of money if you prefer to fly business class rather than economy.

A noteworthy discount

The most appealing benefit offered by the LATAM Visa Signature Card is its hefty discount on one LATAM purchase per year. The price of the purchase is capped at $1,000, but it can still add up to some significant savings if you buy a pricey ticket. For example, if you spend $1,200 on a flight to Buenos Aires, you can save up to $200 on your flight. If you combine that promotion with the card’s 20,000-mile sign-up bonus, you’re looking at up to $400 in savings in your first year – not a bad haul for a card that only costs $75 a year.

Valuable membership

The airline’s membership in the oneworld Alliance is also an appealing benefit – especially for cardholders who travel frequently around the world. LATAM frequent flyers can transfer miles to any one the alliance’s 14 partners, including American Airlines. The other members of the alliance include Air Berlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

Significant restrictions

You may have a hard time, though, finding a rewards-funded flight that fits your travel plans. Blackout dates may apply on trips to your desired destination. In addition, the airline also holds just a limited number of rewards-funded seats. It also restricts rewards travel to round-trip flights, so you’ll have to wait until you have miles saved up before you can purchase a free flight.

Why get the LATAM Visa Signature Card?

  • You travel frequently to South America and prefer LATAM Air.
  • You’re a relatively heavy spender and so can maximize the card’s discounts and bonuses.
  • Your travel plans are often flexible, and so restrictions on when you can fly don’t apply.

How to use the LATAM Visa Signature Card:

  • Use your card for all LATAM purchases in order to get the double miles bonus.
  • Spend at least $1,250 a month on your card in order to qualify for the 25 percent miles bonus.
  • If you’re planning a trip outside Latin America, consider transferring miles to other airlines in the oneworld Alliance.
  • To avoid a foreign-transaction fee, leave this card in your wallet once you cross the U.S. border.

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