U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card review

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card review

Updated: November 4, 2022
Updated: November 4, 2022
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If you’re willing to pay a $400 annual fee in exchange for generous travel benefits and ample points for frequent travelers and mobile wallet users, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card is worth a look. This super premium card features ultrapremium perks – including a $325 annual fee credit, a 50 percent boost in point value for travel purchases and a solid, 50,000-point sign up bonus. The card also comes with a unique, mobile-centric points program that amply rewards cardholders who use their phones for purchases.

The new U.S. Bank card doesn’t offer nearly as many traditional earning opportunities as its premium card competitors. For example, cardholders get bonus points for travel purchases, but don’t earn bonuses on restaurant spending or entertainment. But if you live in an urban area where a large number of businesses accept mobile payments, you could potentially supersize your rewards earnings by using your phone for all or most of your purchases.

Tech savvy rewards

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card sets itself apart from its competitors by offering an unprecedented three points for every dollar spent on mobile purchases. If you frequently use your phone for everyday payments, such as dining and groceries or for major expenses, such as rent, you could easily stockpile a substantial number of points just by going about your typical day.

U.S. Bank doesn’t limit the number of points you can earn either, so if you use your phone frequently, you may be surprised by how much you collect. You can earn the triple point bonus on any in-store, online or app transaction using a mobile wallet such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay.

Extra points for travel

The Altitude Reserve card also awards five points per dollar on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center and three points for every dollar spent on other eligible travel purchase. So, if you’re frequently on the road or traveling by air, this is a good card to use for those purchases.

Unfortunately, the point bonus is only awarded to reservations booked directly with the airline, car rental service or hotel, so if you like searching for deals on third-party websites, you’re out of luck. On the plus side, the Altitude Reserve card also awards a 50 percent greater value for points when you redeem them for travel, so the points you earn could go a lot farther than with other cards.

Competitive sign-up bonus

If you can afford to spend $4,500 in the card’s first 90 days, you won’t be disappointed by the Altitude Reserve card’s sign-up bonus of 50,000 points.

If you take into account that the Altitude Reserve card’s points are worth 1.5 cents when redeemed for travel purchases, its promotional offer is similar to The Platinum Card® from American Express’ 80,000-point welcome bonus (after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of card membership).

Generous travel credits

In addition, the Altitude Reserve card offers a $325 annual travel credit you can use for a wide variety of purchases, effectively lowering the card’s annual fee to $75. Considering that the Altitude Reserve card’s annual fee is already significantly less expensive than the annual fees charged by its closest competitors, the annual travel credit and other freebies make this card an exceptionally good value.

Cardholders can use the travel credit for airfare purchased directly from an airline or for airline fees, inflight food or beverages, car rental purchases, hotel stays, train trips, cruises and even taxis. U.S. Bank also treats Altitude Reserve cardholders to 12 free inflight Gogo WiFi access passes every year – effectively ensuring access to free inflight WiFi for all but the most frequent travelers – and a $100 application fee credit for faster security screening. If you use your card abroad, U.S. Bank will also cover the cost of processing your foreign transactions.

Tons of premium perks

The Altitude Reserve card’s generous travel credits alone help cancel out the card’s pricey annual fee. But in addition to several hundred dollars worth of travel credits, the Altitude Reserve card also showers customers with a wide range of discounts and freebies, including luxury hotel discounts, free breakfast and room upgrades when available, discounts on private jet travel and black car service, ticket presales on premier events such as the James Beard Celebrity Chef tour and more.

In addition, like most premium credit cards, the Altitude Reserve card offers a number of premium travel benefits, including lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation protection and trip delay protection.

Lounge access is subpar

Cardholders are also promised access to thousands of airport lounges through the Priority Pass Select program. Unfortunately, the lounge offering isn’t as grand as it sounds and is one area where the Altitude Reserve card falls short of other premium cards. While most premium cards offer unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges, the Altitude Reserve only offers a year of access.

If free lounge access is an important feature for you, you are probably better off going with a premium card that grants unlimited Priority Pass access.

Less flexible than other cards

In terms of sheer value, the new U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card offers some of the richest rewards and benefits on the market. But it also comes with a number of limitations that could turn off some potential cardholders. For example, it doesn’t allow you to transfer your points to other airline or hotel loyalty programs, which is a huge loss for frequent travelers who like to pool their points.

It also limits the amount of value you can get on travel purchases by requiring you to book your reservations directly with a hotel, airline or car rental company in order to take advantage of the card’s rewards bonus and travel credit.

You also have to be a U.S. Bank customer to even get the card. To be eligible for an Altitude Reserve card, you must have a U.S. Bank savings or checking account or own some other U.S. Bank product, such as a mortgage or credit card.

Why get the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card?

  • You’re already a U.S. Bank customer and want a premium card from the same bank.
  • You frequently use your mobile phone to make payments or don’t mind changing your payment method in order to take advantage of the card’s triple-point bonus.
  • You spend a lot on travel every year and will benefit from the card’s extensive travel perks.
  • You can afford to spend $400 a year for a card and have a large enough budget to spend $4,500 in the card’s first three months.

How to use the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card:

  • Maximize your rewards earnings by linking it to your mobile wallet and paying with your phone as much as possible.
  • Use your card for all your travel purchases in order to maximize your earning rate and take advantage of the card’s travel benefits.
  • Protect your savings and eliminate interest payments by paying your bill in full each month.

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