Altitude Reserve Card
A $325 annual travel and dining credit lowers the effective annual fee to $75.
50,000 Altitude points
$4,500 initial spend
($630 net value, .14/$)Signup Bonus Chart
3x Mobile Wallet Purchases (4.5%)
3x Travel (4.5%)
1x Everything Else (1.5%)
No Foreign Transaction Fee
The Altitude Reserve Card is one of the most interesting credit cards, primarily because of its unique bonus on mobile wallet payments, which enables you to earn rewards worth 4.5 cents per dollar on a potentially broad range of purchases. It is also the cheapest way to get free access (albeit limited) to airport lounges and other typical premium credit card benefits. However, it can be hard to get the card, especially if you don't have a banking relationship with U.S. Bank.
Collecting the Signup Bonus
When redeemed for travel purchases, the points from the Altitude Reserve Card are worth 1.5 cents each. U.S. Bank allows points from the Altitude card to be combined with points from its FlexPerks cards (which can be redeemed for the same value per point), so you can consolidate your points across multiple cards. But you can't combine points that you earn from the Altitude Go Card.
- It is worth signing up for this card just to collect the signup bonus. The typical signup bonus 50,000 points, valued at 1.5 cents each. In addition, the card comes with a a easy-to-use $325 travel and dining credit.
- It is possible to earn the same signup bonus multiple times. U.S. bank has no technical limit on the number of times you can qualify for a signup bonus. However, it can be hard to get them to approve you for an account. If you are interested in making the card part of your core credit collection (to take advantage of the the mobile wallet bonus rewards and other benefits), we wouldn't recommend cancelling it. But if you just want the card for the signup bonus, you might as well cancel towards the end of your first year (and after you've collected the second travel credit), wait a few months, and then re-apply. Despite what the official terms say, some people have been able to sign up for another version of this card without first cancelling their previous version.
- You need to be a U.S. Bank customer to get this card. Technically, you should be able to be approved, even if you only have another credit card account with them. However, they really want you to have an actual banking or loan account. The account must be a consumer account and it will need to be open for over a month, before you apply for the card.
After subtracting the annual fee and the opportunity cost of using the card for $4,500 of spending, the calculated net value for the initial year is $630 (14 cents per dollar spent).
Annual Travel and Dining Credit
- The Altitude Reserve's annual travel and dining credit is automatically applied to your first $325 of travel and dining purchases each year. You simply use the card to make dining or travel payments (travel payments can include anything from airfare to taxi fares, tolls, tour operators, and public transit) and the charge is cancelled out on your credit card statement. If necessary, the credit will be spread across multiple smaller charges.
- To receive the Altitude Reserve credit, you need to pay the "supplier" directly, rather than via a general travel booking website (like Expedia) or a travel agent.
- The travel and dining credit is based on your cardmember year, so you DON"T get to take advantage of it twice during the first year you have the card. Your credit renews each time you pay the annual fee.
It should be extremely easy to take full advantage of this credit every year, lowering the effective annual fee by $325.
Bonus Rewards on Mobile Wallet Payments
The Altitude Reserve earns 3x points on any payments you make with mobile wallets, like Apple, Google, and Samsung Pay. Because each point is worth 1.5 cents, you can earn 4.5 cents per dollar on mobile wallet payments.
Mobile wallet payments are supported at many brick & mortar businesses, online stores and mobile apps. Examples include BestBuy, Babies"R"Us, the Lego Store, Macy's, McDonald's, Texaco, Walt Disney World, and Whole Foods. For many retail purchases, paying through a mobile wallet using the Altitude Reserve Card earns a significantly higher reward rate than what is available from other cards.
So, with this one card you can earn a high rate of bonus rewards on many gas, grocery, pharmacy, department store, and restaurant purchases.
If you have a Samsung phone, it gets even better. Samsung Pay can be used at any machine where you can swipe a credit card, regardless of whether the business officially accepts mobile wallet payments. It simulates the magnetic input that the machine expects to receive from swiping a card. So, it lets you earn the Altitude Reserve's bonus rewards at places like Target and Walmart, any gas station, warehouse clubs, etc., that has a swipe machine. If you have a recent model Samsung phone, it should be built in. If not, you can couple any Android phone with a Samsung watch to accomplish the same thing. Maximizing the Altitude Reserve Card's Mobile Wallet Rewards
Other Notable Benefits
- Four free visits to a Priority Pass lounge. Unlike other premium cards, you don't get a Priority Pass membership that allows you to make an unlimited number of visits and you can only bring in a total of four free guests across your four different visits. However, the Altitude Reserve has a lower effective annual fee and this may be all the lounge access you really need. Get Free Airport Lounge Access from a Credit Card.
- 12 Gogo passes per year. Each one is good for a free inflight Wi-Fi session. Gogo website.
- "Primary" rental car insurance. If you use this card to pay for your rental car, you'll get primary rental car insurance. Unlike the "secondary" insurance you get from most other cards, if you damage your rental car, you don't need to involve your personal auto insurance company. Credit Cards That Provide “Primary” Rental Car Coverage.
- $100 TSA fee credit. Every four years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
- Relais & Chateaux Club 5C status. This entitled you to a welcome gift and unique experience that differs at each hotel.
- 30% Silvercar rental discount.
- Car rental elite status. Like all other Visa Infinite cards, your card entitles you to elite status with National car rental. Instant Car Rental Elite Status.
- Visa Infinite Hotel benefit. Visa Infinite cardholders get access to the Visa Luxury Hotel program. At about 200 hotels, Infinite card holders get an additional benefit (typically some sort of $100 credit) on top of what is available to Signature cardholders. You'll also have access to the regular Visa Signature hotel program, which provides slightly weaker benefits at a much larger collection of hotels. Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks
- Access to Visa Signature Offers. Your card entitles you to a set of special offers available from Visa.
Along with the bonus rewards on Mobile Wallet payments, the Altitude Reserve offers a great reward rate on travel purchases. It earns 4.5% back on a broad range of travel purchases. That's a higher rate than all but the most valuable travel credit cards. As a result, many people shouldn't bother to get another card, JUST to earn higher rewards on travel spending (as they all require an additional annual fee). Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
Getting Rid of the Card
- Make sure to cash out your rewards balance before you cancel your card.
- Rather than cancelling your card, you may want to change it to the Cash+ card. It earns 5% back on your choice of two categories and you can choose less common categories like Department Stores, Sporting Good Stores, and Utilities. Another good option is the Altitude Go Card which offers 4% back on restaurants. Neither card has an annual fee.
- You can wait to cancel or downgrade the card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of being charged the annual fee, U.S. Bank will refund it. After 30 days, we think you'll get a prorated refund if you downgrade to the no-annual-fee Altitude Go Card.
- Waiting to cancel or downgrade your Altitude Reserve Card can allow you to take advantage of another year's travel credit. The travel credit resets when the annual fee hits your account. You may be able to quickly pay some travel expenses or purchase a gift card (directly from a travel provider) for a future trip. If you need more time, you can delay downgrading the card until after the deadline and hope you get a partial annual fee rebate.
- You might be able to receive a retention offer to keep your card. It could be enough to make it worthwhile to keep the card.
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