The Ultimate Guide to US Banking Rewards – Forbes Advisor
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Compared to other travel rewards cards, US Bank credit cards go unnoticed. Their flagship Altitude Points cannot be transferred or converted to other travel partners and instead accumulate at a fixed value. Don’t let that put you off, though. Although points may be limited, there are no tricky nuances to follow. More importantly, you can earn up to 4.5% in certain categories.
Above all, US Bank offers simplicity, in a good way. Points accumulate in their program at a fixed rate for later use to book travel or be redeemed for cash back. They don’t tease you with restrictions, blackout dates, or complicated redemption procedures. These are solid win rates with easy rewards that add up quickly. If this sounds like your kind of free travel, this is a program you’ll want to familiarize yourself with.
How to Earn US Bank Altitude Points
Earning US Bank Altitude points is as easy as it gets: just use your participating credit card to make a purchase. There are no other methods of earning points, although there are a few eligible cards to choose from.
Currently, only US Bank personal credit cards earn Altitude Points, but there are three to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They all continue to earn and simply redeem, but earn rates, bonus categories, and annual fees differ by card so you can choose the product that best suits your lifestyle.
There is no earning cap, so cardholders will continue to earn points with every purchase. Points never expire, as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Personal credit cards
U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card Information* was independently collected by Forbes Advisor. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
One caveat about this program is that you cannot combine rewards between cards. That means you can’t earn rewards on the Altitude Go card, for example, and then redeem them for 1.5 cents per point value through the Altitude Reserve card. This differs from other issuers, like Chase’s Ultimate Rewards and Citi’s ThankYou Points, which both allow you to bundle your rewards.
How to Use US Bank Altitude Points
There are four types of Altitude Points redemption: travel, statement credits (cash back), gift cards or merchandise. Points are worth between 0.4 and 1.5 cents per point, depending on the card you hold and the type of redemption you choose. Typically, merchandise redemptions are on the lower end of the range, while statement credits and gift cards are a fixed value of 1 cent per point.
Travel refunds are also offered at a flat rate, although the rate varies by card. US Bank Altitude Go and US Bank Altitude Connect can redeem points for travel at 1 cent per point. However, the US Bank Altitude Reserve bonus increases the value of your points when used for travel through the card site by up to 1.5 cents per point. Altitude Reserve cardholders should take advantage of this option to get 50% more value on every qualifying travel redemption.
When you redeem points for travel, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates or capacity restrictions.
Redeem for cash back
Unless you have the altitude reserve, most cardholders will be well advised to redeem points for statement credits for the ultimate flexibility. When redeemed as credits on your monthly bill, Altitude Points are worth 1 cent each. Altitude Go and Altitude Connect have a minimum redemption requirement of 2,500 points ($25).
Statement credits usually appear within two to three business days and will reduce your card balance, but do not count as a payment on your account. You may still need to make a minimum payment on your bill if there is a balance remaining.
If you have a checking or savings account with a US bank, you can also choose to deposit your rewards into your linked bank account. Customers of other banks will not have this option.
Redeem points for real-time mobile rewards
For added convenience, cardholders can activate real-time mobile rewards on their account. Then US Bank will text your linked mobile number each time you make a qualifying purchase and ask if you would like to redeem points to cover the cost of the purchase. Rewards are offered at a flat rate of 1 cent per point or 1.5 cents per point for Altitude Reserve travel purchases.
Particularly for travel purchases, this option is fantastic for customers who prefer to complete their purchase transaction directly with the merchant. You won’t be limited to specific airlines or hotels, so you can fully customize a trip to your travel preferences without worrying about rewards partners. It also means there are no blackout dates or other hassles to get around.
Cardholders must activate this feature before using it. The process is easily initiated in your online account under the “Card Benefits” section and will require you to link your mobile number and accept automated text messages. There is no obligation to redeem rewards for each qualifying purchase; you will receive a text each time and can accept or decline as you wish.
Once you’ve set up the feature on your account, you can shop normally without having to make a separate stop at the US Bank website as long as you pay with your US Bank credit card. This allows you to apply any discounts, coupons or vouchers that the merchant accepts and ensure that you are eligible for loyalty or membership benefits by booking directly with the brand.
Unfortunately, the Real-Time Mobile Rewards program requires a minimum transaction of $500 on accommodations or $250 on rental cars to qualify. Airline purchases, including many incidental charges, typically trigger the reward process at any dollar amount.
Use the US Bank Travel Portal
Cardholders should familiarize themselves with the dedicated travel portal whether or not you use rewards. Altitude Connect and Altitude Reserve cardholders can earn 5 points per dollar spent (valued at 5%-7.5%) when booking qualifying prepaid reservations.
Redeeming points for travel through their booking engine is intuitive, as their booking engine works the same way as popular online travel agencies you’ve probably used before. However, US Bank has strict and inflexible terms and conditions. All rental cars and many hotel or flight reservations are non-refundable: if you need to change or cancel your reservation, you’ll get a voucher at best (if you get anything). You will not be able to refund your points if your plans change.
Because of this inflexibility, booking directly with the provider and redeeming mobile rewards in real time is the best solution. The only time a travel portal buyout should be considered is if you need a rental car under $250 or a hotel under $500 and you’re sure your plans won’t change. .
Altitude Reserve cardholders will receive 1.5 cents per point in value when booking through the US Bank Travel Portal, while other cardholders will earn 1 cent per point.
Redeem for gift cards
US Bank also offers gift card redemptions and partners with dozens of different gift card brands, including nationwide retailers and restaurants as well as staples like gas stations and grocery stores. Most gift cards arrive in the mail within two to three weeks of redemption.
All gift cards earn 1 cent per Altitude point, identical to the value you would get by requesting a credit on your statement. Most cardholders would be better off buying a gift card from their favorite store to save on shipping times or brand limitations.
Like many other credit card rewards programs, US Bank lets you redeem your points for merchandise or select event tickets. However, reward values are typically less than a penny per point, making it a better deal to just buy what you need and then redeem real-time mobile rewards or request statement credit to offset the purchase. .
Elevation points can’t be transferred to travel partners, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a strong use case. When used strategically, US bank cards can earn up to 4.5% rewards, a great discount without worrying about the nuances of other programs or rules. Simple real-time redemptions and statement credits make this rewards program a keeper for customers who want to keep things easy without sacrificing competitive earnings.