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Is the US Bank Altitude Reserve Worth It? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Find Out

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Is the US Bank Altitude Reserve Worth It?  Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Find Out

Joseph HostetlerIs the US Bank Altitude Reserve Worth It?  Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Find OutMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Here’s the point.  You should open the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card if:

  • You already have a US Bank credit card
  • You’ve been in the miles & points game for a while
  • You have a smartphone capable of mobile payment

If you want to take my word for it, apply for the US Bank Altitude Reserve here.  Otherwise, read on and I’ll dive into the benefits of this card we don’t often talk about!

Use US Bank Altitude points to book a train ride through Switzerland for FREE

US Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card Benefits

The US Bank Altitude Reserve comes with 50,000 points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,500 on qualifying purchases within 90 days of account opening.  That’s a whopper bonus, but it’s not an ONGOING benefit.

The bonus makes the card’s $400 annual fee worth paying the first year (it’s like getting $350 in free travel, after all!), but is the card worth the annual fee year after year?

Let’s take a look.

1.   Annual $325 Travel Credit

Here’s a whopper of a benefit.

You’ll receive a $325 travel credit every cardmember year.  Essentially, the first $325 you spend on the card each year (airfare, hotels, car rentals, trains, Uber, etc.) will be reimbursed.  If you know you’ll spend $325 per year on travel, you’ll effectively pay $75 for the card each year instead of $400 ($400 annual fee – $325 travel credit).

If the remaining perks are worth $76+ to you, the card is worth keeping!

2.   Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership

The US Bank Altitude Reserve comes with a Priority Pass membership.  You’ll receive 4 free lounge visits per year for you and 1 guest.

After your fourth visit, you’ll be charged a discounted fee of $27 per person per visit.  This isn’t nearly as generous as memberships that come with other cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express, but it’s still worth up to a couple hundred dollars (if you’ll use it).

I’ve got Priority Pass and always love a nice retreat from the airport terminal.

One of my favorite Priority Pass lounges was inside the Lima airport in Peru.  Showers, large buffet, and a separate room with tons of comfy recliners for sleeping

3.   Outstanding Earning Rates

The card earns:

  • 3X points per $1 on travel purchases
  • 3X points per $1 on mobile wallet purchases (like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay)
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Each point is worth 1.5 cents toward travel.  So earning 3 points per $1 is equal to earning 4.5 cents per $1 toward travel!  That’s pretty amazing, but not unheard of among top-notch travel credit cards.

The truly insane detail is that you’ll earn 3 points per $1 every single time you use a mobile wallet, like Samsung Pay!  Samsung Pay is accepted just about everywhere you go.  So you can feasibly earn 4.5% back on nearly every purchase.

Many Stores and Retailers Accepts Mobile Wallet Payments, Making It Easy to Earn 3X Points per $1!

You can also opt to cash out your points at 1 cent each.  You’d then receive an effective return of 3% (instead of 4.5% towards travel).  Still a good deal, but clearly not the best option for a globetrotter.

4.   Free TSA PreCheck/Global Entry

When you open the US Bank Altitude Reserve, you’ll receive a credit that will reimburse you for your application fee to Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85).

A membership to TSA PreCheck means you won’t have to remove your toiletries or computer from your bag.  Or take off your jacket at security checkpoints.  And a Global Entry membership means you can skip the huge immigration line when you return to the US from overseas.  Plus, it comes with TSA PreCheck!

A membership to both of these programs lasts 5 years.  And the card will give you a new credit every 4 years, so you can re-enroll every 5 years for the rest of your natural life.

Important Reminder – Are You Eligible for This Card?

To be eligible for the US Bank Altitude Reserve, you need a “relationship with US Bank.”  Really any product you have with them (auto loan, checking account, credit card) counts as a relationship.  So if you have a US Bank credit card, you have a relationship with US Bank, and are eligible for this card!  And you’ll need to have maintained it for at least 5 days before submitting your application for this card.

Also, US Bank is a bit picky about approving folks for their cards, especially if you’ve opened a lot of new accounts recently.

Bottom Line

Because of the US Bank Altitude Reserve‘s giant welcome bonus, we all know this card is a no-brainer value for the first year.  But is it worth continuing to pay the $400 annual fee?

My opinion is a resounding YES.  That’s because the card comes with these benefits:

  • $325 travel credit annually
  • Priority Pass membership (I value it at up to ~$200)
  • Unbelievably good earning rates (effective 4.5% back toward travel when using a mobile payment app)
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (worth up to $100 every 4 years)

Let me know if you think the US Bank Altitude Reserve is worth the annual fee!  And subscribe to our newsletter below for more practical reviews to help you travel for cheap:

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Interested to know why things like travel insurance aren’t typically covered when reviewing cards like this one. We (family of 4) had a flight canceled on us. Because I bought the tickets with the US Bank Altitude card we were reimbursed for a hotel stay, rental car, food, gas, & incidentals, totaling close to $1,100 for the trip home (we ended up driving). It’s a huge benefit for folks that travel.

Don’t forget the free 12 passes on Airline Wifi on Gogo.

Those can definitely come in handy, good point!

I love to travel but I don’t do it that frequently, so this card would be great considering the Priority Pass is free for the first 4 uses per year.

However, I’m reading the fine prints and it sounds like the $325 credit must be in one transaction. So if I make multiple travel spending less than $300, my credit would only be $300?

Also, for the PriorityPass. I would assume within my first 4 visits if I have more than one guest they’ll be charged the $27 per person? (Is there a limit to the number of guest?)

Hi Raymond!

The $325 is cumulative, so you can make multiple smaller purchases and still be able to max out that benefit.

And you are correct: the complimentary lounge access on this card is limited to you and 1 guest. If you have more guests, they’d likely have to pay the applicable lounge fee.

Thanks for the response Andrew!
This card seems to be a good traveling card that’s “cheaper” compared to the other contenders.
I’ve been googling for reviews on it and I don’t find much information; I’m curious why this card isn’t one of the contenders when review sites compare the cards to Chase Reserve, Amex Platinum, etc.?

Can the credit be used to offset a timeshare payment?

@Paul B
I would like to know this as well?

Without looking at the author I knew already who it was 😀

Anyway, seriously considering this. I love the fact that you can redeem directly on travel charges, instead of dealing with limitations of Chase UR Travel site.

However, I’m skeptical about how easy it is to earn points. To me that’s the most valuable aspect of a card. Chase aces this category IMO due to CSR for restaurant, freedom unlimited for online purchases (which we do a lot), freedom for categories… not considering ink for office 5% for amazon gc, home depot gc, etc..
This card, however, rely on the fact that you have to go outside a lot to buy things. but most of the “bigger” purchase we do nowadays are online.. so not sure how to utilize that..

Just my 2cents..

First you need to buy a phone with near-field.

Author

Hah! Dave, I’m taking that as a compliment.
It’s a cogent point that we buy most big-ticket items online. I’ll dig into it a little more, but the card terms state:
“Mobile wallet” is defined as the method of paying for a transaction by use of a mobile device (in-store, in-app or online)…
So apparently you can use mobile wallet online. Anyone have experience with this?

Purchasing using google chrome on a mobile device isn’t using a mobile wallet. Some apps have links to paying through the phone’s mobile wallet (GPay, Sam Pay) and you’ll get the 3x points for that. But there’s not too many apps that allow for mobile wallets. Again, if you pay through google chrome, even on a mobile device, you won’t earn 3x points.

Ah right, I forgot. Yeah if you surf using your mobile device, upon check out, I think some mobile site allow you to use mobile wallet.