Is the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve worth it? Ask yourself these 3 questions to find out

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

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

  • You already have a U.S. 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 U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve here. Otherwise, read on and I’ll dive into the benefits of this card we don’t often talk about. And explain why it’s worth the annual fee.

The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Use US Bank Altitude points to book a train ride through Switzerland for FREE. (Photo by Oleh_Slobodeniuk/iStock)

US Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card benefits

The U.S. 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 at why I believe the answer to that question is “yes.”

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!

Priority Pass airport lounge membership

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve comes with a Priority Pass membership. You’ll receive four 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, a large buffet and a separate room with tons of comfy recliners for sleeping. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler)

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 accept mobile wallet payments, making it easy to earn 3X points per $1. (Photo by AleksandarGeorgiev/iStock)

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.

Free TSA PreCheck/Global Entry

When you open the U.S. 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 U.S. from overseas. Plus, it comes with TSA PreCheck!

A membership to both of these programs lasts five years. And the card will give you a new credit every four 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 four years)

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

[gravityform id=”3″ title=”false” description=”false”]

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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! :)

Join the Discussion!

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments