When it comes to travel rewards cards, U.S. Bank is often overlooked in favor of cards from more prominent issuers like Citi, Amex, and Chase. However, U.S. Bank’s Altitude family of cards can offer a ton of value for cardholders, with top-tier welcome offers, excellent bonus categories to help you stack rewards, and affordable annual fees.
Today, the cards we’re focusing on are the mid-tier U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card and the entry-level U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card. We’ll discuss the welcome offers, earning potential, benefits, and intro APR offers to determine which card is a better fit for your wallet over the long haul.
Altitude Connect and Altitude Go Cards at a Glance
|Card Details||U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card||U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card|
|Welcome Offer||Intro Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That’s a $500 value redeemable towards travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise and more.||Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. That’s a $200 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.|
|Bonus Categories||• 5X points on prepaid hotels and rental cars booked through the Altitude Rewards Center
• 4X points on other travel, including airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruises, taxis, trains, and limousines.
• 4X points at gas stations and on electric vehicle charging
• 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining, and streaming services
• 1 point on all other eligible purchases
|• 4X points on takeout, food delivery and dining
• 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations and on streaming services
• 1 point on all other eligible purchases
|Intro APRs||None||0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles then a Variable rate of 15.74% – 24.74%|
|Annual Fee||$0 intro for the first year, then $95||$0|
Welcome Offers – 50,000 Points vs. 20,000 Points
We think the 50,000 point signup bonus and a waived annual fee for the first year on the Altitude Connect is the better of the two offers. This bonus is worth $500, and it requires no specialized knowledge redeem. Plus, you get to road test the card for the first year without paying an annual fee.
To earn this bonus, you just need to spend $2,000 over the first 120 days you hold the card. That’s just $500 per month—a much lower requirement than other cards with a similar bonus.
The Altitude Go on the other hand offers 20,000 points after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. This bonus delivers $200 in value, with the same no-hassle redemption options as the Altitude Connect. If you never want to worry about paying an annual fee, this card is a great choice.
And for those who don’t have a lot of monthly expenses, the spending requirement breaks down to a modest $334 per month. That said, with the Altitude Connect‘s annual fee waived for the first year, it’s harder to make the case for earning a smaller bonus unless you love one of the other Altitude Go features we’ve highlighted below.
Altitude Cards Provide Excellent Return on Spending
Both of these cards outshine the competition in a key spending category. If travel is a significant part of your household budget, the Altitude Connect is a clear winner. Likewise, if you spend heavily at restaurants or on takeout and food delivery, the Altitude Go will deliver excellent value.
Earn 4X on Travel with Altitude Connect
If you want a simple rewards strategy that doesn’t require a lot of knowledge to redeem your points, the Altitude Connect might just be the best card on the market for travel purchases.
If you know how to maximize transferable points from Chase or Amex, this won’t be true for you. But, for everyone else, the Altitude Connect’s 4x earning rate on travel will be far more lucrative.
Most cards that earn extra points on travel have a huge annual fee or they define travel so narrowly, that most of your purchases won’t get a bonus. For example:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees) – 5X on airfare purchased directly from airlines, 1x on most other travel expenses.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: $550 annual fee – 3X on most travel purchases, but not at gas stations or electric vehicle charging.
- Citi Premier® Card: $95 annual fee – 3X on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and at gas stations.
Compare that with the Altitude Connect’s travel category that earns 4X points on virtually everything related to travel. You’ll earn 4X points on airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruises, taxis, rideshare, trains, and limousines. You’ll even earn 4X at gas stations and electric vehicle charging stations for road trips.
Even better, you can earn 5X points when you book travel through the U.S. Bank Altitude Rewards Center.
Earn 4X on Dining with Altitude Go
Altitude Go cardholders earn 4X points on dining purchases, including takeout and food delivery. That’s a 4% return on dining spend from a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee! This card requires no companion card to maximise the value of your rewards, and you can redeem your points on almost any purchase as a statement credit.
Cardholders also earn 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, gas stations and EV charging stations, so if you run a lean rewards card setup, you can receive bonus points on a wide range of purchases with the Altitude Go.
Leverage 0% Intro APR Offer for Larger Purchases
One area where the Altitude Go outshines the Altitude Connect is the intro 0% APR offer on purchases.
While the goal is always to pay your card off in full every month, an intro 0% APR on purchases is a great fallback option to finance larger purchases over the short term.
Rather than paying loan setup and broker fees, then paying interest on the purchase each month, you can finance a purchase using your 0% APR card and pay it back over the intro period without the fees or interest charges.
U.S. Bank stands out from issuers like Chase and American Express with its simple and relaxed application rules on rewards cards. There is no need to count card applications over the previous 24 months or know exactly when you applied for your last U.S. Bank card. And you can forget the complex application rules like the Chase 5/24 or Citi 8/65 restrictions. Provided your credit is in good standing, you won’t need to jump as many hurdles as with other issuers to be eligible for a U.S. Bank rewards card.
The U.S. Bank Altitude family of cards doesn’t receive the same level of attention as more prominent rewards cards like Chase’s Sapphire cards or the Membership Rewards earning cards from Amex, but for points and miles fans looking for a less complicated rewards strategy, these cards provide an excellent alternative.
The Altitude Connect offers an excellent signup bonus of 50,000 points, with an affordable minimum spend of $2,000 over 120 days (rather than the typical 90 days). Plus, you’ll earn up to 5X points on travel purchases and 4X points on gas and EV charging stations. With a waived annual fee for the first year, it’s never been easier to give this card a try.
The no annual fee Altitude Go is a great alternative if you don’t want to pay an annual fee over the long term. But for many, the Altitude Connect‘s more valuable bonus, top return on travel spending, and $0 intro annual fee for the first year (then $95) will make it the clear winner