U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite<sup>®</sup> Card Review: A Premium Card With Fixed-Value Rewards U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite<sup>®</sup> Card Review: A Premium Card With Fixed-Value Rewards

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card Review: A Premium Card With Fixed-Value Rewards

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The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card aims to compete in a crowded luxury credit card space, going up against cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

The major difference between the Altitude Reserve and its competitors is that U.S. Bank doesn't have transfer partners and therefore its points can't be transferred to loyalty programs. While the card is designed for travelers, it's especially well-suited for those who want to earn cash back on their spending or redeem points in U.S. Bank's travel portal. As a Visa Infinite card, it also offers a whole slew of perks and benefits.

Other standout features include annual statement credits for dining and travel, airport lounge access, and credits for your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee. How does the Altitude Reserve stack up to the competition? Let's take a closer look.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
Annual Fee$400
Welcome Bonus Earn 50,000 bonus points worth $750 on travel. Just spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Altitude Reserve Pros

  • Unique earning category provides 3X on mobile wallet purchases.
  • $325 in annual statement credits largely offset the annual fee.
  • Ability to redeem points in real time for a variety of purchases.

Altitude Reserve Cons

  • $400 annual fee.
  • Lack of transfer partners for outsized redemptions.
  • Lounge access is limited to eight visits per year, while other cards provide unlimited visits.
a woman sits at a laptop while holding a credit card
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Altitude Reserve Welcome Offer

If you apply for the Altitude Reserve, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

When redeemed toward travel in the Altitude Rewards Center, points are worth 1.5¢ apiece, which would make this bonus worth $750. When redeemed in other ways, points are worth 1¢ each, making the bonus worth $500. It's also possible to redeem points at 1.14¢ apiece toward the annual fee. We'll discuss all of these redemption options in the redemption section below.

Altitude Reserve Benefits

As a Visa Infinite card, the Altitude Reserve comes with an extensive array of perks and benefits.

$325 in yearly travel and dining credits

Each year, you can receive up to $325 in statement credits for travel and dining purchases. This includes not just flights and hotels but also taxis, cruises, and trains, plus fast food and bars. These credits are based on your cardmember year (not the calendar year), and they apply automatically to eligible purchases. You should receive credits within three business days of eligible purchases. You can use the AwardWallet Merchant Category Lookup Tool to see how a merchant will code on your credit card; this will help you maximize your purchases and credits.

Priority Pass membership

Cardholders can enroll for a Priority Pass Select Membership with a waived enrollment fee for one cardmember per account. It includes eight free lounge visits per year. After the eight complimentary visits, members will be charged up to $32 per person, per visit, depending on individual lounge policies.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

Use your Altitude Reserve card to pay for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee and receive up to $100 in statement credits to offset this fee. This perk is available once every four years.

Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection perks

Receive a $25 food and beverage credit, free continental breakfast, and room upgrades (when available) at hotels participating in the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection. Plus, receive complimentary daily breakfast and a VIP welcome at participating Relais & Châteaux properties.

Insurance coverage

Your Altitude Reserve also provides several protections at home and on vacation. These include primary rental car collision damage waiver, up to $500,000 of travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation, repatriation of remains, lost luggage reimbursement, insurance for accidental loss of life or limb, and travel and emergency assistance services to coordinate aid during emergencies.

You also can take advantage of purchase security, return protection, extended warranty protection, and identity theft protection to protect your purchases. The full benefits guide is here (warning: PDF).

Altitude Reserve Earning Rates

With the Altitude Reserve, you'll earn 5X points prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 3X on eligible travel purchases and mobile wallet spending, and 1X on all other purchases.

The mobile wallet category merits attention. If you can pay a merchant using a mobile wallet, this can increase your rewards from 1X to 3X on everyday spending. That could add thousands of extra points to your account each year, and it's an uncommon bonus category in the credit card rewards space.

an unseen person holds a credit card while sitting in front of a laptop

Redeeming Points With the Altitude Reserve

U.S. Bank travel portal

Points are worth 1.5¢ each when redeemed for travel in the Altitude Rewards Center. This allows you to book travel as you like, such as boutique hotels that don't participate in a rewards program or flights from international airlines without good mileage redemption options. Plus, paying with points this way means you'll earn miles on flights, as these are considered paid tickets.

The negative here is that hotels aren't likely to recognize your elite status (or give you credit for the stay) when you don't book directly with them. Consider if this matters when you're redeeming points.

U.S. Bank Real-Time Rewards

You can redeem points from the Altitude Reserve via U.S. Bank's Real-Time Mobile Rewards, which allows you to redeem points at 1.5¢ per point towards travel, no matter where you made the purchase. Other U.S. Bank cards lack this feature of the bank's premium credit card.

Additionally, you can use these fixed-value points toward your other purchases — in real time. You'll use points at 1¢ each on these redemptions, including gift cards, merchandise, recent purchases, and more. Because you'll always get one cent per point at redemption, you don't have to worry about learning complicated strategies to redeem for maximum value. There are no better or worse ways to redeem your points. Unfortunately, this also means you won't get outsized value like you could with American Express or Chase transfer partners, for example.

You'll need to register your card for Real Time Rewards before making redemptions. Once enrolled, each time you make a purchase, U.S. Bank will send you a text message asking if you would like to use points to cover the cost. To redeem, reply with the word “Redeem.” This is a time-saving, convenient feature.

Redeeming toward the annual fee

Altitude Reserve cardholders can redeem 35,000 points toward the card's $400 annual fee. That's a redemption rate of 1.14¢ per point — less than you get on travel redemptions but better than redemptions in other categories.

Application Restrictions and Strategy

U.S. Bank, which issues the Altitude Reserve, tends to be very sensitive about the number of new accounts and recent inquiries showing on your credit report. This applies to accounts opened across all banks.

Additionally, the card's terms say that you need a good or excellent credit score to be approved. These same terms used to say “Exclusive to U.S. Bank customers,” though this verbiage comes and goes from the application page. If you don't have a banking relationship with U.S. Bank, it's unlikely you'll be approved for this card.

Lastly, you'll see this in the terms:

“The bonus is not available to Cardmembers who currently have, or had, a U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card account.”

If you previously held an Altitude Reserve card, you may not receive the welcome bonus here. Factor this into your application strategy.

Related: Understanding Rewards Credit Card Application Rules and Restrictions

Cards That Compete With the Altitude Reserve

  • If you want U.S. Bank rewards but a lower annual fee, check out the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card. This card has a $95 annual fee after the first year and can be used with Real-Time Mobile Rewards, plus its travel earning (outside the U.S. Bank portal) is higher, though it lacks the 1.5¢ redemption option. Check out our full review of the Altitude Connect.
  • If you want 1.5¢ redemptions and statement credits plus extras, look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. For a $550 annual fee, you'll get unlimited Priority Pass lounge visits, up to $300 in annual travel credits, and access to transfer partners that can provide outsized redemption value. You'll also get 1.5¢-per-point redemptions in Chase's travel portal. Check out our full review of the Sapphire Reserve.
  • If you don't want limits on lounge visits, consider the The Platinum Card® from American Express. While it comes with a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees), it also has the widest scope of lounge access across premium credit cards. This includes Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, some Lufthansa lounges, Amex international lounges, and more. Check out our full review of the Amex Platinum.

Related: Comparison of Premium Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Final Thoughts

This is a good travel card because it offers a number of valuable perks and benefits that can be useful when traveling — and even used in real time. The 3X earning on mobile wallet transactions offers a huge advantage and brings a whole slew of small everyday purchases into your overall points tally. Unfortunately, the points you earn with this card cannot be transferred to loyalty programs for award redemptions that potentially hold higher per-point valuations. However, if you can use the $325 travel and dining credit, the effective annual fee is only $75 — not bad for a card with great travel protections and a few lounge visits.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)

4.6 / 5 - (8 votes)
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  • Be Aware of the Extra hidden fees.
    I got the card about a month, and charged above 4500 on it the first month. among the charges were two cruises ticket. when the statement came, they didn’t apply the 325 credit. I called US Bank. they claim the charges went though as something else. I let that flight since i knew i was going to charge 325 before the year ends in another travel. Today I booked a flight to Chicago with the awarded 50k points. I made a mistake on one date and immediately call the bank. with less than 24 hours, the airline will have cancel or change my flight without penalty. US Bank charged me 30 dollars for their conscience service. Absolutely ridiculous, when Im paying 400 for a premium card.

  • Howie Rappaport says:

    The 3x earning with mobile is way too intriguing with this card to ignore it.

  • US credit card promotions are way better than Canada…

  • Definitely welcome more competition in this segment. Who’s next?

  • Always nice to see more competition to the industry! It’s a good start, but a work in progress.

  • Perks are decent, 3x on mobile wallet is cool, but I don’t really see their points as valuable. Only a $75 effective fee though, may check it out.

  • It’s great that US Bank is launching this card. I hope more banks release high end cards to increase competition.

  • 50000 seems low to CSR’s bonus of 100K… just saying 🙂

  • Cindi Anderson says:

    Not worth considering until they add points transfer partners.
    But regarding digital wallet, once you load your card in are you making purchases with the actual card so you keep your credit card benefits like extended warranties?

  • All these high annual fee credit cards price me out. Maybe it’s a way to ensure profitability in spite of deadbeats who never carry a balance.

  • Sadly, as someone with an iPhone, the mobile wallet feature isn’t as appealing to me since most stores don’t allow it. Hopefully in the near future it’ll be much more useful

  • kyle s engman says:

    Was excited about this card but not sure if the perks are worth the annual fee.

  • Its perks are similar to CSR, but nothing that makes the card stand out imo. Im def not considering this card.

  • With no options to transfer points to airline/hotel programs, I don’t see much value of this card.
    The more I learn about the card the more disappointed I get…

  • Very interesting card, I hadn’t seen this one yet. Thanks.

  • Jacqueline parsons says:

    The digital wallet side is better, keeps it all in one place. The lounge passes and points appear to a good incentive to take this offer up.

  • Seems like an interesting competitor in the premium credit card game. We will have to see how well it stands up against the competition.

  • hope this card works out. lots of promise.

  • I dunno….it seems like it has some sweet perks, but is it really enough to compete with the CSR? If they had a list of transfer partners that was competitive with Chase’s, maybe, but failing that I just can’t see any reason why I would opt for this card over the CSR.

  • It’s great to see new premium card competition.

  • As someone that enjoys redeeming points for premium cabin travel, cards that are linked to (or perhaps more appropriately: chained to) fixed value rewards programs are always a disappointment to me. Even if it was possible to earn the 3x points bonus on every purchase, one would still have to spend well over $100,000 on the Altitude card to accumulate enough points for one $5,000-valued J ticket. This product is a non-starter for me without airline transfer partners.

  • You know what? I have to say, over the last several years, I found myself becoming more and more a devotee of Chase cc’s. Then, out comes the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which I find is just one honey of a card and program. The CSR really has cemented me to feeling extremely comfortable with a Chase premium product. US Bank, in my book, is going to have to throw a lot more at me to wean me away from CSR.

  • So far I’m not blown away. Would have liked 100k signup especially given the mystery surrounding what the points will do.

  • Bertrand Say says:

    How hard is it to qualify for this card?

  • Although it looks like it will have some good benefits, there seem to be some things that are much more restrictive than other cards of this caliber.

    Do I understand that the priority pass membership only includes 4 visits to their lounges, then you are charged per visit? If so, that is really substandard. Airport lounge access is something that is used very often by those who get these cards.

    It will be interesting to see the card launch. From what I have read so far, this card does not seem competitive at all.

    • That is indeed the case — but I wonder, how many people use lounge access more than 4x/year?

      • Anyone that takes a single round trip flight can use the lounge 4-6 times. Departing airport and connecting airport on the way out and same on the way back is 4. If I also stop by the lounge after landing that’s 6 total lounge visits. 6 may be a bit much for most people but 4 would be very common, who doesn’t stop by the lounge before departing and while on a 1-2 hour layover?

        • I’m flying to Denver today, connecting in Chicago. I used the lounge at my origin and in Chicago. I’ll do the same on the way home. That would be the entire free lounge access benefit!

          That would certainly be a deal breaker for me.

  • Not enough lounge access for me. I’ll go for the Amex Platinum instead.

  • How do the points work? Will there be some sort of purchase portal, akin to the Chase UR system? Can I transfer points to certain airline partners?

    • We’re not 100% sure has everything hasn’t been officially posted, but it appears to be something like a purchase portal is what we can expect. We’ll also likely see no transfer partners.

      • Ok – so the bonus is around $750 in travel credits if it is like Flexperks? But maybe add in the travel credits and subtract the annual fee – then this is just an ok card

  • You left out a pretty key bit of info – the value of the “currency”.

  • Prashant Gangwal says:

    Competition is always great! Let’s hope for more in the future….

  • 4 lounge visits per year? I can use that many on a single trip…

  • Interesting. Is the Flexperks rewards program very good? I see that you can redeem those points for cruises as well as hotels and airfare.

  • Mobile wallet purchases are the future of in-store credit card purchases, so we may see this being a valuable perk.