U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card Review: Is It Worth the $400 Annual Fee?
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The Altitude Reserve is U.S. Bank’s premier travel card, with a high fee that’s matched by a nice annual travel credit, a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership, and 12 in-flight Gogo WiFi credits. But it’s not quite as exciting as some other high-end travel credit cards.
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The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card is a metal credit card for people with excellent credit. The priciest of U.S. Bank’s personal credit cards, it has an annual fee of $400 and comes with some nice luxury benefits, but is the fee worth the benefits? Keep reading to decide for yourself.
Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
This card has good benefits, and some people may want it for the perceived prestige of having a card that’s made of metal. The annual fee is relatively high compared to most credit cards, but lower among high-end benefits-heavy cards it competes with, like the The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
It gives 3 reward points per dollar spent on mobile wallet purchases. We’ve never seen a card offer additional rewards for mobile wallet purchases, so that makes this card unique. If you make lots of mobile wallet purchases, this may be a good card for you.
One place this card loses points is the limitations on some benefits. For example, it offers Priority Pass lounge access like other high-end travel cards, but there is a $27 fee per lounge visit after the first four complementary passes are used each year.
Also, this card is only available to people who have been U.S. Bank customers for a least 35 days.
Keep reading to learn more about the details of this card.
Using this card as part of your credit card strategy
- Use this as a default card for mobile wallet purchases when you can’t earn more rewards on another card.
- Use the full $325 in annual travel credits to offset a good part of the $400 annual fee.
- You probably don’t need more than one high annual fee travel card in your wallet, whether it’s this card or one of its top competitors (listed below), because they tend to have similar benefits.
Based on U.S. Bank information, the value of each point is $0.015, so this card effectively earns 1.5% to 4.5% on purchases, depending on the categorization of the purchase.
The Altitude earns 1 point per dollar spent, with two opportunities to earn more points:
- 3x points on mobile wallet purchases made with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Microsoft Pay, or Samsung Pay (including purchases in apps that use these services)
- 3x points on travel expenses, defined by U.S. Bank as “airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines” (but not Uber or Lyft)
It’s important to note that when you make a travel purchase in an app using a mobile wallet, you won’t get the mobile wallet multiplier and the travel multiplier — it will earn points at the 3x rate, not 6x. Also, if a something doesn’t count as a travel expense, like an Uber ride, you can still get the 3x point multiplier by using a mobile wallet, like Apple Pay, to pay for the ride in the app.
You can earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days after you open the card, which is worth $750 in travel purchases according to U.S. Bank. That can go a long way to offset the annual fee and make this card worth it.
This card comes with an annual $325 travel credit. When you make purchases “directly from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines” this credit will automatically be applied. The Altitude’s travel credit is pretty competitive with other similar high-end travel cards.
When considering whether the $400 annual fee is worth it to you, the value of the travel credit is straightforward. As long as you use the whole thing each year, you’ll only need to make up the remaining $75 in rewards and other benefits.
Global Entry (and TSA PreCheck) Credit
Another benefit of this card with a straightforward value is the $100 Global Entry credit. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that provides expedited entry to the U.S.
If you travel internationally often, the time savings of Global Entry could add up quickly. If you only travel within the United States, you can apply this credit to the $85 TSA PreCheck instead, which could be a valuable timesaver on its own. Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck, so it could be a better deal to get Global Entry in case you need it, then you’ll have TSA PreCheck, too.
Remember, the benefit isn’t enrollment in the program, it’s a statement credit for the application fee. You’ll still need to go through the separate application process and be approved.
Global Entry lasts 5 years, so while this credit will be available to you again every 4 years, it’s not like you’re getting an additional $100 in value every year.
This benefit is expected on high-end travel cards, so the Altitude doesn’t really have anything special to provide here that other cards don’t.
Airport Lounge Access
Another common benefit seen on high-end travel cards is lounge access. However, this is one area the Altitude falls short of competitors.
Priority Pass Select access is included, which is a program that provides access to over 1000 airport lounges around the world. However, access to the lounge is only free for the first four visits for the cardholder and four for a guest per year. After that, you’ll have to pay $27 per person per visit. Additionally, this benefit is only available to the primary cardholder.
So, if you only use airport lounges around four times per year at most and the other benefits are worth it to you, then this card may be a good fit for you. If you want to use airport lounges a lot, though, there may be better cards for you that provide less limited access.
This card has some other smaller benefits that are worth mentioning. Depending on how much you use these brands, they may help you get more value out of the card, but likely won’t be the main reason you’ll get or keep this card.
Airplane Wi-Fi Credits
Every year, you’ll get 12 complimentary passes for Gogo inflight Wi-Fi. Normally, a 24-hour pass from Gogo is $19, so if you use all of these passes each year you’re getting another $228 in value.
When you rent a car from Silvercar, a service that rents Audi A4s, for at least two days, you’ll get up to 30% off when you pay with an Altitude Reserve.
GroundLink Black Car Service Discounts
When you use GroundLink Black Car Service, you’ll get 15% off and $30 off your first ride.
The Altitude Reserve provides benefits at Relais & Chateaux Boutique Luxury Hotels, like complementary breakfast, after staying at least two nights.
When staying at hotels that are part of the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, you’ll get additional benefits like room upgrades, food credits, and more.
Overall, these hotel benefits might be nice if you stay at any of these hotels, but the hotel benefits are lacking compared to other similar high-end cards.
The Costs & Fees
The $400 annual fee certainly stands out as the main cost of this card. Additional cards for authorized users are $75 per year each.
If the benefits are worth it to you and you make a lot of travel or mobile wallet purchases, then you may be able to quickly recoup or exceed the value of the annual fee.
There’s no foreign transaction fee, which makes sense on a high-end travel-focused card like this one.
Interest rates are not very high on this card, but you can avoid interest completely by paying your balance in full each month. The other fees are all pretty standard for what you’ll find on similar cards.
|Annual Fee||Regular Purchase APR||Regular Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|$400||16.24% Variable||16.24% Variable||24.49% Variable|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|3%, $5 minimum||4%, $10 minimum||None|
|Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to $40||Up to $35|
How to Apply for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
This card is designed for people with excellent credit.
Right now, this card is only available people who have been a U.S. Bank customer for a minimum of 35 days prior to submitting an application. According to the U.S. Bank website, that’s defined as having a “Checking or Savings account, Certificate of Deposit, Mortgage, Home Equity Loan, Home Equity Line of Credit, Auto/Boat/RV Loan, Personal Loans and Lines, Private Banking account or Consumer Credit Card issued by U.S. Bank.”
Alternatives to The Altitude Reserve
The Platinum card comes with some credits not found on the Altitude Reserve. These include $200 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each year ($15 each month, and $35 in December) and a $100 hotel credit via The Hotel Collection, although it has some booking restrictions.
The Platinum card definitely has better lounge access. It includes access to Centurion Lounges, American Express’ brand of high-end airport lounges. It also includes access to Delta Sky Clubs, and Airspace Lounges, in addition to free Priority Pass lounge access. While the Altitude Reserve has a limit to the number of complementary entry passes in a year, the Platinum card does not.
The American Express card effectively earns 1% on most regular non-travel purchases, since it earns one point per dollar and each point is worth about 1 cent or as much as 1.2 cents depending on how they’re redeemed. Some purchases earn more rewards, though. Flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express’ travel portal and eligible hotels booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar spent.
The Altitude Reserve’s 3x travel multiplier can’t compete with the 5X travel multiplier on the Platinum card, but the Platinum card doesn’t have any sort of point multiplier for mobile wallets, so if you spend a lot more with mobile wallets than on travel you may be able to earn more rewards with the Altitude Reserve.
Offers are limited; enrollment required.
It has a higher annual fee of $550. The annual travel credit is $300 for the Sapphire Reserve, which is a little less than the Altitude Reserve. The credit is automatically applied to cover travel purchases on both cards.
If you spend a lot on dining where you can’t use a mobile wallet, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can provide higher rewards than the Altitude Reserve. It earns 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides, 3X points per dollar on travel and dining expenses, and 1X point per dollar spent on everything else.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s welcome bonus is comparable to the Altitude Reserve’s: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Most of the benefits are similar to other travel cards with comparable annual fees, like a Global Entry application fee credit and airport lounge access.
The Citi Prestige earns 5X ThankYou Points on air travel and restaurants, and 3X ThankYou points at hotels and cruise lines. While the Altitude Reserve won’t earn you extra points just for spending in the dining or entertainment categories, you will get bonus points for mobile wallet spending, unlike with the Citi Prestige.
The Prestige has a bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points for spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening, which is worth at least $500 depending on how you redeem the points.
It has a higher annual fee of $495, and a lower annual airline travel credit of $100 compared to the $325 credit found on the Altitude Reserve.
As far as benefits, the Mastercard® Black Card™ does not have a limited number of complementary Priority Pass lounge passes like the Altitude Reserve.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ earns 1.5% to 2% depending on how you redeem your points, so it doesn’t earn as much as the Altitude Reserve if you spend a lot on travel or with a mobile wallet.
The Altitude Reserve clearly wins in signup bonus value, since the Mastercard® Black Card™ has no bonus whatsoever.
The Black Card™ also comes with a balance transfer offer, which is something missing from the Altitude Reserve, but a balance transfer offer actually seems like an odd feature for such a high-end card.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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