U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Review: Worth It?

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The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is a premium rewards card for those who want to earn points on travel and everyday spending.

It offers a generous rewards rate and a number of perks and benefits that can make your travel more enjoyable.

I have been an Altitude Reserve cardmember for the last four years and love the 3 points per dollar on travel and mobile wallet purchases (Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, etc.) and a $325 travel and dining credit.

But in the past few years, the Altitude Reserve has lost ground to Capital One Venture X and American Express Platinum, which offer better benefits for similar annual fees.

You also must be a U.S. Bank customer to apply for this card. You need to have either a U.S. Bank bank account, certificate of deposit, loan, or credit card open at least 5 days before applying for this card.

We have a lot to cover with this card, so let’s dive right in. 

Table of Contents

3x Points on Travel and Mobile Wallet
U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
  • Earn 50,000 Points After Spending $4,500 in the First 90 Days
  • 5X Points on Prepaid Hotels and Car Rentals Booked via the Altitude Rewards Center
  • 3X Points on Travel and Mobile Wallet
  • Up to $325 Annual Credits for Travel and Dining
  • Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
  • Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Credit
  • $400 Annual Fee
Learn More

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 Points ($750)

The Altitude Reserve card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of card membership.

You can redeem those 50,000 points for $750 towards travel or dining.  

Earning Points with the Altitude Reserve

The Altitude Reserve card earns:

  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.
  • 3 points per dollar on eligible travel purchases.
  • 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

You can redeem points for 1.5 cents per point for travel, so:

  • 5 points per dollar is equivalent to 7.5% cash back
  • 3 points per dollar is equivalent to 4.5% cash back
  • 1 points per dollar is equivalent to 1.5% cash back

The Altitude Reserve is the only card that offers extra point on mobile wallet purchases, which is a major perk of this card.

This allows you to earn 3x points in many categories as long as you use your mobile wallet. 

If you spend a ton of money at wholesale club like Costco or Sam’s Club, the 3x points on mobile wallet purchases is huge since many other card exclude these stores from extra points. 

I typically spend about $500 per month at Costco and always use my Altitude Reserve there, so I net about $270 in free travel per year from using this card ($500 * 12 months * 3x points = 18,000 points / 1.5 cents = $270).

Mobile credit card payment

Redeeming Altitude Reserve Points

Each Altitude Reserve point is worth a flat rate of 1.5 cents per point. For example, a $150 flight would cost 10,000 Altitude Reserve points.

Using your Altitude Reserve points is easy. Just make a travel purchase with your Altitude Reserve the way you normally book flights, hotels, etc.

You can redeem your points for any flight, but there is a minimum purchase of $500 for hotels and $250 for rental cars.

Shortly after your travel purchase, you should receive an automatic text message from U.S. Bank (if you have enough points) asking if you would like to apply those points to your purchase.

You can also purchase gift cards at a lower rate of 1 cent per point and merchandise at a rate of around 1 cent each (sometimes lower).

Altitude Reserve Benefits

$325 Annual Travel and Dining Credit

The main perk of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is an easy-to-use $325 travel and dining credit to help offset the $400 annual fee. 

You can use this credit to cover various travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, and rental cars.

Plus, dining expenses like eating out at restaurants, takeout, and food delivery.

Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access

This card comes with Priority Pass airport lounge access, which gets you access to over 1,300 airport lounges.

Nothing is better than escaping the hustle and bustle of the airport and to escape the crowds to get free food and drinks. 

Most premium credit cards like the Capital One Venture X, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the American Express Platinum offer unlimited lounge visits with Priority Pass.

However, the Altitude Reserve only offers four free visits per year plus four free guest visits.

Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Credit

This card offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit.

TSA PreCheck is a membership program offering dedicated airport security lines and faster security screening (typically 5 minutes or less) at more than 200 airports across the United States and includes over 81 airlines.

With TSA PreCheck, you do not need to remove your shoes, laptop, small liquids, belts, or light jackets.

Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck and expedited immigration upon arrival from an international trip back to the United States.

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry require an interview and background check, but TSA PreCheck is typically faster and easier to obtain. 

If you already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you could use the card to purchase Global Entry for a family or friend or use it when your membership needs to be renewed. (Some TSA PreCheck enrollment centers require the credit card name to match the applicant’s name, whereas Global Entry doesn’t have the same requirement.)

TSA Precheck

Primary Rental Car Insurance

Primary rental car insurance covers any damage to a rental car when you pay for the rental using this card. 

But you still need to maintain liability car insurance to cover damage to another person or property.

Rental Car Insurance
Photo: Hertz

Trip Delay Insurance

You should always buy flights with a credit card that offers trip delay insurance, which reimburses you for things like hotels, food, transportation, and other necessary items.

Flights are increasingly delayed or canceled, and it is too risky to not use card that offers free trip delay insurance. Plus, airlines frequently blame delays on weather or an external factor to get out of paying compensation to passengers.

This benefit can really come in handy during a delay. While other passengers are worried about where to sleep and eat, you can book a nice hotel of your choice and enjoy some nice meals, without worrying about the cost.

The Altitude Reserve covers up to $500 per ticket if your flight is delayed by 6 or more hours or requires an overnight stay.

One of the downsides of the Altitude Reserve is that it is one of the only cards that doesn’t offer trip delay insurance for tickets booked with airline miles. Instead, you have to book the entire cost of the ticket with the Altitude Reserve.

Trip Delay - Airport Snow

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

When you’re planning a trip, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your travel plans will be covered if something goes wrong. That’s where credit card trip cancellation and interruption insurance comes in.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburse you for non-refundable expenses if your trip is interrupted or canceled for a covered reason such as illness, severe weather, or an accidental injury. 

To be eligible for trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you’ll need to pay for your travel expenses using this card.

Travel is crazy enough without having to worry about being out of pocket if something goes wrong, so I always suggest booking all travel with a card that offers travel protections.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement

Lost luggage reimbursement covers the cost to repair or replace your luggage and the contents inside if your bag is lost or damaged during a covered trip.

You must purchase the trip with this card, and it will also cover immediate family members traveling with you.

Coverage is also secondary to any reimbursement from the airline or common carrier. For example, if your bag and its contents were worth $1,000 and the airline gave you $200, you could file a claim for $800.

Luggage

Return Protection

This card provides you with return protection, which provides you with reimbursement for the cost of an eligible item of personal property if you are dissatisfied with the item for any reason within 90 days of the purchase and if the retailer will not accept the return.

Coverage is limited to $250 per eligible item and up to $1,000 annually.

Items must be received by the Benefit Administrator in like-new/good working condition.

Extended Warranty

Credit card extended warranty protection adds up to an additional year of coverage for eligible purchases on manufacturer’s warranties up to 3 years.

Coverage matches the protection provided by the original warranty so that damage or defect would have to be covered by the original warranty for extended warranty coverage.

The maximum coverage is $10,000 per item and $50,000 per cardholder.

For example, if you bought a TV with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years, then this card would extend the warranty for free to the fourth year.

But if the TV comes with a four or five-year warranty, you should consider using an American Express or Citi credit card, which covers warranties up to 5 years.

Purchase Protection

Purchase protection can save you a lot of money if you bought an eligible item that is damaged or stolen within 90-days.

For example, if accidentally dropped your new phone or laptop and broke the screen, you could file a claim to get it replaced if it was purchased within the last 90 days.

Coverage for this benefit is limited to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per cardholder.

Credit Card Purchase Protection Broken Phone

Pros and Cons of the Altitude Reserve

Here’s a quick overview of the Altitude Reserve’s advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending can be rewarding if you can maximize this benefit.
  • Easily redeem points at 1.5 cents per point.
  • The $325 travel and dining credit is easy to use.
  • Lots of travel and purchase protections.

Cons:

  • No airline or hotel transfer partners to maximize your travel.
  • The Priority Pass membership is limited to four free visits unlike most premium travel cards.
  • The trip delay insurance does not cover flights booked with airline miles.
  • The credits don’t offset the $400 annual fee like the Capital One Venture X or American Express Platinum

Alternatives to the Altitude Reserve

Now that you know about various benefits and pros and cons of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, it’s time to see its alternatives.

Or if you are like me who loves to maximize travel, what other cards you should also have in your wallet:

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Miles
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles for Spending $4,000 in the First 3 Months
  • $300 Travel Credit for Bookings via Capital One Travel
  • 10,000 Points for Each Account Anniversary
  • Hertz President’s Circle Elite Status
  • Airport Lounge Access (Priority Pass, Capital One, & Plaza Premium)
  • 10X Miles on Hotels and Rental Cars, and 5x Points on Flights Booked with Capital One Travel
  • Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • $395 Annual Fee
Learn More Our Review

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a premium travel rewards card that’s perfect for travelers who want outstanding travel perks like annual travel credits, worldwide airport lounge access, and travel and purchase protections. 

The Venture X earns 2x miles on all purchases helping you maximize every dollar of your spending. Plus, you can earn 10x miles on hotels and rental cars, and 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One.

The card has a $395 annual fee, it is completely offset by an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit for bookings via Capital One Travel and 10,000 points (worth at least $100) each account anniversary.

Plus you get airport lounge access at Priority Pass, Capital One, and Plaza Premium Lounges, Hertz President’s Circle elite status, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, rental car insurance, trip and luggage insurance, cell phone insurance, and purchase protection.

Platinum Card from American Express

100,000 Points
Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards Points After $6,000 in Eligible Purchases in the First 6 Months
  • 5x Points on Flights Booked Directly With Airlines (up to $500,000 in purchases each calendar year)
  • $1,000+ in Credits ($200 Airline Fee, $200 Uber Cash, $240 Digital Entertainment, $189 CLEAR, $155 Walmart+, $100 Saks, $200 Hotel via Amex Travel)
  • Airport Lounge Access (Centurion, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass, Escape, and Plaza Premium)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $695 Annual Fee (Rates & Fees)
Learn More Our Review
Terms Apply. Enrollment is required for some benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best premium travel rewards card for travelers who want airport lounge access to international lounges, including Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Escape Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, and more. 

The American Express Platinum has a $695 annual fee, but you’ll get a slew of yearly statement credits, including a $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credit, and $155 Walmart+ credit.  (Enrollment is required to activate credits.)

You also earn 5x Membership Rewards points when booking flights directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year) and 5x Membership Rewards points when booking prepaid hotels with American Express Travel. 

On top of that, you automatically earn Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold statuses, which offer points bonuses, room upgrades, late check-out, and other premier benefits. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points for Spending $4,000 in the First 3 Months
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • 10x Points on Hotels and Rental Cars and 5x Points on Flights Booked Through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x Points on Dining, Takeout, & Eligible Food Delivery
  • 50% More Redemption Value
  • Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
  • Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Primary Rental Car Insurance
  • $550 Annual Fee

Click Here to Learn How to Apply

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a great option for travelers who want premium perks such as airport lounge access and top-tier travel protections.

The Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, but you receive an annual easy-to use $300 travel credit and access to 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges.

Plus, great benefits such as trip delay insurance, primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase and return protection, extended warranty, and no foreign transaction fees.

Cardmembers also earn extra points with 5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on travel, dining, and food delivery purchases, and 1x points everywhere else.

You can also cash out points at a 50% bonus (1.5 cents per point) when redeeming points towards travel or transfer the points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

Is the Altitude Reserve Worth It?

When I first opened the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Card a few years ago it was a competitive travel rewards card.

Since then, other travel cards have launched with better benefits like the Capital One Venture X, or added additional benefits to existing cards like the American Express Platinum.

The Altitude Reserve is in need of a refresh to fix the limited Priority Pass visits and add airline and transfer partners.

But if you spend a lot of money via your mobile wallet, the Altitude Reserve is a good option to earn 3x points (equivalent to 4.5% back towards travel) almost everywhere including places like Costco and Sam’s Club.