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Bonus rewards in 5 categories: U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card review

May 10, 2021
8 min read
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U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card overview

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card (see rates and fees)is the issuer’s newest travel rewards card that offers a prolific rewards rate and statement credits for annual streaming services and a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee — all with a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

*Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Since U.S. Bank discontinued several of its credit cards last year (including the $49-annual-fee FlexPerks travel card), the issuer only had one travel rewards card left in its lineup. However, with a $400 annual fee, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card isn’t affordable for most award travelers — especially as there are (arguably) better premium travel rewards cards on the market. The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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That has all changed with the introduction of the brand-new, mid-tier U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card. It comes with an extraordinary rewards rate that covers five everyday purchase categories that will appeal to many.

This card enters the landscape competing with favorites such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card — we’ll take a first look at all the details.

Who is this card for?

The U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card is a great credit card for beginner award travelers. Whether you have a family with lots of everyday expenses or are a solo traveler who’s constantly on the road, this card offers a strong value proposition for many people.

It’s not often that a card offers higher bonus points on travel, gas, groceries, dining and streaming services. Once you maximize these purchases, your points are easy to redeem, since they’re worth 1 cent each. From here, you have the flexibility to book travel or get cash back, merchandise, gift cards and more.

Sign-up bonus: Worth $500

This card comes with the opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 or more in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That breaks down to $500 or more of purchases per month, which should be a reasonable feat for most individuals.

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Since the annual fee is waived the first year, you’re looking at a great amount of value from the get-go.

Related: Easy sign-up bonuses you can earn right now

Main benefits and perks

This new card comes with a sufficient amount of perks that make it a valuable addition to your wallet. By charging your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee to this card, you’ll receive up to $100 in reimbursement through a statement credit every four years. If you’re already part of either trusted traveler program, you can easily charge your friend's or family member’s application to this card and still receive the reimbursement.

Related: Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Which is better?

We’ve also seen the rise of streaming services in recent years. Whether you’re an Apple Music or Spotify® fan, or you own a Netflix or Hulu account, you’ll receive up to $30 in credit for various streaming services each year. It should be effortless for most people to maximize this credit each year. Plus, by paying your monthly cellphone bill with this card, you’ll get complimentary cellphone protection. You can receive up to $600 in reimbursement in the event of theft or damage to your phone.

Related: Your guide to saving money on streaming services

Finally, this card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and it’s also a contactless payment card. You’ll receive perks through the Visa Signature program as well.

How to earn points

Most competing rewards cards offer, at most, a couple (predictable) bonus categories. That’s not the case with the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect. You’ll find that it’s easy to rack up rewards, as you’ll earn 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 4x points on travel and at gas stations 2x points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining and streaming services; and 1x on all other eligible purchases.

For those who don’t want to open multiple cards but still want to get value from their everyday purchases, this is the card for you.

Related: Why there’s no such thing as a ‘best’ credit card

How to redeem points

Depending on the type of traveler you are, you may (or may not be) a fan of the redemption options with this card. Although you’ll earn points with this card, they’re fixed-value points. That being said, your points are worth 1 cent each for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash back and more. U.S. Bank also offers “Real-Time Rewards,” which allows you to redeem your points as you make purchases. You’ll receive a text message asking if you’d like to cover your purchase with your points.

While these redemption options are still solid and offer simplicity for beginner award travelers, the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect acts more like a cash-back card in our eyes. Meanwhile, a true travel rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred not only lets you redeem your points for a fixed value, but also offers the ability to transfer your rewards to Chase’s 10 airline and three hotel partners. By knowing how to maximize your points, you’ll find that you get way more than 1 cent of value. In fact, TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each.

Which cards compete with the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card?

The U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card enters an already saturated market of mid-tier travel rewards cards with $95 annual fees. However, the Connect has a leg up, since its annual fee is waived the first year. Still, you’ll want to consider these other options that are longtime traveler’s favorites.

Related: The best travel credit cards of May 2021

As mentioned above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred should be on your radar as it’s our best overall travel rewards card. Its sign-up bonus is much more powerful, offering 60,000 points after spending $4,000 or more in purchases within the first three months of account opening. This bonus is worth $1,200 according to TPG valuations — almost triple the value of the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card.

Related: Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

This card is much better for its redemption options, as you can redeem your points for 25% more (or 1.25 cents each) when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Or, find even more value when transferring your points to popular programs such as Hyatt, Southwest and United.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit is what entices you about the Connect Card, consider the Capital One Venture Rewards card instead. The current sign-up bonus offers 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

TPG pegs Capital One miles at 1.85 cents each, meaning this sign-up bonus is worth roughly $1,388 not provided by the issuer). Keep in mind that the spending threshold is much higher than the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card.

Related: Reasons to get the Capital One Venture card

The Venture card offers something for every type of traveler. If you value simplicity, you can use your miles to cover charges on your statement. If you value flexibility, you can get even more potential value from Capital One’s loyalty partners.

Bottom line

U.S. Bank does a great job of differentiating the Connect card by offering a robust rewards rate and useful statement credits for travel beginners. However, it falls short of its competitors with its sign-up bonus and redemption options. Still, this card can be a terrific option for those figuring out the points-and-miles world, since the annual fee is waived for the first year (then $95 thereafter).

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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