Posted by Chuck on May 11, 2017
Manufactured Spending

Published on May 11th, 2017 | by Chuck

156

PSA: Don’t Buy Gift Cards with your US Bank Altitude Card

Many of us got the US Bank Altitude and want to use it to manufacture spend for the 3x rewards when using mobile payments (worth up to 4.5%) or to meet the minimum spend requirement.

A few days ago, Frequentmiler chatted with one of the US Bank higher-ups and they indicated that there’s a team in place to make sure people won’t buy too many gift cards to take advantage of the 3x Mobile Payments. They declined to comment whether they’d give out warnings or not. We’ll call them the US Bank RAT team.

Today, Milesperday posted a story about someone (I heard the story first-hand as well) who bought a few $500 Visa gift cards and got their Altitude shut down. They bought two $500 Visa cards at the drugstore and a week later they tried buying a $500 card at the grocery and it got declined. They found out that their Altitude card had been shut down for ‘abuse’.

All the purchases had other items mixed in as well and the card had been used for regular purchases too, which makes it a bit more surprising. Either US Bank has Level 3 data telling them that it’s Visa gift cards or they guessed.

A number of other people also report being shut down due to gift card purchases (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Note that in the FM interview the person specifically said buying a few $500 gift cards is fine so long as they aren’t doing many on the same day. My guess is there’s a disconnect there between what the spokesmen are saying and what they are actually doing. It’s hard to tell someone to their face that people will be shut down for buying a few $500 cards since it sounds unreasonable. So it comes out in conversation that that would be fine, even though it’s really not fine.

It’s quite surprising that they’re coming down so hard on people who buy a few gift. Don’t know what they’d lose by giving a warning or being more transparent about the limits. They likely want to make a statement right away.

We’ll add this to the post about Sparing your Credit Cards from Shutdown.

FAQ

Will US Bank give me a warning first?

Nope. You’ll get a letter in the mail a few days later.

Is it only gift cards or all MS that’s problematic?

So far, we only know of gift cards causing shut down (it’s likely that’s what they are flagging as of now). It’s worth keeping away from extreme forms of MS that don’t involve gift cards to keep eyes off the account.

How many gift cards can I buy?

Seems like two $500 cards within a week triggered shut down. I’d keep away from buying more than one gift card in a long time.

Will mixing in other items help?

No, it might not help (might depend on L3 data, but not necessarily).

Will using the card on lots of ordinary, small purchases help me clear more $500 cards?

No.

Can I buy third-party gift cards in high denominations, e.g. $500 Amazon gift cards?

Unclear at this time.

Doesn’t seem reasonable to me that they’d shut you down for buying a few $500 Amazon gift cards during holiday shopping, but it’s unclear if they saw L3 data that it was a Visa card or if they just assume so. I wouldn’t rely on getting back in by explaining to them it was Amazon and not Visa.

Will it help if I buy gift cards without a mobile wallet so that there’s no ‘perk abuse’?

That doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Will this cause all your US Bank accounts to be shut down?

Yes, reports indicate that all cards will be shut down.

Even FIDO?

Yes, your Fidelity visa card from Elan will be shut down too since it’s administered by US Bank. (Based on a DP I’m familiar with).

Haven’t heard that bank accounts get shut down, though.

Is this issue on the Altitude card exclusively or all US Bank cards?

It seems they are now looking for gift card activity on any card and shutting down accounts for that.



156 Responses to PSA: Don’t Buy Gift Cards with your US Bank Altitude Card

  1. Dan says:

    Makes me kind of glad I didn’t jump on the Altitude bandwagon.

  2. Darv says:

    Dog gone RATs. They are multiplying. Shut downs left and right.

    “I’m sorry sir, your inquiries are excessive.” Does that mean you’re worried about my ability to pay? “No.” My credit score is 810 and I’ve never missed a payment. “The inquiries are a concern.”

    Yeah the banks aren’t high on transparency. They won’t come out and say “we’re shutting you down because you’re abusing our rewards program.” Or if they deny you a card, they won’t say “we aren’t approving you for this card because we believe you won’t be a profitable customer for us due to what we perceive as you gaming rewards programs.” Instead they say “you’ve opened too many new accounts recently” or “you you have too many inquiries over the past [6][12][24] months.”

    But it seems gamers are providing their own code when communicating with banks, short of fraud of course.

    Perhaps most amusing for me recently is visiting multiple Chase branches. I had one lady tell me “Do you work for Chase? I’ve been working here for 27 years and I’ve never heard of 5/24.” She didn’t believe me when I told her I wouldn’t be approved by Chase because I opened five credit cards in the past two years.

    US Bank practically laughed my wife off the phone. We’ll look to find the more favorable underwriting team when applying in branch when their checking promotion pops up. That’s assuming these “travel credits” are truly worth 1.5cpp. It doesn’t sound like a smooth redemption process from early reports.

    • WLT says:

      I got the Altitude Reserve. I think the only way you can maximize the points to be 1.5cpp is to book through their portal. Any other sort of redemption will be 1cpp, and from what I can tell, can be redeemed on anything, similar to Arrival(+) or Venture. I’m going to try it out in a few days and see how it goes. But, from what I can tell, this card isn’t a keeper, for more than a year.

  3. Rob says:

    By no stretch of the imagination would 3 gift cards be considered abuse by anybody anywhere. The abuse here is by the bank. They list nothing in their terms and conditions about what items are acceptable for purchase, but then they violate your privacy, stick their noses into your shopping bags, and then retroactively decide whether your purchases are to their liking? That is abhorrent. Can they just shut you down if you have other charges they don’t like? What about political contributions to the party they don’t support? Maybe they can peek at what medication you are buying and shut you down if they think you might be dying of cancer? The potential for this kind of abuse of your private information is a can of worms they just opened up…they are going to be sorry they ever tipped their hand that they can see your purchases.

    • Reg says:

      +1 billion.

      Regardless of the type of spend. The policy precedence seems wrong.

    • Scott says:

      Disagree. I bet if you dig into the full cardmember agreement, there is some provision allowing shutdown for abuse of the account or rewards system by purchasing cash equivalents or prepaid cards.

      The Terms and Conditions on the application page has this: “We will not award Points for Advances, Convenience Checks, Balance Transfers, Interest Charges and Fees, credit insurance charges, or transactions to fund certain prepaid card products. We reserve the right to adjust the number of Points for Purchases or to stop issuing Points for Purchases on the Account, upon notice to you. Upon approval, refer to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Cardmember Agreement for full details.”

      • Dan says:

        They’re still not being transparent, because they say they reserve the right to adjust points, etc …. but they didn’t say anything about reserving the right to shut you down if you purchase cash equivalents.

        • AB says:

          They can shut you down for any or no reason at all. This is nothing new for credit cards or nearly any business-to-consumer agreement nowadays.

          • Dan says:

            Wasn’t saying they don’t have the right to shut you down – was saying they weren’t being transparent about it.

          • Rob says:

            Any reason? Really? Like being from a race that has historically higher default rates? They tried that with “red-lining” mortgages once upon a time.

        • Scott says:

          Again, have you read the full cardmember agreement to verify? I don’t have the card so I don’t have the full agreement, but I’d bet there is something in there. Read through it and let me know. Banks are pretty smart about covering their asses.

          I don’t get the anger about them not being transparent. They don’t owe you any sort of transparency. Churners pretty clearly exploit the system and often times violate card agreements, etc. We’re just lucky the banks don’t enforce the rules and/or make money off of fees/interest/etc.

        • Tony says:

          They have absolutely no obligation to be transparent. This has been the way banks have always operated.

          And yet you complain about something you already agreed to? You are free to use other banks.

      • Rob says:

        Exactly, so if they will not award points for purchases of cash equivalents, how is buying one an abuse? Just don’t award the points as they say and after a purchase or two when people don’t get their points they won’t use that card. They also will shoot their product growth in the foot, but hey, those are the breaks. But shutting down an account for abuse because they bought 3 gift cards is absurd.

    • Chris says:

      Read your agreement. They can shut down your card at any time, for any reason and at their sole discretion. I’ve had two banks do this to me. There’s no fighting it. You agreed to it when you signed up.

  4. Lynn says:

    Why does it bother them if one buys a $500 giftcards or a $500 gift?

    • Parkerthon says:

      Because people MS. And they don’t want people profiting off their reward system in the crazy manner that people came to MS. They want people using the card for everyday purchases. So yeah, they set those terms. More power to them, I am not a heavy MSer but do occasionally pick up VGCs and gift cards in reward category stores to stack savings on large purchases. Large or not, this is dwarfed by the very solid amount of normal spend I do with any card that occupies a regular spot in my money clip. I won’t be applying for this card or any others by a bank that scrutinizes my purchases that closely… this certainly won’t win them the free publicity and positive exposure that frankly helped push premium cards like Sapphire and Platinum into the mainstream with the non-MS wealthier crowd. I understand controlling heavy MSers, but this sounds way overboard and frankly abusive in the other direction.

  5. joE says:

    x3 mobile was dead before this card even came out. People were delusional to think that this would last longer then a few month. Again sub-par card by a sub-par bank, now put up with the sub-par experience.

    • Chuck says:

      I wish they’d just put a cap on the 3x and be done with the shut downs.

      • NinjaX says:

        i understand what you are be saying but then there would be no such thing as RAT and everything would be OK even with leaked amex plat or Amex EDP 6k groceries or ink 5x abuse limit at 50k.

        your wish is what all of us wish, but its not gonna happen.

    • Nil says:

      Still a very good card in the first year and very much worth it.

  6. banananon says:

    Buying $1500 in GC’s in the first couple weeks of opening the card was a pretty dumb move. MS’ing this is going to be about the slow ramp.

    It will be interesting to see if FM gets banned with just one card purchased.

    • Ryab says:

      Totally agree. On top of that, there was an article warning us about potential shut down due to buying gift cards.

  7. Ray says:

    Doesn’t RAT Team mean Rewards Abuse Team Team?

  8. BS says:

    This is actually good news for a lot of people because it means at least they are trying to keep the 3x longer.

  9. Reg says:

    I’d like to make a larger point about the DOC community as a whole. I surely don’t believe that the cardholder is putting out a fake story as there seems to be many data points and corroboration.

    That being said, a commenter on MPD got an unfair response when he asked for proof of the shutdown. If this were fake, then the person fabricating the story has a lot to gain by scaring people off.

    Again, not saying it’s the case here, so relax, just making a larger point in general.

    Do other people think it’s unreasonable to ask for proof of the shut down?

    • Chuck says:

      I know the person myself. Heard it from him in a private setting, without any sort of intention that it would go public.

      • Reg says:

        Thanks Chuck,

        I am in no way questioning the accuracy, it totally is consistent with USB’s course of operation. Just wanted to say it may be relevant in other situations.

        As always, thank you so much for all your effort and for bringing us this information. Best blog out there!

  10. Stvr says:

    I think all of these commenters are fake. 100%. Why are you taking this at face value??

    I see the comment from Vinh vouching for the story but he likes to troll his readership to get ahead too

    • Reg says:

      Totally understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think that Chuck and Will should be thrown into the same boat as “other” blogs.

      They work their butts off to make sure they don’t make money on us through affiliate links and instead they always try to get us the best deals. I appreciate that, that’s the reason I only visit this blog, if possible. Not to mention all the other effort they put into this thing. Much appreciated

    • Chuck apparently knows the person who got shut down as well and they privately shared the story first. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think sharing the story is still worth it even if there is some chance it’s fake. If it was somebody I didn’t know, I probably wouldn’t have posted it but it seems Chuck does know this person so that’s good enough for me at the moment.

      This also gives others a place to share DPs/stories.

    • JakeFromStateFarm says:

      I’m in agreement with you. I have a hard time believing that in the 10 days since the card launched, less if it took a day or more to get it in the mail, they’ve taken the time to analyze spending or set up metrics to search for MS activity.

      I feel that it is more likely that:

      1 – Someone got their card and grossly abused the Mobile Payment feature via heavy MS at locations where the average person does not spend hundreds of dollars and it caused a flagged in the fraud department which lead to an investigation and or eventual shutdown.

      2 – The heavy MSers and bloggers are spreading misinformation to keep this avenue operating as long as possible. (Look back on all the Five Back misinformation that was pushed on reddit and multiple blogs shortly after the program went live if you don’t believe me)

      3 – A combination of both of the above possibilities.

  11. Scott says:

    Not all that surprising. The application page has this language in the terms and conditions:

    “We will not award Points for Advances, Convenience Checks, Balance Transfers, Interest Charges and Fees, credit insurance charges, or transactions to fund certain prepaid card products. We reserve the right to adjust the number of Points for Purchases or to stop issuing Points for Purchases on the Account, upon notice to you. Upon approval, refer to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Cardmember Agreement for full details.”

    I’m sure the full agreement has more detail and a provision allowing them to close your account for just about any reason. I’d also guess most cards have similar provisions, but those banks just don’t enforce them.

  12. P says:

    But what if you used Apple Pay which according to Apple “Apple Pay retains anonymous transaction information such as approximate purchase amount. This information can’t be tied back to you and never includes what you’re buying.”

    • JohnFromATL says:

      You are confusing the T&Cs for what data Apple keeps and what data your credit card company receives. Apple is keeping some aggregated information for selling/using in marketing. This is crappy of them, but whatever. Small cost of convenience. Most of us willingly give away much more by signing up for rewards programs.

      However, when they say that your purchase information is anonymous, this is what they are referring to. Certainly you do not assume your information is anonymous to your credit card company…

  13. kingofkingsforu says:

    It might be a strategy by the bank to spread rumors , so that people will stop MS on this card.

    Just to spread the fear. This is much cheaper than to maintain a RAT team

    • Zachek says:

      This is exactly what I came here to say. It really wouldn’t be too hard to plant the DP seeds of doubt in a few disparate places to secure the desired public perception. Certainly seems safer than paying a crack RATeam. But, if Chuck vouches for at least one of the DP’s that’s enough to give me pause. I’d like to see the letters once/if people start receiving them.

  14. JohnFromATL says:

    Chuck – I recommend clarifying the FM reference, since you seem to imply that the US Bank rep stated you it would be ok to buy multiples of $500. The US Bank VP never said it was okay to buy multiple $500 gift cards.

    Greg asked if it was okay to “throw in a gift card with a purchase”, and got the response of yes. Then asked what about if it was a $500 gift card, again paraphrased to yes. But I got the distinct impression from his writing that this is where it became more uncomfortable. When pushed further. the US Bank rep went on to say that he would not state the specifics that would trigger action by the bank in order to prevent any loopholes from being abused.

    • Chuck says:

      We obviously don’t have the exact context and wording so impossible to know anything for sure, but I stand by my interpretation.

  15. Charles Chang says:

    Shoot, just bought a vgc from Walgreen today.

  16. Charles Chang says:

    BTW: if your account got closed, do they give you any chance to redeem the earned rewards? Does closing the altitude trigger closing other accounts?

  17. Curtis says:

    Someone go buy $505.95 exactly in normal purchases (no gift cards) multiple times from a store. If you get shutdown, then obviously it’s not based on L3 data and they are just guessing. I bet you could get account re-opened very easily with copy of receipt.

  18. Miz says:

    The only way to make this card sustainable is by not letting people use it!

  19. NinjaX says:

    one can hope this is a false alarm like chase. either way, USB is not dumb. they know whats up even if they reactivate all accounts.

  20. JL100 says:

    I am sure they are guessing and no idea what you are buying. Discover tried the same thing, they just assumed a $1,000 transaction from a grocery store or drug store must be MS. Many people reported getting letters for legitimate high dollar real spend at these locations. I think the key is to keep the amount reasonable to the store. I doubt anyone is getting shut down for large purchases at Best Buy.

  21. Slim says:

    I recently had US Bank close all my accounts (Club Carlson, Flexperks Amex, Elan Fidelity) after I placed two $2500 GiftCards.com orders in one billing cycle on the Club Carlson. I got a letter in the mail for each account saying the accounts would be closed in two weeks.

    I didn’t have any redeemable rewards. The Club Carlson account was closed before the points were earned on the purchases.

  22. Keith @ USB says:

    What did we think would happen when we required that you buy GCs at mobile wallet accepting retailers for use at non-mobile wallet accepting retailers?

    Now you guys are charging up high balances in the first few weeks of and it looks risky AND we’re losing money on each transaction. You millenials are certainly keeping me busy.

  23. Anonymous says:

    This timing could not have been better. I was about to go to Macerich and buy 2K in fee free cards. That wouldn’t be a mobile wallet purchase though.

    Meeting minimum spend is gonna be difficult.

  24. Dave says:

    If they have level 3 tracking, why not just not pay rewards for the GC and keep the accounts open? By shutting down accounts, sounds like they’re quickly identifying MSers and saying that they don’t want their business.

  25. ihg newbie says:

    on a flip side, USB getting vigilant may be a good thing for non msers. it may mean that 3x wallet pay bonus may stick around longer.
    also, less floating points mean less competition for redemption awards.

  26. MarcoPolo says:

    So glad that I didn’t go through the hassle of applying for this card which should appropriately be renamed as “US Bank Attitude Card”.
    Moreover, benefits are not going to last just like any of their previous cards.

  27. JA says:

    So theoretically speaking, AFs have not posted yet, but I have already been credited for my $325 travel charge. They shut me down right now looks like I’m up $325. Anybody had a statement close? AF post?

    Another thought, are they getting more purchase data from mobile pay than they would a swipe? Voluntarily forego 3x to meet some min spend by swiping? Is the level 3 data dependent on the retailer or the bank?

  28. MSer says:

    Yep, I was one who had their Altitude quickly shut down. Makes me appreciate Amex sooooo much more. Always knew US Bank was crap based on my interactions over the years, but this is downright stupid. Yes, I MSed a few gcs, but had planned on turning it into my everyday, otherwise non-bonused spend card. If they are hoping to create some positive buzz over this card, they are doing their best to quickly kill it. Already PSAs warning people to stay away is about the last thing they need on a new product launch.

    On to bigger and better things.

    • Elmer says:

      I bet they are shedding tears over this comment. They smartly are determining who they do/don’t want as a customer early on and scaring others away from doing MS. I seriously doubt they give two cents about losing your longterm business, or about getting PSAs on Reddit’s Churning forum.

  29. TJ says:

    I’ve bought $1600 worth of gift cards so far. I hope my account doesn’t get shut down. I did 2x $200 twice on day 1, then today 2x$200 twice again. I’ll cool it for awhile. Omg 🙁 I also have organic spend as well.

  30. Markie says:

    Personally, I don’t MS but I would think a “high-end” card would have some high rollers who buy large gift cards for people quite often. I know my boss has given several of us large gift cards all at the same time on his personal card.

  31. Justin says:

    Chuck,

    If you get any additional data around if it’s specifically mobile wallet related GC purchases (private discussions or otherwise) it’d be appreciated. Not seeing much data there. It’s seems likely mobile pay might be more likely to send L3 data then say a biweekly $500+ grocery purchase. Curious because $4500 MS might be hard, and some of that conceivably would be MS, not as concerned about 3% as the sign on bonus rewards on that MS.

    • Chuck says:

      I was wondering if they look closer at mobile payment due to reward abuse, but it doesn’t seem likely to me. Also seems unlikely to me that mobile payments sends more L3 data than non-mobile, but I certainly can’t say anything for sure.

  32. Dan says:

    This was certainly to be expected. I am waiting to get this card when I don’t need to MS the spend.

  33. Ed says:

    US Bank just killed any hope of a successful rollout. Chase was happy with their rollout of the CSR and knew the costs of acquiring the affluent cc user. I waited to see reactions before applying and glad I did. Meanwhile, I’m getting better bonus offers with less annual fees from other banks. I may entertain the thought of applying later in the year if they calm down and realize buying a reasonable amount of gift cards per week/month is normal purchasing for cc users and not abuse. But, maybe they don’t want to be as successful as the larger banks in acquiring loyalty. I’ve been a US Bank customer for years, but I still use other bank cards more.

  34. AlwaysFlying says:

    Stopped at the mall last Saturday, bought 4 x GCs and liquidated them already. So far no trouble but did not use mobile wallet. Sent a payment to the card today.

    • Ryan says:

      how much reward did you get? Wouldn’t you have been better off using mobile wallet for 3x reward? The most you got was 1%?

  35. Max says:

    Let’s say I MS at CVS (which doesn’t send L3 data) and the total isn’t 504.95. Because I throw some tissues in or something. Can USB get angry at me for totals of like 506.12? If they can’t see my purchase list, I could’ve just been buying expensive prescription meds or something. Unless they have definitive proof (L3 data) or the transaction is exactly 504.95, it seems very irresponsible of them to shut you down.

    • IOException says:

      CVS also doesn’t accept mobile wallets outside of their own CurrenC or whatever.

      • IOException says:

        Or maybe it is CVS Pay. Whatever it is, doesn’t matter as I’ll never use it.

      • Max says:

        I thought Samsung Pay works everywhere credit cards do.

        • IOException says:

          Derp, you’re right. They have a magnetic loop in there too.

        • Ed says:

          Most cvs locations have mobile anything disabled and will make you show card if you try even if you somehow get it to work. If people start trying this at cvs it’s going to cause a LOT of problems for everyone. Cards only at that chain for now please!

          • samsung says:

            Samsung pay works well at most CVS that I have tried (they always say it won’t work and our surprised when it does. Showing the card is fine, you aren’t doing anything that CVS doesn’t allow (up to the daily limit)

  36. Chris says:

    Has anyone tried funding a bank account with this card yet? Curious about whether that would trigger a similar flag (though I suspect this kind of scrutiny may be predominately targeted at 3x mobile wallet category spend) and – though slightly unrelated – whether it’s likely to code as cash advance.

  37. Sergey says:

    I have a similar story. I had 5 cards with US Bank and applied for reserve card on May 1 (what an idiot..). My app declined, I called and lady says it will go on manual review since system didn’t pick me up as current customer. On the same evening, my Flexperks was declined in the grocery store. I realized it wasn’t a fraud alert, since I do such purchases regularly and also nobody called me. I called later and was told that somebody will call me, since my account is under review. I called 2 days later (since nobody called me) and was questioned by their investigation department regarding my purchases on my Flexperks card. They knew I was purchasing gift cards and told me this in my face. Lady told me purchasing gift cards is not allowed and they closed all my accounts, all flexperks points forfeited. Amounts of points is so large, that I lost a sleep and decided to hire a layer for help. Letters came few days ago stating that continuing relationships with me is unacceptable business risk. Now I’m sure that if I wouldn’t apply, my account would be safe.

  38. JL100 says:

    As another poster mentioned, the more I think about this, why shut down these accounts for perk “abuse?” Simply pay 1x on those transactions, the bank is still making money and they still have a customer that wants to use their card. If they decide to stop using it because 1x isn’t enough at CVS for $500, that’s the customer’s choice. Not sure what business risk the bank is taking, my company gets chargebacks all the time from credit card companies because of fraud or we do not ID the person. The Altitude customer clearly meets the credit standards of the bank because they were just granted a credit line through the bank’s underwriting process. Or as others have said, put a limit on the 3x mobile of $1,500/month or a % of total spend, or the more 1x you charge, the more 3x you can charge, whatever. I always make this point on shutdowns, the banks want to make their product so attractive but never say how much of X is acceptable – just make it clear.

  39. CR says:

    In my opinion as a credit analyst, most shut downs are probably due to fraud department. Credit And marketing department rarely use real time data whereas every bank fraud department has flags for cash equivalents. Since US bank credit department is strict, I am assuming fraud department must be more strict. Credit and marketing department rarely target individual accounts because each proposal takes several department approval before rollout. Whereas fraud department regularly targets individual accounts based on cash equivalents spending and spending at marchants with huge fraud rates.

    • CR says:

      One thing I forgot to mention is that new product launch are watched like a hawk by fraud department because new products are frequent target of fraudsters.

  40. Jed says:

    I would be very surprised if US Bank doesn’t close all of your cards if they shut down the Altitude for perk abuse. In the past, getting one card shut down has always meant getting all cards shut down along with a very lengthy ban from all US Bank cards.

  41. iahphx says:

    So I got this card and put some travel spend on it, but I haven’t done any MS. I was planning on doing some to qualify for the sign-up bonus: I won’t have $4500 in travel expenses in the first 90 days, and I don’t want to put ALL my spend on this card. So I’m a little uncertain what to do now. I guess I wait for the dust to settle.

    • MontyFC says:

      You can prepay taxes or use Plastiq for mortgage/rent payment. Although I don’t have this card, I don’t think those payments should be put in same category as gift card purchases.

      • iahphx says:

        The taxes will work a bit for me. I actually do have to prepay some state taxes, and my state takes credit cards for free.

        Thanks for the idea!

        I probably do need other stuff, too, though.

  42. Ken says:

    Plastiq spend should still be okay on this card??

  43. steve says:

    Wondering if merchant GC is treated as VGC, I used to purchase a lot of bestbuy gc at bestbuy not sure if it is gonna trigger a flag.

  44. ws says:

    This is all profoundly disconcerting. In addition to the occasional $500 vgc, this year I have been doing much more re-selling of merchant gift cards, via purchases @ ebay, amazon, etc. (ppdg, svm, etc.), then re-selling at or near cost.

    Is this type of gc activity (of varying amounts) also now likely to cause shut-downs? It would be easy to “guess” — just by the merchant. Or is there a distinction here with a difference? (cash equivalents vs. mechant/product?)

    • USB says:

      Can you imagine if they tried to introduce this card at Christmas? A bank that has a department that would just shut down new customers for buying a FEW common gift cards is laughable and the worst way to introduce a brand.

  45. Chaser123 says:

    As a positive note, gift card purchases on raise hasn’t raised any flags for me yet. I have done several. I have solely been using apple pay on this card with no MS ing. All real spend. I plan on reaching minimum spend all through apple pay. Too bad travel and apple pay do not stack (but I will test). This card has made me aware of how many places accept it.

    • John says:

      Good to know. How much you bought one time? 500, 1000? Thanks.

    • USB says:

      Thanks for notifying us. We’ll be sure to put a stop to this activity too – Your unfriendly US Bank MS detector rep (fighting hard against our marketing department who’s hilariously trying to get new affluent credit card customers).

  46. bY says:

    Following thread

  47. wade says:

    I just bought 13 $50 MasterCard GC at Safeway using my Chase Freedom. I get 5% back on Freedom Card plus $10 off the $50 GC (add a $4.95 transaction fee)

    • Ryan says:

      You sure have a lot of time on your hand. You have to buy 1 at a time with different transactions. I bought a few of the $500 variables with the $10 off.

  48. wade says:

    I bought 6 at one Safeway and got kicked out by the mgr lol! Bought 7 more at another Safeway up the road.

  49. wade says:

    I am going to give them away as gifts or Christmas presents

  50. Jeff says:

    DP: USB Flexperks card got shutdown too for buying $2k on GC.com, so they may be expanding this to other cards, too.

    • charles chang says:

      In one transaction? That’s apparently not a mobile payment, right? USBank is going too far …

    • Mimi says:

      this simply means they are now scrutinizing transactions on their other CCs. GC.com transactions are a dead give-away and they’ll win if they shut them down for violation of their T&C.

      I’ve seen a DP on FT where he was turned down for AR and his Flexperks account got shutdown when it was reviewed.

  51. Ed says:

    “Altitude Fails to Take Off” – Grounded before it ever made a difference in the competitive travel perks credit card arena, Altitude was a nice idea by a now frustrated marketing department when faced with their own enemy in another department. Someone high up in USB has got to be upset. Think how much money went into creating this.

  52. Kevin says:

    For those interested in other Applepay options…Exxon Mobil’s SpeedPass app lets you use Applepay for gas at the pump…works very well too. All you do is open the app which tells you to take a photo of the barcode attached to the pump, then choose your Altitude card. Link your Plenti account number in app and make sure to add the 300 Plentipoint promo for Exxon/Mobile (5+ gallons gives you 300 bonus points).

  53. Kevin says:

    Do you guys think it’s too risky to use Radpad with Altitude?

    • NinjaX says:

      why would that be risky?

      • Kevin says:

        Perk abuse, cash-like transaction? The 3x designation is my concern. Just wanted to see what others think before I go down that road.

        • NinjaX says:

          kevin, using AR for paying legit rent via a 3rd party like paypal or venmo or plastiq is not considered perk abuse nor is it considered a cash-like transaction where its fungible. paying rent is not MS or buying VGC.

          but the AR is still new, and anything can happen at this point with new DPs rolling in but you do not need to worry unless your rent is 10k/mo. then USB will notice.

    • Chuck says:

      I’d probably do it as a one-time thing if it’s legit, but wouldn’t keep doing it out for fear of the unknown.

  54. JC says:

    I am surprised to hear about all of these altitude reserve accounts being closed by USBank for the purchase of gift cards. It is mother’s day and graduation season. I often give graduation gifts in the $200 to $500 range in the form of Visa, Mastercard, or American Express gift cards depending on who is offering them with no purchase fees or rebates that negate the purchase fees. I know quite a few people that buy gift cards of $200 or $500 as gifts. I also know some people who buy a $500 visa gift card every month just for online purchases because they are worried about fraud on their primary credit card. For the target demographic I would have expected several large gift card purchases of $200 to $500 per card to be the norm annually.

  55. Mike says:

    Close in today.
    Purchase 5 of VGC in past 5 weeks, totally amount ~$1500, all of VGC purchase airlines GC and use for booking ticket (~1/3 ticket cost pay with Altitude directly)

    • Mike says:

      After review terms, the GC is not prohibition in there.
      I want to know how many peoples want to join class action lawsuit for this close event?

  56. JasonChen says:

    DP: my card was closed today. I didn’t purchase any visa gift card or other cash equivalent. However, I used apple pay in raise for ~4k brand gc purchase.

  57. VM says:

    Another DP of shutdown: My card was also shut down last Friday without buying Visa GC. I used my card for about 5k-6k on Raise, Bestbuy and Staples and I didn’t have any single purchase more than $500. I think spending more than some amount on 3x category might trigger shutdown and it’s nothing with buying VGC

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