Posted by William Charles on March 14, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on March 14th, 2017 | by William Charles

87

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card Review – 3% Cash Back First Year, Then 2.5% ($59 AF Waived First Year)

Card Basics

Alliant has a credit card called Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card. Let’s take a look at the card basics:

alliant

Joining Alliant

To apply for this card, you need to join the Alliant Credit Union. There is no hard pull to join and anybody can join for free. Here is the easiest way to join for free:

  • Click Become a Member green button in the top right side of the Alliant web site.
  • Click on Another way to qualify gray button twice until the Find Out If You Are Eligible header shows up.
  • Select Freelancers Union radio button from the list of qualified organizations
  • Click on Continue green button.
  • You will see the following message: Congratulations! You are eligible to apply for membership in Alliant Credit Union. You have selected Freelancers Union.
  • Finally, click on Continue with application green button to start your Alliant Credit Union application process.

Big thanks to reader Eduardo.

Additional Alliant Benefits

You can improve your credit score if you don’t have any installment loans by using the secured loan technique (discussed in detail here). Alliant is one of the most popular credit unions to do this with.

In addition they are one of the better hub accounts and lots of datapoints of using ACH to meet direct deposit requirements for bank account bonuses.

They also offer an account with a 1.05% APY interest rate, there are accounts with higher savings rates but this is still very competitive.

Our Verdict

Obviously 3%/2.5% cash back is one of the best options out there. Our base line is usually 2% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. This card offers 3% cash back the first year with no annual fee (similar to Discover it Miles), so it’s obviously better in that regard. Year two onwards you’d need to spend $11,800 to be better off with this card compared to a regular 2% card. There is also the USAA Limitless card that offers 2.5% cash back with no annual fee, that will be better for most people but it’s not available to everybody.

The nice addition is the lack of foreign transaction fees. It’s nice that you also earn 3%/2.5% cash back on these purchases. It’s also great that if you do a product change/upgrade to this card (they offer targeted bonuses of up to $400 for their other cards), that you get the annual fee waived and also the 3% cash back in the first year.

Overall I think this is a great card if you have a lot of credit card spending that is on unbonused categories. Just keep in mind that the best value comes from credit card sign up bonuses, so take into account how much unbonused spend you’ll have after meeting minimum spend requirements.



87 Responses to Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card Review – 3% Cash Back First Year, Then 2.5% ($59 AF Waived First Year)

  1. Sam says:

    Did you find your source from myfico forum?
    http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/Alliant-Cashback-Visa-Signature-3-Year-One-with-no-AF-2-5/td-p/4889217

    According to the posts in that thread, you can ONLY get this card by upgrading an existing Alliant credit card and it’s NOT GUARANTEED. It’s probably not open to the public. Someone needs to clarify this.

  2. Dan says:

    Does Discover still offer double cashback for first year? Cause that deal is better 😉

  3. Mimi says:

    Is this one of those CCs where you redeem your CBs at CU Rewards website? If it is, I’d be wary because IF by chance, your account is shutdown for whatever reasons, you CANNOT redeem your CBs because it says in CUR site T&C that your account has to be in good standing with the CC. In other words, you can possibly forfeit several hundreds of cashback earned if the CU flags your account and decide to freeze and later it shutdown.

  4. sirtheta says:

    Partial DP

    Called in to upgrade my Platinum (0% APR expires today). (Btw — looks like this is just upgrades, I don’t see an apply button on the page).

    Representative asked me if I wanted a CLI + upgrade or just an upgrade (just an upgrade).

    Representative checked my CL ($10k) and said it looked good & that he’d go through and see if he can upgrade me.

    Unfortunately, due to the 0% APR, they couldn’t upgrade me without doing some extra stuff & the department that does that stuff is closed at the moment. They’re going to try to do it tomorrow and call me back to go through everything. I’ll report back then!

    Conjecture: as long as you have a $5k CL, you should be able to be upgraded ($5k because it’s a Visa Signature). If you have less, you’ll probably need a CLI to get to $5k before you can be upgraded.

    • sirtheta says:

      Actually read the T&C:

      – Minimum CL $10k — might be able to get away with less when upgrading?
      – Minimum redemption $25 (fairly typical). Nothing about redemption increments so I assume you’re good to go as long as you have more than that.
      – VERY interesting terms about what is eligible for cashback. Note they specifically except prepaid cards.

      “Cash back cannot be earned for finance charges, fees, cash advances, convenience checks, foreign transaction currency charges, Debt Protection charges, PIN-based purchases, payment of existing card balances, balance transfers, ATM transactions, Interlink-processed transactions, fees paid for pre-paid and re-loadable cards such as certain gift cards, or payments made for payment instruments that can readily be converted to cash (for example, travelers’ cheques, money orders, wire transfers, and similar products or services).”

      • IOException says:

        Most CCs say that, but there is really no way for them to check what you are buying. The interchange provider might be able to do that if the retailer is providing level 3 data, but AFAIK, banks still get information at the bucket level.

        Really, the only companies that would be able to do something like this are Discover and AMEX, since they make their own merchant agreements (and it is still probably far too much work for them to care about).

        • sirtheta says:

          I’d say it’s fairly unusual to see prepaid cards specifically mentioned. That said, yeah they probably won’t do anything about it — unless you’re placing a lot of orders with GCM!

      • Added some of this to post 🙂

      • JohnB says:

        “…fees paid for pre-paid and re-loadable cards…”. So, cash back on the gift card amounts, but not on the fees? Am I reading that correctly? If so, that’s fine.

      • Matt says:

        I don’t think a fair reading of that means they exclude prepaid cards. Let’s break it down.

        The line in question is: ‘fees paid for pre-paid and re-loadable cards such as certain gift cards”

        “Fees paid” clearly modifies “pre-paid” and “reloadable cards such as certain gift cards.” The rest of the exclusions separate distinct items that are excluded using commas.

        Even if we assume that they “fees paid” does not modify “reloadable cards,” such that it is its own excluded item, most prepaid cards that we are concerned with are *non-reloadable* and therefore are explicitly not within the ambit of list of exclusions.

        Lest one think that “payment instruments that can readily be converted to cash” applies to prepaid cards, the list of examples include very dissimilar products and services. As a matter of legal construction, the “for example” list would also seem to exclude prepaid cards.

        To sum it up, then, I think it’s inaccurate to say that “they specifically except prepaid cards.” The terms do nothing of the sort.

    • Somebody called in and applied directly and got approved via /r/churning. Not sure if that is supposed to be allowed or not.

    • sirtheta says:

      Further DP: I hadn’t been called back from the person that was supposed to call me, so I called in again today to ask to be upgraded again.

      Loan & credit card services stated that I was good to be upgraded w/o a credit pull since I have a $10k CL card w/ Alliant. I’m guessing if you want to upgrade but don’t have $10k CL, they’ll need to do a hard pull for a CLI.

      They transferred me to Member Services and after that rep looked through the system and conferred w/ “plastics”, she said I was already being upgraded (presumably from the 03/14 Tuesday call, even though they haven’t called me to read any disclosures). I’m supposed to receive my card in 7-10 business days which would be around March 27—so either they’re shipping them fast, they have some amount of card stock on hard, or 7-10 business days isn’t actually correct. I guess I’ll see!

      • sirtheta says:

        update: got a call from my previous contact on Tuesday, he confirmed that I was being upgraded, the change in my APR, and 7-10 business days to receive card.

    • sirtheta says:

      Another update: logged in to my Alliant account today and both the Cashback Visa Signature and the card I PC’d to the Cashback Visa Signature (Visa Platinum) show up. The former has all the correct account details transferred over (closing date, last payment) but no APR info, while the latter still has APR info associated with it (consistent with the APR on the Visa Platinum but not the Cashback Visa Signature).

      There is a link to manage your cashback that 404s, but the link structure is within Alliant’s online banking. This leads me to believe that cashback will indeed be managed by Alliant themselves (as suspected) and not a third party such as CURewards.

    • sirtheta says:

      Last update: arrived today. http://i.imgur.com/cBgzgzK.jpg?1

      It looks quite good, nice flat, black design. Certainly a top-tier card by visual design, in my opinion.

  5. Dan says:

    I’m a little confused by the wording in your post. Are you saying that they have offered targeted bonuses of $400 for upgrading to this card? (that’s what it seems like you are saying). I’m aware that for some of their other cards, there have been signup bonuses that high. But it’s confusing what you are meaning by that in the context of this post

    • Dan says:

      this is in reference to the last paragraph

    • MG says:

      As far as I can tell, this card is new. The targeted sign up bonuses are usually for the platinum rewards card (I got one for $500 Dec 2015). Cash redemption is really easy into an Alliant account.

      Regarding the cash back term language, I was targeted this November/December with an offer for 3% back on all purchases on my Platinum card. I believe the language is the same, but I received 3% back on everything, including my purchases of the discounted 5B from GC.com.

      • MG says:

        I spoke too soon. Prepaid cards are not listed at all in the 3% back offer I received last fall. It will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

    • No they have offered targeted bonuses of $400 before, I’ll update post to make it clearer.

  6. Jake says:

    It’s exciting to see 2%+ cash back cards but the annual fee kinda kills this card

    • sirtheta says:

      I disagree. The annual fee makes a lot of sense from the bank’s perspective because it limits their losses. Plenty of consumers can find a use for a relatively low fee card with that quickly makes up the difference compared to a 2% card (even churners!).

      I mean, some people pay $89 for the Arrival+, for god’s sake!

      • anthonyjh21 says:

        Completely agree. No games with redemption either.

        The A+ is the epitome of the card churners love with no lifetime language, TU pull and disincentive to keep it long term.

        • Jack says:

          Surprising if they pulled TU for this. I believe Alliant always pulled EQ in the past.

          • sirtheta says:

            anthonyjh21 was referring to Barclays with the TU pull. Alliant was EQ for me a year ago 🙂

          • anthonyjh21 says:

            For the Alliant CC yeah it was EQ.

            On a side note as far as becoming an Alliant member and opening a checking/savings I went with the route of sending in a paper application via snail mail so that I could create a joint account with my wife. If you try to submit it online you’ll get a hard pull for the second member. Weird but it’s how they work.

  7. Josh says:

    If anyone finds a “direct apply” link please point it out.

    I am an Alliant member & I love the idea of trying my luck MSing with a 3% card. But I don’t love the idea of applying for some sh*t card only to see if at some point it can be upgraded….

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      Alliant checking account is IMO the best out there. No fees, .65%, fast (and free) transfers. It’s turned into my primary bank. If this is your disposable bank account then more power to you but I don’t you know what where I eat.

    • Somebody applied directly by calling the number on the site (and was approved).

  8. Aaron says:

    When you go the page for the card, there seems to be only a phone number to call to upgrade your existing card. I don’t see a link to actually apply for it.

  9. Ewejay says:

    Hmm really wish I had been approved for their card last fall. I had only gotten ~4 cards in the previous ten months but had some high utilization (80%) hit my credit report.

  10. anthonyjh21 says:

    Thanks for posting about this. I cashed in on the $400 targeted offer late last year so I’ll be looking to upgrade into this card. Have $10k CL so hopefully it’ll be a smooth PC.

    I’ll post data points as I go. Have some minimum spending to take care of first.

  11. Bodiddely says:

    I applied for a checking account yesterday afternoon and it went pending. Called a few hours later asking to apply for this card and was transferred to “lending services.” The lady there said she would be happy to help me apply but the checking account had to be approved first. Hopefully that happens soon…

  12. Lona says:

    What kind of credit/credit rating do you need to apply for this card?

    • Lona says:

      Called and was advised by their loan department you need a score above 700 on Transunion to get approved.
      If you find out otherwise, please advise.

  13. Rob says:

    Maybe I’m missing something or calculating incorrectly, but this doesn’t make sense as a long term card to me. At 2.5% back, you would need to spend $11,800 to break even on the $59 annual fee vs what you would get with a no fee straight 2% back card (59/.005).

    • chaseaholic says:

      Easily quite worth it for high spenders who want simplicity + high universal rewards rate. Running say $100k thru this card would put $441 more into your pocket over the DC. Nothing to sneeze.

      Of course, I’m sure you and many of the readers here such as myself wouldn’t bother since there’s always another sign up bonus or 5x route

  14. Evan says:

    A representative that I spoke to me told me that the card is officially launching on March 24th. It doesn’t actually show up on the main site yet.

  15. DSP says:

    For those that don’t have access to USAA 2.5% card, this 0% FTF is huge, IMO. Easily beats all other 2% CB cards assuming you travel out of the country a lot or plan to put $1k/mo on it.

    • Matt says:

      *cough*

      BankAmericard TR card.

    • Miz says:

      Read T&C of transactions that are not eligible for cashback (it’s in DOC post above). “Foreign transaction currency charges” are not eligible for cashback. No FTF is worthless on this card.

      • DSP says:

        Do you expect to get cashback when you buy foreign currency? No CC gives cashback on cash advances.

      • sirtheta says:

        I’m not sure that “foreign transaction currency charges” is being interpreted correctly. For example, nearly identical language is used by Chase for their products. Here’s an excerpt from the Freedom Unlimited T&C: “Buying products and services with your card, in most cases, will count as a purchase; however, the following types of transactions won’t count and won’t earn points: […], foreign currency, […]”, as well as an excerpt from the Sapphire Reserve T&C: “however, the following types of transactions won’t count and won’t earn points: […], foreign currency, […]”.

        It seems to me that “foreign transaction currency charges” would be buying foreign currency, but does not exclude transactions in foreign currency proper.

  16. Henry says:

    Any thoughts/suggestions on how to get targeted for an existing Alliant CC product? Seems like the best strategy (if you like the idea of an extra .5% long term) is to hopefully jump on a $300-$400 bonus and then upgrade later.

  17. Bodiddely says:

    Applied yesterday for Alliant checking membership; got approval email for membership about 30 minutes ago. Just called up, asked to be transferred to lending services, and was able to apply over the phone. Requested and approved for 20k CL. They pulled TU, which had 3-4 inquiries but 10+ new accounts in the last 6 months. I asked if they could expedite and was told something to the effect that they don’t have the card stock yet, so perhaps these won’t be shipping until the “official launch” on the 24th. Very excited!

  18. NoonRadar says:

    Can anyone that has had an Alliant credit card + used it to M$ chime in on whether Alliant seems sensitive to repeat such online transactions and/or increased velocity and volume of spend within the first few months? Thanks.

  19. NoonRadar says:

    For people planning to apply & get the card asap, FT data point indicates they don’t have the card on stock (yet) and the official launch is 3/24/17. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28041790-post8.html

  20. Miz says:

    What makes this card disappointing and uninteresting is that “foreign transaction currency charges” do not earn cashback. This is absurd for any credit card, and even more absurd for one with a $59 AF and no FTF.

    • Where does it say that?

      • Miz says:

        It’s in your post:
        – Cash back cannot be earned for finance charges, fees, cash advances, convenience checks, foreign transaction currency charges, Debt Protection charges, PIN-based purchases, payment of existing card balances, balance transfers, ATM transactions, Interlink-processed transactions, fees paid for pre-paid and re-loadable cards such as certain gift cards, or payments made for payment instruments that can readily be converted to cash (for example, travelers’ cheques, money orders, wire transfers, and similar products or services).

  21. Mike says:

    Called in to upgrade my current credit card earlier today. I was read the terms etc. and was told that I would receive the card within 5-7 business days.

    They also increased my credit line from 10k to 25k without a hard pull (asked and confirmed beforehand) which was surprising.

    • Jonathan says:

      What option did you choose? I have the Alliant Visa Platinum and I asked to transfer that card to the new Visa Signature and the guy told me that I had to reapply for the new card. I said, well I’m already approved for this one, I just want to transfer that credit to the new card. He said, no, you’ll need to reapply. I don’t think he had a clue.

      • sirtheta says:

        HUCA and ask to upgrade to the new cashback card. (To transfer credit line would require you to be approved for the cashback card so there-in may lie the disconnect.)

    • Joan Q. says:

      Called today. When I opened my original rewards card, I only asked for $5000 CL. I was all the way through the upgrade disclosures when I asked if there was an additional inquiry. She said, not if you don’t want more credit. Then she said, um, hang on… Of course, I do need an increase. Speaker with loan department. Guy said they pull TransUnion. (Confirmed by Credit Karma alert.) New card on the way in 7-10 days with $10k limit.

  22. Yuriy G says:

    Another data point – had an Alliant account already but no credit card… Seamless application over the phone, has a minimum income and minimum credit line of 10K (max of 50K), approval received quickly. Definitely don’t need any upgrade, but the product is so new even many of the employees don’t know the details yet. And no official link on the site yet, as others have pointed out. Hope this helps folks!

  23. nurglefish says:

    The language for not earning rewards on foreign currency charges is the same as for their other rewards card:
    http://www.alliantcreditunion.org/images/uploads/files/VisaCreditCardDisclosure.pdf

    In addition, a lot of other things that aren’t eligible for rewards are fees/charges. There’s a chance that “foreign transaction currency charges” is meant to refer to just the FTF itself, and not the rest of the purchase. Then this language would just be a bad copy/paste job from the terms of their other rewards card that DOES charge FTF. Thoughts?

  24. Ewejay says:

    This is probably the best cash back card on the market. Here’s my thinking.
    Year one:
    Alliant Visa. 3%. Just be a member of the CU.
    Discover It Miles. 3% but you have to wait a year for half of it, and Discover is not quite as widely accepted.
    BofA Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors. 2.625% but of course needs >$100k at BofA/Merrill.
    USAA. Need to be eligible.
    BofA TR with Platinum. 2.25% but need >$50k.
    Fidelity Visa or other 2% card (I include the BA+ here).

    Year two.
    BofA TR with PH. Have to renew your PH level every ~15 months so this may belong lower. Depends on your wealth level and where you keep your funds.
    USAA.
    Alliant Visa. As noted above you would need to spend >$11,800/year to beat a 2% card, or >$23,600/year to beat BofA TR with Platinum.
    BofA TR with Platinum. 2.25%.
    Any 2% card.

    I’m not sure how Alliant’s customer service is or if they offer price protection or other benefits, so Discover may have secondary benefits to give it an edge. For someone like my SO who only wants to use a single card and does the majority of our organic spending, this is what I want her to carry.
    Now will they approve me? Hmm.

  25. A-A-RON says:

    I’m existing Alliant member with existing regular VISA Platinum. Called in to get product conversion to VISA Signature. Agent said no problem. She just had to end my current APR promotion on existing card. Was offered a credit line increase but I asked if that would be a credit inquiry and agent said yes so I passed. Agent confirmed that first year AF would be waived and first year cash back rate would be 3%.

    Could should arrive in 7-10 days.

  26. Bodiddely says:

    Mine arrived today. Was approved 3/15.

  27. Michael says:

    Any data on how generous/stingy Alliant is with approving new customers with numerous new credit cards in the last 12 months? Do they follow the traditional credit union pattern of being shocked that people have more than a handful of new credit cards?

  28. 5150 says:

    The procedures used by Alliant are quite difficult:
    Become a member – Need three forms of ID to submit.
    Get credit card – Need three forms of ID (again), Need to submit pay stubs for income verification, Max credit limit $25k.
    Use credit card – Many declines at first.
    Transfer money from your bank to their high yield savings account – Limited amount per day.
    Transfer money out of Alliant Savings – Limited to 25% of amount you can transfer in.

    Great credit card but …….

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      Never had any of these problems. Maybe there was something with you specifically that caused further verification and security measures. Could also be that having an existing bank account didn’t cause me to jump through hoops when I was approved for the 1% cc ($400 bonus) last fall.

  29. PhatMiles says:

    How aggressive is alliant when someone cycles their CL often? Any DPs on MS friendliness of alliant?

  30. JASON says:

    Declined by underwriter due to debit/income ratio too high. Reported 60K income, currently have mortgage and car loan, however car loan under my name but actual use by my cousin. Explained this to underwriter but still declined after 3 attempts. I’m 100% on time payment, credit score 750 and currently have over 10K in saving with Alliant but still declined.

  31. Snowblond says:

    Does this card have a hard credit limit or a flexible limit (NPSL)?

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