Published on May 11th, 2017 | by Chuck174
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?