Published on May 16th, 2018 | by William Charles93
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve – Keep, Downgrade or Cancel?
The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card launched a little over a year ago, meaning that many readers are now having the annual fee on that card post. Given that the annual fee is $400, a lot of readers want to know if they should keep the card, cancel the card or downgrade it to another U.S. Bank card. I thought having a dedicated post on this would be useful. Before we get started let’s take a quick overlook at the card.
- Annual fee of $400 for the primary cardholder. Authorized users can be added for $75 each.
- $325 in annual travel credits. This is based on a card member year, rather than calendar year.
- Card earns at the following rates:
- 3x on mobile payments (including LoopPay/MST transactions)
- 3x on travel purchases made directly with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise line companies
- 1x on all other purchases
- Use real time rewards on travel purchases to get 1.5¢ per point.
- Priority Pass Select Membership (first four visits and four accompanying guests are free, then $27 per visit).
- 12 Complimentary Gogo Wi-Fi Passes
Keep in mind that U.S. Bank will refund your annual fee if you cancel or downgrade within 30 days of it posting to your account. I’d also recommend calling retention to see if they will offer you any sort of bonus for keeping the card. According to some comments people are being offered up to 10,000 points.
Keep The Card
The annual fee of $400 on this card is partially offset by the $325 travel credit. I never value travel credits as cash, as cash is infinitely more flexible but you need to decide how much you value this travel credit. At best even with this travel credit you’re paying an annual fee of $75 and if the card benefits outweigh that annual fee (or the difference between your value of the travel credit and the annual fee).
The priority pass membership this card is weak compared to other premium credit cards as you’re limited to 4 visits and 4 guest visits. If you already have better priority pass access through another card then this benefit is effectively worth $0. That being said if you only travel infrequently for leisure then 4 visits annually might be more than enough for your travel needs. I also don’t put a lot of value on the Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes, but this will again depend on your own valuation.
The real benefit of keeping this card long term will be the fact it earns 3x on mobile payments and travel purchases and then those points are worth 1.5¢ each. This effectively makes it 4.5% back on some categories. Unfortunately U.S. Bank is quite strict when it comes to purchases, especially mobile payments so taking advantage of this is difficult (more on that here). My personal opinion is that keeping the card long term doesn’t make a lot of sense, I’d prefer to just cycle through other premium credit cards to take advantage of benefits such as lounge access rather than keeping one card long term. Your own situation will be different, so add up how much you value each benefit and then see if that is higher or lower than the $400 annual fee. You should also take into account any retention bonus you’re offered for keeping the card.
Downgrade The Card
U.S. Bank does allow product downgrades/product changes, the only real rule they have is that you can’t product change to a branded product (e.g you couldn’t product change this to a Radisson Rewards card). The best downgrade option in my opinion is the U.S. Bank Cash+, as this card lets you choose two categories to earn 5% in (maximum of $2,000 in combined spend per quarter). Categories are:
- Ground Transportation
- Select Clothing Stores
- Cell Phones
- Electronics Stores
- Car Rentals
- Gyms/Fitness Centers
- Home Utilities
- Fast Food
- Sporting Goods Stores
- Department Stores
- Furniture Stores
- Movie Theaters
Cancel The Card
In my opinion there is no advantage to cancelling your card over downgrading it. Downgrading the card will give you access to another 5% card and you’ll keep your account’s history (e.g it’ll show the same opening date and help to improve your average age of accounts, a scoring factor for FICO).
My account anniversary has past, I haven’t been charged the annual fee yet. Can I get a second $325 travel credit and then cancel/downgrade before the annual fee hits?
Honestly this is what most readers want the answer to. From what I’ve seen the travel credit hasn’t posted for anybody in their second year yet (regardless of whether they paid the annual fee or not). Would love to see some more datapoints regarding this. This datapoint suggests it’s possible.
This card could be worth keeping for some people and it would be worth keeping for even more people if they weren’t so strict on purchases earning 3%. I think the majority of readers will be best downgrading this card to the Cash+ and cycling through other premium cards available to get benefits such as lounge access. The card is still definitely worth getting in the first year though due to the 50,000 point sign up bonus. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments below.