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U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card: Who's It Good For?

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card: Who's It Good For?

Decent card that's worth looking at if you didn't find any of the other premium credit cards appealing. Also provides strong rewards on mobile wallet and travel purchases.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve isn’t quite as good other luxury credit cards on the market, due to things like limited free Priority Pass lounge visits. However, there are some benefits on this card that may make it worthwhile for some people. For instance, U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve cardholders get 3x points on mobile wallet payments – something you won’t find on other cards of this type. We encourage exploring the other random benefits that come with this card, such as the $325 annual travel credit.

Note: This card is only available to individuals who had an eligible U.S. Bank account for at least 35 days.

This card is good for...

  • Earning rewards on mobile wallet purchases -- 4.5% rewards rate
  • Those looking for luxury credit card perks at the lowest possible annual fee

This card is bad for...

  • People who already have another premium credit card
  • Those who want to make more than 4 visits per year to Priority Pass airport lounges

Review: Is The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Worth $400?

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve can be a decent luxury card for those who have not found any of the current leading premium cards appealing. The card comes with a $400 annual fee, which is lower than cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express. You get access to the standard suite of luxury card features like Priority Pass lounge access and TSA Pre check. The former is a bit worse on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve than other premium credit cards. You only get four free Priority Pass visits per year. Each subsequent visit costs $27 each. This can be a deal breaker for those who travel frequently throughout the year.

Even though this card comes with a $400 annual fee, part of that is offset by its $325 annual travel credit. This credit will be automatically applied towards qualified travel purchases, including airfare and hotel stays. Thanks to this credit, travelers can effectively pay a fee annually of just $75 ($400 - $325).

The standout feature of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is the fact that it gives 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet purchases, no matter the category. This can be both good and bad, depending on how your spending habits line up. Apple estimates 35% of merchants accept mobile wallet payments as of 2017, though this number has been disputed. If many of the places you shop at accept mobile wallets, you have the potential to earn an unlimited 4.5% rewards rate on the purchases there. That is significantly better than what most cards can provide you, especially other luxury travel cards. The trade-off is the fact that the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve doesn’t feature ‘dining’ as an elevated rewards category. This is a staple of premium credit cards, so you should consider whether you end up spending more when dining out or when buying things through a mobile wallet, before making a decision.

Bottom Line: The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve isn’t quite as good as other premium credit cards, though it’s also less expensive. The choice with these cards frequently comes down personal preferences when exploring the collective benefits this card provides and weighing those against the fee you'd have to put up with.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Benefits & Features

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve awards users 3 points per dollar spent on mobile wallet and travel-related purchases. To register as a mobile wallet transaction, you’ll need to tie your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve to one of the major mobile wallet apps available – Apple Pay, Android Pay, Microsoft Pay, or Samsung Pay. All other purchases earn just 1 point per dollar. A single reward point on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is worth around $0.015 when traded in for travel credits through U.S. Bank. Therefore, this card’s rewards rate will vary between 1.5% and 4.5%. Travel is defined as purchases through “airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines.” This will not include Uber/Lyft or online travel agencies. However, you can still earn 4.5% on some of these travel purchases by making in-app purchases through a mobile wallet.

You may not realize this, but mobile wallets are accepted at a lot of major supermarkets, drug stores and other retailers. Therefore, if you aren't using your phone to pay for things yet, earning a 4.5% rewards rate may be enough to switch up your spending habits. For example, here are a few places accepting Apple Pay:

  • Whole Foods
  • Stop&Shop
  • Giant Supermarkets
  • Trader Joe's
  • Starbucks
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • McDonald's
  • Subway
  • Macy's
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Kohl's
  • Foot Locker

You can also use mobile wallets and earn the 4.5% rewards rate when making in-app purchases on things like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft and Seamless.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
50,000 points after you spent at least $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • 50,000 points after you spent at least $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • $325 annual travel credit
  • Airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select, TSA PreCheck Credit
  • 3x points on all mobile wallet and travel purchases
  • 1x points on all other transactions
  • $75 annual fee per authorized user
  • Available only to current U.S. Bank customers who have an eligible bank account open for a minimum of 35 days
  • 12 Gogo Wifi Passes per year, US & Canada only, and one segment only
  • Up to 30% off Silvercar rentals of two days or more
  • Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Relais & Chateaux Boutique Luxury Hotels benefits
  • 50,000 points after you spent at least $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • $325 annual travel credit
  • Airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select, TSA PreCheck Credit
  • 3x points on all mobile wallet and travel purchases
  • 1x points on all other transactions
  • $75 annual fee per authorized user
  • Available only to current U.S. Bank customers who have an eligible bank account open for a minimum of 35 days
  • 12 Gogo Wifi Passes per year, US & Canada only, and one segment only
  • Up to 30% off Silvercar rentals of two days or more
  • Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Relais & Chateaux Boutique Luxury Hotels benefits
Annual Fee
$400
Regular APR
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
N/A
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The information related to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve currently offers a 50,000-point welcome bonus. To qualify, you must spend at least $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. This bonus is worth roughly $750 when traded in for travel credit through U.S. Bank.

The points you earn through the card can also be used to offset the $400 annual fee. You need to use 35,000 points to pay it off completely. We don’t recommend anyone do this. Using the points in this way will put their value at just $0.011 ($400 / 35,000). You will get more out of the points by using them to book travel instead.

Priority Pass Limited to 4 Visits

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve provides complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge access for four visits annually. One free guest is also included with each of the four free visits. Each subsequent visit over the limit will cost $27 per person per visit. Normally we value this benefit at $399. However, due to the 4-visit limit, we estimate the benefit is worth just $207 – this covers the basic standard Priority Pass Membership fee plus the cost of four visits.

Other luxury credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express, don’t put a limit on the number of free Priority Pass visits. Therefore, if you travel more than four times per year and want to have lounge access on each of your trips, consider another card.

How Does The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Compare to Other Credit Cards?

Making a judgment about a card’s value is only possible when you understand it in the context of other available options. We compared the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve against other premium credit cards to help you know which is the best option for you.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® will be better than the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve for most people. The card offers a $300 annual travel credit. It also gives 3 points per dollar on dining and travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit). These points are valued at $0.015 each, just like on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. One important distinction is that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® includes more things in its travel category, so it will be generally easier to get 3x points per dollar or find uses for your $300 credit travel credit.

There are two scenarios where paying the $450 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes more financial sense than saving $50 and going with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. The Priority Pass membership you get through the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with unlimited visits. Therefore, if you use the benefit on at least 6 visits every year, you will be more than making up for the small difference in the annual fee for these two cards. You will also be walking away with a bigger savings by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you spend $1,667 more on dining than you do through mobile wallets.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Highlights

  • $450 annual fee
  • Priority Pass Select Membership with unlimited annual visits
  • $300 annual travel credit

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express has an annual fee that is $150 higher than that on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. Most of the core benefits you get through the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve are also available through The Platinum Card® from American Express. This includes things like Priority Pass membership and TSA Pre credit. Note that The Platinum Card® from American Express also provides just $200 in annual airline fee credit and it is more restrictive than the travel credit you get through the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. The former can only be used to pay for airline incidentals on one carrier per year.

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a few extra perks that may justify the higher annual fee (See Rates & Fees). The first is the $200 annual Uber credit. Cardholders get $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December. Another major perk of the card is its Centurion Lounges. These are high quality airport lounges that are among the best in terms of amenities. They provide free meals, drinks and Wi-Fi at some of the nation’s busiest airports. Currently, there are nince – Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA), Philadelphia (PHL), Hong Kong (HKG) and San Francisco (SFO).

We encourage reading through our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express to develop a better understanding of everything this card has to offer.

The Platinum Card® from American Express Highlights

  • Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access
  • Annual $200 airline fee credit
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber credit

For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve vs Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Card is another popular luxury credit card with a $495 annual fee. This card will be better than the Citi Prestige® Card for people who stay at hotels for extended periods of time. The card’s standout feature is the complimentary 4th night it provides at any hotel of your choice, upto twice a year. This benefit only applies to bookings you make through the Citi Prestige® Concierge. All other major travel luxury benefits, with the exception of airline travel credit, are similar to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.

The annual general travel credit on the Citi Prestige® Card is $250 -- $75 lower than the one you receive with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. When you bake that into the annual fee differential, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is $125 less expensive. Use this number when trying to figure out how much more value you can get out of the Citi Prestige® Card over the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. If it’s more than $125, you should probably go with the Citi Prestige® Card.

Citi Prestige® Card Highlights

  • Complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4–consecutive night booking through the Citi Prestige® Concierge (upto twice a year)
  • Annual $250 Travel Credit
  • 5x points on air travel and dining, 3x points on cruise lines, and 1x points on all other purchases

The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.  

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).