The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you choose the 5% cash back spending categories for your card each quarter.
This level of customization is nice, but does that make it the best cash back card for your wallet?
In this article, Team Clark will take a deeper dive into the U.S. Bank offering and compare it to its top competitors in the category.
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Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its bonus cash back categories and the fact that it doesn’t have an annual fee.
As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card?
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is a no-annual-fee credit card that allows customers to customize their rewards path. Each quarter cardmembers are presented with a menu of options for picking two 5% cash back categories and one 2% cash back category. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks.
Cash Back Rewards
This rewards program is built on consumer choice, so the path to earning optimal cash back will be different for each cardholder.
Here’s how it works:
- 5% Cash Back: Each quarter, you are able to select two spending categories. These can be things like internet streaming, department stores and home utilities. The combined spending on the two categories you choose is capped at $2,000 for the 5% reward. After that, you’ll earn 1% on spending in those categories.
- 2% Cash Back: In addition to your 5% categories, U.S. Bank also will let you make a quarterly choice on a 2% cash back spending category. The options for this will be different from the 5% options and include “everyday” spending categories like gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. There is no spending limit at this reward level.
- 1% Cash Back: All purchases made outside of the three categories you’ve selected for that particular quarter will qualify for a base 1% cash back reward.
Here’s a look at a “sample menu” of cash back category choices for a single quarter:
It’s important to remember that these bonus categories can change from quarter to quarter and that you must opt in each quarter to select your bonus categories. If you don’t, all purchases will earn 1% cash back.
Cash Back Redemption
Here are a few things you’ll want to note about this card’s redemption protocols:
- You can redeem your cash back rewards as one of the following: a statement credit, a deposit made to a U.S. Bank savings, checking or money market account or a U.S. Bank Rewards Card.
- Redemptions can be made at any time, but the minimum cash back redemption to get a U.S. Bank Rewards Card is $20.
- Rewards expire 36 months after the billing cycle in which they are accumulated.
- You will immediately lose unused cash back rewards if your account is closed.
Other Cardholder Benefits
- Welcome Bonus: This card carries an easy-to-achieve $200 welcome bonus that requires only $500 in spending during the first 90 days of card membership.
- Introductory APR Period: You can get a full year of 0% APR on balance transfers with this card. Balance transfers must be completed within the first 60 days of card membership to qualify, and they are subject to a 3% transfer fee. There is no introductory APR period for new purchases.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the U.S. Bank Cash+ Card:
- Annual Fee: None.
- Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transfer with a $5 minimum.
- Cash Advance Fee: 4% of the amount of each advance with a $10 minimum.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of the transaction if completed in U.S. dollars, 3% if completed in foreign currency.
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $40.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card vs. Rotating 5% Cash Back Cards
If you are considering the U.S. Bank Cash+ card for its quarterly 5% cash back categories, it stands to reason that you also may be considering one of the rotating 5% cash back cards.
These cards differ from the U.S. Bank card in that they don’t let you pick categories for the 5% bonus. Instead, they release a calendar many months in advance that lays out exactly what the bonus categories will be each quarter for the next calendar year.
But for a card to qualify as one you want to own, you should consider more than just the cash back rewards schedule. There are other factors.
Let’s take a look at them with this side-by-side comparison:
|Card Characteristic||U.S. Bank Cash+||Discover it Cash Back||Chase Freedom Flex|
|Welcome Bonus||$200 on $500 spending||“Cash Back Match” for all Year 1 spending||$200 on $500 spending|
|Intro APR Offer for New Purchases||None||0% for 14 months||0% for 15 months|
|Intro APR Offer for Balance Transfers||0% for 12 months||None||None|
|5% Categories||You choose 2 from a list each quarter||Scheduled quarterly in advance||Scheduled quarterly in advance|
|Spending Cap on 5% Categories||$2,000 per quarter||$1,500 per quarter||$1,500 per quarter|
|Additional Bonus Categories||2% on one everyday category per quarter||None||3% on restaurants and drug stores|
|Standard Cash Back Rate||1%||1%||1%|
|Cell Phone Protection||No||No||Yes, $800 per claim|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||2-3% (based on currency used)||None||3%|
The Big Takeaways
Here are some things to consider coming out of that comparison:
- As you may have noticed, in addition to allowing you to choose the 5% categories, the U.S. Bank Cash+ card also has a $2,000 spending cap, while the other two limit it to $1,500. If you spend to the maximum in the 5% category each quarter, that difference could net you an additional $100 in cash back rewards each year.
- But in the near term, you may want to pay close attention to the Discover card’s cash back match bonus for the first year. It will match you dollar-for-dollar on whatever you accumulated over the first year of card membership. So if you earned $500 in cash back the first year, you’d actually get $1,000: an effective 10% cash back return for that first year.
- The Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t have the flashy Year 1 match nor the ability to choose your categories, but it does have the best non-5% cash back program. At 3% cash back on restaurant and drugstore spending, as well as 5% on select travel purchased through Chase, you could definitely use this card for more than just a 5% category spender.
- If cell phone protection is important to you, note that Chase is the only one of the three to offer it.
- If you travel a lot, it may be important to you that the Discover card is the only one of the three that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Are you considering adding the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: Pros and Cons
|Choice of two 5% cash back spending categories each quarter||You must opt in to get your cash back bonuses each quarter, or you’ll get only 1% on all transactions|
|Easy-to-achieve $200 welcome bonus||Bonus categories can change from quarter to quarter, limiting the predictability of rewards|
|12-month period for 0% APR on balance transfers||Only 1% cash back on everyday purchases|
Bottom Line: If you’re the kind of person who likes to carry several cash back credit cards to maximize your rewards, the Cash+ card could be an option for you.
With your ability to choose your 5% categories each quarter, you could strategically combine this U.S. Bank card with others, such as the Discover it and Chase Freedom Flex, to get access to 5% cash back in several spending categories simultaneously.
Clark is a fan of cards that guarantee 2% cash back on all purchases for the simplicity of their rewards structures. So you may want to consider the Citi Double Cash or PayPal Cashback Mastercard before diving into this rotating cash back strategy.
The U.S. Bank Cash+ card offers enough cash back potential to make it an add to your wallet, but it may not be the best choice as your everyday spender.
Do you have experience with the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!