17: US Bank new Altitude Connect and Go Cards

ScreenHunter_388 Mar. 28 14.50

Thanks for joining me for episode 17 – US Bank new Altitude Connect and Go cards. I’ll compare the cards and evaluate the potential value from each.

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Watch me on daily livestreams for the month of March and maybe beyond on Cakeologi’s YouTube channel! Visit Cakeologi’s website.

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with full-time business coach and YouTuber Cakeologi who can help you formally establish your business, build business credit, and get premium business credit cards. When you select from various paid services after the free consultation, I will receive credit for referring you. Listen to Cakeologi on episode twelve of my podcast.

Doctor of Credit post with details on US Bank Altitude Connect and Go cards

Freeze ARS and Sagestream reports

Rough transcript:

You’re listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Vacula, here to help you travel the world at next to no cost through credit card points, miles, benefits, and rewards. Make money, save money, and take advantage of great deals!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravelPodcast.com where you can read episode transcripts, complete a free credit card questionnaire to receive tailored recommendations, follow me on social media, view helpful resources, listen to past episodes, and contact me.

Thanks for joining me for episode 17 – US Bank new Altitude Connect and Go cards. I’ll compare the cards and evaluate the potential value from each.

Some personal and podcast updates: I’m recording on March 28th of 2020 now day twelve of shelter in place here in the Philadelphia area. As promised, I’m continuing to release more episodes than usual during this time and am livestreaming daily from YouTube at 8PM Eastern Standard Time with supporter of the show Cakeologi. Join us for laughs, helpful tips, and your questions answered live! Visit his YouTube channel at Cakeologi – C-A-K-E-O-L-O-G-I. More information can be found in the show notes.

New credit cards, exciting news, especially for those who have been in the credit card space for a long time and are looking for more options or those who are looking at establishing a relationship with US Bank to later get the wonderful Altitude Reserve card!

Months ago, DoctorOfCredit.com reported on rumours that US Bank would release new cards and now offers for the Altitude Connect and Go cards, although not applications, are showing on US Bank’s website. Let’s take a look at the offers. See the show notes for the Doctor of Credit link.

I view Altitude Connect as a better choice than the Go card mainly because of its 50,000 point welcome bonus for spending $3000 in 120 days from account opening. Points with the upcoming Altitude cards, not to be confused with the existing Altitude Reserve, are worth one cent per point usable for travel through the US Bank rewards portal, so 50,000 points are worth $500. You also can’t, at the time of this episode, transfer points to Altitude Reserve for more value.

The Connect card has no annual fee in the first year and then has a $95 annual fee in year two which could be waived – many people with the more premium Altitude Reserve card, anyway, report annual fee waivers in year two. The Connect card gives 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked in the US Bank portal; 4x points on travel and gas; 2x on dining, grocery stores, and streaming services; and finally a $30 annual credit for streaming services.

The categories here aren’t very exciting and probably won’t amount to much return. As I usually say, rewards from everyday spending even with category multipliers don’t make a significant difference unless you’re spending a very large amount. US Bank, too, historically has not been lenient with, for example, people buying gift cards in-store with aim to gain large returns from categories, so don’t go wild here or even mess with the 4x gas or 2x grocery category. 5X on hotels and car rentals booked through the US Bank portal is somewhat interesting, but only if the portal offers good rates.

Personally, I mainly use hotel points from Hyatt and Hilton thanks to Chase and Amex cards, so won’t see myself often using the US Bank portal to book with cash rates. I also often stay at Caesars properties and book directly with Caesars for discounted rates and status benefits, so I wouldn’t use the US Bank portal here. However, the US Bank portal can be a very good option for special properties outside of more popular brands even smaller bed and breakfast properties.

4x travel and gas also seems interesting, but the travel category is better represented on other cards like the Altitude Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and American Express Green card. Various American Express Hilton cards and the Chase World of Hyatt card better cover respective hotel stays with category multipliers. If you don’t have other cards with a travel multiplier, you stand to benefit more from the Altitude Connect, but of course I encourage having multiple cards for more value. 4X, when considering these points are worth 1% towards travel with the US Bank portal, also isn’t worth much more than various cards giving 2% especially in cashback like American Express Blue Business Cash or cards like American Express Blue Business Plus giving 2x points worth more than Altitude Connect points.

4x on gas is okay, but once again isn’t a category which will make much of a difference for most people who are only spending maybe $100 a month on gas. Gas savings, too, are easy to come by mainly through using gas gift cards you can get with a good discount or rebate. Consider, just one example from the past: Office Max and Office Depot offered $10 off a $100 Happy Guy gift card which could then be used at Home Depot to buy Gulf gas gift cards – a very easy 10% off and even more through credit card rewards especially using Chase Ink Cash to get 5x points at office supply stores. Many grocery fuel rewards programs, too, offer amazing opportunity to even bring the price of gas down to $1.50 per gallon or $0 per gallon depending on your area…or at the very least you can use a grocery multiplier credit card to buy gas gift cards when there are good promotions. Even my local Speedway gas stations, and maybe some in your area, offer some promotions on gift cards which give points redeemable for gas gift cards. Promotions have been lacking since they offered $15 and 4000 points or $4 for $100 Home Depot and Best Buy gift cards, but we may have happy moments in the future.

Altitude Connect’s 2x on grocery, dining, and streaming isn’t very exciting – as I mentioned various cards give 2% on all spending or 2x points. The streaming category is especially lackluster because it’s really easy to find discounted gift cards and deals for many services. Netflix deals are especially common especially at Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Best Buy, and other retailers. Wait for a solid deal and load your account with gift card balance to pay the $10 a month. Use promotional codes for free months. Either way, 2% of $120 is very little. Finally, the $30 annual streaming credit can be nice for some, but for me, I don’t have streaming subscriptions so I’d place the personal value at zero.

Overall, Altitude Connect is great for the first year with an estimated first year win of slightly more than $500. Paying a $95 annual fee in the second year probably won’t be worth it for most – even the $30 streaming credit if valued at $30 brings it to $65, but category spend will almost certainly not make up for $65. However, as I mentioned, US Bank may waive the annual fee in year two or give a retention offer which will lead you to keep the card. If not, a win of more than $500 is strong and more value can be had if you previously were not a US Bank customer in any way and need a relationship to get their premium Altitude Reserve card which I view as one of the strongest cards on the market. Connect will also strengthen your relationship and likely increase approval chances for Altitude Reserve.

Altitude Connect may be worth a Chase 5/24 slot if you’re also aiming for getting the Altitude Reserve, but probably not if you aren’t going to get the Altitude Reserve because many other cards offer more than $500 in value in year one. Especially if new to the credit card game, you have so many options. Later in the game, lacking options, Connect may have more value if you’re under 5/24 and especially so if you’re over 5/24 with no looking back.

Do note, though, before applying, that US Bank can be inquiry sensitive – denying you for too many credit card inquiries in the past six months. I was recently approved for a US Bank card with one inquiry in six months. Perhaps one card in six months and even two can be permitted for Altitude Connect, but two, of course, could lead to a lower approval chance. US Bank, too, seems to randomly pull credit bureaus – they mostly pull Transunion, it seems 50% of the time, but there appears to be a 25% chance of an Equifax or Experian pull.

It’s possible to freeze one or two of your busy bureaus so you don’t get declined, but if US Bank pulls a frozen bureau, you’ll need to wait 30 days before applying again and hopefully they’ll pull your preferred bureau in the future…or you’ll have to wait another 30 days. Doctor of Credit and many other sources also suggest freezing your Sagestream and ARS reports – more information in the show notes – and as always, before you apply, complete the credit card questionnaire form on my website for a free consultation. Let’s move on to the Altitude Go card.

Altitude Go offers 20,000 points for spending $1000 in 90 days – a far lower bonus compared to Connect’s 50,000 points for $3000 spend in 120 days. Go also offers a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months – a feature absent from the Connect card. Since Go is a personal card, carrying a balance even with 0% APR will negatively impact your credit and interfere with your ability to get other cards since issuers will see high use of existing credit. Be careful, too, with using 0% APR – make sure to pay in full to avoid interest charges. Altitude Go has no annual fee, ever, but Connect really shines in comparison because the welcome bonus is 30,000 more points or $300 more in value – you’d break even or be slightly ahead at the year three, but if annual fees are waived in the second year or beyond and/or you cancel the card in year two, you’ll be way ahead. Connect should be the obvious choice for most.

Altitude Go offers 4x on dining, takeout, and delivery – not bad here, but again, focus on category return while overlooking signup bonuses is a mistake. Personally, I’ll continue to use my American Express Gold Card for dining for 4x, but I didn’t get the card just because of the category return – the card gives great overall value from its signup bonus, benefits, and 4x grocery category for 100,000 points a year since I spend $25,000 – a rare case of a category making a difference. Other cards also offer a solid multiplier on dining although it doesn’t matter much unless there is significant dining spend for some reason – perhaps someone hosting or buying many large business dinners.

Altitude Go offers 2x at grocery, gas, and streaming services – nothing special here – and finally a $15 annual streaming credit rather than Connect’s $30.

There you have it – Altitude Connect easily wins the battle of the two cards in my book for value of over $500 in year one compared to Go’s value of just over $200. You won’t be able to apply on March 30th as initially projected, maybe will have to wait until June, so now may be a good time to wait – holding off on hard inquiries — if you’re interested. Details, too, may change as we get closer to links being live and you may have to apply in-branch to get sign-up bonuses.

Hopefully you’re staying safe during this shelter-in-place time. Make good use of your time during this transition and, of course, evaluate your credit card plans.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravelPodcast.com where you can read episode transcripts, complete a free credit card questionnaire to receive tailored recommendations, view helpful resources, listen to past episodes, and contact me.

Support my work through Patreon, PayPal, the Cash App, and referral links by visiting the donate tab on my website. Subscribe on YouTube at Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast; like my Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast Facebook page; follow HGtravelpodcast on Twitter; and follow Justin Vacula on Instagram.

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with full-time business coach and YouTuber Cakeologi who can help you formally establish your business, build business credit, and get premium business credit cards. When you select from various paid services after the free consultation, I will receive credit for referring you. Listen to Cakeologi on episode twelve of my podcast.

Visit my other podcast at stoicsolutionspodcast.com where you can find practical wisdom for everyday life inspired by the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome.

Thanks to generous patrons and fans of this podcast who help support my work. Have a great day.

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