33: US Bank Altitude Go Card – A Second Take

Thanks for joining me for episode 33 – US Bank Altitude Go card: A Second Take. I’ll once again review the US Bank Altitude Go card suggesting many better alternatives.

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Show Notes:

US Bank Altitude Go card:

Podcast episode 30 – Easily establish a US Bank Relationship:

Podcast episode 25 – UBS Business Card Increased Offer Review:

Podcast episode 17 – US Bank Altitude Connect and Go cards:

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 HurdyGurdyTravel.com to read episode transcripts, contact me, find me on social media, and support the show with donations and use of referral links! More information at the end of the show…

Thanks for joining me for episode 33 – US Bank Altitude Go card: A Second Take. I’ll once again review the US Bank Altitude Go card suggesting many better alternatives.

Days ago, US Bank released the Altitude Go credit card following rumors from March 2020. Altitude Go currently offers a signup bonus of $200 or 20,000 points. Points, when redeemed for travel or cashback, are worth one cent per point, sadly not 1.5 cents per point offered by the Altitude Reserve card.

The Altitude Go card has no annual fee, 4x points on takeout, food delivery, and dining; 2x points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, and gas stations; and 1x points on all other purchases. Altitude Go also features a 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers during the first 12 billing cycles and a $15 yearly statement credit for select streaming services including Netflix and Spotify.

How much value might this card provide in year one? I estimate a total value of around $250 and even less for people who have other credit cards. Year two earnings drop significantly. A signup bonus valued at $200 is very low compared to other cards especially for people relatively new to credit card rewards. Consider cards from Barclay’s (Jet Blue, Jet Blue Business, or Aviator), Chase (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Cards, World of Hyatt), American Express (many great options!), and Capital One (Venture, Spark Cash, or Spark Miles).

Think about the long-game. Aim for valuable cards early in your credit card quest rather than later being locked out due to too many opened accounts. Chase, Capital One, and Barclay’s, for example, frown on extensive credit histories. Chase, in most cases, will deny people who have five or more accounts showing on their personal credit reports in the last 24 months. Barclay’s sometimes enforces a 6/24 rule similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule and Capital One is known to decline people who have several credit cards.

Capital One pulls three credit bureaus and their business cards appear on personal credit reports, so the acquisition of their cards and other issuers’ cards may become more complicated. The Venture card, to name just one Capital One card, is decent with a 50,000 point signup bonus, 2x earning on all purchases, and other perks. Venture will very likely outperform Altitude Go especially for frequent travelers.

More advanced credit card users and semi-frequent travelers may also highly value the Visa Infinite UBS Business card with a limited-time offer expiring July 31st which easily offers more than $1000 in value and has no annual fee in the first year: two $350 airline incidental credits, a 25,000 point signup bonus, bonus categories, and loads of perks including travel protections. The card also performs well in its second year with a retention bonus of 25,000 more points and another airline incidental credit. Those who apply before July 31st will have $350 airline incidental credits for 2020 and 2021 without paying an annual fee. Those who wish to keep the card for cardmember year two will pay an annual fee, but have another $350 credit in 2022. For a deeper dive into the UBS Business card, listen to podcast episode 25.

The value of Altitude Go declines for those who have multiple credit cards. 4% back on dining, for example, is only 2% more than cards earning 2% cashback everywhere like American Express Blue Business Cash or Citi DoubleCash preferably acquired through a product change from cards like the powerful Citi Premier. Points-earning cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred provide 2x points on dining or 2% cashback if cashing out Ultimate Rewards points…so thinking of a card as 4% back isn’t the full story when it’s only 2% more than other cards.

American Express’ personal Gold Card also offers 4x points on dining or 5% back if points are redeemed for cash through the American Express Charles Schwab Platinum card. Charles Schwab Platinum is great for those who want cashback through American Express at 1.25 cents per point rather than redeeming points for statement credits at only six-tenths of a cent per point. The personal Gold Card is a great keeper card for many who occasionally travel and can use the card’s dining credits and airline incidental credits – an annual fee of $250 dollars becomes $30 and will likely be offset by spending at grocery stores which gives 4x points.

US Bank is also often strict with credit card approvals declining those who have multiple hard inquiries and/or opened credit cards in the last six months. Many who want the Altitude Go card may have to wait several months of no hard inquiries or opened accounts which hardly seems worthwhile. Instead, US Bank fans can wait for the upcoming Altitude Connect card which should have a signup bonus of 50,000 points, no annual fee for the first year, some bonus categories, and a possibility of downgrading to Altitude Go in year two. For more on the Altitude Connect card, listen to podcast episode 17.

Some may see the Altitude Go card as a good way to establish a relationship with US Bank to qualify for the high-value Altitude Reserve card, but as I explained in episode 30, one can open a self-directed investment account with US Bank without taking a hard inquiry and then having to wait several months before applying for Altitude Reserve. US Bank has no account minimums like some other brokerage accounts and although they charge a small fee for transactions, it’s well worth avoiding having to wait six additional months, taking a hard inquiry, and incurring additional opportunity costs.

Advanced or intermediate credit card users, on my evaluation, should pass on the Altitude Go card because many better options exist even for those who forsake travel for cashback – there’s significant opportunity cost especially for those who will have to wait several months of no new opened accounts. Those who don’t want multiple credit cards, haven’t opened accounts in the last six months, don’t want to travel, and want a very easy card to use may still want the Altitude Go card. Those with many cards, veterans of the credit card reward space focused on cashback, may also want the Altitude Go card if they have few inquiries in the past six months. The 0% intro APR can be attractive, but carrying a high balance from month to month even with 0% APR will negatively impact credit card utilization and likely disqualify people from getting other credit cards. In most cases, utilizing 0% APR on various business cards is a better approach since your personal credit card utilization won’t be impacted.

This podcast isn’t about small returns from credit cards, it’s is about inspiring people to get high returns from credit cards rather than settling for small signup bonuses of $200, focusing on minimal gains from bonus categories, and completely avoiding annual fees. Annual fee cards like the American Express Gold Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred I mentioned earlier in this episode are often great investments providing far more overall value than Altitude Go especially in year one. Simplicity and avoiding annual fees comes at a significant cost.

Low spenders who are overly focused on category gain, especially from cards with low signup bonuses, aren’t optimizing rewards. Consider: one who spends even $400 in dining a month gains $192 from the 4% dining category or only $96 more than a 2% everywhere card when only considering the dining category. Some may spend a very large amount on dining, especially those who cater work-related events, but most simply won’t spend enough on dining to experience a high return.

Those interested in cutting costs, especially during this time of shelter in place, can buy discounted gift cards for local restaurants, GrubHub, and UberEats which will almost certainly be better than a 4% discount or 4% cashback especially if they stack deals or utilize high category earning from other credit cards buying gift cards at drugstores, office supply stores, or grocery stores especially also earning grocery store reward points redeemable for food or gas discounts.

Overall, I’m not impressed by the Altitude Go card. I’m happy to work with you to suggest better options. Simply visit my website at hurdygurdytravel.com and complete the credit card questionnaire form for a personalized recommendation.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!

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

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.

I’ll be livestreaming from YouTube with business coach Cakeologi on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9PM Eastern as shelter in place time continues. We’ll talk about all things money, business, and credit while answering questions from a live audience. Find announcements for upcoming streams and archives of past livestreams on my website at hurdygurdytravel.com.

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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