I review the US Bank Cash+ credit card and compare it with other credit cards.
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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 contact me, find me on social media, read episode transcripts, schedule a free credit card consultation & support the show through Patreon, SubscribeStar, referral links, and buying from my Ebay store! Watch me on camera on YouTube and listen on many podcast platforms. Please like, share, comment, and subscribe!
Thanks for joining me for episode 50: US Bank Cash+ Credit Card Review.
The US Bank Cash+ credit card or the US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is a popular credit card offering a $200 welcome offer following only $500 in spending within 90 days. In addition to the welcome offer, users get 5% cashback up to $2000 in spending each quarter in chosen categories. You also get 2% cashback at either gas stations, dining, or grocery stores.
5% categories, though, aren’t too exciting. I imagine that more than 95% of card users won’t maximize category spending each quarter, so the return won’t be great – this is a common theme I mention on this show, that people simply overvalue category return and lose value when they neglect cards offering large signup bonuses and benefits.
5% categories include TV, internet, and streaming services; cell phone providers; sporting goods stores; home utilities; electronic stores; department stores; ground transportation; gyms and fitness centers; furniture stores; some clothing scores; fast food; and movie theaters.
Maybe a small percentage of people will maximize the 5% through sporting goods stores and electronics stores through reselling, but I can’t imagine common scenarios in which people will maximize spending in other categories. Even with $200 spend each month in the TV, internet, and streaming services category, that’s only $10 a month or 3% more than one would get compared to various cards offering 2% cashback on all spending – $6 a month. Maybe some will spend a large amount at department stores and furniture stores on some occasions, but I can’t see this being sustainable.
2% return from gas, restaurant, and grocery stores isn’t very appealing because many cards offer 2% back on all spending and 2% cashback isn’t much more than so many cards offering one point per dollar spent. Those who can get cards like the American Express Gold Card get 4x points on grocery and dining spend and there are many many ways to save on gas including buying discounted gift cards or leveraging categories like office supply and grocery stores. Especially now with the current pandemic, most aren’t driving too much.
It’s also important to note that US Bank has little tolerance for those who use US Bank credit cards to obviously buy a high volume of gift cards, especially inside physical stores – proceed with caution! This limitation on gift card spending greatly diminishes the value of this credit card for many who would be much freer to spend on cards from other issuers.
I’d be more excited to get the Cash+ card if US Bank did not offer it. As I’ve mentioned in other US Bank themed episodes, US Bank is typically strict with credit card approvals. My suggestion is to have zero inquiries in the past six months on the credit bureau US Bank pulls from – typically Transunion. This strictness will lead to many just giving up on US Bank or focusing on other likely higher value US Bank cards including the Altitude Reserve card I reviewed in detail on episode 40.
You should also get a brokerage account with US Bank to improve your approval chances and for more on that, listen to episode 30. You also get bonus points if you freeze the Sagestream and ARS credit bureaus since US Bank may utilize additional information from these bureaus, namely credit history going back more than six months, and deny you. Keeping ARS and Sagestream open is quite the negative freeroll listeners versed in gambling can understand – nothing to gain, everything to lose.
In the last episode, I mentioned the Radisson Rewards Visa as a very strong credit card with its 85,000 point welcome offer and a free night certificate for 10,000 dollars in spending up to three times per cardmember year atop other benefits. The newer US Bank Altitude Go card is also offering $250 as a welcome offer with some 4x earning categories and we’re still waiting on the Altitude Connect card to release with a $500 signup bonus.
After the first year with the Go or Connect cards, it may be possible to product change to the Cash+ card if desired. Why settle for a $200 signup bonus on the Cash+ when you can get a $250 signup bonus and likely more overall value from the Go card…or better yet just wait for the Altitude Connect card if you’re not traveling enough to use the Altitude Reserve card.
People later in the credit card game already with other high-value US Bank cards may aim for the Cash+ card, but even then I can’t imagine great value coming from this card – only $200 in year one from the signup bonus and up to $400 in future years, but that’s only if one somehow maximizes the 5% categories and I see a very high percentage of users not maximizing these categories.
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Near the bottom of US Bank’s page promoting the Cash+ card, US Bank compares this card to Discover IT and Chase Freedom credit cards. US Bank lauds the fact that one can choose 5% categories, which is nice, but not when the categories are subpar like they are on the Cash+ card. Recently, Chase Freedom and Discover IT had 5% categories like PayPal, grocery, and gas which are much easier to maximize compared to electronic stores and sporting goods stores. Further, Chase Freedom isn’t restricted to cashback because one can accrue points which are more valuable than cash even if cashed out at 1.25% or 1.5% with the new Chase pay yourself back feature.
I normally don’t compare credit cards or pose one or the other dilemmas because all of the above can often be an option especially in the credit card space, but I find it important to analyze US Bank’s comparisons. Next, US Bank notes that 5% returns go up to $2000 in spend instead of $1500 in spend like on the Chase Freedom and Discover IT, but again, most won’t even get to $1000 in the 5% categories. In the first cardmember year, Discover IT also gives 10% back on rotating categories or otherwise matches the first year of cashback.
Next, US Bank mentions the Cash+ Card has 2% cashback categories, but again, 2% isn’t too special in the credit card space and a 1% difference between spending categories won’t make a big difference especially for low spenders especially when they would get far more value from working on multiple cards achieving several welcome offers.
US Bank can improve the Cash+ card by increasing the welcome offer and adding categories found on the Chase Freedom and Discover IT credit cards and can really outperform the competition by offering something like 5% return on the top two spending categories each quarter rather than offering a small list. US Bank can also, to mimic the Chase Freedom card, allow cashback to convert to points that transfer to the Altitude Reserve card at 1.5 cents per point. Maybe these are big asks, maybe not, but with some changes, US Bank can surely get more people signing up!
Finally, is this card worth a 5/24 slot? Should people get this card early in the credit card game if they can otherwise get cards with Chase? For those who are new to this show, 5/24 is a rule from Chase – to put it simply, you’ll be rejected by Chase in almost all cases if you’ve opened five or more credit cards appearing on your personal credit reports in the past 24 months.
I really can’t see a case for the Cash+ card being worth a 5/24 slot. Again, other US Bank credit cards will almost certainly be better performers. Altitude Reserve and Altitude Connect may be worth 5/24 slots if waiting brings too much opportunity cost, but Cash+ will miss the mark for most.
Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content! Leave comments on this episode with your thoughts especially if you have a good argument for this card.
Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com to contact me, find me on social media, read episode transcripts, schedule a free consultation & support the show through Patreon, SubscribeStar, referral links, and buying from my Ebay store! Watch me on camera on YouTube and listen on many podcast platforms. Please like, share, comment, and subscribe! Have a great day!