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US Bank Cash+ Credit Card: The Best 5% Card?

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card looks great, it really does. It’s one of the best 5% back credit cards out there right now, and its ongoing rewards unparalleled. If you’re looking for flexibility in your bonus categories and high rates, you can’t do much better. There are, however, a few cases where other cards might win out. But for all that, the Cash+ is a welcome addition to the rotating bonus category family, and might just be the favorite son.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
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on US Bank's
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  • Earn 5% cash back on two categories that you choose, like department stores, restaurants...plus many more
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas, groceries or drug stores - choose one
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else
  • Get a $25 Cash+ Bonus each time you redeem $100 or more cash back in a single redemption
  • No Annual Fee
thumbsupPros
  • High rewards rate
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • 0% for 6 mos on transfers
thumbsdownCons
  • Needs excellent credit
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 None Min APR: 13.99%
Max APR: 23.99%
Purchase: None
Transfer: 0% for 6 mos

5% as a starting point

The US Bank Cash+ offers 5% cash back on bonus categories that change every quarter up to $2,000 spent per quarter, a hard number to beat in the credit card world. You can choose two 5% categories from a rotating list that shifts quarterly, and purportedly include broad categories like airfare, bill payments and restaurants (you have to sign up to see the full list.) You’ll also get an unlimited 2% rewards on gas, groceries or drugstores – you pick ‘em. Best of all, the rewards are unlimited – you aren’t subject to the quarterly or annual caps that restrict the Chase Freedom, Discover it and Citi Dividend Platinum Select.

The U.S. Bank card seems to have this 5% bonus thing figured out. But it gets better: Once a year, if you save up $100 worth of rewards, US Bank will throw in an extra $25. This means that if you’ve saved up 10,000 bonus points (normally worth $100 cash back) you can redeem for $125. Of course, you do have to rack up those rewards, but if you do, you’ll find it well worth your while. Plus, there’s no annual fee, so you needn’t worry about bleeding charges if you don’t use it as much as you’d planned.

Cash+ vs. Chase Freedom: 5 on 5

The Cash+ actually stacks up quite well against the reigning 5% cash back champ, the Chase Freedom. The Freedom gives 5% back on rotating bonus categories, but those categories are preset, and capped at $1,500 in purchases a quarter. In terms of ongoing rewards rate, the Freedom has nothing on the Cash+; its advantage is the Get a $100 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. signup bonus. The Cash+ has great ongoing rewards, but lacks the head start of a bonus.

The Freedom’s bonus categories for 2014 are:

  • Q1 (January 1 – March 31): Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores
  • Q2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants and Lowe’s home improvement stores
  • Q3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations and Kohl’s
  • Q4 (October 1 – December 31): Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores

Clearly, the Cash+ gives you more flexibility and a higher earn rate in ongoing rewards. It’s not without its drawbacks. Its 0% introductory APR offer of 6 months on balance transfers doesn’t quite compare. The Freedom gives you 15 months of no interest on purchases as well as transfers. Moreover, it doesn’t have a bonus rewards mall.

That one deserves some explaining. Chase, Bank of America and other card issuers have online bonus malls where, if you click through from their site to another merchant’s, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 30% back on your purchases. The Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, for example, gives 15% back on Restaurant.com, 6% on Backcountry.com and The North Face, and many, many more. If you’re a prolific online shopper, having access to an online bonus mall can prove quite lucrative.

Moral of the story? Get the US Bank Cash+ if:

  • You think the Freedom’s bonus categories aren’t that great for you
  • You plan to hold the card for more than 2 years

Get the Freedom if:

  • The bonus categories dovetail with your spending
  • You’d get some good mileage out of having access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall and its discounts
  • You plan to hold the card for 2 years or fewer

It comes down to signup bonus vs. ongoing rewards: the Chase Freedom delivers a lot of value very quickly, while the Cash+ has less short-term value but more staying power.

Chase Freedom®U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Chase Freedom - $100 Cash Back Credit Card
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on Chase's
secure website

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US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
Apply Now

on US Bank's
secure website

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Signing Promo
Get a $100 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.None
Intro APR Promo
0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Purchase:None
Bal Trans:0% for 6 mos
Annual fee
$0$0
Details
  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between October 1 — December 31, 2014 at Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire
  • Earn 5% cash back on two categories that you choose, like department stores, restaurants...plus many more
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas, groceries or drug stores - choose one
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else
  • Get a $25 Cash+ Bonus each time you redeem $100 or more cash back in a single redemption
  • No Annual Fee

  • disqus_DsgjD5eIlg

    Great article, I wanted to make note that if you have a US Bank gold checking then you get an extra .25% back on all cash rewards programs. That beats out Chase’s .1% + .10$ in my opinion. I just got the Cash + and am very satisfied with it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/thomas.nichols89 Thomas Nichols

    Get Both! Then you have many 5% categories! I use the Chase card for everyday smal purchases, and get that extra $0.10 on every purchase, so every day coffies, lunch, and so on. Then get use 5% on the chase categories, and on the Cash+ categories. So the Cash+ becomes your “bigger purchase” card, and the Chase Freedom the “Every Day Card”

  • http://profiles.google.com/thomas.nichols89 Thomas Nichols

    And regarding Chase’s .1% and $.10, I regularly buy an $0.80 Burger from arctic circle, and I get 1.1% back, and $0.10 Back. Thats $0.11 Back on an $0.80 Purchase (Rounded up.) That’s 12.5% cash back. On small everyday purchase, that $0.10 really does make a difference.

    • Guest

      You mean $0.011

  • http://twitter.com/pfdeals pfdeals

    I like Cash+, partly because I already have a USBank checking account, but both are great cards and much better than Amex’s membership rewards programs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathanb Jonathan L. Bowen

    I honestly don’t see the comparison here for people like me who don’t care about carrying a balance or any of that nonsense. The US Bank Cash+ card is FAR superior. When we were given Bill Pay as an option (that has since been removed for next quarter), it wasn’t even close. I was getting 5% back on a huge chunk of my credit card bill. But even without that, I’d rather have two 5% categories I can choose that are relevant to my life than something as stupid as “gas, drugstores, and Starbucks.” I don’t go to Starbucks and I don’t spend enough on gas to care about their 5%, because I already have a Bank of a American card giving me a permanent 3% on gas (up to $1,500 spending limit per Q). I’d rather get my 2% groceries always, then have my two 5% categories, and then on top of that get $25 just for redeeming $100, which is nothing. I reach that easily every other month just with normal spending.

  • Bob Doe

    Cash+ also gives a 25% bonus on every purchase if you have U.S. Bank a gold checking package and a 50% bonus if u have the platinum checking package! So if you have gold your getting 6.25% cash back or platinum 7.5% back with the 5% categories plus the bonus.

  • Meng Li

    Why my Chase freedom card doesn’t give a 0.1% +$0.10 back on every purchase? Instead, I get a 10% bonus based on obtained points if I have a checking account with Chase.

  • Joshua Havelka

    Chase got rid of the $.10 per purchase. That was one of the best things about the card. I loved making small purchase to rack up the $.10. There was even a time when I put $10 into my diablo account, and did 10 $1 transactions. I guess it was people like me who ruined it.

  • Abdul G Habibuzaman

    Does the US Bank Cash+ card work at local grocery stores (not the big chains) for the 5% cash back OR is it only for the big chain grocery stores ?