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NerdWallet’s Best U.S. Bank Credit Cards

May 4, 2016
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

U.S. Bank is one of the country’s largest banks and one of the biggest issuers of credit cards. Though this Minneapolis-based bank operates branches primarily in the West and Midwest, anyone can apply for its credit cards — and it has some good ones. Here’s a quick look at the best.

Best for cash rewards: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Benefits of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has an unusual, customizable cash-back structure. You get:

  • 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined spending each quarter in two categories that you choose. Options include department stores, fast-food restaurants, fitness clubs, wireless phone providers, electronics and more.
  • 2% cash back on an “everyday category” of your choice, such as groceries or gas, with no limit.
  •  1% cash back on everything else.

In September 2017, U.S. Bank added a limited-time offer for new cardholders: In the first year you have the card, the 5%, 2% and 1% rewards rates are increased to 5.5%, 2.5% and 1.5%. After the first year, the rates drop back to 5%, 2% and 1%.

The $0. Since it’s a Visa Signature card, you get the perks from that program, including access to experiences like food and wine events, sports and entertainment, plus travel protections, purchase protection and other benefits.

Drawbacks of U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

You must log into your account online and choose 5% and 2% categories every quarter. The categories are subject to change, so all categories might not be available in all quarters. To maximize your cash back, then, you’ll need to plan ahead. Also, you need excellent credit to be considered for this card.

Bottom line

Few cards offer 5% cash back, and those that do usually don’t let you choose your own bonus categories, so this card is excellent if your spending aligns with its options. Getting unlimited cash back in the 2% and 1% categories is nice, too.

» MORE: Read our full review of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card.

Best for bad or no credit: Secured Visa

Benefits of the Secured Visa

The Secured Visa is designed for those who are just starting to build a credit history or who are trying to repair their poor credit. It’s a secured credit card, which means you must put down a deposit — in this case, at least $300. You then get a credit limit equal to the amount of your deposit. Because the deposit protects the lender in case you don’t make your payments, you can qualify with less-than-great credit. In addition to the security deposit (which is refunded if you close the account in good standing), the $0 the first year, then $29.

This card offers a longer grace period — 24 to 30 days — than many credit cards. The grace period is the time between the end of the billing cycle and the date your payment is due. If you pay your bill in full every month, you don’t get charged interest during the grace period. If you carry a balance from one month to the next, however, interest will accrue.

The Secured Visa comes with Visa protections: zero fraud liability, fraud notification and car rental insurance. You also get access to U.S. Bank’s FlexControl, where you can set alerts for your account, set up AutoPay, and choose your payment due date.

Drawbacks of Secured Visa

There’s an annual fee, and you don’t get any rewards. These are standard for secured cards, but that doesn’t mean they’re pleasant. Your goal should be to improve your credit and graduate to a better card.

The ongoing APR is 19.49% Variable, which is on the high end of interest rates.

Bottom line

If you need a card to build credit and good habits, Secured Visa will do the job and offer you tools to help.

» MORE: Read our full review of Secured Visa.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.