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U.S. Bank Cash+ Review: 5% Cash Back That You Can Customize

The card offers high rewards rates in bonus categories that you pick. It's ideal for maximizers, but less so if you seek simplicity.
Nov. 13, 2018
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The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card stands out among the competition as a cash-back credit card that gives you the freedom to choose your top-earning reward categories.

Other similar cards offer 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories up to a quarterly spending cap — but those categories are determined by the issuer.

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you select two 5% cash-back categories each quarter from a list of 12, with a higher combined quarterly spending cap. Plus, you’ll get to choose an additional 2% cash-back category every quarter from a list of three — and there’s no spending cap on that category.

It’s not the simplest rewards structure on the market. But if you value choice and high rewards-earning potential on everyday spending, the card merits a closer look.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best cash-back credit cards

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now on US Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

    Intro APR

    • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles
  • Additional Information
    • New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
    • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
    • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
    • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
    • No limit on total cash back earned.
    • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 15.99% - 24.99%
    • No annual fee*
    • Great Offer for Customers of U.S. Bank, a 2018 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2018
    • View Rates and Fees

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: Basics and benefits

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.

You must opt in to bonus categories to earn the higher-tier rewards; otherwise, you’ll earn only 1% back on those purchases.

Cash-back rewards redeem for statement credit, a U.S. Bank Rewards gift card or a deposit into an eligible bank account with U.S. Bank. You can redeem rewards at any amount, unless you’re redeeming for a gift card. These Visa gift cards require a $20 minimum redemption, and you can redeem them only in $5 increments.

Intro APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Balance transfer fee: 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5, whichever is greater.

Foreign transaction fee: Either 3% or 2%, depending on whether the purchase is made in foreign currency or U.S. dollars.

Other perks: Auto rental collision damage waiver, extended warranty protection and lost luggage reimbursement, among others.

Where the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card shines

If you’re thinking about getting the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you may also have considered other reigning 5% champions, including cards like the Chase Freedom® or the Discover it® Cash Back. Those cards also offer rotating bonus categories, but the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card differs in key ways that you might find beneficial:

Reward categories you can choose: The Chase Freedom®, the Discover it® Cash Back and many other credit cards offer bonus rewards on common, everyday spending categories — but usually the issuer decides what those categories are. With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you can choose bonus categories based on your spending. You can also repeat the same bonus categories each quarter, as long as they’re still available as choices for that quarter. Categories that earn 5% back between October and December 2018 include home utilities, cell phone providers, ground transportation, department stores and movie theaters, to name a few.

Extra cash-back categories: Unlike the Chase Freedom® or the Discover it® Cash Back, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card allows you to select an additional, unlimited 2% cash-back bonus category. As of October 2018, you could choose an everyday 2% category from a list of three options: gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. Also remember that the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you pick two 5% cash-back categories. Similar cards sometimes feature more than one 5% cash-back category per quarter, but not always. And even when they do, they’re still preset by the issuer.

A higher spending cap in 5% reward categories: Both the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back earn 5% cash back in bonus categories on up to $1,500 of combined spending in those categories each quarter, upon activation (1% on all other purchases). In the past, categories have included things like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs. With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, the spending cap in 5% reward categories is higher. You’ll earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you pick. That’s potentially an extra $100 in rewards per year, assuming you hit the spending cap each quarter.

» MORE: U.S. Bank adds travel-friendly feature to mobile app

Pitfalls and other possibilities

Complex reward tiers that require some maintenance: The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card’s bonus categories are less of a mystery compared with, say, the Chase Freedom®, which doesn’t officially announce its categories until a new quarter is near. But you still have to track categories with the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, because your options can change quarterly. Plus, you must still remember to opt in each quarter to earn the higher-tier rewards. The card allows you to set up account reminders via text message or email. Still, it’s a lot to keep track of — even more so than its direct competitors. (Will you remember, for instance, that “fast food” is a 5% category, while “restaurants” is a 2% category?) If you prefer a much-lower-maintenance option that you don’t have to think about, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t require activation, and it earns a high flat rate of 2% on all purchases: 1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay off your purchases. It has a $0 annual fee.

A tight activation schedule, and no retroactive rewards: With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you can activate bonus categories beginning 45 days before the next quarter starts, and you have until the last five days of the quarter to select them — but you won’t start earning the 5% and 2% cash back in those categories until three business days after activation. What’s more, you won’t earn bonus rewards retroactively. For example, if you activate your categories in the middle of the quarter, you’ll earn bonus rewards only going forward, not on any previous purchases for that quarter. The $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom®, on the other hand, does earn retroactive rewards. There’s still an activation deadline, but you can activate late in the quarter and still be eligible for the 5% bonus on previous purchases during that quarter.

It’s an expensive travel companion: The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has broad merchant acceptance overseas, but its foreign transaction fee can scuttle your travel budget. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card earns a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase and skips the foreign transaction fees. It has a $0 annual fee, broad international merchant acceptance and a sign-up bonus: One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

You must bank with the issuer for cash redemptions: You can redeem your rewards for straight-up cash only if you have a bank account with U.S. Bank. Credit cards like the Discover it® Cash Back and Chase Freedom® let you redeem your rewards for cash into eligible bank accounts at other institutions.

If you’re looking for more potential alternatives, visit NerdWallet’s roundup of top credit cards.

Should I get the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card?

Getting to choose your own bonus categories gives you an advantage, and if maximizing rewards is a top priority, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is ideal for your goals.

But if you prefer simplicity or a card that travels well, you’re better off exploring other rewards credit cards.