Editorial Review

Alliant Cashback Review: One of the Highest Flat Rates Available

3% cash back on everything in the first year and 2.5% back after that is best in class, if you're OK with an annual fee and credit union membership.

Robin Saks FrankelDecember 9, 2019

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Our Take

4.6

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: The sky-high ongoing rewards rate is impressive, but you'll pay annually to carry the card and won't get a sign-up bonus or 0% intro APR period.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's website

Annual Fee

$0 the first year, then $99

Regular APR

12.49% - 14.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0 the first year, then $99
Annual Fee
$0 the first year, then $99
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Has annual fee

Alternate Pick: 5% back in certain categories

Chase Freedom®

No annual fee

Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter (1% back on all other spending.) There's also an intro APR 0% offer: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR. Plus, the card has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0 the first year, then $99

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.49% - 14.99% Variable

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is one of the highest-earning flat-rate cash-back rewards cards you can find, offering a whopping 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year of card ownership, and 2.5% after that.

There aren't many downsides to an easy-to-use card with lucrative, easy-to-understand rewards. There are, however, a few potential speed bumps.

Unlike most cash-back cards, it has an annual fee, so you'll want to make sure the rewards you earn will offset the cost of carrying the card after the first year. (The card is aimed toward big spenders — its website notes it's “exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card" — so it may not be ideal for everyone.)

And while you'll earn a fabulous ongoing rewards rate, there's no upfront sign-up bonus, which many other cash-back credit cards offer. You'll also have to join Alliant's credit union before you can apply for this card, although that's relatively easy to do.

Key features of the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

  • Card type: Cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $99.

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 3% cash back in the first year.

  • Rewards: 

    • Earn an unlimited 3% cash back on every purchase in year one and 2.5% cash back thereafter.

    • You can redeem rewards for statement credit or as a deposit into an Alliant checking or savings account, although you'll need to have accrued a minimum of $25 in cash-back rewards first. There's no cap on the cash back you can earn, but rewards do expire in December of the fourth calendar year following the year they were earned.

  • APR: The ongoing APR is 12.49% - 14.99% Variable

  • Foreign transaction fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: 3%

Why you might want the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Stellar ongoing rewards rate: Long-term value is the hallmark feature of this card. After all, the standard for flat-rate cash back cards is 1.5%, and the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card doubles that rate in the first year and beats it by a full percentage point afterward. You'd be hard-pressed to find a flat-rate cash-back card that can compete with those rates.

Ease of use: There's no limit to how much cash back you can earn, no rotating bonus categories to keep track of, no point at which your elevated rate drops to something lower. All you have to do is spend the way you normally would, and you'll earn consistent, elevated rewards.

Visa Signature benefits: The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card comes with Visa Signature benefits, including travel accident insurance, rental car collision coverage, roadside assistance, double warranty coverage and purchase security coverage.

Why you might want a different card

  • Annual fee: An annual fee isn't necessarily a deal breaker. But it does mean the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is worth it only for someone who spends enough on the card (and therefore earns enough rewards) to cancel out the annual fee after the first year. That wouldn't be terribly hard to do with this card: Spend $4,000 annually in years two and beyond and you'll break even. However, compare that to a card that earns 2% back on everything, but with no annual fee. Spending the same amount nets you a profit — better than breaking even — because there's no cost of card ownership. In fact, if you spend anything less than $19,800 annually starting in year two, you'd be better off with the 2% card without an annual fee. Consider, for example, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which pays 2% back on all purchases — 1% when you make your purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. It has an annual fee of $0.

  • No sign-up bonus: Many cash-back cards offer a sign-up bonus, typically $150 to $200, after meeting a minimum spending amount. But there’s no such offer with the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card. Although you'll earn 3% back on all purchases with the card in the first year, you'd have to spend $5,000 in that first year to net $150 in rewards. The minimum spending threshold for sign-up bonuses on other cash-back cards is typically much lower, sometimes as low as $500.

  • No intro 0% APR offer: If you’re looking to transfer a balance or need some interest-free breathing room on a big upfront purchase, consider a different card. The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card doesn’t offer any promotional APR period. Someone seeking a cash-back card with an elevated rewards rate and an intro APR offer might prefer a card like the Chase Freedom®. It earns 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter (requires activation). All other purchases earn 1% back. It also offers a sign-up bonus: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR Plus, the card has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $0.

  • Credit union membership required: You must be a member of Alliant's credit union. To be eligible for membership, you must meet certain requirements, which can include working for (or being retired from) one of the credit union's select organizations; being a relative of a member; or living or working in a qualifying Chicago-area community. But you can also join by supporting Alliant's partner charity, Foster Care to Success. If you choose this option, Alliant will make a $5 support payment to the group on your behalf.

To see more options, visit our roundup of top credit cards.

Is the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card right for you?

If you earn a lot and spend a lot and you're not interested in keeping track of complicated reward structures, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is a best-in-class choice — as long as you don't mind paying an annual fee and joining Alliant's credit union.

But if the cost and membership requirements don't work for you, you can find other flat-rate cash-back cards that offer certain benefits you can't get with the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card. And if you're OK with a little more legwork, a rotating bonus category card can earn you even higher rewards rates on specific spending.

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