Alliant Cashback: Meet Requirements, Earn 2.5% Cash Back

Meet requirements to earn a solid 2.5% cash-back rate (on up to $10,000 of eligible purchases per billing cycle) or get 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Credit union membership is required, but joining is easy.
Mar 7, 2022

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

The sky-high 2.5% rewards rate is one of the best available, but you'll need to meet requirements to earn it. The base rewards rate of 1.5% is decent, but you might be able to do better.

Jump to: Full Review
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
12.49%-22.49% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • High rewards rate

  • Cash rewards

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • No bonus offer

  • Must be a member

  • No bonus categories

Alternate Pick: 5% back in certain categories
Chase Freedom Flex
NerdWallet rating 
Chase Freedom Flex℠
No Annual Fee

Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. Also get 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on dining and 3% back on drug store purchases. All other purchases earn 1% back. New cardholders get an intro APR 0% offer: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24%-23.99% Variable APR. Plus, the card has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

12.24%-23.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.24%-23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Full Review

With two different cash-back rates, the $0-annual-fee Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is either a decent or an outstanding option. Where you land on the flat-rate spectrum of 1.5% or 2.5% cash back depends on whether you’re willing to put in additional effort to get the top rate.

What's the catch? There are a few, but for the card's target users, they might be nothing more than speed bumps. First, you'll have to join Alliant's credit union before applying for the card, but that's relatively easy to do. After that, you'll have to open an Alliant High-Rate Checking account, opt in to electronic statements, make one monthly deposit into the account and maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 or more. That's a lot of work to get a higher rate, only to have a spending cap. It's a high cap, but it's still a cap.

It’s worth the added effort to snag the higher rewards rate. But if you settle for that 1.5% cash-back rate, it's still a decent deal. Or you can look to other 2% cash back credit cards that don't require membership.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards: 

  • 2.5% cash back: Earn this rate on up to $10,000 of eligible purchases per billing cycle if you maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 or more in an Alliant High-Rate Checking account during the previous quarter. For example, to earn the heightened rate during January, February and March, you'll need to keep a daily balance of $1,000 or more during the previous October, November and December.

  • 1.5% cash back: Earn this rate on all other purchases that don’t qualify for the elevated cash-back rate.

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 $50 in cash-back rewards first.

APR: The ongoing APR is 12.49%-22.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Balance transfer fee: 3%.

Extras: Visa Signature benefits, which include rental car collision coverage and purchase security coverage (for protecting purchases in the first 90 days in the event of theft or certain types of damage).

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

Potentially rich rewards

If you can meet the card’s requirements, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card pays 2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in spending per billing cycle, meaning you can earn up to $250 cash back per month and $3,000 in a year. That's a significantly higher rewards rate than nearly any other flat-rate card, with or without an annual fee. Other cards tend to top out at 2%.

To get that rate, though, you’ll need to meet several requirements:

  • Open an Alliant High-Rate Checking account. It's free to open and it doesn't charge a monthly service fee. But you will have to become a member of Alliant Credit Union to qualify.

  • Opt in to electronic statements.

  • Have at least one monthly deposit made into the account. (Eligible deposits include direct deposits, payroll deposits, ATM deposits, mobile check deposits or transfers from other financial institutions.)

  • Maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 or more.

And, if you can’t keep up with those requirements, you’ll still get a decent 1.5% cash-back rate on all purchases.

No categories to remember

Those who value simplicity will appreciate the fact that are no bonus categories to keep track of. Whether you're meeting the requirements to earn the 2.5% cash back rate or you're in the 1.5%-earning tier, all you have to do is spend the way you normally would. You'll earn the same rewards rate on the card no matter what you're buying.

No foreign transaction fees

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is one of just a handful of great cash-back cards that don't charge foreign transaction fees, those annoying 3% fees applied to international purchases. That makes it a worthy traveling companion.

Why you might want a different card

There's a cap on rewards

Let's be realistic: The average Joe or Jane probably doesn't put $10,000 on a single credit card every month, so they wouldn't necessarily be affected by the rewards cap on the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card.

But if you’re a big spender, you might conceivably bump up against that ceiling. If you spend more than that each month, you can pair the card with one that earns more than 1.5% for your purchases over $10,000 each month. An uncapped 2% flat-rate credit card like the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card could be a good choice. It earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. New cardholders can also get a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, get some breathing room on interest: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR. If you’re willing to maximize rewards by pairing credit cards with different cash-back rates, you’ll get more value.

Credit union membership required

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card requires an Alliant Credit Union membership, but anyone can qualify. You can become a member if you're a current or retired employee at an organization partnered with the credit union, a relative of a member or a resident living or working in a qualifying Chicago-area community. Or, if you don't meet those requirements, you can join by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success, Alliant's partner charity. If you choose the latter option, Alliant will pay the $5 membership fee to the group on your behalf.

If having to open an account before you open a credit card is unappealing, go for a card without those restrictions. One to look at: The $0-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which earns 2% back on all purchases — 1% when you make your purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill.

Too many requirements for elevated rewards

If you want simplicity and the chance to earn a higher rewards rate without all of the requirements that come with the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card, the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one to consider. Like this card, it earns a decent ongoing 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Plus, you can get 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back at restaurants and 3% back on drugstore purchases. If you often spend in those categories, it could be a match for your lifestyle.

Rewards expire

Unlike the rewards on some cash-back cards, the cash back earned on the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card will expire in December of the fourth calendar year following the year they were earned. So any rewards you earned in 2021 will expire in December 2025.

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

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

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is an excellent option for cash-back enthusiasts chasing a high rewards rate. If you spend a lot and you're not interested in keeping track of complicated reward structures, its outstanding ongoing rewards rate is worth a little hassle.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.