U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Review: Top Contender for Travel and Gas

The card’s high rewards on travel and gas make it among the best for bonus rewards in those categories. It also earns 2x for everyday spending at grocery stores, on dining and on eligible streaming services.
Funto OmojolaSep 7, 2021

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Our Take

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Frequent flyers and road trippers will find a lot of value from the card’s lucrative rewards, especially considering that the sign-up bonus and streaming credit can make up for its annual fee over a number of years.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

15.99% - 23.99%* Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • Bonus categories
  • New cardholder bonus offer
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Alternate Pick: No Annual Fee

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards on everything

With no annual fee, this card gives you an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. It also earns 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center and comes with a bonus offer for new-cardmembers.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 23.99%* Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is an exciting option for travel-lovers and those with gas guzzlers.

The card, which charges an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95, is the newest addition to U.S. Bank’s cast of Altitude-branded credit cards.

This midtier option offers exceptional rewards on travel and gas, in addition to decent earnings in bonus categories like grocery stores, dining and eligible streaming services. And, if you can make use of the card's two ongoing credits, those savings can significantly offset the cost of the annual fee.

However, unlike comparable cards, it doesn't allow for transferring points for maximized value. And if your spending habits lean less toward travel, a different Altitude-branded or cash-back card might be a better option for you.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card: Basics

Card type: Travel.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.

Ongoing rewards: 

  • 4 points per $1 spent on travel and at gas stations.

  • 2 points per $1 spent at grocery stores (including grocery delivery), dining and on eligible streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

U.S. Bank points are worth a penny each and can be redeemed for cash back, travel, merchandise and gift cards. Points don’t expire, and there’s no cap on the amount that you can earn.

APR: The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 23.99%* Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

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

Other benefits:

  • $30 annual credit for eligible streaming service purchases such as Netflix and Spotify.

  • Up to $100 in statement credit every four years for reimbursement toward either your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees.

Why you might want the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

It comes with a big sign-up bonus

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card features the following generous welcome offer for new cardholders: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.

This bonus alone makes up for the card’s annual fee over at least five years.

Best in its class for travel and gas rewards

The card's 4x earnings rate on travel and gas make it among the very best for bonus rewards in those categories, especially considering it won’t cost you anything to carry the card for the first year.

Cards with comparable rewards categories and annual fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Citi Premier® Card, do exist. (Terms apply — see rates and fees.)

But even at 1 cent per point, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card out-earns them for both top categories — assuming you don't transfer your points to travel partners. (More on this below.)

While there are cards with quarterly rotating bonus categories that offer a 4x back rate for travel or gas, they typically have caps on how much you can earn, which is not the case with the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card.

Additionally, cards that offer rewards that are on par with or better than what the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card offers typically come with pricier annual fees to boot.

Nerdy tip: U.S. Bank offers a perk called Real-Time Rewards, which allows you to shop nearly anywhere and redeem points instantly. You'll earn 500 bonus points when you log in to your account and enroll.

You get rewarded for your streaming subscriptions

In addition to the 2x rate you'll earn for charging your eligible streaming services, like Netflix, Spotify and Hulu, to the card, you can also get an automatic $30 annual statement credit toward those subscriptions.

The downside is this credit isn't instant — you’ll receive it only after 11 months of continuous streaming service purchases — but it's still a good amount of change toward your binge watching and music streaming.

Plus, this streaming credit combined with the $500-value welcome bonus can make up for the card’s annual fee for over nine years. (If you hold the card for nine years, you'll pay a total of $760 in annual fees. But, you'll also get the $500-value welcome bonus plus $270 in total streaming credits, for a total of $770.)

How the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card compares with other Altitude cards

As the midlevel option among U.S. bank’s Altitude-branded credit cards, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card doesn't feature rewards or benefits as rich as those of its premium sibling, the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — which comes with an annual $325 travel credit but a steeper annual fee. (Note that you must first have an existing relationship with U.S. Bank to get this card.)

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card, on the other hand, doesn't offer as much as its counterparts do as far as travel rewards and perks go, but it's a top-of-wallet card if you spend a lot of your budget on dining.

Here’s a quick glance at how the cards compare:

Sign-up bonus: Earn an enrollment bonus of 50,000 points worth $750 on travel. Just spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards: 5 points per dollar spent points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center; 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases and on mobile wallet purchases; 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Benefits: $325 annual travel credit; up to $100 in statement credit every four years to reimburse the application fee for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry; 12 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes per year; airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select — limited to four visits per year, but includes one guest each time.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card, annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.

Rewards: 4 points per dollar spent on travel and at gas stations; 2 points per dollar spent at grocery stores, dining and on eligible streaming services; 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Benefits: $30 annual credit for eligible streaming service purchases such as Netflix and Spotify; up to $100 in statement credit every four years for reimbursement towards either your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees, cell phone protection.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards: 4 points per dollar spent on dining and takeout; 2 points per dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations and on streaming services; 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Benefits: $15 credit for annual streaming services purchases such as Netflix and Spotify.

Drawbacks and alternatives to consider

Average rewards on everyday spending

Although the card’s 2x earn rate on dining and groceries is not far off from what most travel credit cards offer, it leaves much to be desired if you spend a large chunk of your monthly budget on those everyday spending categories.

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card, the lowest-tier option of the Altitude-branded credit cards, may be a better fit if you don't spend a lot on travel and would prefer more competitive rewards for dining. It earns quadruple points per dollar spent on dining purchases, including takeout and delivery, but offers lower rewards on gas (2x back). The card charges an annual fee of $0*.

For a card that’s high earning on groceries but offers a comparable annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. It offers 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back on transit, including U.S. gas stations; and 1% back on everything else. (Terms apply —see rates and fees.)

Nerdy tip: Rather than paying cash, you can choose to redeem 9,500 points to offset the cost of the $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee.

You can’t transfer points to maximize their value

If you opt to get both the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card and the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card, you could pool and redeem points together. While having both cards can earn you 4x back on both travel and dining, you won’t be able to outsize points values by combining earnings — points are worth one cent each for both cards regardless of redemption option.

More importantly, points earned from either card cannot be transferred to their premium sibling, the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, which allows cardholders to redeem points at a higher value of 1.5 cents each for travel through U.S. Bank.

There are other rewards systems, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards®, that allow for points transferring between cards and to external partners as well. If you hold a $95 annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and you (or one person in your household) also hold a premium Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer your points and redeem them for 1.5 cents for travel through Chase. Not so with the Altitude cards.

Plus, U.S. Bank has no external transfer partners. The ability to transfer points to travel partners can often create outsized value from other credit card rewards programs.

To get an idea of how this card compares to other options, see NerdWallet's roundup of the best credit cards to have.

Should you get the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card?

If you're a frequent traveler whose mode of exploration mostly involves car journeys, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is the ideal pick for you.

However, if your spending habits won’t allow you to take advantage of the card’s competitive travel and gas rewards rate, you may be better off with a different option.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page.