Editorial Review

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

You get to choose two categories each quarter that earn 5% cash back (up to a spending cap) and one category for unlimited 2% cash back. Everything else earns 1%.

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Our Take

3.8

NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: This card is a good match for avid rewards optimizers — those who juggle cards strategically to get the best return for every dollar. It works fine as an everyday card, but keep in mind that it requires some work on your part.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.24% - 25.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.24% - 25.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers
Cons
  • Needs excellent credit

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: Simple rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

No categories to mess with

If you'd prefer a card with a solid rewards rate on everything, rather than an array of categories to keep track of, this is a great choice. You get 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% when you buy it and 1% when you pay it off. There's no sign-up bonus, though.

Read our review

Full Review

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card stands out from its competitors in the 5% cash-back space by giving you the freedom to choose the categories where you’ll earn the top rate.

Similar cards offer 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories up to a quarterly spending cap — but the categories are determined by the issuer.

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, on the other hand, 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 choose a 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. 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: Basics

  • 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 the first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter in two categories you choose.
    • 2% cash back in one “everyday” category that you choose, like gas stations or grocery stores.
    • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
    • You must opt in to bonus categories each quarter to earn the higher rewards rates; otherwise, you’ll earn only 1% back on all purchases.
    • Rewards can be redeemed 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.
  • Interest rate: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% - 25.74% Variable APR.
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5, whichever is greater.
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% if the purchase is made in a foreign currency; 2% if it’s in U.S. dollars.
  • Other perks: Auto rental collision damage waiver, extended warranty protection and lost luggage reimbursement, among others.

Why you might want the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

If you’re thinking about getting the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you may already know about the biggest players in the 5% game: the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back. Those cards also offer 5% rewards in 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® and Discover it® Cash Back offer bonus rewards in everyday spending categories — but the issuer decides what those categories are, and when they’re offered. 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. In the fourth quarter of 2018, for example, you could choose from among 12 categories for 5% back, including home utilities, cell phone providers, ground transportation, department stores, fast food and movie theaters.

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 category in which you get unlimited 2% cash back. The 2% options in the fourth quarter of 2018 were gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

Keep in mind also that the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you pick two 5% cash-back categories each quarter. Competing cards sometimes offer multiple 5% categories per quarter, but not always. And even when they do, the categories are still chosen by the issuer.

A higher spending cap for 5% rewards

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. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has a higher ceiling on spending eligible for 5% rewards. 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 bonus rewards per year, assuming you hit the spending cap each quarter.

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

NERD TIP: Want to earn more rewards? Pair the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card with a flat-rate credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer to maximize your earning.

Why you might want a different card

Complex rewards that require maintenance

The bonus categories on the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card are less of a mystery compared with, say, those of the Chase Freedom®, which doesn’t officially announce its categories until a new quarter is near. But you still have to keep track of the categories, because your options can change quarterly. Plus, you must 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?)

One other consideration: In recent years, the Chase and Discover products have frequently offered 5% rewards at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores — “everyday” categories that the U.S. Bank card limits to 2% cash back.

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 earns a flat 2% on all purchases: 1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay them off. There’s never any categories to remember. It has a $0 annual fee.

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 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 all purchases (up to the spending cap) in that quarter.

no 0% PERIOD FOR PURCHASES

Many cash-back cards, including  the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back, give you a year or more at 0% APR to help you finance a new purchase. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card offers an introductory 0% APR period only for balance transfers.

It’s an expensive travel companion

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has broad merchant acceptance overseas, but its foreign transaction fee could strain 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 deposits 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 a good fit for your style. But if you prefer simplicity, you’re better off exploring other rewards credit cards.