People with good to excellent credit looking for a cash rewards credit card without an annual fee can wring some value out of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Card—as long as you don’t mind a little ongoing card maintenance. The card gives more control over how you earn rewards by letting you choose your own bonus categories, although the categories themselves are underwhelming. While there’s a limit to the rewards you can earn in the highest-earning tier, your other cash rewards are unlimited.
Easy-to-earn bonus for new cardholders
Choice of bonus rewards categories
High rewards cap for a 5% card
Foreign transaction fee
Quarterly registration required to earn the most rewards
- Easy-to-earn bonus for new cardholders: With a minimum spend of just $500 in about three months, most cardholders will find the new cardholder bonus a breeze to earn.
- Choice of bonus rewards categories: Other credit cards offering 5% cash back have bank-selected bonus categories rotating quarterly. Cash+ cardholders can choose two bonus rewards categories each quarter. You can also choose your 2% cash-back category from three popular options.
- High rewards cap for a 5% card: Competing 5% no-annual-fee cards cap rewards at $1,500, but you can use this card until you hit $2,000. And there’s no cap at all for the 2% back category you choose quarterly.
- Category challenges: Earning 5% back is great, but eligible purchase categories are limited. If you frequently shop online from many retailers, at wholesale clubs, at drug stores, or home improvement stores, or spend a lot on travel or entertainment (other than movie theaters), this card won’t reward you for those popular categories. As well, choosing between groceries, restaurants, or gas for your 2% category may be difficult as these tend to be common, high-spend categories for most people.
- Foreign transaction fee: This isn't the best card to use for international purchases. With its foreign transaction fee, you'll pay up to 3% on purchases made in a currency other than U.S. dollars, and on purchases made in U.S. dollars.
- Quarterly registration window required: While you do get the flexibility to choose your cash-back categories, you have to sign up by the deadline to earn bonus rewards. Otherwise, purchases in bonus categories will only earn 1% back instead of 2% or 5%.
Bonus for New Cardholders
Earn a $200 bonus when you spend just $500 in the first 90 days of opening your account. This is a good sign-up bonus offer for a card without an annual fee, and the low minimum spend requirement will allow most people to earn the bonus within the first few weeks of opening the account.
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card lets you earn 5% cash back (which U.S. Bank calls “Rebates”) on your first combined $2,000 in two categories you choose each quarter. You can also earn unlimited 2% back on purchases at one of gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants. You choose which. Finally, earn 1% back on all your other purchases.
To give you an idea of available choices, here are the 5% Cash+ categories for July through September 2020:
- TV, internet, streaming services
- Home utilities
- Ground transportation excluding parking-related fees
- Around a dozen chain clothing stores
- Cellphone providers
- Electronics stores
- Membership fees at gyms and fitness centers
- Fast food
- Sporting goods stores
- Department stores
- Furniture stores
- Movie theaters
Bonus categories have remained largely the same for the past few quarters, but could change at any time.
Other credit cards with a 3% or 5% quarterly rotating rewards are dictated by the card issuer, but favor the usual high-earn-and-spend suspects: restaurants, grocery stores, online shopping, and more.
If you’re looking for a lower-hassle commitment, know that a 1.5% flat-rate card could earn you significantly less. However, a card that gives 2% back without caps in total may be a better deal, with less hassle. Based on our calculations and BLS data, this is what your cash back might look like, annually:
|Potential Cash+ Card Earnings|
|Category||Annual Spend||% Back||U.S. Bank Cash+ Amount Back|
With a 1.5% back card, you’d earn $364 a year, and with a 2% back card, $485 a year—and you won’t have to do all your clothing shopping from a limited selection of stores, or manage categories.
Many US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card categories have exclusions, so review the guidelines carefully. For example, you can’t get cash back from Walmart, Costco, and Target purchases. You can purchase clothing at Sears, but can’t buy furniture from Sears, nor can you buy online from Sears.com.
The card comes with a few choices for redeeming your rewards. Options include a statement credit; direct deposit into your U.S. Bank checking, savings, or money market account; or adding to a rewards debit card.
It’s unusual for rewards to expire, but U.S. Bank rewards expire 36 months after they were earned. Use them as they accumulate versus waiting too long.
There’s no minimum redemption requirement for a statement credit or direct deposit. However, if you opt to redeem your cash back as a U.S. Bank Rewards Visa debit card, there’s a $20 minimum redemption requirement and you must redeem rewards in $5 increments.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Consider your upcoming spending when you’re selecting your 5% bonus categories. To max out spending in the 5% categories, you’ll need to spend $2,000 in the two categories each quarter, which breaks down to $666.67 in monthly spending. For example, you may choose electronics stores if you’re doing a lot of fourth-quarter holiday shopping.
Based on the available 5% cash back categories, and the two-category limit, reaching the $2,000 spending cap each quarter may be a challenge for many cardholders. Don’t be tempted to overspend in order to earn the maximum cash back.
Consider pairing this card with one that consistently earns in a category that could otherwise be neglected due to category choice, or won’t earn more than 1% in any case.
Set a calendar reminder or U.S. Bank text reminder for the bonus category selection window. Visit your account online or call customer service at least five days before each quarter starts so you have the full quarter to max out your spending. You can choose your rewards up to 45 days before the quarter starts.
You can still select bonus categories after the quarter has started, but only earn cash-back rewards at the 1% rate until your selection becomes effective. U.S. Bank advises that it can take up to three business days for the registration to take effect.
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Sports, music, and event ticket presales and discount, plus VIP access at some events
U.S. Bank earns the rating of “about average” in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
The card comes with a few noteworthy customer experience benefits including 24/7 U.S. based customer service, free TransUnion FICO score, budgeting tools, cardmember agreement guide, credit wellness center, and spend analysis online reporting.
Fees to Watch Out For
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card has two unusual fees. The first is a 2% charge for foreign transactions made in U.S. dollars. The other is a 4% fee for a “cash equivalent advance,” which may likely include gambling chips and lottery ticket purchases, but may also be applied to Venmo and other peer-to-peer transactions using your credit card.