The US Bank Cash + is an interesting cash back credit card. It earns 5% cash back in quarterly categories. But what separates it from other 5% or 5x credit cards is that you can choose your 5% categories from a list. This is awesome if you already have a lot of credit cards because you can customize your earning structure. Plus, the US Bank Cash + has no annual fee, which makes it an excellent keeper card.
The US Bank Cash + offers a sign-up bonus worth $150. It can be earned by spending just $500 within the first three months. This is a typical sign-up bonus for a no annual fee credit card. Fortunately, its easy to earn and on par with the Chase Freedom Cards.
However, the difference between the Cash + and the Chase cards is the potential to transfer points to partners. The Cash + does not provide that opportunity because it’s a cash back credit card.
The earning potential of the US Bank Cash + depends on the categories you choose. Your mileage may vary here because you might have other credit cards that earn big rewards in certain categories.
You will earn 5% cash back in the two categories of your choice from the following list:
- Cell Phone Providers
- Department Stores
- Electronics Stores
- Fast Food
- Furniture Stores
- Ground Transportation
- Gyms & Fitness Centers
- Home Utilities
- Movie Theatres
- Select Clothing Stores
- Sporting Goods Stores
- TV, Internet, & Streaming Services
This is an extensive list of categories. However, I do not like how specific each one is. US Bank is trying to provide a unique list of categories. But they are too unique compared to competitors’ categories. Chase and Discover both use the opposite strategy of providing general categories so that more people will use their cards. US Bank is trying to fill in the gaps.
You can earn up to $100 cash back per quarter within the 5% categories. In other words, there is a $2,000 spending limit for the 5% categories each quarter. You will earn just 1% within the categories if you exceed the limit. Fortunately, the $2,000 limit is higher than the $1,500 limits from the Discover It and Chase Freedom cards. That means you can earn an extra $25 cash back every quarter relative to the Chase and Discover cards if you maximize the categories.
You must also select a category every quarter. US Bank gives you the option to sign up for email or text reminders to select your category. Competitors Chase and Discover send automatic email reminders
Furthermore, the Cash + earns 2% cash back in one more category. You can also select this category, but the list is much smaller. There are three options:
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
You can choose any of the above for your 2% category. That is because there is a plethora of other credit cards that earn more rewards in all three categories. 2% is not much at all compared to the value of transferrable points or the amount of cash back you can earn from another card.
Plus, you will earn 1% cash back on all non-bonus spend.
Moreover, US Bank provides three redemption options for your cash back: statement credit, direct deposit, and Visa gift card. The first two options do not have a minimum redemption amount. Unfortunately, all cash back earned has a 36-month expiration date. Chase and Discover do not have such a rule for their 5% credit cards.
Statement credits are when you negate part of your credit card bill with cash back earned. Some cash back cards offer statement credits as your only redemption option.
This is the best option of the three if you do not have an account with US Bank.
Direct deposit is when US Bank puts your cash back into a bank account. The catch with this option is that you must have a savings or checking account with US Bank. US Bank will not deposit your cash back into an account from another bank.
This is the option that I would prefer assuming that you have an account with US Bank.
Visa Gift Card
The Visa gift card is the worst redemption method of the three. It is the only option that has a minimum redemption amount of $20. And cash back must be redeemed in $5 increments.
Surprisingly, the US Bank Cash back has some nice benefits for a no annual fee credit card. Some of them are from Visa Signature while others are from US Bank. The best US Bank-based benefits are highlighted here:
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
This benefit is like the primary rental car insurance perk from Chase. Just pay for your entire rental car transaction with your card. And then, decline the extra collision insurance (or loss damage waiver) from the rental car company.
Travel & Emergency Assistance Services
These services can be nice for travelers, especially if they do not have any travel credit cards. US Bank will help you get medical, legal, and travel services when you are on vacation. However, you are responsible for the costs. These services simply act as a concierge.
Extended Warranty doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s warranty up to one year. Your product must have a warranty of three years or less. And there is a maximum of $10,000 per claim.
This is a nice benefit that has recently gone by the wayside for many competitors. It’s nice to see that US Bank still has this perk for their cash back credit card.
The Chase Freedom is one of the best alternatives to the US Bank Cash +, especially for travelers. This is because you can transfer rewards earned to a premium Chase card if you have one. In other words, you earn cash back which can be turned into Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points through transferring.
Furthermore, the Chase Freedom has no annual fee and comes with the same sign-up bonus as the US Bank Cash +. The Freedom earns 5% / 5x UR points within quarterly rotating categories. But the Freedom’s categories are chosen by Chase two weeks before the start of a new quarter.
Chase also offers the same cash back redemption option as the US Bank Cash +. But the big advantage of the Freedom is the ability to transfer points to a premium card. That makes it the better card for travelers. But those who want to earn cash back must determine if US Bank’s unique categories are worth it.
Alternatively, the Discover It is another excellent 5% cash back card. It is closer to the US Bank Cash + in that both cards earn strictly cash back and have no annual fee.
But the Discover It comes with a unique sign-up bonus. Discover will double all cash back earned within the first 12 months of having the card. This is a nice incentive to keep the Discover card long-term as you watch the rewards grow. The Discover It is the better card for the first year. But thereafter, you must determine which card’s categories work best for you.
Fortunately, Discover posts their categories for the next year online every November 1. The categories are always online for your reference and you can compare them to those of the US Bank Cash +.
The US Bank Cash + can be a lucrative option for your wallet if you can maximize its unique categories. It is also a great alternative to the Discover It and Chase Freedom cards if you want to earn cash back. However, travelers are better off with another credit card, despite the US Bank and Visa Signature benefits.
Apply Today: US Bank Cash +