Premium Plastic Wars: U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex’s Platinum

U.S. Bank's new travel card may make you think twice about applying for Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum cards.

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U.S. Bank just launched a new premium travel card that joins the league of travel cards with big rewards and high annual fees. Available only to U.S. Bank customers, the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite is for frequent travelers with disposable income who want spending incentives.

The Altitude Reserve’s design puts it in direct competition with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (see review here) and the Platinum Card from American Express (see review here). So how does the Altitude Reserve measure up to these premium kingpins? Here’s a closer look.

Earning & Redeeming Points

Each card rewards points for spending, but comes with its quirks. The Altitude Reserve earns three points for every dollar on travel purchases, including those made with mobile wallets. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. Right now, U.S. Bank is offering 50,000 bonus points (up to a $750 value) when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns three points for every dollar on travel and dining, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Right now, Chase is offering 50,000 bonus points (up to a $750 value) when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Platinum Card earns five points for every dollar on flights booked directly or through American Express and eligible hotels booked through Amextravel.com. You’ll get one point for every dollar on all other purchases. American Express is offering 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Each card offers a variety of ways to redeem points, including gift cards, travel and merchandise. Chase and U.S. Bank reserve the most valuable redemption options for travel purchases.

Travel Credits

Each card credits $85 to your TSA Pre-Check application or $100 to your Global Entry application. Beyond that, travel credits vary. The Altitude Reserve offers $325 in automatic statement credits when you make qualifying purchases on airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises and taxis. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an annual $300 statement credit for similar purchases. The Platinum Card provides up to $200 in annual Uber savings and a $200 airline fee credit.

Other Travel Benefits

Each card touts a wealth of additional benefits, including airline, car rental and hotel perks.

The Altitude Reserve provides 12 Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes each year and a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership; members must pay $27 for subsequent visits. They’ll also receive a 15% discount and a one-time $30 credit at GroundLink Black Car Service. The card provides complimentary breakfast at Relais & Châteaux Boutique Luxury Hotels.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership after a one-time activation. Cardholders will also receive perks like free Wi-Fi at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties.

The Platinum Card offers benefits at more than 975 properties worldwide. These include late checkout, free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Cardholders also have access to more than 1,000 airport lounges, room upgrades and car-rental privileges.

Each card offers its own concierge and protections, including car rental and trip cancellation insurance.

Annual Fees

The Altitude Reserve carries a $400 annual fee and its APR is a variable 16.49%. You’ll also need to be a U.S. Bank customer, although you can apply for the card 35 days after opening an account. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $450 and a variable APR between 16.74% and 23.74%. The Platinum Card has an annual fee of $550. It has no APR, as it’s a charge card that requires members to pay their balance in full every month. None of these cards charge foreign transaction fees.

Should I Apply for One of These Travel Cards?

These cards are intended for frequent travelers with disposable income and require good-to-excellent credit. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) If that’s not you, you should look elsewhere. You’ll also need to be comfortable with paying a $400-plus annual fee.

If you’re in the market for a premium travel card and are a U.S. Bank customer, the Altitude Reserve is an attractive option. If you’re not a U.S. Bank customer and have no need for another loan or bank account, another card may be better.

Remember, points that reward your spending habits offer the most value. For instance, the Altitude Reserve offers three points for mobile wallet purchases, but if you don’t use a mobile wallet, you may be better off with a card that rewards other types of transactions.

As the travel credits can earn back a good deal of the annual fee, you’ll want a card with travel credits you can fully exploit. If you don’t use services like Uber or incur many airline fees, American Express’ Platinum Card may not be the best option, even though its annual credits offer the greatest monetary value.

You’ll also want to look at the additional benefits that come with each card and decide if you’ll use them. Apply for the card that rewards your lifestyle and spending habits, rather than chasing benefits with the most monetary value.

Keep in mind, too, a rewards credit card, premium or otherwise, is only truly rewarding if you pay your balances off in full. Otherwise, you’re just losing perks to interest. If you’re prone to carrying a balance, you’re better off looking into a low-interest or balance transfer credit card. You can find some of a list of some of the best balance transfer credit cards right here.

At publishing time, the Platinum card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Amex Soups Up Platinum Card With Free Uber Rides

platinum card free uber rides

American Express is giving Platinum cardholders up to $200 a year in free Uber rides as part of a host of new rewards taking effect March 30.

The American Express Platinum card, which already came with a host of premium benefits like access to airport lounges and a $200 statement credit toward airline fees, is also increasing its already hefty annual fee of $450 to $550 as the new benefits come online.

In addition to the Uber credits, Platinum members will get five points in the American Express Membership Rewards Program for every dollar they spend booking eligible hotels on amextravel.com. Members also get access to more airport lounges and a new Global Dining Collection, which includes exclusive reserved seating at culinary events.

How to Get the Uber Credits

Many American Express cardholders use Uber, the company said in a press release. The new Uber Rides with Platinum reward will give members $15 in Uber credit per month, plus a $20 bonus in December, if they add their American Express Platinum Card as a payment method in the Uber app. The credits will show up in the app.

The expansion of the Global Lounge Collection gives cardholders access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries. American Express also is expanding its “By Invitation Only” program, giving cardholders access to swanky events like the Harper’s Bazaar 150th anniversary party or the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Meanwhile, the existing benefits of Platinum membership remain, including one Membership Rewards Program point for every dollar spent. The points can be redeemed with more than a dozen airlines and to snag other rewards, like gift cards and merchandise. The card also confers travel insurance and purchase protections policies.

Another important thing to know: This isn’t really a credit card, but rather a charge card. Card holders are expected to pay their balance in full each month.

Regardless, you’ll need a strong credit score to qualify. To see where you stand, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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Amex Ups the Ante on Its Platinum Card

american-express-platinum-card

American Express just announced a major change to one of its popular premium travel credit cards: Starting on October 6, its Platinum credit cardholders will receive five times the points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express’s travel portal.

The issuer’s Business Platinum credit cardholders are getting an even sweeter deal: They’ll earn 50% points back when using American Express’s Membership Rewards Pay with Points in its travel portal to book a flight with their selected airline. They’ll also get that benefit when booking a first or business class ticket with any airline, the issuer said. Moreover, business Platinum cardholders will earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on any purchase of $5,000 or more.

Prior to the change, both versions of the Platinum card (you can see a full review of the personal credit card here) offered cardholders one point in its Membership Rewards program and double points when making reservations through its travel portal. Cardholders receive a $200 airline credit, airport lounge access and a fee credit for Global entry or TSA Pre✓, among other travel perks.

A Crowded Market

American Express’s announcement comes on the heels of Chase’s launch of its new Sapphire Reserve credit card, a product that made headlines for featuring one of the biggest sign-on bonuses ever. Reserve cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening, which amounts to a whopping $1,500 when you redeem them through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal. (That bonus was so popular, incidentally, that Chase temporarily ran out of the branded metal credit cards.)

American Express is currently offering new personal Platinum cardholders 40,000 membership points when they spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Remember, while some premium plastic certainly sounds like a dream come true, you’ve got to be able to afford the perks. These types of credit cards typically tout high annual fees. Both the Platinum and the Reserve, for instance, cost $450 a year. And you’ve got to travel — or at least spend enough — to justify that charge. You should also be in the habit of paying your balances off in full; otherwise, you’ll just pay those points back in interest.

If you are looking to add to your wallet, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to determine if a card is right for you. And check your credit score: Premium plastic generally requires stellar credit, so you don’t want to risk an inquiry (and a ding to your credit score) only to be denied. You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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The post Amex Ups the Ante on Its Platinum Card appeared first on Credit.com.