Big Changes Coming for US Bank Cash+ Visa?
For a while now, there have been rumors swirling about that US Bank would be tweaking the benefits for its excellent Cash+ Visa Signature card. And honestly, given how lucrative the program currently is, it would be surprising if US Bank let it continue on in its current form forever. Particularly with all of the prepaid card churners that the Cash+ card has attracted, the program can’t be sustainable as it is.
Cash+ Visa’s current rewards structure is unparalleled
For those unfamiliar with the card, here’s a recap of its current rewards structure:
- 5% back in 2 categories that you choose (from a list of about 12 categories that may change each quarter)
- 2% cash back at either gas stations, grocery stores or drugstores–you pick one of these three categories in which to earn 2%, the other two will earn 1%
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
These rewards in themselves are pretty decent, but the card also allows you to sweeten them significantly:
- When you redeem at least $100 in rewards at once, you also get a bonus $25 Visa gift card. So if you redeem your rewards $100 at a time, you’re effectively boosting your rebate by 25%.
- You’ll also earn an additional 0.25% rebate on all spending for having a US Bank Gold Checking account or an additional 0.5% rebate on all spending for having a Platinum Checking account.
By stacking all of these possible bonuses together, redeeming in $100 increments and having a US Bank Platinum Checking account, this means that you would be earning:
- 6.875% cash back in your two selected “5%” categories
- 3.125% cash back in your selected “2%” category
- 1.875% cash back everywhere else
With no limit on the amount of rebates you can earn, these rates are spectacular compared to any other card on the market. Not only are they spectacular, they are, quite frankly, unsustainable–which leads us to what changes may be coming.
What are the rumored changes?
After scouring many message boards and talking to US Bank reps (who sometimes gave conflicting information), here is my current best guess as to the changes we will be seeing, most likely in July:
- The $25 bonus on $100 redemptions will be limited to one time per year
- The billpay, home improvement and airlines categories will be replaced with bookstores, sporting goods and cell phones. (This is a change that could take place earlier in Q2.)
- The most important change of all: you’ll only earn the 5% bonus on the first $2,000 of spending per quarter in your selected 5% categories. Any spending beyond that will earn 1%.
Collectively, these represent a significant devaluation of the program. The cap on 5% bonus spending alone will be a huge hit to many, but was inevitable.
If we compare the card to others, even after these changes, however, it still holds up quite well. Unlike the other rotating bonus category cards, you are still allowed the flexibility of choosing your own categories. Plus, the $2,000 quarterly spending cap on 5% bonus categories would still be more than the $1,500 spending cap that Chase Freedom and Discover it have. And when you have a US Bank Platinum checking account, the Cash+ card will still earn at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which compares quite well with most of its competitors. The once-a-year $25 on $100 or more redemptions just becomes a small bonus on top.
All-in-all, even with these rumored changes, the US Bank card will still be an attractive option for some. It just won’t be the huge moneymaker that it was for many in the past.
For more information on the US Bank Cash+ Visa, see this link.
New categories are available and billpay is gone as of Q2. Talk about a bait and switch act, considering that a big part of the marketing was to get you to switch over your automatic payments for cable, insurance, water, power/gas, phone, internet, cell phone, etc. Now that they’re clearly removing to a rotating category model with spending caps, there really isn’t much to set this card apart from Chase Freedom or Discover. Back to the Fidelity Investment Rewards for 2% back on everything, Citi Forward for 5% on Amazon and Dining/Fast Food, Penfed Cash Rewards for 5% on gas.
The rewards program clearly was too rich.
Whoever wrote this post had very good sources in January. Here it is 6 months later and every one of its predictions has been borne out.
I received notices from U.S. Bank over the last month outlining the following changes:
1. The $25 bonus for $100 redemption has been reduced to just one such bonus per calendar year. Just as you predicted.
2. The 5% rewards are now capped at $2000 spending on those categories per quarter. Exactly as you predicted.
But the latest notice has added one more that you didn’t see coming:
3. The 25% and 50% bonus on base rewards for linked gold and platinum U.S. Bank accounts is ending on August 12, 2013.