Full Review of U.S. Bank Cash Plus
High rewards rate on select categories
Potentially valuable introductory offers
Complicated rewards structure
No introductory 0% APR on purchases
Low base rewards rate
- High Rewards Rate on Select Categories: With this card, you'll earn a solid 5% cash back on up to $2,000 spent each quarter in two categories of your choice—though you’re restricted to a list U.S. Bank provides. You’ll also get unlimited 2% back on an everyday spending category of your choice, also from a list of options. Every three months, you’ll choose new categories, giving you more control over how you earn rewards. But bear in mind that if you don't activate any bonus categories, all of your purchases will earn just 1% back.
- Potentially Valuable Introductory Offers: As a new cardholder, you’ll get $200 cash back after you spend $500 in the first 90 days, plus an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. If you have a balance on another credit card, moving it to the U.S. Bank Cash Plus card could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in interest—far more than the value of the bonus. For example, let's say you owe $3,000 on a card with a 20% interest rate. If you keep the balance there and create a plan to pay it off in 12 months, your monthly payment would be $277.90, and you'd pay $334.84 in interest over that time. If you transfer the balance to this card instead and pay it off in 12 months, your monthly payment would be $257.50, and the only transfer-related cost would be the $90 balance transfer fee (3% of the transfer amount). But, that fee can be easily justified considering your $334.84 in interest savings.
- Complicated Rewards Structure: If maximizing rewards is your top priority, this card provides some opportunities. But you’ll need to do some work, including reviewing your spending habits to determine which bonus categories you should choose and making sure you activate them on time each quarter. In other words, if you're looking for a no-fuss cash-back rewards credit card, this one isn’t it. Some other cash-back credit cards offer a flat rewards rate of 1.5% or 2% on every purchase you make.
- No Introductory 0% APR on Purchases: Many cash-back credit cards that offer an introductory 0% APR promotion provide it for both new purchases and balance transfers. This card, however, charges interest on purchases from the beginning. If you only need the balance transfer promotion, that won’t be a problem. But if you’re hoping to finance a large purchase and pay it off interest-free over time, shop around for a card that can help you do that.
- Low Base Rewards Rate: While you’ll earn up to 5% cash back on bonus categories, it’s possible that most of your purchases will net you just 1% back, especially if you’re a one-card kind of person. There are two solutions to this problem: either pick a card that offers a higher rewards rate on all of your purchases, or pair the U.S. Bank Cash Plus with a card that offers 1.5% or 2% back on everything. In the latter case, use this card for its bonus categories and the other card for everything else.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
The U.S. Bank Cash Plus is primarily designed for people who want to maximize the rewards they earn and aren't bothered by the extra effort this card requires. You could earn up to $400 in cash back from the card’s 5% categories alone, which could happen If a lot of your spending matches up with the card's bonus categories.
If you prefer a simple rewards structure, though, you may be better off with a card that offers just one rewards rate or has bonus rewards that don’t require you to activate them every few months.
Also, the card could be a good fit for people who want to do a balance transfer. But keep in mind that there are other cards out there with much longer promotional 0% APR periods. Depending on how much you owe and what kind of time you need to pay it off, a card with a longer promotion may be a better fit.
U.S. Bank Cash Plus Bonus
When you first get the card, you'll earn $200 after you spend $500 in the first 90 days from account opening—that’s just a little more than $166 per month. The bonus amount represents a 40% return on the spending requirement that is pretty typical among other cash-back credit cards.
And remember, if you pair the bonus with a balance transfer from another card, the bonus can cover some or all of the balance transfer fee.
Rewards Earning Details
Cardholders will earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 spent per quarter in two categories of their choice. The list of possible categories, which can change on a quarterly basis, includes:
- TV, Internet, and streaming services
- Fast food
- Cell phone providers
- Department stores
- Home utilities
- Select clothing stores
- Electronic stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Movie theaters
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Furniture stores
- Ground transportation
As you can see, some of these categories are relatively narrow. You’d probably be hard-pressed to max out your 5% rewards with fast food and movie tickets. But if you have a big purchase of furniture or electronics coming up, that may be easier.
So the goal is pick the two categories where you’re expecting to spend the most during the upcoming quarter. You’ll start earning the 5% rate three business days after you make your selection.
The card also offers unlimited 2% cash back at your pick of either grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants, as well as 1% back on everything else.
Again, the 1% back isn't great, and even the 2% bonus category isn’t impressive if you can get a card like the Citi Double Cash card that offers 1% back on all purchases and another 1% back when you pay your bill. But if you pair the U.S. Bank Cash Plus with a card that offers a high rewards rate on everything, it could be worth it.
Rewards Redemption Details
U.S. Bank allows you to redeem your cash-back rewards in three ways: as a statement credit, as a deposit into a U.S. Bank checking, savings, or money market account, or in the form of a U.S. Bank rewards card.
If you redeem for a statement credit or deposit, there is no minimum redemption amount, while the rewards card requires that you redeem at least $20. Also, keep in mind that your rewards expire 36 months after you earn them. Most major cash-back rewards programs don’t have an expiration date.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
When it comes to redeeming your rewards, you’ll get the same value regardless of what method you choose. So if you want to maximize your rewards, you’ll need to focus on the earning side of the equation.
The most important thing you can do is take some time to examine your spending habits and calculate which categories you spend the most in. Also, consider any major upcoming expenses that could allow you to earn more cash back.
And again, consider pairing the U.S. Bank Cash Plus with a flat-rate cash-back card, so you’ll never be stuck with the card’s 1% base rewards rate as your only option.
- Rental car insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance
- Roadside dispatch
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection
- Concierge services
U.S. Bank ranked eighth out of 11 national issuers in J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. It scored 785 out of 1,000 points, compared with the national average of 806 points.
The bank offers cardholders an assortment of credit tools, including complimentary access to a credit score through the credit bureau TransUnion. But it’s not your FICO score, which is what major lenders typically use in making their credit decisions. Free FICO score access is standard with many major card issuers.
If you have a question, you can reach the customer service team 24/7 at 800-285-8585. You can also manage your account online or through the U.S. Bank mobile app.
U.S. Bank's security features are standard for the credit card industry.
Fees to Watch Out For
For the most part, the U.S. Bank Cash Plus card's fees are standard for the credit card industry. If you're considering a cash advance, though, watch out. The card's fee can be 3% or 4% of the advance amount, with minimums ranging from $5 to $20, depending on how you request the advance.
The U.S. Bank Cash Plus card has a lot of potential, offering 5% cash back on two categories of your choice every quarter. But to maximize the rewards you earn, you need to pay close attention to your spending habits and not miss the deadlines for activating your categories.
Also, the card's 5% categories aren’t quite as broad as the rotating categories you’d get from cards like the Chase Freedom and Discover it. So be sure to compare those two cards with the U.S. Bank Cash Plus to determine which would be the best fit for you.