Why I Am Actually Considering the Altitude Reserve Now – 4.5% Back At Costco

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Get 4.5% back at Costco

Get 4.5% back at Costco with the US Bank Altitude Reserve

The Altitude Reserve card was launched by US Bank a little over a year ago and I found it highly underwhelming.  Especially after all of the shut down reports for buying gift cards started coming out.  The main feature of the card is earning 3X Flexperks on mobile payments. That is a return of 4.5% since Flexperks points are worth 1.5 cents each. I don’t use mobile payments all that much so it didn’t interest me.

To me, the Altitude Reserve was another “premium” card with a large annual fee that fell short, just like the SPG Luxury card.  This latest news coming out of Costco has me reconsidering though.  Costco has added mobile payments which means you can now get 4.5% back at Costco with the Altitude Reserve card.

Details on the US Bank Altitude Card

Before we dive into why this news is interesting I want to do a quick overview of the card.  Mainly because I forgot all of the details of the card :).

Welcome Bonus
  • 50,000 points (worth $750) after spending $4,500 within the first 3 months
Card Details
  • 3X points on travel purchases and mobile wallet purchases
  • 1X on everything else
  • $400 Annual Fee not waived
Card Perks
  • $325 in annual credits
  • Priority Pass membership
  • 12 Gogo Wifi Passes
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit

To be approved for the card you need to have an exsisting US Bank relationship.  A checking account or another credit card account works.

As you can see there isn’t a lot of meat on the bones, outside of the mobile wallet purchases.  With US Bank cracking down on purchasing Visa gift cards via mobile wallet I didn’t see a use for the card.  I don’t really shop at many places that accept mobile payments. With Costco joining the fold I think the opportunity is now there.

Get 4.5% back at Costco

Why Does Costco Matter

Costco is a huge warehouse store that offers a ton of items.  They carry food, furniture, electronics, toys and almost everything else.  There is value there for most people, assuming you have a store near.  Also the shut downs, from what I can tell, are for buying Visa gift cards only.  Costco has 3rd party gift card sales from time to time which I think would be fine, although I can not guarantee that.  If you add that with the 2% back you get from a premium membership then you are saving 6.5% on Costco’s already reduced prices.


I don’t think this news will get me to sign up for the Altitude card but if I already had one it would probably push me towards keeping it.  There is an opportunity to get a lot of value out of Costco adding mobile payments. Whether through regular spend or on 3rd party gift cards.  And the Altitude Reserve is the best way to do that.

Let me know if this announcement changes your thoughts on the Altitude Reserve as well.


Hat Tip – DoC

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Using this card at Costco for more than a year with MST first, and just under a year with NFC, after my Costco store upgraded their terminals to Verifone.

    • You will be at profit vs. 2% card after spending $3k per year at Costco only, but you can use it elsewhere as well. This is one of my favourite cards, and a default for nin-category spending. If I had to have only one card, it would be AR.

    • Costco only earns 2% inside the store this earns 4.5% and has what is essentially a $100 annual fee. So if you spend over $4000 at Costco per year you would come out ahead with the Altitude card (not taking into account any other perks from the card).

  2. I use my Altitude Reserve a lot with Samsung Pay…. including at Costco.

    I just took a road trip from Pittsburgh to NYC. A lot of gas pumps accepted mobile payments.

    Got the card just in time to travel to Italy this past April. Samsung Pay worked almost everywhere. Put a dent in my minimum spend + 3X pts for mobile pay.

  3. I’ve had the Altitude Reserve since late last year. I thought for sure I was going to close it before the second annual fee was due, but now I’m considering keeping it. Was traveling recently in Europe and found that Apple Pay (and thus 3X on the Altitude Reserve) worked just about everywhere. Often times even the cashiers were surprised that my Apple Watch worked for mobile payments. Their new “Real-Time Mobile Rewards” is also a win, as it makes it easy to essentially get the points out as cash back rather than having to use them to book travel.

  4. FYI AFAIK The Altitude Reserve doesn’t earn Flexperks points. It earns Altitude Reserve points. You can transfer a limited number of Flexperks to Altitude Reserve, but not the other way.

    • I am not sure – they don’t specify on the app page. I had thought they were all “Flexperks” but I could be wrong.

  5. You’d be surprised at the places that accept mobile pay. Many verifone terminals do not look like they do, but will show the mobile pay icon after the amount has been typed in. Unfortunately cashiers are so used to typing and swiping/dipping and are not used to mobile pay, so many just assume it won’t work. I discovered that my mechanic’s terminal was setup for mobile pay. I still don’t like spending hundreds of dollars for car repairs, but it softens the blow to know I’m earning 4.5% cashback.

  6. It’s a pretty decent option now, if you can get approved for it. I’m 20/24 and 9/12, so I seriously doubt they will approve me even if I opened a checking account. I want this card, and I do spend a lot at Costco, but I’m pretty sure it would be a wasted HP.

    • I was approved for their Amex FP card last year with a ton of HP’s but it was a targeted offer and I have been a cardholder for 15 years so that probably played a role. I know people have better luck if they freeze their ASM reports (or something like that).

  7. It shouldn’t. Here’s why
    If you do not have Altitude Reserve, odds are you already have a card that gives you the premium card benefits (Prestige/ Reserve/ Amex Platinum). Why pay another annual fee when you have Chase Freedom and Discover IT consistently offer 5% back one quarter on warehouse clubs ? Just buy 1500 worth of costco cash cards and use them. That’s 250/ month and if you need more there are always options to do a 5x with a visa gift card and use those to buy cash card as well.
    As for purchase protection, I’d rather have Costco’s than the ones from the card

    • Fair points Michael. But you are negating the value of using mobile wallet outside of Costco which I think will continue to expand. I don’t use it much myself but something for others to consider.

    • Not sure – their other cards have been in the past but they are a stickler on applications. The Altitude in particular. If you give it a shot let us know how it goes.


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