Alliant Credit Union is bringing its A game to the market with their Visa Signature card. An industry leading 2.5% cash back on all purchases puts the big names like Wells Fargo to shame with their flagship CashWise product, which earns 1.5% cash back. The credit union is admittedly looking for big spenders with this card, targeting consumers that spend $4,000 or more a month. The minimum credit line available is going to be $10,000, so make sure you have excellent credit (a score over 680 is generally recommended) if you are considering applying. One nice feature about the application process is that Alliant will allow you to apply for the card and join the credit union after the fact if you are approved. This will save you a bit of time if you are worried about joining the credit union only to have your credit application denied.
Don't let the credit union part of the equation keep you from looking at this product. It's easy to qualify for membership. If you don't qualify for membership through one of your existing groups, you can donate $10 to the Foster Care to Success (FCS) to gain membership. Not only will you be getting a strong card, you'll also help improve the lives of foster teens that are aging out of the foster care system. FCS helps provide college grants, scholarships, and internships to foster teens so that they are in a better position to succeed in adulthood.
If you can remember 2.5%, you should be able to remember how this card works. You'll earn 3% on all purchases your first year of card membership and after year one you'll earn 2.5% cash back on all purchases. You'll need to accrue $25 in cash back before you're able to cash out, which is somewhat common in the cash back redemption world. Cash back will expire on a 5 year rolling first in first out basis. That means cash back you earn in December of 2017 will expire in December of 2022 if you haven't been able to redeem your rewards.
The card comes with a $99 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. Since year one has a waived annual fee, that means you'll be earning a straight forward 3% cash back without much guess work involved. What does this mean for your cash back in year two and beyond though? Yay. Math time. The next best card is going to offer 2% cash back each year with no annual fee. This means you need to spend enough each month to make that 0.5% cash back cover the annual fee ($4.91/monthly). Hint: It works out to $982 a month. If you are spending more than $982 dollars a month, the math on this card will work for you if you are seeking a flat rate cash back card.
|Monthly Spend||Citi Double Cash||Alliant Visa Signature|
Do you need more than 2.5% cash back on everything? You greedy person you. (But we don't blame you).
If you love the simplicity of earning flat rate cash back and you spend over $982 a month on your card, this one is going to be right for you. You may want to add another cash back card to your wallet that offers bonus categories for certain spend. For example, the Uber Visa earns 4% cash back on dining out and doesn't have an annual fee. Using the Uber Visa for 4% cash back for qualifying purchases and Alliant for everything else will help you optimize your earnings, if you can handle the juggling of cards. With that being said, you'll have to decide if an extra 1.5% is worth it.
If you are spending less than $982 a month, take a look at another no annual fee card. It's important to make sure that your spending patterns justify paying for an annual fee when you choose a credit card.
If you're a frequent traveler, there may be a better travel oriented card out there for you. For example, the Citi Prestige will earn 5% cash back on travel and restaurants when your points are redeemed for travel expenses. The card does have a $495 annual fee, but it also comes with a $250 annual travel credit.
You won't see fancy spokespeople talking up the Alliant Visa Signature card (cough...James Corden and his Sapphire Reserve plugs...cough), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider this card. Rather than paying big celebrities to endorse their products, Credit Unions tend to invest back into their members, so you - the cardholder, are the one that benefits in the end.
Overall, this is a good product. We'd recommend it as a staple card for anyone that appreciates the ease of redemption that cash back provides. We do think this card would be best used paired with either another cash back card with no annual fee and bonus categories so you can capitalize on that additional cash back, or as a secondary card you use in conjunction with your primary travel card.