With many people antsy to travel after a year of not getting around much, U.S. Bank executives think the time is right to launch a new travel rewards card.
The new card, called Connect and part of its Altitude line of Visa Signature cards, is being rolled out now after being put on hold last year after the pandemic hit, Steve Mattics, head of retail payments for the Minneapolis-based bank, said.
"Obviously travel was an area with little interest, little activity," he said.
That was then. Now the horizon looks much brighter.
"There's so much pent-up demand right now for travel," he said. "What we're betting on is not so much that somebody is going to be getting on a plane tomorrow, but that people now are starting to get comfortable planning that long put-off holiday, or that destination wedding they put off a year. Or that family reunion that we were going to do in 2020 and now they're going to do it at the end of this year or next year."
During the pandemic, other travel rewards-related cards retooled a bit to try to stay relevant, offering other non-travel benefits such as food delivery to appeal to consumers who may have been mostly homebound.
Users of Altitude Connect will be able to rack up 4X points on travel and at gas stations, and 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly through its rewards center. It also offers 2X points for grocery delivery and shopping, dining, takeout and food delivery, and for streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify.
Like many other travel rewards cards, it will provide up to $100 in statement credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees.
It has an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, instant redemption, cash back and merchandise.
This is the third card in U.S Bank's Altitude rewards portfolio. It also has the premium Altitude Reserve card and the no-fee Altitude Go card, launched last year.
"As it turned out, Altitude Go, which is a dining, takeout, delivery, streaming [rewards card] ... was the perfect card to launch during the pandemic because that's what people were doing," Mattics said.
U.S. Bank is looking to add to the Altitude portfolio, perhaps with a card geared toward small businesses, he said.