Cash Plus 5% Back Quarterly Categories

US_Bank_Cash_VisaOne of my favorite cards from last year was the U.S. Bank Cash Plus Card which let us pick from two 5% categories each quarter and then an extra 2% back categories on top of that.  The card has changed its terms since I first applied where it does not give you as many great choices to make the most cash back each quarter but it is still useful.

With the Cash+ Card you get 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in joint net purchases (purchases minus returns or credits) in your chosen 5% categories. Purchases over $2,000 earn 1% cash back. The 2% cash back is unlimited and all other net purchases earn 1% cash back.

February 18 was the first day to sign up for the next quarter 5% and 2% cash back.  Register now to make sure the purchases made in your selected categories are eligible to earn 5% or 2% cash back between April-June 2015. The Cash+ card lets you pick from Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, and Restaurants for the 2% rewards. Pick one of those then go over to the 5% categories of “Select Clothing Stores”, Gyms/Fitness Centers, Fast Food, Furniture Stores, Car Rental, Charity, and Movie Theaters.

usbankcashpluschoosecategoriesNotice that they included Restaurants in the 5% back group before but moved it to the 2% because people spend a lot at dine-in places such as Chili’s. They also include Pizza Hut as a 2% Restaurant instead of Fast Food. Not sure how that is possible but OK.

If you want this card for the Amazon 5% back included in bookstores that only includes Amazon Kindle Book purchases not on the main site. You may also be disappointed in the “select” clothing stores as that will not include online retailers such as Amazon.

As for Department stores included would be the following and their dot com counterparts: Bealls, Dillard’s, Soma Intimates, Belk, Macy’s, Tongass Trading Company, Bergner’s, Elder-Beerman, Von Maur,, Magic Mart, Bloomingdale’s, Getzs, Nordstrom, Weaver’s, Herberger’s, Nordstrom Rack, Younkers, Bon-Ton, Off 5th, Boscov’s, JcPenney, Parisian’s, Boston Stor, Kohl’s, Ruddy Duck, Saks Fifth Avenue, Carson’s, Larson’s Department Store, Loehmann’s and Sears.

The absolute worst category for most would be Movie Theaters which no one makes hardly anything back on but the credit card companies use this one as a feel-good type marketing ploy. You notice Chase and Discover banks also use this one often. Yes, while movie theaters are expensive with things like cola and popcorn the average person would make much more cash back on groceries and restaurants. The real everyday spending types of purchases.

My Cash+ Visa categories chosen consisted of 5% on Fast Food and 5% on Select Clothing Stores. I figured I would hit up clothing stores at the mall more than Department stores and I am sure everyone by now has a Macy’s retail card so you don’t need the Department store category. I choose 2% on Restaurants in case I hit up a Fast Food place thinking it’s in that category and it will at least get the extra 1% for a restaurant. Grocery stores I am already getting 6% Cash Back with an American Express Blue Preferred. The electronics stores does cover Apple Store but I buy most of my electronics from Amazon and it’s not included anywhere sadly.

UPDATE 2016: When I first applied for this card it was a glorious piece of plastic. It shined in its beautiful blue design and saved me five percent on my favorite expense which is restaurants and dining. Come 2016, It’s dwindled down to one of the worst cards in my wallet. I am not even sure I want to use it anymore. I have done some trials where I have used it at fast food places such as Cowboy’s Chicken or Chipotle and neither register as a fast food establishment and instead code as restaurants getting me only 1% back instead of 5%.

When shopping for clothes it’s even more of a let down because it only considers a few handfuls of retailers part of that 5% and I wasted purchases with Guess! Jeans and Rue 21 which it did not count as their select clothing stores. I had called before I made the clothing charges and the reps said you just have to test it out but another rep read off several that I would never attempt to shop at so I think it’s time to tear up this joke of a card and quit wasting my time. Overall this is a mediocre card from U.S. Bank (just like every other card they offer) to have if you plan your spending strategy accordingly to maximize your cash earning power.