Credit Card Review: USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards - Running with Miles
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Credit Card Review: USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards

Written by Dustin

We’ve seen big banks fight over your business, now we some smaller banks mixing it up with the big dogs. USAA decides to enter into the competition with a card earning 2.5% cash back. Is it worth your time?

Advertiser Disclosure

There have been 2 smaller banks making pretty big moves in the cash back world.  One is the Alliant Signature Visa and the other is the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards.

We just added the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards to our wallet. The USAA Limitless has become our card for all non-bonus spend. We have been using this card for a couple of weeks now and felt it was time for a review. 🙂

Credit Score Needed:

Since this is a newer card and is being rolled out in stages, the information is a bit limited. There is some data for the credit scores being approved, which is great.

According to the 2 people on Credit Boards, the lower of the score is 700. On a few other forums, I saw people with sub-700 credit scores being approved for this card.

I can add one more data point for our approval. USAA pulled from Equifax with a score of 781.

I will always tell people, if your score is below 700 I would be very cautious applying for a rewards card. There probability of being rejected is higher and that doesn’t help you at all!

Applying:

USAA is not open to the public. There are certain criteria you must meet before you can have full range of their banking options. Even if you meet the criteria to bank with USAA, the Limitless Cashback Rewards isn’t available in all states.

Currently, it is available in AL, AR, AZ, CT, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MN, ND, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, WA. According to many reports, it should be available everywhere by the end of 2017.

It seems USAA is rolling out more states monthly and they are currently half way through all the states.

If you were to apply and are approved, USAA does release a part of your credit limit to be used immediately. Since you have access to credit card numbers, you can actually add the card to your mobile wallet.

It is a nice benefit to have part of your credit limit available immediately. If a merchant accepts Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay you can use your card as well! No need to actually wait for a physical card.

Sign Up Bonus:

This is definitely one of the largest downfalls of many cash back cards and the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards is no different.

There is no sign up bonus for the USAA Limitless Cashback Reward credit card. I’m not sure we will see one for it either, but if we do, I think it’ll be targeted. I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

Annual Fee:

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards card has no annual fee. This card should definitely be considered a long term keeper.

Earning Rate:

The lack of a signing bonus is a big glaring mark, but the earning rate more than makes up for this.

This card earns 1.5% base cash back on all purchases and they is definitely below the bench mark of 2%. But…

If you have a direct deposit of $1,000 or more every month, USAA will increase the earning rate to 2.5% cash back.

Triggering Bonus Percentage:

USAA is requiring the direct deposit be in a single electronic transfer. This is a significant, because having $500 transferred into the account twice will not trigger the bonus.

DD

At this time, there are data points of people transferring money from another institute to trigger the direct deposit requirement. I can’t see that lasting very long, because USAA is wanting you to bank with them full time.

The Limitless one of the best earning rates out on the market if you can meet the direct deposit requirement.  If you unable to meet the $1,000 single transaction requirement, you will go back to earning 1.5% cash back.

I’m not sure if this is enforced, but USAA does mention “purchases of other cash equivalents, even if use to purchase goods or services.” This is mentioned on many cards T&C’s, but not many are enforced. Just something to keep in mind.

TC

From the time you are approved you have 3 months to set up your direct deposit. This is a nice window of time, because you won’t be at risk of losing out on valuable cash back!

Probably one of the best features I’ve noticed is the fact the cash back post once the transaction post. There is no waiting for statements to close or even a month lag time. I am super impatient and seeing the cash back post immediately a feature I really like. Hey, American Express take note 😛

One of thing I have noticed is that transactions seem to take longer than other banks post. It seems to take a day longer when compared to other banks, but that isn’t a big deal.

Foreign Transaction Fees:

I think this is another area where the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards shines. Not only is there no annual fee, there is no foreign transaction fee.

Although there are known issues about Visa converting at a higher amount than other issuers, this is still quite amazing.

The other huge benefit if you are traveling abroad, is the ability to use this as a Chip and PIN. Here in the US we are still lagging behind and slowly (very slowly) catching up on this.

chip&pin

It was incredibly easy to set up and I like the fact this card has Chip and PIN capability. Some of the others are cards like the Barclay Arrival Plus, which have a nice bonus, but lower earning rate and annual fee.

Redemption:

The redemption for the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards is straight forward.  The cash back earned can be deposited to ANY of your USAA accounts, including your USAA Limitless credit card bill.

This basically gives you two options:

  • Statement Credit
  • Cash back

There minimum amount to be deposited is $1, which makes this a very easy to earn and deposit the cash back. USAA mentions in their T&C’s that they can modify, or cancel the program at any time. With that in mind, I personally cash out my cash back once it hits my account. I don’t expect USAA to be shady, but there is no benefit to letting it sit there.

Other Benefits/Lack of Benefits:

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards is a Visa Signature, which comes with a slew of benefits on it’s own.

One feature I truly like (which Citi is probably the best for tracking), is the price protection. You will need to keep an eye on prices, but if you find a lower price on an item within 60 days you can submit a claim for the difference.

Beyond the basic benefits that Visa provides, there are very few extra benefits the card provides.

The earning rate is definitely the largest draw to this card, but there is definitely a choice to be made when booking travel. There is a lack of travel delay coverage with the USAA Limitess Cashback Rewards. This could be a dilemma because you will earn 2.5% cash back, but forgo those protections given by other cards.

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards does offer baggage delay coverage (yawn), which kicks in after 4 hours if your bag has been lost or delayed. The coverage is $100 up to 3 days.

I would definitely weigh the benefits of earning 2.5% cash back vs using a card with a lower earning rate, but better travel delay benefits. Sometimes choosing better benefits outweighs the rewards you’d earn.

Conclusion:

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards is so simple for earning and redeeming your cash back. It’s definitely not sophisticated or complex, but when you are earning 2.5% cash back it is pretty hard to complain.

This is possibly one of the best cards for non-bonus spend. Not to mention this type of earning rate could really start pushing people away from points.  This card is limited in it’s roll out, but slowly making it’s way out around the country.

It’ll be interesting to see which big bank steps up to match this earning rate. When you add in the fact there is no annual fee, or foreign transaction fee this makes it more appealing.

With so many options to make travel more affordable not using miles (especially for coach), this is definitely worth a look if you are eligible. If you take this card and mix in a few card that earn 5%, you can definitely have a nice rotation.

Have you considered the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards? Are you starting to consider earning cashback over points?

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

7 Comments

  • Hey Andrew,

    I had read very early on USAA was allowing PC for the limitless, but I haven’t read any info on that being done recently.

    USAA does not typically allow PC for their cards. I wouldn’t expect that to happen, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
    Dustin

  • Love this card. Have had it about 6 months. It is my main card when I don’t need to make a spend or get 3 % or 5% with another card for certain categories. And since I have had most cards more than once I have run out of options for new sign up bonuses. Gotta lay low for a few years to get more cards from chase.

    • Hey Kelly,

      This is a great card. I love mixing it with my other bonus categories. The cash back really adds up fast! I am not worried about Chase though! Too many good cards out there to hold out for one bank. They’ll come around and when they do, I’ll get a few more from them :-).

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • Here’s data point for you: 740 score, Experian pulled, approved for 20k limit. This is my second USAA card, I have a 10 year banking relationship with USAA.

    I first called to do a product change and they don’t allow that currently.

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