U.S. Bank Cash+ card adding ‘ground transportation’ category, removes ‘charity’ category

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card is known for its unique rewards structure (you get to pick two 5 percent categories each quarter and a 2 percent category).

It’s also known for moving the goal posts on cardholders by switching up the categories available.

The most recent change: In February 2017, the the card is adding a “ground transportation” category and eliminating its “charity” category.

What’s changing

According to a notification in cardholders’ statements, the following changes will go into effect on Feb. 15, 2017:

  • Adding ground transportation category (5 percent): Each quarter, cardholders can pick two categories that earn 5 percent cash back on up to $2,000 in combined purchases. Ground transportation will be added to the 5 percent menu.

    The new ground transportation category will include things like train tickets and even ride-share options like Uber and Lyft.

  • Eliminating charity donations from the 5 percent options): Do-gooders will certainly be disappointed by this change. Some private schools and non-profit health organizations were also coded as charities, meaning some tuition payments and health-care costs could also earn 5 percent back.

Nerf or upgrade?

That depends on how you used the card — and how well you’re able to make use of the new ground transportation category.

If you were using the U.S. Bank card to hit a rare rewards category (charitable donations), this change may leave you without a way to earn rewards on your giving. While lots of cards allow you to give earned rewards points to charity, rare is the card that lets you earn extra rewards on your donations. Right now, the only other major-card option is the FlexPerks Travel Rewards card, also from U.S. Bank, which gives 3X points on donations to charity.

If you live in a major city with robust transit though, the new ground transportation category may be useful. When commuting every day, commuter rail tickets, subway-card reloads and bus fares can add up. Plus, remember, the new category will include ride-share services. Extra rewards on Uber and Lyft has become a bit of a trend as these services grow in popularity. Several banks are offering special rewards promotions when you use their cards with Uber and Lyft. And the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred card include these services as a permanent fixture in their “travel” category.

For car commuters, though (and for those who rarely use ride-share services), the new category probably isn’t that exciting — and the removal of charity donations as a category represents yet another nerf on a card that has a history of removing or downgrading its rewards. The removal of restaurants as a 5 percent category in 2014 wasn’t a popular move. Nor were the limitations the card placed on its formerly generous redemption bonus in 2015.

No matter how you feel about the latest category changes, the Cash+ card is worth a look, due to its customizable reward structure. We found, for example, that families in particular can really put this card to work.

See our U.S. Bank Cash+ review for more information.

Updated Jan. 9, 2017

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