John Steward, the president of Retail Payments at U.S. Bank (he came to U.S. Bank after 26 years at American Express) talks about the launch of their premium travel card—the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card, its consumer value and whether or not it can slay Sapphire Reserve. Along the way he reveals the strategy of mobile travelers and unveils the strength of Altitude Reserves mobile wallet spending. He also tells InsideFlyer what the name Altitude symbolizes for the cardmember and even goes off script to tell us why ‘Spectre’ wasn’t chosen among the possible names for the card. The card is available now to existing U.S. Bank customers.
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[…] On Wednesday, Randy Petersen (founder of Boarding Area, Inside Flyer, Flyertalk, and more) had an opportunity to interview John Steward, president of Retail Payment Solutions at US Bank, about the new US Bank Altitude Reserve card. The interview was published at Inside Flyer, here: [60 Seconds] US Bank Altitude Reserve Card. […]
[…] [ 60 Seconds ] US Bank Altitude Reserve Card by Inside Flyer. Confirms card won’t have the Visa infinite flight discount benefit. Also confirms that point transfers to loyalty programs might be an option considered in the future. […]
[…] Good interview with the guy at US Bank responsible for the new Altitude Reserve card. Interesting to see he came here after 25 years at American Express! I just can’t stand bank bullshitspeak, such as We want to first offer this card to our valued customers as they are our #1 priority. Did you also catch the line about adding “geo-location abilities” to fight fraud? I can see now very annoying interruptions using it. We shall see how this goes. Question remains how.many.will.renew! Finally, I am surprised they added “Reserve” to the name…which I thought it was kind of cheesy Chase-y. […]
JOHN STEWARD: I don’t get it, at all. I can redeem flex perks points for about $.02 each at your thresholds, and the rest of these “benefits” are white noise.
And I am right in your target – I am a US Bank card holder, also a small business owner. And I am here to tell you, USB has the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced in this space, by a million miles. Even worse than Amex at their worst. Kid you not. I can’t even begin to describe the depth of incompetence throughout the customer facing part of your operation (although they are all trying to be nice on the phone, I will say that).
Here’s a simple example: I have a Flex Perks business card with you, and a couple of employees cards; don’t you think those points should be able to roll up into the primary account for easy access for booking travel online – just like Amex, Chase, Cap 1 and everyone else right? NOPE, not at US Bank for BUSINESS card holders. I’ve been fighting this for almost 3 years, and I was told at first, “appears to be there’s a software glitch, we’ll work on it” A year later it was, “there’s a software glitch we’re aware of it, but don’t have a projected date for a fix.” Now it’s just. “yeah there’s a glitch.” And this feedback comes only after I re-educate every front line CSR I talk to about what’s going on. Ask for a supervisor? Basically the answer you get is “I am a supervisor”. Then you go through all this, then you end up talking to a real supervisor who tells you, yes they know about the problem, etc. Just today: the comment from the CSR was, the business reward setup “is complicated”. Nightmare! And the arbitrary point thresholds need to go, I don’t have that issue with Cap 1 or anyone else.
Even after I invest time on the phone instead of booking online, most of the time your CSR’s can’t tell what kind of FlexPerks card I have, so they connect me to the wrong travel partner to make the booking, and of course then the partner can’t find my info in their system, so I start all over again. Do you know how many times I’ve been on the phone for 90 mins to 2 hrs just to make an airplane booking over the last few years? At least half a dozen. And then I have to beg ave $25 fee waived, even though the partners clearly understand I am unable to do my own booking online.
We had a USB individual card before this and the online travel booking worked okay, although the portal was inferior in a few ways. But the business card setup has been a disaster. I used to have $50k spend a month with you, now it’s $0, and the only reason its still open is that I still have points left – but I just can’t bring myself to spend another hour on the phone to use them up.
I think this card is DOA, a weak offer with too many other good options out there. And as a separate issue, your customer facing service, both off and online, is not ready for prime time.
I’ve got to agree with Steve. John Steward seems to think rewrapping something stale makes it appealing. If you want to beat the other top tier cards, you’ve got to do more than offer $25 more in travel reimbursement. I’ll stick with Sapphire.
I agree. US Bank needs to address and reorganize their customer service before I would ever take on the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card. I ended up ditching close to 50k in points on the FlexPerks because of the hassle it had become to deal with US Bunk (sic). AmEx has hiccups, but it is way more reliable when it comes to benefits, charge errors or merchant difficulties.
[…] Flyer interviews the man behind the card that US Bank is introducing to the premium market: the Altitude Reserve […]