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California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card

California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card

30,000 Bonus Points After Spending $5,000 in the first 90 Days

California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $195
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 3X points on travel and dining and 1.5X points on all other purchases
  • $100 annual travel credit
  • 30,000 points or $300 cash back after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • 24/7 Visa Concierge access
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $195
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Minimum Deposit Required: N.A

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At a Glance 

The California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card offers considerable value to cardholders but struggles to justify its $195 annual fee. The card earns a competitive 3X points on purchases, but other cards offer similar perks for a lower yearly cost.  

Ideal for Those Who: 

  • Plan to use their card frequently on travel and dining 
  • Have an existing balance they either want to pay down or enjoy a lower interest rate on for six months 
  • Don’t want to pay a foreign transaction fee 

California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card Review 

The California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card is a premium travel rewards card that allows holders to earn triple points on travel and dining purchases worldwide. The card also benefits from an introductory interest rate period on balance transfers, a bonus for meeting minimum spend requirements in the first three months, and no foreign transaction fees.  

How to Earn Points 

The Elite is the mid-tier card in the California Bank & Trust triumvirate of premier travel rewards credit cards, and as such, it earns rewards at an accelerated rate compared to the CB&T Premier Visa®. The Elite Visa® earns 3X points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5X on everything else. This rate is up from the 2.5X points of the Premier, though that is just for travel and not dining.  

How to Redeem Points 

Like other CB&T cards, the Elite Card earns points in the AmaZing Rewards Program. The program encompasses not only CB&T but several other banks under the Zions Bancorporation umbrella. Points in the program have a value of a single cent per point ($0.01/pt.) which is on par with other rewards programs. Points never expire if the account is active. 

The AmaZing Rewards Program offers a variety of redemption options, including travel (airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc.), merchandise, gift cards, and more. There are no blackout dates when booking award travel, which is a nice benefit missing from some other rewards programs – particularly those with frequent flyer programs. Elite Cardholders can also receive their rewards as cash back in the form of statement credits, deposits, or physical checks.  

Special Signup Bonus 

The CB&T Elite Visa® Card comes with a special introductory offer of 30,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. $5,000 works out as approximately $1,600 in spending a month for the first three months, which isn’t an excessive requirement – especially if the cardholder regularly uses a credit card for daily expenses or has the budget to travel frequently. 

For meeting this spending threshold, new accounts earn what is – in essence – an extra 6X points per dollar spent, which is double the usual top-end rate. The 30K points also have a cash back equivalent of $300, which provides a nice boost towards a dream vacation. The bonus points are in addition to the upwards of 15,000 points the $5,000 spend would earn if the purchases occur in the dining or travel categories. This potential 45,000 points haul provides plenty of ammunition should a cardholder want to upgrade their travel plans or add additional nights on to already booked hotel stays. 

Annual Travel Credit 

Like any sound premium travel card, the CB&T Elite Visa® Card comes with an annual travel credit to help off-set additional fees when venturing away from home. The travel credit with the Elite Card is $100 per year, which is in line with other offers from comparable cards. 

The $100 credit applies to qualifying purchases in the following merchant categories: 

  • Airlines 
  • Airport Terminals  
  • Cruise Lines 
  • Gogo Wi-Fi 
  • Hotels 
  • Rental Cars 
  • TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry 

The most apparent use of the credit is to offset the costs of a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application, which is $100. This fee is a once-off every five years, so subsequent annual credits can be used for purchasing a Priority Pass membership, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, or to cover additional baggage fees.  

The $100 credit with the Elite Card offers much more value than the HSBC Premier World Mastercard, which only offers an $85 TSA Pre-Check statement credit every five years, though the HSBC Card has an annual fee that is half the Elite Visa.  

Another option, the AMEX Green Card, is a direct competitor with the Elite Visa®. The Green Card comes with a $100 statement credit towards CLEAR security membership, plus a $100 Loungebuddy statement credit each year. CLEAR is no match for TSA Pre-Check, and the card offers no credits for additional fees, but four free Loungebuddy lounge visits are a nice perk for a card that also earns 3X points on travel and dining – and features an annual fee almost $50 lower than the CB&T Elite.  

The Same Competitive APR as the Premier Visa® 

The Elite Card features the same interest rates that come with its younger sibling – the Premier Visa®. The regular APR for those with excellent credit is in line with many other travel rewards cards, though the interest rate for those with the best credit scores will be around one-percent lower with the Elite versus the AMEX Green Card. 

The Elite Visa® also benefits from the same 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first six months as the Premier. Six months of zero interest on balance transfers might not sound like a lot, but the Green Card offers no introductory APR period at all. 

Additionally, once this intro six-month period concludes, all existing  Zions Bancorp balances transferred over incur interest at a special fixed rate of 7%, which provides exceptional value for existing bank customers. 

The Zions Bancorp family includes other western banks, like Zions Bank in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, Nevada State Bank; National Bank of Arizona; Amegy Bank of Texas; and Vectra Bank in Colorado. This broad geographic spread makes the CB&T Elite offer of 7% APR on balance transfers enticing for those with existing accounts with one of these banks, and who are relocating to California.  

Should You Apply for the California Bank & Trust Elite Visa®? 

Technically, there is nothing wrong with the California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® Card. The card earns 3X points on travel and dining, comes with a substantial introductory bonus, and offers an exclusive APR on balances transferred over from other Zions Bancorp accounts – in addition to 0% intro APR for the first six months.  

The card even benefits from the usual Visa® Signature perks and protections, plus the global acceptance of the Visa® payment network, which is more than can be said for the American Express Green Card, which also offers no foreign transaction fees, but suffers due to the limited acceptance of AMEX abroad.  

The Green Card from American Express, however, matches the CB&T Elite in the points-earning department, earning triple points (3X) on travel and dining. The Green Card more in terms of value at-home, with 3X points also including local transit and rideshares. The AMEX card also features a larger sign-up bonus and the added benefit of the AMEX rewards program, which provides better redemption options than AmaZing Rewards. The kicker, however, is the fact that the AMEX Green Card has an annual fee of $150, compared to the CB&T Elite’s $195 yearly fee. 

As mentioned, the California Bank & Trust Elite Visa® is a reliable – and valuable – travel card. It even offers enhanced value for those that have existing Zions Bancorp accounts they want to pay down quickly. But for those that want to stretch their annual fee dollars further, there may be better options available elsewhere.