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INSIDER SECRET: The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card is one of the only credit cards that earns a bonus for charitable donations.
The US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 FlexPoints (worth $375 in travel) after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first four months. The first year of this card is an easy decision, because the $49 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months.
However, after the first year, you have to ask yourself, is the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card annual fee worth it? For many, the answer is yes, particularly savvy economy travelers and people who give lots to charity.
Is the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card Worth the Annual Fee?
Apply Here: US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card
For starters, the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card has a low annual fee of $49, which is waived the first year. So it doesn’t take much to get enough value to offset the $49 fee. Plus, in the first year, you’ll get $375 worth of travel from the welcome bonus of 25,000 FlexPoints after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first four months. US Bank FlexPerks points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel purchases like airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines.
The best way to get ongoing value from the card is to put your spend in one of the 2x bonus categories:
- Airlines, gas stations or grocery stores
- Cellular service providers
- Charitable or social service organizations
The most common 2x bonus category for most people would be the “airline, gas stations or grocery stores” category. Unfortunately, you don’t earn bonuses in all three categories. Rather, each billing cycle you get the 2x bonus in the category where you spent the most. US Bank automatically selects this bonus category, so you thankfully don’t have to play a guessing game. But keep in mind that any spend you put in the two other categories only returns 1x that month, which means you could be missing out on bonus points in that category from a different card.
A few other cards earn bonus points at gas stations including the Citi Premier Card (3x Citi ThankYou points per dollar) and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (6x Hilton Honors points per dollar at US gas stations), but if you don’t have those, the 2x bonus with the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card could be enticing for heavy commuters.
Grocery stores are the other possible category for the monthly 2x bonus category. Again, some other cards have more substantial bonuses like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (6% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending per year at US supermarkets, then 1%) and the American Express® Gold Card (4x American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 in spending per year, then 1x), but if you don’t have those cards and do a lot of grocery shopping, this category could give you a good return.
My advice is to examine each of the above three categories – airlines, gas stations and grocery stores. Pick which of these categories you don’t have a better alternate credit card return and for which you’ll be spending a good amount every month. Put all of that spend on the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card. Then put the other two categories on other cards that earn better than one point per dollar in those categories. If you spend high amounts on all three of these categories on this card, you’re wasting bonus points opportunities on two of them.
If you are able to maximize this 2x category and redeem those FlexPoints at 1.5 per point on airfare, you can easily offset the $49 annual fee.
Use It to Pay Your Cell Phone Bill
In addition to the previous, somewhat confusing bonus category, the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card also gives 2x bonus points on cellular providers. So if your cell phone bill is $100 per month and you earn 2x points on those charges, you’ll be earning 2,400 points per year – 1,200 more than you would with a card that only gives you one point per dollar on cell phone bills. Those extra 1,200 FlexPoints are worth $18 on travel, which is almost half of the annual fee.
Again, there are other cards that are more rewarding for cellular expenses, like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Ink Business Cash Credit Card. Here’s more about the best credit cards to pay cell phone bills.
The Unique $25 Airline Allowance Benefit
A unique and valuable benefit of the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card is the $25 airline allowance, which you can use on any round-trip award itinerary worth $150 or more booked through the US Bank Rewards Center. Redemptions made with Real-Time Mobile Rewards won’t qualify.
The allowance can be used on pretty much any airline charge the day of travel – such as baggage fees, inflight food and drinks and inflight WiFi (as long as the charge comes from the airline). Technically, according to the terms, “any” charge from your award ticket air carrier could even cover a gift card or subsequent travel, as long as it is purchased on the day of award travel.
The redemption of 1.5 cents per point on airfare is already great value, but when you factor in the $25 allowance, you’ll only need two qualifying award trips in a year to cover the $49 annual fee.
I think this benefit is especially valuable for savvy economy travelers (like me!) When I fly domestically, I look for flight deals, then book them using points worth 1.5 cents each. $150 is a pretty common good deal for a domestic round trip, so if I used 10,000 FlexPoints on a $150 round trip flight and get a $25 allowance, I’m effectively getting up to 1.75 cents per point on this redemption!
Generous Rewards for Generous People
Another unique perk of the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card is the 2x bonus category for charitable donations – one of the only credit cards that has this bonus category. Therefore, it’s a great card for people that give to charities and social service organizations, and if you give enough, the bonus points earned offset the annual fee.
If you give $3,267 to charity, you’ll earn 6,534 FlexPoints. These FlexPoints are worth $98 when redeemed on travel. Because 2x points on charitable donations is double what you’d probably earn on a different card (assuming the rough value of 1.5 cents per point on other cards which could be higher or lower depending on the card), $98 is $49 more than you’d earn elsewhere. Because the annual fee is $49, donating $3,267 to charity using the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card is your break-even point considering nothing other than charitable donations.
Of course, you don’t have to give that much to charity to make the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card worth the annual fee. Any donations at all will net you bonus points that you likely wouldn’t get with another credit card, making this card more valuable. So the more you give, the more you points you earn, and the more the annual fee is worth it. Wins all around!
It doesn’t take much to make the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card worth the annual fee. Really, the only way it’s not worth keeping is if you have other credit cards that will give you a better return in each of the categories you spend in.
However, even for everyday charges that earn 1 FlexPoint per dollar, those points are very valuable at 1.5 cents per point when spent on travel. Only the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) and the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card ($400 annual fee) give a points value that high on travel. But a card that gives 2 points per dollar on all spend does give you a better return than the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card does in non-bonus categories.
If you can take advantage of the 2x bonus categories of cellular providers, charities and the highest monthly total of airlines, gas stations or grocery stores, you’re looking at net return of 3 cents per dollar when spent on travel.
Another consideration is if you are able to take advantage of the $25 airline allowance just twice in a year, you’ve already come out ahead of the $49 annual fee. Likely, a combination of the bonus points, redemption rate and card perks will make US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card worth keeping for most.
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