US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card review
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U.S. Bank is in the midst of revamping its FlexPerks rewards program. And many of the travel credit cards that were part of the program are no longer available to new applicants, including the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card. Rumor has it that U.S. Bank has plans to introduce new cards to replace the ones it’s axed. Hopefully the intro offers can compete with the travel card bonuses and perks available through programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.
If you currently are a U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards cardholder nothing is changing for you. You can continue using the card as normal, which is nice because it is one of the few cards that offers bonus points on charitable contributions, where you can earn 2x FlexPoints per dollar. You can also earn bonus points for purchases with airlines, gas stations, grocery stores and cell phone providers.
Let’s take a look at what else comes with the card and alternative for those who don’t have it.
US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card review
This card is not available to new applicants.
Benefits and perks
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks card earns 2x points per dollar in whichever of the following categories you spend the most in during a monthly billing cycle:
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
Aside from these three bonus categories, this card earns 2x points on spending with cellular service providers and charitable organizations. According to U.S. Bank, purchases with any merchant that classifies itself as a “charitable or social service organization” are eligible for 2x points. Other cards such as The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express allow you to earn 2x points on all purchases (up to $50,000 in spending per year, then 1x), but this is the only card I know that specifically offers bonus points on purchases with charitable organizations.
Purchases outside of these bonus categories will earn one point per dollar and there is no limit to the number of points you can earn. The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card has no foreign transaction fees, so you can earn points anywhere in the world Visa credit cards are accepted without an additional fee.
One nice feature of the card is a $25 reimbursement toward fees for checked bags or inflight food and drink purchases when you redeem your points for airfare through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. Here’s how the perk works:
- Redeem a minimum of 10,000 FlexPoints per round-trip flight through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal
- Use your U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card to pay for checked bags or inflight food or beverages
- Call the U.S. Bank phone number printed on the back of your card and request a reimbursement for up to $25 within 90 days of the purchase
- This benefits is not available if you redeem points using U.S. Bank’s Real-Time Rewards, you must redeem online or over the phone
According the U.S. Bank website, you will receive a statement credit within 4-6 weeks of requesting the reimbursement and you are eligible for the statement credit for each round-trip flight booking you make with FlexPoints through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal. That means you can receive a lot of $25 statement credits if you regularly book award travel.
Visa Signature Card perks
As a Visa Signature card, the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card comes with the standard Visa Signature benefits:
- Luxury Hotel Collection – Best rate guarantees, automatic upgrades when available, free internet, complimentary breakfast, late check out and more at select hotels
- Visa Signature Concierge – Complimentary 24/7 concierge service that can assist you with booking travel, dining reservations, sports tickets and more
- Purchase security – Covers items purchased with the card from damage or theft for 90 days after purchase (up to $10,000 per purchases and $50,000 per year)
- Warranty management service – When you register your items with this service, Visa will keep the terms of the warranty on file for you and double the length of the manufacturer’s standard warranty period on eligible warranties of three years or less
- Rental car collision damage waiver – Provides reimbursement for damage from collision or theft up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles (coverage is secondary in your country of residence)
- Travel and emergency assistance services – Complimentary 24/7 service to help you find medical, legal and transportation assistance
- Travel accident insurance –Coverage for you and your family members for certain accidents that occur while traveling
How to redeem points
U.S. Bank FlexPoints are worth one cent per point when used as a statement credit or for gift cards. The most valuable way to use FlexPoints is for airfare, hotels and car rentals booked through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal, where your points are worth 50% more (1.5 cents per point).
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Rewards card does not allow you to transfer points to airlines or hotels like some other cards, but the 50% bonus for travel booked through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal is a huge perk, especially when the cash cost for airlines or hotels is better than award rates. For example, an MMS contributor stayed at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. As a Hyatt Category 4 hotel, one night in a standard room costs 15,000 Hyatt points, but the hotel had cash rates for $149 per night. Instead of using up 15,000 valuable Hyatt points, he booked the stay through the travel portal for only 9,934 points ($149 / 1.5 cents per point). This saved him a ton of points and allowed him to keep his Hyatt points for a better deal.
Using your FlexPoints for travel booked through the U.S. Bank Travel Portal is by far the best value, because your points are immediately worth 50% more. But if you don’t have any travel plans, there are a number of other ways to use your points. Through the U.S. Bank website, you can use FlexPoints for purchases with certain major online stores like Apple, Sony, Dell and North Face. You can also redeem FlexPoints for gift cards with many major retailers, including Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy and Starbucks. When redeeming for purchases online or gift cards, FlexPoints are worth one cent per point. So the 25,000-point enrollment bonus would be worth $250 toward online purchases or gift cards.
Similarly, FlexPoints can be used as cash back or a statement credit. To do this, you simply log in to your U.S. Bank account and redeem points for cash back. U.S. Bank also has a program called Real-Time Mobile Rewards, which allows you to instantly redeem FlexPoints as a statement credit.
Here’s how it works, if you register for the Real Time Mobile Rewards program, you will receive a text message each time you use your eligible card for a purchase. The text will ask if you would like to redeem FlexPoints to offset your purchase as a statement credit. By replying “Redeem,” your FlexPoints will instantly be used toward a statement credit to cover your purchase.
When redeeming for cash back or to offset non-travel purchases through Real Time Mobile Rewards, your FlexPoints are worth one cent per point. In the past Real Time Rewards travel redemptions had a value of 1.5 cents per point, but there are reports that this has been reduced to only one cent per point for travel purchases made with this card. You’ll have to meet a minimum redemption amount for purchases to qualify for Real Time Mobile Rewards. You can adjust this amount online, but you can’t set the minimum amount below $250 for car rentals or $500 for lodging.
According to U.S. Bank, FlexPoints expire five years from the end of the calendar quarter in which they were earned and your account must be open and in good standing to earn and redeem FlexPoints and benefits.
Is the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card worth it?
The card has a $49 annual fee, which is one of the smaller annual fees you’ll find on a rewards credit card. If you have a lot of FlexPerks points that you redeem for airfare, the cards $25 credit for baggage fees or inflight purchases can make it worth keeping. But if you have an airline credit card that comes with free checked bags it could be a redundant benefit.
The other benefit of the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card that stands out is the 2x earning rate on purchases with charitable organizations. While your credit card points probably shouldn’t drive your charitable contributions, this is a great way to earn more points on giving that you were already making. But, there are few situations where this perk alone makes the card a long-term keeper.
Pairing the US Bank FlexPerks Rewards with other cards
This will mainly appeal to people looking for a travel rewards card with a low annual fee. If you don’t mind paying a slightly higher annual fee, there are a number of cards with bigger perks and more earning potential. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an annual fee of $95, but earns 2x points on dining and travel and you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a number of airline and hotel partners.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee of $550, but comes with up to $300 in annual travel credit, earns 3x points on dining and travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to airline and hotel partners.
Or if you want a credit card without annual fees, the Citi® Double Cash Card earns 2% cash back; 1% back when you purchase and another 1% back as you pay. You can’t beat that for your everyday purchases.
You can no longer apply for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card, but if you currently have the card you can continue using it. Nothing is changing and you’ll still get your $25 credit (for round-trip flights booked with FlexPoints) and will still earn 2x points on purchases with charitable organizations and cellular service providers. You’ll also earn 2x points on your highest spending bonus category (airfare, gas station or grocery store purchases) each month.
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