US Bank Increasing the Bonus on Its FlexPerks Card, Now Worth Up to $425 in Free Flights on 150 Airlines

US Bank has increased the sign up bonus on its FlexPerks personal and business cards to 20,000 FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in the first four months, enough for any flight up to $400 on over 150 airlines.

Twenty thousand FlexPoints is enough for any ticket, any time, on any major airline up to $400 plus a $25 credit for fees associated with the award trip. Beyond the sign up bonus worth up to $425, ongoing spending on these cards earns:

  • 3x FlexPoints (worth up to 6 cents in airfare) per dollar on charitable donations
  • 2x FlexPoints (worth up to 4 cents in airfare) per dollar on telecommunications purchases like cell phone bills
  • 2x FlexPoints (worth up to 4 cents in airfare) per dollar on airline, gas, or grocery purchases for the personal card and airline, gas, or office supplies for the business card, whichever you’ve spent the most on that month*
  • 1x FlexPoints (worth up to 2 cents in airfare) per dollar on all other purchases**

* The terms and conditions describe the variable 2x category like this:

That’s really consumer friendly. For each billing cycle, US Bank will determine which of the three categories–gas, airlines, or groceries (personal)/office supplies (business)–you spent the most on for that month, and will give you 2x FlexPoints for that biggest category.

It could change every month if your spending does, and the change will always be to your benefit.

With the solid sign up bonus and category bonuses, these cards have a spot in the wallet of anyone who flies in economy class or domestically. These cards are rife with opportunities to maximize their value and to use their benefits in combination with other cards’ benefits, which I’ll explain in this post.

Are the FlexPerks cards right for you? How do they work? How can you maximize their benefits?

How They Work

I’ve already explained earning on this card.

  • You get 20,000 bonus FlexPoints for spending $3,500 within four months of opening the card.
  • You get 3,500 bonus FlexPoints for spending $24,000 in a cardmember year.
  • You get 3x, 2x, or 1x FlexPoints on spending, depending on the category.
  • FlexPoints are worth up to 2 cents each toward airfare on any flight, any time, on all major airlines.

Redemption is a simple process, but it requires a little bit of planning to get full value.

FlexPerks partners with Travelocity, so you use a Travelocity-built search engine from inside your FlexPerks account to redeem for flights.

That means that you are getting the same prices as on travelocity.com, and you are able to redeem FlexPoints for flights on the 150 airlines that Travelocity displays.

Unfortunately instead of getting a straight two cents per FlexPoint, an award ticket will always cost the nice round number on this chart.

The obvious sweet spots are finding tickets right under $400, $600, $800, etc, where you get two cents per FlexPoint. Assuming you purchase several cash tickets throughout the year, presumably some will be right near these numbers to get maximum value.

Also note that while a $401 ticket at 1.3 cents per FlexPoint is a bad redemption, an $801 redemption at 1.6 cents per FlexPoint is quite a bit better. If you can’t come in with a perfect number, at least buy more expensive tickets with your FlexPoints, which tend to be higher redemption values.

Other than the ticket being free, there are three other huge benefits to FlexPerks award tickets:

  1. You earn miles and status.
  2. You get a $25 credit per award.
  3. Award tickets possibly can be in anyone’s name.

Earn Miles and Status on FlexPerks Awards

You earn miles and status for the FlexPerks award flights because the airline you are flying sees a cash booking from Travelocity. For people who pay for their domestic tickets to earn status and use their airline miles for international premium travel, the FlexPerks cards keep that cash in your pocket that you otherwise would have spent on domestic tickets.

It should be pretty evident why FlexPerks awards are a better way to fly domestically than awards with traditional airlines miles like United miles. If a cross-country roundtrip flight is going for $375, you can:

purchase it for 20,000 FlexPoints and earn 5,000 to 7,000 United redeemable miles and status miles for flying it

or

spend 25,000 United miles (if United has even released Saver space on your flights) + $10 and earning nothing

Clearly for domestic economy flights at certain prices, FlexPoints awards are ideal.

Get a $25 Credit with Each Award

The second huge benefit is that each FlexPerks award, you get a $25 credit for “any purchases made with your FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card that post to your account under the airline carrier providing your award travel flight between the dates of your award travel flight.”

You could use the $25 for a checked bag. You could use it for on-board food. You could use it for inflight entertainment. Amol used it for $25 off a $50 lounge pass. It should be a free $25 with every award.

Book Award Flights in Anyone’s Name?

I don’t see this point addressed in the terms and conditions. I suspect you can book an award flight in anyone’s name, and The Points Guy says you can as of July 2012: “Cardholders must make the booking themselves, though the tickets can be purchased in anyone’s name.”

I like to book people award tickets with my airline miles, but I would be greedy with my FlexPoints because the FlexPoints award flyer earns miles that I want to earn for myself.

If any current FlexPerks card holders have booked award tickets for others, let us know in the comments.

Drawbacks and Solutions

There are several drawbacks to these cards that are all easily solved:

  •  2-3% foreign transaction fee
  • cap on 1x FlexPoints unless you set up auto pay
  • international first and business class awards are out of reach
  • tiered pricing structure makes some awards a bad use of FlexPoints

The card has a 2% foreign transaction fee for purchases in US Dollars and a 3% fee in other currencies. Do not use it for any foreign transactions. Instead use a card like the Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Sapphire Preferred, United card, or any other with no foreign transaction fee.

** 1x FlexPoints on all purchases are capped at $120k per calendar year unless you set up auto pay to pay your account in full on the first day payment is accepted. Obviously if you plan to spend more than $120k per year on this card, you should set up auto pay in this way.

This card is atrocious for earning points for first class travel. International first class trips can cost $10,000, which would be 500,000 FlexPoints. For international first class and business class, you want to earn region-to-region based miles like United, US Airways, or American miles.

This card is bad for $401 awards. Because of the tiered redemption structure, you really want to make sure your ticket price is near the expensive end of its tier for maximum value on redemptions. For tickets that cost $200 or $419 or $639–near the low end in their tiers–you should find a different type of points to spend.

One type of points that pairs really well with FlexPoints is Arrival miles. Arrival miles are worth 1 cent toward any flight, any time, on any airline. That fact combined with other benefits of that card makes holding the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and FlexPerks cards a good complimentary strategy. Redeem Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard miles for ticket prices that would be bad FlexPerks redemptions, and redeem FlexPoints when you can get very near two cents per point.

Other Redemptions: Don’t Do Them

There are other FlexPoints redemptions, but they top out at 1 cent per point, half the value of an airfare redemption.

You can redeem FlexPoints for 1 cent off your statement in increments of 5k points.

You can also redeem your FlexPoints for one cent toward hotels, car rentals, and cruises in 5k increments. Why you would do this instead of a statement credit is beyond me. Why you would do either instead of an airfare award is also beyond me.

US Bank Visa Signature Cards

Both the personal and business FlexPerks cards are Visa Signature cards issued by US Bank.

  • Visa Signature cards have a number of benefits including a concierge service.
  • Visas are accepted pretty much everywhere credit cards are, so there should be no big purchases you can’t put on the card.
  • It’s always nice to have another great card offered by a bank other than Chase or American Express because I don’t want to apply for more than one personal and business card per bank every 91 days.
  • I was denied for my first US Bank personal application because of too many recent credit inquiries. A few months later, I applied for the business version and was approved. This is only one data point, but you may want to consider it.

Recap

The sign up bonus on the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card and U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card have both been increased to 20,000 FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in four months.

The sign up bonuses are each worth up to $425 toward flight awards on 150 airlines with no blackout dates.

The card also earns 3x FlexPoints on charitable donations; 2x FlexPoints on telecommunications; 2x FlexPoints on gas, airlines, or groceries/office supplies, whichever you spend the most on each month; and 1x on FlexPoints on other purchases.

And the cards allow you to earn traditional airline miles on the award flights you fly.

Because of the sign up bonus, category bonus, no annual fee the first year, and the fact that these cards are issued by US Bank, these card are a must-get for anyone who flies domestic or economy flights.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card with 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in 150 days

  • Get 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months;
  • Award travel starts at just 20,000 FlexPoints (up to a $400 ticket value) on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates or redemption fees;
  • Earn one FlexPoint for every $1 of eligible net purchases charged to your card;
  • Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases %u2014 whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle %u2014 and on most cell phone expenses;
  • Earn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations;
  • Earn 5,000 FlexPoints when you refer a friend who acquires and uses the card;
  • $0 Annual Fee* the first year, after that $49*;
  • Earn 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each year when you spend $24,000 in Net Purchases.

Application Link: U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card (personal)

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card with 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in 150 days

 

  • Get 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months;
  • Award travel starts at just 20,000 FlexPoints (up to a $400 ticket value) on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates or redemption fees
  • Earn one FlexPoint for every $1 of eligible net purchases charged to your card
  • Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, office supplies or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle – and on most cell phone expenses
  • Earn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations
  • Earn 5,000 FlexPoints when you refer a friend who acquires and uses the card
  • Receive an airline allowance of up to $25 with every award travel ticket to use toward baggage fees, in-flight food or drinks and more
  • $0 Annual Fee* the first year, and every year your company spends $24,000 on card; otherwise $55*

Application Link: U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card


21 Responses to US Bank Increasing the Bonus on Its FlexPerks Card, Now Worth Up to $425 in Free Flights on 150 Airlines

  1. Scott, is this the card that works so well with Kiva loans (aka does Kiva get the triple points on Charitable Donations)?

  2. As a clarification, I had the cheap SkyGuide membership that refunded up to 12 lounge visits per year, so I spent the $50 for a day pass on my FlexPerks card and got refunded $25 by US Bank + $50 by Skyguide — a net $25 profit.

    The refund has to be manually requested over the phone … as long as you have a charge in the airlines name, it’ll work. Think about that or a second … what can you buy for $25-$50 on an airline’s website? ;)

    Or if you are an American Airlines Gold or Platinum member, you can buy a 500-mile sticker upgrade for $30 and get $25 back.

    Lastly, like you said, best to stay under thresholds to maximize points. ITA is a great software to price out itineraries and if the online booking engine doesn’t price out a ticket correctly, you can always call in and ask for specific flights. I’m currently on a 4-destination multi-city trip that cost $798.40 for 40k FlexPerks, was very easy to call in.

    ITA tips: http://hackmytrip.com/2012/01/introduction-to-using-ita/

    • Sorry to sell you short on your $25 credit!

      My mind definitely was racing with things I could buy on an airline site on the day of travel to use the credit, but I didn’t want to clutter up the post too much.

  3. Is is possible to pair this with the Alaska Airlines companion pass? At first glance, it would appear not as these tickets must be booked thru Travelocity and, I believe, one must book directly with Alaska to use pass. Any other opportunities for companion pass travel?

  4. I can’t think of any way. Companion passes always want you to book with them, so they can cut out the fees, and this requires you to book inside your FlexPerks account via Travelocity (presumably so US Bank gets a cut of Travelocity’s commission.)

  5. Just a word of caution about Travelocity. I booked a flight to MXP about 2 months ago for Oct 24th using my FlexPoints through Travelocity. Last week they emailed me saying that my inbound flight from MXP changed, and so I would miss my connection to YYZ. I called them and they said all they could do was refund the ticket. They refused to help me change my flight. So now I am scrambling, trying to figure out how to get us to Italy for our 12 anniversary. I have since read many, many horror stories from people dealing with Travelocity customer service. It is truly horrendous, I won’t even get into details. But beware.

  6. When redeeming US Bank Flexperks for flights, how do you ensure that you earn miles for the trip? If it’s not possible to book directly on the airline website to redeem Flexperks points, then does that mean that earning miles is not guaranteed?

    • When booking the trip through the Travelocity interface, you will be asked for your frequent flyer number. As long as you buy an eligible fare (almost every fare), you will earn miles.

  7. Anyone know the deadline to apply for this? I don’t see it on the application page.

  8. Can you only use the points for one ticket? Meaning, if I have 30,000 Flexpoints, can I order two $299 tickets (and fall under $600) or is it one redemption per ticket?

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  13. Is there a way to use these points to buy higher category fares to increase the chance of an upgrade?

  14. Hey Scott – i had 2 queries:
    1. Can I buy directly from the airlines website and then call USbank to wipe of the charge with my points ?

    2. If I am booking with Travelocity, and make One booking for $398 (2 passengers for $199 each), will that be equivalent to 20,000 flex perk points, or will I have to pay $199 for one passenger and 20,000 points for one passenger ??

    • Scott Grimmer

      1. No, you book on the FlexPerks site which is powered by Travelocity’s search engine.
      2. Again, you book on the FlexPerks site. The FlexPoints price is per passenger, so you cant book two $199 flights for 20k points. Each one is 20k points.

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