How to Use US Bank FlexPerks for Almost Free Flights

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I have had the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® card for a couple of years now.  It isn’t one that I write a ton about as it isn’t one that I use a ton for my everyday purchases anymore.  However, I was able to make a solid redemption today using FlexPerks points so I wanted to make sure to share that information in case you weren’t familiar, or had forgotten about this card that can help you save big on airfare!

The “trick” with this card is that you have to be strategic with your redemptions in order to get the biggest return.  As the chart below shows, you want to wait to use your points until you are booking a flight that is close to $400, but not more than $400.  Flights $400 and under are 20,000 points regardless of the cost up to that threshold.  That means I have been sitting on just over 20,000 points for a while now waiting for a flight we needed to cost just under $400.

As luck (or lack of luck?) would have it, we needed to book some tickets for an upcoming conference in Vegas where the tickets were coming in at about $382 each.  Truthfully tickets had been in the $400 – $500 range until today with no award availability so I was just hoping the price would come down so we could use FlexPerks points for one.

To book a trip, I clicked on the Rewards Center from the online account homepage. Next, click on “browse rewards” on the top blue bar of the page.

FlexPerks Redemption 1

Then select “Travel” on the left hand side of the page and then select big red “Explore Travel” button on the next screen to actually search for flights.  You can use your points for hotels or packages, too, but I don’t find that your return per point is not near as good with those options.

FlexPerks Redemption 2

FlexPerks Redemption4

You just search for your flights as you normally would via 150+ airlines in their Orbitz powered portal and it will display the price in dollars and points.  We needed two tickets but only had the points for one ticket.  I wanted to keep both of us on the same reservation in order to use my United benefits to get E+ seats, free checked bags, free same day change, etc. Fortunately, I was able to use points for one and pay for the other through their Orbitz portal.  It was the same price as if I had gone directly to

FlexPerks Redemption

Since I had put our United frequent flyer numbers in the reservation, it appeared immediately in our MileagePlus accounts.  We were able to pick E+ seats from our MileagePlus accounts thanks to elite status and will be able to take advantage of all other elite benefits on the trip.  The tickets are the same as paid tickets as far as United is concerned, so they will all earn both redeemable and elite qualifying miles.  Additionally, US Bank offers up to a $25 fee reimbursement per redeemed ticket for airline charges you put on your US Bank card during the trip.  You could use this toward bag fees, but we will probably use ours toward on-board snacks on inflight DIRECTV or WiFi (if available).  After the charge posts, just call up US Bank and get get the charges credited back to your card.  I think that is a nice little extra perk!

A quick mention on the earning power of this card as it earns 1x on most things, but 2x for every $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle – and on most cell phone expenses.  It also earns 3x on charitable donations, so is my go-to card for Kiva or any other charity coded charge.  The sign-up bonus is 20,000 points after spending $3,500 in the first three months.  Those 20,000 points will be enough for a flight worth up to $400.

Do note that anecdotally US Bank is tougher to get approvals with than some other issuers and they don’t like to see a ton of recent inquiries.  Also, based on this thread it seems they also may approve you for a lesser version of the card you apply for (and thus a lesser bonus).  I got approved for the card and offer I wanted without issue, but I also don’t apply all that heavily for credit cards.  Just take that into account when deciding if this is a card that interests you or not.

Getting free mileage earning airline tickets is simply amazing when you stop and think about it.  This was a trip we were going to take anyway, so that is real money that gets to stay in our wallets.

Do you have this card?  What have your experiences been like?


Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support.



  1. I just made my first redemption for a ticket to Vegas that costs $399. It feels great to get a free ticket that I can use toward requalifying for elite status. I just have not figured out how to use the 25 dollars if I get upgraded on the flight.

    • If you get upgraded it’s tough but I guess that’s an okay problem to have. Maybe buy drinks to send to coach?!

  2. I got the card after the Olympics and don’t fly solo so I just redeemed for a couple hotel rooms for the 30,000 pts. I got barely over $400 redemption which was better than I thought I could for a non-flight redemption. I’m not inclined to spend on this card as I feel like I left $200 earned on the table due to their awards. Could have been great for a single person to fly to Kauai or something, but I don’t really want to go and sip mai tais and take selfies.

    • Jo, I’m not sure why it matters if you fly solo. I bought 2 tickets (just had to pay for the other one). Agree you should only have/use cards that are rewarding for your situation though!

      • It would be more like x 5 so not so easy to maximize my $600 earned that way and then pay for 4 other tix at $600.I do a lot better with deal searches and cash.

  3. So you were finally able to make a solid redemption after 2+ years of holding the card. Yup, that sounds about right. I just hope I can use my points before they expire 5 years after earning them.

    • HikerT, not my first redemption with the card, but my first in the last year or so probably. Def be sure to use your points at some point!

  4. Can you explain how you obtained Elite status on United? Did you really fly 25,000+ miles on paid flights or did you obtain status through some other means?

    • I flew 100k of paid fares in 2013. There was no short cut. Some were really good fares, some were work trips, some were to visit family, some were vacations, and a very small handful were “vacation runs”. I will not hit 1k again this year – likely Platinum…just barely.

  5. Can you confirm the 3x points with Kiva? I don’t think there is any way to fund Kiva than besides with PayPal, and I have always assumed that anything stamped PayPal would never get a bonus of any kind.

    • Curtis, yes I can confirm it. I can also confirm I have had other charities code as charity even though they bill through PayPal

  6. 1. When I had this card, I just bought a $25 gift card to the airline I was flying on the day of my flight and got it refunded, a la Amex Platinum. So you don’t have to buy WiFi or television. A $25 United gift card is like cash!

    2. How do you justify paying the $49 annual fee for this card year in and year out? Have to add that to the cost of the redemption.

    • stvr, nice! The $49 was worth it the second year for me as they kept targeting my account for tons of easy bonus points so I can to 20k the second year for very little spending which was well worth $49. Haven’t seen those targeted bonuses in a while though so may not have a 3rd year holding the card.

  7. Hmm an upcoming conference in Las Vegas :)
    Thanks for this post – I also have this cars but have about 30k so I’m waiting for a $600 flight.

    I keep the cars to use for kiva as well – just used it for that the other day but other than that I think it’s not a super card.

    Great tip on the $25 reimbursement – I did not know that

  8. Points with a crew, ha ha. I bet I’ll see you in Vegas! $600 flight is tougher unless you head to Hawaii or crazy cheap Europe fare! Agree it’s not my fav card – especially now that grocery spend goes on my Amex Preferred. However, earning 3x on charity and then getting close to 2 cents in value when you redeem is pretty great if you are pretty “charitable”. 😉

  9. If i have 20K points but the price of the ticket is $1000. Does the Flexperk program allows to redeem and pay the difference in fare ?.

    • You can always just get cash out of your points. 20k points would be $200 =. So you could buy the ticket once you earn the points and just reimburse yourself. But for 20000 points you can get a plane ticket up to $400 and not a penny over. Makes no sense! Unless they offer me a bonus to keep it in use, I’ll ditch it for sure and not look back.

  10. I got this during the Olympic promotion, was very disappointed in the redemption games they played. They did have the option to get Amazon gift cards for 1 cent = 1 point. It turned out this was the best redemption value. I took the $400 amazon gift cards, then immediately canceled the credit card. It’s not with the hassle of fighting their points scheme. Won’t apply again. Bald Army Guy

  11. I recently rediscovered this card and booked a mileage run positioning flight to LAX for $396. I’ll use the $25 credit for wifi.

  12. I used points for a ticket for my mother to come and visit us. I called the travel support group for my Flex Perk card and requested a CHOICE PLUS fare on American Airline. There is no change fee, 50% bonus miles, free checked bag (1) and same day flight change (if available) group 1 boarding and premium beverage (if you indulge). The ticket total was under $400 and there was no problem for them to do this. It was a blessing because we had to change the return flight twice. One caveat is there is a fee for American to take ownership of the ticket from Flex Perk booking. Not a biggy.

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