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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.
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.
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 United.com.
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?
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