Card Review: US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature

by on July 5, 2012 · 59 comments

in Card review, Credit Cards, Flexperks, US Bank

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I’ll be honest, I’ve always turned my nose at fixed-value award programs because they limit the maximum value you can get out of the program. What’s the fun in getting a single measly cent per point? Fixed-value programs make traveling in expensive first class cabins, like my recent Cathay Pacific trip, nearly impossible since the redemptions are tied to the cost of the ticket- so a $10,000 trip would cost a million points. No thanks.

But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people out there who don’t need international first class tickets or simply don’t have the time or flexibility to make award tickets work. Yes, my Cathay flight was amazing, but what would have happened if I had 4 kids to also bring with me on that flight? Fat chance I’d have been able to get us all in the first class cabin at the saver level pricing.

I’m also coming around to fixed-value programs because I’ve been redeeming a lot of miles lately and I’ve started to fall behind on my elite status since award tickets don’t qualify for elite miles. I’d love to have a nice stash of points to be used to purchase airfare so I don’t end up at a lower elite level. I’m ready to get a fixed value card and recently learned about the US Bank Flexperks Signature Visa, which will be a part of my next round of credit card applications and I’ll be digging into the program more once I’m a member.

Basic Program Info
FlexPerks is the proprietary points program of US Bank, just like Ultimate Rewards is to Chase, however the main downside is that you can’t transfer the points to any travel partner. You can only redeem the points for travel and gift cards, though I’d love to see US Bank add in transfer partners since they currently issue the co-brand cards for Aeromexico, Taca, LAN, and Korean airlines so all three alliances would be covered.

I actually used to be a US Bank customer when they issued the Northwest credit cards (which went away with the Delta merger), but after my Northwest card went by the wayside and they enrolled me in FlexPerks instead, I canceled the card because I was most focused on building up airline miles and credit card points with Chase and Amex. I never paid much attention to the program, but after researching it’s actually a decent program for those looking to redeem for any flight and earn elite status. (Or those who have simply maxed out on all of the good offers with Chase, Amex and Citi and need something new!)

Here are the current offer details on it through my link (which has a bigger sign-up bonus than the current public offer):

  • Get 15,000 bonus FlexPoints after the first $500 in net purchases in the first 90 days. (The current public offer is just for 10,000 points.) To my knowledge 15,000 is about the best it gets since US Bank doesn’t seem to run huge sign-up bonuses.
  • 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 – 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
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year then $49
  • Earn 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each year when you spend $24,000 in Net Purchases. You can redeem these FlexPoints for your annual fee or combine them with other FlexPoints for travel or many other rewards
  • 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
  • If you are a Platinum banking customer of US Bank ($18 a month or $25,000 in account balances) you earn a 50% bonus on all base points and an additional .5 points on all bonus categories (so charitable spending earns 3.5 points per dollar).

In addition, the card has a SmartChip, which would be great for travel abroad, however, there is a 2-3% foreign transaction fee on the card, so I would not use this card abroad or for any foreign transactions. Check out this post for the best no foreign transaction fee cards. Cardholders also get travel accident insurance for up to $1 million, Silver-level membership in a travel booking service called Aficionado Club, and up to a 25% discount on National Car Rental reservations plus a free rental day coupon.

Other FlexPerks cards:
Business Visa Signature- 10,000 point signup bonus – same basic perks as the personal card
No Annual Fee Personal Card- 1 point per $2 spent (not a good deal unless you are trying to build credit)

How FlexPerks Points Work
You can use your points to redeem for any available airfare at any time with no blackout dates. However, it more closely resembles Canada’s RBC Avion points where you redeem a certain amount of points on tickets up to certain dollar-value tiers, vs Capital One and Citi that give you 1 cent per point. You would also earn Elite Qualifying Miles as well as redeemable miles when redeeming FlexPoints.

Generous Redemption Levels
20,000 FlexPoints = Up to $400 ticket value
30,000 FlexPoints = Up to $600 ticket value
40,000 FlexPoints = Up to $800 ticket value
50,000 FlexPoints = Up to $1,000 ticket value
70,000 FlexPoints = Up to $1,400 ticket value
100,000 FlexPoints = Up to $2,000 ticket value
150,000 FlexPoints = Up to $3,000 ticket value
225,000 FlexPoints = Up to $4,500 ticket value
350,000 FlexPoints = Up to $7,000 ticket value
500,000 FlexPoints = Up to $10,000 ticket value

Value Proposition
So the most value you can get out of any of your points is 2 cents each if you push right up against the upper limit of airfare in each increment with the worst being 1.33 cents each if you are at the lower end of those price brackets- still much more  generous than most programs that only give 1- 1.25 cents per point. If you earn on average 2 points per dollar spent (not hard if you are a Platinum checking customer can spend in bonus categories) and you maximize your redemptions, you could be getting 4% back on all of your spend (double the Venture), which is extremely competitive even compared to Chase/Amex since you are earning miles all along the way.

Booking travel is easy too through the FlexPerks Rewards travel site, which is powered by Travelocity so it should find pretty much the standard best deals out there, or by calling the booking center at 888-229-8864. Cardholders must make the booking themselves, though the tickets can be purchased in anyone’s name.

You can also redeem points for hotels and car rental gift cards at a rate of 1 point per cent in 5,000-point increments for which you get gift certificates to use at chains like Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean.

Points are also redeemable for merchandise from shops like Apple, Sony, Bose, Canon and Dell, and gift cards from places like Amazon, Best Buy, Gap, Macy’s, Office Depot and Starbucks, or even just cash-back statement credits at 1 cent per point in increments of 5,000 points.

Note that FlexPoints expire 5 years after the end of the quarter in which they were earned, so no keeping your points alive simply by continuing to use the card. You’ve eventually got to use your points within that 5-year limit.

Who Is This Best For?
As always, fixed-rate points like these generally aren’t the best idea for travelers who want to redeem their points for international first and business class flights, though if you took advantage of the recent sub $2,000 business class flights to Europe, you could have scored them with 100,000 points and still earned elite status! Nor is this the card for people looking for airline or hotel-specific perks like with a co-branded card (though that $25 incidental credit per airline ticket booked with rewards would cover checked bags or onboard snacks, so that’s a perk).

Rather this card would be good for people who need to be able to book any flight- especially families whose school schedules aren’t flexible enough to work around peak award travel periods and who need multiple tickets on the same exact flight. For example, if you want to fly to Hawaii in coach on a $600 ticket, you can use 30,000 points per ticket and you’d earn miles and book as many tickets are available at that price vs. trying to finagle saver award tickets which start at 35,000 with most airlines and are heavily capacity controlled. This scenario works different based on your travel destination, cost of the tickets and what class of service you travel, but these programs can take the hassle out of using rewards points and allow you to earn miles on top of the redemption.

This card also makes a lot of sense for people who are US Bank Platinum checking customers and who also spend a lot of money in charitable donations as well as gas, groceries or airfare. While the Capital One Venture card gives two points per dollar on all purchases, the points are worth 1 cent a piece. If you can max out on the 2x and 3x WorldPerks spend categories and then redeem for up to 2 cents per point, you can come out way ahead (plus you get all the other perks like $25 reimbursements and Visa Signature and Smartchip benefits). Overall, depending on your habits, this is potentially the best fixed value travel card on the market right now.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jonathan Bigton

    Let me guess.. USBank upped your credit card referral amounts and suddenly ‘its not such a bad card!’

  • thepointsguy

    Ha.. Actually it’s a good card (that im actually going to get) and the math speaks for itself.. And my referral link is the best deal out there so I feel comfortable promoting it.

  • Jwsky

    A couple of more advantages

    pay just 3500 flex perks to renew. no need to spend $25000

    you will get ff miles for your trip with the airline you use because you are in fact buying the tickets.

    I get double points for paying my cell phone bill.

  • Bradwbowman

    I got 20K when I signed up for this card.

  • Jonathan Bigton

    TPG, I will bet your referral bonus increased though… I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this came out at the same time they are increasing their marketing of this card…..

  • thepointsguy

    Do you have a link? Or was it a targeted offer?

    How do you like the card so far?

  • thepointsguy

    Actually, no. This card pays much less than most others. In fact the card that pays the most, the visa black card, I’ve never marketed once. So your thought on me marketing the card based on a high payout just isn’t true.

  • Jonathan Bigton

    You are right, I might be wrong on this one. But the recent influx of articles that seem to be fluff and only to promote CC’s has led me to believe these thoughts

  • Scott Simeone

    I’ve had this card for almost 2 years now, and for the most part enjoyed it.

    Some additional perks I’ve enjoyed:
    -Free Experian Credit score every month
    -Accruing points for paying bills – US Bank issues an EFT through their internet banking to the biller, so there aren’t any issues of having billers turn down payments via credit cards. Flex Perks far outweighs the points program my debit/checking account is linked to.

    I’ve booked 3 award tickets through the Flex Perks Reward Center and had no issues. It uses Travelocity as its engine and sorts results with an indication of what the RT “Price” will be, which includes all taxes and fees. You highlighted the one flaw with the tiered reward values. Last month I wanted to book a flight to Mexico. The ticket value was only $415, but I would have had to shell out 30,000 points.

    The statement credit is a nice bonus – especially since all US Bank looks for are airline purchases on the day of travel. I typically just purchase the option to double or triple my PQMs when I get to the airport. The credit takes a while, but hey – free miles.

    The bad (in my view):
    I was disappointed about the foreign transaction fee, especially considering the branding as a card with “elite travel perks for the adventurous cardholder.”
    The online account management leaves some things to be desired. My biggest issue is that purchases often take weeks to post. There’s no pending transaction list and sometimes I have to wait for new billing periods for all my purchases to show up online. This was most annoying during the 0% APR introductory period, as I was using the card heavily and wasn’t ever quite sure what I needed to pay off each month.

    Regardless, it’s still a good card, with Visa Signature benefits that I’ll continue to hold onto.

  • thepointsguy

    I appreciate your feedback, however, no other blogger has written about this card, and I truly believe it is a great deal for those looking to purchase flights (and elite status) with points.

  • thepointsguy

    Interesting perk regarding the credit score- good to know. I’m looking forward to maximizing the 2 cents per point on flights- good to know the booking is relatively seamless.

  • rick

    With the puny signup bonus, a family of four would need $120k in spending (or $60k on grocery) to get those 4 Hawaii tickets. If they’re that wealthy, they don’t need to mess with this card and can probably do much better with the AMEX / Chase cards.

  • PJ

    I was consistently targeted for Northwest card for a while. However when I applied first time ever with US bank for Lan card . I was turned down cold for the reason: TOO MANY CREDIT CARD APPLICATIONS IN THE PAST YEAR; they are so right that I alread had sufficient credit from AMex Chase and Citi.

    Would love to hear from readers if you were ever turned down by a bank which looks at your activities with OTHER BANKS thought your credit score is well into Excellent range.

  • Euro

    I signed up for this card a few months ago because they ran a 20K promotion but they didn’t advertise it online (I think they advertised 15K online) and I applied for it at a bank branch office where they showed me a flyer of the promotion. Haven’t gotten the bonus yet because the elapsed time for the spending requirement hasn’t passed yet, though.

    So far, the points seem to have been racking up nicely for me, though I haven’t redeemed for anything. The reason I got the card was the bonuses and flexibility- cell phone, gas, and checking account bonuses plus being able to choose from a variety of airlines.

    However, the one time I used the system on my own to check for tickets, I was disappointed. Tried looking for ORD-HKG tickets because I knew Cathay usually had them in economy for cheap (around $880), but even though I verified those seats were available on Cathay’s site, the only direct flight the Travelocity engine could find was a United flight for twice the cost. Not sure if it was just a small bug or if it will happen on other routes as well or if it “prefers” one carrier over others, but for the picky customer in terms of airlines or routes, the card loses some points for me.

    Not sure if the card will be a keeper or a tosser for me…

  • PJ

    ouch!! How bad is it to spend $500 and get $150 ( only pay for $350) on the worst ( best) side ?

  • Jules

    I have the basic, free version of this card. One of the primary reasons I keep it is because its the only card I have that provides points on balance transfers. The transfer fee is high, but the interest rate is good for the promotional period. I sometimes get into a situation where I need to carry a balance for awhile. So, when that happens, if the math will work out in my favor as far as the transfer fee/interest rate, I transfer stuff over and enjoy the points as well.

  • Anne

    PJ, the same thing happened to husband with a Southwest Chase card. The CS rep began reading off all his credit cards. He was stunned that she had access to that info. She did give in though and give him the card. Credit was excellent, too.

  • Rob1138

    I’ve been a USBank customer for years since I was a frequent traveler on NWA and after the merger I was at first very skeptical of the Flexperks program. As it turned out, my first redemption was a pair of SFO-HNL tickets that were $399.40. Talk about maximizing point value!

    I value this card as a supplement to my other cards, Southwest for all shorthaul flights around the west coast, Delta when flying east, and Flexperks for Hawaii where 400 and 600 fares are pretty common.

    Yes, the card can be very frustrating as I’ve seen fares at $401 which will kick you into the next tier. I’ve booked $300 tickets where I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth and felt compelled to fly on strange routing just to make the fare closer to $399. I recently conceded on booking an international ticket for my wife that was $1100 but tried in desperation to find $999 or $1399.

    As mentioned earlier, you do get a free monthly credit score. The occasional mailing to balance transfer and earn bonus points (3% fee?). New customers get some additional bonuses for receiving e-mail spam, test booking fares and Flexperk trivia quizzes.

    I signed up back in January as a promotion with the SF 49ers, and received 36,000 bonus points since they scored 36 points in a playoff game. This was targeted towards Northern California customers. Otherwise, yes, the enrollment bonus is generally small, but if you have Platinum checking (which I do as a mortgage customer) and redeem close to the thresholds, it’s a very lucrative card.

    Thanks TPG for reviewing, nice to see one of my favorite cards getting some recognition.

  • Jo

    Your post mentioned that one gets 5000 points for each friend who applies. Therefore, your link will certainly give you 5000 points each for people who click your link and got approved.

  • studd

    flights must be booked at least 5 dasys in advance.
    they often faile to issue flight credit, must call to follow up

  • Knarf

    I also got the FlexPerks card after the NWA/Delta merger. So far, I’ve managed to book one domestic flight, but not at a good value. I’m not sure if there is a coincidence or not, but many flights to Cleveland were priced at $402, which demanded I need more points. I do not believe this a good value card. And after my recent experience with the customer service, I say avoid it. I spoke with one rep & he said he could bump the card down to a no fee card. Two months later they charged me the fee & could not verify that I was down to the no-fee card. All in all, I had to pay the $49 fee to get to use these points. The only bennie is that they will provide airline pts on an “award” flight. I will cancel all of my USBank cards the day I get back from my non-value award flight.

  • caveman

    Very interesting discussion. However it will not be fair to talk about travelocity Amex and Citi Thankyou cards which have some very unique and rewarding benefits. Would someone dare to elaborate or compare them.

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  • Michael T

    Didn’t you just mention that you were going to stop reading this blog and seek out others with more perceived (to you) value?

  • BR

    FlexPerks is a pretty terrible card, but Points Guy can post whatever he wants. He’s not forcing you to get it.

  • Jwsky

    do not even bother with the Travelocity engine. Call their travel agent direct on the phone. I did this and got exactly what I wanted from a very polite agent.

  • AlanC

    I would strongly warn against getting any rewards card from US Bank. I had the LAN co-brand card (note past tense there). Terrible, terrible customer service — which wouldn’t be so bad if US Bank weren’t constantly making errors (miles that never post, discounts that never get credited (like the infamous 20 percent off first LAN purchase each year) that required calls to customer service. I must have spoken to 10 agents to resolve one particularly frustrating problem (a 20 percent discount that disappeared into the ether). Most of them were completely unaware of the card features/bonuses — not rude, just clueless. There seems to be zero training. Well, I take that back. The 10th (sigh) person did know what she was talking about and did (finally) resolve the problem. I fly LAN often, valued the perks of the card — and still cancelled it. Compared to Chase, Amex, even Capital One . . . US Bank is a mess if you ever need human intervention on a rewards issue. Avoid this card.

  • Jonathan Bigton

    Nope Micheal, you might want to reread my post. I said I reward bloggers who have better content with my cc app referrals.

    Maybe I’m just loyal or stubborn, but I always used to like TPG before his blog started turning to one big ad, and I’m hoping to see better things in the future. But you might be right, it might be easiest and worth my time to read other blogs ;-)

  • k2o

    I also got the FlexPerks card after the NWA/Delta merger. They offer quarterly bonus options too. Last qtr. I got 3500 pts for spending $500, which I did at a grocery for 2x. They also send ‘checks’ with bonus ops. Usually 1000 bonus pts, but last month it was 3500 ( I cash and then dep and pay the bill with it for a small fee). I don’t use this card as a go to card, but normally take adv of the bonus ops and redeem for tickets for status. I don’t love the card, but it has some usefulness.

  • Micedp

    how long is this offer good?

  • PJ

    my situation was a bid different: I had NO cards with US banks as the time I applied for Lan . Reconsideration people at CHase have been well too friendly.. I have 6 Chase cards and think I can still go on and get More as long as I dont go there too often.

  • TF

    Agree 100%

  • TF

    I don’t think TPG advertises cards in the best interest of readers. Take this post about the FlexPerks card for example.

    I was disappointed TPG did not even mention the US Bank Cash+ card as well, which has no annual fee and offers 5% back in two categories of your choice (think airfares and hotels), plus 2% back on gas, groceries, or drug stores. All without having to be Platinum banking customer. Haven’t done extensive math on this but on the surface, this could be more flexible and meet needs better for some people. You’ll just get cash back and buy your own tickets and earn (elite) miles. Getting a flat 5% and 2% back in flexible categories is better than having to meet all kinds of terms in order to maybe get 4+% back in fewer fixed selective categories. I’m pretty sure most people spend more on the available 5% category options than on 3% charitable donations! What a joke to even highlight that.

  • TF

    Wow, I tried posting 4 times with the email address I always post with and my post never stuck. But once I change to a different email address, the comment posted successfully! @TPG you blocked my email address because you didn’t like what I had to say in previous comments?

  • Hlm3

    Another big benefit is that ou can transfer flex points to any other member…for free! It has come in handy when bartering or gifting to others.

  • thepointsguy

    Actually no. I’m one of the only bloggers who doesn’t moderate comments- you’ll notice they post instantly. I personally like constructive criticism, but to say I censor just isn’t true

  • TF

    I thought that too, which I appreciate. But then I also did try posting again and again with no success with gmail email. It would seem like it posted, but once I refresh or click on this post again, the comment would be gone. Then when I tried yahoo email, it worked. All same browser and computer. Something going on with WP then?

  • TF

    Oh, and apply via Facebook to get $50 bonus!

  • greek2me

    Anyone know what the magic number of “too many inquiries ” in the past year is for US Bank? Trying to decide to go for it now with 11 inquiries in past 12 mos or wait a month when I will have only 8. Hate to wait a month as a bunch of cards I want to get right away, esp BofA AS before comp pass goes coach only.

  • Dave Shires

    How does this card compare side by side with the Chase Saphire? Seems to offer the same basic benefits with the only exception being no transfer. ANything else I’m missing?

  • Greek2me

    To update with my experience: if you do AORs skip US Bank as likely wasting an inquiry.
    I waited so 3 inq rolled off. Threw in a US Bank FlexPerks app (first time tried any from them). This AOR going well, with a Chase and 2 BofAs already bagged and Citi, Barc and this pending. Called 800-947-1444 to check on US Bank app status. Told denied for too many inquiries off of an Advanced Resolution Services report. CSR polite but not interested in hearing any more details, and said no one else to talk to for recon as will not get approved. Just said letter will come in mail with ARS contact info if you want to get report from them.

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  • Dustin

    I have the card and it is actually great. Although I signed up when it was only a 10k point bonus. Missed out on the 15k bonus and the recent 35k bonus for the Olympics.

    Customer service is better than average and checking packages offer good bonus’s. With the platinum package the no annual fee select rewards card offers a 100% point bonus (disclosed nowhere by the bank, but that is what my statements show) and this card offers a 50% point bonus. I have both cards and can transfer points between the cards easily. For half the bonus you can get the gold package which has no monthly fee when you auto pay your credit card with your us bank checking account.

    If you spend over $24k per year, you are getting a 3-4% rewards card with no annual fee. After you factor in the miles you earn on rewards travel and the $25 airline allowance (call customer service for statement credit) you are closer to 5%.

  • Dustin

    I must also add that I only have about a year and a half of credit history and am 20 years old. Yet they gave me this card a few months ago and the select rewards card about 8 months ago. I was given a $5k credit limit and a high interest rate, neither are issues though. I pay in full monthly and since it is a visa signature the limit isn’t real strict (no over limit fee and generally approved for purchase up to 120% of the credit limit).

    All in all easy approval for a great card.

  • Mpops

    Don’t bother if you travel overseas – it has foreign transaction fees that are even assessed on US dollar transactions. Eg. Buy a ticket from Quantas on Orbitz in US dollars and pay an additonal 2%. No way to know in advance, no appeal, no recourse.

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  • BJ

    I signed up right after the 49er game and never got the 36k miles (for the 36 points they scored). I just got off the phone w/ USBank and they said I had to apply for this card IN A US BANK BRANCH!….don’t recall seeing that on the TV !
    Just wanted to know how you signed up…online (like I did)???

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  • Sam

    This is a Joke “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”…

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  • Fred Davis

    If your ticket cost is 299′ you leave 100 on the table,, and you have to buy the ticket from their travel agent…which will give you a higher price…not nice..

  • Preston

    I have a large accumulated rewards balance & wanted to redeem for travel today. The site has a scrolling message that it is down for scheduled maintenance & you currently will not be able to redeem any rewards. I have been on the phone for 30 minutes & have spoken with three customer service reps who not only confirmed that no rewards could be redeemed, BUT that this would be the situation FOR OVER ONE WEEK!!
    I should have changed to American Express Delta card when I was offered the opportunity.

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