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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card has expired. View the current offer here.
Back during the 2012 Summer Olympics, US Bank ran a fun little promo where for folks who signed up for the FlexPerks Visa, you’d earn additional bonus points based on how many medals the US team won during the games.
The bank has brought this promo back for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the terms are pretty much the same as last time around. The current sign-up bonus is 20,000 points when you spend $3,500 in 4 months. However, new applicants who apply between January 31, 2014 – March 7, 2014 and make the eligible purchases will earn not only the 20,000 regular bonus points, but the following bonus points based on how many medals Team USA wins:
During the 2012 Summer Games, folks who took advantage of the offer earned a sign-up bonus of 33,150 points instead of just 20,000 – so that was a pretty significant boost, and based on the 2010 Winter Games, you would have earned an extra 9,550 points. Again, nothing to laugh at.
So if you’ve been thinking about applying for this card, now is as good a time as any thanks to the increased sign-up bonus. I wouldn’t worry about missing out on a higher bonus at a later time since the sign-up bonus on this card usually only gets up to about 20,000 points, and you’ll be getting that anyway with this offer, so might as well.
As a reminder, here are the other features of the card:
- 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
- $0 Annual Fee the first year, after that $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
You can use FlexPoints to redeem for any available airfare at any time with no blackout dates, but it’s on a sliding scale. Remember, you also earn elite qualifying miles as well as redeemable miles when redeeming FlexPoints since it’s just like paying for an airline ticket. Here’s how it works:
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
So your points will be worth 1.33-2 cents apiece depending on the price of your ticket. 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, That means you could be getting 4% back on all of your spend if you are a Platinum checking customer and max out the bonus categories, which is extremely competitive even compared to Chase/Amex since you are earning miles all along the way.
You also get an extra $25 in value on award tickets in the form of an airline allowance for expenses like checked bags, food/drink and entertainment. 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 or cash back statement credits at 1 cent per point in increments of 5,000 points.
Other Cards To Compare – Capital One Venture and Barclaycard Arrival
Capital One Venture: While the Capital One Venture card gives two points per dollar on all purchases, the points are worth 1 cent apiece. If you can max out on the 2x and 3x FlexPerks 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).
Barclaycard Arrival: The Barclaycard Arrival currently carries a bonus of 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 3 months, so the spending requirement is much lower there. The card also earns 2X points per $1 on all purchases and then you can redeem those points for 1 cent apiece toward any travel, not just airfare, but also things like rental cards, trains, bus tickets, etc. Plus, cardholders get a 10% refund on miles redeemed for travel so your So your rate of return is a solid 2.2% – and in my opinion would win out against FlexPerks in terms of category spending bonuses and travel redemptions, so if you’re considering getting just one fixed-value points card right now, my vote would be for the Arrival.
So if you’ve been looking for a good-value fixed-value points card, and you already have ones like the Arrival and the Capital One Venture, this might just be the one to consider – especially since the bonus is likely to be higher than usual thanks to America’s medal chances.