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U.S. Bank FlexPoints: For Rewards Travel with Family

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U.S. Bank FlexPoints: For Rewards Travel with Family

If you don’t like the hassle of dealing with complicated loyalty programs, U.S. Bank’s versatile FlexPoints will be a breath of fresh air. These easy-to-redeem rewards make it a little easier to get an excellent value, even when flying economy with a family in tow. Here’s what you should consider before applying for a U.S. Bank FlexPerks card.

U.S. Bank FlexPoints: The basics

Through U.S. Bank’s online marketplace, you can use FlexPoints to book flights on more than 150 airlines with no blackout dates or redeem rewards for hotel stays and merchandise.

As is the case with many rewards currencies, the value of U.S. Bank FlexPoints depends on how they’re redeemed. At best, you can get up to 2 cents of value from each point when you cash them in for plane tickets. On the lower end, purchasing inexpensive merchandise with points may yield less than 1 cent per point. You can’t transfer points to loyalty programs, and generally, you won’t get more than 2 cents of value per point.

Unlike some loyalty programs, U.S. Bank lets you book airline tickets under any individual’s name, as long as the cardholder is making the reservation. This can make family travel a little easier – and more affordable.

Cards that earn FlexPoints

If you want to earn more U.S. Bank FlexPoints, your best bet is applying for one of the credit cards below and getting a sign-up bonus. Keep in mind that U.S. Bank doesn’t sell points and you can’t earn points without a card.

US Bank FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card

  • Earn 10,000 bonus FlexPoints after you spend $1,000 in Net Purchases within the first four months of account opening.
  • annual fee is $0
  • Earn 1 FlexPoint per every $2 spent on all eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 FlexPoints per dollar spent on charitable donations to select charities.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints

  • Get 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months.
  • $0 intro* for the first year, then $49*
  • Earn 3 FlexPoints per dollar spent on charitable donations to select charities.
  • Earn 2 FlexPoints per dollar spent on gas, groceries or airfare – whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle.
  • Earn 2 FlexPoints per dollar spent on most cellphone expenses.
  • Earn 1 FlexPoint per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Select+ American Express Card

  • Earn 1 FlexPoint per $1 spent on all eligible purchases.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards American Express Card

  • Earn 3 FlexPoints per dollar spent on charitable donations to select charities.
  • Earn 2 FlexPoints per dollar spent on restaurants, fast food and most cellphone expenses.
  • Earn 1 FlexPoint per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Business Edge Travel Rewards Card

  • Earn 3 FlexPoints per dollar spent on charitable donations to select charities.
  • Earn 2 FlexPoints per dollar spent on gas, groceries or airfare – whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle.
  • Earn 2 FlexPoints per dollar spent on most cellphone expenses.
  • Earn 1 FlexPoint per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

How to redeem FlexPoints

U.S. Bank offers lots of opportunities for redemption, but some are more generous than others. Here are the ones that offer the best – and worst – values:

Good redemption options

Airline tickets purchased with points can offer high value, depending on their list price. That’s because rather than offering fixed-rate redemptions for air travel, U.S. Bank assigns a certain points cost to each airline ticket price range. For instance, if a plane ticket costs between $400 and $600, you’ll need 30,000 points to purchase it with rewards.

That’s great news if your ticket were worth $599; you’d get a redemption value of about 2 cents per point, which is outstanding by industry standards. But if your ticket’s worth $401, you’d just get a value of about 1.3 cents and miss out on a lot of value.

U.S. Bank also assigns a certain points cost to hotel stays in each price range. Whether you wanted a $151 room or a $299 room, for instance, it would still cost you 20,000 points. If you veer toward the higher prices within the range, you’d be able to squeeze about 1.5 cents of value from each point. The lower-priced options, though, would offer much less value. If you bundle airfare and hotels, you’ll also get a maximum of 1.5 cents out of each point.

Check out U.S. Bank’s airfare chart to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. The other travel cost redemption charts aren’t currently available unless you sign in to your U.S. Bank account, but they’re included in the methodology section for reference. U.S. Bank’s travel site is powered by the air and hotel rate aggregator Travelocity, so you can cross-check the prices and make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Bad redemption options

If you manage to find a cheap plane ticket – say, one that costs $100 – you’d probably be better off just paying with cash or credit. Generally, you can’t get a plane ticket though U.S. Bank for less than 20,000 points each. So if you were to cash in points for that particular purchase, you’d likely get a meager value of 0.5 cents per point, sinking the original value.

The same goes for hotels, merchandise, gift certificates and statement credit redemptions. If you’re staying at a hotel that only charges you $75, you’d only be getting a value of about 0.38 cents a point. Redeeming rewards for statement credits or gift certificates yields 1 cent per point, and using points for merchandise gives you slightly less value.

The takeaway is simple: Save your rewards for more expensive travel costs.

Fine print

  • FlexPoints expire five years from the date they’re earned.
  • Your FlexPoints will automatically be redeemed in the order they were earned.
  • If your account isn’t it good standing, you may not be able to redeem your points.
  • If your account is closed, your points will be forfeited.

Top cards that earn FlexPoints on NerdWallet

US Bank FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card

The US Bank FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card has a sign-up bonus that’s easy to qualify for: Earn 10,000 bonus FlexPoints after you spend $1,000 in Net Purchases within the first four months of account opening. That’s worth $200, assuming you can get 2 cents of value out of each point.

The annual fee is $0, making it a relatively low-maintenance card – but it’s not the best card to earn a lot of rewards with. You’ll only get 1.5 FlexPoints per dollar spent on charitable donations and 1 FlexPoint per $2 spent on other eligible purchases. Assuming you didn’t make charitable donations with your card and already used your sign-up bonus, you’d have to put $40,000 on this card before you could purchase an airline ticket with rewards. This might make it impossible for some frugal spenders to make the most of their points before they expire.

Unlike the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints, though, you won’t need excellent credit to qualify for this offer. If you want a relatively straight-forward rewards card and have good (but not excellent) credit, this may be a decent fit.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints

The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints comes with a big sign-up bonus: Get 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months. If you could redeem these points for 2 cents apiece, this could be worth $400.

You’ll also get 3 points per dollar spent on charitable donations, 2 points per dollar spent on most cellphone expenses, 2 points per dollar spent on groceries, gas or airfare  (whatever you spend the most on in a given month) and 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. That’s a lot of earning power for one card.

With an annual fee of $0 intro* for the first year, then $49*, this card also offers a high ongoing value. Bonuses aside, if you earned 2 points on all your purchases and got 2 cents of value out of each one, you’d break even after putting $1,225 in purchases on your card, a pretty manageable threshold for most folks. If you want points that won’t expire, or if you’re trying to transfer points or gain a higher membership status with a certain airline or hotel chain, this might not be the right choice for you. But if you’re looking for long-term value, this could be a fine option.

›› MORE: Reviews of major rewards programs

Methodology

The calculated value of these points is based on an estimated redemption rate, not a credit card rewards earn rate. Therefore, you may notice that these numbers don’t match the rewards rates on our credit card finder tool. Read on for how we estimated these points values.

For airfare, we referred to U.S. Bank’s airfare chart. Below, we listed the redemption options available for hotel stays and hotel and airfare packages, which aren’t available online for those without U.S. Bank accounts.

Redeeming points for hotel stays:

  • 10,000 FlexPoints – up to $150 at a hotel
  • 20,000 FlexPoints – up to $300 at a hotel
  • 30,000 FlexPoints – up to $450 at a hotel
  • 40,000 FlexPoints – up to $600 at a hotel
  • 50,000 FlexPoints – up to $750 at a hotel
  • 70,000 FlexPoints – up to $1,500 at a hotel
  • 100,000 FlexPoints – up to $1,500 at a hotel
  • 150,000 FlexPoints – up to $2,250 at a hotel
  • 225,000 FlexPoints – up to $3,375 at a hotel
  • 350,000 FlexPoints – up to $5,250 at a hotel
  • 500,000 FlexPoints – up to $7,500 at a hotel
  • 625,000 FlexPoints – up to $9,375 at a hotel
  • 750,000 FlexPoints – up to $11,250 at a hotel
  • 875,000 FlexPoints – up to $13,125 at a hotel
  • 1,000,000 FlexPoints – up to $15,000 at a hotel
  • 1,200,000 FlexPoints – up to $18,000 at a hotel

Redeeming points for hotel and airfare packages:

  • 20,000 FlexPoints – up to a $300 package
  • 30,000 FlexPoints – up to a $450 package
  • 40,000 FlexPoints – up to a $600 package
  • 50,000 FlexPoints – up to a $750 package
  • 70,000 FlexPoints – up to a $1,500 package
  • 100,000 FlexPoints – up to a $1,500 package
  • 150,000 FlexPoints – up to a $2,250 package
  • 225,000 FlexPoints – up to a $3,375 package
  • 350,000 FlexPoints – up to a $5,250 package
  • 500,000 FlexPoints – up to a $7,500 package
  • 625,000 FlexPoints – up to a $9,375 package
  • 750,000 FlexPoints – up to an $11,250 package
  • 875,000 FlexPoints – up to a $13,125 package
  • 1,000,000 FlexPoints – up to a $15,000 package
  • 1,200,000 FlexPoints – up to an $18,000 package

As of March 14, 2015,  gift cards started at 1,000 points for a $10 certificate. A statement credit of $50 cost 5,000 points.

For merchandise, we looked at two items – one that was expensive, and one that was less expensive. The less expensive one was the Taylor Biggest Loser Body Fat Scale, listed at $39.95 on Amazon; it cost 5,100 points through U.S. Bank (a value of 0.77 cents per point). On the high end, we looked at the Sony 4K camcorder, listed at $1,698 on Amazon. On U.S. Bank, it cost 203,500 points, giving a value of about 0.83 cents a point.

Last updated 3/14/15

Claire Davidson is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @ideclaire7 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.