Back in August I got in on the limited time US Bank FlexPerks sign-up bonus of 33,150 points to celebrate the medals the US team won in the Summer Olympic Games. The $49 annual fee was waived the first year, and there was a $2,500 spending requirement in the first five months to get the bonus. Most of the spending I put on this card was charity donations since charity donations pay 3x on this card (psst, Kiva counts as charity in this case as well). I waited until I had over 40,000 points before redeeming as you can redeem 20,000 points for an airline ticket that costs up to $400, but if I had stopped with 39,000 points I could have only redeemed for an airline ticket worth $600. However, 40,000 points got me two airline tickets worth up to $400 each.
To get as much value as possible, you want to wait until your travel plans require the purchase of a ticket that is close to $400. Otherwise, you are just wasting some potential value of this sign-up bonus. As luck would have it, we needed to book some tickets for an upcoming trip where the tickets were coming in at about $352 each. Obviously that is a little below $400, but it was close enough to be a win for me. All the other tickets we need for foreseeable trips were pricing at over $400 each, so $352 was the winner.
To book a trip, click on the Rewards Center from your online account homepage. Next you will click on “view rewards available for redemption”.
Then click on”Plan your next trip powered by Travelocity”.
Then just search for your flights as you normally would. We needed three tickets for the three of us, but only had the points for two of our tickets. I wanted to keep all three of us on the same reservation in order to use my United benefits to get E+ seats, free checked bags, etc. for all three of us. Fortunately, I was able to use points for two and pay for the third all through their portal. It was the same price as if I had gone directly to United.com.
I then went to my United account and added the reservation to my account using the confirmation number. We were able to pick E+ seats and will be able to take advantage of all other elite benefits on the trip. All three 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 (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! Between the three of us on two flights we might actually use $50 worth of drinks and snacks. If we do, then this credit card sign-up bonus was worth $754 between the two airline tickets and the airline fee credit.
The bad news is that the Olympics deal with the temporarily increased sign-up bonus is long gone. The current publicly available sign-up bonus for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa is 17,500 points that are awarded after $2,500 in spending in the first five months with the $49 annual fee waived the first year. There is also a business version of the card that comes with the same offer except the annual fee (starting the second year) is $55. With the points you earn from meeting the spending requirement on either card, you will have enough points for one $400 ticket. That is not horrible considering that ticket will also net you elite qualifying and redeemable miles with the airline of your choice, but it isn’t as lucrative as the limited time deal I was able to get in on.
The good news is that if you are lucky enough to go to a US Bank branch in Colorado you can take advantage of a limited time offer tied to how many points the Denver Broncos scored in their first playoff game. Given their performance, the offer should be 34,500 points after spending $2,500 in the first five months. That is even better than the offer I got! Thanks to High Plains Drifter on MilePoint for sharing that info. If anyone knows of any other similar temporary offers let me know and I will get them added!
Do note that 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 churn all that heavily. 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. I don’t know if I will keep the card for the long term, but if you have lots of charity donations (or charges that code as charity donations), and you think you can maximize their reward chart to get close to two cents of value per point like I did, then it actually isn’t a half bad.
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.