About U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Card
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express is one of two U.S. Bank FlexPerks credit cards offering various bonuses that benefit travelers.
In addition to those bonuses, the card also features a pretty solid set of benefits that you can take advantage of long after the card’s initial perks wear off.
This dual theme of rewards and benefits is one that makes or breaks the value of a travel credit card. If a card has great rewards and benefits, it will probably end up in your wallet.
However, if there are some serious holes in the perks you get, it can give you pause and make you look elsewhere for a card that can meet your needs.
So, take a second and ask yourself what you want out of your travel rewards card. Your answer will most likely influence how you go about judging the value of the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold. Keep that in mind as we work through the following aspects of this card, each of which should play a part in your decision:
The FlexPerks Gold is a travel rewards credit card, which means it works off a system of points to reward you for hitting certain spending goals and making certain purchases. Those points are typically redeemable for either frequent flyer miles/points or cash at a rate of $0.01.
We’re going to use this section to explain the various rewards levels and bonuses for the FlexPerks Gold.
30,000 Bonus Points
If you can spend $2,000 in the first four months of owning this card, then U.S. Bank will give you 30,000 FlexPoints.
A couple of things to keep in mind, though. First, the four-month deadline starts the day you’re approved for your card. But, in our opinion, that’s not so bad because the average consumer should be able to hit the spending limit.
What’s different about this spending requirement compared to other travel rewards cards is that the FlexPerks Gold gives you four months to spend $2,000. This is a big advantage for someone whose income may not be as high as the average household income of around $74,000.
For example, if you’re working a $10/hr job at 40 hours a week, you’re bringing in about $1,600 a month. Your credit-card spending power is pretty low…maybe $500–$600 a month. That kind of spending would keep you from getting travel credit card bonuses with three-month deadlines.
Yet because the FlexPerks Gold has a four-month deadline, the $2,000 spending requirement is totally possible.
Take a moment to figure how much you can spend per month on your card: gas, groceries, mobile/internet/cable bills and other expenses. Add them up, then figure out if what you can spend on your credit card will meet the $2,000 requirement.
Now, the fine print says once you hit the spending threshold, your points won’t magically show up in your FlexPerks account automatically. It will take up to 6-8 weeks for your points to show up in your FlexPerks Gold account.
Pro tip: U.S. Bank will set up a FlexPerks account for you when you sign up for the card.
3x Points on Restaurant Purchases
Aside from the bonus we just talked about, U.S. Bank will award you points you make on purchases as long as your account is open and you’re up to date on your payments.
The FlexPerks Gold has a four-tier rewards system in which you’ll get 3x, a pair of 2x and a 1x bonus on purchases.
The 3x bonus kicks in when you use your card to eat out at restaurants and fast food locations. If you spend $15 on lunch, for example, you’ll get 45 FlexPerks points.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American family spends about $3,154 a year. With the 3x bonus, that average spending equates to about 10,000 FlexPerks points.
2x Points on Gas and Airlines
The next level of rewards on the FlexPerks Gold is 2x bonuses when you purchase gas and/or airline tickets.
This category can be tricky because each merchant provides the credit card company a code that identifies them. Most of the time this won’t be an issue. A restaurant or fast food place will provide the corresponding cord. Gas stations will, too.
But there may be cases – warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club are examples – where gas purchases may not qualify because of the merchant code.
The BLS says that the average yearly spending on gas is around $1,900, which is 3,800 FlexPerks points. Estimating what you’ll spend on airline tickets is a bit harder.
We know the average cost of a domestic flight in 2016 was $350. If you take one flight a year, you’ll earn 700 FlexPoints.
So far, our running total for the points you can earn on this card, 30K bonus included, is 44,500.
1x Points on Everything Else
Anything that doesn’t fall into the spending categories we talked about above will get 1x bonuses, save for a few random cash-type transactions like balance transfers, fees (more on that later) and gambling purchases.
We estimate that the average household can spend $25,000 a year on their credit card. Take away the bonus spending ($5,404) you’re looking at about $20,000 in purchases that result in 20,000 points. The grand total, all bonuses included? 64,500 FlexPoints in the first year and 34,500 every year after that.
Redeeming Your Points for Airfare
Right now, U.S. Bank’s FlexPerks program uses the following chart when you redeem your points for travel through U.S. Bank’s travel booking website:
- 20,000 FlexPoints: Up to a $400 ticket
- 30,000 FlexPoints: $401–$600
- 40,000 FlexPoints: $601–$800
- 50,000 FlexPoints: $801–$1,000
These point values are a great deal because there’s a chance you could book a flight that’s worth twice as much as the cash value of your points. For example, 20,000 points is worth $200 in cash but you can use those points to book up to a $400 ticket.
Here’s the bad news, though. According to an article from rewards side The Points Guy, U.S. Bank is scrapping this redemption table and will give you a flat redemption rate of $0.15 per point. That’s still a great deal, because it means that 20,000 points is worth a $300 flight.
Even without the alleged change in the program, we still think FlexPerks offers travelers excellent value.
Pro tip: U.S. Bank will give you up to $25 in reimbursements for baggage and in-flight purchases related to the rewards flight you book with your FlexPerks card.
Benefits are the features of a card that makes a travel card worth holding onto after the first-year bonuses wane.
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold has a variety of benefits you can take advantage of for as long as you own the card.
TSA PreCheck/Global Entry Reimbursement
Travelers who use their FlexPerks Gold card to pay for an application to the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry programs will be reimbursed for the cost ($80/$100).
If you’re application is accepted and you become a participant in either program, you’ll get expedited security check-in at U.S. airports.
Travel and Purchase Protection
Because your FlexPerks card is part of the American Express network, you get complimentary protections and coverages on many of the things you buy.
For example, you get free insurance on rental cars, as well as reimbursements if your airline carrier loses your luggage. You also have the chance to get reimbursed if something you buy goes down in price within 90 days of the purchase date.
All the details of these programs are included in the benefits guide you’ll get with your credit card.
Another benefit? You can get special perks when you use your FlexPerks Gold card to book a room at a property within the Fine Hotels & Resorts network.
Some of those perks include:
- Room upgrade when available
- Free breakfast for two
- Late checkout
- Free Wi-Fi
- $100 credit for resort services
With all the great things we’ve just listed, it might be easy to get lulled into thinking this card has no downside.
But, remember, the moment you make a late payment or don’t pay off your entire balance very month, you’ll get hit with one or some of the following fees:
- APR on balance transfers and purchases: 14.99%-24.99%
- APR on cash advances: 24.99%
- Annual fee: $85
- Balance transfer fee: 3%
- Cash advance fee: 4%
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late payment fee: Up to $38
- Returned payment fee: Up to $35
All fees considered, this card rates pretty well against competing travel rewards cards. Chase’s fleet of travel and airline rewards cards usually lead the Best Of lists, but their APRs (16.99%) are higher than the FlexPerks Gold and many of their annual fees are higher than this card’s.
In general, expert sites other than HighYa gave this card a considerable amount of praise, saying it’s a solid choice for travelers who want a card with good first-year rewards.
We believe this praise is warranted because the card’s cash-rewards rates are among the best. For example, the 3x rewards rates on restaurant purchases is something you only see with the $450-a-year Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Customer reviews were relatively sparse and the ones we did see were slightly above average.
Pros of the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold
The FlexPerks Gold’s strengths are its cash-back rewards structures and, at the time of publishing, the redemption rates for airline tickets.
Cons of the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold
When you compare this card to other travel cards, it’s hard to say the card has drawbacks. The one downside we can think of is that it doesn’t compare so well against airline-specific cards.
For example, the United MileagePlus Explorer has intro offers between 30,000 and 50,000 points as well as benefits like a free bag, priority boarding and a pair of United Club airport lounge passes every year. Also, you’ll get 10,000 points each year if you can spend $25,000.
Who Might Benefit the Most From This Card
We believe, based on our research, that you’re a good fit for this card if you spend at least a few hundred dollars a month eating out and you want a travel credit card with a good combination of up-front and long-term benefits.
If you aren’t convinced that the FlexPerks Gold is the right card for you, we suggest taking a look at the following two guides:
Both of these articles take a look at the top cards in the category and compare them by examining all the categories of features and benefits that are most important to you.
Now, if you like U.S. Bank and the FlexPerks rewards program but the annual fee is too high, take a look at the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature. It has an annual fee of $49 that’s waived the first year, plus a 20,000-point intro bonus.