U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card Review
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card couples substantial yearly rewards, redemption bonuses and more than 40,000 points per year.
One of the most interesting features about this card is that you get a 50% boost on your points if you book your travel through U.S. Bank’s travel portal.
In our review of the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card, we’re going to talk about how the card’s rewards work, what its rates and fees are and how it compares to other travel credit cards. At the end of our review, we’ll give you a list of pros and cons are, and who we think this card is good for.
Pros: Excellent bonuses for grocery shopping and charity donations plus a 50% boost on points redeemed to buy travel through U.S. Bank.
Cons: No travel partners, a low sign-up bonus and heavy restrictions on using points to pay for past travel purchases not made with U.S. Bank.
Estimated Yearly Travel Rewards: 40,531 points
|Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee||Regular APR|
|25,000 points||$0 for the first year, then $49||16.24% to 26.24%|
|Rewards Rate: 2x on groceries, cell phones, and the most spending out of groceries, gas or airlines; 1x on everything else|
Whenever you use this card to make purchases, U.S. Bank will automatically calculate the rewards you earn on the purchase. At the end of your billing cycle, they’ll deposit those points to your rewards balance. You can view your rewards balance when you log into your U.S. Bank account. U.S. Bank calls these rewards points “FlexPoints.”
Exactly how many FlexPoints you earn per purchase is based on the types of purchases you make. Here’s how U.S. Bank calculates your rewards:
- 2% on cell phone providers
- 2% of whichever you spend the most on: airlines, gas stations or grocery stores
- 2% on charity
- 1% on everything else
Based on our calculations, we believe that groceries are the category you’ll spend the most on. So, factoring that into the average household spending in the other three bonus categories, we believe this card can earn you around 40,531 points per year.
You can add to this total the first year you own the card by taking advantage of its 25,000-point sign-up bonus. If you can spend $2,000 in the first three months of owning the card, U.S. Bank will send 25,000 points to your U.S. Bank account within six to eight weeks.
You have two main options to redeem these points: buying travel through U.S. Bank or applying the cash value of your rewards balance to travel purchases you’ve already made.
In our opinion, the first option is best for several different reasons. The first reason is that, when you use your points with U.S. Bank to purchase travel, they will boost the cash value of those points by 50 percent. Normally, 10,000 points, for example, are worth $100.
However, U.S. Bank boosts that to $150 when you book with them. As you’ll read later, that type of boost is an unprecedented amount among the top travel cards with annual fees under $100.
However, unlike those cards, this U.S. Bank card has very restrictive rules regarding points redemptions for travel purchases.
First, the purchase has to be direct from the company (United, Avis, Hyatt, etc.) and not via a third-party site like Orbitz, Expedia or Priceline. Second, the minimum redemption amount for lodging (hotels, Airbnb, etc.) is $500. Finally, the minimum redemption amount for car rentals is $250.
In our opinion, we think this option for points redemption is extremely prohibitive and not conducive to weekend trips, especially considering the average hotel rate is below $140 and weekend car rentals rarely exceed $250.
The final reward you may get with this card is up to a $25 credit applied to your account when you spend at least 10,000 FlexPoints. The fine print, however, doesn’t specify how they determine how much of that $25 you’ll get.
The following list of rates and fees are essential to getting a comprehensive understanding of how this travel rewards card can, in some cases, cost you as much money as it can earn you in rewards. After the list, we’ll talk about the implications of the card’s interest rates and fees:
- Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 16.24% to 26.24%
- Interest rate for cash advances: 26.24%
- Penalty interest rate: None
- Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 4%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late payment fee: Up to $39
- Returned payment fee: $35
- Annual fee: $0 first year, $49 after
The research we’ve done across several websites like CreditCards.com and ValuePenguin indicates that the average balance for credit card owners who carry balances ranges between $8,000 and $16,000.
Using those averages, we think it’s likely that you could carry a balance of between $1,000 and $5,000 per year on your U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card. When we say “carry a balance,” we’re referring to the leftover balance you have if you don’t pay your credit card bill in full every month.
The following chart shows you how much the card’s interest rates could cost you if you carry balances of between $1,000 and $5,000 for at least a year:
|16.24% APR for one year||20.24% APR for one year||26.24% APR for one year|
|$1,000 daily balance||$162.40||$202.40||$262.40|
|$2,000 daily balance||$324.80||$404.80||$524.80|
|$3,000 daily balance||$487.20||$607.20||$787.20|
|$4,000 daily balance||$649.60||$809.60||$1,049.60|
|$5,000 daily balance||$812.00||$1,012.00||$1,312.00|
This chart illustrates how expensive carrying a balance can be. To compare these costs with the card’s rewards, you can exceed the more than $600 in rewards you get for buying travel with U.S. Bank simply by carrying a $4,000 balance for one year with the lowest APR the card offers.
The higher your APR, the quicker you’ll reach $600 a year in interest. So, while the card’s yearly rewards value is pretty good, you can essentially cancel out that value by paying an equal or greater amount in interest.
Aside from interest rates, we think it’s important to point out that the card doesn’t have a penalty APR. A penalty APR is an interest rate—usually 29.99%—that applies to your account for at least six months. This is a tremendous advantage if you often pay late. However, remember that every late payment will cost you a fee of up to $39.
The travel rewards space is a really popular one with multiple well-marketed cards begging for your attention. The following chart compares these most popular travel cards with the U.S. Bank card:
|U.S. Bank FlexpPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Discover it Miles||Capital One Venture Rewards||Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard||Citi Premier Card||Bank of America Travel Rewards Card|
|Intro offer||25,000 points||60,000 points||45,000 miles||50,000 miles||70,000 points||50,000 points||25,000 points|
|Rewards rates||2x on cell phones, charitable donations and airlines, gas or groceries||2x on travel and dining, 1x on everything else||1.5x on all purchases||2x on all purchases||2x on all purchase plus a 5% bonus on redeemed points||3x on travel and gas, 2x on restaurants and entertainment, 1x on everything else||1.5x on all purchases|
|Yearly miles/points on $30K spending||40,531 points||34,865 points||45,000 miles||60,000 miles||63,000 points||44,498 points||45,000 points|
|Travel portal booking bonus||1.5x||1.25x||None||None||None||1.25x||None|
|Number of transfer partners||None||12(6 int’l airlines, 3 domestic airlines, 3 hotels)||None||15 (14 int’l airlines, 1 domestic airline)||None||15 (14 int’l airlines, 1 domestic airline)||None|
|APR||16.24% to 26.24%||18.24% to 25.24%||14.24% to 25.24%||17.99%, 22.74% or 25.24%||18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24%||16.74% to 25.74% (29.99% penalty APR)||17.24% to 25.24% (29.99% penalty APR)|
|Annual fee||$0 first year, $49 after||$95||None||$0 first year, $95 after||$0 first year, $89 after||$0 first year, $95 after||None|
The first three comparison categories are typically ones that are most interesting to consumers. The U.S. Bank card performs poorly in sign-up bonuses, as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard provide more than twice the number of rewards points.
The rewards rates the FlexPerks Travel Rewards feature are beneficial because they award high-spending categories like groceries and charity donations. The only other card that matches the U.S. Bank card’s rewards rates in good categories is the Capital One card because it provides 2% rewards on all purchases. The Citi Premier Card has a 3% rewards rate but the categories it rewards (travel and gas) aren’t as consistent as groceries and charitable donations.
The card’s rewards would be even more powerful if you can transfer your FlexPerks points to travel partners but, unfortunately, you can’t. Despite this drawback, though, the card presents significantly more rewards value than the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card.
In terms of rates and fees, the U.S. Bank card fares really well. Its lowest APR is the second lowest in the group and its annual fee is excellent, too.
In our opinion, this card’s greatest strengths are that it rewards you with double points for grocery purchases and it provides a 50% bonus on points you redeem when you book travel with U.S. Bank. Also, the card’s annual fee is very competitive compared to cards that offer rewards boosts and/or travel partners.
The card’s weaknesses are that you can’t transfer your miles to travel partners and there are strict rules for applying your rewards to travel purchases you didn’t make with U.S. Bank.
Based on these strengths and weaknesses, we think there are certain types of people who are a good fit and who aren’t a good fit for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card.
We see this as being an excellent card for those who spend more than $4,363 a year on groceries, which is the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you spend $7,000 a year, then your yearly rewards will jump from around 40,500 to about 46,000 hundred. We also think it’s an excellent choice for U.S. Bank customers who want to stay brand loyal, as its rewards are better than average and certainly better than what Bank of America loyalists would get with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card.
However, if you’re someone who likes to use travel credit cards to rack up points with airline frequent flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs, this isn’t the best choice.
For that, we’d suggest getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred because there are multiple attractive travel transfers you can do and because you can pair it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and earn 45,000 rewards points per year.