One of the travel rewards programs that doesn't get a whole lot of attention these days is the FlexPerksSM from U.S. Bank, but how does this program compare to similar rewards programs from other credit card issuers?
Let's go over the basics. When you use a FlexPerks credit card to make purchases, you earn FlexPoints℠. You can redeem these rewards in many different ways, such as for airline tickets, travel gift certificates, merchandise, gift cards and cash back. This makes FlexPerks a very flexible rewards program.
To redeem FlexPoints for airline tickets, you will have to book your tickets through the FlexPerks Rewards Center. The booking site is powered by Travelocity® and offers a very similar booking experience to what you get on most popular travel sites.
On the whole, booking travel though this site is easy and convenient, but you don't have the same flexibility that you get with some other cards that let you book your own travel wherever you choose and then redeem your points for a statement credit to reimburse your purchase.
The benefit of booking your travel directly using your rewards points is that you don't have to front the money and then wait for reimbursement. You can book tickets on more than 150 airlines with no blackout dates, which means you have a lot of options to choose from.
You will need to have a minimum of 20,000 FlexPoints before you can redeem for airline travel so here again it may not be as easy as booking any ticket you choose and then redeeming points for statement credit.
What you do get with FlexPerks are 16 different redemption tiers which let you get up to 2 cents in value for every point you redeem. For example, you can redeem 20,000 points for an airline ticket that costs up to $400. That is good value compared to most other programs that give you 1 cent per 1 point, or just $200 in airfare for 20,000 points. If you redeem 30,000 points, you can receive up to $600 in airfare.
The only downside of this tier system is that if the ticket you want to purchase comes to $420, for example, you will have to redeem 30,000 points to get it since it goes over the 20,000 tier. So you get excellent value if you only redeem for airfare that either matches or falls just below the spending tier, but tickets that fall at the lower end of a spending tier won't provide great value for points.
When you redeem your points for hotel accommodation (including Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Marriott® Hotels and The Ritz-Carlton®) you will get a value of 1 point to 1 cent. That means that 5,000 points can be redeemed for a $50 gift certificate, for example.
You also get 1 cent per point in gift certificate value when you redeem for car rentals (Avis®, Hertz, Budget®) or Cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Lines® and Royal Caribbean International®.
Points can also be redeemed for merchandise from leading brands through the FlexPerks Rewards Center. Gift cards from top retailers like, The Home Depot®, Amazon.com and Best Buy® are also available.
If you prefer to redeem your FlexPoints for cold hard cash, you can get a statement credit at the rate of 1 cent per point redeemed, starting at 5,000 points for a $50 statement credit.
You get the most value by far from this program by redeeming for airline tickets near the top end of each spending tier, for example by redeeming 40,000 points for an $800 or $795 ticket. If you only redeem this way, you can take advantage of up to 2 cents value per point redeemed!
FlexPoints you earn can be combined in a single account and you can also transfer points to another FlexPerks account at no charge.
Another benefit is that if you redeem your points for a ticket on an airline that you have a frequent flyer membership for, you will still earn miles on the airline's frequent flyer program. Most airline credit cards don't let you earn miles for award flights.
The major downside of the FlexPerks program is that the points you earn have a lifespan of 5 years, so if you don't use points within 5 years they will expire. If you want to save up points towards a big ticket vacation over a long period, then you may be better off using a card that earns points that don't expire.
All in all, the FlexPerks program offers excellent value when you redeem points for airline tickets, but you have to redeem smartly. If you travel pretty regularly and don't mind putting a little thought into maximizing your points to travel ratio, then this program can get you where you need to go.