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US Bank FlexPerks airfare bookings moved this year from a tiered award chart (starting with airfares up to $400 for 20,000 points) to a flexible flight option with points worth 1.5 cents each.
A new points and cash option allows you to use as little as one point for an award ticket.
$25 Airline Allowance per Airline Award Ticket
FlexPerks retained a $25 airline allowance ‘per airline award ticket’ benefit despite these changes. You have to call in to request this within 90 days of travel. I learned that 90-day rule the hard way on a prior ticket.
The old system had a lot of people redeeming 20,000 point awards for tickets that cost less than $400. Only a certain number of tickets, often on Southwest, approaced the maximum potential value of 2 cents/point. US Bank happily swept point differences back into its coffers.
The new system is easier for everyday customers with a flat 1.5 cents/point for any ticket. We can expect overall award cost to US Bank has gone up.
One-Ways are No Air Travel Award Tickets
Under the old system it did not matter if you redeemed for one-way or round-trip. You had to spend at least 20,000 points and got a $25 airline allowance. Now you can spend fewer points and still get $25. You can see where we are going with this.
Earlier this year, US Bank continued to give $25 credits on one-way award tickets. Rather than one round-trip with only $25 total, you could book two one-ways and get $50 today. That has ended.
The last week of November my wife and I had one-way awards Seattle-Sacramento on Delta and returned San Jose-Seattle on Alaska. We submitted airline incidentals for both trips and all were denied in writing:
The airline allowance can only be used on round-trip airline award tickets that were redeemed using your FlexPoints. Unfortunately, one-way tickets do not qualify.
Inflicting US Bank Customer Service on Myself
I called in to US Bank, something an hour or more later I always end up regretting.
The first agent had no idea about this benefit and transferred me to the rewards center.
I escaped from the phone menu back to a US Bank agent who did know about the benefit and was surprised of the denial because she understood any award ticket to be eligible. She transferred me to a supervisor.
The supervisor at first said that a round-trip ticket rule was a new change to terms and conditions from October 2018, as seen in the fine print on the FlexPerks site.
He said I should have gotten notification of the change. Then he put me on hold for over 40 minutes while he talked to the Business Relationship Manager and other people.
It Was in the Fine Print All Along
While on hold I had time to consult the FlexPerks guide from when I got the card, and there was the round-trip language, previously not enforced. It was no surprise when had came back to say he was mistaken, the round-trip requirement was always in the terms and conditions and that the BRM involved had told me to pound sand.
The supervisor was sympatheric and said that while the BRM refused to offer ‘remediation’, he could within his authority to offer me a $50 statment credit. I wanted a total of $150 because of these 4 tickets and 2 upcoming already booked (each passenger gets a $25 airline allowance).
The supervisor bumped me up to a manager. Her authority is $75. Coincidentally, I had now spent 75 minutes on the phone. Rather than continue wasting my time, and colored by prior experiences with US Bank, I took the $75.
There you have it. If you want the $25 airline allowance, book round-trip FlexPerks awards.