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US Bank has some greatly rewarding credit cards and a hyper aggressive fraud prevention department that tries to prevent obtaining those rewards.
The Club Carlson cards, personal and business, earns 5x (10x at Club Carlson hotels) and have a free last night award on benefits that turns award hotel stays into buy one, get one.
The FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa personal card earn 3x on charity, 2x on mobile phone service and 2x on whichever of airline, gas or grocery is highest spend in a month. The Amex version adds in 2x on dining. The business Visa version is 2x on mobile phone service and 2x on whichever of airline, gas or office supplies is highest in a month. Both personal cards have annual caps of $120k spend, after which all spend earns 1 points per $2 spend, while the business card is not capped.
I have both Club Carlson cards and both FlexPerks Visas, and am planning to try for the FlexPerks Amex.
I would love to use these cards more, however US Bank fraud prevention is maddening.
Some of the things US Bank does not like:
- People who make purchases over a few hundred, really not liking $500 or more
- People who make repeated purchases
- People who make even hundred purchases like $500
- People who have regular middle of the night charges (Amex Serve, now treated as cash advance anyway)
- People who shop at Target (“because Target was hacked”)
- People who live in New Jersey (“you are in a high fraud area”)
- People who commute to another state (“your address is in New Jersey, these purchases are in New York?”)
- People who travel (“it looks like you are traveling” with a travel rewards card)
Interestingly, I have had much less trouble with online transactions than in person, important for those who do heavy online charity like Kiva.
What not to do:
- Don’t bother calling in to pre-authorize transactions. Hold times are typically long, regularly 10+ minutes, longest I have had is 32 minutes. Each time the agent dutifully notes the information, tells me I shouldn’t have a problem, and then I have a problem.
- Don’t expect a call, they never call to ask you to verify transactions.
- Don’t use the website, it doesn’t even show you are shut down.
- Don’t bother setting up declined transaction and suspicious transaction notifications. The text messages and emails, unlike other banks, do not have any way to reply to clear the transaction. The emails take some time to arrive and suggest sending a message to customer service which could take days.
- Don’t bother the US Bank app either, there is no functionality to unfreeze accounts.
What to do:
- Try to have a regular pattern of purchases large and small (which I have not been good at doing).
- Try the Club Carlson over the FlexPerks cards (“We know those have higher spend”).
- Do not have even hundred transactions, so for $1,000 do a split transaction like $383.47 and $616.53.
- When transactions are declined, call Fraud Prevention at either 866-821-8411 or 800-260-8469, both were told to me by agents claiming these connect faster, though my experience is mixed.
- When they keep freezing your cards, they have a way to transfer to a fraud supervisor who asks a lot of questions from info they have from your credit report and transactions do actually go through after this (I am not sure if this is long-lasting as I just did this on Sunday).
- Have non-US Bank cards with you to keep cashiers from loosing their temper.
Readers, have you had fraud prevention issues with US Bank or is this just a New Jersey address thing? Please share your experiences.